British Traditional Witchcraft

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

American Council of Witches 2015

We have recently been alerted to what is potentially one of the funniest witchcraft events of 2015: a little Facebook group entitled American Council of Witches 2015, which can be found at this URL and at this Facebook address.  Upon initial observation, one might wonder, “Who are these people who deign to ordain themselves “The American Council of Witches”? One might also question these things on that Facebook page, which quite a few other people have also done (scroll down and read the “Posts to page” section on the left. It’s brilliant).

The original American Council of Witches, according to the arbiter of all things (Wikipedia), “was an independent group founded in 1974 consisting of approximately seventy-three members who followed Pagan, Neopagan, or Witchcraft traditions; the group convened and disbanded in 1974 after drafting a set of common principles.” They literally, in 1974, in 4 DAYS, attempted to unify and define all of Neo-paganism. That’s like .0001% of Haitian Vodouisants meeting in Canada to attempt to define all of Vodou, for everyone, everywhere. In case that doesn’t make sense to you, it’s also like 74 members of various Christian denominations attempting to hammer out a statement of 13 beliefs for ALL CHRISTIANS IN NORTH AMERICA, and BFF-ing CHICK PUBLICATIONS (read: Llewellyn) to spread that silly shit both far and near before the internet could show up and donkey punch an ignorant bitch for being, well,  just silly.

This shit showed up yesterday on the pagan blogosphere (and by that we mean they have posts from a month ago, but no one paid attention till yesterday because everyone was too busy with logic.)  Luckily, some witchcraft good Samaritan (you know it was the Wiccans) has decided to spoof make the website more truthful, and created a Facebook page for it, so that everyone could see exactly what’s going on. And by that we mean a whole bunch of (hilarious) nothing.

But, in the interest of the ancient Greek god Momus, you should go like the much more legit Council of American Witches.org 2015’s Facebook page, and leave comments on their “Posts to Page” because LOGIC.

 

coven, witchcraft, wicca

When A Coven Comes to Its End

We wrote another piece, but we published it somewhere marvelous, unlike this dump.

Here’s an embellished excerpt:

“We’d known that the end would come for years, because my ridiculous initiators would wax eloquent about their grand “retirement,’ but it was always some distant time when their 10 year old son would turn 18 and they would retire somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Eight years goes by in a flash when you’re happy. I should have stayed surly.”

Read it here.

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.

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.)