alexandrian

thrown out of the bar

Uncle Alan’s Kids

We just found something horrifying on the internet. We know, we know, that never happens, ever, but OMGs, it just did. To us! Nothing horrifying EVER happens to us because we’re so magical and above it all. But alas, the human condition strikes even witches of the highest breeding, lineage, and caliber at times, and this is just one of those situations.

Now, everyone knows that lineages exist within Wicca. (Keep in mind that we’re speaking in the British sense of the word Wicca, meaning traditional, initiatory Wicca. You know, the way Jesus meant the word to be used.) Ostensibly, because we are the biggest, baddest, and loudest on the internet THAT WE INVENTED, the good old boy American line (coughcougholwencoughcough) is the pinnacle of Wiccan lineage on the gods’ dear earth, because once you get something right, you stop (or you passed away on a boat while near Tunisia. Rest in peace, but come back soon please). Either way, the epiphany is that Craft has been perfected, and obviously angels sing and pagans show up covered in gold (the Italian ones on Long Island anyway) with frankincense and myrrh and you can finally throw out your Christmas tree.

So, being of the one, true, right Wiccan lineage known as God’s favorite™, we are uniquely enabled to speak about lineages and which ones are better than others, which ones count, which ones are the result of bad training, and which ones are never really invited to any parties*. Let’s tell a story about various family members and their dynamics, and how younger siblings and cousins are oftentimes doomed to make the same mistakes as their older kin, possibly because of socio-economic, genetic, or cultural reasons (most of which probably involve a lot of booze and pub moots, because why not, right?)

Once upon a time, ‘Gerard’ invented/found/channeled-from-the-Pleiades-before-it-was-cool, his family, and their surname was Wicca. Gerard got around, clearly, and he had many wives who held the surname Wicca, including famous ones who wrote books like Dorothy and Pearl, and less famous but equally effective ones like Dana, Louise, Ellen, and Monica. (There was also Olivia, but we don’t talk about her.) Gerard had a lot of kids with these various women and they all inherited his family traditions and were seen as matriarchs in their own right. They didn’t always get along, but sometimes they bandied together to keep their ex out of trouble and one of them went so far as to go and have his grave site moved when needed because love, people. Love. It was a typical modern witchcraft family that would have made a hilarious dramedy on HBO or Showtime. Probably HBO though, let’s be real, even though Showtime has more nudity.

So, everyone lives on this little magical island that is smaller than California and floating in the Atlantic, which we will call Atlantis, because why not. When large families live in insular places, they tend to see each other, hear from each other, hear ABOUT each other, talk to and about each other, and otherwise continue to co-exist. Even when Lord Gerard has passed away and he leaves Downton Abbey to his last wife,  Monica, the rest of the family is there to vehemently disapprove of what she does with the place, exposing the old renaissance paintings to light and otherwise selling off family heirlooms (some treasured ones on accident) in order to move to the mainland for perfectly understandable reasons. Also, she may have been French.

Now, Monica had the most grandkids. By a lot. Everyone had kids with Gerard, except maybe Dorothy (no one is sure) because she left and went to Oz to write weirder books about other kinds of witches using different cardinal directions or something (that show started January 6th btw. We hope it’s good but IMDB indicates that the witches are only in like 1 or 3 episodes, which sounds like a fucking terrible decision, but we digress…) but by far, Monica had the most grandkids. And the thing about Monica’s grandkids was that they were (apparently) all born in a foreign country. Before Brexit. And you know how the Brits like foreigners now that Brexit is on the books…

Anyway, the thing about families of a certain ethnicity or culture that are born in far away places outside of that culture is that they tend to cling to their identities and culture because they live in exodus from their roots. When they are large enough in population and they left under duress, like the Irish in America, we call it a diaspora, especially when the Irish in America far outnumber the Irish in Ireland, because there are clearly more potatoes here and Jameson exports splendidly. The phenomenon of diasporic cultures clinging to their traditions is called something in either sociology or anthropology, but our Google Fu is failing us at the moment. Suffice it to say that in certain immigrant cultures in America, they speak an older version of their native language than what is currently spoken in that modern day country. This will cause New York Italians and Italy Italians to argue over the pronunciation of mozzarella until the cows go dry (because witchcraft!) and we’re somewhat certain the same thing is going on with the Greeks over in Astoria. Cultures in their native countries evolve, and cultures in diaspora crystalize (hopefully not ossify) to preserve their identity and keep traditions from changing because OMG where are we…?

When the threat of losing your culture due to assimilation is apparent, people clamp down. Intentions are usually good, but when they come back into contact with the motherland because the internet said they could, they start to fight over the correct way to make grandpa Gerard’s pot roast. Arguments erupt on Yahoo email forums about whether the roast has the ends cut off because grandma Pearl’s pan was too small or because grandma Dana’s oven was too small or because grandma Monica was slim, and chic, and French, and didn’t want to get fat, who knows. The point is that you cut the ends off the roast. But great arguments about why and when and how ensue and that’s how families pass recipes and traditions.

Back to Monica’s grandkids: they outnumbered everyone else. They got dial-up internet first and dominated bulletin boards with their own infighting, setting the hard-line standard before their Atlantean cousins even logged on. And what do you do when you see people (especially relatives) infighting amongst themselves on a public forum in spectacular and embarrassing fashion? You grab popcorn, keep quiet, and enjoy the show, that’s what you do. Free entertainment is free entertainment, especially when you already know the proper way to make the roast and one of your cousins is calling another of your cousins a bastard and saying that she never had grandpa’s recipe in the first place and had to look it up online because someone leaked it. The drama! Omg they tossed out an entire state?! STAHP.

But then you remember that there is a line of cousins in Atlantis that was never even invited to the table. Apparently one of your aunties had a kid that had a kid named Alan out of wedlock, allegedly, and no one wanted to believe it, but when that baby was born oooooh it had the family nose and eyes and a penchant for publicity that would give grandpa Gerard and aunty Monica both a run for their money. They were obviously related, but no one wanted to admit it, least of all Aunt Pearl because it looked just like her. But that kid and his kids were all ostracized because they were different or not born right or whatever (because we’re all lords and ladies, oh wait, that’s America), but they shared the recipes and traditions anyway and after a while you tolerated them and then eventually people got together with them when the old people were dying off because family is family and eventually we all need to stick together. Just not in America.

America is different. America is a giant, scary place, with lots of orphaned kids claiming to be related to grandpa Gerard, even though they clearly aren’t, they just went to some of the same parties as some of his grandkids at some point, and learned a few herbs and spices and used it because why not? Cultural appropriation hadn’t been invented as a term yet, and everybody was European anyway, so it was easy. Then, that other, bastard offspring of Alan’s showed up. They had the audacity to claim to be related to grandpa Gerard, even though they most assuredly were not because no one was married at the time, even though they looked like us, talked like us, walked like us, circled like us, and sometimes did it in a prettier, more colorful, happy, and creative way, with all the same recipes and instructions. And they throw the best parties. Those assholes. So grandma Monica’s kin and cousin Alan’s kin started feeling each other out, even though back in Atlantis, the rest of grandpa Gerard’s family and cousin Alan’s family was getting along just fine and going to each others’ homes for the holidays and also omg having more kids because once it’s like 2nd and 3rd cousins that’s ok, because it’s Brit, er, Atlantis. Gross.

Flash forward to today, in America, where Donald Trump is about to be president and minorities are literally being shot with seeming impunity by the authorities. Grandma Monica’s family still outnumbers everyone else, but even they, the holiest of holy, final, and perfected line of the Wiccan family™, are starting to realize that their one-true-wayism is just one true way out of a few true ways that grandpa taught, because apparently he kept innovating, and holy shit you guys the real tradition he taught was innovation around a very, very few key things which we all share. And OMFG cousin Alan’s kids share those same things. And that same innovation! Fine, we’ll go to THEIR house a few times for Thanksgiving, and just not overly share.

So, we, the true and rightful heirs to the throne of Wicca who couldn’t stop infighting amongst ourselves for like 4 decades because that’s how superior we are, chill out and get our ecumenical family swirl on at the no-longer-bastard cousins’ place, sharing recipes and hanging out and innovating, on American soil even! Family grows apart and together, and we’re on a together kick and it’s great, and right when we show up, we hear cousin Alan’s kids start that age-old conversation that we basically invented: “Those other cousins of ours aren’t legitimate. They’re not doing it right. They’re fakes. They never learned how to cook properly. They’re basically tainted by great-aunt Monica’s cookbook. No, we don’t care if Pearl is our great-grandmother, we only care about grandpa Alan and grandma Marlene. In fact, grandma Marlene is still alive, so her recipes mean more than grandpa Alan’s recipes and everything she says supercedes anything he may have done, like that one time he asexually reproduced and had a kid without her, or any of the kids he had before her. They ain’t right.”

And Monica’s grandkids all groan and say “Here we go again,” and roll their eyes and think to themselves, “you know, for the branch of the family that was exiled by the rest of us for the longest, you’d think they’d not want to do that same thing to each other…” but alas.

So that’s what happened to us on the internet a scant 35 minutes before writing this. We found this website whose entire most recent at the time post is dedicated to describing in detail, how other Wiccans aren’t as legit as they are, aren’t proper, aren’t taught right, are tainted, etc… We mean, it almost sounds just like this whole article you’re reading, except they’re not joking when they say it.

If we were especially optimistic, we’d say “Cousin/grandpa Alan, they need you,” but sadly, this is a set of grandkids that already rang him up via Ouija board, and if even that can’t help, then we’re basically doomed to repeat Atlantean history all over again on these beautiful, unsullied, unified, and egalitarian American shores. With Trump. Let’s not ever forget Trump. Ugh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*hahahahahahahahabullshitalerthahahahaha

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

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!)