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AngelValentin

European vs American Witchcraft Practices

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Hello everyone its been a while since I've posted something in the forums. Something thats been on my mind lately is the history and practices of magic in different countries. What I wanted to know and discuss was the difference in witchcraft practices between European witches and american witches. I know that traditional witchcraft started in the british isles and spread out amongst the people so how has it changed overtime and has influenced the nature of practices from Europe to America and modern times.

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[...] I know that traditional witchcraft started in the british isles and spread out amongst the people [...]

 

Why do you define "traditional" as starting in the British Isles? What about Italian, Baltic lands, name-your-other-European-country practices? Then there are practices that came out of Africa, Asia... Some paths have specific names, some do not, yet they are all "traditional" practices and considerably predate what's considered "modern" witchcraft.

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When the States were but colonies of the British Empire they were the destination of many types of people seeking religious freedom from various monarchs and popes in Europe. This mainly included people who were Christian but did not embrace the Anglican Church which centralized the English royalty as the central figure of the church structure. Quakers, Puritans, Lutherans..and even British Catholics all were persecuted. These times were exceptionally hard and dangerous to be Pagan or witch. British King James I has quite a notorious reputation in history for his witch hunts so it serves to reason that the beginning of colonization in the 17th century would have included many Pagans fleeing to the new world in search of religious freedom, or at least a life where they were less actively sought. Blending in with the fleeing Christians would likely have included blending Christian practices with ones learned from the indigenous peoples of the New World. I think that some of the main differences in "American" witchcraft would likely stem from the occult nature of it causing early American Pagans to seek the ways of the Natives and of the slaves from Africa. Could you consider the remnants of the practices traditional today? Sure. I certainly do.

 

I think it is extremely misleading to say that "traditional witchcraft started in the British Isles" considering that I study and practice traditional witchcraft that did not come from Britain but from the Germanic people. That, perhaps, is a different topic altogether.

Edited by Caps

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America is a very young country as far as the history of the world goes.... the native people of this country were Native American Indians, more shamanistic I nature I believe, than magically based. Therefore, I would think that any American witchcraft would most likely be a craft brought by immigrants from all over the world who migrated here, brought their gods and beliefs and practices with them, evolved them as cultures mixed and climates and foliage differed. So American craft, I would think is a mixture and evolution of many crafts from many places depending who settled in the area from which it is taken. For me, I do not think it is one practice that is right or wrong, but the core truth that runs within all valid practices that is most important and differentiates between craft and imagination.

 

There seems to be 2 groups of "trad" craft (probably many more I do not know of, lol) and that is gnostic based occult craft (as Caps pointed out) and the more shamanistic land-based craft that is of a more European nature...????

 

M

Edited by Michele

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British Traditional seems to be one of the easiest to find information on, for whatever reason.

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America is a very young country as far as the history of the world goes.... the native people of this country were Native American Indians, more shamanistic I nature I believe, than magically based. Therefore, I would think that any American witchcraft would most likely be a craft brought by immigrants from all over the world who migrated here, brought their gods and beliefs and practices with them, evolved them as cultures mixed and climates and foliage differed. So American craft, I would think is a mixture and evolution of many crafts from many places depending who settled in the area from which it is taken. For me, I do not think it is one practice that is right or wrong, but the core truth that runs within all valid practices that is most important and differentiates between craft and imagination.

 

There seems to be 2 groups of "trad" craft (probably many more I do not know of, lol) and that is gnostic based occult craft (as Caps pointed out) and the more shamanistic land-based craft that is of a more European nature...????

 

M

For "American traditional craft", the practices that spring to my mind besides Native American practices are pow wow, hoodoo and voodoo.

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Yes... where I live there is a lot of what they term "diaspora" (and I probably did not spell that right, lol), like Voodoo/Hoodoo, Santeria, Espiritsmo (sp again), Ifa, etc... but most of these were brought over here by people not of American origin, and many by people who were forced to come here as slaves :-( I do love the culture of these very down-to-earth religions/practices. These are people who still see their gods, speak to them, actually interact with their gods/orishas and ancestors. It's a fascinating and very beautiful and magical culture. Pow wow I have heard of but am not familiar with...

 

M

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I always liked this post http://www.traditionalwitch.net/forums/topic/2625-traditional-craft-by-startella/

 

This ^ article may not tell you the difference between European and American practices, but it sheds light on what Trad Witches on both sides of the pond do / don't do.

 

*** Voodoo is Afro-Caribbean (and other regions) and is a combination of traditional African magic blended with Catholic beliefs.

 

Hoodoo is American --- African American ( it's an altered version of Voodoo) often referred to as Folk Magic that later incorporated Christian practices.

 

As far as I know, Native Americans do NOT consider their customs and practices to be magic at all. (could be wrong about this one, but... )

Edited by Nikki

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Hoodoo is American --- African American ( it's an altered version of Voodoo) often referred to as Folk Magic that later incorporated Christian practices.

Hoodoo is not an altered version of voodoo.

 

I urge people to read http://www.luckymojo.com/hoodoohistory.html

 

It explains the history of hoodoo and its place and relationship amongst other traditions.

Edited by Gyreleaf

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Dang !!! This is why I edit so many of my posts !!!!

 

Meant to write (it's NOT an altered version of Voodoo) Voodoo is a religion, hoodoo is not.

Edited by Nikki

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Well, I think it's been pretty well covered already, but because of the immigrant nature of the U.S. and the Americas, the magical practices are largely based on ancestral knowledge adapted to an entirely new continent.

 

I guess if I had to choose one word to encompass the magic of the Americas, it would be "adaptation." Some may disagree with me and claim that they practice a "pure" form of magic from their ancestral land, but I just don't see how that could be. The land itself has such a tremendous effect on all magical practices that I'm not sure you could perform a working in exactly the same way in England as one would in, say, Louisiana.

 

I live in Las Vegas, and my workings are specifically tailored to my area (and not even by design, just by accident and what's available to me most of the time -- It's not like I sat down one day and said, "Okay, today, I'm going to develop workings for the Las Vegan witch!). A lot of my practices come from a hoodoo rootwork background, but the ground beneath my feet is nothing like the lands around the Caribbean, so it's not the same.

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Anyone interested in an indepth whammie on African diaspora in America should search out and read some posts by Blacksmith..

Edited by LdyShalott

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Anyone interested in an indepth whammie on African diaspora in America should search out and read some posts by Blacksmith..

 

 

Yes, his posts are very informative. Too bad he is not around anymore. :cry_witch:

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I dont think witchcraft started anywhere or spread anywhere.... I think that many different places had similar practices with different names since everywhere had its own language. I study traditions from South America which existed there before European settlers yet would still be considered witchcraft by most (they call witches brujos and curanderos there usually). I think every continent on the earth has people practicing some form of witchcraft.

 

Solutreans were supposedly the first people to make it to America - ancient French people who settled the east coast before Siberians made it across from Russia to Alaska. Supposedly DNA testing of Native Americans shows them to have close to a quarter European blood, so maybe part of the reason was the mixing of these two groups.... One way the Solutreans were documented though was by finding large ceremonial spearheads they buried as offerings - the same spearheads were only found in France at that time period and are a totally different technology then other parts of the world used. So one similarity would be offerings obviously - many people from all traditions do different types of offerings.

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I dont think witchcraft started anywhere or spread anywhere.... I think that many different places had similar practices with different names since everywhere had its own language. I study traditions from South America which existed there before European settlers yet would still be considered witchcraft by most (they call witches brujos and curanderos there usually). I think every continent on the earth has people practicing some form of witchcraft.

 

South America must be very different from Mexico (and other Central American countries). The curanderos/as I know from that part of the world would be very offended if you called them brujas/os. The difference is in perceptions - brujas/os are bad people & practice black magic.

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I never said that brujos and curanderos were the same, though I see how you could mistake that.... I said they are both types of witches. One focuses on healing (curandero) and one might heal but also harms (brujo). Just like some witches focus on service to community or helping their family and some other witches will also do hexes and curses or harm others somehow. Different types of witches. Whether healing or harming though the methods are the same - healing takes more expertise in my experience though (its easier to cut someone then it is to stitch them up!).

 

Some places in Mexico and South America brujo doesnt have a negative connotation but where I study in Peru it usually does (similar to how you seem to know it).

Edited by travsha
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This is the unfortunate result of the term "witchcraft" being sullied (no offence) by the religion we know as Wicca. It is quite hard to find material on modern witchcraft online, particularly British websites, that doesn't contain information influenced by Wicca which did originate in Britain. The Western concept of the witch has also been forged by imagery of British witches, black hats and broomsticks, and of course "witch" is an English word and if you call yourself one it's likely you are from an ex-colony or Britain itself. Witchcraft is a label that has been placed on cultures' practices during the anthropological exploration by the Victorians but of course these cultures have been practicing witchcraft long before the Empire had arrived.

 

Sorry I can't help with the differences, I'm pretty green, but I thought I might help with the whole 'originated in Britain' misunderstanding as there are many reasons why a person may believe this to be the case.

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This is the unfortunate result of the term "witchcraft" being sullied (no offence) by the religion we know as Wicca. It is quite hard to find material on modern witchcraft online, particularly British websites, that doesn't contain information influenced by Wicca which did originate in Britain.

 

You should have seen how it was only ten years ago, with very few exceptions Wicca was everything you could find. The situation has greatly improved.

 

Re the original topic, I think there is agreat difference between Southern and Northern European practices in the form.

In my experience Southern European witchcraft (Italian, Spanish, Greek, Turkish and partly Portuguese and Southern-French) resent more of the influence of old Greek and Arab customs as well as catholic lore, while Northern European witchcraft tends to be more influenced by 'Northern' folklore and bieleved. With the common 'ecstatic' elements (at least if you look at the most recent hypothesis on historical witchcraft).

 

Ten years ago I would also have said that in Southern Europe there was more interest towards traditional craft than in the US and the UK, where the public discourse was dominated by Wicca, but I think the situation may have changed.

Aria

Edited by Aria

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Well, I think it's been pretty well covered already, but because of the immigrant nature of the U.S. and the Americas, the magical practices are largely based on ancestral knowledge adapted to an entirely new continent.

 

I guess if I had to choose one word to encompass the magic of the Americas, it would be "adaptation." Some may disagree with me and claim that they practice a "pure" form of magic from their ancestral land, but I just don't see how that could be. The land itself has such a tremendous effect on all magical practices that I'm not sure you could perform a working in exactly the same way in England as one would in, say, Louisiana.

 

I live in Las Vegas, and my workings are specifically tailored to my area (and not even by design, just by accident and what's available to me most of the time -- It's not like I sat down one day and said, "Okay, today, I'm going to develop workings for the Las Vegan witch!). A lot of my practices come from a hoodoo rootwork background, but the ground beneath my feet is nothing like the lands around the Caribbean, so it's not the same.

 

 

I have to say that I agree with what you posted. Magical practices are affected in part at least by the area you're from. I remember posting another topic about places of power in magic and the same can be said about how practices are performed depending on location. I like the term you used "adaptation" to describe the way american magical practices have been influenced.

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Playing Devil's Advocate here...

 

I agree that the land affects people and effects magic - but this can change within a mile/kilometer of your current location.

 

With the Internet, one can purchase anything from around the globe and have it shipped to ones door, if one really, really needed this item.

 

'Adaptation' isn't strictly an American a thing. (yes, I see what others are saying) Any witch from anywhere who moves to or visits another land would have to adapt to a new environment.

 

And, yes, there are many different ways to 'practice' magic BUT...

 

Magic is magic.

 

There are basic laws that spin the wheel and have spun the wheel for ages.

 

No matter where you're from vs. where you are now, those basic laws remain in place.

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For "American traditional craft", the practices that spring to my mind besides Native American practices are pow wow, hoodoo and voodoo.

 

There's also the Feri/Faery tradition (created by Victor and Cora Anderson starting in the 1940s). If you're unfamiliar, I recommend the following books:

The Heart of the Initiate: Feri Lessons by Victor Anderson

Fifty Years in the Feri Tradition by Cora Anderson

Evolutionary Witchcraft by T. Thorn Coyle

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Yes, his posts are very informative. Too bad he is not around anymore. :cry_witch:

 

When I was a full member back in 2011 (I took a step back for personal reasons - known as Zen Draegon then), I got to know blacksmith pretty well.  He is a Bokor, thus explaining his knowledge of the African Diaspora.  I was actively sharing my knowledge as a conjureman (Hoodoo) and he adn I would often ping off of one another.  I miss that guy!  He was a cool cat!

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When I was a full member back in 2011 (I took a step back for personal reasons - known as Zen Draegon then), I got to know blacksmith pretty well.  He is a Bokor, thus explaining his knowledge of the African Diaspora.  I was actively sharing my knowledge as a conjureman (Hoodoo) and he adn I would often ping off of one another.  I miss that guy!  He was a cool cat!

 

 

Welcome back Zen! I always enjoyed your posts, as well as those, of Blacksmith's. 

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