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?

W is for Watchtowers

W

 

 

Watchtowers

In Wicca, Guardians known as Watchtowers are called. These guardians are held hostage in each of the four corners or directions of the circle: East, South, West and North. They are set there to guard and protect the circle. This calling of the Watchtowers usually takes place during what is known in Wicca as “Calling the Quarters.”

Traditional Witchcraft does not call the Watchtowers, it does however, call Guardians. These Guardians are often called Spirits with whom a person feels comfortable with and has had a relationship with. Guadians can be our Ancestors, a Spirit Guide or other Spiritual Entity with which the you are familiar with.

 

 

Witchcraft 101: Integrity… Making that choice! (part 4)

Witchcraft 101: Integrity… Making that choice! (part 4)
Author: Wren

Since its inception, the Witches’ Voice, has been barraged with email asking the simple question… “How do I become a Witch”? Although, it has never been the mission of the Witches’ Voice to actually teach Witchcraft we find ourselves constantly shocked at the aweful responses the Teenage Witch or new seeker receives from many that “” themselves “elders” of the craft. For this we apologize. We will never preach or claim to “have the answer”.There are indeed many paths and many ways, it is our goal to give you the tools to  and what to look out for.

Part #4…

Integrity: Making a Commitment

What? Are YOU Still Here?

You have probably noticed -astute students that you are!- that I have made little mention of the Gods and Goddesses in this series. In fact, early on I cautioned you to NOT make a commitment to the Old Ones just yet. There is a real reason for this and it is now time to discuss it.

There has been a small but insistent clamor lately from those who wonder why no one is teaching the “deeper” things of the Craft. The first reason is that these are difficult issues to write about. The second reason is that they are even more difficult to actually work through. And the third reason? (I’m Celtic-I think in threes!) These are the issues that will determine if Witchcraft is really the religion for you.

You may think that you are sure already. “Of course, Witchcraft is for me! Why would I have been studying this for a year and a day if I didn’t think this was my Path?”, you may exclaim. Well, hold off on that impassioned vow. A few more moments will not make a difference…or will it?

What you have been DOING so far is studying and practicing. What you have been LEARNING is what all this study and practice means to YOU. You have been forming your own sense of…

INTEGRITY:

What is “Integrity”? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “integrity” means “The condition of having no part or element taken away or wanting; undivided or unbroken state; material wholeness; completeness; entirety.” Or better still, “The condition of not being marred or violated; unimpaired or uncorrupted; a condition of soundness.”

That is what you have been learning to do in the previous lessons. You have been doing exercises that have helped you to form your own ‘faculty of judgment’, your own ‘condition of soundness’. You have been working on building your personal integrity. You have to know what it is that you believe before you can make a decision on what is right or wrong for you.

Many problems that now exist in the Pagan community would probably never have come about if more people had taken the time and made the honest effort to find out if Witchcraft really was for them BEFORE they made a commitment to it. Instead they find themselves in situations where they are forced to either, 1. admit that they made a wrong choice, or 2. try to change the religion to fit them. Instead of Witchcraft transforming them, some attempt to transform Witchcraft to suit their particular needs and desires. They are ‘continually re-inventing’ Witchcraft and Wicca to suit themselves!

“A PROMISE IS A PROMISE”…

If you have decided that Wicca is your religion of choice, you have committed yourself to following its basic principles. One of these principles is, of course, the Rede. If you are promising to abide by the precepts of “And It Harm None..”, have you worked out what you would do if someone attacked you? Attacked your child? Does “harm none” mean you should become a vegetarian? Do you think that it is even possible to “harm none?” Well, that is what you are promising to do, isn’t it?

Traditional Witchcraft may not have a “Rede” of its own, but Witches were known as the “Wise Ones” for a good reason. They were respected. They were fair. They were healers. They helped the community. They changed things. They made good decisions. They didn’t promise what they could not deliver and they delivered what they promised. It is still the same today.

Too often folks make a promise in haste and then spend countless hours justifying why they had to break that promise “just this once” because of “conditions beyond their control.” They have their reasons-lots and lots of reasons. Truth is, they just didn’t give enough thought to their commitment BEFORE they made it. If you haven’t given serious thought and reflection to both the results and obligations contained within a promise, do not make one! And most certainly not to the Gods…

“If someone turned your body over to just any person who happened to meet you, you would be angry. But are you not ashamed that you turn over your own FACULTY OF JUDGMENT to whoever happens along…’-Epictetus

INTEGRITY REQUIRES THREE THINGS:

1. The ability to discern what is right and what is wrong.

This requires reflection, time and effort. It is a difficult process but one which cannot be avoided by anyone who truly wants to be a spiritual person. How much easier it is to find someone else to tell us what to do, what to read, what to think and how to act! But then, who would actually be living your life? Who would be in control? Who is pulling the strings? If you don’t think that you would enjoy being a puppet, then you simply must find out where your limits are, what you believe to be correct behavior and what you yourself are willing-and unwilling- to do.

Whether there is an “absolute” right or wrong is something that theologians and philosophers have been wrangling with for centuries. In fact the very thought that they could be wrong keeps many people from being willing to take a stand on anything at all!

The possibility that you may be wrong is lessened by careful study, investigation and thought. Of course, you may be honest about a belief. Later you may find out that you were honestly wrong! However, approaching each subject with an open mind; examining all the possibilities, answering all the ‘what ifs” will help you sort this out. Make no mistake about it, this is the most difficult process that you will ever undertake.

Most people and societies do agree that some things are just “more” right than others. (See ” You need to find out the measure of your own “rightness quotient”. You need to do the work of creating your personal code of behavior and ethics. Then you can hold that as a standard for decisions on what religion, what group or what Path is correct for you. And you thought that just finding a coven was hard! Finding the right coven, the right place, the right religion can change your life for the better. The wrong choice can be devastating.

If you have not done this work, then you are basically leaving yourself open to follow anything or anyone -and to do anything that they tell you. Witchcraft and Wicca are religions of personal power and responsibility. If you are not willing to do the work of discernment and introspection-to formulate a set of integrated values for yourself-then Witchcraft and Wicca are probably not for you.

INTEGRITY MEANS DOING THE RIGHT THING:

2. Acting on what you have discerned even at personal cost.

Suppose the teacher that you have been studying with begins to introduce issues or behaviors that you just don’t feel are “right’. Suppose that you now find that having sexual relations are a part of this group’s workings? What if suddenly this loving coven wants you to do a death spell against someone who has given another covenmate a hard time? What about that “harm none’ thing? What if you do not want to participate in this activity? But what if, by refusing to participate, you can no longer be part of this group? What will you do?

You may have put a lot of time and effort into a group. You may have even been initiated or attained a degree. These people are your friends-maybe you even think of them as your ‘family.” Now you face losing all this and starting over. The group may say bad things about you if you leave. You may lose your friends and their support. You have to decide- do you stay and compromise your own code of right and wrong? Do you leave? Where is your soundness, your faculty of judgment, your integrity now?

The truth is that most of us cannot say whether we really possess integrity until we are tested on it. Doing what we believe to be right-determined by the hard work of reflective discernment-even when it becomes personally painful tells us if we indeed have it or not. Didn’t I tell you that there is ALWAYS a test? This is one. There will be others. Get used to it. Witchcraft and Wicca are religions that require that we as Witches and Wiccans are equal to the challenges that life brings our way. If you can easily compromise your ethical principles or can turn your back to what you know to be right action, then Witchcraft and Wicca are not for you.

INTEGRITY MEANS KEEPING YOUR COMMITMENTS:

3. You openly declare where you stand.

Now we finally get to the Gods and the Goddesses! Do you still think that you are prepared to stand before Them and pledge your life, your heart and your hands to Their service? For that is what the religion of Witchcraft and Wicca are all about-SERVICE.

It is not about gaining power-although that will certainly be a part of your magickal life! It is about enabling others to learn ways to empower themselves.

It is not about “getting more” for you-although you will benefit in untold ways. It is about “giving more” to others in Their Name.

It is not about changing others to suit or cater to you-although others will find you nice to be around! It is about changing yourself, so that you are better equipped to do the work of the Old Ones on this Earth.

It is not about fame-although others will seek you out. It is about being available to help those in need.

It is not about pulling others down-although what is not working will fall before you. It is about building others up and creating new and healthy systems.

It is not about financial wealth-although you will always feel “rich!” It is about sharing what you have with the rest of the community.

It is about keeping promises, going the extra mile, doing what is correct and for the good of all. It is about uprightness, honor, truth, healing, giving and service.

It is above all holding high the Names of the Old Ones, keeping to their Ways, honoring all Their children, caring for the Earth and being committed to carrying out whatever tasks that They have set upon you to do. It is about Integrity-Theirs, yours, ours.

What is Wicca?

What is Wicca?

by AmberSkyfire

 

Contrary to popular belief, Wicca is not evil. Wiccans do not follow the devil. Wiccans do not even believe in the devil. Wicca is a nature oriented religion which centers around a single deity (known as the All) which encompasses all things in the universe and without. This All is divided into two equal halves much the same way as the universe is divided into two halves. There is light and dark, male and female, good and evil, etc. These are often evident in the two deities called the Lord and the Lady. Each represents a perfect and equal half and complement each other much like the yin and the yang. The Lord is a father figure. He represents animals, the soul, fathering, passion and the wild. He is symbolized by the color gold, air, fire, and by the Sun. The Lady or Goddess represents the earth mother, motherhood, nurturing, femininity, and that which we can touch. She is symbolized by water, earth and the moon. Wiccans believe in honoring their deities and in living in harmony with nature and the universe. Witches sometimes practice in groups of up to thirteen called covens. Covens are used to bring different people of a faith together so that they may learn from each other’s experiences. Witches can also work alone. They are called solitaries. Wiccans are generally considered witches because they practice the art of magick. Not al witches, however, are Wiccans. Wicca is a religion and witchcraft is simply the practice of the magickal arts. Because Wiccans worship nature, their holidays coincide with significant days of the year. All of the four seasons are celebrated as well as four other holidays which fall between each. All of the eight holidays are spaced at exactly the same number of days apart and do not always fall on the same day each year. Most of these holidays coincide with Christian holidays such as Christmas (Yule) and Easter (Ostara). These holidays are called the Sabbats or Sabbaths. Witches also may or may not celebrate what are called Esbats. Esbats are specific lunar dates that are of major importance. These are the new moons and the full moons. There are 13 full moons during the year, each representing one month. Thus, the pagan calendar has thirteen months and not twelve. Most today represent these lost days in the thirteenth month to leap year. These holidays are meant to celebrate the earth and her cycles of nature. Wiccans follow one basic fundamental rule: “harm none.” The Wiccan Rede or “Law” states: “Abide the Wiccan law ye must, in perfect love and perfect trust. Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill: ‘An’ it harm none, do what ye will.’ And ever mind the rule of three: what ye send out comes back to thee. Follow this with mind and heart, and merry meet and merry part.” The main goal of Wicca is to harm none. Wiccans base their lives on self discipline and helping others. Most spells are done for healing, love, friendship and to help others. You will not find Wiccan spells for harming others or spells which are destructive in any way.

Wicca is a recognized religion worldwide and is protected by the United States Constitution. Contrary to popular belief, Wicca is not an ancient religion. Some of the ideas and rituals follow what is believed to have been practiced by the early Nordic tribes, but the religion was founded in the early 1960’s and was at the time considered a “New Age Religion.” Many unseasoned Wiccans will often refer to their following as “The Olde Ways.” This is often the result of misinformation from other witches either on the internet or in books who claim that they follow ancient traditions. Some will even claim that their beliefs were handed down from century to century and guarded against Christians and others who might seek to waylay witches and traditional witchcraft. Unfortunately, virtually no information has survived to this day and we must rely on skepticism to learn how ancient peoples worshiped.

The Triple Goddess

The Triple Goddess

 

Another of the differences in beliefs is the idea of a Triple Goddess. This is something that is not found in Traditional Witchcraft. The Goddess is not seen  in the forms of Maiden Mother and Crone, but rather as having three functions. Each of these three functions will have something to do with a specific path  that one would follow, so the Witch will only follow and honor one of the Goddess’s three functions. At other times in their lives, they may find a need  to draw from one of the other two functions of their chosen Goddess, but there is always one of the three that is more pronounced and important to them.

The idea of the Triple Goddess, or any Deities seen in three forms or phases, has been traced back to Anatolia (now called Turkey), where in around 7,000 BC  a Goddess being worshiped in the triple form of virgin, mother, and hag was found. However, sine this is the only place that this practice was seen, and this  was in the Near East and not in Europe, it’s not something that is part of Traditional Witchcraft.

The Wicca Book of Days for July 11 – The Kronia

The Wicca Book of Days for July 11

The Kronia

 

It is thought that the Kronia was once held in Athens and other ancient Greek city-states around now. Dedicated to the scythe-wielding Kronos-the Titan and one-time leader of the ancient Greek Gods-and his wife, the mother and Earth Goddess Rhea, the Kronia celebrated the completion of an intense period spent reaping the year’s harvest of grain. During this time of relieved rejoicing, when slaves sat down to feast with their masters, the mythical Golden Age, or era of Earthly perfection that humankind was said to have enjoyed under Kronos’s rulership, was recalled, too.

 

Concentrated Courage

 

Study the major-arcana Tarot care that bears the number eleven today. Its names may vary (it may be called Strength or the Enchantress, for instance), but it usually depicts a person overcoming a lion and represents courage, be it psychological or spiritual.

The Wicca Book of Days for July 9th – Watery Associations

The Wicca Book of Days for July 9th

Watery Associations

 

The element that is linked with this zodiacal day of Cancer is water, to which astrological tradition ascribes many associations. According to the theory of the four “humors” that were once said to circulate the human body, for instance, water’s equivalent was the cold, moist phlegmatic humor, an excess of which could make a person unresponsive, unemotional, and placid. The alchemical (as well as magickal) symbol for water is the downward-pointing triangle, which symbolizes a vessel, such as a chalice, or womb ( and note that water is deemed to be feminine in the laws of alchemy).

 

Toast Dionysus!

Many Wiccans celebrate the birth of the Greco-Roman God of the vine Dionysus (or the Roman Bacchus) on July 9. And how better to honor this “twice-born” deity than to pour yourself a glass of blood-red grape juice or wine, raise it to grateful salute, and savor it!

The Wicca Book of Days for July 1 – A Timely Tribute

The Wicca Book of Days for July 1

A Timely Tribute

 

By today’s reckoning, July is the seventh month of the year, but this month was not always called July, nor was it always the seventh month. Indeed, its original name in the calendar of Romulus (and later, also of Numa) Quintilis, indicates that it was once the fifth month of the Roman year. Gaius Julius Caesar (100 – 44 BC.) had just reformed the calendar that regulated Roman time (after which it became known as the Julian calendar) when he was assassinated, and it was in tribute to him that Quintilis –  the month of the murdered emperor’s birth – was renamed Julius (or Iuluis), the Latin for “July.”

Juggling Powers

Meditate upon the major arcana Tarot card of the Juggler, or Magician (1). The objects on the table may vary, but this man always holds aloft a wand, signifying his will, while his other hand point downward, suggesting the transference of heavenly powers to the Earthly realm.

The Wicca Book Of Days for June 14 – Days of Dagaz

The Wicca Book of Days for June 14

Days of Dagaz

 

June 14 initiates the runic half-month of Dagaz (or Daeg), whose last day will fall on June 28. This rune signifies day, or daylight, and thus represents the good things that are symbolically associated with light, such as spiritual illumination, moral goodness, and the banishment of the evil forces of darkness. Dagaz also denotes joy in life, in that it conveys a sense of light-heartedness and sunny well-being, the satisfying productivity of a day’s work, and the sense of security that comes from being able to see everything around you, especially your enemies!

The Day’s Eye

Welcome the half-month of Dagaz by picking daisies, which you could make into a daisy chain, or simply arrange in a small vase to admire. The daisy’s name is derived from the Old English daegesege, or “day’s eye,” because the flower’s petals open in response to daylight and close in twilight.

Lighten Up – Bill Gates’s Book On Wicca

1. The book would be called Windows to the Goddess.

2. Iconology was be a major chapter.

3. A revised edition would be released approximately every 6 months without which your magic would no longer work.

4. Your broom would crash at least once a week.

5. Cauldrons would be called recycle bins.

6. A book of shadows would be called the folder of magic.

7. A free high speed connection spell would come with every book.

8. Ever now and then, your circle would collapse and you would have to perform the reboot ritual to get it working.

9. If you used the more powerful MagicNT rituals, the above would happen to all circles within a 5 mile radius.

10. At least once a month, you would have to reinstall your spells into your folder of magic.

11. You would have to use a start ritual to exit your circle. (And cake and wine would only be available after a sign from the Goddess saying it was safe to do so.)

My Body is a Temple.

Author: Aiko Ren 

I write this to express my gratitude. I have always felt ‘less than’… something was missing. At a very young age, I turned to drugs to fill my void. I was a dirty junkie who could care less about myself. The statement ‘the body is a temple’ made no sense to me. I don’t want to get explicated but, in order for someone to understand my bottom, I have to share it. I had horrible hardships in my life. Some were a direct consequence of my drug use; others were because I was a victim. I would bruise my body injecting drugs and I would sleep around to obtain the next hit. I was raped several times, which caused me to lose faith in everyone and everything. I didn’t understand how there could be any good in the world if such horrible things could happen. I was always looking at things negatively. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I was at the end of the road. It was either get clean and change, or die.

My clean date is May 11th 2010. When I surrendered my addiction, I started to look for a higher power. This was hard for me at first because my views were so different then everyone else’s’. I felt like no one understood my beliefs. I started to read about the Craft, first out of curiosity. The more I learned about Wiccan ways, the more I learned about myself. I started to understand the saying my body is ‘a temple’. I started to see all the good in the universe. I started to meditate and became driven to better myself. Today, I do the next right thing because that is the right thing to do. Wicca has brought hope into my life.

Even though I am new to living this path, I feel like I found my home. The feeling I received when I got clean is very similar to finding my higher power. I love myself today. I am a loyal girlfriend. I am a respectable daughter. I am a good friend. I am a witch. When I started to dedicate my life to the Craft instead of just reading about it, I was nervous about what others would think. This is a character defect of mine. I am a people pleaser. Once again I was thinking about what others wanted instead of what I wanted.

In the beginning, I was hiding it from everyone I knew; similar to how I hid my addiction. I was telling people I was at my friend’s house when I was really at my local metaphysical shop. I took out library books on Wicca and hid them from my family. I hid my ritual supplies under my bed. I felt guilty about this. I felt like I was ashamed of something. I have read about how society views Wicca and how some choose to hide their beliefs… but I didn’t want to be one of them. (I wasn’t going to tell random strangers, ‘hey I am a witch’ but I at least wanted to tell my family and my close friends.)

I finally came to the decision that a Wiccan was what I wanted to be and I started to take steps to become one. I began to read books in front of my family. As I continued to learn, I also educated them about Wicca. When they finally got over the whole, “why are you reading that devil worshipping stuff, ” and realized what Wicca really meant, they were accepting. This allowed me to practice the craft without feeling like I was lying to the world. When I finally shared it with my family and my close friends, it opened new opportunities. I started to search passionately for guidance. I shared with a close friend my newfound life and found out that she too follows the same path. I started e-mailing other people on this website to start building a support network.

I want to share a little bit more about how my family’s perspective on Wicca. At first, they were completely clueless about anything. They were afraid, thinking that I was dabbing in evil things. Then they believed that I was going to put spells on the family and try to make them turn to toads or something. The more they saw how happy and dedicated I was though, the more accepting they became.

I do not know much ‘about’ Wicca, but I ‘feel’ Wicca. (If that makes sense) I understand there are fundamentals, however I also believe it’s up to one ’s self to figure it out. I believe in practicing on your own, even though the joy of sharing it with someone seems so powerful.

I am writing this article not only to show my gratitude towards my newfound path but also to give a “newcomer’s” view. I am sharing my experience, strength, and hope to maybe touch someone else who is struggling. Maybe I will find someone who can help me. All I know is I had an overwhelming desire to write this article, and usually that means something.

Since I decided to follow the Craft I have a new perspective on life. I find gratitude in the small things. I have a renewed sense of the universe. Nature looks greener to me. Things that were once puzzling now make sense. The desire to find myself has always been a struggle for me, even before I picked up drugs. By following this path, by collecting knowledge, and by practicing, I am finding myself. I could continue on and on about how my life has changed since I made the decision to become a witch, but I know as you are reading this you are probably looking back on your life and feeling the same way. Our stories might be very different, but the feelings are the same.

I believe there are many paths to the same destination. Everyone can follow a different path and have a different story, but the universe brings us together for a reason. And that is powerful stuff.

Blessed be. Let the Goddess and God be with you.

What the Heck is a Hedgewitch Anyways?


Author: Juniper

Hedgewitchery is a combination of Traditional Witchcraft (NOT Wicca) and Shamanism, with herbalism, healing, and a deep love for nature added to the mix.

Hedgewitchery is loosely based on the old wise woman (and man) Tradition. The wise woman Tradition is, quite possibly, the oldest eclectic magickal tradition. If you think “wise woman” and picture the strange old lady who sold herbs and magickal charms, acted as midwife and healer in the ancient times, you are not far off.

This tradition never truly died out, and in recent years, more and more people are turning to it and adapting it to modern times.

The word “Hedgewitch” may come from the Saxon word for Witch, haegtessa, which translates to “hedge-rider”. The Old Norse lay Havamal refers to “hedge-riders, witching aloft”.

Some may spell it with a capitol H, and some do not. Others will use a spelling such as “hedgewytch”. A few other names attached to this Craft: Hedge-Rider, Night Travelers, Myrk-Riders, Gandreidh (wand-rider), and Walkers on the Wind.

In the past, towns, villages and farmsteads had fences and hedgerows marking the boundary of the town, keeping the wilderness out. Crossing the hedge meant walking into the wild, where predatory animals, and all manner of fae creatures lived.

Back in the old times, many people never traveled more than a few miles from where they were born, and even then, they stuck to the roads and well-known paths of traders and huntsmen.

For the Hedgewitch, the hedge is a metaphor for the line drawn between this world and the next, between reality and dream, between the Upper, Middle, and Lower Worlds.

In the old days, the wise woman or Hedgewitch lived on the edges of the community, often on the other side of the town’s boundary hedge. They scratched out a living through herbalism, understanding nature, prophecy and divination as well as magick and healing.

The Hedgewitch served her community in many ways including but not only; midwifery, healing, protection spells, house blessings, crop and livestock blessings, through the selling of magickal charms and even curses. A Hedgewitch might sell one member of her community a small curse or ill-wish one day, and then charge its victim a fee to break the curse the next. The Hedgewitch was respected, and likely a little feared, because of these abilities, and because they had such a close relationship with nature and the magickal world.

Hedgewitches use herbs and shamanic techniques, such as drumming and meditation, to induce altered states of consciousness. They work with familiar spirits, their ancestral dead, plant and animal Totems to assist in their Otherworld work.

Hedgewitches often refer to shamanic journeys as “walking the hedge” or “crossing the hedge”. They also have a tendency to spend much of their lives with one foot on either side of the hedge, which makes them eccentric to say the least.

A Hedgewitch walks freely into caol ait (Gaelic), the “thin places” between one world and another. More experienced Hedgewitches learn not only to find such places, but how to use them effectively and how to open them even when the Veil is at its thickest between the sabbats.

For the Hedgewitch there is no separation between normal life and their magickal one, for their normal life is magickal.

In modern times, a Hedgewitch is usually found outside the city, perhaps on an acreage or farm, often practicing by her self or perhaps within the family. They work much as the old wise women of old, helping neighbors, friends and family with ailments, shamanic healing and even blessing the odd field.

Hedgewitches will work a lot in cultivated fields, gardens and farmsteads, but often prefer time spent in the woods and other wild areas. A Gardenwitch, Greenwitch or Kitchenwitch may work mostly in her cultivated garden; a Hedgewitch will likely spend more of her time gathering her herbs and such from the wild places. Although the practices have changed quite a lot, you will find most Hedgewitches practice as close to traditionally as possible in these modern times.

Hedgewitches are very adaptable. You may find a Hedgewitch casting an old-fashioned prosperity or fertility spell on a modern tractor as a favor to a neighbor, for example.

The main distinction between Hedgewitchery and other forms of Witchcraft is that Hedgewitches have less interest in the religious/ceremonial aspects of Coven or group Witchcraft, having an individual and often unique way of relating to life, spirituality and Creation.

A Hedgewitch is less likely to perform formal magickal workings, preferring simpler folk, or low, magic. The only tradition Hedgewitches typically follow is a reverence for Nature, though some may come from a more formal Pagan path originally.

Most Hedgewitches do what ever comes natural to them; they follow their instincts, and their heart. Most use few made man objects in their spells and rituals. Their tools are typically very practical, such as a walking stick or pruning shears, and their tools are hand made by them as much as possible. They avoid complicated formulated magick, practicing an earthy and simple form of ritual and magick. Some Hedgewitches do not cast Circles when practicing outdoors, for they feel it cuts them off from nature.

Hedgewitches usually study herbalism with gusto, as well as seeking knowledge and understanding of the ways of Nature, the cycle of the seasons and the wildlife and plant-life in their area.

Hedgewitches will not only know how to grow herbs in a garden, but also where and how they grow in the wild and how to gather them. They usually have a great deal of lore on trees and plane life, animals and the wilderness in general. Healing, divination, the use of trance inducing herbs and all manner of fertility rites are also a part of this Tradition.

Hedgewitches tailor their Tradition to suit themselves. Some may focus on herbalism, others study midwifery; some may practice reiki, and others may be well versed in healing with crystals. Some Hedgewitches may choose to be a jack-of-all-trades, but a master of none.

Sadly, there are few men called to this Path, and this may or may not change over time.
While Hedgewitchery is typically a solitary path, this is not always so. Even the most hermit-like Hedgewitch can still be found at local Pagan events. Also, some of their practices, especially the shamanic ones, require a trusted friend to watch over their body while their soul is elsewhere.

Hedgewitches are unlikely to become involved with Witch wars within the community, and depending on the individual’s personality, are more likely to prefer maintaining friendly relations with the majority of the Pagan community. Some may have friends or domestic partners who follow another Pagan or Heathen path, and they will often happily join in any ritual or activity if invited.

Spirituality in Hedgewitches varies and depends on the individual; usually they look to their own heritage and ancestry. Most commonly, Hedgewitches practice some form of NeoPaganism. The daily spiritual practice of a Hedgewitch will be adapted to her individual abilities, interests and life style.

One Hedgewitch may start her mornings offering up prayers of thanksgiving to her gods as she collects eggs from the chicken coop. Another Hedgewitch may spend her mornings in quiet meditation on her patio; sipping tea and watching the deer graze in her lawn. A third Hedgewitch may say a quick prayer at the household shrine before racing off to work.

So what the heck IS a Hedgewitch anyways?

Some people may prefer rural and/or wild settings and be a little wild themselves. They may be looking for a Shamanic Witchcraft Tradition that leans heavily on natural magic, understanding the wilderness and the practice of healing lore. They may have little interest in organized religion. They may wish to blaze their own Path, like the wise women of old.

They may just be ‘Hedgewitches’.


Footnotes:
Source:
Wikipedia

The Wicca Book of Days for May 4 – Changeling Times

The Wicca Book of Days for May 4th

Changeling Times

If you are the parent of a baby or young child, keep your offspring close to your side today, for human children are in particular danger of being snatched by fairies and spirited away to fairyland on May 4, according to Irish folk belief. You may not notice the abduction at first, for the “little people” may substitute a changeling for your baby, but as the days and months progress, you may develop an uneasy sense that your infant is not developing as he or she should. The telltale signs of a changeling child include a foul temper, wizened features, and withered limbs.

Take Precautions

Whether or not you have a child, the fairies may still wreak havoc through sheer maliciousness. If you consider yourself or your home to be at risk, wearing your cardigan coat, or jacket inside out and leaving a placatory cup of tea and a cake on your doorstep should ensure that you are left alone.

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?

Water Magick – Potions, Brews & Elixirs

Potions, Brews & Elixirs

 

Potions brews and elixirs are all essentially the same thing, with a few small differences. Potions are made from liquid ingredients or worked into a liquid base. Elixirs usually have crystals added to the liquid for extra power. Brews usually require some sort of heating process. (Soup and tea are both brews.)