Another new year starts, full of promise. In the past week or so I've
had many ideas and inspirations being sent to me. I can't implement
them all at once, but I hope to give them all a try. I, like so many
others out there, am struggling with money issues and these messages
give me hope that I can be more prosperous this year. I hope you are
receiving the answers you seek too, and that all of us can have a prosperous
year full of new experiences and adventures.
January Special: 10% off all my
jewelry on the Infinite Flame website! Online orders only, valid
until 11:59pm EST on January 31, 2011. Each piece is one-of-a-kind,
when its gone, its gone. I will do my best to keep the site updated
when anything sells.
This newsletter took all week to write. I started it at the dark moon
but its not sent until a week later (the date today is 1-10-11...11011...cool,
huh). I have been checking with many different books and online
sources so I can be as factual as I can and hopefully not upset anyone
as they read the third part of this newsletter. The second part is all
me and my opinion. "Cause I've been where I have been, An I've
seen what I have seen, I put the pen to the paper, Cause its all a part
of me" (see Song Quote).
Are You a Witch or a Wiccan?
At the last Gibraltar show, a lady asked if I was wiccan. I
said I was a witch but not wiccan. She asked what is the difference?
And that is how I got the idea for this newsletter. My purpose
is to clarify for those new to the craft the different paths that are
available to them. I am not recommending any particular one, nor am
I putting any down. No practice is more powerful than any other, they
are all equally effective. Each person chooses what works for them.
I am an eclectic witch. I take a little from here and a little
from there and create my own way of practicing. I'm a Hedge Witch
in that I am a solitary, use herbs/oils, and perform spellwork in my
kitchen, and a Green Witch in that I use natural items in my
spellwork and recycle or re-use as much as I can. I am a Traditional
Witch in the sense that I dont agree with much of the neo-pagan
ideas, I prefer to follow the "old religion" that generations
of witches have used (altho I do not have an elder in my family to
pass this down). I find that I am drawn to Ceremonial Magick,
my theatrical side loves the magickal wardrobe and the tools, and the
pageantry of a big involved ritual, but I also perform practical
magick. I am both a Solitary and I work with a group (not
a coven, there is only one witch I do spells with and our holidays consist
of two witches and two spiritual women). I am an Elemental Witch
as the group rituals I create are often based on 4 people, one for each
element (we are all spirit). I am a High Priestess, but of what
you may ask. Well, not of a proper coven or of any particular path.
During my HP ceremony, no particular title was named. I am HP of my
own path. The title is in recognition of achievement and experience
that can only come from many years of practicing. It holds the responsibility
for others within my circle, the weight of leadership, and the wisdom
to tackle whatever may arise.
I am not a wiccan because 1. I do not agree with everything
they say or do (I am NOT saying they are wrong, just I do not agree)
and 2. many wiccans believe "only a witch can make a witch"
and since no wiccan has "made" me, I must not be one. For
a while I did say I was wiccan. Mainly this was because witch
causes some fear (yes, even in these "enlightened" times)
and because many people did not know what wicca was in the 80's so most
were just curious. As I became more aware of wiccan beliefs and practices,
I realized that what felt right to me did not always align with them.
So now I call myself a witch.
That being said, I was surprised to find the majority of my books are
wiccan. Is that because only wiccans write books or because only wiccans
own publishing companies? Anyway, my point is that just because you
do not feel you are Gardnerian or an elemental witch or whatever, do
not discount their practices or books. I have gotten many good ritual
ideas or information on spell ingredients from a wide variety of books
on many different practices. Scott Cunningham is wiccan but his herb
and oil references are fabulous, I'm not going to discount them just
because I don't follow his path. My circles and rituals contain some
wiccan elements, just because I felt like incorporating them when I
learned of them.
And please don't give me the "dont label me"
lecture. We, as humans, like to put labels on things and put them in
a box. Plants are categorized and so is the animal kingdom. When we
meet people they ask "what do you do?" or "what's
your sign?". Putting you in a box helps us to remember you.
"Oh, that's John, he's a scorpio, practices Druidism, and has
a day job as a corporate executive." If you are a Dianic Wiccan,
be proud and say so. If you follow your own path, say "I am
a witch who follows my own path". Saying "I dont
believe in labels" says "I want to be mysterious so
I'll change the subject and argue about labels." Get over yourself
and join us in the box.....we have cookies in here!
Which Witch is What?
Let me state right from the start that none of these paths are
better than the rest. They are all equal. They all have their strengths
and weaknesses. They all produce results for those who follow them,
and these results are equal. It is a matter of personal choice. If someone
tells you their way is better than the rest or more powerful, walk away.
It may be better or more powerful to them, but you have the freedom
of choice to decide what fits you best. The beauty of following a pagan
path is that we accept all religions as valid and know that all gods
are the same god. It follows that all magickal practices are valid and
therefore equal. Period.
All witches are pagans, but not all pagans are witches. What
is a pagan? According to dictionary.com,
a pagan is: "1. one of a people or community observing a polytheistic
(belief in more than one god) religion, as the ancient Romans and Greeks.;
2. a person who is not a Christian, Jew, or Muslim.; 3. an irreligious
or hedonistic person". Notice it says nothing about worshipping
the devil. So except for Satanism, pagans do not, as a group, worship
the devil. Some honor gods and some honor nature (the word worship
seemed wrong, so I used honor).
All wiccans are witches, but not all witches are wiccan. According
to two sources (1 & 2 in the Credit & Butt-Kissing section),
many witches today prefer to use the term wicca because it does not
carry the negative stereotype of the word witch or witchcraft. This
goes along with what I stated earlier, it is a safer term to use.
But this is not really the truth. Wicca was "created"
by Gerald Gardner, who was initiated into a tradition British
coven by Dorothy Clutterbuck in 1939. He later published books about
the beliefs and practices. These books contained much material that
he himself created, along with material created by Doreen Valiente
and Aleister Crowley (see next paragraph). And there is the
difference. He took what he had learned from older traditions and
molded it into his own way of practicing (sources 1, 2, & 4).
An example of this is the ritual nudity in wicca, hereditary witches
say they and their ancestors have always worked clothed. Wicca
is witchcraft according to Gardner, it is a neo-pagan religion. It
is still witchcraft. It is powerful and effective. It is witchcraft
as a religion.
I am not going to get sidetracked and write about Gardners life
but I feel it is important to mention some of the people he met who
influenced his practices. In 1947 he met Aleister Crowley, who was in
poor health at the time. Crowley gave Gardner some magical material
of his and, using this and some other sources, Gardner compiled his
Book of Shadows (source 2). In 1953, Gardner initiated
Doreen Valiente into his coven and she made many changes to his Book
of Shadows, among them giving more emphasis to the Goddess. They
collaborated and their body of work is the basis for the Gardnerian
tradition of wicca (source 1). My purpose today is not to go
into exactly what the practices of wicca consist of, consult any book
on wicca for more details.
Wicca has evolved into many traditions. They are (according to source
3 in the credit section):
Gardnerian Wicca: A formal, hierarchical path with skyclad
(nude) worship and degrees of initiation. Focuses on rituals and
male/female polarity. Covens have no more than 13 members and
are led by a high priestess and high priest. Gardnerians believe
it takes a witch to make a witch and tend to disapprove of the
newer "do it yourself" wiccans. (her words, not mine!)
Alexandrian Wicca: A formal, structured, neo-Gardnerian
tradition founded by Alex and Maxine Sanders in England in the
1960s. Alexandrian and Gardnerian are often referred to
as Classical Wicca.
British Trad Wicca: Formal, structured tradition that
mixes Celtic deities and spirituality with Gardnerian type wicca.
Celtic Wicca: Incorporates Celtic god/goddess and spirituality
with green witchcraft and faery magic.
Dianic Wicca: Named for the goddess Diana, a goddess centered
tradition that excludes gods and does not require initiation.
Thought of as a feminist or lesbian path, there are also male
Faery Wicca: Irish tradition that centers on green witchcraft
and faery magic.
Teutonic Wicca: Nordic witchcraft which incorporates deities,
symbolism, and practices from Norse and Germanic Cultures.
If you do not follow the beliefs and practices of the above traditions,
then you may consider yourself a witch, and not wiccan. Many witches
are hereditary, their traditions have been passed down through
the generations. Some have found it skips a generation here and there.
Do you have to have a witch in your family to be a witch? No. I do not
have a witch in my family. A closer look at my relatives reveals some
hints at it, but my family tradition is to not speak of those with talents
beyond the normal, unfortunately. Anyone can be a witch, but please
do not use TV and movies as your guides : )
A witch's rituals and spells are very similar to that of the Native
American traditions and shamanism. It is not based on dogma or a
sacred book, it is based on nature and oral tradition. Seeing
the energy in all living things and living in harmony with that energy.
On occasion, we use, or bend, that energy to create that which we want
in our lives. We do not go around causing trouble or pain, we bring
healing and comfort. Oh, we can curse a person, but this power is reserved
for those who cause harm or death to another, and then only when absolutely
necessary. Wiccans follow the "harm none" rule, witches
know that sometimes only a curse will do (again, only towards those
individuals who have already caused real harm to others).
In the pre-Gardnerian era, witchcraft was often called the old
religion. There is very little record of the old religion as
much of it was passed down orally from one generation to another, and
also because much of what was written was destroyed. According to A
History of Witchcraft (source 4), there are two good examples
of what the old religion was about. One is Aradia:
Gospel of the Witches, translated by Charles G. Leland in 1890.
This is a collection of materials used by witches in Italy during the
late 19th century. The other is West Country Wicca by Rhiannon
Ryall. This collection may not be as accurate as she describes the old
religion from memory and it pertains mainly to the practices of her
own family tradition so is not representative of all forms of witchcraft
There are labels for some witch traditions too. They are:
Hereditary or Traditional Witches: Witchcraft goes back
many generations. In Hereditary traditions, the knowledge
is passed down only to family members. In Traditional,
anyone can be initiated and then the knowledge is shared.
Hedge Witch: 1. a solitary witch who practices
in her home, 2. a herbal healer, 3. the wise woman
of a village/town (can be any one of these or a combination)(source
Green Witch: Same as a Hedge Witch, with emphasis on the
"green" way of living like recycling, solar energy,
and other challenges in todays industrial way of living.(source
Elemental Witches: Perform spells and rituals that invoke
the elements and/or the elementals.
There are other traditions similar to the wiccan ones.
Some witches practice fairy magic, some base their practices
on the rituals of the gods/goddesses they honor, for example
Celtic or Egyptian. Many witches practice a combination
of some or all of these.
And now a word about Christian Witches. You are not. Its
an oxymoron. Its like someone saying they are a Nazi Jew. The two
just dont go together because one hates the other. Seriously,
one has a history of killing the other (remember the Inquisition?).
And you really think your Christian friends and family are OK with it?
You really think they are accepting of your witchy ways, that you can
tell them all about your spell casting and they arent secretly
planning how they are going to save your soul or how much they will
miss you while you are burning in Hell? And I can tell you, based on
conversations with others, witches/wiccans do not take you seriously.
To us you are a Christian who is trying to rebel but afraid to leave
the church. You want in but do not want to commit just in case the Christian
God is watching. All witches are pagans, and pagans, by definition,
are not Christian.
So I send this song to the offended
I said what I meant and Ive never pretended
As so many others do, intending just to please
If I damned your point of view
Could you turn the other cheek
~~~~Rhiannon Rose @--^--