Hello There

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

Friday, January 18, 2013

Functional, Old, Or Both: Some Thoughts On Modern Witchcraft

There is so much emphasis in certain factions of the occult world today on being historically accurate that I sometimes think the questions of "Does it make sense now? Does it work?" go unanswered. There's been a lot of backlash against the myths embraced by many of our Pagan revival forefathers; namely, the idea that a purely Pagan line of Witches could trace their lineage back to the Stone Age. We know now that this is not so, but that does not mean that anything less than a thousand years old has no value. We also know that there was never a time when all of Europe worshiped exclusively a female deity (though, interestingly enough, early Christian diatribes against Witches claimed they worshiped not "Satan" but Diana....), but that doesn't mean that Goddess figures don't have importance today. Finally, surviving spells from the past thousand years overwhelmingly demonstrate a Witchcraft that was an odd mix of Christianity and older, Pagan ideas instead of the Pagan practices most of us embrace today. That doesn't mean that modern Pagan spells and rituals are meaningless or ineffective.

I've seen both British Traditional Wicca AND Cochrane-derived practices scoffed at because both seem to be a modern individuals' own spin upon older Witchcraft practices. While this is debatable (both Gardner and Cochrane had contact with "Old Craft" practitioners) it seems to me that if what they offered was consistent, meaningful, and could produce results then how old it was was of lesser importance. It seems strange that so many people embrace modern innovations such as cars, antibiotics, etc and yet only accept Craft practices from ancient history as being valid. Of course, one cannot make claims that are not true; Doreen Valiente, for example, was surprised and bemused to see poems she had written being passed off on talk shows as "ancient family secrets" by others. However, if the Gods are real, as I believe, and continue to communicate with us, why is it so hard to believe that modern practices or new Craft schools of thought might have something to offer?

My own thought is that it's quite possible to draw on tradition and keep the "core" practices of Witchcraft and yet experience them in new and modern ways. Imagine a family recipe from 300 years ago; while the dish might be the same, and the ingredients similar, most of us wouldn't use the old-fashioned measurements or bake in an outdoor woodfire oven (thought here are exceptions!) One keeps the CORE, and the spirit, alive but makes allowances for our own modern tastes and surroundings. Yes, learn your history and yes, draw upon the traditions of long ago, but don't let that make you ignore or condemn today's practices out of hand. There is no one "Traditional Witchcraft" or one right way of doing things, which is something I think tends to be forgotten in some of the online debates I've seen recently.