Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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Recently I've been following with great interest an on-line discussion on the subject of reculement.

Recule is a word from the Craft's Norman French heritage; in Medieval French it meant “to draw back, withdraw.” A charming word for an unpleasant concept: in Craft contexts, it means “to revoke an initiation.”

What I find so interesting about this question is that in Old Craft thought (as I understand it, at any rate) initiation is, by definition, irrevocable. Although of course I can't speak for Old Craft as a whole (no one can), from where I live, no one can take away initiation because initiation cannot be given; it can only be taken.

An Old Craft initiation is between you and Himself. You vow yourself to Him, He takes you, and He marks you, His to Him. That's it. There's nothing secret about it at all; it's all right there in the stories. There doesn't even need to be anyone else present, although of course in these things it's always best to have witnesses.

Just before Grand Sabbat last year, I sent out a text of the Oathing to those about to be sworn. (As was pointed out to me at the time, this could hardly be more conceptually distant from Wicca's secret initiations.) The Oath Made Crouching isn't something to enter into without knowing fully what you're letting yourself in for. An agreement made in ignorance cannot be a binding agreement.

I generally think of Wicca and Old Craft as the Crafts of the Lady and Lord respectively. As the saying goes, A crow needs two wings to fly with. It's just that, in the case of initiation at least, I hadn't realized that the wingspan extended quite so far.


 Everything between my left hand and my right

I give to the Horns and the Wandering Moon.

 Body and soul, whole and all,

I give myself to you.


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Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.


  • Greybeard
    Greybeard Friday, 30 May 2014

    Interesting. I've seen covens that wanted to withdraw someone's Initiation, but only in context of some kind of witch war. I've never seen it done successfully. Once Initiated, always Initiated. Blessings.

  • Piper
    Piper Friday, 30 May 2014

    as far as Wicca goes, I have not and will not go down that path, so I can't speak to that tradition save academically and that is not what I sense from this act.. In 40 years of work and a few initiations, I have come to understand that initiation is an agreement between you and the group, path, and or Deity. I have not heard the word Reculment, but have participated in revocations. This was always done as a severing of community bonds and the ties granted to the initiate to the group egregor. The person still has all knowledge and can practice as they choose, just not in the context of the group that first initiated them.

    my 2 cents and as always YMMV

  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor Friday, 30 May 2014

    Interesting speculations. From the viewpoint of Masonry, from which I've heard many of the reconstituted practices are derived (as in the word "Cowan"), the saying is, "Once a Mason, always a Mason." You can get demits from your Blue (Mother) Lodge; you can even be blackballed (As Richard Nixon was) for heinous public acts; but you will always continue to be a Mason. It's funny, but the concept of Reculement sounds more like the Catholic idea of Excommunication. (Did you see the powerful scene in the old movie "Becket"?)

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