Flagellants

Flagellation

Flagellation is a term that we used to constantly confuse with another term for something that occurs almost as regularly in Wiccan circles: flatulence. But now that we’re passed that (get it?), we’d like to explore this practice and its place in human spirituality over the last several centuries and how it may be used to enhance one’s practice of witchcraft.

When you use the arbiter of all things (Google) to define the word flagellation, you get a very interesting definition:
noun: flogging or beating, either as a religious discipline or for sexual gratification.

It’s important to note here that flagellation is being described as being used for either religious discipline OR sexual gratification. It doesn’t say “AND.” It says “OR.” Can it be both? Well, maybe, if you happen to have some sort of awesome religion involving BDSM or whatever the term for that is. But in pretty much all cases of historically recorded use of religious flagellation we’ve come across, its purpose is purely religious.

Instances of flagellation, specifically self-flagellation that have been widely documented in the West, occur within the two Abrahamic faiths of Christianity and Islam.  The flagellation of Christ in christian mythology is an important part of the Passion of Christ, the name given to the suffering of Jesus which occurred in the days leading up to his crucifixion.  In ritualized practices meant to align devout Christians with Christ’s experiences of suffering, especially in the Middle Ages, many Catholic monks, nuns and other lay and ordained orders practiced self-flagellation as a spiritual discipline. The mortification of the flesh is a well-documented practice undertaken by many Catholics throughout history, including such notable people such as Saint Therese of Lisieux and Pope John Paul II.  Flagellation is only one type of mortification of the flesh that can be practiced in Catholicism. In the modern day world, self-flagellation is still practiced, especially around Easter time, in Catholic countries like the Phillipines, Mexico and Peru. (Thanks Wikipedia!)

Another well-documented instance of religious self-flagellation occurs in the Muslim world during the Shia festival of Muharram, which commemorates the death of Shia imam Hussein, the grandson of the prophet, Mohammed. In Shia communities in countries including Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Lebanon and India, Shi’ites still march in massive parades today while flogging themselves on the back with a variety of instruments involving knifes, whips, and chains as an expression of grief associated with mourning the loss of the imam.

Flagellation and the Scourge in Witchcraft

Flagellation, among other religious practices such as sleep deprivation, meditation and fasting, is known to produce altered states of consciousness. As the focus of this article is to explore the potential use and effect of flagellation within modern day Wicca or witchcraft, it is important to focus on its use in ritual to achieve trance states and the resulting change in consciousness.  As one of the main goals within witchcraft is to produce an altered state of consciousness, the use of flagellation within a witchcraft would ritual makes perfect sense.

Gardner, during his life, was aware of the use of flagellation for religious purposes in Christian history, as he mentions the practice in his fictional book, High magic’s Aid (1949). You can read one such passage on page 63 in the previous link. The fictitious witch in this book, Morven, says that the scourge purifies the soul, adding a potential aspect of purification to the already long-established use of flagellation toward producing altered states of consciousness. This use is presented with an emphasis on a much more gentle use than that found in Catholicism or Shia Islam, as Morven also says that the witches prefer not to bring blood.

Many people like to accuse Gerald Gardner of proposing the use of the scourge in this fictional novel because he preferred it for the latter half of the above definition: sexual gratification.  But such ad hominem accusations do a disservice to the simple fact that flagellation has been used in acts of religious and spiritual exploration for centuries in multiple religions. Gardner was a nudist, certainly, but over the last decade of exploring Wicca, we have found no indication that he practiced BDSM or any type of flagellation outside of the practice of witchcraft. He certainly spent plenty of time at naturist camps and retreats outside of Wicca.

The popular concept of the 8 Paths to Power or ways of magick magic within Wicca can be found in A Witches’ Bible by Stewart and Janet Farrar. The scourge itself is listed as one method, for obvious reasons all described above, and although a rare occurrence within the entirety of witchcraft, when utilized it would ideally be practiced in combination with meditation and breath work. The blending of different practices in complementary ways is a practice essential to working witchcraft and growing within our religion.  When the use of flagellation and self-flagellation so historically documented and at times wide-spread within religious history, it should be of no surprise to anyone paying attention that this tool can also be utilized toward achieving altered states of consciousness with great effect in modern day witchcraft as well.

shocker

Shocker: There Is No Universal Threefold Law in Wicca

The popular misconception that there is a Wiccan Rule or Law of Three or Threefold Return comes from a misinterpretation of a passage in a work of fiction written by Gerald Gardner, the grandfather of modern Wicca. The book was called High Magic’s Aid, and he wrote it with the permission of his High Priestess. It had to be fiction because at that point, witchcraft was still illegal in Britain. In that book and its fictional story, the protagonist undergoes a sort of initiation rite in which he is taught “mark well when thou receivest good, so equally art bound to return good threefold.”

This means that when someone does good by a witch, according to the witchcraft teaching in this *very* fictional novel, the witch is bound to return that good threefold. This is a far cry from “anything at all that you send out into the world will return to you threefold.” It actually means that what you do to a witch should be returned by her threefold, and specifically good acts. Which means it’s really, really good for you to bless, help or aid a witch. The idea is that the witch returns things triple, not the universe. The witch is herself the agent of a threefold response, not the universe. So if I, as a witch, do good work for a friend who is not a witch, there is no threefold return in that, because the non-Wiccan person was never taught to return good acts threefold. If I, as a witch, do a good work for my non-witch neighbor, there is no threefold return in that. But if I, as a witch, do a good work for my coven mate or my witch friend, then that friend or coven mate should return that good work threefold. if I, as a witch, do some nasty shit to my asshole neighbor, said neighbor will not return it to me, and even if she were a witch, she would only return it to me threefold if she somehow found out that something had been done to her, and who did it, which means that I did it poorly, and deserve the retribution.

You can find a copy of High Magic’s Aid, which is fiction meant to teach a few very broad witchcraft principles in a fictional way, here.

The part we are quoting is found on page 188. We recommend anyone who is familiar with the term Rule of Three to give it a read and think about what it really says and what it does not say. Keep in mind that this is a work of fiction which Gerald Gardner wrote to share some very generalized principles of the witchcraft he was taught at a time when witchcraft was still illegal in Britain (1949).

The insanely high number of uneducated voices on the internet that cry out “The Rule of Three!” whenever anyone even mentions negative magick tends to obscure the actual source into oblivion in favor of some fake, fluffy version of this principle which has been applied across the board to all magical undertakings in a rather ignorant and totalitarian manner. So the next time someone yells that phony baloney shit at you, politely inform them to eat a bag of scholarly dicks and drop them the link to this blog.

Blessed Be,

A Gardnerian

Evil_Spirit_from_CBMI

The Book of Shadows

The Book of Shadows is the collection of the rites of the Wica, as they were learned, fleshed out and passed by Gerald Gardner in the mid 20th century.  There is a very common misconception today within the eclectic witchcraft community which claims that any witch can write a personal grimoire (a collection of spells, workings, magickal information, meditations, etc…) and that this book becomes his or her Book of Shadows. This is untrue.  Such a book would be relevant only to that witch and his/her experience and would have little or no bearing on another witch.  The Book of Shadows is used by the entirety of the Wica, from Gardnerians to Alexandrians to other traditions within the modern religion of Wicca which continue to pass the rites which Gerald Gardner made available.

We actually like the Wikipedia article about the Book of Shadows and recommend that each witch give it a quick read. While we have read most of Stewart and Janet Farrar’s writings, own a copy of Lady Sheba’s work, and have read Charles Cardell’s writings, we have yet to come across an actual, complete copy of the Book being made available to the public. While there are certainly plenty of little parts of the original which have been published, these writings, devoid of the oral lore which traditionally accompanies them, would leave a witch rather confused and unable to work the rites in a very effective manner.  It’s rather difficult to hold a proper rite for the Goddess of the Wica if one does not know Her Name, or how to do it, outside of some verbiage and loose, context-less stage directions.

Without getting into how Gardner developed the Book of Shadows, attention should be drawn to the purpose which it serves in modern day Wicca. The Book of Shadows is both an object of focus & learning and a tool which facilitates the actual learning process itself. There are many different mechanisms and formalities which have evolved around it and its transmission from initiator to initiate. We have heard a plenitude of accounts from others of the Wica about the wonderful time spent at the covenstead (the location in which the coven meets, frequently the home of the High Priest/ess or other member of the coven) physically copying the Book of Shadows in their own handwriting while asking questions of their high priest/ess.  In this situation, the book itself serves as the source of primary information, as well as a focal point around which learning is facilitated. We have found that much, if not most, oral lore is passed this way, in the presence of the BoS or during its copying. Some treat this process as sacred in itself, a sort of passing of the tutelary tradition within Wicca, with which we agree.

There are, however less common, plenty of covens in which physical copies/xeroxes of parts of the book are passed from initiator to initiate, for the initiate to hand copy on their own. This is a system which is usually found in situations where the coveners live at some distance from each other, which makes the ability to meet more challenging and likely less frequent.  In almost all cases, if not all, the initiate would still be asking questions as copying progresses, though frequently via telephone or online communication with his/her initiators.  Regardless of the manner in which the Book of Shadows is passed, it serves the same functions for most witches who possess it; it passes the tradition (rites and accompanying information) of Wicca and it serves as a point of learning and understanding of what is being passed from initiator to initiate.

If one were to espouse only a shallow view of the Book of Shadows, one may fall prey to the simplistic idea that any religion attached to a written text becomes old, archaic and frequently outdated. The Christian Bible espouses such awful and archaic practices such as slavery, selling one’s children into said slavery, and a host of other offences to the decency of modern man (stoning is such a lovely thing, regardless of which millennium in which it’s implemented, no?). But the Bible is also something that is interpreted differently by different sects of Christianity. The Westboro Baptist  ‘God Hates Fags’ motto is a far cry from the inclusive, loving and Christ-like attitude of the Anglican communion.  Similarly, diversity exists within traditional Wicca, with different traditions and even different covens in the same traditions placing more or less emphasis on certain aspects of traditional praxis found within the Book of Shadows. One of the old Wiccan adages is that one should not remove from the tradition, though one is certainly free to add to it (within the spirit of the Craft). In this manner, the tradition, or the core of the practice of Wicca is preserved and transmitted to each new generation of witches within our cult while the freedom to improvise, experiment and infuse new life into the Craft is assured and celebrated.

How does your tradition of Wicca view the Book of Shadows? Feel free to comment below.

(+5 points to anyone who recognizes the image!)

Drawing Down the Moon

Ecstasy

Ecstasy is an amazing study. And we studied the ever-loving $#!+ out of it in high school and in college, let us tell you. But we’re not talking about MDMA here. This entry will be devoted to religious ecstasy, the type of which changes one as a person, as a soul, and causes a paradigm shift incapable of being put into words. It is very firmly one (or all) of the Mysteries referred to within the modern Western Mystery Tradition and it is certainly not limited to something as new and early in its evolution as Wicca.  Religious ecstasy is as old as religion itself, older than the written word, and so a true study of it will take one back to the formation of the earliest alphabets and records of human religion.

Let’s define the word ecstasy, shall we? Google, the arbiter of all things modern, gives two definitions, one simple, and one more in-depth. The simple one says “an overwhelming feeling of great happiness or joyful excitement.”  True. Put plain and simple, it’s the kind of happiness that overwhelms you.  We tend to understand it more as the second definition provided: “an emotional or religious frenzy or trancelike state, originally one involving an experience of mystic self-transcendence.” This is where we get at the concept of religious ecstasy. It takes one outside of oneself, outside of one’s normal perception, bestowing upon the one experiencing it a sense of a greater meaning or understanding, however fleeting the experience may be.

Being of European descent, we shall describe in the third person our first experiences with the very concept of religious ecstasy as coming from Christianity. Since we are Wiccan and therefore love all things involving the Renaissance Faire, we quickly turn toward medieval Christian mysticism to grasp concepts of religious ecstasy from a time when the new religion from the east was transforming itself after syncretizing with the old beliefs of the west. So let us wax philosophical on a not-so-brief detour through medieval Christianity to highlight a few examples of certain mystics’ descriptions of their own ecstatic experiences, shall we?

Bernard of Clairvaux was a 12th century French abbot, Cistercian monk and Doctor of the Church. Many modern neo-pagan jokes about him could be made regarding absinthe, cis-gendered Cistercians (what a cissy!) and a few other things upon reading his Wikipedia page, but let’s cut to the chase. He viewed the relationship between the divine Word (Jesus/God) and the individual soul as a spiritual marriage between the heavenly Bridegroom (Jesus/God) and the human bride. That’s right, in 12th century French Christianity, this man made sure that everyone, regardless of gender, had the right to be a spiritual bridezilla (TLC reality show to follow). The fun part is that it was a good thing which emphasized a sacramental humaneness, with love as its focus, which shaped Christian piety, spirituality and mysticism from his day until ours. This emphasis on love as a central theme of the unity with the divine that causes a sense of spiritual ecstasy is a theme that repeats itself almost indefinitely within Christendom, the prevailing European model of religion for millenia.

Mechtild of Magdeburg, a 13th century Beguine (a sort of prototype for nuns) and Christian mystic left us with writings full of the courtly love of her time.  She depicted love as Christ, positioning it as the end-all-be-all with a revulsion of the body so that the mind and soul could fly to meet God. She had out of body experiences leading to religious ecstasy and union with the divine. She depicted a melding of love and suffering as a mechanism for union with Jesus and melting into God.

Richard Rolle, a 14th century mystic, was heralded as one of the great English mystics of the Middle Ages. He wrote a work called The Fire of Love, in which he describes his divine encounters by dividing the nature of the experience into three unique stages. The first, he described as the sensation of spiritual fire, a glowing presence accompanied by the feeling of physical warmth in his chest.  The second was marked by an overwhelming sense of peace and joy, a taste of sweetness in his soul.   Finally, Rolle explains how in the third stage, the glorious song of angels resounds, signifying his union with God’s divine love.

The theme runs rampant through western mystical experience: God is Love. The mystical experience of union with God, the religious ecstasy that has been the hallmark of Saints and ascetics for time imemorial is time and again being conflated with and described as love, from almost every angle and in every way. Love is sublime.  Love is divine. So what does the experience of mystical union with the divine, of religious ecstasy within Wicca, have to do with love, if anything?  What is the role of love within modern day Wicca?

Take a look at any random version of the Charge of the Goddess, a fundamental piece of publicly available popular Wiccan literature heavily adapted from Lelands Aradia: Gospel of the Witches and Aleister Crowley’s writings.

And ye shall be free from slavery; and as a sign that ye be really free, ye shall be naked in your rites; and ye shall dance, sing, feast, make music and love, all in Her praise.
Wicca teaches that love is something that praises the Goddess of the witches, and that doing so is a sign of freedom. Religious ecstasy has almost always been described as a liberating experience, one which lifts the mystic up and out of his/her human experience, elevating him/her to the level of the Divine so that some part of it may be shared through the experience. it is the ultimate experience of freedom from this mortal coil, the result of which is an embodiment of Godhead, unity with the divine.

For Hers is the ecstasy of the spirit, and Hers also is joy on earth; for Her law is love unto all beings.
The cult teaches quite clearly that the ‘ecstasy of the spirit’ belongs to a Goddess who’s ‘law is love unto all beings.’  In love, the state and the act, we can and should find our connection with the Lady of the Moon, who is the Queen of all witcheries. In love, we should seek awareness of Her and of our connection to Her.

Nor does She demand sacrifice, for behold, She is the mother of all living, and Her love is poured out upon the earth.
This simple statement rejects the heretofore held necessity within the prevailing Christian paradigm for suffering as a requirement for unity with the Divine. It replaces this concept with the veneration of the Mother, and specifically a mother’s love, which is posited as being freely given and available to all upon the Earth. But where to find it? Where to even begin to look?

Before Her face, beloved of gods and men, let thine innermost divine self be enfolded in the rapture of the infinite. Let Her worship be within the heart that rejoiceth; for behold, all acts of love and pleasure are Her rituals.
The Charge continues to assert the common understanding that to behold the face of the Divine is to be enfolded in the rapture of the infinite, a fittingly Wiccan description for religious ecstasy. The blatant accessibility of this Goddess is made manifest in the declaration that not just the inner-court and oathbound rites of the brotherhood of the Wiccae constitue all of Her rituals, but *all* acts of love and pleasure provide access to Her and to Her Mysteries. When we seek for the Goddess we should look to find her, in accord with her own Charge, not outside of own individual experience, in unreachable temples and covens that venerate her in secret, but within ourselves and our own experiences of love. When we recognize that She exists within us and within the very feeling and state of love, then do we find true liberation and union with the divine.

And thou who thinkest to seek Her, know thy seeking and yearning shall avail thee not unless thou knowest the mystery; that if that which thou seekest thou findest not within thee, then thou wilt never find it without thee. For behold, She has been with thee from the beginning; and She is that which is attained at the end of desire.

 

http://selinafenech.com/

D is for Divinity

So apparently the pagan Blog Project is up to the letter F, which means we should probably get to the letter D.  The first D word that came to mind would have made a smashing article because let’s be honest about it, it’s absolutely not oathbound and is freely available. But because we can already name several Americans who would shit a British Traditional Brick™ and throw it at us, we’ve opted to err on the side of caution. But let it be known that we do not appreciate our own desire not to ruffle feathers. It’s not in our normal nature.

So today, D stands for Divinity. D could also stand for duotheism, since our venerable Wiccan Jesus (who is quite obviously alive and tweeting from a cottage in France: you should follow him) wrote that our Gods are the little Gods of our cult, or our tribe.  He posits a rather henotheistic understanding that there are many Gods, but these two are the Gods of our people, who we venerate.

Divinity within Gardnerian Witchcraft is a very personal thing. We work with a God and a Goddess, but how we experience these Beings is unique to each witch.  How we internalize our experience of these Beings is also unique to each witch. One may understand Them to be duotheistic deities, one may understand Them to be henotheistic deities and one may see Them to be Jungian archetypes in the collective unconscious of humanity after reading Vivianne Crowley’s wonderful book entitled “Wicca: The Old Religion in the New Millenium.” This is perhaps the chief reason why Gardnerians agree that Wicca is orthopraxic, meaning we all practice the same, but not orthodoxic, meaning we do not all believe the same.  We don’t care if you’re any of the aforementioned terms, as long as you’re casting a circle, calling the appropriate beings in the appropriate directions, and maintaining a 2 drink minimum before ritual.  That is how the Wicca do it ;)

Divinity  within Wicca is seen as embodied within two Gods known as the Horned God of Death and Resurrection and the Goddess of the Moon.  Gardner was very open-minded in that he drew many parallels between the Gods of the Wicca and other ancient British Gods.  For instance, in The Meaning of Witchcraft, he writes, “Herne the Hunter, with his helmet crowned with stag’s antlers, his band of wild followers, his association with “fairies” [blogger note: Gardnerians associate with lots of faeries, let us tell you]… is the British example par excellence of a surviving tradition of the Old God of the witches.”  He writes further about our Horned Lord, “The dual nature of the Old God will be noticed.  He is the giver of fertility, both of the ground and of humans and animals; but he is also the Lord of the Gates of Death.” Our God has a specific name within traditional Wicca, which is bound by oath to never be spoken before those not initiated into His mysteries.

Our Goddess is commonly referred to as the Lady of the Moon.  Gardner writes that She is “the Mother of Fertility in all its forms, whether it be the fertility of the earth, of cattle and human beings, or the material prosperity of some venture, or those more subtle forms of fertility which germinate in the mind and bring forth poetry and the arts.”  Our Goddess has a specific name within traditional Wicca, which is bound by oath to never be spoken before those not initiated into Her mysteries.

The important thing to realize about divinity within traditional Wicca is that it is also seen as immanent within the world and within humanity, so that each witch, silently echoing the Indian greeting of ‘namaste,’ is able to recognize the divinity inherent within ourselves and each other.  In witchcraft, life truly is divine.

sanders

Wiccanate Privilege, Wiccanate Privilege, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways…

  1. You are such a completely retarded term that you’re downright offensive.  And if the word retarded was the first in this blog to offend you, you need to go back to the Church you came from, because you’re not paying enough attention. The term Wiccanate being applied to anything not already labeling itself Wicca is like someone telling you that you’re not Lutheran, you’re Catholic-ish. Thus, we love it.
  2. You have continued the fun three-or-four-year theme of creating some trumped up concept of scandal involving Pantheacon, which gets Pantheacon some wonderful free press.  Since Pantheacon is the LARGEST OPEN BAR PAGAN EVENT IN THE WORLD, any press is good press for it. You should come. We can hang out in the New Wiccan Church suite until we’re so sloppy that Sara politely boots us in the direction of the Green Fairy suite which inevitably ends up with everyone back in the LGBT suite because those iron-livered homos just can’t stop, and they won’t stop. Cause it’s we who own the night. Can’t you see it’s we who ‘bout that life?
  3. Vinnie motherfuckin’ Russo wrote a blog about it.  Vinnie is the man. If he pipes up about something long enough to write about it, that means he’s not cooking. And if you can pull the Streghe of New England (move over Lori) away from his stove for that long, you’re a legit movement. Props for that.
  4. You are kind of an oxymoron in a strange way we can’t quite put into one solid term. Wiccanate Privilege™ is about how pagans, playgans (there’s a Pantheacon term for you) and everyone in between who refuses to be labeled in some endless quest to buck all attempts at classification don’t feel included. Wiccanate Privelege is about inclusion, and that is hilarious. Why? Because WICCA IS NOT FOR EVERYONE. Wicca is not inclusive. We don’t want everyone in our cult. We don’t want everyone in our circles. We drive people crazy. We break the mentally weak and unhinged. We are a magnet for the psychologically ill because they need a magical excuse for their insanity. We walk a thin line between reality and subjectivity and blur that line frequently, and with gusto.  That shit is not healthy for lots and lots of people. So the idea that you toss ‘-ate’ on the end of our religion to talk about inclusivity is hilarious. But, is being of the Wica a privilege? Absolutely.
  5. Being allowed in the door to someone else’s ritual means that you are being included. Assuming that you should be paid any attention beyond that just means that you’re an asshole. We do love most things that prove that watered down Wicca is shitty. Take of your clothes practice like the rest of us, or gtfo. Kthxbai.

What’s your take on Wiccanate Privilege?  And if you can direct us to a Wiccanate, we’d love to actually meet one that identifies that way.  We bet they need a drink.

(For a non-douchebag response to the Wiccanate privilege debate, please read our brother Benny’s blog. That’s a true Gardnerian sentiment right there.)

C is for British Slang

We all know what the C word is. ESPECIALLY the British. We take no small measure of joy in how profligate that word is over there. But since this is the #proper English speaking community of AMURICUH, today, C will stand for Candle. Or ceremony. Or cord. Yes, cord is a good one.

Candles

Witches love candles. In fact, sometimes, American witches with too much time on their hands will invade botanicas (or an Indio retail outlet that is TO DIE FOR) and turn their bedroom into the best aisle in the grocery store! (pictures below).  CAVEAT: This will oftentimes have the unfortunate side effect of causing a witch’s non-spiritual significant other who is otherwise adorable to audibly point out how many altars are already in the house as he begins to question whether the bedroom is a bedroom, or a 24/7 chapel of flickering candlelight that  to him for some ungodly reason is difficult to sleep through. A witch who is worth her salt will take this opportunity to practice the fourth part of the pyramid and keep silent about how he used to snore when he was unemployed and drinking all the time and THAT was hard to sleep through.

We digress; this is what we did to a corner of our bedroom. Ignore the obvious Catholic stuff at the top and check out the shelves.

bedroombotanica

Candles! Our Minoan/Wica Trad friend Matthew would be so proud of us if he weren’t trapped under several feet of snow somewhere in Pennsylvania. It reminds us of his old apartment in Hollywood. Maybe we should paint the Madonna black.

Gardnerians love candles.  If we didn’t, we would be exiled from witchdom.  People debate about whether the quarter candles, which we can neither confirm nor deny had their stands broken by our high priestess, her friends’ kids or herself FOR A SECOND TIME, need to be yellow, red, blue, and green for East, South, West and North respectively, or if white should be used in each because it may or may not be more traditional. We tend to go with the most ancient of Wiccan adages and use whatever is handy.

Dressing Candles

For this lovely little tidbit, we highly recommend the wonderful business and amazing magickal forum of LuckyMojo.com.  While southern African American hoodoo is clearly not Wicca, who cares? They’ve got that shit perfected and we absolutely recommend most of the ways they work. So whether you anoint candles for increase from the ends to the center with your condition oil or from the bottom to the top (repeatedly), we remind you that this is a fertility religion; as long as it looks like you’re being the best kind of drunk bunk mate ever while you’re doing it, it should work.

Ceremony

It’s wonderful. The more, the merrier. For anything, really. Insist on it.

Cords

We can neither confirm nor deny that cords are used within witchcraft or with Gardnerian Wicca.  What we can do is refer you to books written by Gardnerians who also cannot confirm or deny that we use cords, to see how they instruct you on how to use them.

Uncle Bucky’s Big Blue Book of Rainy Day Wicca Fun lists cords in its index on 8 different pages. Being the thorough witches that we are, we’ll turn to whichever one comes up first (pg. 32 of 2nd edition) and break several Crescent Moon copyrights by quoting: “Most witches ‘do their thing’ in the evenings [LOL] and so illuminate with candles around the Circle and the altar.”  The important part is the sentence before it in which Buckland does a terrible job of neither confirming nor denying “Gardnerian has cords…”

One thing that may or may not be traditional would be using the cord to measure the radius of the circle, so that you can go for that precise, old school perfect circle straight out of the Greater Key of Solomon. Or you could just buy a rug that’s precisely the circular measurements you like, that also has a giant pentagram on it.  Does anyone know where we can order one from?

Cords also serve the very basic function of serving as a waist tie while wearing robes for the 10 seconds before ritual where you may or may not discard them altogether.

And that, dear readers, is our Gardnerian accounting of the letter C.  This pagan blog project really is fun, isn’t it? Now let’s get back to labeling all of those herb jars to prove that IKEA really is the Devil’s accomplice.

By the way, dear Wiccans, C is also for Cup.  It is *never* called a chalice.  Let’s leave that in the Church where it belongs.

Blessed Be,

Gardnerians

P.S. C is also for COMMENTS. Just sayin!

bolline

B is for Bolline

When we first though about the letter B, we thought that in the Gardnerian blog it might stand for something like blindfold or binding or boobs. But since if Gardnerian praxis actually involved any of those three awesome things, they would likely be oathbound, and so we’d only be able to talk about them for the 30 minutes it would take our High Priestess to get to our house and stab us to death. Really, we’d rather spend our last 30 minutes doing something epic, like initiating anyone who walks slowly enough across our lawn.

So instead, B stands for bolline. Let us tell you about the bolline in the Gardnerian tradition. Gardnerians use a lot of tools. We like tools. They are fun. They look kewl. They are used for many things and we spend many, many barrels of extremely fine scotch debating the merits of different kinds of wood. (There’s a double entendre in there somwehere.) Most importantly, we like to make our tools, because that increases our link with them and their efficacy. We chant and we focus and we sweat and bleed on them. We drink and we smoke and we craft objects d’spirit and arte into some truly amazing and powerful shit.  And once we’re done making all of the tools we need, when our splintered hands are cramped by the heinous, heinous vocabulary that we never use, we start looking for other things to make. We make candle sconces and wrought iron stands, peytons and staves and a myriad of other cool things we’ll actually put to use. Once we make the ancillary crap that comes in handy every now and then, we *might* decide to make a bolline.

A bolline, from what little we remember learning about it reading Wiccan books in Catholic high school, is a crescent-shaped knife used to wildcraft herbs.  What does wildcrafting herbs mean?  Well, it mostly means that we order them from LuckyMojo.com like the rest of you. But if we want to eventually pass cat yronwode’s class, we’ll likely have to go outside and actually rob some poor plant, so maybe we’ll get a bolline to do so.  But really, we probably won’t.

Check out our High Priest’s herb collecting tool.

shears

Samsung

A is for Altar

Some pagan blog project wants us to do a blog a week or something with each letter. We are late to this party because we didn’t have a blog and we didn’t care. Now that we’ve had a blog for almost a day, we’re bored with it, so we suddenly care.

A is for Altar. And ours are oathbound, so have fun not knowing anything about them :D See you A-holes at the letter B!  But in the meantime, check out this picture.  How fucking cray is that shiz?! It looks like a pagan playschool oven for kids that you could make in wood shop.  Who has their athame on a stand!? Those candles holders are totally tits though. You let that shit get low enough and you’d light your house on fire.  Someone buy us one.

giphy

Our Three-fold Response

(If you haven’t read the Shove Your Three-fold Somewhere Else post, read it here first.)

Today, I learned that someone I’ve never met (or even heard of) had “a serious bone” to pick with me.  Apparently, she thinks that the members of my religion give out verbal lashings about some cockamamie (sp?) rule that originated at some point when a bunch of uninitiated witches half-assedly (is that a word? No? Well, I’m coining it.) attempted to culturally appropriate something from my cult and warped it into some nonsense about anything you send out being returned to you three-fold.

Without getting into the lunacy of that logic causing endless spiraling fractals of chain events to run amok through our world and the universe, let’s get back to this witch’s beef with me. She says that when we get called out on precisely what I just described above and how impolite it would be for me to jump down another witch’s throat for daring to practice witchcraft, we hide behind “karma.”

Girl, let me tell you something you already know about karma, because it will sound almost as condescendingly pedantic as most of your poorly researched rantings: karma is not a part of Wicca.  Karma has never been a part of Wicca. Karma belongs to Hinduism. While we mostly love Hinduism, being the good pagans that we are, most of us aren’t Hindu. The vast majority, even. Karma implies that Samsara exists.  Samsara implies that we are trapped in a seemingly endless cycle of reincarnation that we are attempting to free ourselves from by pursuing Samadhi, and let me tell you, as fucking fabulous and high on the hog I frequently feel because of how great it is to be a one of the Wica, moksha is certainly not on the horizon for me. I love Brahma and all, but I feel no overwhelming desire to reunite my atman with Godhead, because I don’t think it was ever really severed from it.

Witches aren’t trying to escape rebirth; we embrace it. It’s one of our very few tenets. We want to come back again and again and party like rockstars with all of our loved ones as we attempt to be good shepherds of the Earth our dear Gods granted us for that very occasion.  So drop the karma thing already, k?

If you think that part of your purpose here on Earth is to scold people you’ve never met over some bullshit some other people are falsely applying to their religion, then you need to go back to high school and retake whatever classes on critical thinking they offered. You are doing to others what you are protesting having done to yourself. I dunno what your witchcraft has taught you, but mine has shown that to certainly not be the way to break a cycle.

I love your definition of traditional witchcraft. Mostly because it sounds exactly like everyone’s definition of Wicca from the 70s. Let’s see how that changes over the next few decades, shall we? You want to call yourselves pre-Christian? You go right ahead. You want to call yourselves traditional without any semblance of any unbroken line of praxis coming down through the centuries? You go right ahead.  The earliest “Trad Witch” I’ve heard of in my extremely limited and uneducated on who holds that title currently was Robert Cochrane. And wasn’t he, gasp, a Wiccan? (This may not be true. Look at us, learning things!)

Your explanation of what you do with your dead and the bumps in the night etc applies to any witch, and is something that we figured out before your first contact was made with each other. Hell, most of your first contact with each other was likely facilitated by us, because we came out of the broom closet first. So yes, please show us how great and smart you are by stating common sense, since everyone likes to accuse us of failing on that front because we’re way easier for the non-magical public to identify. Did I leave a ‘k’ out of that word there? Well shit, there goes that stereotype.

Now, to the Rede. I really like what you wrote here. Doreen may have been the first Wiccan to publicly utter the Rede, but she certainly didn’t invent it. I don’t care if it’s ascribed to Gardner, Dafo, Crowley, King Pausol or or a 4th century Christian saint (thanks, Wikipedia!). It’s good advice, and it prohibits nothing. The fun part is where you bring up cultural appropriation when someone tries to fling the Rede into someone else’s face. That’s not appropriation, yo. That’s proselytization, and das est verboten in Wicca. Cultural appropriation is when I decide that Yemaya is a Goddess of the Ocean and decide that she is a Wiccan goddess, and so I have circle around my toilet bowl (BECAUSE WATER) to venerate her and then design ads featuring cute white girls wearing her accoutrements in an attempt to sell fashion.

You’re also completely disallowing for the inevitable development of syncretization, but let’s not go there just yet, because it’s way more fun to have outsiders finger-pointing over disagreements between Yemaya’s depiction among Yoruban, Cuban and Brazilian cultures. There’s your hot topic right now. Cause Wicca has been culturally appropriated into oblivion, but people are hot as shit about fending off the same inevitable fate from the ATRs.  We Wiccans will be sitting up in the nosebleed section cheering our ATR brethren on to success where there were far too few of us to compete.

The fact that you state, full blanket statement here, that hexes, curses, jinxes, etc are shunned in Wicca pretty much sets you up for failure. That statement right there shows that you are not a Wiccan and do not have a copy of the BoS. I don’t even need to go any further here, but good for you for thinking you know it all girl. That’s a winning attitude. One day I hope I feel that way about ‘trad craft,’ because then I’ll remember to kick myself in the balls and get real.

Allow me to impart unto you the words of a witch named Terry, of Artemesia Botanicals in Salem, MA, who is not (as far as we know) a Traditional Wiccan in the BTW sense but who, as an ex-Cabot , is psychic enough to just flat out intuit something very, very obvious: “I’m not a Christian, honey. The only cheek I turn is this one!” She then slaps her ass. That woman is frequently brilliant, and that’s probably the most Wiccan thing she’s ever said.

So now that we’ve reached the point of terminal verbosity in this morning interlude of ecumenical lambasting, allow me to impart some knowledge about my cult, Wicca, to you, dear outsider. Wiccans can and do curse. We have lots of very, very detailed and specific ones that are nasty as shit and would be super, SUPER fun to share with witches we like. But we can’t because we swore not to.  Wiccans have ways of killing people. Wiccans have ways of killing other Wiccans. Wiccans have ways of causing your crops to blight and your cows to dry and all of the hilariously old school shit you would expect but never really see. Because we also have that fun little fourth part of that oddly named pyramid to adhere to. We keep silent about it. We don’t post altar pics of the nasty shit we do and then put up more pictures in an etsy shop and start selling that shit to the highest bidder.  That shit is between us and our spirits and our Gods.

And then, oh sweet culturally appropriated baby Jebus, you go ahead and admit that the majority of the idiots you are railing against under our name aren’t actually Wiccans! Why the huge diatribe then? And then you ask why we’re treating each other like the Christians! Well, it’s about perpetuating that cycle I mentioned above.  But please know; we love a good fight.  We’re kind of like the Irish in that regard (ps, I don’t care what the other half of us say, Wicca is fucking ridiculously Celtic). We have a shit ton of fun fighting with each other all the time until an outsider becomes an enemy, and then all of us bandy together despite years of feuding and have a very, very good time with our mutual efforts.

I’m not about to put you to the torch for being a protestant and failing to drink good Catholic whisky, so please don’t lend credence to a bunch of awful cultural appropriation of my religion by accepting it as fact, whole hog, railing against it to me and my cult by name, and in the same breath denounce exactly what you are doing. It kind of reeks of the hypocrisy that comes from a simple lack of awareness, and when someone comes at us, we prefer them to do it with something significant.

In love and light (lol),

A Gardnerian