paganism

My Patrón Is Tequila

Patronus

In modern-day eclectic Wicca, we come across the terms patron deity and matron deity quite a bit. This is similar to the Catholic concept of the patron saint, spirits who are the protecting or guiding saint of a person or a place, and frequently of a group of people, or a function. For example, St. Christopher is the patron saint of travelers, St. Anthony is the patron saint of lost items, and St. Jude is the patron saint of lost causes, such as people who think you can be Wiccan but not a witch.

A great example of a crossover between a patron Saint and a pagan God is the Irish St. Brighid of Kildare. Brighid is the most popular Irish saint next to St. Patrick. Her symbols are holy wells and sacred flames, and she is petitioned for healing, inspiration, and anything really, especially by tying ribbons onto a tree next to her wells. She is a syncretization of an ancient Irish goddess who appears in Irish mythology as a member of the Tuatha De Danann, daughter of the Dagda. The Dagda is so badass that he gets a ‘the’ in front of his name, because he held the Undry, a cauldron or cup that never went empty, and had an endless herd of pigs, so he’s legitimately the Irish god of bacon and thus worthy of everyone’s adoration. His daughter Brighid is a triple deity of healing, inspiration and smithcraft, and her worship continues in both Christian and pagan form to this day. I am 100% a traditional Gardnerian, and I work with Brighid about as much as I work with the traditional Wiccan gods, because she is that badass.

But what do patron/matron gods have to do with Wicca? Well, that depends on how you define godhead. You see if a patron saint is a saint of a certain group, and a patron god is the God of a certain group, then the Wica, as a group, can obviously have patron deities. But is there a patron god of witches? Yes, there are tons of them in ancient paganism.

Hekate, Aradia, Diana, Nicneven, the Queen of Elphame, Herne, Cernnunos, Uindos, Cerridwen, Circe, and a host of others are all deities traditionally associated with witchcraft. There are two more that we can add to this list, and they are the God and Goddess of the Wica, whose names are bound by oath not to be repeated to the uninitiated. Across varying lines of traditional Wicca (e.g. Gardnerian, Alexandrian, Central Valley Wicca, and half a dozen more that will never make sense to us) their names have slight variations in spelling and pronunciation, but they are the same two gods with the same lore. Some lines teach that each of them has more than one name, like layers of an onion, each getting closer to the core. But each of these names is seen in a monist fashion to be the same deity, which begs the question of how far one’s personal monist ideals stretch, covering all gods, or only the gods of your own group or tribe in a henotheistic fashion.

Let’s pretend for a moment that you are a witch who is not initiated into traditional Wicca, and Diana is your patron (matron sounds silly) goddess because you either work with her the most and have developed the closest relationship with her and you have decided that she is looking over you or guiding you. Or perhaps she has made herself known to you and the call is real, guiding you forward. Perhaps you just know it, from a feeling or a dream or an interaction. So you work with her and she works with you and the relationship grows to the point where she is supreme in your own spiritual work, and thus you identify her as your personal patron deity. Then one day, in the course of your life, you are brought into contact with a traditional Wiccan coven, and you want in. You like them, they like you, having noticed your devotion to your goddess, and after a year and a day, you are initiated.

Upon initiation, you are taught the secret name of the Goddess. Let’s say, for hypothetical example, her name is Hekate. What if you thought that the Goddess of the witches was Diana, and now you find out that within traditional Wicca, it’s Hekate? Does that make Diana no longer your patron? Does that mean you have to switch patron gods too just to try to match things up properly? How much logical sense does your witchcraft cosmology have to make in order for it to feel right for you? (The correct answer is none.) Can you have two patron goddesses? A personal one, and a group one? How many gods is too many gods and at what point will it start getting confusing? What if your patron was Artemis and then you found out that the traditional Wiccan goddess was Hera, who tried unsuccessfully to have Artemis and her twin Apollo killed in the womb out of jealousy and propriety? Do you freak out and run screaming away? How do you rectify opposing mythological roles? Maybe your world just collapses for a bit because the traditionalists told you something you build part of your ego on is false and you fall into darkness, but eventually another voice calls you out of your depression. (All hail the goddess Celexa!)

Many traditional Wiccan covens also work with gods of place. Diana and Apollo could be the gods of the Wica, whose names are taught at initiation and about whom the entire Wiccan cosmology and ritual cycle teaches, but your coven resides in Germany, and so you work with Frau Holde instead…or something. Which goddess is your matron? Does each have a claim on you? One is personally in touch with you, the other has been introduced as She whom your worship revolves around, except now you’re directing said worship at the goddess who reigns over your town or city, because why not?

The answer to all of these questions is obviously yes. Yes to everything. Work with 3 patron deities. Freak out about working with three patron deities. Wrack your brain about how to reconcile 3 voices, 3 beings, maybe even 6 beings. Create a personal cosmology which allows you to function fully as a witch, as a Wiccan, and as a spiritual human being. If you ring the phone and someone at the other end picks up the line, you should speak to them. Why not in witchcraft, especially if they already know who’s calling?

Human beings lay claim to an endless host of spirits. (Especially the Vodouisants. I have no idea how they keep up with all that, personally, but God bless them and all those colors for it.) Wiccans are human beings. Some are monogamous in life and may be similarly disposed in religion to one set of gods. Some are polyamorous, and while that’s wildly and hilariously confusing for the rest of us and makes for truly awful and awesome reality shows, it might be better for many people than the alternative both physically and spiritually. And some people are just boring *coughcoughatheistscoughcough.* What is important isn’t what you title each god with which you work. What’s important is the strength and clarity of each of those connections, and the mutually beneficial effects that such connections bring to our spiritual and mundane lives. As we’ve mentioned before, witchcraft is more than just doing spells for stuff; it’s also communing with spirits/gods. So if you want to have one patron or ten, go for it, and don’t let anyone stop you. Just know who’s who when you call.

Slainte,

Gardnerian A

P.S. I’m really a José Cuervo Reserva de la Familia fan, but that didn’t work as well for the title.

 

 

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

 

 

initiation

Belief Does Not Equal Initiation

Wicca is not Christianity. Accepting the Goddess as your Lord and Savior does not automatically make you a Wiccan. Hell, doing that with Jesus doesn’t even make you Christian in most instances; you’d need a baptism, and that requires, *gasp*, an actual other Christian! Rites of passage, rites of entry, ordination, and initiation are all terms for similar processes. These rites which bring an individual into the group are things that necessitate an “other” into which one is being brought. Just as you cannot ordain yourself a Catholic priest, you similarly cannot initiate yourself as a priestess of Wicca. That is something that is done for us, by others of us.

I can’t initiate myself into the Masons or into a fraternity, but that doesn’t mean that my Abercrombie and Fitch wardrobe complete with pooka shell necklace doesn’t make me every ounce the cologne-abusing douchenozzle that a fraternity brother is. We may actually be quite similar in some sad, misinformed 90s way. But one is a frat brother and the other is…probably should become a frat brother, by pledging, binge drinking, and being initiated.

Many pagans who lean toward Wicca but are uninitiated are under the false perception that they can initiate themselves into Wicca and become a priest or priestess by reading books and deciding that yes, they are feeling priestly. The sad thing is that these are usually the same people that don’t know that there is one Book of Shadows that is used in Wicca (in forms that vary slightly from coven to coven, dependent on whether you’re a Gardnerian or a Gardnerian-lite, aka Alexandrian, and where you are). We all have the same rites, we perform the same or similar sabbats which enact the mythology of our Gods, which we also share. We do amazing and unique rituals during full moons, even though we also have a shared liturgy for that, and whenever we have need, so there’s little chance for our practice to become stagnant or stuffy. Our rituals are like the setting up of the diving board off of which we may choose to flip, twist, swan dive, or hit our heads and eat shit because we tried something we weren’t ready for. We’re all human, afterall and everyone can’t be Greg Louganis (but everyone should LOOK like 90s Olympics Greg Louganis).

Greg louganisSrsly.

These IRAB (I read a book) ‘Wiccans’ are also often the first and loudest in attempting to assert misinterpretations of some of our teachings in an effort to control and restrict other witches, which, to those of us who are initiated, is just silly. Just as we know that there is no universal law or rule of threefold return and also that the Rede of the Wicca is only eight words long and advice, not law, we also know that it takes more than reading and meditating and cultural appropriation to become one of the Wica.

Most of us have to seek. The vast majority of us, in fact. True, there are some witches who were so utterly lucky that they discovered there was a coven next door or down the street or maybe even multiple covens in the same town (I’m looking at you, Louisville, KY, Sandwich, MA, half the south shore of MA, and Salem.) But a fundamental part of each of our witches’ journies is their eventual coming home to the Wica. It’s a feeling we all share, one that we all relate to. It takes time and dedication and perseverance, and when it finally results in initiation, the feeling of finally making it back home is practically palpable. We are among our own kind once again, and that is one of the keys to unlocking the magic inherent in ourselves and in the worlds we straddle.

The first step toward initiation into Wicca is what we call seeking. No, that’s not getting on your broom and chasing down a flying golden ball called a snitch. Snitches get stiches. We’re gangster like that. Just ask, what was his name again..? Seeking is when you actively start to look for the right group of people for you. Seeking is often times done online, by scouring Witchvox.com, Facebook groups, Twitter, and a ton of other places. You have to look. A lot. There’s no guarantee that you will find anything even remotely possible, but therein lies part of the mystery. You might overlook a coven nearby for months before the time is right and the observation is made and comes slamming down into your consciousness. You may find no coven within 500 miles. You may have to board a plane or a train or an automobile and travel great distances, because you want to and because it’s worth it to you to make this happen. It takes sacrifice. All of these things have happened before: some people flew from Poland to the UK for training, regularly, for years. Some people just walked down the block. Wicca exists in Tasmania. TASMANIA FOR GODS’ SAKES. I even heard that one of us has been to Antarctica. Baller.

rae-bone-initiation

Seeking is also something that starts within. Who is it that we must ask when we wish to find other witches? Strangers on the internet always make for a fascinating foray in most situations, but truly, the first beings that should be asked are the Gods. Don’t know Their traditional names? No worries, They’ll hear you. We have a monopoly on what we call Them, but we don’t control Their ability to hear other witches who are trying to find their way back to Them. In fact, we count on it. Ask the Gods. Have a circle, light your candles, and make an honest and earnest plea to Them to lead you in the right direction, to bring you to the right people and to bring the right people to you. Amazing magic can be worked when you have an honest need and ask for the assistance of our Gods in seeing it come to fruition, especially if it brings you closer to Them and Their service. Thaumaturgy is fun, but theurgy is fucking amazing.

Spellwork to find a coven should be a logical first thought and one of the first steps taken when seeking. Some witches decide to incorporate this into a ritual for themselves which we commonly refer to as a dedication. They dedicate themselves officially toward studying the Craft for a certain period of time, frequently a year and a day because that is the traditional minimum amount of time a coven will wait in order to get to know a seeker and for a seeker to get to know them. When you’ve seen someone in every season, you get an idea of whether you will mesh with them and whether they would be a good fit for the group.

A dedication is not initiation, but it’s a start on the road toward it. Spellwork to assist you and strengthen your resolve, to grant insight and to bring one closer to the Gods is a great idea, especially when you place no specifics on it and ask for Them to enable you as They see fit. Magic with our Gods’ assistance can accomplish much.

Even though spellwork and magic are all about visualization and fiercely reinforcing your visualization with energy and intent, THERE IS NO SPELL THAT MAGICALLY INITIATES YOU ALL BY YOURSELF IN YOUR HEAD OR YOUR MOM’S BASEMENT WHILE EVERYONE ELSE IS AT CHURCH. To be initiated, you must be put through the Wiccan initiation rite present in the Book of Shadows. Hell, even if you want to go an eclectic route that doesn’t even use the Wiccan rites, have at it: but initiation will still be required for membership into pretty much any form of Wicca even if they do silly, un-Wiccan things like keep their clothes on.

alexandrian-ritual

The hard thing is that options are limited by everything from age to geographical location, frequently depending on transportation and thus either income or municipal transit. If any of these are lacking enough to be a barrier, then that is where your efforts are best suited. Don’t have enough money for a bus pass? Work some prosperity magic, get yourself a better job or an additional job and work your way up toward car ownership as a means to be able to get to coven. Ask the Gods for help with these things as well. You need to be the change required for magic to successfully help you, and the Gods help those who help themselves. The Gods can also help you get a bus pass. I’ve seen it because I’ve been the one shelling out the $80 for a friend to make it to circle reliably. We’re a family, after all.

The great part is that it’s worth it. The best part is that initiation into the Wica comes with family. You become a brother or sister of the Art, and you will have coven siblings and a veritable shit ton of craft siblings around the world who will meet up with you at Pantheacon, invite you to stay at their place in the Netherlands, and generally be completely wonderful to you for no other reason than the fact that you have something truly wonderful and unique on common: a devotion to the Craft, to our Gods, and enough will power to find your way home to all of us. Initiation is a welcoming, and it is also a transformation. I highly recommend it. So don’t half-ass it. Get up and seek.

 

 

The Wiccan Rede Is Not A Poem

It’s late and I’m on my second whiskey ginger, so I’ll try to make this brief. Oh shit, I forgot to use the royal we. Ignore that shit. We’re going to lay some truth bombs on you, general pagan masses. This is an ancient secret kept by the Wica from time immemorial, and it’s one of the secret tests we use to determine who’s legit, so write this shit down, cause it gives you some real serious Wiccan street cred:

THE WICCAN REDE IS NOT A POEM.

Did you get that? THE REDE IS NOT A POEM. IT DOESN’T EVEN RHYME. Let that shit sink in.

The entirety of the Wiccan Rede is eight words long: “An it harm none, do what ye will.”  That’s the whole thing. Anything other than that isn’t the Wiccan Rede. Let’s talk a little bit about its verbiage and its history, and by that, we mean “let us regurgitate shit to you from Wikipedia because it’s late and we’re buzzed.”

“The word “Rede” derives from Middle English, meaning “advice” or “counsel.” (Too drunk to find and install WordPress footnote plugin, but the thought was there, so feel special.) So basically, the Rede of the Wicca is a piece of advice or a bit of counsel. What do we know about advice/counsel? It’s non-binding. If it were binding, it would be called a law, or doctrine, or a tenet, or something. But it’s not, so it’s just advice. It basically means “If it doesn’t hurt anyone (or anything), then go right the fuck ahead.”

We also remember that admittedly strange period in high school where math class suddenly involved “if/then” shit. WTF was that anyway? We totally blocked that out until just now. That was some whack shit, right? WTF does If/Then have to do with math? God damn. But we digress. Following simple logic (or some vague attempt at tautologies), we see this: the word “An” in the Wiccan Rede translates to the modern English word “If.” When we say “If,” we’re qualifying something. If X is true, then Y. So IF you are pregnant, THEN you will have medical bills. It’s a simple statement of one thing predicates another. But IF you are NOT pregnant, then you may or may not have medical bills OR a shotgun wedding. Basically, an IF statement has nothing to do with something that does not meet that IF. Like, IF you graduate high school, you have a shot at going to college. IF you don’t graduate high school, then you do you, boo, and god help you. You get that rent money however you can, mama.

So, the Rede says, “If it harms none.” That means that the second half “do as ye will” only applies to situations in which “It harms none.” Makes perfect sense. If it’s not hurting anybody, go right ahead. That might be why there are so many homosexuals in Wicca and why we love a good same-sex handfasting. They’re not hurting anybody, especially straight marriage. And let’s be honest, who’s more likely to have open bar: DINKS or people with kids? But what about situations in which you are definitely going to fuck a bitch up? Let’s apply it then.

Does your situation harm none? No? It harms multiple persons? Let’s see if that fits our if/then situation. “If it harms none,” OH WAIT IT DOES HARM SOMEONE. Ok, so where’s the “IF IT HARMS ONE” rede? There isn’t one. There is nothing that says anything about harmful/baneful magic. The Rede says nothing about it. The Rede does not say “HARM NONE! HARM NONE! THIS IS THE WICCAN PRIME DIRECTIVE! HARM NONE!” It basically says nothing at all about harmful magic, because that is the provence of each witch’s individual conscience. Besides, who’s going to tell you not to stop a known rapist? No one.

So, now that we got that out of the way (OMG WICCANS CAN DO BLACK MAGIC OMG!!!11one), let’s move on to that ghastly poem which was erroneously entitled “The Wiccan Rede.”

100% Wikipedia: “In 1974 a complete twenty-six line poem entitled “The Wiccan Rede” was published in the neo-Pagan magazine Earth Religion News. Each line contained a rhymed couplet laid out as a single line, the last line being the familiar “short rede” couplet beginning “Eight words…”.

This poem was shortly followed by another, slightly different, version, [sic] entitled the “Rede Of The Wiccae”, which was published in Green Egg magazine by Lady Gwen Thompson. She ascribed it to her grandmother, Adriana Porter, and claimed that the earlier published text was distorted from “its original form”. The poem has since been very widely circulated and has appeared in other versions and layouts, with additional or variant passages. It is commonly known as the “Long Rede”.

100% A Gardnerian: GWEN THOMPSON WAS NOT WICCAN. Repeat: NOT WICCAN. So a non-Wiccan witch came in and took a Wiccan principle that Doreen uttered in the 60s and then wrote a poem about it. THAT’S LOVELY! But it has nothing to do with our religion. If we wrote a poem about the Pledge of Allegiance involving enemas and Summer’s Eve, NONE OF YOU WOULD BE REQUIRED TO DOUCHE DURING HOMEROOM.

Just like we can’t walk into a Catholic Church and write poems about their catechism and expect them to be forced to adhere to it, a non-Wiccan cannot write Wiccan dogma. Hell, even a Wiccan can’t write Wiccan dogma. We’re an orthopraxic religion, not an orthodoxic one. (Missing footnote here too, because tomato, tomahto.)

So the next time someone tells you that the Wiccan Rede is a bunch of crazy harm none shit, just drop them a link to this article and tell them it involves a lot of swear words.

 

Flagellation

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

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

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

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

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

Flagellation and the Scourge in Witchcraft

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

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

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

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

Shocker: 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

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.)

B is for Bolline

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

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

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

Check out our High Priest’s herb collecting tool.

shears

A is for Altar

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

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