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 Yom Kippur and the unique ceremony of the two goats | All Israel News

 “Ah, that was a proper nine-cow, that was.”


Thank Goddess, the ritual is finally over.

The friend standing beside me turns and whispers in my ear: “Two goats.”

I smile and nod.

If anything, she's being generous. Me, I'm thinking chickens, myself.


Back in the days when Witches were Hwicce, we counted our wealth in livestock. Our modern word fee (1500 years ago, it was feoh) originally meant “cow.”

That's why rituals are rated in animals.

What my friend was talking about is the fee—number of animals—you would have had to pay the ritual specialist in order to get a ritual of comparable quality back in old tribal days.

These days, when you see online reviews of rituals, they'll sometimes be accompanied by little pictures of animals: chickens, goats, cows.

Think of it as a Star-rating for ritual.


Cows are the best: the more the better.

The best possible ritual is a nine-cow ritual. That's the one that, for the very best of reasons, you'll remember for the rest of your life, the one that they'll still be talking about 100 years from now.

The ratings go down from there. Even a one-cow ritual is still a good ritual.


Considerably less prestigious than cows are goats.

(Depending on where and when we've talking, a good milch cow would have brought you anywhere between 20 and 50 goats apiece.)

A nine-goat ritual, well...let me be generous and say that it's better than a two-goat ritual.


Then there are the real stinkers: the ones you'll remember for the rest of your life, but for the very worst of reasons.

Those are the ones that are rated in chickens.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs


In the Forest of the Hwicce


Place-names have a long memory.

Six surviving place-names in modern Britain preserve the memory of the Hwicce, the original Anglo-Saxon Tribe of Witches, who for some 225 years inhabited a territory in the Cotswolds and Severn Basin of what is now southwestern England: Whichford (Warwickshire), Wichenford, Wychbury Hill, Wyche, and Droitwich (Worcestershire), and Wychwood (Oxfordshire). Unsurprisingly, with one exception, all of them lie within the boundaries of the original Kingdom (or occasionally—witches being witches—Queendom) of the Witches.

Wychwood, the “forest of the Hwicce,” is the anomalous outlier.

Not all witches, of course, are witches. With trees, in particular, you have to be careful. Both the witch elm and witch hazel originally had nothing to do with witches of our sort, but derive instead from yet another Anglo-Saxon root (wice) meaning “bendable, pliable.” (The same root survives in “wicker.”)

Flexible as we may be, though, historical data makes it clear that the witches of Wychwood were originally the H-and-Two-C, and not the No-H-and-One-C, kind.

So how did Hwicce end up in non-Hwicce territory?

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Victoria
    Victoria says #
    I would say as neopagans we are constructing our futures rather than reconstructing THE future. I'm not sure if we are in the proc
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Thanks, Victoria: good eye. I praise your thoroughness. My friend and colleague Volkhvy always says, "We're not reconstructing th
  • Victoria
    Victoria says #
    You are conflating the OE wicce/wicca with the tribal name Hwicce,. The tribal name Hwicce is attested in Latin and OE sources as

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

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 “Second, Mother of Third”

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs


 To Pagan Friends, Going to the City of Hekate


They worship the Moon here, just like we do at home.”

—Osred Osbertson to his brother Oswin, King of the Hwicce



Remember, it is not to Istanbul that you go, neither to Constantinople.

Rather, you go to Byzantium: pagan Byzantium, City of Hekate, City of the Moon.

She, Threefold Lady, was the city's patron in its youth. Now, in its age, she is its patron still. From each mosque, her crescents proclaim her; let them say what they will.

There is no Moon but Her.

(Whose sacred dogs still rule those streets by night?)

Say what they will, Holy Wisdom is hers, as it was and always shall be. From the ancients we know that, among its columns, columns from the far-famed temple of Artemis of Ephesus, wonder of the world, still stand, remembering. Find them, feel them, remember.

(We of the Old Ways remember that things might have been far otherwise. We remember, and we tell those tales, remembering.)

She waxes, she wanes, she waxes again. What was hers, is still, and ever shall be.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Snowdrops: These Little Flowers Don't Care if it's Still Winter • GreenView

On February Eve, we sing a song to honor the snowdrop (galanthus nivalis, "milk-flower of the snows"), first flower of Spring.

It's a simple song, simple-minded, even: a children's song. We've sung this song, or one like it, for hundreds—maybe thousands—of years, at this time in the year's turning, to honor the courage and the promise of the year's First Blooming.


Snowdrop, snowdrop, little drop of snow,

what will you do when the cold winds blow?

I'll hide my little head, and say:

Cold wind, cold wind, go away.


Here in the Witch diaspora, in the Midwest's Upper Mississippi Valley, we're still knee-deep in Winter. We'll see no snowdrops here for another two moons, maybe three.

But a world away, on the banks of another great river, the Severn, the snowdrops are blooming even as we sing.

These were the lands where, fourteen hundred years ago, a people not yet called the Witches—they knew themselves as the Hwicce—dwelt.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs


 The People Before the People


Mark you, lad, that little wee Saturn-planet hanging in the Yule tree's uppermost branches, rings and all: and can you guess for why?

Well, for the Saturnalia, of course: December 17th, this very day.

(Not that the Red Crests would have known their Saturn thus, mind you, but we do: for this is our remembering, not theirs.)

Not for that we keep the Saturnalia—though there be them in Romeburg as still do—nay, not with our Yule, the torch-lit Yule of the fathers and mothers in all its shining glory a few days hence, but for that we remember.

For are we not the Witches, and children of the Dobunni?

We are, and they—the Dobunni, them of the Two Bands—the People that were the People before the Hwicce, them as gave us our tribal name.

Aye, them we were, and them we are still.




For there in the South, among our old tribal hunting runs, we came early-by to Redcrest ways, even before the coming of the Redcrests themselves. Did not our own kings mint their own coins then, back in our days of freedom?

(And do we not mind still the Silver Lady and the Three-Tailed Stallion?)

And then when the Redcrests themselves were come, did not we ally ourselves with them against our foes, the Cats of War—the Catuvellauni, they were called—for that they had taken to themselves of our people's lands, and would have had more, were they not thus thwarted?

Yes, and did we not stand shield-to-shield with the Redcrests during Boudica's War, against those same Catuvellauni, in their standing by her? ('Victorious', they named her, but in the end, she knew defeat.)

So by little and little we came to Redcrest ways, what they called Romanitas; but never did we forget our own Dobunnitas.

No, nor have we ever forgotten.


The Witch-Year's Torch-Lit Yule

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Witch Money

The little silver coin, 2000 years old, is tiny, barely the size of my little fingernail.

It is a coin of the Dobunni: the original (so say some) Tribe of Witches.


The People of the Two Bands

At the beginning of the first millennium, the Dobunni—the People of the Two Bands—lived in the Cotswolds and Severn Basin of what is now southwestern England.

Like the other Celtic-speaking peoples of southern Britain, they Romanized early; even before the Roman conquest of Britain, they were minting their own coinage. We can gain some sense of the extent of their tribal territory from the distribution of these coins.

600 years later, this same territory was inhabited by an Anglo-Saxon-speaking people called the Hwicce (HWITCH-eh). Archaeological and genetic finds make clear the area's cultural and demographic continuity from the Celtic to the Saxon periods.

Interestingly, the same territory is also characterized by a distinctive kind of Neolithic burial mound. In the tribal hunting-runs of the Hwicce, it would seem, roots both cultural and genetic run deep.

What if Gardner was right after all?

What if the Craft really does reach back into the Stone Age?


Heads and Tails

I hold the coin, a miniature Moon in black and silver, on the pad of my index finger.

On one side, barely legible through centuries of wear, a lunar profile looks to the left. On the other, a three-tailed stallion rushes to the right.

Face and horse: who these may have been to the Dobunni, the Elder Witchery, we cannot know.

I read the two sides of the coin together: she looks toward him, he rushes to her.

Who they may be to the Younger Witchery, though: well, now, that would be very clear indeed.

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