THE PHILOSOPHY OF WITCHCRAFT

THE PHILOSOPHY OF WITCHCRAFT

The Craft is a religion of love and joy. It is not full of the gloom of Christianity, with its ideas of “original sin”, with salvation and happiness possible only in the afterlife. The music of Witchcraft is joyful and lively, again contrasting with the dirge-like hymns of Christianity.
Why is this? Why are Wiccans more content; more warm and happy? Much of it has to do with their empathy with nature. Early people lived hand-in-hand with nature through necessity. They were a part of nature, not separate from it. An animal was a brother or a sister, as was a tree. Wo/Man tended the fields and in return received food for the table. Sure, s/he killed animals for food. But then many animals kill other animals in order to eat. In other words,
Woman and Man were a part of the natural order ofthings, not separate from it. Not “above” it.

Modern Wo/Man has lost much, if not all, of that closeness. Civilization has cut them off. But not so the Witch! Even today, in this mechanized, super-sophisticated world that this branch of nature (Woman and Man) has created, the Wicca retain their ties with Mother Nature. In books such as Brett Bolton’s The Secret Power of Plants we are told of the “incredible”, “extraordinary” healthy reaction of plants to kindness; of how they feel and react to both good and evil; how they express love, fear, hate (something that might be borne in mind  by vegetarians when they become over-critical of meat-eaters, perhaps?). This is no new discovery. Witches have always known it. They have always spoken kindly to plants. It is not unusual to see a Witch, walking through the woods, stop and hug a tree. It is not peculiar to see a Witch throw off her shoes and walk barefoot across a ploughed field. This is all part of keeping in touch with nature; of not losing our heritage.

If ever you feel completely drained, if ever you are angry or tense, go out and sit against a tree. Choose a good, solid tree (oak or pine are good) and sit down on the ground with your back straight, pressed up against the trunk. Close your eyes and relax. You will feel a gradual change come over you. Your tension, your anger, your tiredness will disappear. It will seem to drain out of you. Then, in its place, you will feel a growing warmth; a feeling of love and comfort. It
comes from the tree. Accept it and be glad. Sit there until you feel completely whole again. Then, before leaving, stand with your arms about the tree and thank it.

Take time to stop and appreciate all that is about you. Smell the earth, the trees, the leaves. Absorb their energies and send them yours. One of the contributing factors to our isolation from the rest of nature is the insulation of our shoes. Whenever you can, go barefoot. Make contact with the earth. Feel it; absorb it. Show your respect and love for nature and live with
nature.

In the same way, live with other people. There are many whom you meet, in the course of your life, who could benefit from their encounter with you. Always be ready to help another in any way you can. Don’t ignore anyone, or look the other way when you know they need help. If you can give assistance, give it gladly. At the same time do not seek to take charge of another’s life. We all have to live our own lives. But if you are able to give help, to advise, to point the way, then do so. It will then be up to the other to decide how to proceed from there.

The main tenet of Witchcraft, the Wiccan Rede, is:

“An’ it harm none, do what thou wilt.”

Do what you will… but don’t do anything that will harm another. It’s as simple as that.

In April, 1974, the Council of American Witches adopted a set of Principles of Wiccan Belief. I, personally, subscribe to those principles and list them here. Read them carefully.

1. We practice rites to attune ourselves with the natural rhythm of life forces marked by the phases of the Moon and the seasonal Quarters and Cross Quarters.

2. We recognize that our intelligence gives us a unique responsibility toward our environment. We seek to live in harmony with Nature, in ecological balance offering fulfillment to life and consciousness within an evolutionary concept.

3. We acknowledge a depth of power far greater than that apparent to the average person. Because it is far greater than ordinary it is sometimes called “supernatural”, but we see it as lying within that which is naturally potential to all.

4. We conceive of the Creative Power in the universe as manifesting through polarity—as masculine and feminine—and that this same Creative Power lies in all people, and functions through the interaction of the masculine and feminine. We value neither above the other, knowing each to be supportive to the other. We value sex as pleasure, as the symbol and embodiment of life, and as one of the sources of energies used in magickal practice and religious worship.

5. We recognize both outer worlds and inner, or psychological, worlds sometimes known as the Spiritual World, the Collective Unconscious, Inner Planes, etc.—and we see in the inter-action of these two dimensions the basis for paranormal phenomena and magickal exercises. We neglect neither dimension for the other, seeing both as necessary for our fulfillment.

6. We do not recognize any authoritarian hierarchy, but do honor those who teach, respect those who share their greater knowledge and wisdom, and acknowledge those who have courageously given of themselves in leadership.

7. We see religion, magick and wisdom in living as being united in the way one views the world and lives within it—a world view and philosophy of life which we identify as Witchcraft—the Wiccan Way.

8. Calling oneself “Witch” does not make a Witch—but neither does heredity itself, nor the collecting of titles, degrees and initiations. A Witch seeks to control the forces within her/himself that make life possible in order to live wisely and well without harm to others and in harmony with Nature.

9. We believe in the affirmation and fulfillment of life in a continuation of evolution and development of consciousness giving meaning to the Universe we know and our personal role within it.

10. Our only animosity towards Christianity, or towards any other religion or philosophy of life, is to the extent that its institutions have claimed to be “the only way” and have sought to deny freedom to others and to suppress other ways of religious practice and belief.

11. As American Witches, we are not threatened by debates on the history of the Craft, the origins of various terms, the legitimacy of various aspects of different traditions. We are concerned with our present and our future.

12. We do not accept the concept of absolute evil, nor do we worship any entity known as “Satan” or “the Devil”, as defined by the Christian tradition. We do not seek power through the suffering of others, nor accept that personal benefit can be derived only by denial to another.

13. We believe that we should seek within Nature that which is contributory to our health and well-being.

 

Source:

Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft

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Introduction to Ogham – 4th. Aicme

Introduction to Ogham – 4th. Aicme

 

Ailm (AHL-m)              Silver Fir (Abies spp.)

Ailm (AHL-m) elm * In Ireland Ailm refers to the elm (Ulmus procera) which grows all
over Ireland.

The Silver Fir is known as the Birth Tree. It was the original Christmas tree from central Europe. The needles are burned at childbirth to bless and protect the mother and baby.

Burn Silver Fir for Happiness; Harmony; Peace; Inspiration; and Wisdom.

To a witch, the cones, warn of wet weather and foretells when a dry season approaches. Its
cones respond to the environment by opening with the sun and closing with rain.

It offers a clear perception of the present and the future, its wood is used for shape-shifting
and magic involving change.

 

 

Onn (UHN) Furze, or Gorse (Ulex europaeus)

Onn (UHN), furze – Furze, or gorse, is a thorny shrub growing to six feet tall. It grows in heaths, moors, pastures, and open woodlands. It produces bright yellow flowers around the time of the spring equinox, which were very popular in pagan fertility rituals throughout Europe and the British Isles for many centuries. It is not often cultivated in North America, but is a serious weed in central California and some other areas.

Furze is a member of the Pea family (Fabaceae, or Leguminosae)

Furze/Gorse is associated with the Spring Equinox. Furze is a symbol of fertility and has the magickal uses of protection and money. Furze is a good herb to use as a protection against evil. In Wales hedges of the prickly Gorse are used to protect the home against dark fairies, which cannot penetrate the hedge.

Furze indicates a time of life changing events through the acquisition of knowledge.

 

Úr (OO-r)                                    Heather (Calluna vulgaris)

Ura (OO-rah), heather – Heather is a shrub growing to six feet. It is a major component of
the vegetation type called “heath”, the source of the term “heathen”. It is evergreen, and
produces bell-shaped pinkish flowers in the late summer.

There are a number of other plants called “heath” or “heather” in the genera Erica, Phyllodoce, and Cassiope, relatives of Calluna, and are similar in appearance. Calluna is cultivated in North America with several Erica species from other parts of the world.

Heather is a member of the Heath family (Ericaceae).

A tea made from the leaves of the Heather was used as an aphrodisiac. Heather is sometimes carried as protection against rape and violent crime.

Heather is one of the Fairy flowers, and is said to light the flame of fae passions, and may
open the portals between the fae world and the human realm.

Make an offering of Heather on “Beltane” eve to attract faeries to your garden. It is the Midsummer Tree of the Summer Solstice. When it’s burned with fern, heather will attract rain.

 

Eadha (EH-yah)                              Poplar (Populus tremula)

Eadha (EH-yuh), poplar – The aspen grows to 65 feet along rivers. It sprouts from the base
and may form clumps or thickets. The black poplar (Populus nigra L.) reaches 100 feet in
sandy and gravely soil along rivers. The white poplar (Populus Alba L.) is of similar size
and habitat, but is more common in southern Europe. Both species are cultivated in North
America (the “Lombardy poplar” is a form of black poplar). The North American aspen
(P. tremuloides) is very similar to the European aspen. Poplars are members of the Willow
family (Salicaceae).

Poplar is commonly referred to as the talking, whispering and quivering tree. In Irish Gaelic, it is known as “Crann Critheac”, the quivering tree. It is a keeper of language, but it can keep no secrets.

Poplar was used by the ancients to make shields; it is believed to have the power to protect
from death and injury.

 

Iodhadh (EE-yoh)             Yew (Taxus baccata)

Idho (EE-yoh), iodho (EE-woh), yew – The yew is a slow-growing conifer, living as long as
1000 years and reaching 65 feet, they are known for their strength and resistance to the
cold. It is much less common in recent times because of overharvesting (it’s hard, springy
wood was the source of English longbows). The evergreen needles are very broad, and the
seeds are produced in red, berry-like cones. Yew is in the Yew family (Taxaceae).

The Yew is regarded as a natural emblem of everlasting life.

In Irish mythology, the yew is one of the five sacred trees brought from the Otherworld at
the division of the land into five parts. Known as the Tree of Ross, it was said to be the
“offspring of the tree that is in Paradise”, and it brought lasting plenty to Ireland. In the
Brehon Laws, it is named as one of the Seven Chieftain Trees, with heavy penalties for
felling one.

Staves of yew were kept in pagan graveyards in Ireland where they were used for measuring corpses and graves (taking ones measure).

In the bardic schools, poets used staves of yew to help them memorize long incantations. It
is said that the poet “Cesarn” cut (the words) in Ogham into 4 rods of yew. Each was 24′
long and had 8 sides.

In “The Wooing of Etaine”, the beautiful heroine was abducted from her husband, Eochaid, who searched for her for a year and a day to no avail. Finally, he sought the help of his druid, Dallan, who made four rods of yew and inscribed them with Ogham. Through this means he discovered that Etaine was in the sidh of Bri Leith, with the faery king, Midir.

Yew is one of the nine sacred trees for kindling Beltane fires.

Introduction to Ogham – Third Aicme

Introduction to Ogham – Third Aicme

 

Muin (MUHN)                    vine (Rubus fruticosa)

Muin (MUHN, like “foot”), blackberry* In Ireland Muin refers to the Bramble or Blackberry shrub, which grows wild along every hedgerow in Ireland it has a prickly spreading vine system and fruits in September a rich fruity wine can be made from the fruits.

The Vine is considered one of the Chieftain trees of the Ogham. Its attributes involve Inner
development. Vine is considered a tree of reincarnation and eternal life due to the spiraling
pattern of its growth. The Blackberry vine is often used in healing and money spells.

 

Gort (GORT)                Ivy (Hedera helix)

Gort (GORT), ivy – Ivy is also a vine, growing to 100 feet long in beech woods and around
human habitations, where it is widely planted as a ground cover. Ivy produces greenish
flowers before Samhain on short, vertical shrubby branches.

The leaves of these flowering branches lack the characteristic lobes of the leaves of the rest
of the plant. Like holly, ivy is evergreen, its dark green leaves striking in the bare forests of
midwinter. Ivy is widely cultivated in North America.

It is a member of the Ginseng family (Araliaceae).

The Greek God of Wine, “Bacchus”, wore a crown of ivy.

Ivy is the plant badge of the Gordons who originated in the lowlands of Scotland. The Greeks and Druid priests gave newlyweds wreaths of ivy to confer a blessing of strength and eternal love. Bards were presented Ivy crowns for their festivals (Eistedfods).

Ivy invokes protection when planted on or near a house. Ivy is equated with fidelity and is
woven into marriage wreaths. It is also used in charms to bind luck, love, and fidelity to your person.

 

nGéatal (NYEH-dl)           Reed (Phragmites australis)

Ngetal (NYEH-tl), reed – The term “reed” is used with great imprecision in North America,
but it is clear that the reed of the Ogham is the common reed (Phragmites australis). This is a giant grass, with stems as high as 12 feet. It grows in marshy areas, where it often forms dense stands.

The vertical stems live only a single year, dying in the autumn and being replaced with new
green shoots in the spring. The dead stems rattle and whisper in late autumn winds.

In North America it is widespread in cooler climates. Common reed is in the Grass family
(Poaceae, or Gramineae).

 

Reed indicates direct action, and finding direction and meanings for the purpose of your
journey. The Reed is symbolic of music, bagpipes and flutes.

A broken reed is the symbol of all that is untrustworthy, for it shows something that is
rigid and inflexible. Reed is associated with the salmon of wisdom and most waterfowl.
Cut Reeds were used as pens and symbolized wisdom and scholarship.

 

Straif (STRAHF)                Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa)

Straif (STRAHF), blackthorn – The blackthorn is a relative of cherries and plums, and is the source of the sloe fruit. The fruit has been used for centuries to make a potent alcohol that was drunk during Pagan rituals in Eastern Europe, and in British Isles.

It is a thorny shrub growing to 12 feet, often forming thickets on south-facing slopes. The
blue-black fruits are edible, but bitter until after the first frost. Blackthorns are seldom
cultivated in North America. They are members of the Rose family (Rosaceae).

Blackthorn is depicted in many fairy tales throughout Europe as a tree of ill omen. A long hard winter is referred to as a Blackthorn Winter.

It is a sacred tree to the Dark, or Crone aspect of the Triple Goddess, and represents the Waning and Dark Moons. Blackthorn is known as “the increaser and keeper of dark secrets”.

The tree is linked with warfare, wounding and death, associated with the Scottish Cailleach
– the Crone of Death, and the Irish Morrigan. In Scotland, winter begins when the Cailleach (also the Goddess of winter) strikes the ground with Her Blackthorn staff.

A black rod is a Blackthorn wand with fixed thorns on the end, used to cause harm to others. In British folklore, a witch will use a Blackthorn stang in rituals of cursing. The sharp thorns were reputedly used by English witches to pierce poppets in their curses, called the “pins of slumber”.

In South Devon folklore in England, witches and heretics were burned on Blackthorn pyres. The Devil was said, in medieval times, to prick his follower’s fingers with the thorn of a Blackthorn tree.

The Irish cudgel is called a “bata”, or more popularly, a shillelagh. The shillelagh is usually made from Blackthorn.

In England Witches would carve the Norse rune “Thorn” on a Blackthorn stave for protection.

Blackthorn often topped the Maypole entwined with Hawthorn, and is called “Mother of the Woods”.

 

Ruis (RWEESH)                       Elder (Sambucus nigra)

Ruis (RWEESH), elder: The common elder is a shrub growing to 30 feet in damp clearings,
along the edge of woods, and especially near habitations. Elders are grown for their blackish berries, which are used for preserves and wine. The leaf scars have the shape of a crescent moon. Elder branches have broad spongy pith in their centers, much like the marrow of long bones, and an elder branch stripped of its bark is very bone-like. Common elders are seldom seen in cultivation. Elders are in the Honeysuckle family (Caprifoliaceae).

Elder is sacred to the Celtic White Lady and the Summer Solstice. The Elder is a tree of Venus and is associated with the element of Air.

Early European legends tell of a dryad called Hylde-moer, The Elder Tree Mother, who lives in the Elder tree and watches over it. Should the tree be chopped down and furniture made of the wood, Hylde-moer would follow her property and haunt the owners.

Elder as a Vampire protection is older folklore than the lore about garlic.

It is said in Irish folklore that it is Elder which is used by witches for their magic “hobby
horses” and besoms.

The Elder is also seen in a negative light by the Christian religion, since Judas allegedly hanged himself from an Elder tree and the cross used to crucify Jesus was supposed to be made of Elder.

According to the Rede; Elder is the Lady’s Tree, burn it not or cursed ye be!