Resource Rec – Traditional Witchcraft

Books

  • Etheric Anatomy: The Three Selves and Astral Travel by Victor Anderson
  • Fifty Years in the Feri Tradition by Cora Anderson
  • Azoetia: A Grimoire of Sabbatic Craft by Andrew D. Chumbley
  • One: The Grimoire of the Golden Toad by Andrew D. Chumbley
  • The Robert Cochrane Letters: An Insight into Modern Traditional Witchcraft by Robert Cochrane with Evan John Jones
  • Evolutionary Witchcraft by T. Thorn Coyle
  • Popular Magic: Cunningfolk in English History by Owen Davies
  • The Flame in the Cauldron: A Book of Old-Style Witchery by Orion Foxwood
  • Traditional Witchcraft: A Cornish Book of Ways by Gemma Gary
  • The Devil’s Dozen: Thirteen Craft Rites of the Old One by Gemma Gary
  • The Black Toad: West Country Witchcraft and Magic by Gemma Gary
  • Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches’ Sabbath by Carlo Ginzberg
  • The Night Battles: Witchcraft & Agrarian Cults in the Sixteenth & Seventeenth Centuries by Carlo Ginzburg
  • Apocalyptic Witchcraft by Peter Grey
  • Children of Cain: A Study of Modern Traditional Witches by Michael Howard
  • Hands of Apostasy: Essays on Traditional Witchcraft ed. by Michael Howard and Daniel A. Schulke
  • Liber Nox: A Traditional Witch’s Gramarye by Michael Howard
  • Mastering Witchcraft: A Practical Guide for Witches, Warlocks, and Covens by Paul Huson
  • The Call of the Horned Piper by Nigel Jackson
  • The Pillars of Tubal Cain by Nigel Jackson and Michael Howard
  • Masks of Misrule: The Horned God & His Cult in Europe by Nigel Jackson
  • The Roebuck in the Thicket: An Anthology of the Robert Cochrane Witchcraft Tradition by Evan John Jones & Robert Cochrane
  • Witches, Werewolves, and Fairies: Shapeshifters and Astral Doubles in the Middle Ages by Claude Lecouteux
  • Authentic Witchcraft: The Historical Tradition Revealed by Grayson Magnus
  • Genuine Witchcraft is Explained: The Secret History of the Royal Windsor Coven & the Regency by John of Monmouth
  • A Deed Without a Name: Unearthing the Legacy of Traditional Witchcraft by Lee Morgan
  • Tubelo’s Green Fire: Mythos, Ethos, Female, Male & Priestly Mysteries of the Clan of Tubal Cain by Shani Oates
  • A Grimoire for Modern Cunning Folk: A Practical Guide to Witchcraft on the Crooked Path by Peter Paddon
  • The Devil’s Plantation: East Anglian Lore, Witchcraft & Folk-Magic by Nigel G. Pearson
  • Treading the Mill: Practical Craft Working in Modern Traditional Witchcraft by Nigel G. Pearson
  • Witchcraft for Tomorrow by Doreen Valiente
  • Witchcraft: A Tradition Renewed by Doreen Valiente and Evan John Jones
  • Cunning Folk and Familiar Spirits: Shamanistic Visionary Traditions in Early Modern British Witchcraft and Magic by Emma Wilby
  • The Visions of Isobel Gowdie: Magic, Witchcraft and Dark Shamanism in Seventeenth-Century Scotland by Emma Wilby

Tumblrs

Websites

Wicca Is A Magical Religion

Untitled-1
“A witch’s altar” from The Meaning of Witchcraft

Wicca is a form of modern pagan witchcraft founded by Gerald Gardner in Britain during the mid-20th century. Gardner claimed that he was initiated in 1939 into a coven of witches, and then helped reassemble their fragmentary practices and beliefs into a cohesive religious form. Notable primary influences on the formation of Wicca include Margaret Murray’s hypothesis of an ancient religious witch-cult, ceremonial magic and Western esotericism of the 19th & 20th centuries, and concepts of pagan mythology originating in Romanticism.1 These combined with elements such as a revival of folk magic practices, the influence of Charles Godfrey Leland’s book “Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches” published in 1899, friendship with Aleister Crowley, and Gardner’s interest in Druidry produced a pagan religious form of witchcraft that became known as Wicca.2

The mixing of typical witchcraft-based “folk magic” and the more ceremonial Hermetic-inspired “high magic” was central to Gardner’s teachings, and is evident in the ritual forms and magical patterns of belief that make up the practice of modern Wicca.

For example, the casting of a circle is a central practice of Wicca, and requires the ability to manipulate the energy that makes up existence in order to delineate a sacred and protected space for the performance of further rites. The raising and control of such energy is a type of magical practice. Circle casting further involves evocation of the guardians of the cardinal directions and/or their respective elements of earth, air, fire and water. As these beings/elements are not seen as deities, such evocation could also be termed “summoning” – a traditional magical practice.

Inside the magic circle, Wiccans may “raise a cone of power” for either a specific purpose or just to charge the participants with energy. Again, this energy manipulation is a magical practice.

Some, perhaps most, Wiccans also practice spell-casting; the type of folk magic that is most easily and often identified specifically as “magic”. This can involve the use of the raising of energy, focused intent through visualisation, chanting, magical correspondences, and the creation of enchanted objects such as sigils, charms, amulets or talismans. Obviously, this practice is magical, but it is not the only form of magic!

The idea that all things are connected and that one can create changes by actively tapping into that connection is magical as well as spiritual.

Practices such as cleansing and consecrating tools such as the athame, chalice, pentacle or wand require both magical action and belief, as do forms of personal energy management such as grounding, centering and shielding. These practices are all central to Wicca.

Some mix magic with ritual forms such as prayer. An example of this would be Drawing Down the Moon, an invocation of the Goddess that often results in the recitation of the Charge of the Goddess. This poem, a central part of Wiccan liturgy written by Doreen Valiente, directly refers to the Wiccan Goddess as the “Queen of all Witcheries” and enjoins the listeners to “assemble, ye who are fain to learn all sorcery”.3

Another example would be the rite of Cakes and Wine, the purpose of which is to share a consecrated meal with the Gods (and coveners) while using the grounding process of eating to shed any surplus energy raised during ritual. In most Wiccan ceremonies, this ritual uses the symbolic Great Rite where the athame is plunged into the chalice to bless the wine, ale or other liquid used by imbuing them with the creative power of the union of the Goddess and God.4

Something that Wicca shares with other religious forms of witchcraft is a core interest in the liminal spaces of the world. The image of the witch has always been one of awe and fear, of power achieved by hidden (occult) means, of difference and rebellion.5 To mix this imagery with the order, tradition and human connection of religion results in a balanced worldview and spiritual practice. Wicca is a religion of polarities where differences are not in opposition but necessary parts of a balanced spectrum. Wicca is a religion of the between spaces; of all the shades that both compose and seperate black and white. Because of this, any division between magic and ritual is at odds with a Wiccan worldview.

When it comes to the word “wicca” itself, the link to magic is made clear. In Old English, “wicca” was a masculine noun meaning sorcerer, with “wicce” being the feminine version. The use of the word Wicca to mean a specific form of modern pagan witchcraft became common during the 1960s, after Gerald Gardner referred to witches as “the Wica” in his books7, and pagan witches identified “wicca” as an ancestor of the modern word “witch”.

It’s no coincidence that Gerald Gardner’s books are titled “Witchcraft Today” and “The Meaning of Witchcraft” – Wiccans are Witches first and foremost. To seperate out the witchcraft and the magic is to mutilate the core of the path, and undermine Wicca’s ability to change the future of religion. To make magic is to make change, and transformation will always be a pillar of the Witch religions.

References

  1. Beyer, Cassie. “History of Wicca.” Wicca For the Rest of Us. http://wicca.cnbeyer.com/history-of-wicca/. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.
  2. For more information on Gardner and the history of Wicca, see http://geraldgardner.com/essays.php
  3. Valiente, Doreen. “The Charge Of The Goddess.” The Official Doreen Valiente Website. http://www.doreenvaliente.com/Doreen-Valiente-Doreen_Valiente_Poetry-11.php. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.
  4. Aislynn. “Cakes and Ale.” Roots of Ritual. http://www.rootsofritual.net/general/cakes-and-ale/. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.
  5. Illes, Judika. The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z of the Entire Magical World. Thorsons, 2005. eBook.
  6. “Wicca (n.)”. Online Etymology Dictionary. http://etymonline.com/index.php?term=Wicca. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.
  7. Gardner, Gerald. “The Witch Cult in Britain.” The Meaning of Witchcraft. Magickal Childe Inc. 1982. 8. Print.

Review: “The Real Witches’ Handbook” by Kate West

realwitcheshandbookThe Real Witches’ Handbook: A Complete Introduction to the Craft
By Kate West.
Published 2008 by Llewellyn Publications.

The author, Kate West, is a prolific and well-known writer from the U.K. with over thirty years experience in practicing Witchcraft, both coven and solitary. Her credentials are solid, and her writing style is clear and approachable – her books are fun & easy to read; often described as “having a conversation over a cuppa.”

Originally published in 2001 by Thorson’s, this introductory guide to modern pagan Witchcraft comes equipped with all the issues of its generational peers. It uses the terms Witch/Witchcraft and Wiccan/Wicca interchangeably. It makes huge generalisations and factual claims without providing sources. It focuses a lot on the what and how, rather than the why, of Craft practice. These sorts of problems are pretty common to books of the period.

With that in mind, let’s dig into some of the issues in more depth.

West’s first chapter aims to discuss and dispel some of the ‘common’ misconceptions about what Witches are and do. Unfortunately, she subscribes to the rather revisionist idea that pre-Christian Europe was one big happy pagan family: “Different groups held different beliefs and worshipped different Gods and Goddesses without conflict as far as we know.”

She also encourages the Margaret Murray theory of witchcraft as a hidden cult passed down to modern times: “Those who did wish to… follow the old religion did so secretly. They handed down their knowledge and beliefs by word of mouth and held their celebrations away from prying eyes.” She does go on to acknowledge the little recorded history of (Wicca) Craft practices prior to the 1950’s and acknowledge that religion doesn’t require a long history in order to be effective to it’s practitioners, but it’s set off-balance by her much larger passage discussing the effect of Christianity on nature religions and witchcraft practices.

There’s even one cringe-worthy paragraph where she compares Church-led witch-hunts to “Arabs and Jews… still fighting over Israel to this day.”

Her myth-busting includes such claims that offer a very one-sided view of Witchcraft (even Wiccan type Craft; not that she uses the word Wicca specifically). She states that Witches don’t believe or worship a devil (cue the laughter of many Traditional and/or Satanic Witches worldwide), uses the ‘white magic = good / black magic = bad’ framing, claims that most Witches adhere to “the main rule of the Craft, the Wiccan Rede”, and that Witches “do not make blood sacrifices.” I mean, I understand what she’s trying to say here, the specific ideas she wants to refute, but I feel like some specificity is required to do so. Broad generalisations don’t help: they don’t reassure folks who actually believe these ideas, and they don’t clarify anything for people who want to learn.

West states that “Witchcraft is one of the ancient fertility religions” and while she provides an accurate and succinct explanation of what ‘fertility’ can mean, she leaves out the fact that there are Witchcraft religions that aren’t fertility-based, and some that are indeed sex-based (as part of the sensual and/or ecstatic traditions) instead.

There are a few more dated ideas regarding myths here; particularly that the “hooked nose and warts imagery” and “pointed hats” is propaganda designed to discredit Witches because ugliness equates to evil, but there’s no discussion about the assumption made therein or the ties to historically oppressed minorities such as Jews.

The Craft that West writes about is a form of eclectic neopagan Witchcraft heavily influenced by Wicca. This is something that the experienced reader or practitioner will pick up, but will not be clear to the target audience of newcomers. Given that this religion is one that values diversity, it’s unfortunate that West fails to explain the wide variety of Witchcraft paths.

This sort of generalisation is something that continues to plague the book. In chapter two, West moves beyond myth-busting to discuss the realities of modern Witches, but here she uses the phrase “Witches believe…” liberally and inaccurately.

Regarding deity, West espouses a duo-theistic paradigm that uses gods interchangeably according to correspondence, related to the ‘all Gods are one God and all Goddesses are one Goddess’ theory that was popular in the ’90’s. She continues this polarity with gender links, such as “light = Sun = good = male” and the converse, “dark = Moon = bad = female”. Modern pagan Witchcraft has, for the most part, moved past such a limiting view of polarity, thanks in part to a wider understanding of ideas about gender and the damage caused by stereotypes. As such, sentences such as “Seeking the balance of male and female within us does not mean that we are seeking to become bi-sexual” are uncomfortable and alarming to read.

West also has a popular interpretation of the Wiccan Rede, ‘An it harm none, do what ye will,’ as meaning “do what’s right for you, but in doing so, try not to hurt others.” However, a more accurate translation would be “if it causes no harm, follow your true will” – and this would be in conflict with West’s use of the Rede as a sort of moral rule.

In a section discussion the elements, West refers to the reversed (upside down) pentacle’s links to Satanism as having “roots in Hollywood and popular fiction.” I mean, she’s not wrong about it being used a lot in pop fictional Satanism, but the phrasing and it’s inclusion here simply showcases her lack of understanding about Satanism.

This chapter also made me notice a very particular quirk of West’s writing: she capitalises the word ‘magic’. Seeing “Magic” or “Magical” used prolifically throughout the text makes me wonder just what she defines as magic, and this is an issue that arises later.

In chapter three, West discusses the idea of moon worship in the Craft. Problems arrive when she states that the effects of the moon are noticed easily by women due to their monthly cycle – but what about women who don’t have regular cycles? Or periods at all? Or uteri? Defining a link between the moon, women, and bleeding is short-sighted in a way that feels familiar this far into the Handbook.

West links the moon & its phases to the idea of the Triple Goddess and states that “almost all civilisations and parts of the globe” have legends of the Triple Goddess. Actually, even the term itself is a neopagan construction: while there is certainly evidence of goddess triads and of goddesses who had three forms or aspects, the link to the moon via the Maiden/Mother/Crone description is very modern, heavily influenced by mid-20th Century poet and writer Robert Graves. This is evidenced by her description of Hecate as a Crone, when in fact the Hellenic Hekate was a maiden goddess sometimes depicted in triple formed appearance.

Chapter four is a discussion of the eight Wiccan sabbats, specific to the Northern Hemisphere. This is fine, except there’s an odd phrase in the section on Samhain: “Wait until the first very cold or even frosty day which marks this season (if you are in the Southern Hemisphere then you will need some other seasonal marker).” I was left unsure as to whether she was suggesting that Southern Hemisphere Witches celebrate Samhain on the 31st October even though technically and seasonally it should be Beltane eve.

When discussing Yule, West says: “Light and dark are not used as euphemisms for good and bad here,” meaning in the Craft, even though she has done so herself previously in the book.

In the next chapter, West advises newcomers on how to become a Witch. She begins by finally discussing different types of Witchcraft, albeit with few examples and very Wiccan ones at that. She claims to have been initiated into both Gardnerian and Alexandrian covens, so I was interested to see what she had to say here, but I was underwhelmed and a little confused. She says “Alexandrian Craft is less formalised than Gardnerian”, which is at odds with my personal experience and understanding, and continues to say that “access to the Alexandrian Craft and ritual can be obtained from the works of Janet and Stewart Farrar”, which is… wrong. The Farrar’s wrote some interesting and effective books, but to say that an oath-bound initiatory tradition can be accessed via published works is incorrect and offensive.

Likewise, her understanding of other Witch traditions seems rather simple and uninformed. West writes that “there are hereditary families that predate Gardner” without expanding on who these Witches are or the history and controversy of such claims. She goes on to state that “another term for Traditional Witch is Instinctual” – thereby ignoring actual non-Wiccan Craft traditions who use that term. Actual instinctual (sometimes also called ‘natural’) Witches can be practitioners of any number of traditions. Perhaps this is a British phrasing that hasn’t made it’s way to the Antipodes, or is now outdated. I’ve been communicating with Witches online since 1999 and to my recollection have never heard this usage. West describes the term Hedgewitch as meaning those who follow a green- or nature-based path, and this is a common idea in British neopaganism and Witchcraft; but such usage is actually fairly modern as the older term referred to Hedge Riders, or witches who practice astral travel, shape shifting, divining, and other soul-flights through the veil to the Otherworld.

Chapter six introduces the reader to real magic, which West defines as “the ability to make change by force of will.” This is a pretty standard definition; and by it, the Craft practices that West describes, such as circle casting or cleansing and blessing, are magical in and of themselves. However, she goes on to differentiate ritual and “Magical workings” which seems to clash with her definitions. She sees ritual as an act of worship and magic as something separate, as an act that may be part of a ritual or stand alone.

This idea seems like a carry-over from the sort of religious past that draws lines between devotional worship (“in God’s hands”) and mundane life (where making changes to improve life is a personal responsibility). I rather think that the point of Witchcraft is that there’s no difference, no separation. Life is sacred because it is divine and so using the Craft to make the most of life is a holy act.

Strangely, given that she seems to equate magic with spell-casting, West follows up the “Magic” chapter with one titled “Spellcraft and Herb Lore.”

In it, she describes common Witches’ tools and their alternatives. There are is a brief paragraph on the athame, where she describes the traditional black-handled knife before saying that they aren’t necessary because “anything you cannot accomplish with your finger, you will not be able to achieve with an Athame” as well as mentioning some traditions’ reluctance to take metal into a Circle, and that some places have strict laws against carrying knives. She offers as an alternative items made of wood, bone or stone, before going into descriptions about wands. At no point does she actually discuss the point of an athame; the rich meaning, symbolism and use of one of the most famous of Witch tools.

After tools, West details the creating of sacred space. The first step she recommends is centering; to do so, she advises the reader to “relax your mind to clear it of every day distractions whilst also focusing it on what you are about to do.” This is a slightly unorthodox description of centering, the usual goal of which is to be present through the mindful practice of controlling one’s personal energy, typically using a physical component and a visualisation of energetic boundaries. West’s description more accurately fits the goal of meditation.

The final comment I have to make regards a possible typo in the ritual script provided for circle casting and closing. In the paragraph regarding the gods, West writes: “…I bid them Hale and Farewell.” Given that the usual acknowledgement is ‘hail and farewell’, I’m going to give West the benefit of the doubt here.

In summary, the points of concern in this book outweigh the benefits, which is a real shame because West’s writing style is perfect for people who have never read anything about Witchcraft before. Her rituals are simple but meaningful and effective, and her actual magical practices are solid. She successfully conveys the atmosphere that draws a lot of people to neopaganism and witchcraft in general. I also get the feeling that she walks her talk, thanks to the scattered personal tidbits and the integrity that shines through her words. However, all the personality in the world can’t make up for the volume of problems with this book.

Notes:

Mike Gleason, while reviewing another of Kate West’s books on “The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum”, said, “Lest you be put off by the title, let me assure you that ‘Real Witches’ refers not to ‘the one, correct’ way to be a Witch. Rather, it refers to being a Witch in the real world – the one with mundane jobs, children, family, etc., all demanding part of your time and attention.” I’m not sure whether this conclusion is supported by Kate’s actual writing, but in the case of the “Handbook”, let’s give her the benefit of the doubt, as it’s target audience is people brand-new to the idea of Witchcraft.

I capitalise Witchcraft when I’m referring to the religion(s) and don’t when I’m referring to the more general magical practice.

I know it’s rough to criticise West for not providing sources, and then rebut her claims without providing them myself, but this review went on for way longer than I expected and I didn’t have the energy to link everything. I figure I’ll save all that for MY book. 😉

On Cultural Appropriation in Witchcraft

Let’s start at the beginning: cultural appropriation involves people of dominant groups exploiting the culture of less privileged groups. This happens a lot in modern Witchcraft communities, especially where those communities overlap with modern pagan religions. Dress, rituals, symbolism, and other traditions have often been “borrowed” from oppressed, exploited and/or closed cultures.

Some examples of the cultural appropriation from various Native American tribes include non-indigenous Witches claiming to have “spirit animals” and “totem guides”, making of dream catchers, referring to smoke cleansing as “smudging” and the co-opting of sweat lodges as purification ceremonies. But appropriation happens to cultures across the world; from Hinduism to the Romani, chakras to mojo hands, Vodou to Maori, and everything in between.

There are many reasons expressed for this “borrowing” and the motivations of Witches perpetuating this appropriation are often well-intended: “we’re reclaiming the word witch”, “witchcraft is about using whatever works”, “the gods have called me”. But intention doesn’t justify anything here. Context matters.

All too often these traditions are used as part of identifying certain cultures as “Other”, while framing the dominant (White) culture as normative; creating bigotry that can, and frequently does, end in violence. It’s offensive and damaging to share the privilege of belonging to that group of oppressors while at the same time picking apart traditions and practices for their approved, “exotic”, parts. We don’t get to show love for some aspects of a culture while remaining prejudiced against the people of that culture!

The other problem with this practice is that by only showcasing parts of these cultures, and presenting them in a way that is comfortable for the dominant group to accept, we inevitably portray those marginalised cultures inaccurately or one-dimensionally – and are more likely to be heard and believed than those who are being oppressed.

The real kicker is that those privileged “borrowers” then often get credit from their peers for being “edgy” or “creative” or “real” – credit that certainly isn’t given to the actual members of the culture that birthed whatever trend is being lauded. When privileged people benefit and oppressed people continue to suffer, a power dynamic is being created where that power flows one way.

Cultural exchange is different – it involves a power dynamic where both groups are equal. Cultural assimilation is also different – it involves a marginalised group adopting elements of a dominant culture in order to live with less discrimination. These power dynamics are what makes it impossible to appropriate from the cultures of the dominant group.

As Feminist Witches, it’s our job to learn about and respect the history, experience and traditions of other cultures. If we’re not part of those cultures, we don’t get to pick and choose parts of them to “borrow”. If we want to be part of those cultures, and it’s possible, then we must do the work required to join the community.

If it’s not possible – for example, if those practices are part of a racial tradition that we can’t share – then we need to accept that, and move on. Witchcraft is inherently creative, so there’s no need to appropriate when we can simply create!

As Erick DuPree says: “the problem with this “everything’s borrowed” thinking and “we don’t need new words” is that we actually do need new words.”

Many of today’s forms of Witchcraft have roots in the 19th century occult revival when European intellectuals took religious inspiration from several sources including the religious practices of other cultures. The problem with this, of course, is that these individuals shared the Imperialist worldview prevalent at the time, and this has trickled down (and admittedly been slightly watered down) over the years. This focus on Imperialism, where European civilisations expanded rapidly across the globe at the cost of the oppression of any tribes, cities or nations in the way, led directly to cultural appropriation as well as racism.

We live in a postcolonial world, and it can be difficult to overcome this outlook. When we’re part of the dominant group, we start from a position of ignorance because we haven’t directly experienced the consequences of cultural appropriation. We haven’t lived with the harm. When we find ourselves confused, fearful, angry, guilty – it’s a good start. But we must act, not react. We begin by challenging ourselves first.

We must work to find a way to sort the wheat from the chaff; to find and create Witchcraft traditions and practices that will build a brighter future. Only by confronting and changing systems of oppression that harm the disenfranchised will we build a power dynamic that flows from within and without, that shares instead of stealing, that is equal and strong. It might not be easy, and it will take time, but that is why it is part of our Great Work.

In a blog post at wildhunt.org, pagan priestess Crystal Blanton writes some good questions for us to ponder: “How do we… respectfully exchange with other spiritual cultures? What are we giving in exchange for the knowledge that we gain and using for our own spiritual experiences? How can we respect the context, culture, history and people of the cultures we are exchanging with?”

I am a Witch of European descent. I was born with privilege. This ancestral history and the modern societal benefits that flow from this don’t make me a bad person – but being a responsible and compassionate individual does require me to acknowledge it. Therefore, I am choosing to use my privilege to discuss issues of cultural appropriation with other White practitioners. I don’t want to call you out, but to call you in – in to contemplation, action and a more complex view of the realities of the damage that marginalised cultures experience.

My Version of the LBRP

The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram was one of the first daily practices that I performed, shortly after discovering real magic, witchcraft and the occult in 1997.

The LBRP is a type of moving meditation, a ritual designed to cleanse and fortify you in all dimensions. This is done by drawing down power from the Divine, creating a circle with the power of the Divine, girding oneself with guardians of the Divine, and becoming connected and centred with the Divine in all things. For me, it’s an innately spiritual practice but plenty of magicians and other folk use it as a psychological or philosophical meditation.

I found it energising and grounding at the same time – basically, balancing – and included it in my practice for many years. However, I haven’t used it on a regular basis for a while, so last night when I dreamed about doing it, there was also a sort of nostalgic glee.

I woke up this morning and performed the LBRP for real, and since have been inspired to adapt it for my modern practice. My new format is as follows:

Begin facing South, the direction of the Earth.

Touching the forehead, say “IO EVOHE DIANA.“
Touching the breast, say “IO EVOHE DIANUS.”
Touching the right shoulder, say “EKO EKO AZARAK.“
Touching the left shoulder, say “EKO EKO ZOMELAK.
Crossing the arms upon the breast, say “SO MOTE IT BE.”

Turning to the East, the direction of Air and the rising Sun, draw an invoking pentagram. Inhale, draw forearms up and rest fists on temples. Step left foot forward and push hands out away from the body and vibrate the name “ARADIA”. Stand straight, left arm at your side, right forefinger held to lips.
Turning to the South, direction of Earth, perform same movements, and say “CERNUNNOS” then perform sign of silence.
Turning to the West, direction of Water, perform same movements, and say “CERRIDWEN” then perform sign of silence.
Turning to the North, direction of Fire, perform same movements, and say “LUCIFER” then perform sign of silence.

Crossing your arms in front, say:
“Before me the Lady of the Moon;
Behind me the Horned Lord;
On my right hand Hekate Enodia;
On my left hand Herne the Hunter;
For about me flames the Pentagram,
And in the centre shines the Grail.”

Touching the forehead, say “IO EVOHE DIANA.”
Touching the breast, say “IO EVOHE DIANUS.“
Touching the right shoulder, say “EKO EKO AZARAK.”
Touching the left shoulder, say “EKO EKO ZOMELAK.”
Crossing the arms upon the breast, say “SO MOTE IT BE.”

Kiss left-hand fingertips in salute.

(Yep, my circle is cast widdershins for banishing, which in NZ means clockwise. If you’re in the southern hemisphere, you could go anti-clockwise for invoking if you preferred. And of course, up north you crazy kids do things in reverse!)

My religion has no moral doctrine

One of the many gifts that the Religio Romana gave to me was the concept of orthopraxic polytheism. This post from Helio is a perfect example of how that affects the faith/morality/religious practice overlap.

Golden Trail

Every now and then, I’m asked where does my religion stand on topics like same-sex marriage, homosexuality or abortion. My answer is that it doesn’t, because to me those issues are not religious, but social. Some people look confused when I insist on it and I can understand why: in this as in other matters, over one thousand years of monotheistic dominance in western societies have shaped the notion of religion to the point where people generally cannot conceived it outside the Judeo-Christian definition.

1. Pervasive influence
As I have pointed out multiple times, that is the case with the use of the words “religion” and “faith” as synonyms: if you believe there is only one god, faith easily amounts to worship; but if you believe in multiple gods, then faith is not the same as worship. Because believing in many – including those outside your (usual) pantheon –…

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Into the Underworld

Before you lies the door. Before you stands the guardian.
Meet that unblinking gaze and ask for the opening of the gate.
In silence, the guardian complies.
Pass through, but do not watch the guardian as you move,
For His gaze looks ever forward and also back,
And to meet it again will start your journey anew.

In the darkness, a flame erupts; a tiny light to push the darkness back.
It grows, and now the flame is a torch, a beacon.
The Guide holds the torch, and a matching light shines in Her dark eyes.
Do not reach out your hand,
For She will not take it.
She desires you to make your own way.

You follow, and arrive in a field of darkest night
That not even the Guide can illuminate.
Can you feel the One Who Waits?
Speak His name and He will rise,
Unseen but all-consuming,
The Lord of the Dead.

The silence breaks when, in the fullness of time,
He asks you just one question:
How dare you stand where She stood?
Answer him in perfect love and perfect trust, and earn the right to make your own query.
Ask him one thing only, and better it be sincere,
He will give the counsel that your need requires.

He delights in your respect and reverence, so offer both freely.
By his Will shall you be restored to life and light.
The Guide will take your hand now;
Do not tremble, but reach out to Her
And return to the world above.
You have eaten the seeds of wealth.