I am a ‘passive’ member of a few forums ranging from twitter to a few Yahoo Groups, I also subscribe to a few other Blogs (which I enjoy immensely BTW). Recently however, discussions have been cropping up (yet again!) about what is Traditional Craft? What makes a Witch a Witch? When is Traditional Craft actually Wicca and not Traditional Craft at all? My reaction to many of these questions is rapidly going from keen interest to “Who Gives a $hit!?!”
So I write this today to offer an alternative perspective (maybe even a little controversial LOL). I am not an academic and I do not give a monkey’s uncle where words originate, I am not an etymologist, I am not a historian, I am not a book-worm and I am not a ‘respected member of the Pagan Community’ (i.e. I’m not a Craft ‘celebrity’) or a professional writer but what I am is ya average ‘Joe Bloggs’ getting to grips with his Craft and his Land, fitting it in to his every day life and becoming the Witch.
Who gives anyone the right to say what someone is or is not?
Who gives anyone the right to say that if you don’t do something a certain way you are something else?
Does it really matter if parts of your practise aren’t strictly traditional (according to someone else’s definition) if they work for you?
Take it from me as someone who has various beliefs and practises some taken from Christianity, Jewish Mysticism and Wicca it matters not.one.jot! I refer you to the late Robert Cochrane who said in one of his letters (and I paraphrase) a witch is one who calls the spirits and they come!
Maybe time would be better spent discussing what Traditional Craft is not
1.) Traditional Craft is not about initiation. Initiation plays an important role, but where that initiation comes from and what the true meaning of initiation is not what others might suggest. I ask you…who initiated the first Witch?
2.) The Craft is not an academic field. One of a Witch’s defining features is their desire to always learn and grow. This learning comes from 70% experience and practise and only 20% study. If you are spending all your time reading and no time practising then you are a student and nothing more! Don’t be sucked in by those who strive to impress by spewing facts and figures out of every orifice!
3.) Traditional Craft is not about Secrecy for the sake of Secrecy. Never trust anyone who keeps everything hidden without justifying the reasons why. Discretion is essential, and upon being inducted into certain groups individuals may take an oath to keep secret the group practises however as far as the mysteries go, and as far as ones individual practise goes there is nothing out there which can not be discovered. Please understand however, there are some experiences which are deeply personal to individuals, and some which, put simply, are too profound to even articulate. Be respectful, but question everything!
4.) Traditional Craft is not comfortable. The Craft is not cosy. In order to grow we must push our limits, push our boundaries, step out of the box and sometimes get cold, get soaked to the skin, get scared of the dark, feel the sheer terror and panic of being alone in the wilds. Sometimes it’s lonely and sometimes its bloody hard graft.
5.) The practises and rituals of Trad Craft are not Holy Writ. If Trad Craft is truly based on the spirits of the land, the Gods, the Ancestors then logic tells us they must be adapted to suit the needs of different geography, culture etc.
6.) Traditional Craft is not about regurgitating the work of others. It must be imbued with every ounce of your emotion and intent…you will not get that following someone else’s script. In fact you won’t get that following any rigid script!
7.) Traditional Practitioners are not purists, I challenge anyone to find a stream of Trad Craft that is ‘pure’. We are all magpies!
8.) Taking all the above into consideration…it must be understood that Witchcraft is not for everybody. Despite what others may tell you, this has less to do with blood and lineage, some people are not ready, some people aren’t cut out for the work, time and sacrifice involved. The mysteries are open to all…but only those who are open to receiving them. You wouldn’t expect a job promotion if you turned up late every day, were off sick once a month and did sod all whilst you were there, the same is true of the Craft.
Of course this list is not exhaustive and based on my own opinions and experience. When I come across genuine practitioners of the ‘Artes’ I get an instant feel…their spirit almost reaches out and screams, you see the light of their true selves in their eyes and none of this, I repeat none of this can be ascertained from a blog, a tweet, a facebook page, website, book or email forum! Folks on these forums and the writers of various blogs and posts do not realise what harm they can do lording up their opinions over those out there who just want to get on with the work they do. A blog, an email or a harmless tweet which says “unless you have experienced this or that” or “to be a witch one must do such and such” creates strong feelings of self-doubt. Self doubt is the biggest enemy of anyone and everyone on any magical path. Self doubt creates blockade after blockade on the road to growth and spiritual development. I have seen inexperienced practitioners (including myself at times) be ignored, shunned and out right insulted because they said ‘the wrong thing’! I ask anyone who reads this who may at sometime have felt a pang of doubt because what they do isn’t quite what some big ‘I Am’ of the Craft community does…it doesn’t make you wrong, it doesn’t make what you do less valid. We are the traditions of tomorrow and we are our children’s ancestors! The path of the Witch is just that….a path! It is the journey that makes you who you are, the mistakes, the triumphs, the trials and tribulations, and there are immense highs and immense lows.
Anyone who has practised the Craft long enough should know it is many things except one…Static. Like the cauldron, evolution is constant, always moving, always changing. Even at times of rest our minds and spirits churn away at the mysteries, brewing and distilling, grinding and refining. Placing a definition on anything is, in my opinion akin to extinguishing the very fire of inspiration. Again to paraphrase RC – When the Craft stops changing it will die! I refer you to the institution of ‘the church’ to see just what happens when belief becomes Dogma!
There are threads and currents which run through our practise which can identify it as ‘Traditional’ but to me the most important things for the Witch to remember are to Know Thyself, Know thy Limits, Exploit your strengths and acknowledge and develop your weaknesses (Yes Weaknesses….Humility is a wonderful attribute for all of us, One can not surrender to the Gods, when one thinks they are better than them and the rest of us!)
Do not be defined by definitions….feel the Craft in your heart, call the old ones not only with words, but with feeling and with soul. With every drop of blood you should long to know them, let them guide you along your path because I guarantee you it will NEVER be the same as Mr or Ms Mighty Witch (who has no doubt written seven hundred books) and what you do today may be very different to what you do tomorrow. In time you will see, as I am starting to, that there is no segregation between your Craft and You…no more than you can separate Heart from Lungs!