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

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

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.

Continue reading

Seven Spheres

A while back Satyr Magos was showing off a bit and introduced me to Rufus OpusSeven Spheres, a short but marvelous book with a unique and powerful approach to planetary magick. The book employs conjuration rather than invocation, and engages the planetary forces from the top down rather than from the earth sphere up. More significantly, the approach to the planetary intelligences is framed as one of “kingship,” with Jupiter (rather than Saturn) being the first force conjured. In essence, this transforms the entire working into a long scale Jovian work, which was exactly what I was looking for.

Continue reading

17 Year Cidadae

So the big thing this summer is that the 17-year cycle cicadas are hatching. They’re big, red, noisy bastards, and a type of bug I’ve always disliked. I’ve never been big on bugs, and having insects that large that fling themselves at you unpredictable while making an awful buzzing sound is a sure-fire way to get me to emit high pitched screams and have me rapidly exit.

Well, they started hatching early this year, and it wasn’t long before I encountered them at Heartland. The first morning, one was molting on one of my camp boxes, and it went downhill from there. By the end of the festival, there were tents under tree with literally dozens of cicadas trying to dry out their newly minted wings.

See, I have this thing about bugs. I’m not exactly phobic, but I really dislike them. I’m terrified of stinging insects, and anything that I can mistake for one makes me nervous. And the bigger they are the less I like them. Anything that buzzes makes me twitch and squirm.

But if I they’re calm, and I can view them safely (say, from behind glass), then they kind of intrigue me. They’re interesting. They’re tiny and complicated, and evolved to navigate a world of smaller hazards. We still don’t know how they see with those complicated eyes. And they exists in a world of intensely strong smells and chemical warfare. (And bees can do complex mathematical calculations and estimates, and communicate them to each other.)

Yes, there’s metaphors and lessons and things in this.

So here I am at an event that I consider both a religious and vacationing experience, at a location I regard as sacred. It is a space I feel comfortable and safe in, where I can let my shields down in a way I can’t in the “real” world. And I’m surrounded by thousands of noisy bugs that I not only dislike, but usually have a fear response to.

I had two ways to respond. I could have freaked out and stayed in my tent, or I could get used to them and not worry.

I’m not sure if it was because the critters were still molty and wet and vulnerable, or if it was because they weren’t noisy yet, or because of the environment, but I kind of started to not mind them. I didn’t want any in my tent, and I steered clear of them, but I didn’t freak out or anything. I was cautious, but not nervous or scared. I wasn’t picking any up or playing with them, but who knows, maybe in time.

Things that come at me unexpectedly frighten me. Things I don’t understand frighten me. Things that I can’t control frighten me. This goes for bugs, magick, or love. But when I was able to be at peace in a safe space, I could encounter what made me uncomfortable on my terms, and be at peace with it.

I think I’m really starting to understand the importance of safe spaces and holding space in a way that I hadn’t before, and I’m hoping this can help me better deal with my Empathy and my fears of loss and rejection.

Big Ritual

I’ve been doing ritual magick in some form since I first bought Don Kraig’s Modern Magick 20 years ago. Much of that was based in Golden Dawn derived ritual, performed alone for my personal benefit in the dark corner of wherever I happened to live. Early group rituals were largely impromptu, and with small groups of no more than 6 people.

In college, I became involved with a student group that had Sabbat rituals, and I participated in and facilitated some of those, which generally had around a dozen people. I’ve worked with other groups having about the same or fewer participants, and usually enjoyed positive results. Continue reading