traditional wicca

Haters Gonna Hate

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

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

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

Hey Barrabbas!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ta, broseph! Thanks for the attention!

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

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

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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.

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.

 

 

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.

 

wicca ritual

What To Do When Your Lineage Isn’t Gardnerian (other than cry)

Lineage. We all have it. It’s what links us to our ancestors. It’s what predisposes us to things like celiac disease and alcoholism and being hilarious (if you’re Irish enough). Genetic lineage is passed in the womb. Paternal lineage was traditionally passed when you’re born in wedlock. One’s lineage says, to a degree, who they are, and also implies what they were exposed to, how they may have been raised, and what they are likely to inherit.

Wiccan lineage is similar to filial lineage in many ways. While being made a Gardnerian doesn’t expose you to any specific disease other than the very American High Priestess disease, what it does do is ensure that you went through our initiation rite and were exposed to very specific parts of our tradition, introduced to our Gods and spirits as one of us, and basically brought into our tribe by us. The same can be said about Alexandrians and other British Traditional Wicca, though really Alexandrians are just another line of Gardnerians who decided to use more incense and we all know it. Egyptian libraries. Please.

monique wilson

In Wicca, lineage is passed through the initiation and elevation rites. Lineage specifies that one was brought into the Wicca in a ritual in which all of the hallmarks, or core, of our liturgy were present, and that it was performed by someone who was empowered to initiate (not just some random IRAB HPS or a rogue first degree). Accordingly, most Gardnerians in America trace their lineage through Ray Buckland, to his HPS, Monique Wilson, to her HP, Gerald Gardner, and from him to the New Forest coven which brought Gerald into the Wica and gave us what many of us consider to be our core.

Why then, do we run into other witches and pagans online and in person who claim to have lineage going back to Gerald Gardner, but are obviously not Gardnerian or any other kind of traditional Wica? When Silver Ravenwolf supposedly made this claim many years ago, it seemed an honest thing. What non-initiates know of Wiccan lineage is like what they know of filial lineage, or that part of the Bible that’s a bazillion pages of Levi begat Joseph who begat Joshua who begat seventy other people who all eventually lead to Jesus’s step dad, because that was important for some reason: oh yeah, paternal lineage and inheritance rights and validity. Lineage has, for time immemorial, been tied together with the concept of legitimacy. A bastard child was not legitimate and could not inherit, unless his father claimed him and gave him his lineage, despite the political and social fallout. It would seem that errant claims of lineage made in the greater neo-pagan community may still bear the trappings of a need for validity.

Claims by eclectics and members of eclectic traditions (a slightly oxymoronic term, for sure) to have lineage going back to Gerald Gardner show a shallow understanding of lineage. Wiccan lineage isn’t just “Gerald initiated Monique who initiated Ray who initiated me into the Masons, and so therefore I am a mason and also a Gardnerian with lineage going back to Gardner.” It doesn’t work that way. In order for lineage to be passed within Wicca, one needs to do certain things to pass it, and those things are contained in the traditional rites of initiation. Initiation and elevation within Wicca places a spiritual marker on a witch. It flags them as one of us, and as a result, certain deities, spirits, and other beings will take heed when they call, will help them, aid them, protect them, maybe even smite their enemies if approached in some fabulously biblical manner. If an actual, lineage member of the Wica were to toss out the initiation rites, or replace them with something different, then traditional Wiccan lineage is not conferred. Or, if one would like to persist that something is passed, then one must also concede that it is not the same. It is different.

initiation

Gerald Gardner’s initiation rites contain certain things. Let’s call them A, B and Nudity™. When I was initiated, I was given/shown/revealed A, B, and Nudity™, by people who experienced the same from people leading in a chain of individuals putting others through the same rite, in the same way (coughcoughnaked™coughcough). When Ray Buckland initiated the woman next in line from him to me, he did it with the Gardnerian rites, passing Gardnerian lineage.

At some point in time, Ray Buckland decided to branch out, and created Seax Wicca. He created this. He didn’t come across a secret, Saxon coven of witches that had been clandestinely hiding out in the wilds of Long Island in the 1960s. He was a fan of Saxon culture and religion and magic, and he made a workable religio-magical system out of it. He likely wrote initiation rites for it. This is all well and good. But what people don’t understand is that those rites aren’t the rites of entrance into traditional Wicca. When Mr. Buckland was initiated by Monique Wilson, he swore an oath that we all take to basically not reveal information which is bound by that oath. This covers things like the Names of the Wiccan Gods to the identities of other witches, to what is found in our BoS and a bunch of other lore both written and oral. Because he could not pass this on to outsiders, and because anyone being brought into Seax Wicca was still technically an outsider from the traditional oath and practice of Wicca, those new initiation rites did not convey Wiccan lineage going back to Gerald Gardner, because they did not contain the Gardnerian oathbound information and practices. I am not saying that they weren’t equally wonderful and powerful and moving and fulfilling rites or that Seax Wicca is bogus. I am only outlining that it is different, and different is not less-than.

But in recognizing that it is different, one must be willing to admit that because Ray was the creator of that tradition, its lineage started with him. A Gardnerian priest putting a woman through a Co-Masons initiation rite does not make her a Gardnerian any more than a Jewish PhD conferring an engineering PhD on a student makes that student Jewish. The same goes for different traditions of Wicca, as we know them today. A Seax Wicca HP does not pass Gardnerian lineage by initiating someone into Seax Wicca, because even if that person was also a Gardnerian, the initiations are different. You learn different things. You don’t get passed the Gardnerian info or mojo.

Yet, even today, we have people online who claim that their lineage goes back to Gardner through Michael Reagan to Ray Buckland (possibly even through same-sex initiation, which is a big Gardnerian no-no) back up the line to Gardner. Why? Why is it so important to have lineage to the man who brought Wicca out of the broom closet, instead of to someone two links down the chain from him who created another system of witchcraft? Gerald was not the first witch, nor will he be the last, but his name does seem to be one that people cling to, for many reasons.

If your line of initiators goes back a good way, great. If it goes back through multiple varying and different eclectic traditions, wonderful. But the lineage passed to you, if any, would start with your tradition’s founder, not the founder of their previous tradition, or the founder of that person’s previous tradition. Lineage is, after all, a way to identify someone, to have an understanding of who they are and what they do and where they got it from. If you slap that term onto anyone who’s ever high-fived you or walked slowly enough across your lawn, then the term becomes meaningless, and anyone on earth can claim lineage back to anyone if they have only the most flimsy and tangential association with them. The Correllian Nativist tradition does not, from what I understand, convey any actual native American lineage on its members. In the same vein, traditional Wiccan lineage is passed intentionally, and not outside of the realm of itself. If you’re from an eclectic tradition, take pride in it. Don’t attempt to grasp for some unnecessary sense of further legitimacy by reaching out for something that isn’t there.

Or, if you feel that you really need it, then come and get it. It’s still being passed today, around the world, and when a seeker is ready, a teacher can appear.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

<End scene.>

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

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

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

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

Blessed Be, Witches.

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

 

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

Gardnerian Wicca is Good

Sometimes in life, things move us. Sometimes it’s a bolt of inspiration that allows us to narrow in on something that we find to be important. Sometimes it’s the identification of a pattern or meaningful coincidence that we come across. Both of these things are common occurrences when it comes to modern religious witchcraft. Today’s blog was inspired by our dear sister Thorn Mooney’s (pictured above) most recent post to her Oath Bound blog on Patheos.com, “What Good is Gardnerian Wicca.” (Why it’s called Oath Bound, we have no idea, but she knows what’s up and what’s secret, so she has as much right to the term as any one of us, if not more for smooshing it in the public’s face. Go, sister, go.)

We’re about halfway through her most recent post, and about halfway through 6 or 8 whiskeys, and you know what, we think we’ve been forced to think. Brava, Thorn. Brava. The conflict within, between whether to write as the spirit moves us or whether to finish reading so we can make informed commentary tears us asunder.

Ok, we chose to finish reading, because reason.

Something that Thorn and we have in common (and she whoops our ass at it) is that we both have degrees in Religious Studies. We have a BA in it, but this witch has an MA. That means she sunk a lot more time, thought, and money into the pursuit, and we do not envy her student loans. This is a priestess who went for it, because she was called to it, and her writings have left us with spiritual truth bomb after spiritual truth bomb as a result. For this, we are grateful as fuck. (We’re also grateful as fuck for this issue of The Burning Times that her coven sent us. I mean, Lies For Dead Seahorses has needed to be shared for decades, obviously. Hit her up. Beg her to send you a copy. It’s solid gold.)

Her candor in the written medium is flawless. Witness the sentence “I don’t even have words for how boring these conversations were,” in regards to her description of the debates between atheists and protestants in her graduate student courses. Another straight up truth bomb is, “If there’s anything I’ve learned through studying religion, it’s the futility of pretending that it’s a definable thing with neat boundaries that make sense to everyone involved.”

She’s flawless in describing to the rest of us how her (our) Gardnerian Wicca doesn’t tell her how to vote, how to think, how to spend her money or fight injustice. She affirms quite clearly that we don’t have a central hierarchy, and she highlights that many conversations at the masters level of education in regards to religion don’t even apply to her (us). She is a light in the darkness of the Judeo-Christian constructed process of studying religion. Encountering Hinduism and Buddhism caused religious scholars to eventually think outside of their shells, but encountering Wicca has mostly led them to deconstruct Wicca in a Judeo-Christian framework, highlighting the similarities and (mostly) differences.

We don’t wish to presume, by reading her blog posts on Patheos.com, what Wicca has given her. But we do feel confident repeating what she says on its behalf; it “made her feel like she had some impact on her own life. It gave her some sense of agency she hadn’t had before.” It empowered her, and caused her to find a sense of empowerment, making her feel more effective over her own life. That personal power, that is the effect of witchcraft. Witchcraft is empowering, which is why is has been so villified by established western religious authority for centuries.

One of the biggest and best things that Thorn Mooney writes about on her blog at Patheos.com is that Gardnerian Witchcraft has given her a sense of family, and we echo this sentiment strongly. When you are initiated into a coven, you are essentially presented with siblings in the Craft. At first, they are usually the men and women who have also seeked, worked, and successfully pursued initiation under the same High Priest and Priestess as yourself. They become your siblings in a way that defies words, because they are not related to you, but they have the same deep understanding of the Mysteries that you do, presented in the same way by the same people, and because this is one of the most defining experiences of your life, you grok them, and they you, in a way that can only be described as kin.

Fuck the royal we for a minute. I’m a Gardnerian. I’m a member of one of the most reclusive witchcraft traditions and Wiccan traditions in existence, and all I can say about my tradition is that it is family. It is finding my, our way back home. My coven is my family, in addition to my kin who I was born into, who love me unconditionally. The level of love and trust inherent in a truly functional Wiccan coven is bar-none. As Thorn says in her blog, we, collectively as a coven, are bigger than any one person’s practice. It is as much beautiful as it is sublime. We rein each other in as much as we lift each other up and soar with each other through the ethos of life and that which we experience beyond. We become co-creators of our shared realities and recognize the divine within ourselves and each other without the need for yoga mats, yoga pants (or any pants, really), or an excessive amount of blissed-out new agey platitudes.

One of the most spectacular things about the traditional Wicca movement is that we have a shared liturgy. Many pagans might scoff at the idea of liturgy in a witchcraft movement, but when it comes to the study of ritual, it has been found time and time again that the repetition of certain actions, certain affirmations, certain observances and practices, has assisted and, in fact, enhanced the state of mind in regards to those practices. We train ourselves through repetition, and in so doing, we form the launch pad for the witchcraft and the religious experiences of ecstasy, communion, and enlightenment that we strive for. When the very basic circle structure and casting, the calling of the quarters, the invocation of the Gods, and the forming of the traditional Wiccan circle become something we can do with our eyes closed, we prepare our minds for true transcendence, because at that point, our rites are primed to transcend our normal senses and ways of thinking. The traditional Wiccan practice does not restrict: it sets the stage for a show that is ineffable, an experience that is transcendent, and a practice that unites us with our gods in a way that words fail to describe.

I, err…. We are grateful to Thorn for sharing so much of her experience with us, and we look forward to reading so very much more from her in the future. And to Jason Mankey, who writes his own blog, Raise the Horns, (and possibly edits Thorn’s?), we offer our thanks, not just for years of beautiful community ritual, but for bringing to us yet another modern voice that reflects the truly visceral experience of Gardnerian witchcraft. We treasure it, and just because she’s not *really* on Facebook doesn’t mean we value it any less. *CoughCoughHintHintAFanPageIsCrapGetARealOneAlreadyCoughCough*

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

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.