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

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

More on Covens

Covens are an interesting construct to me. The represent a secretive and defensive way of thinking and operating that should appeal to my Scorpio nature, but does not. I think perhaps my high school experience has left me with a distrust of clubs.

A while back I posted a video in which I talk about covens. I talk a little bit about their history, and about how I see them function in the Pagan community, and I mentioned that I believe that they are becoming obsolete in America, and that I really hope they do.

Apparently there was some issue with that perspective:

The thing that you lose when you shift to a totally community-based open system is the intimacy of a coven – you completely missed this point. Have you ever worked in a coven, yourself, or just observed them from afar and made your proclamations based on that? When you have a small group of people who know each other so very well that they can completely remove all of their masks, have complete trust with one another, what you get is a powerful magical and spiritual unity that can never be paralleled in open communities where few know, much less trust, one another. The point of it isn’t about hiding from persecution; it’s about creating a structure in which people can pool their energies to create magicks that are greater than the sum of their parts. A coven will never be out-moded, because it’s a necessary structure. We will always have a need for covens, because there will always be people who see and appreciate the deeper paths that one can take when one forms the greater bonds of intimacy and connection that only a coven – not an open gathering of strangers – can create.

This comment was full of so much wrong and missing of the point it I almost wondered what video they were responding to. Continue reading

Passing Paganism On

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus has a very thoughtful post about pagans teaching paganism to their children.

This, however, raises a lot of questions about how many Pagans and polytheists (though more the former than the latter) are actually treating the topic of religion with their children. I’ve heard far too many Pagans, almost in the manner of bragging, say that they have not “forced” their religion on their children, while I’ve also recently heard of others who have made it a point to teach their children about “all religions” as objectively as possible so that they can choose one later in life. I even heard of a Pagan parent recently who was making their child read the entirety of the Christian Bible—something that I suspect many Christian parents have not made their children do.

I understand that many Pagans, in adopting this approach, are attempting to not recreate the situations of their own childhood, where a repressive compulsory Christianity was something that they did not enjoy and over which there still may be lingering issues with their parents and extended families. Nonetheless, it would be a good test of “truth of concept” for Paganism as a viable religion for one to raise a child in it, while also giving them a good background in other religious traditions (in a manner that is neither relativist nor condemnatory, and is as informed as possible). If one’s religion is good enough for oneself, why isn’t it good enough to teach to one’s own children? It is perfectly possible to raise a child in a given religion without “indoctrinating” them into it or in any way coercing them. Even pious adults sometimes skive when they are adults; children and teenagers, likewise, might do this as well, and there’s no reason not to let them in many cases.

There is a lot of fear of indoctrinating children into a religion they don’t want among many pagans. I can see a few problems with this thought process, though. Continue reading

The Rede of the Wicae

There is an old joke floating about the internet that equates various pagan groups to the different races and organizations found in Star Trek. First on the list are Wiccans, who are equated with the Federation:

The Federation means well. They let just about everybody into their little social club, so long as they agree to play nice. They don’t talk about rules much, but keep referring to one Prime Directive that all other laws are based on. That said, they frequently violate that rule when the need suits them. Often heard speaking in various UK accents, even though they’re not from the islands

I’ve observed that central dig on many occasions. There’s really only one rule, and it’s ditched whenever people feel they can justify it. Which happens a lot.

Yeah, I’m about to tear into the Wiccan Rede. Continue reading