The Witches Affirmation for Thursday, December 24th

winter memories

Day 24

Today I stop taking the easy way out by being miserable; I’ll do the work to find happiness!

–Starr Casas, Old Style Conjure Wisdoms, Workings and Remedies
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Books to Read Suggestions

Many of us have books in our library on The Craft that we enjoy reading and learning from. A few of my favorites are:

Witchcraft An Alternative Path by Ann Moura

The Wiccan Handbook by Eileen Holland

Celtic Magic by D. J. Conway

I will add others I like as time goes on. Please let me know what your favorites are so I can add them to this list. Either leave the name and who wrote it in a comment or email me the same and I will add it to the list. If you email me the name of the book(s) and the author tell whether to include you name as it being recommended by or not. Thank you

Some Changes in Directions in Posts on Coven Life

Merry meet brothers and sisters. Since I no longer classify myself as pure Wiccan and as my pagan spiritual path encompasses other traditions as well, I feel it is time I step away from only posting things based upon Wiccan tradition. The reason for this is so I and my site can introduce other types of pagan spirituality both from modern and ancient times to those who take lessons from me will have a broader range of what pagans and witches can believe in. Also for anyone interested in learning more about different pagan spiritual paths.

A pagan spiritual path is also referred to as ‘ The Old Ways” The definition of Pagan is:

noun
1.

(no longer in technical use) one of a people or community observing a polytheistic religion, as the ancient Romans and Greeks.
2.

a member of a religious, spiritual, or cultural community based on the worship of nature or the earth; a neopagan.
3.

Disparaging and Offensive.

  1. (in historical contexts) a person who is not a Christian, Jew, or Muslim; a heathen.
  2. an irreligious or hedonistic person.
  3. an uncivilized or unenlightened person.
adjective
4.

of, relating to, or characteristic of pagans.
5.

Disparaging and Offensive.

  1. relating to the worship or worshipers of any religion that is neither Christian, Jewish, nor Muslim.
  2. irreligious or hedonistic.
  3. (of a person) uncivilized or unenlightened.

This came from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/pagan If you want to know the origins or other information on the word just click on the link. You may find other definitions for the word pagan in different dictionaries, but this is the definition that I have been taught.

If there is an area of interest that I don’t post on and you would like me to please let me know and I will see what I can do. I won’t be posting daily horoscopes, runes, tarot cards or the other types of daily posts as seen on Witches of The Craft as Lady of the Abyss and her staff do a fantastic job covering those areas.

Let’s Talk Witch – Making Wicca/Witchcraft a Part of Your Life

Fairy Comments & GraphicsMaking Wicca/Witchcraft a Part of Your Life

Keep in mind that you spent a year and a day studying and preparing to get to the point of becoming a Wiccan. Do not let that effort go to waste by not incorporating Wicca into your daily life. In Wicca, complicated Wiccan rituals are usually required only during Sabbats. In everyday life, being a Wiccan requires little but consistent effort. A good Wiccan tries to find a magical application to every routine thing they do. Wicca is a path of simultaneous empowerment and humility.

You are empowered as a Wiccan because you believe that many things in your life are under your control. You have the power to change them if you like. You can use your magic, spells and rituals to bring happiness into your life. You can also regularly perform protection spells to keep yourself from harm or healing spells on sick days.

However, remember that though you may have a lot of textbook and working Wiccan knowledge, you do not know everything. Do not stop learning about Wicca and growing spiritually. Keep an open mind to receive as much knowledge from the universe as you can. Wiccans can become set in their own comfort zone if they do not learn to accept new knowledge.

In your ordinary routine, stay mindful of the Rede and the threefold law. Remember, everything you do or say should have no intent of causing yourself or another being harm. Moreover, all your actions have consequences and as a Wiccan, you are fully responsible for them. Each act, good or bad, will find its way back to you three times over.

If you are planning to get married after you become a Wiccan, why not plan your wedding ceremony accordingly as a Wiccan rite of passage? Perform a Wiccan wedding or ‘handfasting’ with your coven family. Also, if you have a baby, have a wiccaning ceremony to put him under the protection of the God and Goddess. Observing rites of passage allows you to feel like part of a community greater than yourself.

As a Wiccan, respecting Nature becomes a part of your own innate nature. Recycling and low energy consumption, if they are not already, should become part of your routine as a Wiccan. Hobbies such as gardening and bird watching also are a good way of learning about the Natural world and connecting with it. Going on hiking trips or spending some time outdoors will help you immerse yourself in Nature. Remember, everything in the universe is a manifestation of the Divine.

The cyclical lunar patterns hold great significance in Wicca. Try to determine what effect lunar phases have on your life and work accordingly. Moreover, remember that each day and night is a gift from the God and Goddess. Try to consciously thank them and the elements every day.

The more you try to incorporate Wicca into your life, the more it will help you accomplish your goals. However, the catch is that you cannot be selfish. Remember, Wicca and Witchcraft are religions geared towards positivity in all respects. It may seem overwhelming at first, but the more regularly you practice it, the simpler it will get.

 

Wicca Made Easy: Simple Spells for Love, Money, Luck, Success, Weight Loss & More!
Sarah M. Lancaster

I’m a Witch, Not a Wiccan: A Brief Summary of Broad Pagan Designations

I’m a Witch, Not a Wiccan: A Brief Summary of Broad Pagan Designations

Author: Treasach   

I have commented before on the usefulness of designations in the neopagan community. Though we are generally self-directed with many being solitary and “eclectic”, it is darn helpful to be able to declare certain predispositions, especially if one is interested in working with others. In joining an on-line group or planning a ritual, the use of categories can help determine if a great deal of negotiation, or only a little, is required to make your collaborations most satisfying.

One question often asked is the difference between designations in the neopagan community. Of course, there are a vast variety of answers, and as a very dynamic and vibrant community, these answers may be quite altered in a decade. However, there are some trends that seem to have settled out for the moment…

Earth Religions or Earth-Centred Spirituality is currently the designation for all those traditions that are outside most of the major religions, i.e. Abrahamics, Buddhists, etc., but that also follow an Earth based path. It usually encompasses folk traditions, like European peasant beliefs and practices, as well as native aboriginal spirituality. However, not all followers of those traditions would choose to call themselves pagan, especially if they also practice some form of Abrahamic religion as well. So it’s best to not to assume, which is why Paganism is a subset of Earth Religions.

Paganism, or Neopaganism, is the modern catch-all phrase for many organized and non-organized Earth based religions and spirituality. Often seen as based on European Aboriginal practices and beliefs, it can also be used to describe traditional African, Asian, and North American spirituality, though less so, largely due to its primarily English usage. By declaring oneself “pagan”, it specifically implies resurgence in traditional Earth Based beliefs, sometimes in defiance of Abrahamics, depending on the area, and a reconstruction of traditional wisdom, knowledge, and connection with Nature as a completion of self and humanity. It can be Deity based, supernatural, or atheistic.

Witchcraft is a subset of Paganism. Because of the etymology and use of the word itself, witchcraft usually means pre-Christian folk beliefs of Western and sometimes Eastern Europe. As a modern practice, it has two main elements, either one of which may be included. It is both tribal and a religious choice. For most, it involves the preference of using magic as meditation, prayer, ritual and empowerment. For a smaller group, they are born into families that are known for the “Gift”, “Second Sight”, or the “Eye” if you are less popular… In the past in most places, children born into these families or who showed potential would often have been trained and dedicated to help their communities. A few of these families that survived the Abrahamic purgings retained the gifts and occasionally the training and traditions that went along with them, though most rejected them, usually out of real fear and concern for their safety if they weren’t outright converted.

Like many reClaimed traditions, such as native spirituality, modern witchcraft is a combination of contemporary writings and current analysis of past traditions, as well as past and extant examples of country and folk rituals, and to a much smaller extent, of witch families and their practices. Due to recent advances in cultural archaeology, it is also undergoing the greatest updates and flux. Though most are not from family traditions, modern witches can follow the folk beliefs of the aboriginal Europeans, or practice magic, or both. They can also refer to themselves as witches if they come from a witch family or have the traditional innate abilities, without practising a folk religion or spellcraft. Or any combinations of the above, including practising witchcraft in other traditions, like Abrahamics. (Jewitches. Heh.) It’s a pretty broad category, but my usual test is – anything that can get you burnt as a witch by fundies usually qualifies you to self-identify as a witch. Spellcraft, Goddess worship, foretelling, healing… But not that heretic stuff. That’s totally different.

Due to its heavy reliance on magic and its European structure, Wicca is almost entirely a subset of Witchcraft, though there are a few practitioners who could be considered outside of it, such as high magicians. Wicca is a relatively new tradition, with its origins largely in the middle part of last century, with some of the structure extending back into the Victorian era. Drawing on what was known at the time of folk history and tradition, it is a conglomeration of primarily European beliefs, but also reflects turn of the century Orientalism with elements of ancient Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Asian references. Though slow to start, in the last few decades it has had hundreds of writers popularizing it, and has seen an explosion in individual sects. Because of its very modern feel and adaptations while retaining an aura of Romanticism, Wicca is one of the largest and best known segments of Witchcraft and neopaganism, and one of the fastest growing religions in the world.

Wiccans are almost always witches, but witches aren’t always Wiccan. Wiccan is not the ‘politically correct’ term for witch. It’s a sect of witchcraft, like Protestantism is for Christians. They have certain specific beliefs and rituals that identify them as a group. You wouldn’t call all Christians Protestants, would you? (*Hence, the Venn diagram.) I hope that clears things up, especially for the well meaning but less knowledgeable.

Heathenism is a collective category of paganism who follow the Old Religion and who will sometimes consider themselves Wiccan if they practice magic but usually don’t identify as witches at all. Primarily men, they can be of a more structured faith, like Druids, or more folk based, like Odinists. They often identify with warrior culture and value traditional knowledge, self-reliance, personal strength and honour.

This is a very brief sketch, of course, and some in the community will dispute these categories. There are lots of others as well. Wizards, or High Magic practitioners, for example, deal with the Other World and its denizens in a rigid, formalized manner, and so can be from nearly any religion, including Abrahamics. From what our current literature refers to, these are the general starting points and what most persons will intend to convey when they use these terms at the moment. As neopaganism is one of the fastest growing religions on the planet, however, I have little doubt that these terms will alter considerably in the next decade or so.

 

_________________________________________

Footnotes:
*Venn diagram is here:
http://gifts-of-nature.blogspot.ca/2012/10/im-witch-not-wiccan-brief-summary-of.html

Wicca, Witchcraft or Paganism? What’s the Difference?

Wicca, Witchcraft or Paganism?

What’s the Difference, Anyway?

By , About.com

 

Wicca is a tradition of Witchcraft that was brought to the public by Gerald Gardner in the 1950s. There is a great deal of debate among the Pagan community about whether or not Wicca is truly the same form of Witchcraft that the ancients practiced. Regardless, many people use the terms Wicca and Witchcraft interchangeably. Paganism is an umbrella term used to apply to a number of different earth-based faiths. Wicca falls under that heading, although not all Pagans are Wiccan.

So, in a nutshell, here’s what’s going on. All Wiccans are witches, but not all witches are Wiccans. All Wiccans are Pagans, but not all Pagans are Wiccans. Finally, some witches are Pagans, but some are not.

If you’re reading this page, chances are you’re either a Wiccan or Pagan, or you’re someone who’s interested in learning more about the modern Pagan movement. You may be a parent who’s curious about what your child is reading, or you might be someone who is unsatisfied with the spiritual path you’re on right now. Perhaps you’re seeking something more than what you’ve had in the past. You might be someone who’s practiced Wicca or Paganism for years, and who just wants to learn more.

For many people, the embracing of an earth-based spirituality is a feeling of “coming home”. Often, people say that when they first discovered Wicca, they felt like they finally fit in. For others, it’s a journey TO something new, rather than running away from something else.

Paganism is an Umbrella Term

Please bear in mind that there are dozens of different traditions that fall under the umbrella title of “Paganism”. While one group may have a certain practice, not everyone will follow the same criteria. Statements made on this site referring to Wiccans and Pagans generally refer to MOST Wiccans and Pagans, with the acknowledgement that not all practices are identical.

Not All Pagans are Wiccans

There are many Witches who are not Wiccans. Some are Pagans, but some consider themselves something else entirely.

Just to make sure everyone’s on the same page, let’s clear up one thing right off the bat: not all Pagans are Wiccans. The term “Pagan” (derived from the Latin paganus, which translates roughly to “hick from the sticks”) was originally used to describe people who lived in rural areas. As time progressed and Christianity spread, those same country folk were often the last holdouts clinging to their old religions. Thus, “Pagan” came to mean people who didn’t worship the god of Abraham.

In the 1950s, Gerald Gardner brought Wicca to the public, and many contemporary Pagans embraced the practice. Although Wicca itself was founded by Gardner, he based it upon old traditions. However, a lot of Witches and Pagans were perfectly happy to continue practicing their own spiritual path without converting to Wicca.

Therefore, “Pagan” is an umbrella term that includes many different spiritual belief systems – Wicca is just one of many.

Think of it this way:

Christian > Lutheran or Methodist or Jehovah’s Witness

Pagan > Wiccan or Asatru or Dianic or Eclectic Witchcraft

As if that wasn’t confusing enough, not all people who practice witchcraft are Wiccans, or even Pagans. There are a few witches who embrace the Christian god as well as a Wiccan goddess – the Christian Witch movement is alive and well! There are also people out there who practice Jewish mysticism, or “Jewitchery”, and atheist witches who practice magic but do not follow a deity.

What About Magic?

There are a number of people who consider themselves Witches, but who are not necessarily Wiccan or even Pagan. Typically, these are people who use the term “eclectic Witch” or to apply to themselves. In many cases, Witchcraft is seen as a skill set in addition to or instead of a religious system. A Witch may practice magic in a manner completely separate from their spirituality; in other words, one does not have to interact with the Divine to be a Witch.

Basic Principles and Concepts of Wicca

Basic Principles and Concepts of Wicca

By , About.com

Introduction:

There’s an old saying that if you ask any ten Wiccans about their religion, you’ll get at least fifteen different answers. That’s not far from the truth, because with nearly half a million Americans practicing Wicca today, there are dozens — perhaps even hundreds — of different Wiccan groups out there. There is no one governing body over Wicca, nor is there a “Bible” that lays down a universal set of guidelines. While specifics vary from one tradition to the next, there are actually a few ideals and beliefs common to nearly all modern Wiccan groups.

Do keep in mind that this article is primarily focused on Wiccan traditions, rather than on the principles of non-Wiccan Pagan belief systems. Not all Pagans are Wiccans, and not all Pagan traditions have the same set of principles as the core beliefs of modern Wicca.

Origins of Wicca:

Wicca as a religion was introduced by Gerald Gardner in the 1950s. Gardner’s tradition was oathbound, initiatory, and secret. However, after a few years splinter groups began forming, and new traditions were formed. Today, many Wiccan groups owe their basic foundation to the principles laid out by Gardner. Wicca is not an ancient religion, but Gardner did incorporate some old esoteric knowledge into his original tradition, including Eastern mysticism, Kabballah, and British legend.

Who Is a Wiccan, and How Do You Find Them?:

Wiccans come from all walks of life. They are doctors and nurses, teachers and soccer moms, writers and firefighters, waitresses and computer programmers. In other words, anyone can be Wiccan, and people become Wiccan for many reasons. In fact, there are nearly half a million Wiccans in the United States today. As to where to find them, that might take a bit of digging — as a mystery religion that doesn’t proselytize or actively recruit, it can sometimes be difficult to find a group in your area. Never fear, though — the Wiccans are out there, and if you ask around enough, you’ll bump into one eventually.

Calling Upon the Divine:

Wicca acknowledges the polarity of the Divine, which means that both the male and female deities are often honored. A Wiccan may honor simply a non-specific god and goddess, or they may choose to worship specific deities of their tradition, whether it be Isis and Osiris, Cerridwen and Herne, or Apollo and Athena. In Gardnerian Wicca, the true names of the gods are revealed only to initiated members, and are kept secret from anyone outside the tradition.

Initiation and Degree Systems:

In most Wiccan covens, there is some form of initiation and a degree system. Initiation is a symbolic rebirth, in which the initiant dedicates themselves to the gods of their tradition. Typically, only an individual who has attained the rank of Third Degree dedicant may act as a High Priest or High Priestess. Study is required before an individual may advance to the next degree level, and often this is the traditional “year and a day” period.

Someone who is not a member of a coven or formal group may choose to perform a self-dedication ritual to pledge themselves to the gods of their path.

Magic Happens:

The belief in and use of magic and spellwork is nearly universal within Wicca. This is because for most Wiccans, there’s nothing supernatural about magic at all — it’s the harnessing and redirection of natural energy to effect change in the world around us. In Wicca, magic is simply another skill set or tool. Most Wiccans do use specific tools in spellcrafting, such as an athame, wand, herbs, crystals, and candles. Magical workings are often performed within a sacred circle. The use of magic is not limited only to the priesthood — anyone can craft and perform a spell with a little bit of practice.

The Spirit World is Out There:

Because the concept of an afterlife of some sort is typical in most branches of Wicca, there is a general willingness to accept interaction with the spirit world. Seances and contact with the unknown are not uncommon among Wiccans, although not all Wiccans actively seek communication with the dead. Divination such as tarot, runes, and astrology are often used as well.

What Wicca Isn’t:

Wicca does not embrace the concepts of sin, heaven or hell, the evils of sex or nudity, confession, Satanism, animal sacrifice, or the inferiority of women. Wicca is not a fashion statement, and you do not have to dress a certain way to be a “real Wiccan.”

Basic Beliefs of Wicca:

While not exclusive to every single tradition, the following are some of the core tenets found in most Wiccan systems:

  • The Divine is present in nature, and so nature should be honored and respected. Everything from animals and plants to trees and rocks are elements of the sacred. You’ll find that many practicing Wiccans are passionate about the environment.
  • The idea of karma and an afterlife is a valid one. What we do in this lifetime will be revisited upon us in the next. Part of this idea of a cosmic payback system is echoed in the Law of Threefold Return.
  • Our ancestors should be spoken of with honor. Because it’s not considered out of the ordinary to commune with the spirit world, many Wiccans feel that their ancestors are watching over them at all times.
  • The Divine has polarity — both male and female. In most paths of Wicca, both a god and goddess are honored.
  • The Divine is present in all of us. We are all sacred beings, and interaction with the gods is not limited just to the priesthood or a select group of individuals.
  • Holidays are based on the turning of the earth and the cycle of the seasons. In Wicca, eight major Sabbats are celebrated, as well as monthly Esbats.
  • Everyone is responsible for their own actions. Personal responsiblity is the key. Whether magical or mundane, one must be willing to accept the consquences — either good or bad — of their behaviour.
  • Harm none, or something like it. While there are a few different interpretation of what actually constitutes harm, most Wiccans follow the concept that no harm should intentionally be done to another individual.
  • Respect the beliefs of others. There’s no Recruiting Club in Wicca, and the Wiccans are not out to preach at you, convert you, or prosetylize. Wiccan groups recognize that each individual must find their spiritual path on their own, without coercion. While a Wiccan may honor different gods than you do, they will always respect your right to believe differently.

 

Repudiating Bad Wiccan History

Repudiating Bad Wiccan History

Author: Zan Fraser 

The problem is that we Wiccans have inherited two sets of history. One is the history shared by the persons of the world around us, recognized as an academic and intellectual discipline, and based upon consensus agreement as to demonstrable facts. The other is what I call the “Wicca Fantasy-Land” version of European history.

Wicca Fantasy-Land is without question a colorful and dramatic place, dominated as it is by a malignant and pervasive Institution of Villainy (the medieval Church) , countered by a bold and oppressed culture of Paganism, and by Pagans who band into defiant pockets reminiscent of the organizers of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising or the French Resistance during World War II.

There are English kings who secretly keep to the Old Pagan Ways and who sympathetically guard and preserve Pagans; there are even English kings who bravely end their own lives as a Magical Sacrifice to the Old Gods to preserve the Ancient Ways. There are gallant women like Aradia and Joan of Arc who lead armed forays against the evil forces of the Inquisition to liberate captured Pagans. And there are countless devout Witches who meet in covens of thirteen, under threat of mortal danger, to worship the Horned God of Witches and to count out the seasons of the year.

It makes a really good story, with the disadvantage of not being true- or at least not really true in the manner in which it is invariably presented.

Wicca Fantasy-Land made its way into our collective history at a time well before there was even Wicca.

Margaret Murray was a respected British Egyptologist at the turn of the twentieth century, whose notes and observations upon archeological digs in Egypt are apparently still thought worthwhile. In the 19-teens, she turned her attentions to European history, producing The Witch-Cult in Western Europe in the early 1920s. Here she offered the startling (for its time) opinion that those called “Witches” during the medieval period were actually continuing the old Pagan Faith of Europe, meeting in covens of thirteen under a Master or High Priest who impersonated the God of Witches- the Horned Forest-God called Pan or Cernunnos.

The Church demonized this Deity into the Christian Devil and (according to Murray’s thinking) the rest of the Middle Ages (including the 300 years Burning Times) represented an on-going series of efforts on the part of the Church to destroy this stubborn Paganism. Murrray went on to elaborate upon her theories in two subsequent books- The God of the Witches and The Divine King in England.

Discussing Murray can be tricky, because she produced some penetrating insight into medieval history as it pertains to Witches (and therefore to the spiritual, if not actual genealogical, descendents of medieval Witches- modern Wiccans) . Her basic observation- that Paganism did not die out suddenly and completely at the Conversion of Europe, but actually continued for some time after, sometimes under threat of violence (Charlemagne proscribed death for any Saxons who continued to worship the sun, trees, and rocks) – was revelatory for its time, but is now understood as a given to researchers of the Middle Ages (especially researchers of the Pagan variety) .

Her insight that the European Devil represents a demonized version of the Horned Forest-God (known by many names, in endless local variations) was likewise a thunderbolt of perception, now also part of the bedrock of Pagan and Wiccan medieval understanding. For reasons such as these, the eminent and formidable historian Anne Llewellyn Barstow (in Witchcraze: A New History of the European Witch Hunts Pandora Publishing, 1994, p. 83) credits Murray for her detection of “ancient ‘folk religious’ practices throughout the Western witchcraft material.”

Barstow also finds in comparative studies with Russian sources support for Murray’s basic theory that Satan represents in perverse form the “lost God (s) ” of Western Europe. Likewise, in his Introduction to Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches’ Sabbath (Pantheon Books, 1991, p. 9) the brilliant researcher Carlo Ginzburg discerns a “core of truth” and a “correct intuition” to Murray’s work.

Be this as it may- Murray is now considered discredited in the academic and scholastic world. Every serious historian on the subject throughout the twentieth century has concluded that she pushed her theories far too far- well beyond what evidence supports. Beginning with Harvard professor Kittredge in the latter 1920s, and continuing through Robbins, Briggs, Cohn, Russell, Kors and Peters, and including Barstow and Ginzburg- all have found that Murray finally reached to absurd and unsustainable lengths.

The decisive nail was struck in the early 1960s, with Elliot Rose’s A Razor for a Goat: A Discussion of Certain Problems in the History of Witchcraft and Diabolism (University of Toronto Press, 1962) , wherein he systemically blew apart Murray’s thesis bit by bit.

For the better part of the twentieth century, however, Murray was widely held almost as a sibyl breathing discernment into the murky cauldron of medieval history- so much so that it was her article on “witchcraft” that appeared in the Encyclopedia Britannica in the 1950s, when Gerald Gardner was writing Witchcraft Today.

Desiring to include an account of what many at the time thought “true” Witchcraft history in his volume, Gardner turned to Murray’s works. Therefore (at a time when they were already called into question) , Murray’s theories and highly unique recounting of European Witchcraft made their way into the founding book of the current Wiccan and Neo-Pagan movement.

Through Gardner, tales of the Divine Sacrifice of William Rufus and the Witcheries of the Countess of Salisbury (mistress to the secretly Pagan Edward III) circulated into the publishing of Doreen Valiente and Patricia Crowther, thence outside the Gardnerian line to Sybil Leek and Alex Sanders, thence to the Farrars- thence to Wicca at large.

Despite the fact that Rose devoted a special chapter in A Razor for a Goat (in the 1960s, one notes) to Gerald Gardner’s assertions of medieval “Wiccan history” as regards Murray’s interpretations, Margaret Murray’s “Wicca Fantasy-Land” version of European history continues to circulate throughout American Paganism. How else to explain the presentation offered at a well-known gathering this summer, wherein one who advertised himself by his Third-Degree Initiatory Tradition status, as well as by (it must be admitted) his forth-coming Llewellyn publication, produced a talk chock-full not only of outright mistakes (he incorrectly placed Edward III and the Burning Times in the 1200s; Edward lived in the 1300s and the Burnings do not start until the 1400s) , but of pure, unreconstructed Murrayism- the same Murrayism discredited decisively since the 1960s.

Despite treating his audience to a opening establishing the unique and special quality of Third-Degree Initiates- indeed ho-ho-ho-ing the very idea that a non-Initiated Wiccan bereft of Initiatory Training even counted as a “Wiccan” (thereby specifically invalidating self-directed, self-Initiated Wiccans such as myself) and referring at one point to himself and his “peers” with a smug self-regard that frankly rankled me- and despite much reference to his forth-coming Llewellyn volume (apparently on a subject different from that of this particular talk, giving me every confidence that it will be a far-better researched project) – I found the gentleman’s presentation to be an alarming mish-mash of outright error and wild “Wiccan Faerey-tales, ” offered without substantiation as genuine history.

The Countess of Salisbury was a Witch! Edward III founded the Order of the Garter as a secret Witches’ Coven! He charged its knights with the protection of Witches against the Inquisition! – (Despite that fact that Murray’s fanciful re-interpretation of the Order of the Garter is one of the areas specifically disproved by Rose, with no one presenting persuasive evidence to the contrary since- and despite the fact that the Inquisition was never really that powerful in England- and despite the fact that few people actually cared about punishing Witches in the 1300s, in many ways the last truly Magical era of the Middle Ages.)

The gentleman continued- the Knights Templars were closet Ceremonial Magicians, preserving the Secrets of Magic from the Inquisition! – (Never mind that the Knights broadcast themselves as a Christian order akin to monks, and were perceived as such throughout Europe) . The Masons delivered the Templars from destruction, saving the ancient wisdom of Ceremonial Magic! (This last contains all sorts of mistakes.

It ignores the historical reality that the Templars were deliberately taken unawares, leaving very few to be “saved”; that the majority of the Templars were without question killed; that the reason for their assault was without question the seizure of their properties, rather than an effort to destroy Ceremonial Magic; that the Masons as such do not come into existence until the early 1700s; and finally that there is no need for the Templars to preserve Ceremonial Magic, as Ceremonial Magic is preserved very nicely in the medieval grimoires of Bacon and Agrippa and Paracelsus.)

The part of the man’s presentation that bothered me the most was his projection of modern (Initiatory) Wicca into the medieval past. Wiccan Witch-Queens wear garters- therefore one can tell that the Countess of Salisbury was a Wiccan Witch-Queen, as she wore a garter! (Never mind that many people of the fourteenth century probably wore garters as a means of keeping their leggings straight.) Initiatory Wiccans maintain Books of Shadow- therefore medieval Witches kept Books of Shadow! – Despite the fact that few medieval Witches could probably read or write.

These Books of Shadow were in constant danger of being destroyed by the Inquisition, erasing forever the secrets of Witchery- never mind that many, many grimoires are plainly in circulation and that the “secrets of the Witches’ Craft” (far from being so closely guarded as to be in danger of vanishing) are in fact well-known enough in Elizabethan England (I assume through the avenue of oral folk-culture) that playwrights such as Shakespeare and Jonson compose plays around them.

My point finally is not to diss a bad historical presentation, but to decry the situation whereby such outmoded stuff can be peddled as a “Wiccan History-lesson.” We Wiccans are in the kind of odd position that knowledgeable observers have actually discredited much of what we assert and allege as our “Historical past”. If our movement is to receive respect in the world, we need a history that can withstand scrutiny, as well as movement-participants educated enough to separate fact from plausible supposition from outright nonsense.

Regrettably this means we must abandon a lot of what our founding elders declared to us was our past; we must locate ourselves in the genuine records of medieval Europe established by scholars such as Kittredge and Robbins and Russell (et al) .

We must insist upon elders who can deliver a reasonable review of European Witch-History and we must foreswear the colorful (but unsupportable) Murayite/ Gardnerian “Wicca Faerey-tales” that have hitherto been our history tomes.

The Changing Role of Men in Wicca

The Changing Role of Men in Wicca

Author:   Morgan Ravenwood 

It is unfortunate but too often true that male Wiccans find themselves relegated to a passive, almost non-existent role in Wicca and many other Pagan traditions, thereby depriving their female counterparts of some potentially useful interaction, observations and teachings.

While many Wiccan women would defend this stance by pointing out that the Abrahamic faiths are male-centered and that they came to Paganism to avoid being forced to submit to male authority, they fail to realize that any faith that places emphasis on one gender over another is simply out of balance and deprives its members of both spiritual satisfaction and education.

We Wiccans must remember that it was a man, Gerald Gardiner, who originally gave birth and identity to the faith we practice today. However, he didn’t do so all by himself—he a lot of help and encouragement from women such as Doreen Valiente. Perhaps that is why the Gardnerian tradition has always promoted gender equality. Since then there have been some notable male Pagans such as Stuart Farrar, Oberon Zell, Isaac Bonewits, and more recently, Kerr Cuhulain and Christopher Penczak (who has written a great deal about gay Wiccans, whose numbers continue to grow) whose knowledge and experience have benefited us all.

A quick overview of some of the major Wiccan traditions certainly doesn’t inspire a man to want to join most of them unless he is willing to play a subordinate—and submissive- –role. While ones such as the various Druid groups and the Alexandrian and Gardnerian traditions seem to be more welcoming to the male practitioner, others such as the Dianic and Avalonian traditions are strictly matrifocal with no male participation at all. There are endless lists of Wiccan female-only groups on the web as opposed to barely a handful for men. All of this amounts to the same kind of sexism practiced by the mainstream religions, and is just as counter-productive.

We are all familiar with the concept of the Triple Goddess, which is of course worshiped by male and female Wiccans alike. While most female Wiccans relate the phases of the Goddess to our own lives, how do we apply this to the God, and in so doing, contemplate how this concept can be applied to men?

In my long years of study and correspondence with other practitioners, I have learned quite a bit from some very wise male Pagans. I recently asked some of them their opinions on this, and actually got some pretty similar answers, though one male friend said, “I hadn’t really ever thought about it!”

I can’t help but feeling that that is a very great shame indeed.

Equal gender identification really isn’t that difficult when you think about it. When we see the young Goddess as the Maiden, we could see her male counterpart as the Youth/Warrior/Student. As She reaches Her Mother stage, Her consort matures into the Father/Warrior/Hunter.

Opinions vary on when a woman has aged sufficiently to regard herself (and be regarded by others) as a “Crone, ” but on the other side of the coin, we again have her consort becoming an Elder/Sage/Grandfather. Though male Wiccans revere and venerate the Goddess in these various incarnations, might they not feel a little more comfortable if the God was given equal consideration?

Those female Wiccans who may belong to covens who worship the Goddess to the exclusion of the God might feel a little more in balance also.

When we look at the history of Paganism we find a large number of male deities such as Cernunnos, Dagda, Lugh, Cuchulainn, Pan, Osiris, Zeus, Apollo, and so many more. In ritual, particularly when petitioning for a special purpose, it is wise to aim such petitions towards a deity who may have certain characteristics particular to the object of the petition.

Male Wiccans especially may have certain issues that they feel more comfortable sharing with a male deity as opposed to a female one. That doesn’t mean, however, that they would (or should) eliminate worship of the Goddess in Her many forms—on the contrary, the male Wiccans of my acquaintance are very devoted to Her.

As in everything, balance and moderation are the keys.

We need look no further than our own Wheel of the Year to understand how important the God is to our religion. From Yule, when we celebrate the birth of the God, to Samhain, when He dies and prepares to be born yet again at Yule, our Sabbats are ironically centered on the God, with the Goddess both assisting and participating in a supporting (but no less important) role.

Consequently, it seems illogical and counter-productive to relegate the God along with male practitioners to a minor role in other Wiccan rites. While I am certainly not advocating the dissolution of all female-only covens, I DO encourage them to give some serious consideration to allowing serious male practitioners to participate in their rites. This would present many opportunities for fellowship and the sharing of knowledge, which would surely outweigh any perceived disadvantages.

The Religioustolerance.org website contains Edain McCoy’s description of the worship of Wiccan deities thusly: “We worship a deity that is both male and female, a mother Goddess and father God, who together created all that is, was, or will be. We respect life, cherish the free will of sentient beings, and accept the sacredness of all creation.” And yet, the same article also says, “Wiccans celebrate the sexual polarity of nature.

For example, the fertilizing rain is one manifestation of the male principle; the nurturing earth symbolizes the female. Females are respected as equal (and sometimes at a slightly higher rank) to males. A priestess is often the most senior person among covens — a local group of Wiccans. They aim for a female-male balance in most of their covens (local groups), although men are typically in the minority.”

The last sentence really reinforces the imbalance that exists in Wiccan practice and brings up a salient point: perhaps if more men chose to become involved in Wicca, it would drive up the numbers of Wiccan adherents and consequently make us more of a force to be reckoned with. The days of “broom closet” Wicca are coming to a close and we are already seeing the benefits such as the V.A. approval of the pentacle on the headstones of Wiccan veterans.

However, we must keep in mind that in order for more men to become interested in Wicca, they must be allowed equal consideration and status.

It’s a concept whose time has come.

The Changing Role of Men in Wicca

The Changing Role of Men in Wicca

Author:   Morgan Ravenwood 

It is unfortunate but too often true that male Wiccans find themselves relegated to a passive, almost non-existent role in Wicca and many other Pagan traditions, thereby depriving their female counterparts of some potentially useful interaction, observations and teachings.

While many Wiccan women would defend this stance by pointing out that the Abrahamic faiths are male-centered and that they came to Paganism to avoid being forced to submit to male authority, they fail to realize that any faith that places emphasis on one gender over another is simply out of balance and deprives its members of both spiritual satisfaction and education.

We Wiccans must remember that it was a man, Gerald Gardiner, who originally gave birth and identity to the faith we practice today. However, he didn’t do so all by himself—he a lot of help and encouragement from women such as Doreen Valiente. Perhaps that is why the Gardnerian tradition has always promoted gender equality. Since then there have been some notable male Pagans such as Stuart Farrar, Oberon Zell, Isaac Bonewits, and more recently, Kerr Cuhulain and Christopher Penczak (who has written a great deal about gay Wiccans, whose numbers continue to grow) whose knowledge and experience have benefited us all.

A quick overview of some of the major Wiccan traditions certainly doesn’t inspire a man to want to join most of them unless he is willing to play a subordinate—and submissive- –role. While ones such as the various Druid groups and the Alexandrian and Gardnerian traditions seem to be more welcoming to the male practitioner, others such as the Dianic and Avalonian traditions are strictly matrifocal with no male participation at all. There are endless lists of Wiccan female-only groups on the web as opposed to barely a handful for men. All of this amounts to the same kind of sexism practiced by the mainstream religions, and is just as counter-productive.

We are all familiar with the concept of the Triple Goddess, which is of course worshiped by male and female Wiccans alike. While most female Wiccans relate the phases of the Goddess to our own lives, how do we apply this to the God, and in so doing, contemplate how this concept can be applied to men?

In my long years of study and correspondence with other practitioners, I have learned quite a bit from some very wise male Pagans. I recently asked some of them their opinions on this, and actually got some pretty similar answers, though one male friend said, “I hadn’t really ever thought about it!”

I can’t help but feeling that that is a very great shame indeed.

Equal gender identification really isn’t that difficult when you think about it. When we see the young Goddess as the Maiden, we could see her male counterpart as the Youth/Warrior/Student. As She reaches Her Mother stage, Her consort matures into the Father/Warrior/Hunter.

Opinions vary on when a woman has aged sufficiently to regard herself (and be regarded by others) as a “Crone, ” but on the other side of the coin, we again have her consort becoming an Elder/Sage/Grandfather. Though male Wiccans revere and venerate the Goddess in these various incarnations, might they not feel a little more comfortable if the God was given equal consideration?

Those female Wiccans who may belong to covens who worship the Goddess to the exclusion of the God might feel a little more in balance also.

When we look at the history of Paganism we find a large number of male deities such as Cernunnos, Dagda, Lugh, Cuchulainn, Pan, Osiris, Zeus, Apollo, and so many more. In ritual, particularly when petitioning for a special purpose, it is wise to aim such petitions towards a deity who may have certain characteristics particular to the object of the petition.

Male Wiccans especially may have certain issues that they feel more comfortable sharing with a male deity as opposed to a female one. That doesn’t mean, however, that they would (or should) eliminate worship of the Goddess in Her many forms—on the contrary, the male Wiccans of my acquaintance are very devoted to Her.

As in everything, balance and moderation are the keys.

We need look no further than our own Wheel of the Year to understand how important the God is to our religion. From Yule, when we celebrate the birth of the God, to Samhain, when He dies and prepares to be born yet again at Yule, our Sabbats are ironically centered on the God, with the Goddess both assisting and participating in a supporting (but no less important) role.

Consequently, it seems illogical and counter-productive to relegate the God along with male practitioners to a minor role in other Wiccan rites. While I am certainly not advocating the dissolution of all female-only covens, I DO encourage them to give some serious consideration to allowing serious male practitioners to participate in their rites. This would present many opportunities for fellowship and the sharing of knowledge, which would surely outweigh any perceived disadvantages.

The Religioustolerance.org website contains Edain McCoy’s description of the worship of Wiccan deities thusly: “We worship a deity that is both male and female, a mother Goddess and father God, who together created all that is, was, or will be. We respect life, cherish the free will of sentient beings, and accept the sacredness of all creation.” And yet, the same article also says, “Wiccans celebrate the sexual polarity of nature.

For example, the fertilizing rain is one manifestation of the male principle; the nurturing earth symbolizes the female. Females are respected as equal (and sometimes at a slightly higher rank) to males. A priestess is often the most senior person among covens — a local group of Wiccans. They aim for a female-male balance in most of their covens (local groups), although men are typically in the minority.”

The last sentence really reinforces the imbalance that exists in Wiccan practice and brings up a salient point: perhaps if more men chose to become involved in Wicca, it would drive up the numbers of Wiccan adherents and consequently make us more of a force to be reckoned with. The days of “broom closet” Wicca are coming to a close and we are already seeing the benefits such as the V.A. approval of the pentacle on the headstones of Wiccan veterans.

However, we must keep in mind that in order for more men to become interested in Wicca, they must be allowed equal consideration and status.

It’s a concept whose time has come.