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Traditional Witchcraft, Spirituality, and Ethics

Currently, it is a prevalent opinion among Pagans that traditional witchcraft was strictly magical, lacking theology or moral aspects. While I can respect that theory, it is not congruent with my own experiences. I suspect whether traditional witchery had sacred or ethical aspects varied by locale or by family tradition. 

I never argue with anybody's experience, only their theory. Theory is ever-changing. I'd never want to invalidate anyone's experience, including my own. I'll share mine below.

My experiences lead to conclusions that differ from the aforementioned current popular Pagan position. I hope to add to the Pagan dialogue on the topic, and provide support for those who, like me, have an unpopular point of view.

Growing up in a family tradition, I learned magic and a mystical worldview con leche. Therefore magic and mysticism were a given, as much a part of life as the air I was breathing. In the process, a religious and ethical worldview was deeply ingrained in my cells.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • katherine manaan
    katherine manaan says #
    I work and write under the name of katherine manaan. you have me under katherine tupman i have 2 websites one under the name of ka
  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Thank you, lovely to get to know you. You sound like you do a lot of different things, very multifaceted. It seems multifaceted pe
  • katherine manaan
    katherine manaan says #
    This is a beautifully written, article; cogent, lucid, heartfelt. You have such a exquisite way of expressing your opinion Frances
  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Katherine, You are very kind, making me feel special. Thank you. I feel honored and humbled that you have your students read one
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    The hat is fantastically YOU. I didn't mention before that you've presented a cogent and scholarly treatise on some people's reas

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Return to the Land of Your Soul

“Return again, return again, return to the Land of Your Soul.” 

 

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Pancakes for Pagans

Why would a Pagan want to talk about pancakes? Pancake day heralds the Christian Lenten fast. Where exactly Lent starts depends on when Easter is going to fall, which in turn depends on the moon because the date comes to us from the traditional Jewish calendar, which is lunar. Granted, most modern Pagans are always up for a bit of seasonal feasting, and pancake day is the kind of tradition we cheerfully borrow. But there is more to the pancake than meets the eye and it’s worth poking about in the whys and wherefores of this little feast, because it has much to tell us about our ancestors who lived closer to the land.

I was at the allotment yesterday. There were leeks to harvest, the last of the Jerusalem artichokes, and there’s still some kale. We’ll be planting potatoes soon. It’s been a mild winter so there’s more growing than usual. The grain harvest was months ago, the fruit you stored at the start of winter will run out, the root vegetables you stored will be running out. Even if you’re freezing and pickling and using all the modern storage methods, the last harvest is diminishing and there’s no sign of any decent new crops yet.

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  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Love this!!! Brilliant! Actually sharing this with my Christian friends!
  • Nimue Brown
    Nimue Brown says #
    thank you!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_hangingcandle1.jpgNot everyone finds it easy to communicate with the gods, and even when we talk to them, they don’t always answer. And that is perhaps for the best. Being too god-touched makes being in the embodied world difficult. Driving for example demands one be present in one’s body. Raven Kaldera describes different ways of being god-ridden, and one involves being “locked in the trunk.” Raven has a human driver to make sure he gets from place to place, and I’m sure that’s a very good thing for other people on the road.

Our ancestors understand the requirements of embodiment. They’ve been there, and while most of them will never have driven a car – it is, after all, a fairly recent invention – they have used sharp tools, and had to get away from danger. And they want us to succeed. An Ancestor practice is one of the best and dare I say, safest, ways for an inexperienced beginning Pagan to connect with the non-embodied world. This is true because our beloved dead care about us in a most personal way.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Beauty

As y’all know, I’m working on a ritual for feminine sovereignty, and I’m making some headway – I’ve been researching ancestors to uplift and trying to get more than just names, because to empower them, we need to link them to their deeds. Even before I got much into this, I suspected that this was a Freyja-fueled conspiracy, and even more so now, because the subject of beauty has come up for me, and it is something that I’m not particularly comfortable with. I’m gonna be blunt, and please keep in mind that this is me unpacking my baggage, so if you view beauty differently than me, please feel free to talk about said differences, because it would probably be to my benefit, and maybe that of someone else reading.

For me, beauty isn’t fun. I know women who talk about using their femininity against men, and I have issues with it. On some level, I consider it lazy. (yes, I know that this is a respectability politics thing playing out in my head, but it’s there, so why the f*ck not acknowledge the toxic thoughts?)

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

This year we decided to take a small break and celebrate Samhain and honour our ancestors by visiting the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Boscastle, Cornwall, and join their revelries. It was a spectacular night. As we descended along the twisty lane to enter the small fishing village in the gathering dusk we were met by a host of witches, tourists and black clad Morris men- traditional British folk dancers with flaming torches and crow feathers in their tall top hats. The sound of drums and fiddles echoed off the cliffs above and mingled with the sounds of the sea and the reeling gulls.

Traditional Border Morris men (or sides) wear the colour black, to leave their identity behind and take on the role of spirits as they honour the underworld and the winter to come. They danced to ancient songs, their feet mirroring the turn of the year and the battles between winter and summer in the courtyard of the museum, where the many a witch of generations passed has donated their magical tools, and beneath the library that holds the history of our traditions going back centuries.  The audience around them sat or stood enrapt, many of them being those who walk the old ways themselves, bedecked in their cloaks, with wide eyed children sitting at their feet dressed as sprites and spirits.

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  • Danu Forest
    Danu Forest says #
    Gerrie i love those books too! i think they encouraged a lot of us on the path...british folklore is much overlooked but is very r
  • Gerrie
    Gerrie says #
    I learned of the Mari Lwyd in Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series. For a young American just beginning her Pagan path, this s

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
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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