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My thoughts about Traditional Witchcraft, Wicca, cooking, gardening, and anything else that catches my fancy.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Witchcraft: Facts and Misconceptions

There's so much misinformation floating around the world today about what Witchcraft is and isn't, and I thought I'd do my best to try and clear some of that up, as well as explain more about my personal path. To start off, here's some of the myths and false beliefs that rile me up the MOST.

Myth One: "All witches are Wiccans. Wicca is 30,000 years old, and if you've not been properly initiated into a Gardnerian coven, you cannot call yourself a witch."

This one is so silly, I don't even know where to start. First of all, Wicca was founded by Gardner in the late '40's in England, cobbled together from bits of historical British Witchcraft, some Eastern philosophy, Ceremonial Magic, and Masonry (particularly the degree system.) Though he claimed otherwise, he did not find some ancient "Book of Shadows" (a term he discovered in a magazine article about divination) or an unbroken tradition. He might have come across a group of Theosophists or other occultists and integrated some of what they believed into his own system, but that's not the same as passing down some ancient tradition. Unfortunately, many of the early modern Witchcraft traditions suffered from similar issues of "Fakelore" being handed off as though it were the truth. It doesn't mean that these traditions (Wicca, the Clan of Tubal Cain, and others) are invalid, or that they don't have meaning, but it DOES mean that none of them can claim to be the one, true, authentic "Witchcraft." It's certainly not true that there weren't any Witches prior to the 50's.

I might add here that real Wicca does not resemble the syrupy, shapeless fluff that currently dominates the market. Unfortunately, with the influx of teenage Christian wanna-be's Wicca has been watered down until it resembles Christianity with a Goddess thrown in. This does not, in any way, accurately reflect Gardner's original vision. There were and are some very dark rituals in Wicca in which sex and death are the main themes, and in which nudity and scourging take place. Wicca is, after all, a fertility religion. Even the "harm none" advice has been taken by the ill-informed to ludicrous levels where it resembles "turn the other cheek" instead of the common sense it once advocated. Perhaps most tellingly, "harm none" was not part of Wicca's origins and is a completely foreign concept to traditional Witchcraft practices. I won't even give the absurd concept of "Christian Wicca" any more validation than it already has, except to say that the concept is ludicrous and impossible.

Myth Two: "Witches believe in karma and the "rule of three" and never do any spells on anyone without their permission. Witches never use defensive magic or curses."

Again, this is modern NeoPagan thinking here. A huge part of traditional magic did indeed involve hexes, defensive magic, love spells designed to make a certain individual fall in love with you. "Karma" is an Eastern concept that would have been foreign to European folk magic practitioners, and which has little place in most Western magical traditions. Not only is this line of thinking not traditional, but it smacks of the kind of Christian masochism that I think leads to all kinds of abuses. There is nothing brave or good about "turning the other cheek" and allowing yourself to be abused, or in failing to use magic (as well as legal and other means) to defend yourself or bring justice to a criminal or dangerous person. The "meek" will not inherit the Earth, and suffering and pain are not "holy" or desirable traditions.

In my own practice, I look at things like this: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (which is NOT solely a Christian statement) until they give you reason not to. After that, all bets are off. I would never curse somebody for selfish reasons, or because I wanted their job or something they had. However, if somebody were threatening me, or somebody I loved, I would be more than willing to use all the magical methods at my disposal ( as well as obvious ones, like the police and legal system) for protection and justice. I have done it in the past, and I am sure I will do it again. When it comes to love spells, well, who DOESN'T manipulate others? We wear special clothes to look attractive. We try and find out what the object of our affections enjoys so we can talk about it and have something in common. We light candles and turn on music and use fragrance to "set the mood" and encourage romance. Now, if we do those things to influence people to fall in love with us, why is magic any different? I think there has to be a spark there already, something to work with, for your action to succeed. If there isn't already at least a tiny bit of latent attraction then nothing, whether magical or mundane, is going to work.

I will post more of these later on after I've had a bit of a rest.

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