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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Cool Food for Hot Days

 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Is Witchcraft a Religion?

According to the Twitter witches, witchcraft isn't a religion, it's a magical technology.

According to Margaret Murray, Gerald Gardner, and several million Wiccans worldwide, witchcraft is primarily a religion with a strong grounding in magical practice.

So who's right?

If I had to pick a side of the hedge to stand on—I can scarcely believe that I'm saying this—I would be among the nimble-thumbed Twitterians. But let me add a caveat.

As I see it, the Craft is an inherited magical technology. It's the ancestral magical technology of the Tribe of Witches. As such, it does not per se constitute a religion.

But here's the caveat: just like everything else, magical technologies are not culturally freestanding. Every magical technology is, of necessity, grounded in a particular culture.

Ours roots in the tribal culture of the Tribe of Witches, in which—like pretty much every other pre-modern culture—religion and everyday life are so thoroughly interlaced as to be indistinguishable from one another. There's no separate word for “religion” in the old Witch language.

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Tribe of Witches, or: Which Witch is Whitch?

I wish I could remember which book I first read it in.

(A friend later confirmed for me that he, too, had read the same book, and mentioned some details that I had forgotten, so I know that I'm not making this up. Alas, he couldn't remember what book it was either.)

(I'm pretty sure it was one of the Second Generation of Craft books, and that it was by one of the Mothers of the Modern Craft: probably Doreen Valiente or Pat Crowther. Anyone?)

So: supposedly, there's this group (read: coven) out there that claims descent from the Hwicce, the original Anglo-Saxon Tribe of Witches. They claim to be practicing the old tribal religion. When you're initiated into this group, you become a member of the tribe, and a participant in the ongoing life of the tribe.

Now, I have to say: If true, this is one of the most compelling stories that I've come across so far in the modern pagan narrative. Everybody wants a tribe to belong to, pagans as much as anybody.

In 2008 maverick British archaeologist Stephen J. Yeates published his Tribe of Witches: The Religion of the Dobunni and Hwicce, which makes a similar claim: that modern witchcraft descends from the old tribal ways of the Hwicce: Goddess, Horned God, and all.

Personally, I'm not convinced of the historicity of this claim. It looks to me as if Yeates started, not with the Hwicce, but with modern Wicca, and worked backward. The Wikipedia article on the Hwicce even cites me on this.

Linguists mostly agree that witch and Hwicce come from different roots. Exactly what the tribe's name originally meant is unclear. What we can say is that hwicce is also a common noun in Anglo-Saxon meaning “chest, barrel.” (This seems an unlikely source for an ethnonym, but who knows?) In fact, this word survived into Middle and Early Modern English as whitch. Draw your own conclusions.

The Anglo-Saxon Hwicce inhabited the basin of the Severn River. (The Severn is still counted as the Sacred River of the Witches, and we still name our daughters Sabrina in her honor.) As it happens, we can make both an archaeological and a genetic case for continuity of both population and culture between them and the Keltic Dobunni, who lived in the same area. According to novelist Parke Godwin, Artos the Bear—him that the cowans call King Arthur—was himself a Dobunni lad. J. R. R. Tolkien, in a letter to one of his sons, claimed Hwiccan ancestry (from Wychwood, no less: the "forest of the Hwicce"). Some of my own family hail from that part of the world, for what it's worth.

So the historical Tribe of Witches (or Whitches) was a mixed people, Keltic and Anglian, just as the modern Wheel of the Year (for example) is a mixture of Keltic and Germanic. Well.

Now, tribes are interesting things. You can be born into a tribe, but that's not the only way to belong. You can marry in, you can adopt in, you can initiate in, or you can enculturate in.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I finally got a copy of "The Tribe of Witches: The Religion of the Dobunni and Hwicce" by Stephen J. Yeates. It was interesting.

Are you a gun owner and Pagan? If your weapon is for self-defense (as opposed to, for example, hunting), please participate in this survey.

 

Its purpose is show a diversity of personal opinions, as well as their commonalities. I don’t believe personal viewpoints can ever  represent how other people should think or act. Instead, my hope is that folks sharing about the intersection of gun ownership and Paganism in their own lives will provide food for thought for folks who read this post, including those taking the survey. This mental stimulus might help someone gain greater clarity about what that intersection currently is in their own lives, whether they want to change it and, if so, what they want it to become.

 

Since I’m hoping to show diversity, some people might be puzzled by my not creating another survey for those who don’t own guns. My reason is twofold:

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Ritual object or everyday pitcher? A few searching questions about Minoan artifacts

It's an old joke in the archaeology community, that if you can't figure out what an artifact was used for, you call it a ritual object. But it's a problem for those of us who are trying to figure out how the ancient Minoans actually practiced their religion, so we'll have some guidance for how we do our thing in the modern world.

I've written about this issue before, and there are some obvious clues in some instances. If an object was found on an altar or shrine shelf, it's pretty obviously a ritual object, regardless of what it looks like. Sarcophagi, by their very nature, are sacred items. Deity or priestess figurines, scenes of rituals on frescoes and seals, objects found in ceremonial areas in temples - those are clearly ritual artifacts.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    My mom had a coffee cup with a dogwood blossom and the legend of the dogwood on it. The legend of the dogwood is a bit of local C

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

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Title: The Witchkin Murders (Magicfall Book One)

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August and September 2019 Heathen Pagan and Asatru Holidays

Moveable feasts during August and September include Oktoberfest, a two-week celebration beginning in late September and ending on the first Sunday in October (Munich, Germany,) and Schafer Sonntag, the 2nd sun in September (Switzerland.)

In Northern Tradition Pagan and some Lokean sects, Loki’s Day is on the heliacal rising of Sirius. It precesses 1 day every 4 years. It moves from August 8th to August 9th in 2019. The Lokean sects that dedicate July for Loki began doing so when the heliacal rising of Sirius took place in July.

August

1
Freyfaxi (American Asatru),
Haustblot (American Asatru),
Loaf-Fest (American Asatru),
Liðasblót (American Asatru),
Elben Segen (German Reconstructionist)

9
Day of Radbod King of the Frisians (American Asatru, American Odinist),
Loki Day (Northern Tradition, Lokean)

15
Month of possible date of Hoietfescht ends (Urglaawe)

21
Hlafmaest (Theod)

23
Schaferlauf begins (Swabian Germany) 

25
Schaferlauf ends (Swabian Germany)

28
Freyfaxi (American Odinist)

September

1
season of possible date of Almabtrieb begins (Germany)

9
Day of Herman the Cheruscan (American Asatru, American Odinist),
Day of Queen Sigrid of Sweden (American Asatru)

22
Winter Finding (American Asatru),
Vetrablot (American Asatru),
Harvest Home (Urglaawe),
Erntfescht (Urglaawe),
Erntedankfest (Germany)

Oktoberfest begins (Munich, Germany) 

28
Zisasege (Urglaawe)

30
season of possible date of Almabtrieb ends (Germany)

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