Opinions are like assholes

Haters Gonna Hate

One of our familiar silver spirits tipped us off to something she had read on the interwebz today, and it delighted us to no end, because it was about US! We love us! And we know you love us too, so we’re sharing it with you in the spirit of siblinghood, camaraderie, and behoosiery. So grab a snack, get comfy, and go read the lovely stylings of Frater Barrabas, and remember, the term of the day today is “Reading Comprehension.”

Gardnerian Snark Exposed.   <———click here. Also lol @ the idea that our snark wasn’t already obvious, and at witches who work skyclad being exposed. Hee!

Seriously, read it first, before you read our delightfully tacky, yet unrefined response below. Did you read it yet? Did you? Don’t miss out! Ok. Here we go.

Hey Barrabbas!

Nice name! We are DELIGHTED (yes, in all caps!) that you were so moved by our writings as to author your very own screed in its rightly-due honor! (PS Thanks for that word. We LOVE it. LOVE.)

We must say, your last paragraph here was almost our exact thought in your first! Please, deign to teach us about your Alexandria tradition. Is that the way the true, old school witches amongst you refer to it? Was that N at the end just superfluous and tedious, or was that just your attitude? So many questions! We would take the time to detail all of the other grammatical errors in your blog, but an informal examination of it indicates that you really, really don’t care, you were just grasping at any straw you could to levy an argument against us. We love it. Good for you. Live your life.

Since you’re Gardnerian-lite via your “more circuitous yet no less valid lineage,” I daresay you’re being a bit disingenuous in this gloriously self-righteous diatribe of yours. As fun as it is to have Wicca mansplained by someone on the internet going by Frater anything, you’re BTW enough to know that everything we wrote in our blog about Wicca is true. Had you even the tiniest bit of critical reading skill, you would also have noticed that in several places on our blog, we differentiate between Wicca and witchcraft. We are not in the business of saying who is and who is not a witch. That is for each person to decide. What we are in the business of doing is identifying, vouching for, or denying those who make claim to being members of the Wica, a term brought into public by Gerald, who was initiated into the cult in the New Forest, and taught that initiation was necessary to become one of that priesthood. But you go right ahead and pretend like it’s still 1960 and the two terms mean exactly the same thing and remain interchangeable. Quite traditional of you, and, in your very own words, perfectly full of “obnoxious conceit.” It’s so particularly egregious that we’d love to have you as a guest blogger representing the ‘Alexandria tradition” on the Gardnerians blog! People really should know how some traditionalists actually think, no?

We loved this statement: “What we can’t do is to judge others who are not part of our various traditions by the same measure that we would judge ourselves or our lineage members.”

Some further critical reading would also clue you in to the fact that the particular piece you’re warbling about was written in response to those attempting to claim Gardnerian lineage specifically, from outside of BTW. These people are actively claiming to be members of our specific priesthood. It would make sense then, to someone with a reading comprehension level above the fifth grade, that the initiation rites we’re talking about also apply only to Wicca, which we use in the traditional context, per our entire blog. Again, we’re not talking about witchcraft at large. Just a tiny sub-sect within the greater craft which identifies its members as the Wica. You can preach that self-initiation exists and is as legit as initiation into the cult by its priesthood all you want. All that does is open the floodgates to every IRAB 14 year old HPS who started her own coven in the same grade you abandoned your reading comprehension and logic skills. Maybe this was the founding of this mysterious Alexandria tradition? The mind boggles.

While we understand that some persons on the internet such as yourself have absolutely no sense of humor and will obviously fall all over themselves at any attempt at sarcasm or jest, we do thoroughly enjoy it when both members of our shared cult and those outside of it hit us up with how funny they think our writing is and how often they refer others to it. In fact, we enjoy it almost as much as we enjoy the vitriol spewed by our haters. We’ve never really felt empowered enough to wear one of those horrid ‘I ❤ haters’ hats from that hillarious millennial fuck boy starter kit, but thanks to you we might just purchase one! Thanks, Lexiepoo!

This blog itself is presented as an over-the-top hot mess with occasional bits of truth laced throughout it to get across a basic understanding of how Wicca works from a traditional context. One of those bits of truth that you decided to refute is that there is one shared book of shadows within traditional Wicca. I don’t know which member of the ‘Alexandria tradition’ brought you in, but she should have also equipped you with a version of this book. Your version of this book, if it at all resembles the copy I have in Alex Sanders’ handwriting, would be very, very similar to the one I also have in Gerald’s handwriting, Doreen’s handwriting, Gerald’s other, very-difficult-to-read handwriting, and type-writer, word processor, and e-formats from multiple traditional Wiccan lineages/traditions, several continents, and 7 decades.

Assuming that the “quite provisional” first degree initiation you underwent was Alexandrian in nature, I have multiple copies of it in front of me currently. The fun thing is that they all contain the same things, all of which originated with Gardner’s initiation rite. I mean, we can neither confirm nor deny whether the one in the Alexandrian BoS is EXACTLY THE SAME. We said there was one book, and there is. We never said there was only one authorized version of it. Those are your silly little words. Regardless of what others have added to any version, each copy of the book is a repository of rituals, and it would need to actually have the rituals, including that ‘provisional’ one you supposedly went through. Tell us, does your HPS describe it the same way you do? Is that part of your oral lore? Delightful.

The point of having a tradition is that there are certain things that we maintain. The initiation rites are some of them. The oral lore is part of it. The sabbat rites are part of it. The esbat rite is part of it. Sure, we innovate. We’re witches. We add our collective knowledge as we progress and we pass it down. All 967 pages of it. But we always maintain that which we consider core to the tradition. The core rites and rituals are the skeleton upon which we stand, the shoulders of the giants who have come before us, and that which connects us in a chain of lineage and spiritual ancestry backwards in time and forwards to those who come after us. It is how our spirits know us, know our call, and heed our words. If you remove that from your book of shadows and practice, we daresay you’ve abandoned the tradition, and wouldn’t recognize your initiate as one of us. It would be an extremely provisional view of our shared praxis and history, and one destined for conflict if one wishes their initiates to remain counted amongst our ranks. But we can already tell that you haven’t abandoned it all. You just felt like mouthing off on a straw-man argument you constructed for attention.

Have we mentioned yet that we’d love to have you as a guest blogger? Pretty please.

The rites exist in extremely similar form in books of shadows of many different BTW traditions. It is in identifying them that those of us who reach across traditional lines are able to recognize our brothers and sisters of the Art and share with them in an oathbound context without violating our oaths. The book of shadows exists to enable us to practice our most basic and fundamental rites, and to tie us together, even if some of them recommend a lot more incense than others 😉

As for the need for familiar spirits to be a witch, I have no idea where you got that definition. Yes, having a familiar was certainly something touted in the middle ages and early modern period (and probably in current trad witch circles and sabbatic craft grimoires that want you to crucify a frog over an ant hill to contact the devil), but witches existed in Africa and Asia long before then. They are mentioned in the bible under various names and various languages, and they are present without that delightfully European moniker, or that requirement. Rage against a narrow definition now, son! 😀

To be a Gardnerian, to have Gardnerian lineage, or any BTW lineage, you do, in-fact, need to be initiated by a qualified member of the priesthood. We stand by this, and remind all seekers that the doors are open. If we weren’t open to those who feel the call, we would have died out a long, long time ago. Besides, we’re delightful and hilarious in person.

We’ll leave you with this and then go back to referring to ourselves in the first person:

A witch is born. A Wiccan is made (by another Wiccan, regardless of who made the first Wiccan).

And really dear, every quote of ours that you used was grammatically correct and contained no misspellings, though it certainly utilized the all caps feature that seems to get you off so.

Ta, broseph! Thanks for the attention!

Gardnerian A
(Only 11 years in the cult, more to come.)

P.S. Seriously let me know about that guest blogging spot. You can write about anything and say anything. In the words of our venerable founder, it would be #glorious!

Mario Martinez

(This is a response to a letter from Mario Martinez, the person who has unsubstantiated claims of being a Gardnerian initiate in Brazil, who has had every opportunity to prove it over the last decade, but hasn’t yet. Read his letter before this response for maximum effect.)

Dearest Mr. Martinez,

Thank you quite sincerely for noticing the sarcastic and trashy nature of our blog. We are glad that you get it, as some people mistake it for actual value and that absolutely terrifies us. You have made our day, sir.

Now, however, we will drop the schtick (that’s a Yiddish word for an act. You should totally incorporate it into Portuguese down there. It’s great). Instead of making light of an obviously tawdry situation, I’ll speak in the first person, in a civilized manner, which is unusual for me.

Sir, I would love for you to join the big family. If you could prove yourself to have a vouch from a verified Gardnerian that is vouched for by others who are not ultimately reliant on you for their vouch, I would be happy to see and treat you as a brother of the Art. However, until such a time as that process is completed, then I would be in violation of my oath, as would any of us in the US or the UK or the rest of Europe or even in Brazil. However, I am hoping that this discourse will prove exactly that you are legitimately initiated and elevated, because one thing that I love more than poking at a silly bee’s nest is meeting actual brothers and sisters of the Craft. Hell, I even recognize Alexandrians as brothers and sisters of the Wicca, and that’s not very ‘Hard Gard’ of me. So please, let’s get this taken care of.

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Seamus McKeon, and I live in Los Angeles, California. I am a third degree High Priest and I run a coven in West Hollywood. I am downline from Raymond Buckland and from Theos and Phoenix, and I am a member of the Long Island line which you seem so keen to attempt to discredit based purely on ad hominem attacks. I am such legitimate Long Island line that I even grew up on Long Island about 25 minutes away from where Ray established the first Wiccan coven in America. However, as I said before, I’m not a hard gard. I recognize Alexandrians. I am a High Priest and I run my coven, as opposed to our HPS running it, because I am still training her. These are very, very un-hard Gard things to do, and they are two among many, yet still, I am a recognized initiate of the Gardnerian tradition and not even the most Hard Gard of priests will deny that.

This blog is meant as both a joke and also a blunt way of looking at Wiccan subjects that most of us are far too nice to say aloud. We have articles ranging from initiation experiences to yelling about amusing shenanigans at Pagan festivals happening between friends, because the vast majority of us are friends with other Gardnerians and we like the sense of family that we enjoy because of it. Articles here are written by multiple initiates with no regard for saying who’s who, because all opinions here belong to Gardnerians. The point is its diversity of thought, regardless of who happens to be writing any one piece. We celebrate the mirth and the reverence of our tradition and our lives. If that is not a part of your group, then we heartily recommend incorporating it, as it makes for some truly great bonds. The situation down there with you has been so consistently pathetic and full of contradictions that we just had to comment on how much rope it seems that you have been given to hang yourself (that’s an American idiom that suggests that you’ve been given opportunities to prove your points but have only managed to shoot yourself in the foot and make your cause all the more difficult for yourselves).

But, I digress, this post is about mending fences and finding family. As far as I can tell, people have checked with you and with your people in order to obtain a vouch. The fact that one has not been forthcoming since 2005 is extremely telling. Hell, some of us even accept vouches from Alexandrians. The only attempt at legitimacy that I have ever heard of from you is the fact that you somehow got onto a list that Fred Lamond wrote and he didn’t kick you out. That is not a vouch. That is an English person being polite. If Fred Lamond has never met you or circled with you and doesn’t personally know anyone else who has, then he can’t really vouch for you. That’s not how it works. So, I ask you quite sincerely, who can vouch for you? I have read comments in which you claim to have been initiated by Olwen herself on the Isle of Mann, and other claims by those downline from you that you are teaching them that their lineage flows through you to an Ann Tyler. I have also been informed that you tried to claim degrees off of Patricia Crowther, and she denied ever knowing you. So which is it? What is the truth?

Who are your initiators? What are their names and how may we contact them? If they are deceased and unable to vouch for you, is there anyone else who has been in circle with both you and them who can vouch for you? Is there anyone who is not your initiate or an initiate of your initiates who can vouch for you? Can anyone else use their good standing in the Gardnerian priesthood to vouch for you without also being ultimately reliant on your vouch as a part of their lineage? I have stood in circle with Long Island people, with Kentucky line people, with Rae Bone-line people from both the United States, England, and continental Europe. I have people who are completely unconnected with my lineage who can and will vouch for me. Do you have the same? That would help immensely. This is how it works.

Let’s next address the BoS in question. Someone (I thought it was you, but if it was one of your downline then I apologize, but my point still stands) sent a sample of your/their book of shadows to a High Priest that you subsequently maligned because he rejected it as proof of validity. His name is Brian and he is a HP in good standing in Texas. The reason why this sample was sent was to serve as proof of your legitimacy by way of having a legitimate book of shadows. The interesting point is that your book, per your version of history, would have been copied from your initiators in England 45+ years ago, because that is where and when you claim to have been initiated, but this “proof of legitimacy” sample was from an American HP with notes that he wrote in the 1990s on the west coast of America. This is one of the things I was referring to as giving you enough rope to hang yourself. If it was one of your initiates who sent this, as it seems to be people other than you who are always transmitting your messages, then I invite you to provide proof of your own.

I’ve been through the rites, and I have experienced the Mysteries, and they have led me to understand that the Wica are everywhere, waiting to be found, having already been known and loved again, and stand ready to bring in those that come after us. I will circle happily with people whose vouches are good, and I dislike disunion almost as much as I dislike lying and overbearing pride. We are taught to be humble in the craft, and so, I offer to you to serve to stand witness to your veracity as soon as you can provide me with an adequate vouch. I am, as you say, “a 3rd degree member who wishes to talk to you, compare texts, and take a look at your material,” but I am also a 3rd degree member who values my oath, and will need a vouch to satisfy that requirement before I will feel comfortable enough doing so. I am available via email. I am available via telephone. I can Facetime, Skype, Viber, or WhatsApp you. Just let me know.

I assure you that despite whatever reasons you may have to think that any of us envy you or your situation, you are wrong. We neither envy you, nor do we hate you. We pity you, because we’ve seen other people go through this same process. It’s happened in the United States. It’s happened in Canada. It’s happened in England. It happens, and no one likes it, least of all us. As much as we would love to throw our arms open to everyone who professes to love our tradition, we can only do so once we have validated that they have been through the initiation rite. I am sure that you understand, as our oath requires it. So, I very much look forward to hearing from you and speaking to you directly, in order to confirm your lineage and attain a vouch for you from a recognized initiate, per the rules of our shared religion.

Sincerely,

A Mediocre Coward

 

opinions

Two Gardnerians, Twenty-one Opinions

Behold, dear blog reader, one of the deepest and darkest secrets of the religion of Wicca: two Gardnerians disagreeing with each other! Spooky! Scandalous! Never before seen on the interne… oh wait.

Gardnerian B wrote, “The moment we begin a relationship with deity and magic inside a ritual circle we are acting as Priestesses and Priests.”

(Gardnerian A will respond not in quotes.)

When a wizened old court magician in the middle ages in Europe drew a magic circle on the ground and a triangle outside of it, and then began to invoke the names of God in order to compel a spirit to appear within that triangle, he fit the actions described above, but he was (frequently) not a priest. A rabbi could do the same thing, and unless he was born a Kohan, he also was not a priest. Interacting with a God does not make one a priest, otherwise every female Catholic saint would have been running an abbey somewhere that was probably Ireland. While I recognize and understand the desire to validate other people’s feelings, I do not understand the need to dilute who and what we are in order to do so.

If a God wants to make someone their priest, that’s great. The God can initiate them into their knowledge and mysteries in an infinite number of ways. But our Gods do not make one a Wiccan by Themselves. A Wiccan makes a Wiccan. It’s a priesthood created and promulgated by human beings who are witches. Who initiated the first Wiccan? I don’t care. Wicca traces to the New Forest, through either Gerald Gardner, or, when we’re feeling magnanimous, Sybil Leek. If the argument that the gods initiate people into our cult is made, the argument that they do so through their priesthood is also made. It happens through us. If we were to come across a devotee of the Horned God, Lord of Death and Resurrection, we would probably snatch them up, because they’d make a great Wiccan. If they didn’t feel the need for that, we’d invite ourselves to their circles and get to know them better and, through them and their devotions, possibly our own God more, which would be great. It would not, however, make that person a member of the Wica. They’d be like a spiritual cousin, but not a brother or sister of the Art as we know it to be.

An initiation in the Gardnerian tradition, or in traditional Wicca as a whole, means jack shit when it comes to other people’s witchcraft traditions or religions, but it does have meaning when it comes to Wicca. I would never expect a Feri initiate (which has only one degree) to give any extra shit about me or what I do more than any other pagan, just because I have 3 degrees in another form of witchcraft. This isn’t Hogwarts. Wiccan degrees are not accredited. They don’t transfer from one form of witchcraft to another. Within the initiated priesthood of the Wicca, if an Alexandrian and Gardnerian pair of third degrees honor each other as such, that makes sense, because they’re both traditional Wiccan HPs. Once you leave the arena of traditional Wicca, anything goes and things are not directly translatable.

Orange-flavored candy might smell vaguely like an orange, and have perhaps a hint of its (artificial) flavor, but there’s no actual orange in there. It’s like the difference between people who insist on using actual plant products and essential oils in their condition oils and people who buy artificially scented oils and claim they’re the same thing. They’re not. The only way to find out why is to try them both. You notice a difference. The spirit of the plant is present in the one that contains the actual botanicals. In synthetics, it’s just your energy alone. I prefer the real deal, otherwise one could call orange Gatorade “Orange Juice” and people will mistakenly think that they’re the same thing. They’re not. Ostensibly so. Arguing to a carton of orange juice that orange gatorade is also orange juice is just… I mean, it sounds delicious, but it’s not true. The same goes with traditional Wicca and Wiccan-based, eclectic witchcraft.

This other idea that language changes over time based on how the populace uses it is completely true. That doesn’t make it right. Words and their meanings can be completely diluted, or changed into their opposites, as Merriam Webster has delightfully done by changing the meaning of the word “literal” to “figurative” because so many pumpkin-spice drinking white girls just “literally cannot even.” Using Wicca in a way that includes anyone who casts a circle, or even those who don’t, but generally identify with what they think our philosophy is, dilutes the name, and names have power. Plus, there’s always the possibility that the tide can turn back in the other direction, and then the word Wiccan will mean the same here in the US as it does in the UK where it was born. Let’s not disempower ourselves by giving up, even if there’s a cacophony of well-meaning, but uninformed voices out there using it incorrectly. Disagreeing with something is not judgement. It is simple disagreement based on, hopefully, knowledge.

Also, to pretend one can be Wiccan but not “of the Wica” is like the idea that one can be Wiccan and not practice witchcraft. Can someone be a Christian but not “of the followers of Christ?” No. That’s silly. But here we are, doing silly things just to ensure that we’re not hurting the egos built by the uneducated masses. Why not just educate them? Why not just say, in plain English, what we said: Belief does not equal initiation. It’s good for people to hear. It makes them think. Well, it makes some of them think. Sometimes it feels like it makes most of them dig in their heels and start crying about how we’re bullies who won’t accept them, when they’re the ones co-opting the name of our priesthood, and then running around spouting inane things about it like it doesn’t taint us. I forget what it’s called when white people go to Coachella and wear traditional native feather headdresses, or when someone sets up shop in the French quarter and declares themselves a Vodou mambo, without any training, or when Rachel Dolezal did pretty much anything, but the feeling is similar. People outside of the priesthood, for various reasons, and most of them not ill-intentioned, looked at our culture, took what they like, and adopted it as their own without any of the experiences that go with them. I mean, people run around wearing the third degree sigil as jewelry, for fun, because it’s cute, and they started their own eclectic coven, so they feel entitled to it. What do you call that? Did Carl Weshke have the right to take the name of our priesthood and put “the words Wicca and Wiccan in the hands of anyone who wished to claim them”? I say you nay, sir. He was not one of us. He did not have that right. But this is AMURICUH, and Americans can ostensibly do whatever they want.

Gardnerian B: “If someone has eighteen books on their shelf with the word “Wicca” on them and they self-identify that way who am I to stop them? What purpose does that serve? Words get away from us and it’s hard to police their meanings after they do so.”

Let’s play hypotheticals. If someone has 18 books on the shelf with the word “Lukumi” or “Vodou” or “Catholic Priesthood” or even “African American” and they self-identify that way, even though they’re not initiated into the former three and clearly are not of the latter, who are you to stop them? I would think that any logical human being would disagree with them. No one is stopping anyone from doing anything, especially in America, but we don’t have to cater to the lowest common denominator among us, especially if it’s quite obviously uninformed.

Educate people. That’s the purpose it serves: education. Words get away from us, yes, and policing their meanings is up to the likes of Merriam Webster and the Oxford English dictionary, but those meanings are formed and reformed based on us, the people, and if we give up on who and what we are, we become meaningless. I refuse to contribute to our priesthood being watered down and made meaningless. It means too much to me, and if that is a crime, then lock my ass up. Me and Kim Davis can have a lively debate while we’re in the clink together 😉

*BB*

Gardnerian, A

County

 

Red Flag Warning Signs on the Cult of Personality Highway: Types of People to Watch Out For in Wicca

Witchcraft is a wide, wide world. Since no one can agree on just what it encompasses, it has at times included everything from mediumship and healing to any non-Judeo-Christian (or Muslim) religious and folk practices. Open-minded people call Spiritualists (practitioners of the religion of Spiritualism) mediums, and close-minded people may just call them witches, and scream about how dark-sided they are, like Wife Swap’s the God Warrior.

Witchcraft changes people, usually for the better, but sometimes for the worse. Minds can be opened, usually by the acquisition of knowledge and the utilization of compassion and empathy. But minds can also grow closed through fear and insecurity. People don’t like fear. They don’t innately like the unknown, as much as they are also inherently drawn to it (hence, witchcraft). People who live in fear often times fail to control those fears, and instead turn their minds toward controlling what causes their fears. They attempt to control their environments, their families, their children, their politics and countries, and in the worst cases, large swaths of the world, leading to some of the most dreadful events in human history.

Fear is a very strong force in this world. Fear leads to a need to control. Sometimes fears are warranted and control is good, like when an invasive species takes over a certain locale and checks need to be put in place to balance out the environment, like this amazing project explaining How Wolves Change Rivers. But sometimes a lot of the time, fear leads to unhealthy actions, like attempting to control other people.

We’ve all heard the stories when it comes to Wicca: such and such a hypothetical person, let’s call her Luna, is looking for information on Wicca online. She’s read a few things, maybe even quite a few things: books and websites and listened to podcasts and studied her little heart out! Then she takes the next step: actually talking to other people online. (We know this is a hypothetical situation. Obviously no modern-day person from AMURICUH would wait until after amassing knowledge about something before talking about it. And pontificating about it. And acting like they know everything about it. But this is OUR story and we won’t let you ruin it with reality or facts. And you’ll see why as we continue to describe a certain type of individual 😉

So Luna has decided to talk to other witches. She likely reads a few sites, visits a few forums, and eventually ends up where everything on the internet ends up: Facebook. She allegedly joined a group that is supposedly about traditional Wicca.™ There are a hundred or so other people in there and the HPS who owns/runs/moderates it allegedly presents herself as a High Priestess of a tradition of Wicca, which sounds quite respectable and knowledgeable! She easily spouts off a few well known platitudes about traditional Wicca, like “Traditional Wicca never costs money!” She seems legit to our dear Luna. This alleged traditional HPS, let’s call her something normal-sounding (which is odd for online Wiccans these days), like Jordana Smith, HPS™. (Though we all know she has like 237 different names and switches between them all because pagan name, craft name, circle name, trad name, real name, title she gave hersel…we mean, that her tradition very validly and ostentatiously bestowed upon her, etc…) Besides, she’s pushing 60 and mentions it A LOT! No one that old would misrepresent themselves!

So young, self-taught, slightly naïve-but-using-her-brain-nonetheless Luna begins to learn. She hears Jordana Smith, HPS™ spout off about such erudite Wiccan concepts as teaching within the Craft, her book, mythology, and the like. She speaks of respect for other peoples’ traditions of Wicca, all of them! She says that they do not all operate the same and that we must all respect that those differences exist. She says that if your opinion or experience differs from hers, she has no problem with that. And yet, she brings up legitimacy and validity, which implies that some are, and some definitely aren’t. It gives her an elevated, insider air. She’s presenting herself as someone who is capable of pointing the finger and saying, “No. They are not legit. They do not belong,” frequently about people from outside her own tradition, or outside of any tradition.

Luna, gods bless her for the burden she bears for it, was born with a functioning brain. She starts to sense, subconsciously at first, that something seems ‘off’ here. She is reading these things about peace and love and harmony and respect, and then seeing, well, things that don’t quite jive with those oft-touted concepts. She starts to wonder about what Jordana Smith, HPS™, is saying. Some things sound great, but other things sounds a bit contradictory to what she’s learned elsewhere. There is a seeming conflict of information to her, and so, in a common act of simple naivety, she decides to ask about it.

She pipes up, saying, “But I learned something different from this other tradition. The Gardnerians teach something different. (Cause like everyone knows who we are, cause we named ourselves after our founder by making someone hate him so bad that he gave us a name, Gardnerians, in an attempt to dispel us like the Nothing in the Neverending Story. But really, he threw our proverbial Dobby a sock and unleashed us onto the world, and for that, we are grateful to him. RIP.)

Luna says, “But I read that not all Wiccans follow the Rede in everything. It’s just advice that applies to situations which cause no harm. It’s not a law across the board.” And Jordana Smith, HPS™ hisses and recoils. The heretofore polite HPS-apparent replies, “Well surely you adhere to the 161 Laws,” but Luna shakes her head (online. Somehow.) and replies, “But, those were made up after Wicca got off the ground and running and only like 1 of Gardner’s HPSes paid them any mind at all. Most of them saw them for what they were, some fancy old type of speak that doesn’t really apply to the modern world in which witches/Wiccans think for themselves, because they’re all equal at 3°. Also, gays are fine and Gardner wanted Doreen to step down because either he wasn’t into her or she was actually as much in control as he was and so he came up with an excuse to solve that little problem.”

Jordana Smith, HPS™, hisses again, recoiling even farther. But she would not give up her hold…err, hope just yet. She greeted Luna with a hello and informed her that everyone needs a high Priest or High Priestess and Elder in the Craft to teach them like she does EVERY PERSON WHO ENTERS THE GROUP JUST IN CASE SHE CAN BE THAT PERSON (HINT: SHE’S IMPLYING THAT SHE FITS THAT DESCRIPTION. PERFECTLY.) So she issues a further challenge, saying, ‘SURELY YOU ADHERE TO THE THREEFOLD LAW!”

Luna, at this point, should probably just nod her head and curtsy and say “Of course I do, my Lady, because if you say that its required dogma in traditional Wicca then it must be so!” But Luna is accursed with the affliction of a functioning brain, and she responds almost without thinking, “What? There’s no Threefold Law of Return in traditional Wicca. That came from a misinterpretation of something in a work of fiction that Gardner wrote in the 1950s. I read it on some crappy Gardnerian blog.”

Jordana Smith, HPS™ has had enough. She flies into an ALL CAPS RAGE!!!!11one and roars “CERTAINLY YOU MUST SEE WICCA AS A RELIGION!!!” To which Luna’s bane of a brain/mouth combo replies without even a thought, “Actually, Wica is traditionally the name of the priesthood of the witchcraft that was practiced in the New Forest region of the south of England in the first half of the 20th century. The actual religion itself has no name.”

Jordana Smith, HPS™ does the only thing that she can possibly do in such a situation. She is being presented with conflicting information from another person who got it from arguably the most well-known and oldest Wiccan tradition on the planet, and her group rules say quite clearly,

“it is imperative that everyone understand before discussing Traditional Wicca that all Traditions are different and may not adhere to the same practices within their respective frameworks.
Everyone needs to respect everyone else’s way of doing things.”

So Jordana Smith, HPS™ BUSTS OUT THE BAN HAMMER SO FAST, THOR THOUGHT THAT RAGNAROK HAD COME BECAUSE NOTHING SINCE MJOLNIR HAD BEEN ABLE TO KNOCK SOMEONE OUT OF THEIR WORLD THAT QUICKLY IN 15 CENTURIES.

<End scene.>

While this fictitious character, Jordana Smith, HPS™, couldn’t possibly be real, there are people out there who are just like her. Such people have their own Facebook groups where they spin their tangled web of Wiccan lies in order to construct a universe that fits them instead of trying to construct themselves in a way to fit the universe (or Wicca). What seekers have to worry about here is being lured in by a bunch of erudite-sounding shit and then finding out that the person or idea that they invested so much of their time and spirit/identity into turns out to not be what they thought. It happens all the time, sadly, and it continues to happen to this day. Why? Because we’re an unorganized religion. We don’t have a Vatican or a Holy See or a Pope to sit on high and proclaim what and who is official and what and who isn’t. So people can get up on a soap box like a protestant preacher on a sidewalk in rural Pensacola and proclaim themselves a High Priestess, and there’s no way to fact check it. The onus of proof lies with the person making the claims to the priesthood. If they can’t prove it, don’t take their word as fact.

This is why we need things like community, even as fiercely autonomous and independent as we are. We need to have a body of peers to review, from afar, what is going on, and to voice their collective approval or disapproval, kind of like science before Ted Cruz got put in charge of the congressional subcommittee of science and became the very anti-science pope that rationalists have feared for centuries.

What can an honest seeker do to be aware of people like this? They need to have (and use!) a functioning brain. If a purported HPS™ has fancy claims of lineage (which turns out to be bullshit, but most seekers won’t be able to debunk that on their own), they are most often undone by themselves, through the time-honored tradition of hypocrisy. When they ban/kick out EVERY SINGLE legitimate and valid British Traditional Wiccan priestess in her their group who happens to disagree with her them, that’s a great red flag for seekers. When it becomes so much, so often, that it’s the majority of what goes on there, and known Gardnerian High Priests are casually dropping the Advanced Bonewits Cult Danger Evaluation Form in that group as a simple conversation piece, your functioning brain should recognize a warning.

But then again, when your cockamamie idiocy and draconian behavior gets featured on some shitty Gardnerian blog, then you really know you’ve made it 😉

Blessed Be, Witches.

P.S. Apparently other witches have come forward to offer up the same warnings that we have about this fictitious person. It’s amazing how much coverage a fake character in a story on Facebook can receive from such different types of witches. While hypocrisy is usually an unintentional red flag warning that such persons tend to send up on their own, sometimes if you just have a really good comments section on your blog, you’ll also give them enough rope to hang themselves as they wade tactlessly and idiotically into a conversation about rape-culture and child pornography.

 

P.P.S.  This little gem was also brought to our attention.   The beloved Donald Michael Kraig dodges bullets while giving a wonderful assessment of the Rede and the Threefold Law.  Unfortunately our girl of the hour still finds a way to change the very meaning of words.  That is some powerful magic.

All Wiccans Are Witches. Period.

Every day online, people are being bombarded with misinformation. From the Westboro Baptist Church to Fox News to ex-gay reparative therapy success stories like Michelle Bachman’s husband, the world is full of people who will lie to you because they desperately want to believe in the bullshit they’re spouting. It’s just a part of human nature, and it’s something that we, as witches, need to remain aware of. Sometimes people say untrue things to your face, and don’t even know that they are lying.

Take a five year old who tells you that Santa is coming to his house on Christmas to drop off gifts. It’s adorable. It’s cute. It’s something his parents told him on purpose. It’s not his fault that he believes it, because he’s five years old. Well, that’s the same as when people say “I’m Wiccan, but I don’t practice witchcraft. You can be Wiccan and not a witch.” It’s funny, it might even be cute in its obvious naivety, and it’s usually touted by total n00bs who are pretty ignorant about witchcraft and Wicca, but anyone with a functional brain can see that it’s patently false. The real question here is, “Why would anyone want to be Wiccan, but not a witch?” It’s like saying that you’re Christian, but not a member of an Abrahamic religion. Christian, but not monotheistic (zip it for five seconds you fabulous Mormon anomalies; we’re trying to make a point).

The simple truth is that Wicca is a type of witchcraft. The old adage is true: Not every witch is a Wiccan. Wicca is just one type of witchcraft. You can certainly practice other types of witchcraft, from Tubal Cain to Sabbatic Craft to… Sorry, we don’t really know of any other kinds because we’re ego-centric Wiccanate privilegers and well, we don’t need to know about any other kinds (love you, Feri peeps. Keep up that noble activist shit for the rest of us!) So while not every witch is a Wiccan, every single last Wiccan on this planet is, in fact, a witch. Or they’re full of shit about being a Wiccan.

All of this discussion relies on one thing, and that lynchpin to this retarded internet argument is unsurprisingly the one thing the witchcraft community on the interwebz likes to argue about the most: definitions. The definition of witchcraft that one uses will dictate what falls into that category, and what does not. Noting this simple truth, we concede that if your definition of witchcraft requires the sacrifice of one fluffy bunny per sabbat, and you simply don’t adhere to that rule, then according to your own guidelines, you can be a Wiccan without practicing witchcraft, and we want to sign up for this fabulous new type of the Arte magical. But let’s be real, the mistake that people are making online when championing this mentally disabled theory is in thinking that the only definition of witchcraft is casting a spell. And when I say casting a spell, I mean only in the most rudimentary, Hollywood type version of the phrase (i.e. DO MAGICK THINGS TO MAKE SHIT HAPPEN IRL OMG RULE OF THREE REDEREDEREDE!!!11one)

This can be best explained as the simplest of all assumed thaumaturgical (if it’s not a word, it is now, says us) endeavors:

  1. Light one green candle on a Thursday with cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice on it
  2. Cast spell
  3. ???
  4. PROFIT!

But anyone with a brain will easily recognize two things: the spell and its ingredients above is way beyond the knowledge of most people claiming to be Wiccan but not witches, and that witchcraft encompasses so very much more than this. Typically within Wicca, many practitioners will not practice magic on the Sabbats, because you’re supposed to celebrate a holiday as your main endeavor. They can, but they tend not to unless it’s needed. That shit is usually best left to the full moon esbat or other astrologically ideal time. Does this mean that a Wiccan sabbat rite in which no “MAKE THIS HAPPEN RIGHT MEOW” magic is practiced is not technically witchcraft? Hardly.

Let’s get down to definitions. What is the definition of witchcraft? In a world where Merriam Webster’s dictionary has decided to abdicate rational thinking in favor of a Kim Kardashian universe app and declared that literally also now means figuratively because enough idiots pumpkin spice latte-drinking white girls were using it incorrectly, how can any word have meaning at all? Definitions have always changed over time to reflect evolving languages and populations, but nowadays it’s a struggle to hold on to any meaning when it comes to witchcraft. So what is essential to witchcraft? What is, in academic religious studies terms, its sin qua non? Well, let’s explore a few definitions of witchcraft, but not the OED’s because apparently you need to pay for that shit now. Fuck.

Merriam Webster:

  1. the use of sorcery or magic (duh)
  2. communication with the devil or with a familiar (by this, they mean spirits)
  3. an irresistible influence or fascination (come on, you know you own at least ONE Silver Ravenwolf book.)

In the Bible (according to Dictionary.com)

(1 Sam. 15:23; 2 Kings 9:22; 2 Chr. 33:6; Micah 5:12; Nahum 3:4; Gal. 5:20). In the popular sense of the word no mention is made either of witches or of witchcraft in Scripture. The”witch of En-dor” (1Sam.28) was a necromancer, i.e., one who feigned to hold converse with the dead. The damsel with “a spirit of divination” (Acts16:16) was possessed by an evil spirit, or, as the words are literally rendered,”having a spirit,a pithon.”The reference is to the heathen god Apollo,who was regarded as the god of prophecy.[sic]

From this, we get the idea that the word witchcraft, as it has been used over time, encompasses the presence of and communication/interaction (either directly or simply through communication) with spirits, specifically referring to spiritual beings or entities other than the Judeo-Christian God. So we see here that witchcraft is both the casting of spells and conversing with spirits, and the definitions of spirits abound.

So let’s pretend, for just a moment, that a self-proclaimed Wiccan who adamantly insists that she is not a witch, is practicing a Wiccan ritual devoid of any spellcraft as she knows it. Will there be, unbeknownst to our poor damsel, any incognito witchcraft in that rite? No, because all of the witchcraft in a Wiccan rite is as fucking obvious as daylight to anyone who can see; she’s just an idiot.

Typical Wiccan ritual consists of:

  • Cleansing and purifying the space and the practitioners. This alone is witchcraft. Smudging/saging (thanks, Native American cultural appropriation), incensing, creating holy water and asperging self and space, all are acts of spiritual cleansing, which, when not done in the name of the Abrahamic God, constitutes an act of witchcraft. Witches have historically performed cleansings on themselves and others to rid them and their space of unwanted and undue or evil influences. Wiccans do this, regularly, and any Wiccan who doesn’t is obviously not practicing Wicca correctly. This is witchcraft sign #1.
  • Casting a circle. This is a big one. A circle is an act of magick. The witch is literally projecting energy to make manifest a spiritual/energetic boundary that creates a separation between two worlds, removing a space and creating it anew as betwixt and between, a place in which to work magick and communicate with spirits and the Gods. This is most assuredly an act of witchcraft by every definition.
  • Calling/invoking/evoking the Quarters or Guardians or Watchtowers or elements. This one is so obvious that it should need no explanation, but since there are people in this world ignorant enough to think that Wicca is not witchcraft, perhaps it bears pointing out. What you are summoning, stirring, calling up and otherwise evoking, invoking or trying to grab the attention of, are spirits. They go by many names. The Guardians of the Quarters. The Watchers. The Grigori. The Airts. The Mighty Ones. The Dread Lords of the Outer Spaces. Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Madonna, and Elvis. Whatever. You are literally and figuratively calling out to spirits in an act of obvious and overt witchcraft by any and all definitions of the term held since its inception.
  • Performing rites to the Gods. This usually involves speaking with the Gods or communing with the Gods, who are technically spiritual beings. This is also witchcraft as per the above definition adhered to within the English-speaking world.
  • Cakes and Wine/Cakes and Ale/Cookies or Crackers and Apple Juice/Purple Drank and whatever’s handy. (Don’t forget to use the Crown Royal bag to store your tarot cards after it’s gone.) This is further communion with the Gods intended to internalize some part of Them or Their blessings similarly to Christians cannibalizing their dead God in order to grow closer to Him. Obvious witchcraft here, because it involves pagan deities.
  • Doing everything in reverse. See above for why this was all witchcraft the first time around and use deductive reasoning for why it’s all probably still witchcraft the second time around.

Just because you’re not practicing one aspect of witchcraft doesn’t mean you’re not practicing another.

Just because your circle/rite/ritual did not involve casting a spell for prosperity, health, love, revenge, or to keep your mom from coming into your room because she’s such a nosy bitch in her own house and gods you can’t wait to move out, does not mean that your Wiccan ritual was otherwise devoid of witchcraft. If you took all of the witchcraft out of a Wiccan circle, you’d have a Buddhist meditation on nothingness, because you’d have yourself and nothing left. Maybe some incense.

It is perhaps important to note that the word Wica was originally used in modern English to refer to the practitioner, and not the religion. The witch was one of the Wica, and he/she was practicing a religion that had no name, that was most times referred to as The Old Religion, or, more often, witchcraft or the Craft. As British members of the Wica began to receive attention from the press, the media wanted a name for their religion, so the name of the priesthood was applied to the actual religion, but the Wica know from whence it came and how it is to be properly used and that the Old Religion is witchcraft.

We hope that this polite public service announcement has helped to clarify why all of Wicca is witchcraft and why all Wiccans are witches. So the next time you see someone online claiming to be a Wiccan but not a witch, feel free to drop the url to this article in the comments section and tag them in it. Every witch needs a good clue-by-four to the head early on in his/her Craft, and we’re happy to supply the lumber from the Tree of Knowledge. Oh wait, that *is* Christian. Oops.

As an addendum to this magico-religio diatribe, we’d like to leave you with the entry for the word Wicca in the Online Etymology Dictionary, to make a very simple point:

Wicca (n.) – An Old English masc. noun meaning “male witch…” see witch.

Wicca is the old English word for witch. You may now pick your jaw up off of the ground.

 

P.S. We’d love to hear our new favorite YouTube witch Thorn’s take on all of this. We bet it will be pithy, hilarious, and to the point.  Check out all of her videos, you’ll love them as much as we do.

P.P.S. As usual, she delivered. Check it out.

 

 

 

 

 

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 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