PaganSquare


PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form
Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Old Craft

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

On second thought, R___, I think that your definition witch = scientist + engineer + poet (which I really, really like) does indeed fit the "hill and holler" crowd. I'm drawing here on Owen Davies' academic study of historic British "cunning folk" (in his book of the same name).

Scientist: Draws conclusions from impartial observation of results.

Engineer: Designs practical applications of conclusions for specific instances.

Poet: Dresses up practical applications to maximalize psychological effect.

That's actually a very good description of how village witches (according to Davies) used to work. It reinforces my sense that it's the cowans that are the believers; the witches may or may not be believers themselves, but the major thrust is to use the belief of others for their own purposes (both for good, and for ill). ("Help when you can, harm when you need to.")

Davies sees this as having been a largely cynical pose on the part of the witches themselves--who, let's face it, were witching largely for gain--but me, I'm not so sure.

Last night my dad was telling me that my niece is having some warts removed today. This led to a discussion of warts generally, and he passed along a folk cure that he'd heard of (I neglected to ask from where, but bear in mind that my hometown Pittsburgh is the northernmost tip of Appalachia) about rubbing warts with stump-water by moonlight. As a practitioner myself, I'd think that one would want stump-water that reflects the full Moon: that way the warts will wane away as the Moon wanes. (And I guess we know which gods one would want to call on; but that's me, thinking in Witch again.)

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Say It with Symbols

The sabbat site was off a rural road. We needed something to mark the entrance, something that would say, to those in the know, “Here Be Witches."

A sign?

A bunch of helium balloons?

In the end, I nailed a deer skull to the top of a fencepost. From every tine, a long red ribbon fluttered.

Even the youngest among us can read that rune.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Witches with Their Feet on the Ground

As a movement, the modern Old Craft has tended to be characterized by a verbal style that I can only call “opaque.”

Anyone who has ever tried to work her way through the letters of Robert Cochrane (1931-1966), Father of modern Old Craft, will know what I'm talking about. Cochrane hints, but rarely tells. He's very good at dropping a few evocative details, then drawing the veil back over. He writes, as my friend and colleague Bruner Soderberg once rather acidly observed, “to impress rather than to inform."

His would-be successors, alas, have often tended to follow suit. Particularly notorious for the opacity of his prose was mage Andrew Chumbley (1967-2004), whose books have got to be among the most-collected and least-read titles on the shelves of modern Witchdom.

Chumbley seems immune to clear exposition. He will never say “mystery” when he can possibly say arcanum, “flying ointment” instead of unguentum sabbati. Maybe there really are people out these who are impressed by high school Latin, but personally, I'm not one of them.

Old Craft thrives here in the American Midwest. What both intrigues and impresses me about Midwest Old Craft is its very lack of opacity. Rather, the standard Chumbleyian style of “I know something you don't know” obfuscation seems to us a pomposity, a bore: in fact, an admission of poverty. It strikes us—whether rightly or wrongly—as a ploy to cover lack of substance.

Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    By its very nature, Old Craft defies clear exposition. It's best transmitted through evocation: story, dance, song. And surely it
  • Ian Phanes
    Ian Phanes says #
    Can you recommend any Old Craft books that are "crisp, clear, succinct"?

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Chest of Tools

It's the question always asked of the witch.

If your magic is so powerful, then why are they hanging you?

When things go wrong in your own life, you may well have asked yourself much the same question.

If I'm such a powerful witch and all, then why is my life such a mess?

Well, as they say, sometimes the magic works, and sometimes it doesn't.

But that's to miss the point.

When they gave us the Craft, the gods never promised that life would be easy.

They never said that there would be no hardship.

In fact, they gave us the Craft precisely because they foresaw that there would be hardship. Hardship, alas, there will always be.

Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Gods, that's great, John. Good old Zen.
  • John Zelasko
    John Zelasko says #
    There is a saying in Zen that goes something like this: Before enlightenment - haul water, chop wood. AFTER enlightenment - haul w
  • Chris Moore
    Chris Moore says #
    That's a big chest of tools, depending on whom you ask. What tools of the Craft are the most needed, here and now?
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Athame, chalice, and pentacle. Ha, ha: just joking. Three come to immediate mind, and of course they're all powers/strategies of t
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    In Medicine Wheel by Sun Bear the Author says he is not interested in any philosophy that doesn't grow corn. Witchcraft grows the
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.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
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.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
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.

Last modified on

Additional information