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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Old Craft
What If the Word for 'Make Love' Were the Name of a Goddess?

Frig and Frig.

Etymologists are pretty much agreed that there's no direct connection between the verb frig (euphemistic for f**k) and the divine name Frig (the Anglo-Saxon goddess for whom Friday was named).

But what a gift of a coincidence it is.

Imagine: a culture in which the word for 'making love' was the name of a goddess.

How good is that?

Robert Cochrane, the father of the contemporary Old Craft movement, used to sign his letters 3 (or 4) Fs. This alludes to an old tongue-in-cheek Devonshire saying: Flax, flags, fodder (and frig). These are the three (or four) necessities of life: clothing, shelter, food, and love.

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Tree of Sacrifice

The stang, or “Devil's Cross,” is the forked pole that, in Old Craft usage, represents the Horned.

It's a Tree of Life.

It's also a Tree of Death.

At the great temple of Uppsala in Sweden, they used to hang the bodies of sacrifices—strange and terrible fruit—from the trees of the sacred grove.

If you've ever seen the gutted carcass of a deer strung up from a branch to bleed out, you'll understand.

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The Stangmen

They call them the Stangmen.

They also call them the Witchmen, though generally out of earshot.

A bunch of grizzled old farmers that look just like anyone else, though everyone knows who they are.

Everyone knows that at the Old Times they go up to the Hill—the one that everyone still calls Old Baldie, though the trees grew back long since—and there they do their work.

Back before the trees grew back, you could see every field and pasture in the district from up there.

They call them the Stangmen because they keep the four old stangs, handed down since no one knows when.

Different stangs for different times and different purposes: Ram, Bull, Stag, Goat.

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The Other Rede

The baby bird is lying broken on the ground, dying. Its parents, perhaps detecting some weakness in it, have pushed it out of the nest.

Clearly, it's suffering. What do you do?

“Don't do what you want to do,” wrote Robert Cochrane, father of the contemporary Old Craft movement. “Do what needs to be done.”

Cochrane is critiquing the Wiccan Rede here. “Do what you want to do” is his sneering version of “Do what ye will.”

Old Craft ethic is different from Wicca's. It's tribal at heart, concerned with life together and the obligations that social existence entails.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Diotima
    Diotima says #
    I also find Judy Harrow's "Exegesis on the Wiccan Rede" to be of considerable interest. You might too. http://www.sacred-texts.com
  • Diotima
    Diotima says #
    Oh, gosh, I think the Wiccan Rede is vastly more complex than "do what you want". "An' it harm none, do as you will" requires a
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Thanks for the thoughtful reply, Diotima. I agree that Cochrane's reading doesn't even begin to plumb the depths; Cochrane had a k

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Bad Boys

I was regaling a friend of mine with Old Craft tales of the god of the witches. Being Wiccan, she hadn't heard most of them before.

“Wait a minute,” she says. “So: he sees that we're cold and hungry, and he steals the fire of heaven to warm and to feed us?”

“Right.”

“And he kills his own brother because they're both in love with the same woman?”

“That's what they say.”

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God-Gots

My friend Michelle made a savvy observation the other day that, in this season of the ancestors, I'd like to pass along.

We tend to think of gods and ancestors as separate categories (at least, I do). But in the Wide World of Paganism, these are actually overlapping modalities of being.

To pagans, it's perfectly conceivable that gods should have human offspring. Unlike some, we don't maintain a wall of separation between human and divine.

Achilles, after all, was reckoned a descendant of Zeus (through Herakles). To take a somewhat less exalted example, the current incumbent of the British throne, Betty Windsor, is (believe it or don't) counted (along with her ancestors, the Anglo-Saxon kings of Wessex) among the offspring of Woden.

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The Way of the Crayfish

“To crawfish”: to work widdershins, you might say.

This is the well-known magical technique of inversion: raising power by doing backwards what is usually done forwards.

Walking backwards. Dancing back to back. Reciting prayers in reverse.

The American crawfish (a regionalism for “crayfish”): cambarus diogenes. A freshwater crustacean (I hear they're delicious) that looks something like a mini-lobster. Unlike most fish, it moves through the water back-first: what looks to us face-firsters like backwards. How witchy is that? Small wonder it's become a magical byword.

On my last morning at Summerland Spirit festival in Wisconsin, I was talking shop with another old warlock, a dear friend and colleague who's also a co-conspirator in the upcoming Midwest Grand Sabbat. We'd made our way up to the highest point in Turtle Lake County: they say you can see 5 counties from it.

Shortly after we started making our way back down, we came across a crawfish, scuttling across the path in front of us, looking for all the world like the lobster in the Moon card.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I read it in a book from the library. Unfortunately that book has been deleted from the library's collection, as have way too man
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Thanks for the connection, Anthony: I'll see if I can track it down. I've had occasion recently to reflect on the strengths and we
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I remember reading that one of the Amerind tribes on the gulf coast takes the crayfish as a symbol of their tribe. It could be th

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