Can You Think Like A Witch?

Can You Think Like A Witch?

Author:   T.L.   

There has always been a strong connection between Witches and Fairies known to all students who study Fairy lore. Several Pagan traditions have come to choose the term Fairy (or Faerie or Faery or Feri) as a result of Fairy mythology and scholarly research regarding Fairies in the past. In the late 1990’s, the year before her death, my 90-year-old paternal aunt, Nina Sutter, told me that our ancestors who lived in Mecosta County, Michigan, were Fairies. She also told me that “those people all stuck together” and that they were “like the Indians.” Because of what she told me and other family memorabilia I have, I believe it is possible that Wicca is a survival religion associated with Fairies. At the time my aunt spoke to me, I do not think she knew what a Fairy might be—just that this was something she was told and something that she sensed was important. I knew nothing about Wicca at that time, and I did not know what a Fairy was either. Several years went by before I figured it out what she was talking about.

My paternal great-grandmother, Alta Isadore Gould (born in 1851) published a book of story-length Civil War poems in 1894. The Veteran’s Bride And Other Poems was very popular for its day, going through five editions (and six printings) in four years. Gould integrates Wiccan symbolism in various ways within her published stories that are best understood within the context of their underlying themes, that include the myths of the Wheel of the Year, the myth of the Dying God, the Missing Cauldron of Cerridwen, and Hestia of the Hearth. When I realized that my great-grandmother’s book was about Wicca, I finally was able to figure out what it meant to have ancestors who were Fairies.

Gould’s metaphors are enhanced by hidden Wiccan symbols within each of her nine engravings. My aunt showed me one of those symbols—an “athame” hidden as a spire at the top of an arch in one of the engravings—except that she called it a “knife.” I do not think she knew the purpose of the “knife, ” just as she did not know the significance of “Fairy.” The knife was just something she had been shown and something she sensed was important. My aunt showed me the knife, just like her mother showed her the knife, just like her mother showed her the knife. This transfer of knowledge from my great-grandmother, to my grandmother, to my aunt, to me, shows that the knife was consciously positioned as a spire in Gould’s engravings and its presence is not just a matter of interpretation.

It is the culmination of Gould’s writing, her engravings, and other memorabilia I have regarding her life that makes me believe all of what my aunt said was true. My aunt was an honest woman, a Methodist, who would have had no motive for aligning the family with Paganism. The fact that she embraced these sparse memories in her old age, and wanted to share what little she knew with me before she died, shows she harbored warm feelings regarding this facet of our family’s history, and speaks positively of Wicca.

Obviously, I do not know what it means to have ancestors who say they were Fairies. More importantly, I do not know what being Fairies meant to them. It is possible that Alta Gould’s own ancestors, just like founders of Pagan traditions today, chose the term Fairy to describe themselves and created their own Witch-religion as a sort of secret society that encompassed all aspects of their lives. Theoretically, if there were multiple pockets of people similar to Gould’s group scattered throughout America, Canada, and Europe, perhaps something like this is the Witch-religion that Gerald Gardner ultimately was exposed to.

One good thing about social media is that participants do not have to yield to some higher authority in order to have their stories told. Currently, experts in Wicca claim there is no hard evidence that Wicca existed before Gerald Gardner–but it is hard to visualize what the hard evidence they seek might be. Although I do not have a stone tablet of Wiccan runes spelling out its history, or an ancient, crumbling Wiccan charter retrieved from a locked vault, the limited evidence that I do have is very real. It involves interpretation of texts, symbols, photos, and memorabilia, and is the closest and best thing to hard evidence of a Witch-religion prior to Gardner that, I believe, exists to date. One might critically say that my interpretation of these texts, symbols, objects, and memorabilia are just one of many. But the truth is, not all interpretations are equal. Some interpretations are better than others—and my interpretations are good, solid, and apparent. Interpreting texts, objects, and family histories has long been a tried, true, and accepted way of learning about the past and of doing research.

Even the work Ronald Hutton engages in involves interpretation. There is not (and never will be) a long buried stone tablet affirming that Wiccan imagery comes from the Romantic poets. Even though he will never find “hard” evidence to support his thesis, his research nevertheless is interesting. I know that I am not Ronald Hutton—far from it. But, on the other hand, Ronald Hutton’s aunt did not tell him that his ancestors were Fairies, and his great-grandmother did not write a book with an interwoven Wiccan subtext.

The biggest problem with my research is that first someone has to actually read it. I have written a book (Remembering A Faery Tradition: A Case Of Wicca In Nineteenth-Century America) . I am not a professional academic, but I did the best that I could to write about my discoveries and place them within an interesting context. I am sure my book has many faults, but my main message is very tangible. Also, I have made a web site that discusses much of my research and includes a chapter from my book. It is not a professional web site, but it serves a function. I have items and photos and letters that someone else, beside myself, would have to look at. Finally, and most importantly, someone else besides myself would have to read my great-grandmother’s book, front to back, perhaps several times, with a critical eye. If you understand how poetry is written and how metaphor is used, and if you are Wiccan, and if you are able to think like a Witch (surviving within a Christian culture) , you should be able to understand her poetry.

Social media allows me to put all of this “out there” whether anyone ever looks at it or not in current time. Perhaps someday new information will come out that will cause some other researcher to want to look at my research, and then my research might either provide a lead or confirm another finding. Perhaps there are other people, like myself, whose ancestors described themselves as Fairies, who will recognize some of the things that I talk about in my research, and then go public with their information also. Even though it seems that there is not even a small audience interested in the history of Wicca in America—for myself it has been exhilarating, thought-provoking, and a whole lot of fun.

British Traditional Wicca

British Traditional Wicca

By , About.com Guide

British Traditional Wicca, or BTW, is an all-purpose category used to describe some of the New Forest traditions of Wicca. Gardnerian and Alexandrian are the two best-known, but there are some smaller subgroups as well. The term “British Traditional Wicca” seems to be used in this manner more in the United States than in England. In Britain, the BTW label is sometimes used to apply to traditions which claim to predate Gerald Gardner and the New Forest covens.

Although only a few Wiccan traditions fall under the “official” heading of BTW, there are many offshoot groups which can certainly claim kinship with the British Traditional Wiccans. Typically, these are groups which have broken off from a BTW initiatory line, and formed new traditions and practices of their own, while still being loosely connected with BTW.

One can only claim to be part of British Traditional Wicca if they (a) are formally initiated, by a lineaged member, into one of the groups that falls under the BTW heading, and (b) maintain a level of training and practice that is consistent with the BTW standards. In other words, much like the Gardnerian tradition, you can’t simply proclaim yourself to be British Trad Wiccan.

Geography doesn’t necessarily determine whether or not someone is part of BTW. There are branches of BTW covens located in the United States and other countries — again, the key is the lineage, teachings and practice of the group, not the location.

Lighten Up – How to Become A Witch in Nine Easy Lessons

In the 1980’s it was fashionable to be interested in the New Age. This is now   a dreadful faux pas within the alternative scene, and in order to be accepted   in the 1990’s metaphysical social set, one must have an interest in   Witchcraft or Paganism. Of course, you don’t have to actually belong to a   coven in order to be thought of as a Witch, you can bluff your way into being   accepted as a fully fledged Witch simply by knowing a few terms and dressing   accordingly. This brings us to…

Rule # 1: Image is Everything. After all, what’s the good of being a Witch if   nobody knows you are one? You must therefore wear black at all times. If   possible, stay out of the sun until you become really pale, as this makes the   effect even better. For women (and adventurous males) dark eyeliner and black   nail polish can enhance this look. Also wear crystals and cheap occult   paraphernalia at all times, and make sure that these are as gaudy and bizarre   as possible, as this can only help your image. Wearing a pentacle around your   neck is an absolutely necessary accessory – the bigger the better! Capes and   cloaks are optional around town – it depends on how much of a visual impact   you want to make, but either of these are also crucial apparel at any ritual   or gathering that you may attend.

Rule # 2: Name Dropping is Good. Every serious student of The Craft (and I’m   talking here about the term for Witchcraft, not macrame) knows the name   Gerald Gardner. This man revitalised Witchcraft in the mid 1900’s with his   book about the true history of The Old Religion (some have called this book   pure fiction, but only those picky few who like books to be based on facts).   Real Witches however, never let historical accuracy get in the way of their   spiritual path, so in conversations with other witches, quote his name as   often as possible (in tones of awe) and you will always be rewarded with   smiles of acceptance.

Rule # 3: Past Life Name Dropping is Even Better. Tell everyone about the   past life memories that have been surfacing since you began studying the   Black Arts. It is especially useful to remember a past lifetime as a Witch   who was killed during the Inquisition, or at least recall a lifetime as a   famous occultist. My past lives have included Aleister Crowley, Cagliostro,   Mandrake the Magician, and most of the cast of “Bewitched”.

Rule # 4: Behave Strangely. Never forget why it was that you wanted to become   a Witch – yes, so that you have an excuse for strange behaviour. Previously   labelled eccentric behaviour patterns can now be accepted by others if they   have a reason to explain it, even if that reason for howling at full moons   while naked is simply, “He/she is a Witch, that’s normal for them evidently.”   So, don’t let your friends down, behave strangely, you can get away with it   now.

Rule # 5: Watch Occult Movies. Make sure that you watch the movie “Warlock”   lots of times to perfect those soft landings after over-indulging with the   flying ointments (read as mead and weed).

Rule # 6: Ready Yourself for Sex, Money and Power. Wasn’t this the other   reason you were drawn to Witchcraft? In the past, adepts of the occult were   known to possess charismatic, lusty and powerful personas – when people find   out that you are a Witch, they may automatically assume (and therefore   empower you) with these same qualities. This may sound pretty good, but   unfortunately in today’s world, another group of people have become even more   established within the realms of kinky sex sessions and unlimited power –   yes, the politicians! Beware of this elitist group of power-brokers… they   don’t want any competition to their manipulative monopoly over the gullible   public – hence the laws against Witchcraft and divination that have remained   unchanged for centuries. So, if calling yourself a High Priest doesn’t lead   you to unlimited sex, money and power – or if it does, but you then find   yourself as the target of political and legal harassment – you may have to   put aside your cloak and broomstick and pick up a pin-stripe suit and a   back-bench in Parliament. If you can’t beat them, try bribery, then if that   doesn’t work… join them!

Rule # 7: Atmosphere is Essential. Your home must reflect your Witchy nature.   Incense must burn continuously. It’s important that visitors see clouds of   incense smoke billowing from a spluttering censer in the corner of your dim,   dank and dusty home, so dismantle the smoke detectors and start collecting   strange little bottles of exotic looking ingredients (use your imagination   and label them with names like powdered bat’s eyes, or dried dragon’s   gonads). And if you don’t like housework, you can explain that the layer of   dust that covers your floors and furniture helps to neutralise the highly   charged psychic energy that results from your magical spells, thereby   protecting your home and possessions from electromagnetic disintegration.

Rule # 8: Be Patronising to Christians. In social discussions don’t forget to   make plenty of derogatory remarks about fundamentalist Christians, but   remember to save your most biting comments for other Witches that you don’t   get along with.

Rule # 9: Brag About Your Psychic Powers. Any self-respecting Witch will tell   you that after their initiation to Witchcraft, their psychic powers awakened   and their tarot cards (which they always carry with them) are now much easier   to read (they now get something right once in a while). They will also tell   you that they can now sense energy fields (in other words, they don’t bump   into things as often as they used to). Follow this example and brag about the   rapid development of your psychic abilities since your initiation. If asked   about your initiation ceremony, simply state that you were sworn to secrecy   about it, then quickly change the subject by mentioning your newly awakened   ability to detect Ley-lines, but try to remember that a Ley-line is not a   queue for the after-ritual orgy!

Now you know how to pass yourself off as a real Witch, so place that   broomstick in a conspicuous corner (one that is not clouded by too much   incense smoke); pull on those black clothes; give everyone that you meet a   sinister look – and your social status will improve overnight. If you do all   of this successfully, you may even find yourself with enough adoring acolytes   so that you can start your own coven! Good luck and Blessed Be!

Later Developments In Wicca

Wicca has developed in several directions and institutional structures from the time it was brought to wider attention by Gerald Gardner. Gardnerian Wicca was an initiatory mystery religion, admission to which was at least in theory limited to those who were initiated into a pre-existing coven. The Book of Shadows, the grimoire that contained the Gardnerian rituals, was a secret that could only be obtained from a coven of proper lineage. Some Wiccans such as Raymond Buckland, then a Gardnerian, continued to maintain this stance well into the 1970s. Further degrees of initiation were required before members could found their own covens. Interest outstripped the ability of the mostly British-based covens to train and propagate members; the beliefs of the religion spread faster by the printed word or word of mouth than the initiatory system was prepared to handle.

Other traditions appeared. Some claimed roots as ancient as Gardner’s version, and were organised along similar lines. Others were syncretistic, importing aspects of Kabbalah or ceremonial magic. In 1971 “Lady Sheba” published a version of the Gardnerian Book of Shadows, dispelling what little secrecy remained as to the contents of Gardner’s rituals. Increasing awareness of Gardner’s literary sources and the actual early history of the movement made creativity seem as valuable as Gardnerian tradition.

Another significant development was creation by feminists of Dianic Wicca or feminist Dianic Witchcraft, a specifically feminist faith that discarded Gardnerian-style hierarchy as irrelevant; many Dianic Wiccans taught that witchcraft was every woman’s right and heritage to claim. This heritage might be characterized by the quote of Monique Wittig “But remember. Make an effort to remember. Or, failing that, invent.” This tradition was particularly open to solitary witches, and created rituals for self-initiation to allow people to identify with and join the religion without first contacting an existing coven. This contrasts with the Gardnerian belief that only a witch of opposite gender could initiate another witch.

The publications of Raymond Buckland illustrate these changes. During the early 1970s, in books such as Witchcraft – Ancient and Modern and Witchcraft From the Inside, Buckland maintained the Gardnerian position that only initiates into a Gardnerian or other traditional coven were truly Wiccans.

However, in 1974, Buckland broke with the Gardnerians and founded Seax-Wica, revealing its teachings and rituals in the book The Tree: The Complete Book of Saxon Witchcraft. This “tradition” made no claims to direct descent from ancient Saxons; all its ritual was contained in the book, which allowed for self-initiation. In 1986 Buckland published Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft, a workbook that sought to train readers in magical and ritual techniques as well as instructing them in Wiccan teachings and rituals.

Wiccan Fundamentalism

Wiccan Fundamentalism

by Ben Gruagach
http://www.WitchGrotto.com
This article may be reproduced for non-commercial purposes, providing that this original copyright notice stays in place at all times.

Religious fundamentalism is characterized by literal belief in specific spiritual claims, often about a particular religion’s history, regardless of any available evidence. A particular dogma is promoted as the One True and Only Way and anything that deviates is considered heretical.

The Roman Catholic church has an office within its organization called the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. In previous times this office had another name: the Holy Office of the Inquisition. Despite the name change the office’s role has remained the same. It is responsible for keeping doctrinal discipline and confronting and eliminating deviations in doctrinal thought. It’s all about maintaining the authority of the Vatican and the Pope and ensuring that all Roman Catholics are following the same religion and respecting the established hierarchy.

Wicca is a religion based on autonomy. It draws its basis from Pagan religions of the past but primarily from lore about witches and witchcraft. Most today consider Wicca to trace back directly or indirectly to a single man, Gerald Gardner, who promoted the religion starting in the 1940s or early 1950s in Britain. Gardner described Wicca as based on covens with each coven being autonomous. If there was dissent within a coven the rules as Gardner presented them allowed for the dissenting parties to separate and form new covens. This way of dealing with conflict resulted in encouraging diversity within Wicca and reinforced the idea that there was no central authority which would dictate that one coven was wrong and another right on matters of philosophy or practice.

Gardner also insisted that there were other Wiccans out there that he did not know about who had been practicing before he was initiated. He did this partially to promote the debatable claim that he was merely passing on an intact ancient religion. One consequence of this is that it left the door open for others to come forward and claim they were witches or Wiccans too from a common mythical ancestry and Gardner could not really insist they were wrong. Even if these other Wiccans practiced things differently, Gardner’s “old laws” clearly made it acceptable for variety in the way covens and practitioners did things. He might not have intended to do so but Gardner’s decisions regarding how to handle things in his own group had set the stage for Wicca to become much more than just his own teachings in his own groups.

The result of all this was that Gardner essentially gave away the right to exclusive ownership over the label Wicca for his groups and those directly descended from them. He might not have anticipated this possibility but in any case it is what happened. Many groups, sometimes with conflicting philosophies and ways of doing things, have come forward under the banner of Wicca. New groups have been created and old ones have splintered into other quite distinct groups. Autonomy was there so of course it was exercised!

Not everyone has been happy about this. Some of Gardner’s direct spiritual descendants have argued that only they and a few select groups that they approve of should have the right to call themselves Wiccan. However the autonomous structure had already been set up and no one group has the authority to dictate to the rest of the community. Wicca did not have a central authority structure in the past and it does not have one now. It is highly unlikely at this point that a central authority could be established which the majority of Wiccans would respect.

There have been attempts to seize power and establish a central Wiccan authority but these have all failed. One example is when Alex Sanders proclaimed himself the King of the Witches but it was quickly pointed out, particularly by Gardnerian Wiccans, that he did not have any authority outside of Alexandrian Wiccan covens. Another example is when in 1974 at the Witchmeet gathering in Minnesota, Lady Sheba (a.k.a. Jessie Wicker Bell) declared herself the leader of American witches and demanded that everyone hand over their Books of Shadows to her so that she could combine their contents and then establish a single authoritative Book of Shadows which all American witches would be expected to follow. She was laughed at and needless to say was not successful in establishing the central authority she sought.

It was at that same 1974 Witchmeet where we had probably the closest thing to a central Wiccan authority created in the declaration of the Principles of Wiccan Belief. This set of thirteen principles attempted to outline in a very general way the basic foundation of Wiccan philosophy. The concept of autonomy of both groups and individuals is clear in the document. It also specified that lineage or membership in specific groups was not a requirement in order to be Wiccan. Many Wiccans, both as groups and individually, consider the Principles to be the foundation of their spiritual path. However, true to the autonomy inherent in Wicca, there are some Wiccans who do not consider the Principles to be part of their individual or group philosophy.

Some are not satisfied with how things are in the Wiccan community and actively work to establish a central authority with their own particular outlook of course identified as the One True and Only Way. They are not satisfied with the fact that the autonomy they personally enjoy in Wicca also means that other Wiccans are free to follow their own different paths. These are the Wiccan fundamentalists who see variety as heresy. As far as they are concerned, if you’re not practicing things the way they personally do, and don’t believe things exactly the way they personally do, then you must be wrong and should either correct your ways or else stop calling yourself a Wiccan.

Perhaps these attitudes are carried over from previous religious education where the idea of One True Way was key, such as in many varieties of monotheism, particularly the evangelical and literalist varieties. Often the Wiccan manifestation of the One True Way idea comes through as a literal and absolute belief in the truth of a particular teacher’s work. Most often the teacher elevated to the status of never-to-be-questioned guru is Gerald Gardner since he was the one who began the Wiccan movement in the middle of the twentieth century. In the mind of many Wiccan fundamentalists, if Gardner taught it then it must be absolutely true!

Unfortunately for the literalists Gardner has turned out to be a mere human being just like the rest of us. Some things he got right and some things he got wrong. The history of Wicca that Gardner presented, especially the part that explains what came before Gardner was initiated, has proven to be largely speculation with very little evidence to support many of its major claims. Historians aren’t completely ignorant of what happened prior to the 1950s in England. We have enough evidence to know that Gardner’s historical claims were not completely accurate nor were they completely supported by the evidence.

A religion’s value does not depend on the literal truth of its historical claims. Many millions of people find Christianity to be meaningful despite the fact its history is not absolutely settled. Buddhists seem to still find their religion to be valuable despite the questions regarding the provable history of the religion’s founders. Wicca too is a precious treasure for those who practice it even if they don’t believe one hundred percent of the historical claims made by Gardner.

Some religions do consider blind obedience to authority to be a virtue the faithful are expected to cultivate in themselves. Wicca though cherishes autonomy and this is in direct conflict with blind obedience. Wiccans who value blind obedience are welcome to make that a part of their religious practice but they are out of line in expecting others to abide by their dictates. Wicca does not have an Office of the Holy Inquisition and many Wiccans will actively fight against the establishment of such. And that is to be expected.

Wiccans who play the fundamentalist mind-game of proclaiming that those who do not agree with them are not “true Wiccans” deserve the same reaction that Lady Sheba got back in 1974 when she declared herself Witch Queen of America – they should be laughed at and then ignored. Wicca is not a One True Way religion and never has been. Those who would make it over into one are in for a long hard struggle that they will likely never win. Is it really worth it for them? After all, if they wanted a One True Way religion there are plenty of those out there for them to join. Wicca is for those of us who are free-thinkers, rebels, nature-worshippers, who laugh and love and dance in the name of our Gods and Goddesses in spite of what the stiff-shirt self-declared authorities around us tell us is right and proper. Others can try to co-opt our religion and turn it into yet another fossilized dogma of right and wrong to be blindly followed on pain of excommunication or threats of torment in other lives. The witch’s cat is already out of the bag and has been for some time now, and we’re all enjoying the nighttime revels and the daytime ignoring of arbitrary conventions too much to just follow what someone else tells us is the One True Way.

References

Bonewits, Isaac. “Witchcraft: A Concise Guide.” (Earth Religions Press, 2001.)

Heselton, Philip. “Gerald Gardner and the Cauldron of Inspiration.” (Capall Bann Publishing, 2003.)

Hutton, Ronald. “The Triumph of the Moon.” (Oxford University Press, 1999.)

Lamond, Frederic. “Fifty Years of Wicca.” (Green Magic, 2004.)

Valiente, Doreen. “The Rebirth of Witchcraft.” (Phoenix Publishing, 1989.)

Basic Philosophy of Wicca

Wicca, or Witchcraft, is an earth religion — a re-linking (re-ligion) with the life-force of nature, both on this planet and in the stars and space beyond. In city apartments, in suburban backyards, in country glades, groups of women and men meet on the new and full moons (Esbats) and at festival times (Sabbats) to raise energy and put themselves in tune with these natural forces. They honor the old Goddesses and Gods, including the Triple Goddess of the waxing, full, and waning moon, and the Horned God of the sun and animal life, as visualizations of immanent nature.

Our religion is not a series of precepts or beliefs, rather we believe that we each have within ourselves the capacity to reach out and experience the mystery — that feeling of ineffable oneness with all Life. Those who wish to experience this transcendence must work, and create, and participate in their individual religious lives. For this reason, our congregations, called covens, are small groups which give room for each individual to contribute to the efforts of the group by self-knowledge and creative experimentation within the agreed-upon group structure or tradition.

Not all practisioners are in Covens, Some prefer to follow a Solitary path, sometimes refered to as Solitry Wicca. Most who practice solitary Wicca follow more of an Eclectic path, There are some who still follow the same traits as covens.

There are many traditions or sects within the Craft. Different groups take their inspiration from the pre-Christian religions of certain ethnic groups (e.g. Celtic, Greek, Norse, Finno-Ugric); in the liturgical works of some modern Witch poet or scholar (e.g. Gerald Gardner, Z Budapest, Alex Saunders, Starhawk); or by seeking within themselves for inspiration and direction. Many feminists have turned to Wicca and the role of priestess for healing and strength after the patriarchal oppression and lack of voice for women in the major world religions.

There are many paths to spiritual growth. Wicca is a participatory revelation, a celebratory action leading to greater understand of oneself and the universe. We believe there is much to learn by studying our past, through myth, through ritual drama, through poetry and music, through love and through living in harmony with the Earth.

Origins Of Wicca

Origins Of Wicca

The history of Wicca is a much debated topic. Gardner claimed that the religion was a survival of matriarchal religions of pre-historic Europe (see V?), taught to him by a woman named Dorothy Clutterbuck. Many believe he invented it himself, following the thesis of Dr. Margaret Murray and sources such as Aradia: Gospel of the Witches by Charles Godfrey Leland, and the practices of Freemasonry and ceremonial magic; and while Clutterbuck certainly existed, historian Ronald Hutton concluded that she is unlikely to have been involved in Gardner’s Craft activities. While the ritual format of Wicca is undeniably styled after late Victorian era occultism, the spiritual content is inspired by older Pagan faiths, with Buddhist and Hindu influences. Whether any historical connection to Pagan religion exists, the aspiration to emulate Pagan religion (as it was understood at the time) certainly does.

Gardner probably had access to few, if any, traditional Pagan rites. The prevailing theory is that most of his rites were the result of his adapting the works of Aleister Crowley. There is very little in the Wiccan rites that cannot be shown to have come from earlier extant sources. The original material is not cohesive and mostly takes the form of substitutions or expansions within unoriginal material, such as embellishment of Crowley lines.

Philip Heselton, writing in Wiccan Roots and later in Gerald Gardner and the Cauldron of Inspiration, argues that Gardner was not the author of the Wiccan rituals but received them in good faith from an unknown source. He notes that all the Crowley material that is found in the Wiccan rituals can be found in a single book, The Equinox vol 3 no. 1 or Blue Equinox. Gardner is not known to have owned or had access to a copy of this book.The idea of primitive matriarchal religions, deriving ultimately from studies by Johann Jakob Bachofen, was popular in Gardner’s day, both among academics (e.g., Erich Neumann, Margaret Murray) and amateurs such as Robert Graves.

Later academics (e.g. Carl Jung and Marija Gimbutas) continued research in this area, and later still Joseph Campbell, Ashley Montagu and others highly esteemed Gimbutas’s work on the matrifocal cultures of Old Europe. Both matrifocal interpretation of the archaeological record, and the foundations of criticism of such work, continue to be matters of academic debate. Some academics carry on research in this area (consider the 2003 World Congress on Matriarchal Studies). Critics argue that matriarchal societies never actually existed, and are an invention of researchers such as Margaret Murray.

The idea of a supreme Mother Goddess was common in Victorian and Edwardian literature: the concept of a Horned God–especially related to the gods Pan or Faunus–was less common, but still significant. Both of these ideas were widely accepted in academic literature, and in the popular press. Gardner used these concepts as his central theological doctrine, and constructed Wicca around this core.

The Wicca Book Of Days for February 17th – Kali, the Killer

The Wicca Book Of Days for February 17th

Kali, the Killer

It is generally said that Kali, “the Black One,” the Hindu Goddess of destruction and death, was born on February 17th, 3102 BC, and that her birth inaugurated the Kali Yuga (“Evil Age”) in which we are still living. As the shakti, or dynamic feminine energy, that emanates from Shiva, “The Destroyer.” Kali is envisaged with a black tongue and skin, and as having a ferocious temperament and an insatiable thirst for the blood that sustains her. She is typically depicted wearing a necklace of severed heads and wielding an arsenal of blood-drenched weapons in her many hands.

“Serpentine Shakti”

Shakti energy lies coiled and dormant at the base of the spine, but bliss can be attained after it has been awakened and has risen through all seven chakras to the crown of the head. If you long to experience the ecstasy of Shiva’s union with his shakti, either practice kundalini yoga tonight or sign up for classes!

The Wicca Book Of Days for February 16 – Raphael to the Rescue!

The Wicca Book of Days for February 16th

Raphael to the Rescue!

If you are ailing and feel that you could do with some angelic first aid, calling on Raphael would be especially efficacious, for the element of air corresponds to this Archangel, as it does to Aquarius, the zodiacal sign that rules this February day. Raphael, whose magick color is sky blue, is furthermore considered to be the Guardian of the East and the angelic entity that presides over Spring. Said to have miraculous powers of healing (the Apocrypha relates how he restored the blind Tobit’s sight with fish gall). Raphael is also regarded as a patron Saint of physicians, pharmacists, and apothecaries.

“A Bolt from the Blue”

If you have a set of Tarot cards, look hard at the major-arcana card of the Lightning-struck Tower (XVI) on this sixteenth day of February. You may increasingly gain the sense that spiritual illumination can shatter your defenses like a thunderbolt from the blue, or that turmoil is on the cards.

Practicing Wicca and Witchcraft Today

Practicing Wicca and Witchcraft Today

 

Starting something new can be frightening; this applies also to a new religion. You will be taught the basic tenants, but in the long run, it will be up to you to make of it what you want.

There are many different witches, each with their own set of rituals. Some witches prefer to work alone, other like working within a coven. Once again this is a person choice. Let no one force you into joining anything with which you are not comfortable.

Let me give you an idea of the various forms of the craft that are available to you.

Gardnerian Wicca: Started in 1950’s by Gerald Gardner. Groups tend to work skyclad. Covens use a degree system. Individuals are initiated by the coven.

Alaxandrian Wicca: Started in the 1960’s in England. In many aspects they are like the Gardnerian Wicca.

Georgian Wicca: Founded by George Patterson in the 1970’s. They are known as the Georgian Church and draw their rituals from the Alaxandrian and Gardnerian crafts. Members also write their own ritual.

Algard Wicca: Founded in 1972. Mary Nesnick combined Alexandrian and Gardnerian Wicca to form the Algard tradition. They are very close to the Gardnerian tradition.

Seax-Wica: Founded in 1962 by Raymond Buckland a protégé of Gardner. He moved to the U. S. A. and in 1973 started his own tradition based on Saxon traditions. Hence Seax-Wica.

Feri Tradition: Victor Anderson is credited to bringing this tradition to America in the late 1960’s. Feri teacher tend to add something of themselves to the religion as they teach. They can be solitary or work in small groups.

Dianic Tradition: This religion focus strongly on the Goddess with little or no interact on the God. This is a feminist movement of the craft. The covens are women only.

British Traditional: There are a number of different British Traditions that are based on the Pre Christian traditions of Old England.

Celtic Wicca: The tradition looks to the Celtic and druidic deities, with an emphasis on magickal and healing properties.

Northern Way or Asatru. This tradition is based on the Old Norse gods.

Pictish Witches: This is a solitary Scottish Tradition that is based on nature.

Strega Witches: This tradition is from Italy.

You will notice that this list is long, but not complete. Many witches are drawn to the “way” because of their background. This need not be so. Follow the one that calls to you.