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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in tribe of witches

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 How and Why You Should Add a Hedgerow to Your Farm

On this Midsummer's Day

 

If, 1400 years ago, you had asked a woman of the Anglo-Saxon Hwicce tribe—what maverick archaeologist Stephen J. Yeates calls the original Tribe of Witches—what was her léafa (roughly, “religion”), had she deigned to answer such an absurd question (what else could it possibly be?) her answer would likely have been: þéodisc léafa: “my people's religion.”

1400 years later, some of us would still say the same. We're Theedish: tribal witches. Our Craft is a tribal Craft, a People's Witchery.

The Old English noun þéod, “tribe, people,” along with its adjectival form þéodisc, “tribal,” didn't survive into Modern English. (Tolkien's King Theoden comes from the same root: "lord of the tribe.") The word fell out of use because, with the rise of the centralized state, tribal identity was no longer a going concern. When scholars latterly needed a name for the concept, they borrowed the Latin word “tribe” instead.

But if the word had indeed survived in current use to the present, we would today say thede (or theed: personally, I prefer the former spelling because it looks less like an escapee from a Dr. Seuss book) and thedish (or theedish).

In Contemporary Heathenry, Theodism is the movement which seeks to reconstitute the tribes of the Germanic past, complete with culture and religion. In the end, all paganism is tribal, a people's religion: all realized paganism, anyway.

But here's the difference between Theodish and Theedish. The Old Ways did not survive, but—rather than reconstituting them as they were, the latter asks the question: If they had survived into modern times, what would they now have become? To answer such a question (not to mention to actualize it) requires a pretty audacious act of imagination.

You could even call it a spell.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

All right, I'm just going to say it.

If you think that your paganism is just a matter of your personal relationship with the gods, you're wrong.

Or, at least, you're only partially right.

All realized paganisms are tribal. They're the religions of a particular group. If in the old days you had asked someone “What's your religion?”, they would (assuming that they understood what you meant by “religion”) have answered you: “My religion is the [Name of Tribe or People] religion.”

That's the way that the Kalasha—the last remaining Indo-European-speaking people who have practiced their traditional religion continuously since antiquity—talk about their religion to this day.

Let me give you an example. I'm a Witch. My religion is the Witch religion.

The ancestors, of course, didn't know that they were pagan. Now we do. It's a situation analogous to that of American First Nations. Before Columbus, they didn't think of themselves as a collective group. They thought of themselves in terms of their own people: Dakota, Anishinabe, Ho-Chunk, etc. It wasn't until later that they began to see themselves as Indigenous Americans, a group sharing a common identity.

It's like that with us, too. Now we see that, beyond our immediate tribal affiliations, we've got shared concerns with others that we perceive as being unlike ourselves: that, in fact, we share a common identity.

 

 

The old Hwicce (Witch) language had two words that dictionaries define as “tribe, people, nation”: thede and lede.

(1000 years ago, that would have been þéod and léod, but of course, that was 1000 years ago, and language changes just like everything else.)

Here's the difference between the two terms: your thede is your immediate tribe; your lede is your tribe's tribe.

So as for me, I'm Witch by thede, Pagan by lede. The Kalasha girls shown above dancing at the Joshi (Spring) festival are Pagan by lede, Kalasha by thede.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

What makes something truly distinctive?

The newly-designed Witches' Blood tartan, the world's first official Witch plaid, is largely black, with red and gray “piping.” From a distance, aptly enough, this reads as undifferentiated black.

In this, the witches' tartan is unlike other clan tartans, which are, of course, designed to be identifiable from a distance.

(In the warrior-driven Indo-European world, where plaids are an immemorial tradition, it's always best to know who is coming at you before they get within striking range.)

I think of the legendary thief who had his fingerprints removed with acid. Ironically, of course, the fact that he now lacked fingerprints gave him the most distinctive fingerprints in the world.

It's a nice, witchy twist to the tale. The mysterious Witches' tartan distinguishes itself by its very lack of distinction: this for the Craft known also as the Nameless Art.

What is't you do?

A deed without a name.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Witches of Now

Witch?

It's a tribal name—theedish, we would say. (In Witch, a thede is a tribe.)

Some 50 generations gone, a people called the Hwicce lived along the River Severn in what is now south-west England. (1400 years later, we still name our daughters Sabrina in Her honor.)

The Hwicce of then, you see, are the Witches of now.

It's not all lineal descent, of course. There are ways and ways of belonging, and bloodlines only one.

(You can adopt in, you can marry in. You can initiate in, acculturate in. Peoples have always been porous around the edges.)

We have our own tribal religion, though it's not witchcraft per se. (Witchcraft is our magic.) Not all Witches practice, of course, but if you're a Witch, it's your religion (and your magic), to hold to or not, as you yourself see fit.

Is it historical, you ask: Old Hwicce to New Witch?

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Victoria
    Victoria says #
    Is it historical, you ask: Old Hwicce to New Witch? Sorry to be blunt but no it isn't; not historically nor from an etymological
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Check out maverick archaeologist Stephen J. Yeates' The Tribe of Witches: The Religion of the Dobunni and the Hwicce (2008) and A
  • Julie Lovejoy
    Julie Lovejoy says #
    Steven, this is some fascinating information about Hwicce. Would you share sources, please? Many thanks, Julie
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Yeates, of course, is writing from an outsider's perspective. For more from the Inside, web-search my name, "Paganistan," and "Hwi

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 Twitteratti. 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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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I would have said that witchcraft is a way of looking at and interacting with the world that is contrary to the general beliefs of

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
What Do You Say When a Witch Dies?

What do you say when a witch dies?

Well, witchhood is a kind of tribal affiliation.

Those who have no tribe often find it difficult to understand the depth of the sense of belonging that comes with tribal identity. Those that do, know that, naturally, when you die, you don't want to come back just anywhere; you want to come back to your people, to those that you love.

Uncle Gerald got it absolutely right when he says in Witchcraft Today (140) that our hope beyond death is for rebirth among our own.

Once a witch, always a witch, they say. Not even death takes that away.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Well now it's odd. Today at work an idea popped into my head of a group of witches at a funeral all dressed up in black robes and
  • Helga Hedgewalker
    Helga Hedgewalker says #
    I think it's true. I have many times in this life met people who became important future coven-mates and just KNEW they were impor
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I'll note with amusement that in the WT passage cited above, the witches tell Gardner that to be reborn among one's own is a rewar
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    From what I've read in books on past life regression we do have a tendency to reincarnate in groups. Apparently a lot of American

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
From: Invitation to the Grand Sabbat

This is a tribal gathering; as such, we operate as a tribe, under tribal thew (custom, law). If you attend, you are either a member, or a guest, of the tribe. This fact has certain implications. Everyone is expected to act responsibly at all times.

We police ourselves. If a situation arises, handle it. If you can't handle it, find someone that can.

There are many people in a tribe. Some you will like; some you may not. (Witches, of course, tend to be people with a lot of jagged edges, anyway.) It nonetheless remains everyone's responsibility to maintain the sacred moot-frith, the peace of the gathering, at all times. If you can't treat others with civility and respect, then you don't belong here.

At the heart of tribal democracy lies personal responsibility. If you don't like something that someone else is doing, it's up to you to say: Please stop. If someone asks you to stop what you're doing, please think seriously before continuing.

Note also that our people respect the power of intoxicants and regard them as sacred. If you're going to use, use in a sacred way.

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