Chalice

“Altar item you spent good money on and don’t use”

My mother bought this for me at the local renaissance festival. I was completely enamored with its uniqueness. I had never seen a chalice like it before, and I knew that it had to be mine! Unfortunately, I’m not much of a chalice person. I’ve never really used one in my practice and I guess even buying a super awesome one can’t motivate me to begin.

chalice

Toad

Currently in circulation is this “Witchy horseshit challenge.” It was created by Tarot Readings from a Bitch. It’s pretty hilarious and I think we can all relate to it. So expect some posts over the next week. 

“Your shittiest magickal item.”

I think that the term ‘shitty’ is pretty subjective. For my purposes here I will define it as something that is unpleasant, either to the individual personally or to other people.

My choice for this prompt is actually a current project I’m working on. It’s a dried toad corpse.

The funny backstory to this item is as follows: At my parents’ house we have these deep window wells. During the summer months the wells are filled with toads and frogs. When the winter comes, they burrow deep into the ground. However, there are a few that stay behind and basically freeze to death. While at home for Thanksgiving, I causally climbed down into one of the wells and harvested a nice big, dead toad. Side-note: you know your parents are pretty cool when you come inside, carrying a stinky dead toad, and they just smile and shake their head.

Anyways, the toad is currently resting in a cute little ramekin buried in salt to dry it out. When it is nice and crispy, I have plans to further preserve it and seal it up in a jar. From there, it is for me alone to know.

toad

Amoral Witchcraft

Where to start on a topic so highly debated? Well, the other day I stumbled upon someone’s writing in which they extolled the virtues of the Wiccan Rede and the Law of Three. While this isn’t exactly problematic, the context in which they did was. It was purported that as a Witch or Wiccan you must follow these two codes of conduct.

Here is the problem: not all Wiccans and Witches follow the Wiccan Rede or the Law of Three. To assert that in order to be a proper Witch or Wiccan you must do so, or that if you don’t that you are somehow a lesser person is completely asinine and rather insulting.

I hate to repeat myself, as I’ve discussed this in a previous post. But, alas, here we are again. Instead of reiterating about how the Wiccan Rede was never a part of traditional Wicca and was rather a later invention, or how the Law of Three is a construct that was taken out of context and is now applied using westernized (and culturally appropriated) concepts of karma, let me try something different.

Disclaimer: First let me make a note of something that seems to be ignored by most of the people making these generalized statements. Wicca is a specific form of Witchcraft. Witchcraft doesn’t necessarily equal Wicca. That would be like saying Witchcraft is Voodoo. It just doesn’t work.

So let me frame this argument differently by stating that Witchcraft was never meant to be nice. Historically, it was never meant to be bound by moral laws. It was meant to be a source of power, a power that is amoral.

Let’s just for a moment make a case that there were actual Witches during the so called Burning Times. Given the social, economic, and political climate of the day, these Witches wouldn’t be wrapped up in concepts like the Rede and Law of Three. Not only for the obvious reasons that they didn’t exist at that time, but because they would be risking their lives to practice. Therefore, it’s reasonable to assume any spells they would be working would be geared towards survival.  How do you survive during a time like that? Surely not by casting spells for harmony and luck, but by taking down your enemies through malefic means. Sure throw some protection spells in there, but  their intended purpose wouldn’t be for love and light.

Let’s say that I’m a woman in 1693 Salem. Am I going to put my life at stake simply to do a love spell, in which I avoid violating free will by aiming to bring love (in a general context) to my life? Hell no. I am going to be casting a damn love spell directly on the richest bachelor in town. By doing so I would be securing my safety.

Witchcraft is about power. It’s about finding empowerment and using your will to get what you want. In fact, I would go so far to say that Witchcraft is the craft of the disenfranchised. Just take a look at Leland’s Gospel of the Witches. Aradia comes to earth to teach the peasants Witchcraft. Not so that they could hope karma would come back to their oppressors three-fold, but to act as their own agent of karma.

Witchcraft would have had a very specific use back then. It wouldn’t be useful for those who were free from oppression and able to feed/shelter/cloth themselves. It certainly wouldn’t be worth risking possible persecution for. Therefore, if it was to be used it would be for something extremely important and it certainly wouldn’t have been concerned with morals.

Okay Kelden, but what about Witchcraft today? We are no longer faced with such dire circumstances for practicing. So utilizing the Rede and the Law of Three is much more practical. To that I say yes and no. It’s always good to be conscientious of others, to be kind, and to promote good in the universe. However, the way in which the Rede is so often interpreted is completely unsustainable.

Harm no one! It’s nice in theory but in application is nearly impossible. If you drive a car, run electricity, or eat meat you are harming the environment. If you eat junk food, don’t exercise, or don’t get enough sleep you are hurting your body. And we have all been guilty of hurting another person’s feelings. Causing harm is an unavoidable part of life.

When it comes to spells, harm is also unavoidable.  By casting a spell to get a job you are hurting someone else’s chance of getting it. If you want to get really technical, doing a healing spell, let’s say to cure the flu, you are hurting the virus. Again, harm is inevitable.

But what about specification? What if I throw in a request that the spell only work if it harms none? That’s great! But unfortunately more often than not you probably won’t be getting results.

I’m not trying to say that Witchcraft is all about harming others or that is can only be used for such. However, I’m also not saying that Witchcraft is all about healing and positivity. It’s amoral. It isn’t concerned with what others deem right or wrong. because it’s both. Witchcraft was never meant to be subjugated by a set of eight words or some vague western version of karma. Witchcraft is about empowerment and freedom. The freedom to claim one’s power and  to use it to change their lives.

So please. Next time, before assuming that all Witches and Wiccans follow the Rede and the Threefold Law,  open a book. Do some research into the history of these two things. Realize that even Wiccans have been known to curse and do nasty things on occasion.

 

 

 

Life Update

This is just a little life-update, in case any of you sweet readers are wondering what happened to me. It’s been a little while.

Well, Samhain happened. Between open ritual with my friends, private ritual with the spirits, and general college party shenanigans, the latter half of October was pretty busy.

halloweeen

Moving into November, my favorite month of the year, I am facing midterms. Yuck! In fact, I am procrastinating right now. I should be studying for an exam in industrial organization psychology (vomit, vomit, vomit). The exam is in approximately 1 hour and 23 minutes but I can’t seem to care focus anymore.

It’s senior year of my undergrad and my senior thesis is looming on the horizon. I’m hoping to con my academic advisers into letting me write about the psychology of something Witchy or supernatural. Oooo. 

joan

Whatever spare time I have is being spent either sleeping, skyping with the dear Veles, or working on the story I’m writing for nanowrimo (not sure if I should post my story on here or not due to all the inside jokes I make at other’s expenses).

So that’s what is up. Yippee.

 

 

We are NOT the Granddaughters

I think we have all seen the following image before. It proudly asserts that Wiccans/Witches/Pagans/Whatever are in fact the descendants (in some form or fashion) of the Witches who you (“you” presumably being Puritans/Christians/Whatever). However there are quite a few fallacies in this cute saying. The least of which is (for all us American and English Witches), the perpetuation of the historically FALSE notion that individuals were burned at the stake in these regions. we-are-the-granddaughters-of-all-the-witches-that-you-could-not-burn-1

Again, we are back to the idea of a secret Pre-Christian/secret-underground/whatever Witch-cult. Again, in spite of the sucking black-hole that is the lack of evidence supporting this idea. Again, because TV shows like Salem are more fun to watch than reading an academically sound book.

I’ve talked before about the myth of Witchcraft, and certainly it applies here. The notion of secret covens risking their lives to meet under the full moon and worship their horned god is, for a lack of better words, cool. It’s romantic and mysterious. It conjures up vivid imaginary that really gets the Witchy senses going. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of a mysterious lineage of Witches who survived torture and execution? It’s inspiring and has influence on us, but it’s a myth. Unfortunately, people are looking at the cases and trials of so called Witches as literal fact. Just because an accused individual confessed to something, does not make it fact, especially considering the conditions under which most confessions were obtained. 

It could be possible that there were people practicing some form of Witchcraft during these times but it’s also possible that the 1969 moon landing was actually an elaborate hoax. But again, these theories are largely rejected by historians. Meaning, the evidence against these events outweighs the evidence supporting them. Furthermore, if in fact there had been Witches during this time, whatever they may have been practicing would look a whole lot different from you and I are practicing. They probably weren’t casting circles with fancy ritual daggers, nor were they likely burning sage sticks, or whatever it is we are doing now.

Are the Witch trials important? Absolutely. They are a paradigm of persecution that has been demonstrated with various groups of people at various points in history (obvious example being McCarthyism). But in terms of modern Witchcraft/Wicca/Paganism/Whatever, they are only tangentially important.

The problem is when you see Witches/Wiccans/Pagans/Whatever perpetuating historical inaccuracies. I’ve seen posts grieving for the poor souls who were murdered in the name of the Craft. I’ve heard individuals proclaim how thankful they are that because of those brave fallen sisters of Salem, they are now able to practice Witchcraft openly. I’ll be frank, not only are these statements offensive to the memory of those who died, but they are just plain stupid.

Disclaimer: It’s about to get really bitchy…

These people weren’t killed in the name of the Craft. In the name of Puritanism maybe but as stated nearly 538205759202 times the Craft as we know it did not exist in that time. To insinuate otherwise is to further falsely accuse those poor souls. To apply a modern example, let’s say you were accused of running over your neighbors cat. After a closer investigation you are cleared of these charges because the evidence strongly indicates you are innocent. Unfortunately, your community continues to call you a cat killer in spite of the evidence clearing your name. See the parallel?

Don’t even get me started about the statement regarding being able to practice Witchcraft/Wicca/Paganism/Whatever openly because of the sacrifices made by the accused. First of all, what sacrifices? They were senselessly persecuted. Second, and AGAIN, not actual Witches or related to modern Witchcraft. Third, there are more relevant people you can thank (perhaps the people who pioneered the modern Witchcraft movement and are ACTUALLY responsible for you being able to practice openly). Maybe instead of fantasizing about a fabricated version of history that has been repeatedly discredited, more effort could be spent studying the actual history of Wicca/modern Witchcraft/Neo-Paganism/Whatever. But again, watching Salem is much more appealing than actual effort to understand where what you are practicing actually comes from.

I don’t mean to be rude but it’s 2015. Open a book. Do some research.

Witch Blood

One concept, often brought up in the fight over authenticity, which I just can’t wrap my head around is that of “Witch blood”. Apparently only those with “Witch blood” are “true Witches” (please note the heavy usage of quote marks) (this concept is clearly stupid)(and by stupid I mean really fucking stupid, this is real life not an episode of Charmed).

Wondering where you stand in the Witch world? Well lucky for you, I’ve developed a fool-proof survey which is sure to suss out those dreadful Witchy wannabes.

1.) Are you a Witch?

Yes or no

2.) Do you have blood?

Yes or no

Results: If you answered yes to both questions, congratulations! You have “Witch blood.” If you answered no to the first question, I’m not sure why you’re reading this. If you answered no the second question, PLEASE SEEK MEDICAL HELP ASAP!!

Books for Beginners

I was having coffee today with a friend who works at the local Witchy store and we were talking about which books we would recommend to someone who was just starting off on a Wiccan path. It really got me thinking, what books would I recommend? Immediately I thought of Triumph of The Moon by Ronald Hutton as well as all of Gardner’s books. However, on second thought I wondered just how helpful these books would be for a beginner.

The problem is that the books which are readily available to the beginner may not be the most academically credible. The Barnes and Nobel shelves are stuffed with mass-produced books which are filled with regurgitated and often inaccurate or poorly sourced information. On the other hand, the heftier and harder to find tomes which I have become biased towards tend to focus more on the head-space than the practical application desired by beginners. Clearly there needs to be a compromise. Practical application needs to be supplemented with more academically oriented books. Like a yin and yang, they are needed to create a more complete world-view.

So here is my recommendation:

Go ahead and read Ravenwolf’s To Ride a Silver Broomstick and Cunningham’s Wicca because these remain two of the most readily available books for beginners. Please don’t let anyone shame for reading these books because WE HAVE ALL READ THEM. However, please also read the older books. Read Gardner, Valiente, the Farrars, etc. These are the people who were there in the early days, they are the people who you can thank for what Wicca is today. Read books by Llewellyn, I still do, but dig deeper. Don’t take things at face value. Pay attention to citations and bibliographies. Follow the trail further and further back. Ask questions. Seek answers.

And read Thorn’s much better blog post about books.