gardnerian

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

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Laverne Cox as lady Liberty

Trans Inclusivity in Wicca

Fun fact about us traditional Wiccans: we LOVE to argue. We specifically love to get all up in arms whenever a very tiny minority of vocal maroons (that’s the moron spelling of moron), and those trained in a vacuum by them, attempt to tell us what we can and cannot do within the pale of the tradition. Most of their stone-aged arguments tend to fall into the “but that’s never been done before” category, which is immediately equated with “you’re changing the tradition to suit what you want when you should be growing to suit the tradition” adage. What they frequently don’t take into account is that Wicca is a growing, thriving religion full of innovation, much in the spirit of how Gerald Gardner practiced. They also tend to forget that as we grow, we learn, and we take our new knowledge to our practice of witchcraft, and lo and behold, we propel ourselves forward along with the Mysteries, without losing anything other than old, annoying exclusionists (even if they are really fun to keep around because they piss off everyone else and it’s kind of hilarious watching opposing factions freak out about each other).

This lovely Wiccan dichotomy, which is unsurprisingly tilted way left forever because duh, this is witchcraft and its all about liberty and freedom and autonomy and being free from slavery, is never better witnessed than when it comes to gender. Our Gods are gendered. Our rites are gendered. Or sexed. Or something that has to do with holy shit everyone’s naked, who’s doing what? And since the advent of the age of trans awareness,™ the definition of gender and its distinction from physical sex has launched a frequently Jerry Springer-style conversation across all of neopaganism.

While it’s fun to watch idiots like Z Budapest continue to dig themselves deeper holes on the wrong side of history, in a stark reversal from the empowerment of marginalized populations they once preached and now fight against when applied to anyone who isn’t them in the most holy-shit-she’s-finally-turned-into-an-actual-threatened-heterosexual-white-man manner ever, what happens in the closed ranks of the traditional Wicca isn’t always as apparent. Until our Gardnerian brohab Benny wrote this awesome blog article about it.  Go read it. Go learn something. We’ll be having a cocktail off to the side and going by the traditional Wiccan names Waldorf and Statler.

P.S. Run-on sentences are awesome. Deal with it.

Gather Round

One of the best part of being an initiate of Gardnerian witchcraft is, by far, the community. It’s probably the second best aspect of the craft, just behind the connection to our Gods and all that that brings to us. Gardnerians are the primal, fundamental party pagans who know how to throw a rocking good time and also ensure that the vehicle for the Gods is well-oiled, running, and ready to facilitate their worship and service. A coven is only as good as its members, and a tradition is also only as good as its members. That’s why Gardnerian gatherings are such a totally tits thing. We have the best scotch, the best jello shots, the best fire dancing, and the best ecstatic communion with the divine (and with each other).

Gardnerian gatherings are different than pagan festivals that are open to the public because you know that everyone there, everyone at the ritual, has been brought to the doorstep of Mystery and had the opportunity to cross through it. You know that everyone there has the keys imprinted within them, and that the possibility to work Wiccan magic exists within each of them. You also know through virtue of their attendance there that they have the drive to connect to other priests, other witches, in a fundamental way that helps us to better know each other, our gods, and ourselves in the process. Basically, Gardnerian witch camp is the best thing ever, and there’s one coming to the West Coast for Lammas. So if you’re a Gardnerian initiate of any stripe, be sure to check it out. It’s guaranteed to be a rip-roaring good time.

Also, the HPS who runs it is a HOOT. ❤

-A Gardnerian

Of Babies and Bathwater (SOBRE BEBÊS E ÁGUA DE BANHO)

(Por favor, veja abaixo para Português.)

Some time ago, back when we thought that writing on this blog was something we would actually do regularly, we posted a piece about what to do when your lineage isn’t Gardnerian, other than cry. We posted this because it seems that a very large swath of the eclectic Wiccan community has no idea how lineage works, what purpose it serves, or how to figure out their own if they actually have any. We recommend that you read it sometime. The ultimate example of mistaken Gardnerian identity was Silver Ravenwolf’s claim of Gardnerian lineage stemming through a bunch of eclectic witches who were initiated into multiple different traditions leading back to Ray Buckland’s Seax Wicca tradition, and from there, to Gerald, somehow, because it sounded fun.

Nowadays, after that whole silly kerfuffle, we shift our attention to the magical land of Carnival and Umbanda, of terreros and Candomble, of feathered head dresses and a Globeleza Carnival Queen who was deemed “too black” for the role. We turn our attention to the lovely Brazil.

Why do we turn our attention now to the largest Portuguese-speaking country in the world? Is it because we were out late the other night practicing Umbanda with a friend of ours who spends way too much time in Rio? Not really. It’s because there are Gardnerians in Brazil! And just like in the United States, when you get a lot of people who identify as Gardnerian in the same country, a shit storm erupts, except this time it’s in even worse English than usual, so get ready to pour a drink and Google translate for your life.

Claudiney Prieto has been an internet friend of ours since people actually used things like Tribe.net and random Pagan ning sites that predated Facebook. In tween terms, that means we’re both really old now. Claudiney has long been an active witch and Goddess-serving pagan of various stripes. In fact, he’s so good at it that the notorious Zsuzsanna Budapest, who everyone just loves to death, even ordained him as whatever the dude version of a Dianic priestess is. (We think he’s the only one that exists and we bet that more than a few militant feminists blew their gaskets at it.) Claudiney is also, less impressively, an initiate of our little cult: traditional Wicca. He’s a Gardnerian. He was the only Gardnerian there that any of us even knew, and still today it’s a fun thing and we all love him for it.

But there are other Wiccans who identify as Gardnerians down there, and they don’t like that there’s a new kid on the block, and that he may or may not have a working partner, and that they may or may not have formed a new coven down there which stands on its own. This is because the other group identifying as Gardnerians all stem from one fascinating and eloquent guy named Mario Martinez.

We don’t know Mr. Martinez, but what we have heard of his story goes a little something like this. “46 years ago I was in the UK and I got initiated, and maybe elevated, and I brought Gardnerian Wicca back to Brazil.” Ok, that sounds totally plausible. When people make claims about being Gardnerians, there are certain ways that other Gardnerians handle it. First, we check to see how many leagues away your covenstead is, because some old made up laws require that if you’re close enough, we have to show up with a LOT of liquor and have a drinking contest with you, of which the loser must slather himself in flying ointment, naked, and run down the street with a broom between his legs singing God Save the Queen. But if you live far enough away that we can’t egg your house on Halloween, somewhere like Brazil (Brasil?), well, then we just ask for a vouch.

A vouch is simple. If I am a Gardnerian and another Gardnerian knows it, he will take my word seriously and I can vouch for others to him. If I know that Claudiney is an initiate of Gardnerian Wicca, which I do because his HPS told me and a few other hundred people more than once, then I can vouch for him, because I am also vouched for, in private and in public, and also I run this blog for Gods’ sakes. Back to the royal ‘we.’ So, when we encounter strangers who claim to be us, we ask for the vouch. When we are asked, we have someone else known to the Gardnerian community vouch for us. Usually this is our initiator, or their working partner, or anyone we’ve ever been in a Gardnerian coven with, or anyone that we’ve ever been in a Gardnerian circle with, because they can neither confirm nor deny that they have seen us totally nude dancing around with a bottle of scotch while also weaving rushes together into a Brighid’s cross while chanting furiously. Or something. Vouches create a system of validation and verification that we all have access to.

But what happens when someone can’t get anyone else who has been vouched for to vouch for them? Well, that’s the problem with Mario Martinez. Pretty much every Gardnerian on the planet knows how to get a vouch, but somehow this guy can’t find a one. This is always curious to us. Let’s imagine that something like death has gotten in the way. “My initiators are dead.” Ok, that puts a damper on things. Is there anyone else? What about their coven siblings? Their initiators? All dead? What about their initiates? Did any of them ever hear of you? Do you have any photos? Papers? Communications? Proof that you were initiated? Do you know the oral lore that helps to prove that? No? Well fooey, that’s just too bad. Luckily, if you are Mario Martinez and you have no vouch, you can just launch a Facebook page called Gardnerian Manifesto to prove how bad ass and legit you are, right? Have luck reading it, cause it ain’t in English or even Engrish.

There is a very fascinating situation that happens from time to time when Gardnerian covens hive and new covens spring forth in distant lands: whoever was already in those distant lands and pretending to be Gardnerians tend to FREAK THE FUCK OUT. Why? Well, for gods only know how long, persons like this Mario Martinez were operating under the radar, claiming to be Gardnerian and building a potentially sizable group of people who have all been misled into thinking that someone without a vouch from another Gardnerian could have been initiated by us. When the real deal subsequently arrives (Hi Claudiney!), shit hits the proverbial fan, because now there’s someone else who can either confirm or deny the claims of the other, and this new someone happens to be the initiate of a rather well known Gardnerian author in the NYC-metropolitan area.

So now the shit is flying back and forth in Brazil, and it’s quite marvelous to watch, despite how immensely difficult it is to read because it’s not in GOOD OLE AMERICAN ENGLISH. Now, we’re not the type to play compassionate person, but let’s pretend for a second, that Mister Martinez’ claims are true. Certainly, a few people have been left without a vouch because they were from small, remote covens (usually in the Canadian wilderness) and their initiators died and were not really in touch with anyone else. These cases happen, and they are sad, but there are hallmarks to a Gardnerian that all of us can recognize. We were taught the same things. We know the same words. We do the same stuff. So we ask each other, and when it comes out that this person is obviously legit but lacking in a vouch, we wring our hands and the delicate dance of “do I recognize them without this crucial thing or offer to reinitiate them to restore the link in the chain and hope they don’t find it to be horridly offensive?” begins.

But this is not the case down in Brazil, from everything we’ve read. Mr. Martinez claims as proof of his legitimacy that he has a copy of the Gardnerian Book of Shadows. He even sent a copy to one of us up in Texas. What we found was that we can neither confirm nor deny that this was part of the actual Book of Shadows, because duh, but what we CAN confirm is that it has footnotes and annotations from a wonderful, but deceased High Priest up in Seattle or Portland or whatever gloomy, rainy American city he loved, and that it makes NO SENSE that someone who claimed to have been initiated in England in the 1970s would have a copy of a book that was compiled and edited with footnotes in the 1990s in the San Francisco Bay area of America. So if his book didn’t come from his initiators and was instead possibly stolen from an accidental Yahoo posting in the early days of the internet, the question is “where is your own book? Why do you have an American version?” His response? “Everyone down line from Ray Buckland is invalid.” Calling those who disagree with you and cite proof bullies? Brilliant. So brilliant, in fact, that it’s almost as American as that book you lifted.

The situation speaks for itself. If you or someone you love speaks Portuguese, feel free to translate this article and spread it around down there. I’d LOVE to read the hate mail in the comments ❤

Obrigado,

-A Gardnerian

PS Hey Mario, if you can prove that you have a vouch from anyone, and not Philip Heselton telling you to continue practicing without worrying about it, we’d love to hear it. Don’t get us wrong, we LOVE that attempt, but we bet you can even one up it. Have at it.

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Algum tempo atrás, quando pensamos que escrever este blog seria algo pare ser feito regularmente, publicamos um artigo sobre o que fazer quando sua linhagem não é Gardneriana além de chorar. Postamos isso porque parece que uma grande faixa da comunidade Wiccan eclética tem ideia de como linhagem funciona, para que serve, ou como descobrir a sua própria se eles realmente tivessem uma. Recomendamos que você o leia algum dia. O penúltimo exemplo de identidade Gardneriana equivocada foi a reivindicação de linhagem Gardneriana por Silver Ravenwolf por meio de um grupo de bruxos ecléticos que foram iniciados em várias tradições diferentes que levam de volta a tradição Seax Wicca de Ray Buckland, e de lá, para Gerald, ou algo assim, porque parecia divertido .

Atualmente, depois de todo esse tumulto bobo, voltamos nossa atenção para a terra mágica do Carnaval e Umbanda, de terreiros de Candomblé, de adornos de penas para cabeça e uma Rainha do carnaval Globeleza que foi considerado “muito negra” para o papel. Voltamos nossa atenção para o lindo Brasil.
Por que voltamos nossa atenção agora para o maior país de língua portuguesa do mundo? Será que é porque estávamos fora até tarde noite passada praticando Umbanda com um amigo nosso que gasta tempo demais no Rio? Na verdade não. É porque há Gardnerianos no Brasil! E, assim como nos Estados Unidos, quando você tem um monte de pessoas que se identificam como Gardnerianos no mesmo país, uma tempestade de merda explode, só que desta vez isso está ainda pior do que o inglês habitual, então prepare-se para tomar um drink e Google translator para sua vida.

Claudiney Prieto tem sido um amigo nosso de internet desde quando as pessoas realmente utilizavam coisas como Tribe.net e circulavam os sites Pagãos do Ning, que antecederam o Facebook. Em termos resumidos, isso significa que nós dois somos muito velhos agora. Claudiney tem sido um bruxo e cultuador pagão da Deusa ativo de diversas matizes. Na verdade, ele é tão bom nisso que fez com que a notória Zsuzsanna Budapest, que todo mundo ama até a morte, o ordenasse como algo parecido com a versão masculina de uma sacerdotisa Diânica. (Cremos que ele é o único que existe e apostamos que mais do que algumas militantes feministas bufaram por isso) Claudiney também é, menos impressionantemente, um iniciado de nosso pequeno culto: a Wicca tradicional. Ele é um Gardneriano. Ele foi o único Gardneriano de lá que qualquer um de nós já conheceu, e ainda hoje isso é uma coisa divertida todos nós o amamos por isso.
Mas há outros wiccans que se identificam como Gardnerianos lá embaixo, e eles não gostaram que existe um novo garoto no bloco, e que ele pode ou não ter uma parceira de trabalho, e que eles podem ou não ter formado um novo Coven lá que se sustenta por si só. Isso ocorre porque o outro grupo que se identifica como Gardneriano derivam todo de um cara fascinante e eloquente chamado Mario Martinez.

Nós não conhecemos o Sr. Martinez, mas o que ouvimos de sua história é mais ou menos isso. “46 anos atrás eu estava no Reino Unido e eu fui iniciado, e talvez elevado, e eu trouxe a Wicca Gardneriana para o Brasil.” Ok, isso soa totalmente plausível. Quando as pessoas fazem afirmações sobre serem Gardnerianos, há certas maneiras que outros Gardnerianos lidam com isso. Primeiro, vamos verificar para ver quantas léguas seu covenstead está, porque alguns antigos fizeram leis que exigiam que você estivesse perto o suficiente, temos que te dar um MONTE de bebida e ter uma competição com você, do qual o perdedor deve se lambuzar com pomada para o voo das bruxas, nu, e correr pela rua com uma vassoura entre as pernas cantando Deus Salve a Rainha. Mas se você vive longe o suficiente para não podermos jogar ovos em sua casa no Dia das Bruxas, em algum lugar como o Brasil, Bem, então nós apenas pedimos um Vouch (Comprovação/Testemunho).

O Vouch é simples. Se eu sou um Gardneriano e outro Gardneriano sabe disso, ele vai levar a minha palavra a sério e eu posso testemunhar por ele aos outros. Se eu sei que Claudiney é um iniciado da Wicca Gardneriana, o que eu sei porque sua Sumo Sacerdotisa e algumas outras centenas de pessoas mais de uma vez me disseram, então eu posso testemunhar por ele, porque eu também tenho testemunhas, em privado e em público, e eu também mantenho esse blog graças aos Deuses. Voltando para o real “nós”. Então, quando deparamos com estranhos que se dizem fazer parte de nós, pedimos um Vouch (uma Comprovação/Testemunho). Quando nos perguntam, temos alguém conhecido pela comunidade Gardneriana para testemunhar por nós. Normalmente, este é o nosso iniciador, ou o seu parceiro de trabalho, ou qualquer um com quem já estivemos em um Coven Gardneriano, ou qualquer um com quem já estivemos em um círculo Gardneriano, porque eles não podem confirmar nem negar que nos viram dançando totalmente nu por aí com uma garrafa de uísque ao mesmo tempo, tecendo junto uma cruz de Brighid ao cantar furiosamente. Ou algo assim. Vouches criam um sistema de validação e verificação ao qual todos nós temos acesso.

Mas o que acontece quando alguém não pode obter qualquer outra pessoa comprovada para testemunhar por eles? Bem, esse é o problema com Mario Martinez. Praticamente todos os Gardnerianos do planeta sabem como obter um Vouch, mas de alguma forma esse cara não consegue encontrar um. Isto é sempre curioso para nós. Vamos imaginar que algo como a morte surgiu no caminho. “Meus iniciadores estão mortos.” Ok, isso coloca um abafador sobre as coisas. Existe mais alguém? E quanto aos seus irmãos de coven? Seus iniciadores? Todos mortos? E sobre aos iniciados deles? Será que algum deles já ouviu falar de você? Você tem fotos? Papéis? Comunicações? Prova de que vocês foram iniciados? Conhece a tradição oral que ajuda a provar isso? Não? Bem querido, isso é muito ruim. Felizmente, se você é o Mario Martinez e não tem Vouch, você pode simplesmente criar uma página no Facebook chamada Manifesto Gardneriano para provar quão fodão e legítimo você é, certo? Tem sorte, por não está em Inglês ou até mesmo Engrish.

Há uma situação muito fascinante que acontece de vez em quando, quando covens Gardnerianos são formados e novos covens brotam em terras distantes: quem já estava naquelas terras distantes fingindo serem Gardnerianos tendem a SAIR DO CONTROLE. Por quê? Bem, porque só os deuses sabem quanto tempo, pessoas como este Mario Martinez estavam operando nas sombras, afirmando ser Gardneriano e construindo um grupo potencialmente considerável de pessoas que têm sido enganadas pensando que alguém sem um Vouch de outro Gardneriano poderia ter sido iniciado por um de nós. Quando o negócio real chega posteriormente (Oi Claudiney!), a merda atinge o proverbial ventilador, porque agora há alguém que pode confirmar ou negar as reivindicações do outro, e este novo alguém passa a ser o iniciado de uma autora Gardneriana bastante conhecida na área metropolitana de NYC.

Então agora a merda está voando para todos os lados no Brasil, e é maravilhoso assistir, apesar da enorme dificuldade que é ler, porque não está escrito no bom inglês americano. Agora, não somos o tipo de pessoa que brinca com compaixão, mas vamos fingir por um segundo, que as alegações do senhor Martinez são verdadeiras. Certamente, algumas pessoas foram deixadas sem um Vouch porque eles eram de covens pequenos e remotos (geralmente no deserto canadense) e seus iniciadores morreram e não estavam realmente em contato com mais ninguém. Estes casos acontecem, e eles são tristes, mas há marcas em um Gardneriano que todos nós podemos reconhecer. Fomos ensinados as mesmas coisas. Conhecemos as mesmas palavras. Nós fazemos a mesma coisa. Por isso, perguntamos um ao outro, e quando aparece que essa pessoa é obviamente legítima, mas falta um Vouch, nós levantamos a mão e a dança delicada do “eu os reconheço sem essa coisa crucial ou ofereço para reiniciá-los para restaurar o link na corrente e espero que eles não achem isso terrivelmente ofensivo? ”

Mas este não é o caso lá em baixo no Brasil, por tudo o que temos lido. Sr. Martinez alega como prova de sua legitimidade que ele tem um exemplar do Livro das Sombras Gardneriano. Ele chegou a enviar uma cópia para um de nós no Texas. O que descobrimos foi que não se pode confirmar nem negar que isso era parte do Livro das Sombras real, porque hummmm…, mas o que podemos confirmar é que ele tem notas de rodapé e anotações de um maravilhoso, mas falecido Sumo Sacerdote em Seattle ou Portland ou qualquer sombria e chuvosa cidade americana que ele amava, e que não faz sentido que alguém que afirma ter sido iniciado na Inglaterra na década de 1970 tenha uma cópia de um livro que foi compilado e editado com notas de rodapé na década de 1990 na área da baía de San Francisco da América. Portanto, se o livro dele não veio de seus iniciadores e foi em vez disso possivelmente roubado de uma postagem acidental no Yahoo nos primeiros dias da internet, a pergunta é “onde está o seu próprio livro? Por que você tem uma versão americana? “Sua resposta? “Todo mundo abaixo da linha de Ray Buckland é inválido.” Citando aqueles que não concordam com você como prova de intimidação? Brilhante.

A situação fala por si. Se você ou alguém que você ama fala português, sinta-se livre para traduzir este artigo e espalhá-lo aí em baixo. Eu ADORARIA ler as postagens de ódio nos comentários ❤

Obrigado,

-Um Gardneriano

PS Ei Mario, se você pode provar que tem um Vouch de alguém e não Philip Heselton dizendo-lhe para continuar a praticar, sem se preocupar com isso, nós adoraríamos ouvi-lo. Não nos leve a mal, ADORAMOS essa tentativa, mas apostamos que você pode inventar um. Fique à vontade.

 

Pantheacon

P is for Pantheacon. And Puking.

It’s that time of year again. Mid February is a magical mini-season where people everywhere in America use the barbaric murder of a Catholic saint as an excuse to buy red crap and spend money on food. It’s also that time when Pantheacon happens and then every pagan with a keyboard (which is every pagan) starts bragging blogging about how they went to P-Con and how awesome it was. And it is. We’re getting the jump on all of them because there’s one night left and our liver is currently hiding under the blanket in bed at 6PM.

Pantheacon is an ancient word that translates roughly into English from its original Greek as “open bar.” Everywhere you go here, people are tying one on, and the majority of the hospitality suites on the 9th floor are basically an excuse to flout liquor laws and prove how bad ass your group/tradition/friends are. Having it occur during Valentine’s day this year puts it roughly on par with St. Patrick’s day, because holy mother of Gods, we are hungover.

Pantheacon is also a liminal place like a Mexican border town. There’s seemingly limitless alcohol everywhere, every conversation sounds like another language, and people are constantly disappearing. Missing phone calls while one is out at a bar is normal, but when we wake up in this DoubeTree every morning after never leaving it, we see roughly 23 unread text messages and 17 missed calls, all of which involve the most Pantheacon-esque saying: “Where are you?”

This conference is also rife with the Northern California spirit of faction fighting and social justice warrioring. People here are offended by everything, and it even has it’s own Godwin’s law. Godwin’s Law usually proves that the longer an online debate occurs, the higher the likelihood that someone will mention Nazis or Hitler, except that here, all conversations turn to privilege. The first night we arrived, Pantheacon magic happened and we suddenly found ourselves sitting at a table in a casino across the street (because paganism) populated entirely by white people who were discussing race. It was harrowing and absurd and there weren’t enough Jameson and ginger ales in the world to erase those rough 25 minutes, but at least the food was good. Now, most of America is used to being all white and shit, but we’re from L.A, so the second we realize there is no one around of any noticeable Mexican descent, it starts to feel like the Village of the Damned and we get seriously unnerved.

Pantheacon is also a brilliant adult playground. This hotel turns into the Las Vegas of paganism, and nothing that happens in Vegas is usually healthy. Just like in Vegas, extremes come together and interact in stunning and hilarious ways. We were sitting at the Green Fairy party on whatever blurry night that was, which is basically just a giant drinking game featuring absinthe, and watched a man walk up to woman after woman and completely and surprisingly violate their space by brushing his hand down their backs while simultaneously standing next to guys sporting “Ask first” ribbons promoting consent within hug-culture. We sat at Chipotle this morning trying to eat our hangover feelings while listening to one of our straight best friends describe in hilarious detail how she was the object of affection from a relentlessly persistent lesbian the night before, and literally mid-sentence, a totally random stranger sitting at the table next to us leaned over and said, “I’m surprised you’re even upright after all of the whiskey I saw you imbibe at that party last night. I’m impressed.” Pantheacon is magic, and booze fuels it all.

Another notable occurrence occurred when the east coast met the left coast and we saw Thorn Mooney sitting on the floor making a Youtube video with her phone. While we already knew that we would be immediate besties, what was not as obvious at first was how exponentially hilarious she gets when you add whiskey to whatever she’s drinking. She literally took us by the hand and lead us over to an artist drawing caricatures and had him paint us as the cover of Silver Ravenwolf’s Teen Witch. We died. Dead. We couldn’t even keep a straight face in the damned drawing because we were trying not to pee our pants. Photographic proof of Thorn Mooney’s LEGIT Wiccan street cred featured below.

teen witch

Also, this needs to be said to everyone who can read: Thorn Mooney walked me into a wall last night and I had no idea until everyone was laughing about it this morning. SHE WALKED ME INTO A WALL. Fine, I may have accidentally flung her drink across the room and onto another wall, but that is no excuse for the blonde leading the drunker blond through the second degree mysteries of her aforementioned violated alcohol. Touche, woman. Touche.

Pantheacon truly has something for everyone. Apparently there are official classes and workshops all day, but we don’t think we’ve attended one in years. People love them though. Shit is so obscure here that a friend of mine was denied entry into a class about Baba Yaga due to maximum capacity being reached. Who knew? The only thing this convention is missing is a medical suite called the Hydration Station offering IVs in the morning. Whoever pulls that off will make a killing.

One night left, and our hangover is beginning to fade. Pray for us. Pray for us all.

BB,

-A Gardnerian

 

 

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.

A Year and a Day: No Way

In an ongoing effort to clear up some misconceptions within the wider eclectic Wiccan community, we’d like to describe the traditional idea of a year and a day which is traditionally used to describe the time spent as a seeker, before initiation. Before we get into describing time periods and the process of properly approaching the religion known as Wicca, we should begin by setting some definitions for words that we are about to use. If you are a frequent reader of this blog (which is impossible, because we hardly ever post here), you’ll notice that we’ve mentioned a time or ten that eclectic Wiccans and traditional Wiccans are all speaking English, but hardly ever mean the same thing when they use many words.

Seeker: n. One that seeks: a seeker of the truth.

The question that the above definition should prompt is: what truth is one seeking? Let’s assume, for the sake of this discussion (monologue, really), that one is seeking the modern religion of Wicca. How does one go about seeking out the truth of Wicca? Well, the normal response of many people would be, “Why not ask a Wiccan?” Unfortunately, not everyone is normal. In fact, when it comes to those interested in Wicca, normal is, well, abnormal.

An unfortunate response to this question would be “Wicca is something you find within yourself.” While that is at most partially true, we posit that the larger truth is that Wicca is something within which you find yourself. And not just after being initiated, because then you find yourself in a Wiccan coven. We mean that the practice of witchcraft that is espoused by Wicca should be serving that age old and ultimate of classical pagan maxims: Know Thyself.

We digress; what is seeking? What is the traditional manner in which one undergoes this idea of “a year and a day?”  Well, we hate to have to inform you (that’s a lie; we delight in it) that there is a word missing from this phrase. The true phrase is “At least a year and a day.” Do you see what we did there? We implied that there is a longer period of time in which people seek Wicca. We also indicated that this time has no set number, only that it lasts longer than a year.  The whole “and a day” part means more “one year minimum” and less “exactly 366 days.”

Let us tell you a story about the history of Wicca. Long, long ago when the sun was newly formed and the planet had burst into life, there was the 1960s. I know, I know, this was before most of you were born, and if you remember it, you’re nearing death every day (you’re nearing death every day if you don’t remember it too, it’s just one of those things involved in being alive). In this Jurassic or Cretaceous or whatever period referred to as the 1960s, the very first Wiccan, Raymond Buckland, came to the pinnacle of the western world, the-flower powered United States of America. (Don’t come at us right now CVW people. No one knows when you showed up or who you showed up as, so we’re claiming first dibs on North America.) The fashion was awful, the hair was huge, and in stark relation to the bunch of stuff we just made up, the truth is that once Uncle Bucky got here (before his big blue book, even), he set up a Wiccan coven, and it was the only Wiccan coven in the entire USA.

Now, we were not in Ray’s coven, not in the individual sense, so we don’t know how exactly it operated. But since we’re definitely downline from it and got the bulk of our practice from that coven and its subsequent daughter and granddaughter covens, we can speak with some extremely limited authority on how things generally went during its tenure in New York and its daughter coven’s tenure on Long Island, and their daughter covens all over the eastern and western United States.

Covens are made of people witches.  Wiccan covens are made of witches that are turned into Wiccans. What is the process of being turned into a Wiccan? Well, if you study hard and look for the right people, you may one day find out. But in this time of the 1960s and the 1970s, and hell, even today in the 2010s, people had to be brought into a coven. You don’t just show up accept the Goddess as your personal Lord and Savior in your heart and POOF, you’re a Wiccan and you get to come to our coven. Bringing people into the Craft is something that is never should never be undertaken lightly. You don’t just initiate anyone who walks slowly enough across your lawn. You’ll never get quality people that way. So there has to be a “getting to know you” period. Well, since people are all different, how can we determine a good time period for everyone to “get to know each other?”

We can do this by setting an open ended time period and giving it a minimum of a year and a day. And that is precisely what Wicca did. It espoused the idea that you never initiate anyone you haven’t known for at least a year. It was a sort of safety mechanism built in to keep covens from bringing in people they didn’t know well enough and to give the seeker enough time to get to know the coven and the coven enough time to get to know the seeker and for everyone to agree that it would be a good fit.

Sometimes it’s not a good fit. You may get along great with 4 out of 5 members of a coven, but for some reason that last person just rubs you the wrong way. That means you’re not a good fit for the coven. The coven is a group mind, a whole being, and if you don’t mesh with every part of it, there will be problems bringing you into that group mind. After a year, we like to think we’ll be able to adequately evaluate the whole situation and make a decision about initiation. Most people spend far more than a year and a day as a seeker. Some spend it as a dedicant to a coven, in an outer court. Some just happen to be longtime friends of the people running the coven and years later decide they’d like to take the plunge, and they get brought in. In this case, there’s been a long time for everyone to get to know each other and the decision can be made quite easily.

So where did this idea come from that a year and a day is exactly the amount of time it takes to become a Wiccan? Who spawned this idea that dedication is a thing where you spend a year and a day dedicated to studying Wicca by yourself? People. That’s who. People who didn’t know that the year and a day was a mechanism specific to covens and seekers evaluating each other.  If you lived in rural Louisiana in the 1970s and read about Wicca in newspapers and magazines and wanted to become one, you would have needed to spend a lot of money traveling to New York or California or Kentucky (or Boston, because Alexandrians are Wiccans too), because that was where most of the Wiccans were at that point.

If that was not an option, as it likely wasn’t, then what was one to do? Well, easy! One could just decide that a year and a day is a great way to show dedication and prove that one is a Wiccan, because one read it on the internet. In the 70s.  Makes total sense. This idea, in truth, didn’t really arise until the advent of the internet, when Wicca was written about widely both in print and online, and funneled out for mass consumption by organizations like the Llewellyn publishing house.

Much like the concept that the Book of Shadows is every witch’s personal grimoire and not the name Gardner gave to his working grimoire which held the rites of the Gods of the Wica that was handed down to his initiates, those outside of Wicca who desired entry but could not attain it (for many very legitimate, understandable, and not-their-fault reasons) decided to lift and switch another facet of our craft to suit their needs, which was entry into the cult from the outside, with no assistance or contact with actual priests of the religion.

Presently, one can find an endless array of misinformed people telling each other that a year and a day is everything from the proper solitary dedication period to how long one needs to wear white in order to start a Wiccan coven to the Nigerian Orisa Yemaya. Some appropriations of it are more obviously ludicrous than others. The fact remains though, and the point of this article, is that a year and a day is a minimum, not a solid number of semesters after which one gets a degree. If you really wish to seek entry into the Craft of the Wise (that’s fancy talk for Wicca), you should expect to spend more than just that minimum getting to know you period in forming what will ideally become a lifelong connection to your potential spiritual family and magical current.

Questions? Comments? Rants? Grammar Nazi crackdowns? Leave us a comment, and make it interesting.

*BB*

Gardnerian(s)

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!)

Ecstasy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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