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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Thoughts About My Ancestor Mystery

I've been cogitating about my previous post, Solving an Ancestor Mystery with DNA, and what the new information means to me. Firstly let me state that the Cherokee Freedmen were culturally Cherokee regardless of DNA, so when I talk about the revelation that my supposed Cherokee ancestor was "really" African, I'm not implying that anyone else's Freedmen ancestors were not "real" tribespeople. I'm only talking about me, and my personal ancestors.

There must have been a good reason why my dad's family were not living in a Cherokee tribal community at the time of the earliest living memories to which I was exposed growing up, and the stories I've previously heard about why that was are now suspect. It seems likely that my Freedmen ancestors left because they could, because they were freed. My dad's early spiritual teachings to me were Native American in character, not African, referencing the corn spirit and other spirits native to this continent. His teachings set me on an animist spiritual path in harmony with the land spirits, which I continue as an Asatruar. He never specifically stated what tradition he was, though.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Oh, cool! Does Finland have a tradition about that?
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    When you mentioned that you call your drum Grandmother Elk I immediately thought of Finland.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
What Was Your First Witch Book?

It's almost like asking: Who was your first sexual partner?

What was your first witch book?

I love to ask people this question. It's a good way to open the gates of memory, and the ensuing conversation is always both interesting and informative. Our firsts also neatly divide us into generations.

First Generation: Margaret Murray, The Witch-Cult in Western Europe and God of the Witches.

Second Generation: Gerald Gardner, Witchcraft Today.

Third Generation: Sybil Leek, Diary of a Witch.

Fourth Generation: Starhawk, Spiral Dance.

Fifth Generation: MZB, The Mists of Avalon.

Etc. (There are, of course, other options.)

By this metric, I'm solidly Third Generation. My first witch book was Sybil Leek's Diary of a Witch. One read—the first of many—and I was hooked. I knew that that's what I wanted. I still have my (very battered) paperback 1968 Signet Mystic copy, with its startling red cover and a wild-haired Sybil on the cover, looking very witchy—in the Brothers Grimm sense of “hideous and scary”—indeed.

Good old Sybil. She doesn't give away a thing, but she sure does tell a good story. Probably that's what caught me in the first place. Early witch books tend to be short on story; at that point, as a people, we hadn't been around long enough to have accumulated very many. Witch books still tend to be long on practice, middling on theory, and short on story. Writers of future witch books, take heed: the story is what really gets 'em, every time.

The one thing that has always puzzled me about Diary is its talk of a Supreme Being. I'm not sure quite what Sybil was aiming at with this. In her first book, the 1964 A Fool and a Tree, she writes about the Goddess of Witches by Name (= Aradia), so what's with this “Supreme Being” shite four years later? (In her 1971 The Complete Art of Witchcraft, she's writing--quite creatively, actually--about the Goddess again.)  Is this just a polite euphemism for Herself? Is she afraid that talk of goddesses and horned gods will make the “Old Religion” too foreign in the eyes of the average non-witch reader? Is it some monotheizing phase that she was going through at the time? Your guess is as good as mine.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I think it was a Grosset & Dunlap book. I know it was mostly about witches but I do remember a page on werewolves as well. It ha
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Nema, nema, nema.
  • Chris Sherbak
    Chris Sherbak says #
    Paul Huson's "Mastering Witchcraft." The "Our Father" backwards always did put the scares into me.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Solving an Ancestor Mystery with DNA

Asatru is one of the paths that includes ancestors among the beings we honor. That doesn't always have to be one's own personal literal biological ancestors, as explored in a prior post. However, many heathens go in for genealogy, and for those who have done so and hit a wall, or for adoptees and others who don't know anything about their ancestors, the corner where modern science and capitalism meet has provided home DNA tests.

My brother has extensively traced our family genealogy and uncovered some interesting things, but there was one mystery the paperwork could not answer for us. We had been told that we were part Cherokee. The summer after I graduated from college, which was about a year after my father died, I went looking for my Cherokee roots and drove across the country, all the way from California to the Qualla Boundary reservation in North Carolina. I utterly failed to connect to the land spirits, the people, or even the artifacts in the museum. I went camping nearby in the Great Smoky Mountains and did not connect to the land there either. I tried looking for records, and whether I approached via writing or in person, I hit a wall of silence everywhere I went. I tried to connect spiritually, and decided that was not the path for me. I had already been following a heathen path at that point, but that was about when I found a local California Asatru organization, and when I went there I felt right at home, welcome and connected, so I was affirmed on my path. But the unsolved mystery of the elusive Cherokee ancestors stayed in the back of my mind.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Magic With a Boner

Screw the athames and quarter calls.

Let me tell you something about Warlock Magic. It's gritty, primal, old: some of the oldest magic that we have, its prime locus the male body.

I'll give you an example.

Some friends of mine are buying a new place. I passed along a bit of old warlock magic to the man: Go around the outside of the house, and pee on each of its five corners.

Like other predators, warlocks mark out our territory. Scent-marking: it doesn't get more primal than that.

Warlock magic is body-magic, men's magic. It's not for the over-civilized or the fastidious. It's magic with a boner, magic with juice.

Let the dried-up old wizards keep their grimoires and athanors, their tower rooms and chalk circles.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
On the Necessity of Self-Initiation

There's been much making of words down the years over the question of self-initiation into the Craft, and whether or not such a thing is even possible.

Well, I'm here to tell you that not only is self-initiation possible, but that you cannot be a witch without it.

Life is a series of initiations, but no matter how many rituals you've undergone at Lady Such-and-so's hands, you cannot truly count yourself a witch until the moment when you look yourself plain in the face and say: I am a witch.

That is your deepest, truest initiation.

Witchdom is not so much conferred, as claimed. Someone who has undergone every ritual initiation from Azarak to Zamelak, but has never said to herself, I am a witch, is no witch.

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The Curse on the Burners of Minneapolis

 Cursed be the burners.

Cursed be they.

Cursed be they, forever.

 

They really should think twice before they start setting fires in the Witch neighborhood.

In the four nights of unrest following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, assholes came to our city to set fire to buildings: assholes from the Right, assholes from the Left, and just plain assholes.

Cowardly-wise, they came here to do their morth-work and then ran away, back whence they came.

Well, we can do morth-work too. Hit us, and we hit back.

Here in the Witch neighborhood, we rebuild, but we do not forget. Whenever I pass the site of a burned-out building, I renew the curse.

 

Cursed be the burners.

Cursed be they.

Cursed be they, forever.

 

Their ill-work will dog them, wherever they go. To their graves, it will hound them.

There's only one way out: remorse. Remorse, and it better be public.

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All Sacred, or: Jim Morrison Reincarnates in Minneapolis

If I believed in reincarnation, I would say that the guy from across the street is the young Jim Morrison come again, hair and all. Now here he is in all his glory, out walking the dog.

He's so beautiful that you just want to stare at him, but of course I don't. That's no way to treat someone, especially someone who's giving you pleasure, and besides, who wants to be the creepy, leering old guy across the street?

Ah, aging. You can be resentful, or you can savor the gifts of time. As Sokrates said, the contemplation of beauty is its own reward.

In his old age, poet Victor Anderson, Father of the Feri tradition, was on a bus one day when someone, noticing the direction of his gaze, said—probably disparagingly—“Well, you certainly like looking at the young ladies, don't you?”

Anderson smiled.

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