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Semjaza
August 5th, 2005, 09:00 PM
Once again I don't know if this is an appropriate place for a question, or even if this topic will make much sense, but I'm curious and that usually puts me in some pretty embarrassing situations... But I digress:

What, in your opinion, is the actual "craft" of a witch? If we can leave religion out of this for a moment, keep it secular heh heh, unless you consider that to be an intrinsic part of the craft rather than just an addition. So, we have herbcraft, stonecraft, woodcraft, etc. What does the practice of witchcraft mean? Is our craft magic, fortune-telling, herblore, counselling, healing, hexing? And if that is so, wouldn't we just be called magicians or herbalists or folklorists or whatever? Does the witches' craft blend all of these elements in a unique way to actually create witchcraft?

~Semjaza~
FFFF

raven grimassi
August 5th, 2005, 10:00 PM
What, in your opinion, is the actual "craft" of a witch? If we can leave religion out of this for a moment, keep it secular heh heh, unless you consider that to be an intrinsic part of the craft rather than just an addition. So, we have herbcraft, stonecraft, woodcraft, etc. What does the practice of witchcraft mean? Is our craft magic, fortune-telling, herblore, counselling, healing, hexing? And if that is so, wouldn't we just be called magicians or herbalists or folklorists or whatever? Does the witches' craft blend all of these elements in a unique way to actually create witchcraft?

~Semjaza~
FFFF

This is a very interesting question, and the answers are probably as many as are the contemporary definitions of a Witch.

But as a Witch of the Old Ways, to me the Witch's Craft is about alignments to Nature, and to beings of the Otherworld. To me, the Witch works in partnership with the Elven/Faery, each from their side of the dimensional border between the worlds. This lore is very old stuff, and reflects the old tales of the Crone in the Cottage, the equating of Faeries and Witches, and so forth. To me, the Witch is something of a mystic as well as a mediator between Humankind and beings of the Otherworld.

Personally, I see the Witch's Craft as something beyond just the knowledge of herbs stones, energy, divination, healing and so on. Part of it is the reasons for the practice, and part of it is an intimate knowledge of the source from which it all flows (something that the Witch is only part of). The Witch's Craft operates through an understanding of the inner mechanisms of Nature, and the reality that the material realm is only a temporary form (thoughts made physical).

I think this demonstrates the difference between the herbalist and folklorist, but the magician is another matter. But since there are as many definitions of a magician as there are a Witch, I think that I will stop for now.

Best regards - Raven

Ben Gruagach
August 5th, 2005, 10:03 PM
Once again I don't know if this is an appropriate place for a question, or even if this topic will make much sense, but I'm curious and that usually puts me in some pretty embarrassing situations... But I digress:

What, in your opinion, is the actual "craft" of a witch? If we can leave religion out of this for a moment, keep it secular heh heh, unless you consider that to be an intrinsic part of the craft rather than just an addition. So, we have herbcraft, stonecraft, woodcraft, etc. What does the practice of witchcraft mean? Is our craft magic, fortune-telling, herblore, counselling, healing, hexing? And if that is so, wouldn't we just be called magicians or herbalists or folklorists or whatever? Does the witches' craft blend all of these elements in a unique way to actually create witchcraft?

~Semjaza~
FFFF

Witchcraft is really just a label, and it is one that depending on the circumstances is often interchangeable with other equally valid labels like "sorcery" or "wizardry" or just plain old magic (or magick if you prefer that spelling.)

To me, witchcraft itself is the practice of folk magick -- and that can include the things you mentioned (fortune-telling, herblore, counselling, healing, spellcraft etc.) People often talk about it being a system but I think the idea of it being some sort of universal (or even identifiable) organized way of doing things is a myth. There are as many different ways of practicing witchcraft, different balances of specific techniques, as there are people who call themselves witches.

While there are specific religions that definitely make the practice of witchcraft an important or even primary part of their philosophy and practice (like in Wicca, for instance) I think it's misleading though to say that witchcraft itself is a religion. This is debatable, of course, and far from a universally accepted opinion among witches.

Ben Gruagach
August 5th, 2005, 10:10 PM
I'd like to point out that I think Raven's post is an excellent example of how witchcraft can be a very central component in a particular religious or spiritual or mystical outlook. Witchcraft can be (and clearly is) an inextricable part of one's religion for many people.

In my opinion it is a mistake though is to assume that because this is the case for some (even if they might be a majority at the present) it is therefore true for everything that has been or could be called witchcraft through all of history.

Witchcraft can be practiced as a part of any religion (whether the specific religion officially approves of it or not), and can be practiced by atheists or agnostics as well. And that makes it hard for me to see witchcraft itself as an actual distinct religion but rather a practice that can be part of a religion if one chooses to make it so.

BenSt
August 5th, 2005, 10:54 PM
Mhm...I agree with Ben. Witchcraft in it's self as a thing is not a religion...it IS a secular thing. I think many confuse it as a religion becasue they see witchcraft as only a European thing...yet witchcraft and magic has existed worldwide before the Celts were even roaming Britain. Egyptian...Middle eastern...Indian...Chinese and Japanese...even in the Amercas...I think what we would call witchcraft came from the common shamanistic beliefs in the world. Shamanism probably came from an even earlier primitive form of religion...and was probably widespread revering elements and what not. As time went on...these elements formed the basis of different witchcraft and magical systems in the world. Ofocurse non of these systems can be linked to just one religious system, as they all were assimilated by the religious beliefs whereever they were. Namaste

Tobias

raven grimassi
August 6th, 2005, 02:29 AM
I'd like to point out that I think Raven's post is an excellent example of how witchcraft can be a very central component in a particular religious or spiritual or mystical outlook. Witchcraft can be (and clearly is) an inextricable part of one's religion for many people.

In my opinion it is a mistake though is to assume that because this is the case for some (even if they might be a majority at the present) it is therefore true for everything that has been or could be called witchcraft through all of history.

Hence my use of "to me" when sharing my views to signify what was my personal opinion.


Witchcraft in it's self as a thing is not a religion...it IS a secular thing.

Thanks for sharing your opinion as well. It is interesting to note the different views.

Best regards - Raven

Ben Gruagach
August 6th, 2005, 10:48 AM
Hence my use of "to me" when sharing my views to signify what was my personal opinion.

I noticed that in your post but I thought it was worth emphasizing for those who might be new to MysticWicks and haven't seen our previous discussions on this and related topics.

Personally, witchcraft is a key part of my own religious practice too.

auryn
August 6th, 2005, 11:22 AM
Is our craft magic, fortune-telling, herblore, counselling, healing, hexing? And if that is so, wouldn't we just be called magicians or herbalists or folklorists or whatever?

No. I don't believe any of the terms mentioned are synonyms for witch, because none are the sole part of witchcraft, and other than magic, I don't think any of them are necessary parts of witchcraft.

In my opinion a witch works magic and spirituality in a nature-based way. Witchcraft is not just a set of specified practices, but is a personal blend of practices and beliefs focusing on the sacred as seen in the seasons and cycles of the earth, animals, plants, crystals, and so on. Witchcraft's core is not herbcraft or divination, but may include those as elements that support and celebrate the divinity found in the natural world. It is not a specific set of crafts and arts, but a personal way of life.

Witchcraft is not a religion, because it is not organized or systemized. More importantly, it can be practiced without believing in any specific god(s), so it is not attached to any specific culture or religion, and can even be a part of the agnostic's or atheist's life.

Wicca and witchcraft go so well together because Wicca is a nature-based religion that was built on the core of witchcraft. Wicca took the nature-based magic and spirituality of witchcraft, and placed it within a framework composed of gods, celebrations, principles, etc. Wicca is a particularly popular religion that has been based strongly on witchcraft, therefore for some it has become synonymous with it. As Wicca becomes less structured and defined, the line blurs between Wicca and witchcraft.

Of course, all my humble opinion, your mileage may vary.

Athene
August 8th, 2005, 11:26 AM
All the answers here are very good. I thought I would add my general agreement.

Witchcraft is a set of practices (not systemised or universal) that anyone can practice. For this reason, it is simply a term used to denote what witches do. HOWEVER, by witches themselves, we see witchcraft as something we can do and others do but not necessarily what we do. Confused? :)

The way of the witch, witchcraft and magic are three different things, but you must be witch to know the former. Raven Grimassi makes the best suggestion imo.

Is our craft magic, fortune-telling, herblore, counselling, healing, hexing?

These are things the witch can do and does (except magic) and it is her outer persona. The village witch offered all such things, but that doesn't mean they are the witch or even her main practices when she is behind the veil of darkness away from prying eyes.

:)

KEishin
August 8th, 2005, 12:10 PM
I personally do not separate the religious and "crafty" apsects on witchcraft. But I also know most on this board do not agree with my POV, so don't take offense. :) I consider a witch to have both aspects, and call anyone who only embraces the religious a priestess, and one who only embraces the craft/magic a sorceress. (Or sorcerer - I only use the feminine pronoun because women outweigh men in numbers)

To me, a witch is one who attempts to realign with the currents of nature and help as many people along as wished to be helped. That may invove divination, healing, teaching lore, hexes, spellcasters, shamanisitc guides or nothing more than setting a good example for others. Witches live in harmony with what is around them, be it forest, field or city street. In fact, many witches don't need to advertise - they seem to attract those who need their particular brand of assistance (IMHO).

raven grimassi
August 8th, 2005, 02:04 PM
I personally do not separate the religious and "crafty" apsects on witchcraft.

It is interesting to note that the separation is a phenomena of the 20th century. Even during the Middle Ages and Renaissance period, Witches were accused of "worshipping" the Devil, which denotes a religious aspect. Prior to that, Witches were associated with various goddesses, "praying" to them and calling upon them for aid. In this light, the position that Witchcraft is not a religion is a relatively new view when compared to almost 2000 years of contrary historical and literary references.

Best regards - Raven

KEishin
August 8th, 2005, 02:19 PM
It is interesting to note that the separation is a phenomena of the 20th century. Even during the Middle Ages and Renaissance period, Witches were accused of "worshipping" the Devil, which denotes a religious aspect. Prior to that, Witches were associated with various goddesses, "praying" to them and calling upon them for aid. In this light, the position that Witchcraft is not a religion is a relatively new view when compared to almost 2000 years of contrary historical and literary references.

Exactly why I find the separation so confusing to me.

Sure, the persecutors in the Middle Ages had little if any actual knowledge of witchcraft. But they did some things right. Just how much we may never know.

Have you any information on why the changeover occured? My personal guess is based around when the Craft when public in the 1950s

misschief
August 8th, 2005, 02:29 PM
In this light, the position that Witchcraft is not a religion is a relatively new view when compared to almost 2000 years of contrary historical and literary references.

Best regards - Ravenbefore i say ANYTHING, i want to make it clear that i am very aware that you have done more than your fair share of homework on the topic at hand, and i am not saying you are wrong....

however....

it really depends on what 'kind' (for lack of a better term) of witchcraft one is speaking of. i am personally descended from a path that has never... or at least not in the last few centruries... been 'religious' in any way. not to say none of my forefathers/mothers were religious, many of them were christian and many were 'pagan'... but the religion was not associated with the practice of witchcraft, nor is it normally utilized as such. i do agree that generally speaking this century has brought about many changes to the perception of witchcraft, and many many people have deviated quite far from what it once was, just wanted to point out my little bit there.. :)

Ben Gruagach
August 8th, 2005, 02:31 PM
Exactly why I find the separation so confusing to me.

Sure, the persecutors in the Middle Ages had little if any actual knowledge of witchcraft. But they did some things right. Just how much we may never know.

Have you any information on why the changeover occured? My personal guess is based around when the Craft when public in the 1950s

Religion was considered intertwined with everything in daily life. Knowing this, if witchcraft is considered to be a religion then practicing medicine must also be considered a religion.

It was common for midwives to be accused (and often convicted) of worshipping the devil, of heresy, too. Was midwifery a religion then?

We have to be careful to assume that a charge of witchcraft during the "burning times" constitutes proof that there was an actual religion called witchcraft. A charge of witchcraft was just a politically expedient way at that time to get rid of people you didn't like for whatever reason.

KEishin
August 8th, 2005, 02:39 PM
True and a good point.
I was intending that to refer to those who were accused for reason other those you listed above.

raven grimassi
August 8th, 2005, 04:11 PM
Have you any information on why the changeover occured? My personal guess is based around when the Craft when public in the 1950s

Off the top of my head I would say that the change began with the views of social anthropologists who defined Witchcraft from an African experience (the Witch doctor) and were later faced with the European question. I think it is a contagion that we are still stuck with when we speak about Witchcraft as a thing in and of itself.


before i say ANYTHING, i want to make it clear that i am very aware that you have done more than your fair share of homework on the topic at hand, and i am not saying you are wrong....

That is fair enough, and I am simply pointing out my view of past historical and literary references. I do not think there is a right or wrong in a debate, there is just an expression of opinion and what those opinions are based upon.


however....it really depends on what 'kind' (for lack of a better term) of witchcraft one is speaking of. i am personally descended from a path that has never... or at least not in the last few centruries... been 'religious' in any way. not to say none of my forefathers/mothers were religious, many of them were christian and many were 'pagan'... but the religion was not associated with the practice of witchcraft, nor is it normally utilized as such. i do agree that generally speaking this century has brought about many changes to the perception of witchcraft, and many many people have deviated quite far from what it once was, just wanted to point out my little bit there.. :)

No real argument here, and I am not trying to say that every Witch in the past was religious, or practiced/performed religious elements. I am simply trying to point out that terms related to religion appear in references to Witchcraft much longer than does their absence.


i do agree that generally speaking this century has brought about many changes to the perception of witchcraft, and many many people have deviated quite far from what it once was, just wanted to point out my little bit there.. :)

Your "little bit" helps us all to see a larger picture, as does those of others.



Religion was considered intertwined with everything in daily life. Knowing this, if witchcraft is considered to be a religion then practicing medicine must also be considered a religion.

It was common for midwives to be accused (and often convicted) of worshipping the devil, of heresy, too. Was midwifery a religion then?

If, as in the case of Witchcraft, the trial transcripts of midwives included references to praying to a goddess and acts of worship (related specifically to their practices) then I would say yes. If ancient literature referred to them as being a priestess of a goddess associated with midwifery (as we see in the case of the witch Medea as a priestess of Hecate) then I would say yes, midwifery was a religion.


We have to be careful to assume that a charge of witchcraft during the "burning times" constitutes proof that there was an actual religion called witchcraft.

From my perspective, I look simply at how Witchcraft was viewed or depicted by the minds of the times. This seems to provide what people considered something to be about, and during the "burning times" the accusations (real or imagined) is that Witches worshipped an entity/deity. To me, when the word "worship" comes up in context with rituals or personal practices, I tend to think religion.


A charge of witchcraft was just a politically expedient way at that time to get rid of people you didn't like for whatever reason.

While that was certainly true in some cases, I feel that is probably too broad a paintbrush to paint the era of persecution with. We know, for example, from the studies of social anthropologists that the Witch figure was widely used to explain the ills of society and the failure of crops and animals. So, the persecution of Witchcraft (by whatever definition) seems a very complex issue.

Best regards - Raven

Ptah
August 8th, 2005, 05:55 PM
Once again I don't know if this is an appropriate place for a question, or even if this topic will make much sense, but I'm curious and that usually puts me in some pretty embarrassing situations... But I digress:

What, in your opinion, is the actual "craft" of a witch? If we can leave religion out of this for a moment, keep it secular heh heh, unless you consider that to be an intrinsic part of the craft rather than just an addition. So, we have herbcraft, stonecraft, woodcraft, etc. What does the practice of witchcraft mean? Is our craft magic, fortune-telling, herblore, counselling, healing,..

In fact it is..


hexing?

My own ethics and understanding of cause and effect say, no


And if that is so, wouldn't we just be called magicians or herbalists or folklorists or whatever? Does the witches' craft blend all of these elements in a unique way to actually create witchcraft?

One can call themselves whatever they wish. The Art of the Craft, is to understand all its components and become proficient in their use.

-Ember
August 9th, 2005, 12:31 AM
I'd say the craft of the witch is primarily to be a joint, a bridge, a point of change or transmission, a walker of the lines that define the boxes... a foot on both sides and of neither and so of both, a being of paradox with the most paradoxical thing being that it isn't paradoxical at all. The point of connection, the bell in the net-knots, the seed of chaos in order and of order in chaos... the dots in the yin yang and the line betwixt. Neither the mold nor the matter but the craftsman that pours and polishes, servant and master of their craft.

The one who willingly does what must be done including paying the price for doing it.

Athene
August 9th, 2005, 04:36 AM
the position that Witchcraft is not a religion is a relatively new view when compared to almost 2000 years of contrary historical and literary references.


But not new to family. My understanding from family is that worship, gods, etc, were never part of the witchery.

It seems to me that the confusion lies in the easily interwoven nature of paganism and witchery. While pagans tended to worship, witches didn't, but most sources only cover paganism. Naturally, as witchery is secret. For this reason, most inaccuracies today are of this mix. Those that claim witchery are really just practicing witchcraft or magic with paganism. Witches are not Pagans nor do they practice magic.

Also, it is a natural tendency of humans to worship something, so that witches have tended to include religious aspects in their lifestyle isn't unusual, but that doesn't mean that witchery is religious.

As Ben Gruagach pointed out, religion was intertwined with life. This doesn't make everything religious.

Also, we still seem to be using the terms (witch and witchcraft) interchangeably, and they are not. Witchcraft is a non-religious practice that can easily be made religious, witchery is a non-religious lifestyle that can incorporate religious aspects.


From my perspective, I look simply at how Witchcraft was viewed or depicted by the minds of the times.


And this is a valid research method. However, it is inappropriate for understanding true witchery. Not only is witchery barely documented, but only the insider knows.
The manuscripts of the so called 'burning times' are terrible for understanding who were witches and what witches did. They are fantastic for understanding a period in history. They tell us much about the persecutors and the experience of the persecuted. Real witches have little place within all that.


:)

misschief
August 9th, 2005, 07:44 AM
No real argument here, and I am not trying to say that every Witch in the past was religious, or practiced/performed religious elements. I am simply trying to point out that terms related to religion appear in references to Witchcraft much longer than does their absence.

i didn't think that was what you were saying, just some peope in this forum aren't as..... versed.. in their own specialised practice as you and i are, i'm sure there are a few, probably more who take your word for gold because they know you really are an authority on the topic (i know of a few who do it with me.. so i'm sure there are many more who do with you). i wouldn't want a misconception being tossed about because you were taken to mean something you didn't... mmk, that didn't come out right... well, anyway, moving on...

in general though, from what we kind find in written and oral history passed down through generations, i have to agree... hard not to when there is hard evidence. i just wanted to point out that there were a few fam trads that were much different than the rest. some of us have preserved them and kept them alive just as they once were. i've only just recently deviated from that for reasons stemming from the large amount of experience i've accrued in my 20-some years of practice.... but that's another thread topic all together.... lol.

raven grimassi
August 9th, 2005, 02:15 PM
But not new to family. My understanding from family is that worship, gods, etc, were never part of the witchery.

I am sure that is true of some lines and not true of others.


It seems to me that the confusion lies in the easily interwoven nature of paganism and witchery. While pagans tended to worship, witches didn't, but most sources only cover paganism.

As mentioned earlier there is almost 2000 years of literature and historical references to Witches worshipping and praying, which seems to indicate a belief that Witches were involved in things of a religious nature.


Also, it is a natural tendency of humans to worship something, so that witches have tended to include religious aspects in their lifestyle isn't unusual, but that doesn't mean that witchery is religious.

Nor does it exclude the possibility that religious elements were core to the ways.


Also, we still seem to be using the terms (witch and witchcraft) interchangeably, and they are not. Witchcraft is a non-religious practice that can easily be made religious, witchery is a non-religious lifestyle that can incorporate religious aspects.

If we are talking about modern times, I would agree.


And this is a valid research method. However, it is inappropriate for understanding true witchery. Not only is witchery barely documented, but only the insider knows.

I would respectfully disagree that there is barely any documentation. A lot if it is found in the anomalies discarded by academics, and a lot if appears in literary works and trail transcripts (I refer mainly to those that contain elements that do not serve the views of the Inquisitors & judges).


The manuscripts of the so called 'burning times' are terrible for understanding who were witches and what witches did. They are fantastic for understanding a period in history. They tell us much about the persecutors and the experience of the persecuted. Real witches have little place within all that.

I have a different view. I see the material as relevant to lore that originated from the memories of the pre-Christian era. Even those that are distorted are valuable, and much can be discerned by comparison to known elements of pre-Christian European religion. The most effective lies are based upon the truth, and this is what we see layered over the background material.

When a person writes a story, the most believable one is set in a known place and adheres to what is common within a specific culture. For example, if I write a fiction that is set in Los Angeles, the more commonly known elements of life and lifestyles in the area that I include, the more believable the story becomes. The things that I create and the things that I distort are more palatable if I also keep within the known elements as well. This is, in effect, what happened during the persecution with the depiction of Witches & Witchcraft. So what we have in this material is a blend of authentic elements of old Witchcraft burdened with the grafting of distorted concepts that served the needs of those who prosecuted people accused of Witchcraft.

By looking at the background material in trial transcripts, instead of focusing on the agenda of the prosecutors, many authentic elements appear. What I mean by background material is the reference to ritual tools, specific herbs, common superstitions, anomalies, and so forth. When we isolate these things from the rest of the transcript material, we find the same elements in the Middle Ages & Renaissance period as we find in the ancient material related to Witches & Witchcraft. The consistency is compelling.



i wouldn't want a misconception being tossed about because you were taken to mean something you didn't...

I understand, and thanks for the assist in heading that off. :)


i just wanted to point out that there were a few fam trads that were much different than the rest. some of us have preserved them and kept them alive just as they once were. i've only just recently deviated from that for reasons stemming from the large amount of experience i've accrued in my 20-some years of practice.... but that's another thread topic all together.... lol.

I agree, and no one can really speak for "hereditary Witches" as a whole anymore than one can speak for solitary practitioners as a whole. People are people, they are individuals even within a group. I think the closest we can come to the "truth" is to talk about commonality.

Best regards - Raven

Athene
August 9th, 2005, 03:22 PM
Nor does it exclude the possibility that religious elements were core to the ways.

To some, sure, I agree. I have family who would not comprehend religion and witchery as separate. But religious practices are not core to witchery. Religion was brought into it.
Now, I am referring to the roots, the core. I wouldn't deny that witchery can be made religious and certainly is for many.


By looking at the background material in trial transcripts, instead of focusing on the agenda of the prosecutors, many authentic elements appear. What I mean by background material is the reference to ritual tools, specific herbs, common superstitions, anomalies, and so forth. When we isolate these things from the rest of the transcript material, we find the same elements in the Middle Ages & Renaissance period as we find in the ancient material related to Witches & Witchcraft. The consistency is compelling.

From what I've read, little pertains to witchery, but does reflect Pagan practices as well as
folk magic.
Literary sources exist that offer an authentic, or at least more authentic, understanding. Yet these elements are interwoven mostly in myth and fable, some in factual accounts, but heavily veiled and sparse, and therefore difficult to extract. I maintain that the medieval manuscripts are the worst.

But I admit to not having read everything. :reading:


there is almost 2000 years of literature and historical references to Witches worshipping and praying, which seems to indicate a belief that Witches were involved in things of a religious nature.

My shelves are lined with occult books and other genres and I could glean what is authentic witchery in two pages. lol What others write about witchery and what is true are two vastly different things. I understand your premise that fiction is based on truth, and I don't dispute this. My premise is that the underlying truth of those accounts have nothing, or very, very little, to do with real witchery. The truth reflects folk practices imo.
Now, I'm not saying that there isn't anything on witchcraft, I'm speaking of witchery. There is vastly more on witchcraft, sometimes explicit and sometimes implicit, but more readily available.

Of course, I'm coming from a wider perspective where literary sources have little place in my path, despite the fact that I'm an avid reader and researcher. Such sources have added a wealth of information and knowledge to my life, but almost nothing to my witchery. However, for the Novice, literary sources are an effective tool to start them on the exploration, but never a source of witch Knowings.

all imho

Difficult to come to the same understanding when you come from different world views.

peace
:reading:

TigerWiccan
August 9th, 2005, 05:01 PM
I think the "craft" in Witchcraft is the creativity with which each individual Witch (or Coven, for things done as a group) interacts with the world, each other, and themselves.

Athene
August 9th, 2005, 05:03 PM
I think the "craft" in Witchcraft is the creativity with which each individual Witch (or Coven, for things done as a group) interacts with the world, each other, and themselves.

I think that 'creativity' is a fine word to use. :smile:

Elderbush
August 9th, 2005, 06:01 PM
I think that the term "witch" is more intertwined with cultures than religion, in that magic users have been found all over the world and centuries and it does not mean the same thing. As the culture changes, so is the word witch redefined and reinvented.

raven grimassi
August 9th, 2005, 07:54 PM
From what I've read, little pertains to witchery, but does reflect Pagan practices as well as folk magic. Literary sources exist that offer an authentic, or at least more authentic, understanding. Yet these elements are interwoven mostly in myth and fable, some in factual accounts, but heavily veiled and sparse, and therefore difficult to extract.

Yes it is quite a labor to extract these authentic elements. It has been my primary task these past 30 years of extensive research. I have been fortunate to be able to bring my hereditary lineage of Witchcraft to bear on the task, which has been very useful in discernment.


Now, I'm not saying that there isn't anything on witchcraft, I'm speaking of witchery. There is vastly more on witchcraft, sometimes explicit and sometimes implicit, but more readily available.

It would seem we have two different definitions, and probably views, of "witchery" as you call it.



Such sources have added a wealth of information and knowledge to my life, but almost nothing to my witchery. However, for the Novice, literary sources are an effective tool to start them on the exploration, but never a source of witch Knowings.

Again, we disagree, which makes it all the more interesting.

Best regards - Raven

-Ember
August 15th, 2005, 08:56 PM
A quick comment on religion in witchcraft: my understanding of it isn't so much that religion in any partcular sense is part of witchcraft as much as divinity simply is and as such some structure of coping with/working with/blackmailing or cursing at (all usually glossed as "worship") becomes part of the craft because the witch has ties to divinity and a need to deal with the relationship.

Just like dealing with rocks and herbs... it is, so the witch deals with it.

To ignore a part of what is doesn't work for a witch. A big part of witchcraft is simply being more aware of what is and thus being better able to manipulate it (or even simply being better able to duck.) Now what gods are is up for debate. But be they symbols or archetypes or physical beings, religious activity works as a way to gain awareness of them and "worship" (see above definition) them. And thus the pragmatic thing for a witch to do is be religious... as long as it works to be so.

Retto-Pyrrah
August 16th, 2005, 11:24 AM
Personally, I see the Witch's Craft as something beyond just the knowledge of herbs stones, energy, divination, healing and so on. Part of it is the reasons for the practice, and part of it is an intimate knowledge of the source from which it all flows (something that the Witch is only part of). The Witch's Craft operates through an understanding of the inner mechanisms of Nature, and the reality that the material realm is only a temporary form (thoughts made physical).

I think this is well stated so I will just nod in agreement as an answer to the original question :)


If we can leave religion out of this for a moment, keep it secular heh heh, unless you consider that to be an intrinsic part of the craft rather than just an addition

I don't know if religion can be left out of it.

Where religion = the way you interact with the spiritual and/or supernatural powers that govern the universe. I think that yes Witchcraft can be a religion in itself. If a Witch does not worship any particular God(s) or subscribe to any other religionís dogma, I think she can still safely say that Witchcraft is her religion. Magic constitutes a spiritual framework for understanding the universe and fits under a broad definition of religion.

Where religion = an institutionalized system of attitudes, beliefs, and practices, Iíd say that no, witchcraft is not a religion. But can you really deny its religious nature? Where you draw the power to perform your craft is directly related to your religious beliefs. I donít understand how they can be separated. I don't disbelieve that any of you actually do practice witchcraft independant of your religious beliefs...only that I don't know how that would work.


Also, we still seem to be using the terms (witch and witchcraft) interchangeably, and they are not. Witchcraft is a non-religious practice that can easily be made religious, witchery is a non-religious lifestyle that can incorporate religious aspects.

Could you make this distinction more explicit? It still seems to me that they are interchangeable :confused:

CleftOfLight
August 20th, 2005, 07:21 AM
It would be very hard to say.I mean everyone has there own theory or out look on the subject.So there is no real definition.Just perception of what they think a witch is,and therefore it is all that everybody says and it is nothing that people think.Same with wizardry and such too.

David19
September 13th, 2006, 02:10 PM
Great thread Semjaza (why do i seem to love resurrecting old threads ;)).

To me, i think witchcraft is just a craft, it can be added on to any religion or seperated (e.g. if you want to worship Diana or Aradia or whoever, you can but it's not central to witchcraft, etc).

From what i know about historical witches (and that's not much), i think the craft that witches would have done, would have been spells, curses, hexes (not sure if there's a difference between curses and hexes, though), spells and other magic for money, love, sex, potion making, etc.

Interestingly, from other things i've heard and read, not all witches were 'fluffy' and light, some of them did seem to be badass and kickass witches, there was a post in Raven Grimassi's thread from the guy who owns the crookedheath, who mentioend somethings medevial witches did (i'll dig it up for you), although not too sure, if there were any 'real' witches in the Middle Ages (i know some others, online, who say there weren't and there far, far more knowledgable than me).

covenofkeys
September 13th, 2006, 09:43 PM
IT IS NOT A RELIGION!
its a way of life and living. i should know- i AM one! lol

Ben Gruagach
September 13th, 2006, 09:59 PM
IT IS NOT A RELIGION!
its a way of life and living. i should know- i AM one! lol

Welcome to the board, by the way.

Just so you know, MysticWicks has almost 20,000 members -- and many of us (at least a few hundred if not a few thousand) are Witches too.

All sorts of Witches -- many who consider Witchcraft to be their religion, some who don't. Some are Wiccans, and some are not.

With all these different people who are all Witches, and with no Witch Pope or single Witch Holy Scripture to tell us all what we must do or believe, there are bound to be differences of opinion on all sorts of matters regarding Witchcraft and what it is to be a Witch.

As a Witch myself I wouldn't have it any other way! Diversity is the spice of life!

Gede
September 14th, 2006, 02:58 AM
Khaire & Blessings~
Always the old debates coming up...interesting stuff. It indicates that these questions, these themes are integral to the evolution of Witchcraft as it is today in the modern world, which may or may not reflect on the realities of what it was and how it was practised in the past.

When I stand at my altar and invoke my Gods of Blood and Breath I am honouring spirit/divine allies that have sought me out and that have been received because essentially what I am doing through this communion is affirming the power of Life. In this I immerse myself in the holy continuum, the sacred way, the axis mundi, the World Tree. The divine current that runs through all things which I perceive to be as a great pillar or like a vein pulsing with some great force which is unstoppable. I do this as Priest and Witch; I kneel and stand. There are differences between the two, but there is also an integral and very important connection, a complementary hint of something that infuses my spirit with the Mystery.

Magick is my teacher, my friend, my way of being. As a Witch the most important thing is maintaining and celebrating this link, this connection to the underlying flow of energy that animates all. As a Priest Magick to me is the pulse of the Gods. As a Witch I am a pantheist, animist and spiritist. As a Priest I am a polytheist. What is the distinction; how do we define the differentiation? Is it my promise of service and the oaths that I have taken to my deities as I kneel before my altar that makes me Priest? And is it the spells that I weave and the spirits that come forth through me that make me Witch? Do I identify? Of course. In every way possible I am both Priest and Witch.

Like any other descriptive words both Priest and Witch apply to particular aspects of my spirituality, but are keenly interlinked and emphasise the roles of the other. When my father's people look at me they see Priest, perhaps because it is culturally mutual because of my Balinese heritage. When my coven looks at me they see Witch because it is something I assert within Circle. What of the power and privelge? My answers are mine alone.

An interesting fact in etymology...currently the derivation for the English word 'witch' has been traced to an Indo-European root word 'weik'. It refers to things of both a religious and magickal nature.

Namaste*

Mouse
September 14th, 2006, 03:22 AM
IT IS NOT A RELIGION!
its a way of life and living. i should know- i AM one! lol

If you live your religion -any religion- in the way in which it was originally intended then it becomes a way of life. That doesn't stop it being a religion.

covenofkeys
September 14th, 2006, 11:30 AM
What I Do Is Not Wicca. -a Religion? I Have Never Seen It As Such . I Do Not Believe That The Definitions Of This Word Associate By Any Means, To Me, My Coven, Or Any Who Do As I Do. Some Will See Diferently, Anyway I Could Blabber On But I Wont. I Feel Very Strongly To This Subject Of Calling It A Religion, And Take Great Offence To Whomever Labels What I Do, As Such. Clearly They Do Not Practise In A Similar Way To Us, By Any Means....this However Is My Insignificant Opinion. I Get That People Are Different, But I Would Ask People To Not Categorise My Beliefs This Way. {excuse My Bluntness...pmt}

MankyCat
September 14th, 2006, 12:40 PM
In my anthropological and historic studies, a witch is defined as someone who performs tasks that are considered outside of the standard in their particular society. Usually, these are tasks that are considered taboo or unacceptable. Most societies have their own version of a "witch" and term for such.

Otherwise, the person would be called a medicine man/woman, a shaman, or some other term that will define them as people of knowledge in tasks that might be unusual but are acceptable in their society/culture. Doctors, magicians (like magic tricks magicians and illusionists), and scientists were deemed "witches" or some other appropriate term in societies that did not accept their skills or knowledge.

That's not to say these Witches are truly bad people or doing anything really wrong.

As such, almost anything could be deemed as parts of the Craft.

For me? The most essential element of a witch and their craft is knowledge. Typically knowledge of the deeper meanings, connections, and essence of things around them. Herb-craft, curses/hexing, astrology, scrying/fortune telling, and so forth are all avenues of magic. Then again, to me, some of the most mundane things have a magical nature to it if you look beyond the surface. For me, cooking a fine meal can be more magical than an intricate spell, if I choose to make it as such.

Mouse
September 15th, 2006, 03:37 AM
What I Do Is Not Wicca. -a Religion? I Have Never Seen It As Such . I Do Not Believe That The Definitions Of This Word Associate By Any Means, To Me, My Coven, Or Any Who Do As I Do. Some Will See Diferently, Anyway I Could Blabber On But I Wont. I Feel Very Strongly To This Subject Of Calling It A Religion, And Take Great Offence To Whomever Labels What I Do, As Such. Clearly They Do Not Practise In A Similar Way To Us, By Any Means....this However Is My Insignificant Opinion. I Get That People Are Different, But I Would Ask People To Not Categorise My Beliefs This Way. {excuse My Bluntness...pmt}

Well I guess I'm at the opposite end of the stick then. I take great offense at people not calling it a religion/way of life.

Can you back up WHY it is not a religion? :fpoke:

covenofkeys
September 15th, 2006, 07:04 AM
what i do IS a way of life...i live it day to day, moment to moment.however what i do is not a religion, you may not be practising the same as myself, therefor you may refer to your way as anything you so wish. xx
definition of a religion{at least in the o.e} is as follows....
religion: n,belief in a superhuman, controlling power, usu,expressed in worship;system of this;influence compared to religious faith.

the above does not apply in any way to what i believe.
nightshade {coven of keys}

Mouse
September 15th, 2006, 08:23 AM
Answers gave me four deffinitions:
Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.
A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.
The life or condition of a person in a religious order.
A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.
A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.

Either way I don't care. I've noticed when talking to pagans that everything boils down to stupid terminology and everyone runs for their dictionaries *shrug*

I notice that you don't specifically state what it is that you practice, other than it's "not wiccan" (although i didn't read the whole thread - my bad if I missed something) so that really doesn't help backing up your stance on the matter. People can not avoid catagorising your beliefs if they don't actually know them, I'm assumeing "what you do" is Witchcraft?
It's kind of hard to not categorise your beliefs if they fall into such a broad category.

Where was i going with this? *is tired* Oh.. right.. my point is.. I don't remember. Crappa. I think I'll just come back later.

MankyCat
September 15th, 2006, 10:09 AM
What I do falls into the realm of witchcraft. I don't outright categorize what my beliefs are because there is no term that seems to fit. It's not my problem if people decide to categorize what I am and end up being wrong in their assumptions. And I'm not about to write up a long document on the ins and outs of my beliefs.

I can usually say that I am not. One thing for certain is that I'm not Wiccan. Far from it.

The reason people run for their dictionaries to find that actual terms is because there are a lot of misuse of the language. Even just in another thread, people were getting mixed up with what morals and ethics were. Morals were being said to be personal and ethics were the morals system of a group. Half right. Ethics can be just very personal and can be applied to both a group or even just an individual.

A lot of people use words that they don't even fully understand, which can lead to all sorts of messes.


As for a religion vs. a lifestyle. If you believe in your religion enough, it will be come a lifestyle. For me, I don't have a religion per se. The closest of the definitions you provided are #1 and #4. I don't worship though or follow a spiritual leader, so the other definitions seem right out. (Oh... and my beliefs in the deities and a "creator" would make #1 very shaky.)

covenofkeys
September 15th, 2006, 05:03 PM
yes i do witchcraft, although it is not the modern witchcraft a lot of people seem to be doing nowadays.

Ben Gruagach
September 15th, 2006, 05:06 PM
yes i do witchcraft, although it is not the modern witchcraft a lot of people seem to be doing nowadays.

Interesting statement -- care to explain?

What constitutes modern witchcraft and what is not? I'm curious how they are distinguished.

covenofkeys
September 15th, 2006, 05:08 PM
not really, at the moment anyway.

MariThorn
September 15th, 2006, 05:42 PM
Once again I don't know if this is an appropriate place for a question, or even if this topic will make much sense, but I'm curious and that usually puts me in some pretty embarrassing situations... But I digress:

What, in your opinion, is the actual "craft" of a witch? If we can leave religion out of this for a moment, keep it secular heh heh, unless you consider that to be an intrinsic part of the craft rather than just an addition. So, we have herbcraft, stonecraft, woodcraft, etc. What does the practice of witchcraft mean? Is our craft magic, fortune-telling, herblore, counselling, healing, hexing? And if that is so, wouldn't we just be called magicians or herbalists or folklorists or whatever? Does the witches' craft blend all of these elements in a unique way to actually create witchcraft?

~Semjaza~
FFFF

In my opinion, the actual craft of being a wise one is the pursuit of Truth. We learn what nature has to show us and incorporate that into our daily lives. I do agree with Raven in that learning how to interact and work with fae and other atral beings is part of our craft. Craft to me means work, and part of what I do as a wise one is to learn how to work with dragons and fae, how to utilize the tools that have been passed down by wise ones in the past, ie tarot, runes, ogham, spell casting, scrying, and etc . . . Learning which plants heal, which ones don't, their elements, etc. People come to me as a wise one for advice period. Whether that deals with their relationships, doing a reading, help with astral entities, or healing help.

Is it part of my religion? No, not really per se. I'm a Catholic and while we have more than enough mysticism in our religion it is seperate from that I have learned as a witch. I incorporate what I have learned in the two and make my own distinct spiritual path. I do not, however, feel that being a witch for myself is a religion. It is a way of life for me. It never stops. Then again, as someone said, Catholicism is also a way of life for me. So maybe I am just loopy and this entire thread was a waste of space. :)

-wanders off to craft something, anything . . . humming:tarotwitc

ladyraven
September 15th, 2006, 06:31 PM
For me, I don't but I don't feel that witchcraft is a religion. I have no set way of doing things, I have no certain hierarch. I just do what I feel I need to. It's a way of life for me, since I seem to at times be doing things when I don't realize it consciously, and it's how I live and wouldn't think of doing things any other way. At the same time it a religion, because I feel very strongly about it. I have deities which seem to always come through with helping me and when I need to, I'm not afraid to ask them for their help. It's my beliefs and my life.