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But why "Mastering Witchcraft"?


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#1 Phaedra

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 12:15 PM

So, I keep running into Paul Huson's name in trad witch contexts, and I was hoping someone here could help shed a little light on something. I own Mastering Witchcraft, I've read it, and enjoyed it as a novel artifact of occult literature. But why does the book seem to have such support from the traditional community, while other books hedging its scope are flagged as too Golden Dawn (and by extension, Wiccan) influenced to serve the witch much in a utilitarian manner? The props mirror what's in most any determined (and financially comfy) new-ager's broom closet, and its ceremony and general vibe lack practicality and the Earth-centric vibe inherent in any witchery I know.

 

In short, the book is a magician's primer, not a witch's, but I keep seeing it so highly praised. Is it due to the time in which it was first released? Or does its subversive air raise it above other works? I must be missing some piece of the puzzle.


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#2 Zombee

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 01:33 PM

Im thinking that Traditional may simply be referring to a path of initiatory, lineage, oath bound coven training as used by pre-1970 Wica, when the practice was more restricted. Huson's book Isn't my favorite either but it was a revival era text that at least organized the common roots of "modern tradition" into a teachable package. So the book got dubbed "classic" but people hadnt yet recognized the shamanistic and folk craft roots. That's my take on it. Reconstruction owes a lot to anthropologists like Ginzburg scratching the surface by tracing the thread of Baltic roots. But I'm blathering on.

Edited by Zombee, 19 April 2018 - 01:36 PM.

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#3 Ravenshaw

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 05:07 PM

I have often wonder why Huson's work gets such fame as well. IMO, it's a mish-mesh of practices from other cultures and has an equal amount of buffoonery and pompous crud in it as well. There are some interesting concepts which, while not unique to Huson's guidelines, are certainly significant, such as unbinding from the Christian god if such ties exist. Interested in seeing future responses from people more knowledgeable on the subject.

RSKHFMY


#4 Phaedra

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 05:43 PM

Buffoonery to the max! Glad I'm not alone in my head-scratching over this. I felt like Huson's section on scrying via mirror was good and well, and the incense blend seems pretty great, but I couldn't stop snickering at the serious talk about "witch jewels".


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#5 Ravenshaw

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 07:22 PM

Perhaps it's more revered for time/place/setting reasons than it's content in the modern world?

RSKHFMY


#6 Phaedra

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 09:24 PM

Yeah, that might just be it. In hindsight, it probably was one of the first books many people read which wasn't infused with Gardnerian thought and actually made room for more malignant works, too.
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#7 RapunzelGnome

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Posted 23 April 2018 - 07:37 PM

This was one of the first books on witchcraft that I had ever bought (along with Mastering Herbalism, which was more useful). The book left me feeling confused because even though I didn’t know much at the time, I knew it wasn’t quite what I was looking for.

Parts of it are more useful to me now as my grasp of the occult has expanded, but I wouldn’t recommend it to someone wanting to learn more about traditional witchcraft.

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#8 witchinplainsight

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Posted 17 July 2018 - 09:56 PM

I've ordered both Mastering Witchcraft and Mastering Herbalism. It will be interesting to see which bits resonate and which don't. If it's too ceremonial I'm sending it back!


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#9 BlackbirdSong

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Posted 18 July 2018 - 05:08 AM

I think because he was writing regarding with more influence from Margaret Murray, who - If I remember correctly - coined the term ‘Operative Witchcraft’ to do with the pagan religion that predated Christianity and ran alongside it. Operative Witchcraft, I think, in her eyes was more to do with folk magick, charms and spells said by Christians and non Christians who use it to bring about change. It differentiates in this way from Wicca, which is an interpretation of Dianic Cult by Gardner. Huson drew more on this folk aspect of charms and spells, though says much of his inspiration came from the same sources. He also does mention the cult aspect at the end of the book. I think he personally was being careful to differentiate from Wicca and trying to provide another point of view outside of the new Religion created by Gardner etc.

Personally, I do find it ritualistic and for example saying the Lord’s Prayer backwards is very specific - if you’ve not been influenced by Christianity or don’t feel you need to ‘free’ yourself from it then it isn’t necessary. It’s not going to mention treading the mill or anything, which I’d suggest Nigel Pearson for as a good start. However, it does have some useful bits in it and some old charms which relate back to traditional witchcraft as it has been written about in England - particularly the West Country. I’m not looking at my books right now, but I am sure that Gemma Gary mentions some of the same charms in Traditional Witchcraft: A Cornish book of Ways. The Abracadabra charm where it reduces down to a single letter for example, I think, is mentioned in both. You can relate it more to Traditional Witchcraft, though there are parts with a Wiccan flavour due to those shared sources.

Like all books, it’s a bit of a pick and mix scenario for the witchy reader. ☺️

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#10 witchinplainsight

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Posted 18 July 2018 - 06:58 AM

Blackbird funnily enough I'm still reading Treading the Mill at the minute :) I bought it last year and didn't really get into it but bits of it are clicking more now. In the end I just like as little ritual as possible. There were lots of Amazon reviews for Mastering Witchcraft that were very 'Yay, no Feminazi Wiccan stuff dudes!' So I'll be interested to see if it falls victim to Grand Poobah-itis in a different way!
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#11 BlackbirdSong

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 05:02 AM

That’s funny, I had a similar experience with it. I reccomend it because of the info being so much more traditional but I have found I don’t always tend towards long rituals either. For me, it is partially a matter of time being a mum and having chronic illnesses, that and sometimes the ritual distracts from me being able to connect, so am very much a take inspiration from rather than performing entire things. It depends though as Viridiarium Umbris has more steps I followed more closely. That’s for the herb path but ive enjoyed it, it’s very cultus sabbati styled though, so again ritual and so on. Serpent Songs published by Scarlet imprint is interesting if inspiration and viewpoint on traditional witchcraft is more up your street than a set of how-tos.
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#12 Michele

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Posted 30 July 2018 - 11:51 AM

Wow Zombie... that's good! And I think you are most likely correct!!


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#13 Michele

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Posted 30 July 2018 - 11:51 AM

Im thinking that Traditional may simply be referring to a path of initiatory, lineage, oath bound coven training as used by pre-1970 Wica, when the practice was more restricted. Huson's book Isn't my favorite either but it was a revival era text that at least organized the common roots of "modern tradition" into a teachable package. So the book got dubbed "classic" but people hadnt yet recognized the shamanistic and folk craft roots. That's my take on it. Reconstruction owes a lot to anthropologists like Ginzburg scratching the surface by tracing the thread of Baltic roots. But I'm blathering on.

 

I think my quote button is effed up. It put my response above, then brought up the quote after I posted. Things that make you go "hummmmmm"....


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