A Brief History of Witchcraft

Which Wica is Witch?

I’ve come across many online articles, essays, posts, and Tumblr accounts that prattle on in detail of how Wicca is not Witchcraft and all of the myriad things that distinguish the two. Since I describe myself as a sorcerer and my magical practice as sorcery, watching the degree to which witches will argue amongst themselves over whether they are witches or not can be confusing at best, but I recognize that this is an expression of the Problem of Authenticity that plagues modern witchcraft and pagan movements. There is a lot to unpack in this issue, from bad scholarship and creation myths to lineage disputes and politics, but people will do what they can to define their group in relation to others, I suppose. Continue reading

Devotional Offerings

I think it was Stephen Posch that gave a talk about animal sacrifice at Paganicon (Sorry Stephen — I can’t find my notes and for some reason Pagnicon doesn’t have the class listed in the old online schedule). The presenter was discussing Wiccan ritual structure, and how raising the cone of power was adapted to fill the hole where animal sacrifice would occupy a ritual from antiquity. I haven’t followed up that theory with any research of my own, but it makes sense: most religions in antiquity had some manner of sacrifice, and the Victorian sensibilities of Gardner would not have been amenable to including the practice in his creation.

As a young magical practitioner, that bias against flesh offerings extended to other types of offerings. Offerings in general were devotion, you see, and that sounded an awful lot like submission, which good magicians discarded along with their Christian backgrounds. Magic was all about energy and will, you see, and I took pride in not kneeling before any gods. Continue reading

The Daily Grind

Magic is a practical exercise. Like anything in life, you can study the theory behind it all you want, but you won’t get anywhere until you actually put things into practice. And like so many things — painting, drawing, music, running, weight lifting, writing, math, cooking, etc. — if you want to develop proficiency you need to do it on a regular basis. Unfortunately, that also seems to be the most difficult part of it. Continue reading

End of An Era, Beginning of an Era: A Time of Transition

For reader who aren’t familiar with the Witches Voice, it is a website that has provided networking and information for new and aspiring pagans, or those curious about them. In operation for over 20 years, it has featured numerous informative articles (including my own) and profiles for individuals and groups in the pagan community to connect. And it is shutting down. Continue reading

Temporal Anomalies

I honestly can’t recall if it was Pete Carroll or Phil Hine or both that made a discussion of retroactive enchantment. (It was probably Carroll, since that would fit in well with his cosmological model and his view on the malleability of time, but I’m not really in the mood to look it up and be sure.) Either way, the concept is a fairly clear one: you work a spell that manifests through channels that suggest events were changed in your favor at a time prior to your working of the spell. Either by directly targeting an already past event or through a haphazard coincidence of best available channels for manifestation, the cause (the spell) comes after the effect (the change).

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Thinning of the Veil

Samhain is approaching.

Halloween has always been a favorite time of year for me. The days are cooler, the nights are longer, and the very earth seems to be settling down for a long rest. I’m more of an introvert, and a quieter time that allows for and encourages introspection appeals to me.

Well, usually. Continue reading

Pagan Politics, Part Whatever

John Beckett asks an interesting question: Must Paganism be Transgressive?

Do we lose something when a radical spiritual movement starts to be accepted by the mainstream? Or is it more complicated than that?

Beckett looks at a few other discussions going on in the Pagan blogosphere in examining this question. I saw a few themes that I’ve talked and thought about before, so I felt the need to open my big mouth.

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