AUTHENTIC WITCHCRAFT

Authentic Witchcraft, or ‘the craft of the wise', from wicce meaning ‘to bend', is fundamentally rooted in shamanism. Its pratice, like all magick, utilises techniques of ecstasy, altered states of consciousness (A.S.C.'s), to achieve its ends. During the ‘new age' boom of the last decade, or so, Witchcraft has become fashionable and the market has been flooded with publications on the subject. Once much maligned, it is now peddled as a harmless novelty with its new cosmeticised white-wash. Many of these writings are laughable and relate very little, if nothing, about genuine Witchcraft; the authors of such books merely exposing, to us, both their arrogance and obvious ignorance. Witchcraft proper is an art, a practical knowledge and skill hard-won through direct experiential engagement through correct application. Since its practice necessitates a confrontation with the darker sides of the psyche and the evocation of potent potentialities of archetypal energies (both in positive and negative form), it does, indeed, possess many dangers. It is not for the faint-hearted. It also necessitates the shouldering of great responsibility. Witchcraft is not a religion. It is a path toward expansion, enlightenment, integration, heightened awareness of Self/others/nature, along with the application of acquired knowledge and skill to practical ends.

The witch does not run from the shadows, but enters them willingly; celebrates death as well as life, and worships nothing. In nature, the light does not shun the dark as much as make love to it. Witchcraft follows the patterning of nature and the motion is cyclic - a spiral dance, both deosil and widdershins. To attempt to dance any other dance but nature's own is simply folly. Moreover, Gods and Goddesses are not so much worshipped, as acknowledged as personifications of natural forces within the natural psychic terrain, though they may, at times, be projected externally. The deities of the witch are ancient and universal, abiding in the collective consciousness of all humankind. The path of witch, therefore, calls for a realisation that all such powers are to be found within. Evocation/invocation of these powers from the 'collective unconscious', to use Jungian terminology, may not always be a comfortable experience due to the fact that this must rise up through the personal unconscious. I have yet to meet one genuine practioner who hasn't, at one time, had difficulty after evoking a specific godform. True Witchcraft, then, is the Will to Self-Knowledge and Power - a perilous journey, and a beautiful voyage.

Copyright :: All Rights Reserved. Registered :: 2012-09-17

PAGAN PHILOSOPHY

Paganism is an umbrella term under which many differing paths and practises fall, each with their own nomenclature, pantheons and correspondences, (depending upon culture) however, all share a basic view of the universe and adhere to common precepts. The first of these is that, in essence, everything is One…. become Two, and the Two are engaged in a dance of cycles of creation and destruction, not as opposites but as complements. Each of these parts contains something of the other, and neither can exist in isolation, because they are intrinsically united. In the Taoist philosophy these are termed Yin and Yang…Female and Male, respectively. In the Taoist Yin/Yang symbol these are contained within a circle (symbol of wholeness) and represented as black and white, each containing a dot of the other. In Paganism the Yin and Yang are personified as Goddess and God and, fundamentally, are everywhere, in everything, and each of us. Paganism is a nature-based spirituality and is often referred to as the Old Religion for it predates all others, and the Goddess and God are, essentially nature deities. They are ‘the first and ever present parents’ and it is their dance of love that is evidenced in the changing of the seasons. Nature has many faces, and so too the Goddess and God…She is the pregnant Earth, the deep Sea, the starry arch of the Sky, the changing face of the Moon; He the green of the corn, the beast in the field, the fiery Sun (although even this can vary in some traditions). She is seen as triple, Maiden, Mother, Crone ; He as dual, of the waxing and waning year. Nature is embraced as a whole….dark/light, summer/winter, birth, life, decay, death…..nothing in it is conceived as either wholly good or evil.

There is no dogma in Paganism and no rules cast on tablets of stone. Each of us that embrace the precepts of Paganism know that there is no greater teacher than nature itself, than ancient myth and the whisperings in our own blood of our ancestors. It is to these we turn, stepping outside the confines and restrictions of ordinary consciousness into ‘starlight’ consciousness for wisdom and guidance.

Everything in nature is seen as cyclic, and this cyclical movement is most often symbolised as an eight-fold ‘Wheel of the Year’, which marks the course of the sun. It is at these points that the majority of pagans celebrate Seasonal festivals (these find their origin in the old agricultural calendar). Many of these Pagan festivals have been incorporated into the cuckoo religion of Christianity. Christmas, for instance, is the pagan Yule marking the re-birth of the sun from the dark - the sun-child from the dark lord (not birth of the son of a monotheistic god).

In the Paganism of Celtic peoples…the year begins and ends with Samhain, (though in cyclic manner not linear…so there really is no end or beginning). Samhain is also popularly known now as Halloween ('americanism'), and is the only festival that hasn’t been incorporated into the Christianity. However, other pagans may place this end/beginning at Yule, or the Spring equinox. This is basically down to tradition or path , or even just whatever feels right for particular individual or group.

Here are the eight Pagan Seasonal festivals linked with a mythic story of the dance of love between Goddess and God, which illustrates their respective and changing faces. It is a poetic myth, not scientific, and is only one of many possible variants.
In Celtic tradition the Wheel of the Year, given here, Samhain is the’ end in the beginning’ and’ beginning in the end’ of the cycle.

SAMHAIN 31 October
This is the darkest time of the year, a ‘betwixt between time’, when the veil between the worlds of the living and the worlds of the dead are thin. Deep dark blackness descends. Reverence is given to ancestors, to the Goddess as Crone/Hag, bringer of knowledge and wisdom, and to the Lord of Death and Shadows, of the Waning Year, as the great leveller and guide.

YULE/winter solstice 20-23 December
The sun makes its first tentative re-emergence. In the great womb-tomb of the Goddess as Mother the old Lord of Shadows is transformed to the Sun child, the Lord of the Waxing year.

IMBOLC (also known as Candlemass) 2 February
The sun gets stronger and the very first fresh new growth is seen. The Goddess transforms into Virgin and the God becomes Youthful.

EOSTAR/ spring equinox 20-23 March
Spring and the chains of winter have fallen. Nature bursts into growth, the sun climbs higher and the Goddess and God begin courtship.

BELTAINE 30 April
A blossoming. Fertility. The Goddess and God consummate their union.

LITHA/summer solstice 20-23 June
Peak of fulfilment and the sun is at its zenith. The Goddess is the Queen of summer, radiant and abundant; the God at the height of His strength, virile and potent.

LUGHNASADH/LAMMAS 1August.
Grain harvest. Goddess as Queen of the Harvest, beautiful and fruitful also becomes the Reaper, and the God the King of the Corn, through His love, a willing sacrifice, to undergo death and rebirth, in order to ensure the continuation of the cycle.

MABON/autumn equinox 20-23 September
Fruit harvest. The God transforms from Sun King to the Lord of Shadows, the Goddess from Harvest Queen to Wise Crone.

The cycle is one of Death/Birth/Life/Decay and is evident in the seasons of the year. In Paganism it is not so much the maxim of ‘as above so below’ as ‘as without so within’. The same cyclic patterning is echoed within each of us, for we are not apart from nature, but ARE nature. The celebration of a Seasonal is not only acknowledgement of the sun’s course throughout the year, the changing of face of nature, but an attuning to our own being, a contemplating of our own changes and a working in accordance with them. A Seasonal rite is, therefore, not only a celebratory observance of nature, but incorporates a working with our own deaths, births, blossomings, harvestings, etc. in accordance.

Just how these Seasonals are celebrated is down to which tradition an individual or group follows, or, indeed whether they follow any particular tradition at all. There is much freedom within Paganism, and the framework for such rites allows flexibility and creativity. Inspiration can be drawn from nature, from myth, folklore, and a rite can be simple or elaborate. A rite, however, of any sort, does have a patterning and elemental criteria. (This will be discussed in next paper: ELEMENTS OF RITUAL).

ON GODDESSES & GODS

Freud wrote that the “Gods and Goddesses are nothing more than early man’s projection of his own psychic contents onto nature”. Many pagans of the religious variety would perhaps baulk at this statement, however, I do not disagree with it. In Paganism nature IS personified. Moreover, although, there is only one Goddess and only one God they are multi-faceted. The Goddess and God have many faces, many aspects and many names. In each culture’s ancient pantheon will be found a Goddess of Love, a God of War etc. etc. etc., a Goddess and or God for every human psychic characteristic or potential, and in cultures so old and geographically distanced to make the communication of such ideas impossible. The pagan who is not aligned to a particular path, not an initiate, does not invoke/evoke a particular God/Goddess aspect, but works with that outlined above in the Seasonal observances in a less specified sense, and the only rites generally performed are the Seasonals.

N.B.
There are some pagans who will term a Seasonal a Sabbat, but a Sabbat more properly belongs to Witchcraft. Though every witch is a pagan, every pagan is not a witch. Witchcraft is one of the inner courts of Paganism. A witch will not only celebrate the Seasonals, which are essentially sun observances, but also acknowledge, and work with, the moon’s monthly cycle. The Sabbat is a rite of the full moon.

N.B.
Witches and others, do invoke/evoke particular aspects of Goddess and God for magickal intent, for they are archetypes of power, belonging simultaneously to the collective unconscious and the individual psyche, and as such they are potent vehicles of transformation.

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Copyright :: All Rights Reserved. Registered :: 2012-09-17

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