Posts Tagged With: Witchcraft

Reflecting on Witchcraft, Then and Now

Reflecting on Witchcraft, Then and Now

Author: Crick 

These days I find myself in periods of reflection on my experiences in the Craft and the ways that is has affected my personal views on life. As part of this reflection, I often wonder in what direction the Craft is now undertaking.

My girlfriend of many years, who is a Druid, and who has spent hours engaged in discussions with the old guy, will occasionally tell me, “you just aren’t right” before flashing a huge grin. When she says this I feel honored because it confirms that I have walked through this life as an individual. And it is has been the experiences of being involved in traditional Witchcraft that has made such a life experience possible.

But now I find myself in a quandary as to my personal views of witchcraft.

When I was growing up on a farm in Tennessee in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s and later in suburbia in MD, our family quietly practiced the Craft as we knew it by way of our Irish heritage and the Appalachia influence that we grew up around.

Outwardly we were like any other family at the time; just our beliefs were a bit different from some. And though we referred to folks outside of our personal family as “the others” we were never obvious about such beliefs and so folks around us in the community had no clue. In fact, only one outsider, a Mrs. Bowie, who was a retired minister of a mystical Christian church and close friend of my grandmother Ina and a family from Ohio that used to visit my grandparents when we lived in MD, were the only non-family members that were aware of our ways.

Were we special?

Absolutely not, we were just as dysfunctional in some ways as any other family from that era. However, we never believed in publicity as far as our particular beliefs in the Craft. This was not due to fear of any public backlash or what have you; it was just our way to be private about our family ways.

In those days, folks believed that went on behind closed doors stayed behind those same doors. When my mother branched off into a coven separate from our immediate family at the beginning of 1970, a coven whose focus was primarily on Astrology and its influences on life, the ways of silence were such that though I as a teenager was aware of the existence of that coven, I knew next to nothing beyond that tiny morsel of information.

Some of you may have met my mother at some point in time for during the 1970’s she performed astrological and Tarot readings for a cruise ship liner that traveled between the coast of Florida and the Bahamas.

At any rate, during the mid 1970’s I spent three years in Germany with the military and during that time I was associated with a coven that engaged the path of Hecate and thus would probably be seen as a “dark” coven by Neo pagans today. And yet, though we were very active, we did not seek and in fact went to great pains to avoid publicity.

And now I come to my reservations and thus conflicting emotions about the openness if you will of witchcraft in today’s times. During the years that I have mentioned above, privacy was something that was as a natural way of life at the time and was respected as such.

I am keenly aware that during these same times, that those of the Wicca were in fact moving in the opposite direction and actively seeking publicity at every opportunity. Beyond this observation I personally have no comment to share about the Wicca during those times, for I am speaking about witchcraft as I know it from my personal experiences and not about the fledgling religion of Wicca.

In today’s day and age, with the advent of the Internet where information is readily assessable and where there are now a plethora of Wicca and witchcraft 101 books, it is difficult to find folks who adhere to the tenets of privacy that witchcraft once knew. My personal concerns are that is such openness really a positive step forward in regards to witchcraft?

When I examine my personal views of witchcraft, I see a spiritual path that is wide open to “personal” discovery. Nor do I see any valid restrictions on what or how a practitioner of witchcraft may engage in order to arrive at such discoveries. If one sees the need to conjure up a spirit or other entity in an effort to experience such a discovery, then so be it. If one needs to resort to witchcraft to correct a wrong from another, then again, so be it.

As a witch, I believe that each of us is an individual and as such I do not believe in Karma, a concept that is foreign to the art of witchcraft. But I do believe in maintaining personal responsibility. As an old school witch, I feel that I know my personal goals and the experiences needed to achieve them far better than any group of folks such as those found within the many religions that make up our world. If I make a mistake than I am the one who has to pay for them.

I personally do not believe that a public forum has the right to outline boundaries that defines what steps I am allowed to take to arrive at my experiences in witchcraft. As an individual I do not believe that anyone outside of me has a say on how I personally pursue the path of witchcraft.

Again, I am the one that has to answer for any trial and errors that I engage in within the parameters of witchcraft. And yet this is exactly the perception that we are at in today’s Neo pagan community.

Witchcraft is now defined (erroneously to my mind) as a religion. And as a religion all of the tenets that were once diametrically opposed to the tenets of witchcraft are now accepted as being the norm.

Because of the instantaneous communication of the Internet, folks who engage in witchcraft are cast into a false image of being light and fluffy folks. I personally do not believe in Good and Evil, as these is primarily concepts that originated with the Abrahamic religions. I do believe that there are shades of light and dark, but only in the sense that we need such labels in order to put a sense of understanding on such concepts as they relate to the human experience.

And so I have to wonder, if we took the overwhelming desire for publicity that defines the art of witchcraft today, would witchcraft still be defined as it is by today’s standards. Or would the freedoms that were once a tenet of witchcraft, flourish yet once again?

And are such modern standards, which in effect are enhanced by way of the Internet, realistic as it pertains to the practice of witchcraft?

Massive publicity may bode well for a religion in the sense that it needs such attention in order to boost its membership. But is such publicity really a positive and useful approach to a mystical spiritual path that requires no such membership beyond that of the individual practitioner?

Is the personal responsibility that has always been an unavoidable tenet of witchcraft still possible or even a consideration in the concept of witchcraft as it is defined by today’s standards? Has such massive publicity made witchcraft into a completely unrealistic concept in order to be acceptable to today’s society? Has such publicity taken away from the base realities of witchcraft?

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How Witchcraft Works – Modern Witchcraft

How Witchcraft Works

by

Modern Witchcraft

Witchcraft is a pagan religion. Pagan religions worship multiple deities rather than a single god. Paganism is one of the oldest religions and includes all religions that are not Christian, Muslim or Jewish, meaning Paganism includes the Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, Confucian and American Indian religions as well as all other nature-oriented religions. According to the 1998 Cambridge Fact Finder, Paganism accounts for 50 percent of all religions.

The word “Pagan” actually stems from the Latin Pagini or Paganus, words meaning “hearth” or “home dweller” or, more simply, “country person” — those labeled as Pagans were considered inferior to those living in cities. It didn’t, however, mean those people were “bad.” It wasn’t until the 1450s that fear of witchcraft became more prevalent, and people began associating witchcraft and paganism with devil worship, evil hexes and spells.

Types of Witchcraft

There are many types of witchcraft, many of which overlap and all of which can be defined in different ways by different people, but here are some rough guidelines for their designations:

  • African witchcraft: There are many types of witchcraft in Africa. The Azande of central Africa believe that witchcraft causes all types of misfortune. The “gift” of witchcraft, known as mangu, is passed from parent to child. Those possessing mangu aren’t even aware of it and perform magick unconsciously while they sleep.
  • Appalachian folk magic: Those who practice witchcraft in the Appalachian mountains see good and evil as two distinct forces that are led by the Christian God and Devil, respectively. They believe there are certain conditions that their magick cannot cure. They also believe that witches are blessed with paranormal powers and can perform powerful magick that can be used for either good or evil purposes. They look to nature for omens and portents of the future.
  • Green witchcraft: A Green witch is very similar to a Kitchen/Cottage witch (see below) with the exception that the Green witch practices in the fields and forest in order to be closer to the Divine spirit. The Green witch makes his or her own tools from accessible materials from outdoors.
  • Hedge witchcraft: A Hedge witch is not part of a group or coven. This witch practices magick alone and works more with the green arts, herbal cures and spells. In the early days, Hedge witches were local wise men or women who cured illnesses and gave advice. They can be of any religion and are considered traditional witches (see below).
  • Hereditary witchcraft: Hereditary witches believe in “gifts” of the craft that are with a witch from birth, having been passed from generations before.
  • Kitchen/Cottage witchcraft: A Kitchen witch, or Cottage witch, practices magick around the hearth and home. The home is a sacred place, and the use of herbs is used often to bring protection, prosperity and healing. Kitchen witches often follow more than one path of witchcraft.
  • Pennsylvania Dutch hexcraft or “Pow-wow“: When the Germans first arrived in Pennsylvania, Native Americans were there, so the term “pow-wow” to describe this practice may come from observations of Indian gatherings. Pow-wowing includes charms and incantations dating back to the Middle Ages, as well as elements borrowed from the Jewish Kabbalah and Christian Bible. Pow-wowing focuses on healing illnesses, protecting livestock, finding love or casting or removing hexes. Pow-wowers consider themselves to be Christians endowed with supernatural powers.
  • Traditional witchcraft: Traditional witchcraft often follows science, history and the arts as its foundation. While sharing the same respect for nature as the Wiccan witch (see below), traditional witches do not worship nature nor the god or goddess of Wicca. They contact spirits that are part of an unseen spirit world during rituals. Magick is more practical than ceremonial and focuses greatly on herbs and potions. This sect of witchcraft also has no law of harming none, but does believe in responsibility and honor. Hexes and curses, therefore, can be used in self-defense or for other types of protection.
  • Wicca: Wicca is one of the modern Pagan religions that worships the Earth and nature, and it is only about 60 years old. It was created in the 1940s and ’50s by Gerald Gardner. Gardner defined witchcraft as a positive and life-affirming religion that includes divination, herblore, magic and psychic abilities. Wiccans take an oath to do no harm with their magick.

 

Source:

howstuffworks

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A Little Secret That Only Witches Can Know About. Can I Trust You?

Every secret organization or religion has a secret or two. Of course, you won’t never hear about them because they are secrets. Makes senses. Most of these organizations and religions have secrets to keep the public out and in the dark, to exclude them. On the other hand, our religion is not like that we have had to keep it secret just to keep it alive. If it was for our ancestors keeping our entire religion secret, we wouldn’t have a religion.

The secret I am getting ready to share with you is not that big of deal. It was used in the Burning Times to determine if the person you were meeting was a witch. You can see during this period of time why it was very important to know who you were meeting.

Here is the ritual. Enjoy!

This is a magic witches hand shake spell. This spell is cast to find out if someone you know may or may not be a witch. After casting this magic spell, you will then shake the hand of the person you are inquiring about, and your answer will be revealed in the handshake. It can also be used to slightly put a thought or idea inside the mind of a person without coming right out and suggesting it. We offer many more free magic spells here for you to use and to try.

Extend your right index finger and lightly touch the wrist of the person exactly where the pulse is felt. By touching the pulse it throws the acquaintance completely off his balance for just an instant , but in that instant plant an initial
thought, ( example : I am the one you want for the job) this
really works and is cool, try it.

*You can also determine if the other person is a witch by the way they grasp your hand. If their right index finger is extended and touching your pulse area, more than likely they are a with.*

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Journey To Witchcraft

Journey To Witchcraft

Author:   The Wild Sorceress  

Hello from an Australian Eclectic Witch. I have to admit, I’m a bit of a procrastinator. I’ve been thinking about writing an essay for some time but as all procrastinators will tell you, it’s always the thinking, never the doing.

I have always been interested in witchcraft. I think the awareness and the interest started when I was 13, (inspired from seeing The Craft. Yes, I know what you’re thinking and you’re probably right. But we all find our path in different ways).

I went to see the movie with three friends and at the end of the movie, like all teenage girls who are not considered ‘popular’ we thought “Wow this is for us”. Double, Double, Toil and Trouble the teenage way. And like all teenagers, my three friends lost interest fairly soon after.

The interest always stuck with me in various ways over the next few years but being in high school one has enough stress and doesn’t always find the time to delve into the spiritual.

So as the story goes, years later I was cleaning out my room and came across a book my parents had bought for me when I was 13 called The Nice Girl’s Book of Naughty Spells. (Yes you read correctly, my parents bought it for me).

I also came across articles I had ripped out of magazines and a booklet I had sent off for from the Church Of Wicca in Perth, WA. It grabbed me, and then it lost me. I began working and again, it took a back seat. I think at that stage in my life, it wasn’t time for me to walk the path. (Procrastination again).

I was about 22 when the interest became more of a spiritual need, a path I felt I needed to walk. I bought books to read. My first 2 were Witch A Personal Journey and A Magickal Year by Fiona Horne, followed soon by Book Of Shadows by Phyllis Currot and then finally Wicca by Scott Cunningham. It really hit me: this is what I wanted, and I felt it was right for me.

Luckily I didn’t have any religious conflicts. For all intents and purposes my mother was a single mother and she felt, not being religious herself, that she did not want to baptize her children (I have an older brother). She felt that we should feel free to pick our own path when we were old enough to understand what religion was. Suffice to say, Christianity was not for me.

I’ve always been an independent free thinker and the rules and rigmarole of organized religion was not for me.

The way I got here was interesting. As a general rule when I was younger, nature and its elements were actually very boring to me. I knew there were trees and flowers and things of that nature but it didn’t really impact me in any fashion. I used to hate helping my mother garden. Also, every time I tried to grow something it would die. The natural world, seemingly, was not my friend.

As I began to study witchcraft the natural held more interest and I felt better and more alive when I would go outside. We have this massive Oak tree in our yard and it is magnificent and really old. Now when I stand with it and look at it or touch the leaves, I feel an affinity I never thought I would. I feel a spiritual recognition, a connection with its beauty and its sense of history. I grow herbs under it and they flourish nourished by its shade. Being a fire sign, Oak is also one of my Celtic trees.

I feel my personal power growing. I have always had a strong sense of intuition and occasionally have psychic flashes that more often than not just leave me with a head spinning sense of déjà vu.

I am now able to grow herbs. I’m currently growing about 8 different kinds from seed and they are going really strong now. To me, this is a sign that the Goddess is helping me walk this path.

The one thing that originally boggled my mind was the amount of ‘things’ needed in witchcraft. There are athames and wands, chalices, censers, candles, herbs etc and I thought that my new path — although giving me great spiritual fulfillment — was going to drain my finances. But I have found that these items have come to me when I have needed them, not before. I think that instead of rushing out and buying everything all at once that if you wait, the Goddess will deliver. If not, I have 2 great recommendations for you.

EBay is a great place to get different ritual items. I got my first lot of herbs, most of my books, runes and two lovely wooden pentagram boxes from EBay.

Another is an Australian website called Uncle Festers. They have a club called the Cauldron Club and each month for 13 months they send you a package, slowly building up all your ritual supplies. Since being with them I haven’t really bought anything. I wait; it comes. I love it; it’s like my birthday every month.

My mother and stepfather have always been incredibly supportive of my choice (as has my brother and friends). I never had to worry about their disapproval. It breaks my heart when I read articles on here about new witches who fear rejection and anger from their parents if they share with them the news of walking the path of the Goddess. It’s sad that people are not flexible minded enough to realize that what may be good for them religion-wise is not always good for someone else.

My advice is to stay strong and be true to who you are because ultimately in this world, the only person who you have to please is yourself.

Wow, do I go on. So this is the story of a 24-year-old Eclectic Witch from Australia who wanted to write an article for Witchvox.

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Instant Witch

Instant Witch

Author:   Stephanie Arwen  

Gotcha! Now you know there is no $19.95 wayof being a Witch, don’t you? Sit down; take a breath…now that you havefound something you want you want it yesterday! I understand. I can rememberwhen I started. I remember that sense of urgency I got. That “I have toget there right now” I have to be just like Z. Budapest, Starhawk, Margo!I wanted to meet them. I wanted to talk to them yesterday! But most ofall and worst of all, I wanted to be them. Put pushing the river isn’tgoing to get you there any faster. And where is there anyway?

Seventeen years down the road now and I cansay to you that you will NEVER be a Z a Starhawk a Margot a Silver Ravenwolf, a D.J. Conway, a Scott Cunningham. Oh no, you can’t be them. You can onlybe you. And that you is going to be a beautiful thing!

So I was 20 and I finally knew what I wantedto be when I grew up, but no one could give me enough information. I wasneither as fortunate nor as cursed as you are in today’s world of a dozenbooks per subject. Fortunate because you can go into almost any Barnesand Noble, Waldenbooks, or even Amazon.com and just pick up a book. Doyou have any idea how hard that was in 1981? Finding a copy of ZsuzsannaBudapest’s The Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries, pt 1 was an experience.I was living in Louisiana at the time and a friend had introduced me toStarhawk’s The Spiral Dance. I was hooked. I am also a bibliography reader.If an author I like mentions a book, then I want to get my hands on thatbook and see what it is about!

But you are cursed as well because thereis so much witchcrap out there. So many people who have written books thatare a total waste of paper. But the books that I think are a waste of papermay be the ones that speak best to you. That is a clue, my new Witch friend.Never let me or anyone else tell you that a book is useless. Learn to readfor yourself and think critically while you read. Does the author makesense or is there a nagging feeling you have that this person is a completeflake? If there is, then do yourself a favor and research the subject.You don’t think that author woke up one morning and knew everything therewas to know about their subject do you? Patricia Telesco, one of my favoriteauthors, has a page on her website that tells new authors to plan for 800hours per book. And that 800 hours includes research as part of it! Soif Ms. Telesco must research, why shouldn’t you?

The web has wonderful places for that kindof research, but don’t forget your local library! Find authors you admire.Then try to discover why you like them. Is it because they have writtenbooks period? Or is it in the way that they deliver their information?Dorothy Morrison has a style that I adore! She is personable and approachablein her books as well as accurate and knowledgeable. Or you might preferFrancesca De Grandis style that has the feel of teacher walking with herstudent and talking.

And don’t just read websites! A website ownercan be someone with less knowledge than you but has the ability and know-howto scan books and copy things wholesale without credit. Don’t be takenin. Go to your local library (you remember, that large brick building onthe corner?) and check out books on anthropology, archaeology, history, etc. Learn where our roots come from. And please, don’t let someone tellyou Wicca is an ages-old religion! It is not. It is a new religion. I liketo say Wicca is a new dress on a very old set of bones. We do have someancient roots, but the branches we have today are new. But you have tolearn to let the urgency not rule you. Do read everything you can get yourhands on. Read “Witch” books. Read all the books! But don’t forget to takeyour salt cellar with you.

Huh? Arwen? What the heck are you talkingabout and what is a salt cellar?

Your Salt Cellar is that thing you carrysalt in so you will always have a grain of salt to take things with. Don’taccept something simply because it is published in a book or on the web.Learn to believe in yourself. Learn to listen to your inner voice. Theone telling you that maybe what you just read is a load of manure …ormaybe it is saying that there is a pearl in that load of manure. Trustin the reality of self. I can’t stress this enough. If you will give yourselfthe tools of knowledge and discernment, then you can begin to hear thetruth in things as well as the lies and mistakes. Do listen to what otherssay about books, but don’t take their word for it. Figure it out for yourself.

The sense of urgency you feel now may makeyou too intent on getting there. But, here is the question. Where is there?Are you so focused on your race to the finish that you are not enjoyingthe journey? Be too intent on getting there wherever there is and not intentupon enjoying the journey and the journey will pass you by! I don’t knowif this message will reach you, but I am 38 (b. 1961). I began my journeyon the path to Wicca in 1981 (or 2). That was 17 years ago. I am stillon the journey of getting there. I will always be on that journey. Learnto enjoy the Trip. There is no there. When you get there, you will havereached the end and that means starting again.

Once you learn that the journey is the meansand the end, then you realize how much more you have to learn.

I wish you good fortune on your travels.A part of me wishes I was at the beginning again, but most of me is quitecontent to be where I am. I am still experiencing new thoughts, new thingsand new people on a daily basis. Remember to enjoy the trip. Oh, and don’tforget to send a postcard from some of those exotic places you visit.

Ok, for those of you who still want all theanswers.

All The Answers ™

Red, blue, green, yellow, white, Hallows, Samhain, Winter Solstice, Yule, Candlemas, Brigidmas, Imbolg, Vernal Equinox, Spring Equinox, Ostara, Beltain, Mayday, Lady’s Day, Beltaine, Litha, Midsummer, Summer Solstice, Longest Day of the Year, Lammas, Lugh’s Feast, Lughnassadh, Autumnal Equinox, Mabon, cakes and wine, Heiros Gamos, 42, North, East, South, West, Water, Fire, Air, Earth, Center, Above, Below, salamander, dragonfly, snake, dolphin, Raven, Morgan, WildHawk, Hawkdatter, OakStandingTall, cat, dog, frog, toad, A, B, C, D, All Of The Above, True, False, myrrh, frankincense, pine, oak, holly, Cerridwen, Cernnunos, Herne, Hecate, Isis, Tammuz.

Now…you have to supply the questions.
Arwen NightstarThe Instant Witch Graphic was done by Andra (webmistress for http://www.spiritonline.com) This graphic is one she made in response to a flurry of “insta-witch” questions she received on her discussion board Spirit Online, an interactive resource for those interested in understanding and discussing religion and metaphysics.

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Let’s Talk Witch – Using Our Five Senses in Magick

Witchy Comments & Graphics
Let’s Talk Witch – Using Our Five Senses in Magick

This is part 1 of a WOTC mini-series on the Five Senses Used in Magick

All material are taken from an excerpt by Marion Sipe’s article,
“Engaging All Five Senses in Spellwork” which can be found
in the Llewellyn’s Almanac for 2014.
 

Part 1 – Engaging All Five Senses in Spellwork

Spellwork is the practice of bringing the possible into reality whether the spells are for better health, a new job, or tastier garden tomatoes. All of these goals, and most others, work on the principle that the worker uses their own will to shape reality, and because of this, the worker uses their own will to shape reality, and because of this, the worker must be able to form a clear picture of the intended outcome. You can’t create what you can’t imagine so the more clearly the goal is identified, the more likely the desired outcome. Engaging all of our senses in spellwork can help us define that goal and give it aspects that appeal to our need to interact with something to prove to ourselves it is real. Additionally, sometimes we need to define goals that aren’t concrete, but rather involve abstractions such as emotions and memories. Such goals can be hard to represent, but by using our other senses, we can find representation for them, and manifest even the most abstract goals into reality.

While visualization is a much praised and important part of spellwork, each of our four other senses has the potential to connect us to our spellwork in deeper and more intense ways. Human beings are primarily visual creatures, but that does not mean that the visual sense is the strongest for everyone. Nor does it mean that our other senses have less to offer. Many of us already use cues for our other senses in ritual; a drumbeat or music in the background, incense in the Air, cakes and ale. However, we don’t always bring these elements into the spellwork itself. We can use smells, tastes, sounds, and textures in spellcraft to create a deeper link with the magick as well as a more complete representation of the desired result.

For instance, smells provide a powerful trigger for memory and emotion. As an example, you can improve a spell to relieve insomnia by using the smell of fresh linen, applying the scent to a small sachet tucked into your pillow. The scent becomes another part of the spell whether it’s the use of baby powder in a sachet meant to aid in fertility or using a vial of oil as the focus for a calm flying spell.

We can also use scents to bring a spell to mind again after the casting, strengthening the magick or its effect on you. Additionally, spells that you can taste can have a huge impact on the body, and make a great vehicle for workings such as health spells or other purposes involving the body. The sense of touch plays a large role in our interaction with others, but is also the medium through which we interact with and manipulate the world. When we think of something as material, we think of being able to touch it; therefore, giving a texture and feel to the goals of our spellwork lends a quality of realism that brings them closer to manifestation.

“Tomorrow we continue with this series by looking at how our sense of Smell works into our spellwork.”

 

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Who Is A Real Witch Anyway?

Who Is A Real Witch Anyway?

Author:   Amergin Aradia   

It seems that the debate about who is and who is not a “real Witch” is coming to a head. Is this sect real as opposed to that sect? Are those in covens real Witches as opposed to solitaries’. And on and on it goes. It’s beginning to sound like the fight between factions of the Christian religion or between organized religions as a whole. That’s probably the way they began too.

This silly useless debate is pulling our community apart as well. The truth is, are any of us real Witches. And how do you define a real Witch? By whose standards and rules?

As an illustration of my point I’ll tell you my story. I have always known that I was a Witch, even before I really knew what that was. When I was very young (grade school) I had certain abilities and interests that other kids didn’t. I practiced raising energy, practiced ESP (as it was called then) , I astral projected, and I cast spells. I was drawn to the night, the moon and stars, and I identified with all things “magical.”

I wasn’t trained by anyone because there was no one to train me. I had to figure it out for myself and that was in the 1950’s so you know there were very few references to rely on even if I knew where to look. As I grew up I did what everyone else did then, got a job and tried to live what was considered a “normal” life, as unsatisfying as that was.

I maintained my interests and practices over the years as best I could, if only peripherally. There may have been one or two occult bookstores in the area but you really had to search them out and I only managed to get to one every so often and then only to browse because I didn’t know what I was looking for. You didn’t just walk up to someone and tell him or her you were a Witch and wanted to join a coven. And people didn’t come out of the woodwork to invite you to join one, even if you knew where to look.

So I dabbled, training myself the best way I could using instinct as my guide. At the time I would have loved to have found someone to train me and I would have loved to have found a coven to join so that I wouldn’t feel so alone. But they didn’t exactly advertise. And there was no Internet in those days to bring us all together.

So unless you were lucky, you were on your own. Like it or not.

Now that we have all these books, magazines, and web sites to fill in the gaps I find that my instincts did very well by me. Everything that I taught myself way back then is now being touted as the way to do it by the “experts.” I have since collected an entire library of books hoping to find information that would help me advance my practice but with the exception of a few interesting bits that I’ve added here and there, I have been disappointed.

I have also attended classes, open groves, and ceremonies, and while the people that I met were very nice it just didn’t feel right for me. I’ve also become very disillusioned with the influx of the newest brick and mortar shops. They seem to have become havens of self-help, yoga, meditation, and coffee and music.

And while I practice yoga and meditation myself I don’t want to go to my local Craft shop to pick up a yoga mat, balance ball, or a book by Dr. Phil. I want to pick up the tools for my ceremonies and spell crafting and, unfortunately, the kind of shop I want seems to be few and far between (except on line.) It feels as though the craft as I remember it is being homogenized and made so “acceptable” in the eyes of the general public that it is becoming useless to serious practitioners. But I digress here.

So to sum up this article, does it mean that I am not a real Witch because I had no one to “lead the way” or no coven to adopt me and teach me “their right way”? Quite frankly I think that makes me an even better real Witch because I had to figure it out for myself. And because of that my understanding and beliefs don’t quite fit into any prescribed dogma. So that is why I stay a solitary practitioner and that is why I have stepped back from the community as a whole.

But then I don’t look at being a Witch as a religion, with all of its implied rules and regulations and dogma. I look at being a Witch in the same way that the old village Witches looked at it. I revere the earth and heavens and do my best to respect and tread lightly on her.

I try to live a spiritual life without bowing to or begging the acceptance of any one archetypal being. I look at the Goddess and Gods as a representation on this plane of the source of all energy and power. I cast spells for my own benefit, and mine alone, as I don’t believe I have the right to manipulate anyone else’s life. And I believe that Karma will out eventually.

I believe that being a Witch is as simple as that. It’s in your heart, it’s in your soul, and it’s who YOU know you really are. Not because someone gives you permission to be one simply because you read and adhere to someone else’s views as written down and published. Or because you attend meetings once a week, or once a month, or even once a quarter.

But because YOU know you are. And whether you are solitary or a member of a group, no matter what that group represents, you are really on your own. You must practice, practice, practice, and hold that knowing in your own heart…alone.

That’s what makes you a “real Witch.”

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Which Witch? Philosophical and Psychological Roots of Wicca

Which Witch? Philosophical and Psychological Roots of Wicca

Author:   Radko Vacek   

Here is the background story for the jackpot question! English folklore is a treasury of tales. Two of these are so old that they probably helped Jeoffrey Chaucer as a little boy (c. 1350) to develop his imagination to write The Canterbury Tales. Both folktales involve Witches. The one involves a Witch getting melted by water, which was incorporated into The Wizard of Oz. The second actually involves a Witch getting EATEN, by a little boy! Which Witch is she? For the jackpot, name that Witch! Tick-tick-tick- time’s up! Did you win? Check* at the end of this article!

I really did it this time! Here I am supposed to be a writer, and I make my entry as a game show host! Am I guilty of foolishness, rightly convicted to rejection?

No! I was guilty, but I CHOOSE to make myself innocent through the power of Witchcraft! As Witches, we can choose to do that, contrary to what Christians say. They say that the human condition is a coin which has the following two sides: 1) no matter what we ever do, never can we by our powers alone redeem our sins, and 2) no matter what we did, our souls can be saved, if we accept the love of God.

I say that whatever I did is irrelevant with respect to my status now, because I can choose to do this: to develop and use my power to magically transform my nature from weakness to strength, including in the moral sense from guilt to innocence. According to Christians, we are doomed to be sinners by our powerless nature, whereas we can exercise our power of choice to magically empower ourselves.

I agree with Christians up to this point: human nature strongly tends to be evil. The ideas of many prominent philosophers and writers over the ages were summarized by Dr. Sigmund Freud, in this statement in his book Civilization and Its Discontents: “Man is a savage beast”. First of all, man is an animal; it is impossible for any animal to ‘harm none’. No animal can make its own nutrients, as do plants in cooperation with the sun. All animals are in competition with one another to kill other life in order to sustain their own lives. Even so-called harmless hares are not, because they compete to kill plants to survive. Plants, although different from animals, are forms of life nonetheless.

In us, this harmfulness is especially pronounced through the powers of our human brains. The more powerful, the more dangerous, and this is especially important to us, empowered through choosing Witchcraft! We have a moral obligation to the world to abide 100% under ALL circumstances to the ideal of the Wiccan Rede, meaning always to avoid harming to the utmost limits of our capacities.

The vileness of our species is not limited to adults. In fact, it often is more pronounced in children. Many people love to sentimentally depict little children as little angels. Is that ever a joke! Generally, it is lucky that they don’t have the power coming with being big. In order to keep them under control, sometimes you must play the part of the wicked Witch of the West. How fascinating to note that Margaret Hamilton, who played her, started out teaching kindergarten! I bet she got practice for her most famous role with the little devils, nipping those horns at the buds. Young children have not developed their consciences enough to where they can nip those points themselves.

As we move on into our later childhoods and beyond, the conscience is nurtured into a more potent force, so that it starts to hurt our self-esteem to recognize ourselves as evil. This does not necessarily at all mean that we stop doing bad deeds. Our brains also grow, to where we can rationalize our bad deeds in order to keep feeling good about ourselves, even as we act cruelly. For instance, many Christians love to rationalize their cruelty to animals by saying, “They don’t have souls, ” even though in their Bible, Proverbs 12: 10, cruelty to animals is condemned as wicked. Lest I be accused of picking on Christians, we Witches are great at rationalizing our cruelty, making brilliant excuses for working black magic on those we judge worth “the best!”

Never do I have the right, being just human myself, to execute judgment on another person, “to play God, ” as they say. I think that we are okay in working a spell to petition our grievances about others, and ourselves too, to the Higher Powers, but for their judgment, not ours! The domain of the REAL Witch always has been healing, never malpractice on perceived enemies. If we do, then we disgrace our calling no less than Nazi doctors.

So that I am not accused of advocating standards that I myself could not keep, I have experienced such temptations, and for a while, I did yield to them. I have had quite some stresses over the past twenty-two years, and have blamed certain perceived enemies and a side of myself, and I have hated them, and them in me, for it. An important lesson in psychology is that, when I point my finger at others, my four remaining ones are pointing back at me. That is, the things I hate in others probably also are things that I hate in myself. I have yielded to temptation in starting to hex in order to destroy those enemies and that hated side of myself. I am thankful that I have since grown into a real Witch, one strong enough to stop myself from playing judge. I have not forgotten, but now I leave the matter to Divine Judgment regarding others and myself. We become real Witches when we realize that we do not have the right to destroy. The Wiccan Rede is not an afterthought; it is at the very heart of real Witchcraft.

Besides rationalizing, unconsciously lying, how else do grown-ups remedy guilt? Christians believe that, although we all are doomed to be sinners, we can become saved sinners. As a Witch, I believe that I am not doomed to stay wicked, no matter what I may have done. I have magical powers to develop, and, beyond regenerating things physically, among the most noble uses of these powers is rehabilitating myself morally, so that I can look myself in the mirror and have self-respect without self-deception.

One of the worst side effects of Christianity is to deny rehabilitation as a serious possibility. Even though Jesus taught us to forgive one another, in practice Christian society has become unforgiving. Christians have corrupted the premise that we are morally powerless into a prejudice that people do not have the power to rehabilitate. There is an attitude of, “Once a crook, always one, ” very much in effect everywhere. In fact, all it takes to be off the list of candidates is having changed jobs a lot when you were younger, even being unemployed for more than six months! How merciful! People are judged by their resumes, what they have done in the past, without regard for what they may have made of themselves through learning from experience. I define Error as the best teacher. Show me the person who never made errors and I will show you someone who has not learned much, and is among my prime suspects for the fool! Christians say we are sinners for being imperfect, and I say no one gets wise by being perfect. They call them sinners, but I call a few of them sages, the real Witches.

This topic of real Witches as ones exercising their magical powers to perfect their imperfections leads into another essential point. Beginners, I do suspect, see Witchcraft as a means to bend the surrounding world to their wills. However, much of the Craft, and often the most effective working, is directed toward changing the inner reality of the world made largely out of our own perceptions.

Let us embark on an active way of knowing what makes the Witch a Witch.

Why not start this in a light vein, or may I say, a light paw? In my poem, Meeeow! posted on Witchvox, the speaker, a Witch, declares, “No matter what you think I am, I know I am the cat, for how my light paws go.” The witch has changed her very being, from human to feline, by most thoroughly playing the part of the cat. This is not much a matter of the objective truth of what the Witch is, but much more of the subjective reality of how she is perceived to be. As far as all the other cats experience her, “I am one too, to all the other cats, for what I do.” Her acts determine their and our perceptions, which determine the reality of the subjective world, in which we all also live. In fact, more of what we know as the world arises from experiencing our own, personal, inner reality than from experiencing whatever the truths of the surrounding, outside world may be.

This brings to mind, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, a well-known short story by James Thurber. The author described the world in which his character lived, consisting of a reality only vaguely corresponding to the truth of the outer world, largely made by Mr. Mitty himself out of his own perceptions. We all could be a.k.a. Walter Mitty, because we all live in our private worlds made largely out of the reality of our own unique perceptions. We can make sense out of seemingly nonsensical behavior, if we understand the reality of perceptions underlying it.

I have come to value the redeeming graces of the cat – magical, graceful, redeemed by beauty – more than ever before, because now dogs no longer scare them out of my field of experience. Canine-oriented parents raised me, and until three years ago, always I had dogs, mostly more than one at a time. Up until the end of 2009, I used to walk a pack of four dogs, a feat for which I was well known but hardly always lauded. Whatever other people might have thought I was, to my dogs I was one of them, “top dog” of the pack. It was not a matter of the truth of what I was, but rather the reality of what I was perceived to be. The truth versus the reality – that is the distinction at the heart of understanding the working of magic and the nature of a Witch.

I propose that at least two-thirds of magic happens in the minds of perceivers. There is this common misunderstanding that when something is in your mind, it is “just in your mind”, meaning it is not real. Nothing can be further from the truth! The magic happening in your mind is among the most potent, energy-efficient, and moral magic that can be. Below follows my rationale for my statement:

Suppose that you are discontent with your limited material possessions. If you are a typical disciple of the Craft, then you will work some form of spell for prosperity or better employment. A better working, however, would treat the discontent. Why? Because really the problem is much more that your discontent is causing you to perceive your material possessions as inadequate, rather than that your material possessions are truly inadequate and cause you to feel discontent. The following maxim makes quite some sense: treasure what you have and you have treasure. Objectively, you may have little, but if you are satisfied with it, then you are subjectively richer than someone among the richest, yet who is not satisfied and always wants more. Therefore, it is better to work the magic between your ears, turning your discontented mind into a contented one.

Besides, it usually takes less energy to magically transform your mind than to bend the whole, wide world out there to suit your desire! This also is more moral; because it often is unfair to impose on the world in order fulfill your own selfish wishes. The world has its own legitimate pursuits for which that extra energy is needed; so do not hog it for yourself! The following story clarifies this:

Once upon a time, a boy was born with very sensitive eyes. Every time he went outside, he would feel nearly blinded by the daylight, which was very painful to his eyes. He decided to invoke the god Hyperion, to beg his cooperation in a spell to dull the intensity of sunshine when he was outside. The spelled worked and he gave his utmost gratitude to “The One Above”. Really though, the sunshine was just as bright as ever. Hyperion knew that the trees and all other living things welcomed the brightness of sunshine after winter, and that their survival depended on it. The spell was granted between the boy’s ears, so that his mind would better tolerate the sunshine. But the result was exactly the same as far as the boy could tell, and this way both he and the world were left contented.

As I have written, the distinction between the truth and the reality is at the heart of understanding the working of magic and the nature of a Witch. In terms of the example I just gave, the truth of the brightness of sunshine stayed the same, but the reality of the world as the boy perceived it changed, and this clearly was the easier, far kinder magical solution. What does this tell us about the nature of the Witch?

The competent Witch has the wisdom and the ethics to choose the better solution. It is forgotten that the name ‘Witch’ shares its roots with the word ‘wisdom’. The real Witch discerns that, at least sometimes, the better solution may not even be the magical one, and that the moral solution typically is the more efficient one as well.

I may be ready to give a tentative definition of the Witch: A Witch is a person with a deep knowledge of the objective truths and the subjective realities of the world, acquired through CHOOSING to interact, not only physically, but also metaphysically, that is, magically, with the things of the world.

Why would the real Witch sometimes not choose a magical solution? Consider the example of a student who wants to be a doctor, but is not making the grades. Should she work a spell to do so? She could, but very few medical students have worked spells to get into and through school. When I was in graduate school working toward an M.A. in psychology, my academic advisor asked me how many hours of sleep I got each night. I answered eight. Dr. Benjamin Luck told me, “If you ever go on for your doctorate, you will have to learn to get by on less than eight hours of sleep. When I was working on mine, I was lucky if I got five.” His advice also would make a fine solution for the would-be medical student in my example. Diligence sometimes beats spells in solving problems!

On the other hand, there are times when one type of magic may be the best solution after all. All the diligence may not work without the prerequisite aptitude. For instance, medical students are very diligent, but doctors also have I.Q.s averaging about 130, in the top 2% of the population. If someone’s intelligence is only average, the M.D. is most likely an unrealistic goal. In similar cases, the magical transformation between the ears, meaning changing perception, often is the best solution.

I have heard many young adults who like animals say they want to be veterinarians. The D.V.M. often is even harder than the M.D. to accomplish. It is obvious that most of these young people will not meet the requirements. Why not try going the vet. tech. route? That may not be so easy either, but usually it is much more realistic! They need to work the magic of turning their fantasies into realistic goals. As I wrote before, this is a very real magic. It is not necessary to be a “big shot” in order to feel fulfilled; this feeling of fulfillment, rather than egotistical pride, is the goal of much worthwhile magic.

Is it possible to raise I.Q. magically? Yours yes, mine no! I am hopeless! But are you sure you want to be a genius? A quote of Sir Henry Maximilian Beerhohm advises us, “I have known no man of genius who had not to pay, in some affliction or defect, either physical or spiritual, for what the gods had given him.” He himself was an ingenious writer, so I bet he knew what he was talking about. Before you sign your name in the blood of magical commitment, be sure to read the fine print!

This leads to a common misunderstanding of the nature of Witchcraft, the idea that magic is a way to make major changes with minimal investment. It is the misconception that, by using a few affordable supplies, you can bend the whole world to grant your wishes. This is a lottery-ticket type of fantasy.

All Witches should remember one of the most essential laws ever: the Law of Conservation. Although it is taught in physics, it is equally essential to metaphysics, and applies every bit as much here and now as it does in a chemistry lab. In lay terms its essential meaning is that we cannot get something for nothing. We should only expect to get out of the world, what we put into it.

Yes, the Witch accepts that the world has enough degrees of freedom to allow magical transformations to be, but still, no real Witch is foolish enough to expect extraordinary magic, that which bends the whole world, without extraordinary discipline. Every beginner would love to have the powers of a Witch Doctor. They forget that Witch Doctors typically have endured prerequisite ordeals, which could easily have been fatal, in order to acquire their world-bending powers. Yes, some problems do require Herculean power to solve, but perhaps most magical solutions involve the mental magic of changing our perceived reality, much easier on us and, as I have stated, probably fairer to the surrounding world.

The choice is yours as the aspiring Witch. Neither choice is inherently better. The easier way, although maybe not heroic, often is more realistic, and life is, after all, hard enough without making it harder. On the other hand, the harder way, although earned at great cost, may well be heroic, and there is a satisfaction in reaching “the seemingly unreachable star” not to be gained any other way. Novice Witch, CHOOSE your values and pursue your way!

The verb ‘to choose’ is highlighted because our strong endorsement of choosing is largely what sets us apart from Christians. They believe none of us has the choice to transcend our sinful nature, just to let it be redeemed through accepting Divine Love. Let us turn our attention to the Witch defined in terms of being someone who chooses to believe in a certain way. I do not think one can choose to be an atheist and stay consistent with being a Witch. There is a religious component that naturally goes together with the Craft, with the practice and the theology being like two sides of one coin.

Here is a tentative, expanded version of my definition: A Witch is a person with a deep knowledge of the objective truths and the subjective realities of the world, acquired through CHOOSING to interact, not only physically, but also metaphysically, that is, magically, with the things of the world. An essential part of the subjective reality of the Witch arises from CHOOSING to revere Higher Powers operating in nature, and to realize the divine, magical potentials in oneself.

We do well in asking, does the Witch need to be defined in any theological context at all? In the Oxford definition, the Devil is implied; the word ‘evil’ is contained in ‘Devil’, the personification of evil. In my tentative definition, I have referred to Higher Powers and divine potentials. Can we find a new, secular definition of Witch, as illustrated by the series Bewitched? The Witches there, I am fairly sure, never were portrayed as practicing a religion, nor, as far as I know, were there ever any allusions made to religion.

Nonetheless, at a subliminal level, it was the overturning of the conservative, tyrannical stance toward being a Witch, and more generally being somehow different, which gave that series its charm. In fact, the story-line of the series would have failed as comedy without religion subliminally supporting it. It was comical mainly because of Darrin playing nearly a parody of a minister saying, thou shalt not do it, while Samantha always ended up wiggling her nose anyway. The main point was that she did it without tragic results, without getting struck by lightning for doing it. She could be seen as practicing a religion of liberalism, obviously without the scripts explicitly making this point. Her behavior can be seen as reflecting an underlying, liberal philosophy of seeing the God of Genesis as Mr. Liberal, with the right to CHOOSE as his first and finest gift to her and to all of us. Therefore, I do not think that Witches as magically empowered persons can be divorced from the deity empowering them.

The verb ‘to CHOOSE’ is in caps throughout for an essential reason. All people, when they say that they do some action, really mean that they choose to do it, but this fact is kept implicit, and therefore done nearly automatically and just semiconsciously. The distinction of the Witch is making the choice explicitly, choosing deliberately. By doing so, she considerably extends her power to choose, and indirectly to change her inner reality and the outside world as well. By making herself aware that she is choosing to do anything, not limited to magic, she gains more and more control over her faculty of choice and more refinement in exercising this power to choose.

No, I am not guilty of sexism for using the feminine pronoun. Witchcraft continues to be associated with femininity, but males too have the feminine inner reality of their anima, according to the great psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung.

Have I been guilty of wasting your time with this article? If so, I apologize. We can assume that I think it was worth writing, but regarding whether or not it was worth your reading, only you are smart enough to be the judge! I accept your judgment!

*Are you a winner as well? The answer to the QUESTION is: The SandWich!

P.S. If you are a winner, congratulations! Just to let you know, at last I have picked a magical name: The SandWich. I find it in good taste. I hope you do too!

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