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Witchcraft in America


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#21 Grimalkin

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Posted 29 October 2008 - 12:13 AM

Let's not forget the aboriginal healers who practiced their spiritual arts in America 11,000 years before westerners came here. Although not exactly "witchcraft" per se. There are parallels to be compared. Nanomonestôtse..:)

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#22 AnjelWolf

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Posted 29 October 2008 - 12:14 AM

Let's not forget the aboriginal healers who practiced their spiritual arts in America 11,000 years before westerners came here. Although not exactly "witchcraft" per se. There are parallels to be compared. Nanomonestôtse..:)


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#23 Brigid

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Posted 29 October 2008 - 12:36 AM

Exactly!!

There are a myriad of ways to study this, it's fascinating!

As I said, it would be a great book, if someone were inclined.

In an Historical perspective of course.

Ritualistic behaviour, though well-intentioned, possesses no significance or effectiveness unless its external prescription is matched by a personal, internal motivation of will and desire.

#24 Pheol

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 09:01 PM

Let's not forget the aboriginal healers who practiced their spiritual arts in America 11,000 years before westerners came here. Although not exactly "witchcraft" per se. There are parallels to be compared. Nanomonestôtse..:)



I agree with Grimalkin that spiritual arts could be practiced by any number of peoples and traditions.

"My witchy practice is my life and I guess a religion of sort, but for one of my best friends, she is a witch who does not practice magick."

Bean Sprite: how, oh how, can your friend call herself a witch without the craft? Surely there is more to this story?

I can stage a production that seems totally opposed to them, they couldn't care less. But the way in which the company functions and produces it's shows, the simple fact that we don't fit ourselves into a pre-existing framework - this throws them and worries them.
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#25 Guest_ZenDraegan_*

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Posted 02 June 2009 - 02:21 PM

A great place to begin looking at witchcraft in America is the Appalachian Mountains. Being a native of North Carolina, and spending much time in Virginia, I have had the opportunity to experience, research and practice this unique brand of witchcraft.

From my studies, the first settlers of the Appalachian Mountains came over from Scotland and Ireland in the 1700's. They brought along their even older Irish and Scottish Magical Traditions with them. Those two old world Traditions were then blended with a dash of the local tradition of the Tsalagi who are now known as the Cherokee Indians.

The Appalachian Granny Tradition was passed on from generation to gereration, and generally was not transmitted outside of the individual family. Each individual would cater the tradition to suit their needs.

However, because of the rural and secluded nature of the Appalachian mountain community, the old customs of the Many of these old Scottish and Irish traditions, as well as the Tsalagi traditions, both magical and mundane, were carried on in Appalachia until modern times. The teachings, and practices were not as often lost, forgotten, or even modernized as many of the old world traditions that came over to other, more urban areas of the new world.

Even today, we often find that ancient Irish or Scottish songs, rhymes, dances, recipes, crafts, are more accurately preserved in Appalachia than even in Ireland or Scotland.


#26 celeste

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Posted 02 June 2009 - 06:29 PM

"My witchy practice is my life and I guess a religion of sort, but for one of my best friends, she is a witch who does not practice magick."

Bean Sprite: how, oh how, can your friend call herself a witch without the craft? Surely there is more to this story?



I wondered the same thing, and see some others have commented on this as well. Hope we get an answer soon that clarifies...

I have a theory that maybe there is some sort of crossing over confusion with how a lot of Wiccans these days are saying they are Wiccan at the exclusion of being a witch. Don't mean to bring up the Wiccan thing, sorry... Maybe I should delete this? We don't need to get stuck on that, but I think maybe that frame of mind is crossing over into witchcraft in this case. Because true, every witch has his or her own way of being a witch, of what it specifically means for that individual and their life, but really, there is only so much changing and individualization you can do to a path before you are walking a totally different path all together, and should consider to rename it appropirately. Again, I don't mean to get off topic, just trying to throw a theory out there as to why this person believes they are a witch without practicing magic, what they describe witchcraft to be without the influence of magic.


#27 aphrodite

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Posted 17 October 2009 - 04:00 AM

Hey Zen Dragon, I am an appalachian witch. From what I hear, each family had their own workings and ways of doing things. That makes for alot of traditions. Although there were often families that specialized in certain things. For instance one girl I went to school with, her family was well known for doll magic. All of them were doll makers and used dolls in their workings. Not really like poppets though. Even now at craft markets you can sometimes find what we called "wish dolls" which were special dolls with long yarned hair and special flowers that people would do knot magic in the hair and then make wishes. They also have what were called "ancestor dolls" These were special dolls usually very simply made, that always had button eyes and were holding a crow. They usually had homespun dresses. They were used to communicate with the ancestors.

I have tried really hard to separate strands of magic I grew up with and figure out whether it was something Welsh, English, Scottish, Irish or Cherokee. Its not easy. I have figured out a few things but not many. Still, I enjoy trying. From what I hear, the reason so many Appalachian witches are part Cherokee, or incorporate some things in their magic is because when the Celtic settlers came to the hills, they felt it was important to "marry" the new land. They literally did that by marrying into the tribes. The Cherokee were one of the few tribes who would marry the settlers.


#28 mcdee2005

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Posted 18 October 2009 - 12:04 PM

Just out of interest here's something that surprisingly came from a crime mag of American origin that was titled as "the History of Witchcraft in America"

Since our last issue, David Brom, 16, of Rochester, Minnesota who is described as a serious Church going youth, killed four members of his family with an axe. CIR has learned that teenagers in the Rochester area have been frequenting caves where detailed drawings of satanic emblems adorn the walls.

Also, Brom had been reading satanic literature and had become so attracted to hard rock that the day of the slayings he had shaved the sides of his head and fashioned is hair into the spiked punk style.

According to Sandy Gallant of the San Francisco police department's intelligence division, who is a recognized expert on Satanic crime, there is a relationship between hard rock music and occult violence.

Because of what is obviously becoming a disturbing trend in our society, we have collected the following background material for your examination.

The current growth of witchcraft (the craft of the _wicca_ or wise ones) can be dated to 1951, when the last of the British witchcraft laws was repealed, and to the subsequent publication in 1954 of _Witchcraft Today_ by Gerald Gardner, a self-proclaimed witch from the Isle of Man in Britain.

Gardner's book signaled to the world that witches still existed. His work was based upon the thesis of Margaret Murray that witchcraft had existed since pre-Christian times in small, scattered occult groups practicing the old pagan religion and hidden in fear of persecution. Most contemporary witches have accepted Murray's historical thesis, but the legitimacy of her conclusions is now a matter of intense debate in the occult community.

There can be little doubt that various, mostly agricultural religions existed in Europe at the time that the Christian Church was in the process of becoming the dominant religious form of Europe. There is also little doubt that in the 1400's, the church turned its Inquisitional powers on something called witchcraft. What was described as witchcraft was a mixture of the local religions, a number of things the church wanted to supress, and some things wholly in the imagination of the early inquisitors. It was during this era that various new images of witchcraft, particularly the one connecting it with Satan worship, were published.

Many men, women and even children died in the witch scare that gripped Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In the face of the myth of satanic witchcraft, some genuine Satanists and even genuine witches arose.

The most famous incident was the Black Mass scandal which rocked the court of Louis XIV and led to the arrest of more than three hundred persons. In the 1670's, Madame LaVoisin, one of Louis XIV's mistresses, suspected she was losing Louis' affection and hired a priest to say Black Masses, hoping thereby to win back the king. Some of the masses included the killing of babies; some of the masses were offered on Madame LaVoisin's nude body. Louis imprisoned or banished the participants in the heinous affairs.

Contemporary witchcraft bears little resemblance to the witchcraft described in the literature of the witchcraft trials. Going beyond the medieval image, modern witches try to separate themselves from any connection with Satanism. Rather than reacting to Christianity (i.e., being anti-Christians), they see themselves as an alternative faith (like Buddhism or Islam). As magicians, they have selected the old faiths of Europe with which to identify.

Just what are the elements of wicaan [sic] faith? This question is not an easy one to answer, there being a wide variety of definitions in the literature. First, witchcraft is a religion. There is much more to the adherents' faith than just magick. Witchcraft offers a world-view, a relationship to deity and an ethical code. Of course, magick and psychic development are a part of the religion; much of the ritual and energy of witches is spent in their practice. "Witchcraft is the raising and manipulation of psychic power," says one witch.

Wicca is polytheist, finding its pantheon in various European pre-Christian nature religions. The prime deities ar the Goddess and God, usually represented as the Triple Goddess and Horned God. The triple aspects of the Goddess are maiden, mother, and crone. There are different explanations of the origin of these gods, although most agree that the Goddess is ascendent in modern cultic expressions. Psychic development, besides being training for magick, is also for communion with the deity. (The Horned God was connected with Satan by medieval witch-hunters, and Satan has been pictured since with a goatee and cloven hoofs.)

The two essential books of the witch are the grimoire and the book of shadows. The grimoire is the book of spells and magical procedures. The best known grimoiries are medieval: the _Greater Key of Solomon the King_ and _The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abra-Melin the Mage_. The book of shadows is the traditional book of rituals. According to custom, it is copied by hand by each individual witch, and thus no two copies are alike.

The basic organization of witches is the coven, though there is also an associational tie between covens of like belief and practice, especially where one coven has broken off from another and owes its initiation to the other.

Such a relationship exists in the Gardnerian covens. The coven consists of 13 people (an optimum number which may vary from four to twenty) who meet regularly to practice witchcraft. The regular meeting of the coven is called an esbat; but eight times a year there are seasonal festivals, sabbats. The most famous festival is October 31, Halloween. Others include Candlemas or Oimelc (February 2), May Eve or Beltane (April 30), August Eve or Lammas (August 1), and the lesser sabbats - the two solstices (June 22 and December 22) and the equinoxes (March 21 and September 21). The eight festivals are reflected in the common practice of publishing witch-oriented periodicals eight times a year.

Most covens have both a basic initiation and higher initiations which are reserved for potential and actual priests and priestesses, who are the coven leaders. There are usually three degrees which require a year and a day between each initiation. Work within the coven is done with the magick circle, a circle nine feet in diameter, drawn on the floor or ground. Magick is done within the circle, which functions both for protection and concentration. Within the circle are placed the various magical items. They include the _athame_, a ritual knife; the _pentacle_, a disc-shaped talisman; a chalice; and a sword. These items vary from coven to coven. The _athame_ is the most ubiquitous. Many covens worship in the nude (i.e., skyclad); but in most, street clothes or ritual robes are worn. When the robe is worn it is bound with a cord, the color of which designates the degree of initiation. The work of the coven covers all religious practices (psychic healing and problem-solving playing a big part) and includes hand fasting (marriage).

Witches share with all magicians a belief in reincarnation and the manipulative world-view. They also place belief in the power of spells. They cast spells for themselves and others, for their own betterment (financially, sexually) and, on rare occasions, against someone else. For most witches, the magical world-view is tempered by a poetic-mystical appreciation of nature. In their writings are numerous references to ecology, being natural and, in a few cases, vegetarianism. For most, acceptance of the gods is a poetic expression of attunement with the forces of life.

AFRICAN WITCHCRAFT

Voodoo, the major folk religion of Haiti, is an African form of magick and witchcraft mixed with New World elements, complete with the ruling mother goddess, a pantheon of lesser deities (correlated to specific human needs), a psychic ritual and a manipulative world-view. Voodoo has a significant history in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries particularly in the Creole country. In the nineteenth century, Dr. John and, later, Marie Laveau, the voodoo queen of New Orleans, openly flaunted their magical powers in public. They were followed by Dr. Alexander and Lou Johnson.

For a number of reasons, modern witchcraft practice has had little input from voodooism, apart from the romantic aura of the word. This lack of intercourse can be traced to a number of elements, the same that have prevented many books on voodoo from appearing. Voodoo is not a literary religion; this source material must be gathered directly from practitioners. Practitioners are few in number and hard to find. The are mostly members of the black community or recent immigrants from the Caribbean. The latter often have a language problem.

As the term "voodoo" is found in popular American usage, it refers to at least four distinct phenomena. The first, _voodoo_ proper, is the magical religion brought from Haiti in the late 1700's. It is a mixture of French Catholicism and the religion of the Ibos, Magos and Dahomeans. Its leading god is Damballah, the serpent. the second, _Santeria_, is a mixture of Iberian Catholicism and Yoruba religion. Its main god is Chango, god of fire and stone. It is found throught most of Latin America, and in Brazil is called Macumba. The third, the _Conjure Man_ or _Root Doctor_ in the Southern United States, is an adoption by blacks of European magick but is associated with voodoo because of the mystique of New Orleans. This phenomenon does not seem to produce groups, as such. The fourth, the _Bruja_ or Latin American witch, is often placed under the voodoo label, but is more closely related to the folk witchcraft traditions. Besides the widespread practice of voodoo and Santeria, as evidenced by the numerous botanicas (stores which sell magical ingredients) in most urban centers, there are at least three public voodoo- like groups.

Voodoo and its relatives exist in America today; its outward manifestations can be found in the black, Puerto Rican, and Cuban communities of major cities of the United States and in the occult supply shops which sell magical items. Such items include yerbabuena and perejil, herbs which, when used properly, are assumed to have powers to keep away evil. Other items, such as bat's blood and graveyard dust, are also available.

WITCHCRAFT IN AMERICA

The history of witchcraft in America begins with the first settlers. As early as 1636, New England colonists felt a need to pass a law against witchcraft. In 1648, the first execution under this law occurred. (There is little similarity between witches as defined by seventeenth-century Puritans and contemporary practitioners of the craft.) New England persecution of witches reached a climax at Salem in 1692. Spurred by confessions of occult practices by a Jamaican servant and the finding of voodoo dolls at the home of Goodwife Nurse, the community launched a massive witch-hunt which led to the death of a number of persons. In the wake of the killings, realization by the community of what it had done led to reaction against any belief whatsoever in
the existence of witches. The history of American witchcraft then switches to Pennsylvania.

Among the Pennsyvania Dutch there is the survival of what seems to be a genuine "witchcraft-like" practice, locally termed powwowing. One must call it witchcraft-like because, while it involves magick and the psychic, it is theologically a Christian derivative with Kabbalistic elements. The practitioners are Bible believers, who feel themselves to be supernaturally endowed with their powers. The most obvious manifestations of the powwow power are the many colorful hex signs on the farmhouses in Eastern Pennsylvania. Each sign is a circle; within the circle are birds, hexagonal stars, etc.

Powwowers are, in essence, Christianized witches working in the agricultural society of the Pennsylvania Dutch. They have a grimoire (a book of spells and magical procedures), _The Long Lost Friend_, by John Hohman and they are as feared for their ability to hex as they are liked and sought after for their ability to heal. _The Long Lost Friend_, first published in 1819, is an ecclectic compilation from the Kabbalah, Albertus Magnus (a magician), German folklore, folk medicine, etc.

No group of what could be called a powwow cult exists, but the power of powwow belief is amply demonstrated by the sporadic trials of people for murder and various lesser offenses because of "victims'" beliefs that they were hexed.

The magical folklore which produced the powwow practices can be traced to medieval Germany and seems to have been brought to America by immigrants in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The lore included a belief in astrology, amulets and charms, herbal medicine and the psychic powers of gifted people.

Prior to the 1960's, there were only a few manifestations of witchcraft in America apart from the powwow men. There were isolated areas that had the equivalent of the powwower, but not in such strength or prominence. Such an area was the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia and Pennsylvania, where practitioners had a German heritage. Occasionally there was a witchcraft trial such as the one which occurred in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1939. A woman accused a local "witch" of casting spells against her. The "witch" was found guilty and expelled from the community.

THE GARDNERIAN REVIVAL

Many contemporary witches claim associations with witches, covens, and/or a faith which they can trace backward for many generations. However, little evidence to substantiate those claims has been brought forward and several have proved to be without any basis in fact. Most witches are converts who have come into the movement since 1960. While a few can trace their ancestry to individuals accused of witchcraft in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, there is no evidence of any survival of the practice within the families during the intervening centuries.

During the 1970's, a very few active covens with a history predating 1960 were located, but overwhelmingly, modern witchcraft can be traced to the work of Gerald Gardner (1884-1964), a retired British civil servant. A sickly child, Gardner had only a minimal amount of education and in his teen years moved to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) where he worked on a plantation. During the next thirty-nine years he worked at various government and private jobs throughout India and Southeast Asia. He became an accomplished amateur anthropologist and authored the standard work on the kris, the Indonesian ceremonial weapon. In Palestine, he participated in the excavation of a site centered upon the worship of the goddess Astaroth.

Upon is return to England just before World War II, Gardner associated himself with the Corona Fellowship of Rosicrucians, founded by Mabel Besant- Scott, daughter of theosophist Annie Besant. Through the group, he met some witches who introduced him to one Dorothy Clutterbuck. According to Gardner, "Old Dorothy," as she was affectionately known, initiated him into witchcraft. After the death of the priestess of the coven to which he belonged, he was allowed to describe some of the life of the group in a novel, _High Magic's Aid_ 1949, published under his magical name, "Scire." Then in 1954, following the repeal of the Witchcraft Laws in England in 1951, he published _Witchcraft Today_, which gave a more detailed picture of what Gardner described as a dying religion. The book, however, initiated a revival of interest, and led to a new generation of witches who turned to Gardner for inspiration.

Recent research has done much to discredit Gardner's account of the rise of witchcraft. Examination of his papers sold to "Ripley's Believe It or Not" by his daughter and the publication of several sets of rituals which he and his associates gave to initiates, have disclosed a radically different account of the origin of Gardnerian witchcraft. Rather than being initiated into a pre-existing Wiccan religion, it appears the Gardner created the new religion out of numerous pieces of Eastern religious and Western occult and magical material.

Basic rituals were adapted from ritual magic texts such as the _Greater Key of Solomon_ and the writings of Aleister Crowley and upon Freemasonry (into which Gardner had been initiated in Ceylon). Beginning with the eight ancient Pagan agricultural festivals (called "sabbats") as major holy days, he added regular biweekly gatherings at the full and new moon (esbats). From the Malayan kris, he developed the athame, the witch's ritual knife. Having become a practitioner of nudism as a result of sunbaths taken while recovering from an illness, he ordained that rituals were to be done in the nude, or skyclad (a term used to describe the nude sadhus of India). He also incorporated several Eastern religious practices (ritual scourging) and beliefs (karma and reincarnation).

By 1954 Gardner and the small group he had gathered around him had created Wicca (or Wica), a religion more accomodating to a popular audience than ritual magic could ever be. During the late 1950's and early 1960's, Wiccan initiates took Gardner's rituals and formed separate covens, and slowly the movement began to spread. One initiate, Alexander Sanders, revised the rituals and began a new "Alexandrian" lineage of witchcraft. Though beginning entirely from Gardnerian rituals, Sanders created a fictionalized story of his having begun his career in witchcraft after being initiated as a child by his grandmother, Sybil Leek, another witch who began her practice with Gardnerian rituals, came to America in the late 1960's. Before becoming famous as a professional occultist, she formed several covens in different locations around the United States.

The Gardnerian origin of contemporary covens is often obscured by the adoption of designations such as "traditional" and "hereditary" to indicate their allegiance to a "non Gardnerian" form of witchcraft. However, while covens will deviate at particular points, they tend to perpetuate Gardner's original belief system and overall set of practices. In particular, numerous variations of his original rituals have been developed and not a few entirely new sets of rituals composed. Such rituals, however, almost always retain the patterns he established in the 1950's.

Witches may practice alone, as solitaries, but most are organized into covens, small groups which meet biweekly at the new and full moon and eight times a year for the major holidays. Most covens have abandoned nudity and do their rituals in robes, though strict Gardnerians and Alexandrians retain the practice.

GARDNERIAN WICCA IN THE UNITED STATES

Gardnerian Wicca or Witchcraft was brought to the United States by Raymond and Rosemary Buckland. Longtime students of the occult, they heard of Gardner and traveled to the Isle of Man, where he operated a witchcraft and magic museum. While there they went through an intensive program in Gardner's witchcraft and were initiated into both the first and second degrees (which is contrary to standard practice that requires a year and a day between initiations). Upon their return, they formed a coven on Long Island and became the center of a burgeoning movement. Much of the spread of the movement was due to the Bucklands' availability to the media whose interest was sparked both by the witchcraft museum they owned and their willingness to be interviewed and photographed as witches.

Soon after Witchcraft spread across America, other people attracted to the Goddess faith began to create variations on it. One set of variations became known as "Neo-Paganism." Donna Cole, a Chicago witch who had received her initiation in the late 1960's, composed a set of rituals, similar to Gardner's, but much more worshipful and celebrative and less focused upon magic. These rituals circulated through the witchcraft community in the United States and became the basis of a set of "Pagan Way" temples, several of wich served as outer courts for the more secretive and exclusive witchcraft groupos. The term "Neo-Paganism" was actually coined by Tim Zell (now known as Otter G'Zell) who also composed a set of alternative rituals and founded a new group, the Church of All Worlds.

Neo-Pagan grups differ primarily from witchcraft groups by their rejection of the designation "witch." They will also occasionally vary by their adoption of a particular pre-Christian tradition (Druidic, Norse, Egyptian) from which to draw the inspiration and symbology of their ritual life.

SATANISM

Often confused with witchcraft is the worship of Satan; witches, however, are quick to protest such Identification and to assert the strong distinction between the two. The basic distinction is the relation to Christianity. Witchcraft logically (if not chronologically) "pre-dates" Christianity. That is, it exists in its own right, much as other non-Christian religions. (There is some doubt that any religion can grow up in Western culture without direct reaction to Christianity, but witches are certainly articulating the possibility.) Witchcraft exists as an alternative to the Christian faith, much as do Buddhism and Hinduism.

Satanism, on the other hand, is logically subsequent to Christianity and
draws on it in representing an overthrow of the Christian deity in favor of his adversary. It stands in polemical relation to Christianity and, in both relief and ritual, uses Christian elements, which are changed and given new meaning. The most famous element used by Satanists is the Black Mass, an obvious corruption of Christian liturgies.

Apart from their allegiance to Satan and resultant dislike for the Christian church, Satanists do share in common the magical world-view of witches. Many Satanists openly claim witchcraft as their own. Their most vocal exponent, Anton LaVey, has entitled one of his books, _The Compleat Witch_. Satanists have as an unwitting ally the conservative Christian press, which would like to brand witches as Satanists (and lump all psychics in with them). They are also aided by a tradition stemming from the era of the great witch trials, when witchcraft was defined as the worship of Satan. One could easily make the case that contemporary Satanism is a produce of Christian polemics. Paranoid perceptions of "the enemy" have led to irrational accusations concerning beliefs, obscenities, profanities, rituals and behavior patterns. These accusations merely gave people new ideas; the anti-witch books became the textbooks for Satanic practices.

Contemporary Satanism seems to have little connection organizationally with earlier Satanism. Books on black magick, Satanism, and the psychic in general seem to provide the source, and the contemporary psychic scene, the setting, from which Satanic practices could emerge. The magical writings of Aleister Crowley have been influential in many areas.

Satanists do share a number of sumbols (and ritual practices) with all magical religions, but several are unique and distinctive. The inverted pentagram, the five-pointed star with the single point down, is the most frequently used. The Horned God in the form of the Goat of Mendes is common.

The pentagram is often mixed with the goat, stamped upon the goat's forehead. Not as often seen as some might think is the black inverted cross. With the decline in power of the Roman Catholic Church (since the days of the Holy Roman Empire), from which most Satanists come, the Black Mass is not practiced much.

As one studies the contemporary Satanist scene, two distinct realities emerge. On the one hand are what are frequently termed the "sickies." These are disconnected groups of occultists who employ Satan worship to cover a variety of sexual, sado-masochistic, clandestine, psychopathic and illegal activities. From these groups come grave-robberies, sexual assaults and blood letting (both animal and human). These groups are characterized by lack of theology, disconnectedness and short life, and informality of meetings. Usually they are discovered only in the incident that destroys them.
On the other hand are the public groups which take Satanism as a religion seriously and have developed articulate theologies which do not resemble in many ways what one might expect. Their systems closely resemble liberal Christian theologies with the addition of a powerful cultural symbol (Satan), radically redefined. There is a wide gulf between the second type of Satanist and his "sick" cousin. While, theologically, the Christian might find them both reprehensible, their behavior is drastically different and the groups should not be confused.

In the mid-1970's, Satanism as a whole waned in strength in the U.S., though several new Satanic groups appeared. These include the Temple of Set, headquartered in San Francisco and the Fraternity of the Goat, headquartered in Wheaton, Illinois

Well after all that typing i've realised that i was the one who printed off and have an electronic copy i could have cut and pasted.

Hopefully this should be of some interest


#29 aphrodite

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Posted 19 October 2009 - 04:22 AM

Well that is certainly a comprehensive look at things labelled witchcraft, but I think theres alot left out, and alot not mentioned. I guess the first thing that struck me about it is that its called a religion. To me witches can be from many religions. I've known witches who worshipped a local rock, no joke, and it was an uncanny thing, no one else wanted to go near it, to various deities, to no deities at all just nature, just all sorts of things. I met an African lady the other day, and me and her clicked real quick, because even though she's an Ifa priestess, shes also quite obviously a folk witch and I felt very comfortable talking to her about spirits because of that. But I've been alot of places around the world, and met lots of people I would definately consider witches and they all had different religious beliefs. Now if they had said that all witches have a connection with nature I would have agreed. I don't even really get witches who don't do at least some things with nature, even if its celebrating the seasons.

Also in terms of powwow doctors, I knew one growing up and there was nothing Christian in her beliefs. She was a Goddess worshipper and had a copy of the Long Lost Friend that called on Pagan deities, not Christian ones. Theres some powerful german witches that may have some practice in common with the Powwow doctors, but are a bit different and don't call on anything Christian.

Also they don't mention Hoodoo much, which is a mix of American folk magic types, probably not starting so much from Voodoo as it did from Orisha and Obeah magic brought over by the slaves. I don't really regard it as witchcraft per say although it makes a handy accompaniment to it.

Rural witches didn't all have book of shadows. They were just as likely to write notes about spells and charms in their gardening or cook books. .


#30 froglover

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 02:10 AM

Isn't there anything that ties the practices together that allows a practice to be called Witchcraft instead of just a system of magic?


I've always had a vague impression that "witchcraft proper" had to do with moon magic, although the term is used in a broader sense.


#31 GeminiKiss

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Posted 31 December 2009 - 06:16 AM

we also had the native americans. that is where some of the beliefs in my family came from.

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#32 Zoe

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Posted 29 August 2010 - 09:40 PM

Like other people have said..I think witchcraft here is diverse because different ideas were brought by different people. To the person who said he felt sorry for Americans, Canadians, etc. you are right...it def. makes it harder for me.

"My, what beautiful blossoms we have this year. But look, this one's late. But I'll bet that when it blooms, it will be the most beautiful of all."

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#33 TigerLily

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Posted 30 August 2010 - 10:07 AM

I'm not sorry for being an American witch at all. In fact, I think we are quite lucky to have access to such a wide variety of folk practices to learn from! Because most Americans are of mixed races, i think it gives us a broader understanding of multiple cultures and in turn, "widens our horizons". I find great enjoyment in learning about American Indian, African American, Mexican and the many other traditions that thrive in our country. With so much to choose from, we are always learning something completely new!
I would have to say that I have a little sympathy for our UK friends because for those who ARE interested in Hoodoo, Santeria or Native American folklore, its very difficult to find "legit" teachers or actual living people who are in the UK and actively practice it.
I am not trying to put down our friends across the pond, but i think that most witches and Pagans (in the U.S and Canada) forget about American witchcraft and tend to over emphasize Celtic or British practices. A good example is that EVERY Pagan in my community celebrates the Celtic and European Pagan holidays and worships Celtic or European gods and goddesses despite what their own cultural background may be. I know that everyone has the right to study whatever interests them, and take up whatever deity feels "right" to them, but to be COMPLETLEY and utterly honest with you, I still can't help but find it interesting when I hear a person of African or Hispanic descent say that their matron goddess is Brigid or The Morrigan and that they have no interest whatsoever in the beliefs of their ancestors.. once again, just tryin' to be honest. :lol_witch: Sorry for the rant, there.

"Let it all be animal, my life and death, hard and clean like that, anything but human... a lot I care, me with my red heart in the dark earth and my tattooed feet following the animal ways."
-Vali Myers ~ 1963

#34 o_O

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Posted 30 August 2010 - 10:16 PM

I'm not sorry for being an American witch at all. In fact, I think we are quite lucky to have access to such a wide variety of folk practices to learn from! Because most Americans are of mixed races, i think it gives us a broader understanding of multiple cultures and in turn, "widens our horizons". I find great enjoyment in learning about American Indian, African American, Mexican and the many other traditions that thrive in our country. With so much to choose from, we are always learning something completely new!
I would have to say that I have a little sympathy for our UK friends because for those who ARE interested in Hoodoo, Santeria or Native American folklore, its very difficult to find "legit" teachers or actual living people who are in the UK and actively practice it.
I am not trying to put down our friends across the pond, but i think that most witches and Pagans (in the U.S and Canada) forget about American witchcraft and tend to over emphasize Celtic or British practices. A good example is that EVERY Pagan in my community celebrates the Celtic and European Pagan holidays and worships Celtic or European gods and goddesses despite what their own cultural background may be. I know that everyone has the right to study whatever interests them, and take up whatever deity feels "right" to them, but to be COMPLETLEY and utterly honest with you, I still can't help but find it interesting when I hear a person of African or Hispanic descent say that their matron goddess is Brigid or The Morrigan and that they have no interest whatsoever in the beliefs of their ancestors.. once again, just tryin' to be honest. :lol_witch: Sorry for the rant, there.


I completely agree with you. I grew up with 3 different paths of witchcraft(Cherokee, Celtic Folk, Voodoo) in my family, which was wonderful. Learning that practices are different was what really got me into looking around and helped me to figure out that I had to look at witchcraft for myself, figure out my own path instead of just following and being of just one thing, which I think can be very limiting.


#35 LadyOwl

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 06:26 AM

:popcorn: Well...to try to add what I can here...the way I see it, it all boils down to how you as an individual perceive it.
What one may see as magic, another may see as ... (insert belief system here).

To try to elaborate...and I emphasize try here...so bear with me...

...one member mentions that if a witch were to refrain from 'magical' practice, then that would leave 'healing'.

Myself, I see them as 2 cards in the same deck. Just as another may see it as 'positive thinking', 'prayer', 'Divine Intervention' via an external power outside of their own...and if someone doesn't stop this train, it's going to hit the wall~

I hope this made some sense. No...I didn't think so.

*whistles softly, as she backs out, and back up to the branch she was on*:whistling:

Edited by LadyOwl, 10 April 2011 - 06:29 AM.

Good News: There's always a light at the end of the tunnel.
Bad News: Most of the time, it's a train...

#36 Michele

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 01:11 PM

Although I practice magic, it is not something I do on a regular basis - sometimes I do it more than others, sometimes I could go months without doing spellwork. I have protections up, etc., and some would call that magic, others folklore or superstition. Healing work I rarely do for personal reasons. Magic I do if I have a need for something that is not forth-coming in mundane channels. For me (and only me; I can't speak for others) my Path is a mystical one, and magic is simply a by-product of my path and beliefs. "Witch" is basicaly a label other people have given me. The label doesn't change who I am or what I do, only the perceptions others have of me. As such, for me, whether or not a witch can be a witch if she doesn't practice magic is really only humans trying to define a label. To me a witch is one who understands the world in a specific way, and this way is not the understanding of most people. It is a way of seeing things and interacting with things. If I met someone who had bought a book on spells and did spells often but had no inkling of the invisible realms, spirit work, the true nature of Nature, etc., I wouldn't consider them a witch. I'd just consider them someone who read a book and played about with spells on a regular basis. Taking a class in drawing and piddling about with some paint doesn't make one an artist, either.

M


#37 CelticGypsy

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 02:07 PM

Although I practice magic, it is not something I do on a regular basis - sometimes I do it more than others, sometimes I could go months without doing spellwork. I have protections up, etc., and some would call that magic, others folklore or superstition. Healing work I rarely do for personal reasons. Magic I do if I have a need for something that is not forth-coming in mundane channels. For me (and only me; I can't speak for others) my Path is a mystical one, and magic is simply a by-product of my path and beliefs. "Witch" is basicaly a label other people have given me. The label doesn't change who I am or what I do, only the perceptions others have of me. As such, for me, whether or not a witch can be a witch if she doesn't practice magic is really only humans trying to define a label. To me a witch is one who understands the world in a specific way, and this way is not the understanding of most people. It is a way of seeing things and interacting with things. If I met someone who had bought a book on spells and did spells often but had no inkling of the invisible realms, spirit work, the true nature of Nature, etc., I wouldn't consider them a witch. I'd just consider them someone who read a book and played about with spells on a regular basis. Taking a class in drawing and piddling about with some paint doesn't make one an artist, either.

M



That's the beauty of it, while your path is mystical and your fervor gravitates to that to get you the answers to the questions you pose. Myself, I feel drawn to work magic within the cycles of the moon. The magic doesn't have to be earth shattering or change the course of history, it's a privilge to operate within the realm of energy. The moon gives me a balanced time frame, an ongoing opportunity to utilize the properties of the moon's energy, combined with my own. It's a visual guide for me, and I like the structure of time essence. Keeps me inline with path and teaches me patience with myself, kinda like guiding a horse with a set of reins, although the rider needs to have soft hands in which to give the horse the connection of the command.
Regards,
Gypsy

" The last thing you wanted a Witch to do is get bored and start making her own amusements, because Witches sometimes have erratically famous ideas about what was amusing "

 

Terry Pratchett Legends 1 


#38 LadyOwl

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Posted 11 April 2011 - 11:00 PM

...If I met someone who had bought a book on spells and did spells often but had no inkling of the invisible realms, spirit work, the true nature of Nature, etc., I wouldn't consider them a witch. I'd just consider them someone who read a book and played about with spells on a regular basis. Taking a class in drawing and piddling about with some paint doesn't make one an artist, either.

M


I must say, Michelle, I love the way you think, and your writing clearly is a window into how your perception of things is.
Myself, I couldn't agree with you more here...In time, I too will allow myself to open up a bit more here, but for the time being, I'm just going to oil my rusty joints and let myself get gradually immersed into the other conversations here, as an observer primarily, then onto more of a participant again. ;)

=0.0=

Good News: There's always a light at the end of the tunnel.
Bad News: Most of the time, it's a train...

#39 Athena

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 06:25 PM

I find it odd that a book about witchcraft in America doesn't even touch on the Native Americans I can't help but wonder why that is. In fact looking about it seems either tribal magic is dismissed misunderstood or intentionally disregarded because of prejudice or simple ignorance . I noticed even the people here stated witchcraft came to America with the settlers and to be honest I'm rather offended by that statement it's very frustrating to me that like so many things witchcraft included are over looked even though there are well known curses that have effected America for century's. today Native American medicines are just now starting to be reintroduced and be credited for how well they work. There are so many things that have been stolen from us that it isn't surprising many want to hide our beliefs and customs from outsiders for fear they will be stolen as well. I think part of the reason for this is that for many many years we where beaten down intentionally to the point that now days many refuse to stand up and reclaim our history not to mention so much has been lost. I'm sorry if this is a rant but it hits close to my heart and I think it's time for us to stand up and reclaim our part in history and I hate seeing my ancestors over looked because they where literally written out of history.

#40 Whiterose

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 06:37 PM

I find it odd that a book about witchcraft in America doesn't even touch on the Native Americans I can't help but wonder why that is. In fact looking about it seems either tribal magic is dismissed misunderstood or intentionally disregarded because of prejudice or simple ignorance . I noticed even the people here stated witchcraft came to America with the settlers and to be honest I'm rather offended by that statement it's very frustrating to me that like so many things witchcraft included are over looked even though there are well known curses that have effected America for century's. today Native American medicines are just now starting to be reintroduced and be credited for how well they work. There are so many things that have been stolen from us that it isn't surprising many want to hide our beliefs and customs from outsiders for fear they will be stolen as well. I think part of the reason for this is that for many many years we where beaten down intentionally to the point that now days many refuse to stand up and reclaim our history not to mention so much has been lost. I'm sorry if this is a rant but it hits close to my heart and I think it's time for us to stand up and reclaim our part in history and I hate seeing my ancestors over looked because they where literally written out of history.


Not everyone forgets. I see Native American tribal magic as some of the most authentic stuff here in the States. Even hoodoo and the folk magic of the hills pull from some of it especially the rootworking. That is why witchcraft in the States have a different flavor than British traditional craft because of the Native American influence. So it is important here. People tend to forget about that in favor of strictly European or African witchcraft but the truth is, its all mixed here, just like our heritage and you are now starting to see people realize that and pull away from wicca and its parent craft in favor a more mixed approach that is more in line with who they are and where they grew up.

Edited by Whiterose, 22 January 2013 - 06:39 PM.