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Path of the Thorn-Blooded Witch


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#1 Shadow Touch

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 05:01 PM

I’d like to share aspects of the tradition I practice, and to discover what anyone on this forum practices that is similar. First let me say that I don't call it "Traditional Witchcraft" because my teachers called it "Old Ways" witchcraft, and so I honor that phraseology. Whether or not these "Old Ways" are a form of Traditional Witchcraft is perhaps a matter for those who enjoy debate.

We call ourselves Thorn-Blooded Witches because (in part) we begin the Path by pricking a finger with a rose thorn and offering three drops to the roots of a chosen rose bush. This initiates a connection to the spirit of the rose, which serves as a go-between with spirits of the Plant Realm. The rose, and its spirit, is found in many of the Old Craft traditions.

We believe in an ancestral current that connects generations (what some writers now refer to as the "living river of blood" that flows through time). We envision our ancestors as being within us (in the sense of a collective consciousness). Our beliefs in general are "rooted" ideas and we use the Plant Realm as a metaphor for our views. What I mean is that we think in terms of cycles from seed to fruit, and we look at seasons as representations of our mortal condition. We use magic, and we regard it as raw energy that can be drawn or raised, intensified, and then directed towards a goal.

We have a spiritual tradition in which we view reincarnation and its purpose. This is symbolized by what we call the Five-Thorned Path. As a symbol it looks like a five-pointed star (one tip upward). Each of the five triangles of the “star” are colored red. This symbolizes a blooded thorn. Thorns are challenges, personal trials, and the things that hone us in strength. The five red thorns surround a pentagon shape in the center of the star, and is colored black. It represents the organic memory of the earth, which we call Shadow. Tracing the star from the upper tip to each of the other tips (clockwise) tells our reincarnation story. It is as follows: "We descend from the stars, and we are fated by the sun, envisioned by the moon, and given form by the land. We stand rooted in Shadow, and reach upward towards the stars" (this is the Thorn Gate of the Soul). Essentially this depicts the soul as being outside of the material realm prior to rebirth (star). In its "descent" into the mortal realm it takes on an astrological imprint (sun), then becomes enveloped in a spirit body (moon). It then passes into a flesh body (land), and in that body the soul is physically connected to the organic memory of the earth (Shadow). One of the goals of reincarnation is to resolve the need for the experience of material existence (symbolized by the phrase -reaching up to the stars).

We have another star that symbolizes the power of the witch, and we call it the Gathered Thorns. This star has two points upward, and like the other one, the triangles are colored red. Starting from the bottom single tip, and working to the other tips in clockwise fashion, they represent: herbalist, seer, spirit medium, mystic, and sorceress/sorcerer. We train in each of these areas so at become accomplished in the Arts.

We have only one law pertaining to “ethics” and it states that we never harm the innocent. We define an innocent as one who doesn't provoke us. Provoke us and you lose the protection of being innocent.

We embrace the "constructive" and "destructive" ways of magic in keeping with the forces of nature itself. For us it’s the natural order of things, and so we use the “healing” and “harming” arts. We’re not “turn the other cheek” witches, and we’re not pacifists. We’re like the creatures of nature that prefer to be left in peace but will fight when attacked or cornered. The discernment is our own.

We work with entities that we believe are connected to the Plant Realm, and with powerful entities associated with the celestial and with “Otherworld" realms. Among the latter are the old Faery race (not the cute flower fairies of pop culture). We believe in allies and work intimately with them.

How does any of this match or differ from your own views and practices?

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A thorn-blooded witch of the Old Ways

#2 Anara

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 05:35 PM

I do not follow a particular tradition, Shadow Touch, to be honest.

I did, however, enjoy reading what you wrote and found some things that resonated with me.

Thank you for sharing the tenets of your path :)

~Anara

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#3 Brigid

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 05:37 PM

As this is a path created by the Grimassi's I would think that you would have learned from the last debate that most of the people don't have any interest in continuing the conversation. JMO
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#4 spinney

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 05:49 PM

As this is a path created by the Grimassi's I would think that you would have learned from the last debate that most of the people don't have any interest in continuing the conversation. JMO



Brigid. You have no right to tell people what they can and cannot post. If YOU do not want to read what the OP has written then do not read it. Other people may be interested in this post. Any other remarks like this will be deleted.


#5 Aloe

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 06:05 PM

I’d like to share aspects of the tradition I practice, and to discover what anyone on this forum practices that is similar. First let me say that I don't call it "Traditional Witchcraft" because my teachers called it "Old Ways" witchcraft, and so I honor that phraseology. Whether or not these "Old Ways" are a form of Traditional Witchcraft is perhaps a matter for those who enjoy debate.


This is interesting, because when I was reading Old World Witchcraft I wondered if the term "Old Ways" was being used as a proper noun to refer to a specific tradition that's been created, rather than in the literal definition of the two words. Now I know. :)


I don't exactly follow a specific tradition, but I'll answer your question on how yours differs from my path.


We call ourselves Thorn-Blooded Witches because (in part) we begin the Path by pricking a finger with a rose thorn and offering three drops to the roots of a chosen rose bush. This initiates a connection to the spirit of the rose, which serves as a go-between with spirits of the Plant Realm. The rose, and its spirit, is found in many of the Old Craft traditions.


Well I believe that the beginning of my path was long before my lifetime, and that my connection to various plants were initiated by the spirits of those plants themselves. Certainly not downplaying this particular ritual though, as offering my blood to my plants is something I've done and continue to do.

We believe in an ancestral current that connects generations (what some writers now refer to as the "living river of blood" that flows through time). We envision our ancestors as being within us (in the sense of a collective consciousness). Our beliefs in general are "rooted" ideas and we use the Plant Realm as a metaphor for our views. What I mean is that we think in terms of cycles from seed to fruit, and we look at seasons as representations of our mortal condition. We use magic, and we regard it as raw energy that can be drawn or raised, intensified, and then directed towards a goal.


I view ancestors as individual spirits, rather than an all inclusive current. (assuming I understood you right.) I am quite connected to plants, in all their cycles as well.

We have a spiritual tradition in which we view reincarnation and its purpose. This is symbolized by what we call the Five-Thorned Path. As a symbol it looks like a five-pointed star (one tip upward). Each of the five triangles of the “star” are colored red. This symbolizes a blooded thorn. Thorns are challenges, personal trials, and the things that hone us in strength. The five red thorns surround a pentagon shape in the center of the star, and is colored black. It represents the organic memory of the earth, which we call Shadow. Tracing the star from the upper tip to each of the other tips (clockwise) tells our reincarnation story. It is as follows: "We descend from the stars, and we are fated by the sun, envisioned by the moon, and given form by the land. We stand rooted in Shadow, and reach upward towards the stars" (this is the Thorn Gate of the Soul). Essentially this depicts the soul as being outside of the material realm prior to rebirth (star). In its "descent" into the mortal realm it takes on an astrological imprint (sun), then becomes enveloped in a spirit body (moon). It then passes into a flesh body (land), and in that body the soul is physically connected to the organic memory of the earth (Shadow). One of the goals of reincarnation is to resolve the need for the experience of material existence (symbolized by the phrase -reaching up to the stars).


While I believe that there is a lot of evidence for reincarnation and that I may have experienced some visions of a past life, it isn't something I've gotten too deep into. I view the term "Shadow" differently than what you've laid out here. Not that what you've laid out is wrong, just not how I use the term. I think my take on land memories might be similar to what you've termed as the "organic memory of the earth", but I'm not sure.

We have only one law pertaining to “ethics” and it states that we never harm the innocent. We define an innocent as one who doesn't provoke us. Provoke us and you lose the protection of being innocent.


My personal craft ethics are to look at things on a case by case basis. No hard and fast rules. For myself, I wouldn't define an innocent as one who doesn't provoke me, as a child could provoke me, but I'd still consider them an innocent. That may be nit picking the definition, but that's why I personally don't use such a definition. The possible loopholes would drive me nuts, just thinking them out. lol


We embrace the "constructive" and "destructive" ways of magic in keeping with the forces of nature itself. For us it’s the natural order of things, and so we use the “healing” and “harming” arts. We’re not “turn the other cheek” witches, and we’re not pacifists. We’re like the creatures of nature that prefer to be left in peace but will fight when attacked or cornered. The discernment is our own.


This is similar to me.

We work with entities that we believe are connected to the Plant Realm, and with powerful entities associated with the celestial and with “Otherworld" realms. Among the latter are the old Faery race (not the cute flower fairies of pop culture). We believe in allies and work intimately with them.


I don't work with many entities or with the Faery race as its been explained to me, however I do with work with plant spirits, and various spirits just show up and make contact with me often. I don't always know how to define them in the accepted witchcraft terms, so they could be similar or not, I don't know. :)

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"The people who live in the Ozark country of Missouri and Arkansas were, until very recently, the most deliberately unprogressive people in the United States. Descended from pioneers who came West from the Southern Appalachians at the beginning of the nineteenth century, they made little contact with the outer world for more than a hundred years. They seem like foreigners to the average urban American, but nearly all of them come of British stock, and many families have lived in America since colonial days. Their material heirlooms are few, but like all isolated illiterates they have clung to the old songs and obsolete sayings and outworn customs of their ancestors." Ozark Magic and Folklore

#6 Pye

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 06:21 PM

I did happen to find it interesting. I do find others views interesting even though I don't necessarily agree with them.
Perhaps it's not necessarily what you do that differs so much as the way that you do it Shadow Touch.
My own practice, although involving some of the things you mention e.g. plant allies, ancestors, is not structured (other than my own), solitary and I would suspect perhaps quite different methods.
Still, we are people doing our thing in the way that suits us best.






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#7 Aloe

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 06:33 PM

I did happen to find it interesting. I do find others views interesting even though I don't necessarily agree with them.
Perhaps it's not necessarily what you do that differs so much as the way that you do it Shadow Touch.
My own practice, although involving some of the things you mention e.g. plant allies, ancestors, is not structured (other than my own), solitary and I would suspect perhaps quite different methods.
Still, we are people doing our thing in the way that suits us best.


Good points.

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"The people who live in the Ozark country of Missouri and Arkansas were, until very recently, the most deliberately unprogressive people in the United States. Descended from pioneers who came West from the Southern Appalachians at the beginning of the nineteenth century, they made little contact with the outer world for more than a hundred years. They seem like foreigners to the average urban American, but nearly all of them come of British stock, and many families have lived in America since colonial days. Their material heirlooms are few, but like all isolated illiterates they have clung to the old songs and obsolete sayings and outworn customs of their ancestors." Ozark Magic and Folklore

#8 Shadow Touch

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 07:44 PM

As this is a path created by the Grimassi's I would think that you would have learned from the last debate that most of the people don't have any interest in continuing the conversation. JMO


Brigid, just to correct your misunderstanding, Grimassi points out in his new book that the material is derived from witches he met who practice the Thorn Path (Old World Witchcraft). I think you have confused and conflated his Ash, Birch and Willow system with the preexisting path of Old World Witchcraft that he's incorporated various elements of into his own system. I pointed this out in the book review section when this and other matters were misrepresented on that thread. Perhaps you skim read the discussion and missed the pertinent information.

As to my "continuing" the other thread, actually no, the other thread was a book review. This thread is about the practices of the Path, not about Grimassi's book or his take on the tradition of Old World Witchcraft. I'm aware that you and a couple of others in the book review discussion were unreceptive to my views, but whether this constitutes that "most people" are uninterested in what I have to say about Old World Witchcraft, well, I guess this current thread will tell. If that becomes apparent then I will happily discontinue posting about it.

Edited by Shadow Touch, 26 October 2011 - 07:50 PM.

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A thorn-blooded witch of the Old Ways

#9 spinney

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 07:47 PM

Please keep all posts on topic. If you want to discuss further use private messages.

#10 Tana

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 07:52 PM

As this is a path created by the Grimassi's I would think that you would have learned from the last debate that most of the people don't have any interest in continuing the conversation. JMO


Brigid
I completely agree with Spinney. In addition I would add that it is not your job to police this site. As to your claim to speaking for 'most of the people' I am afraid that numerous PMs disagreeing with you would negate your claim to be the voice of the people. Please re-read the guidance on membership to refresh yourself as to posting etc. There is a big difference between feisty, healthy debate and picking on someone.



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#11 Vermilion

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 07:57 PM

Tell me if this question is overstepping boundaries, but I am curious about the rose bush that you develop connection with. Is this a plant that you visit regularly? Is it usually on your own property? Can you use the leaves and petals in workings, or is that not really done? Do you personally care for it?
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#12 Shadow Touch

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 08:21 PM

Tell me if this question is overstepping boundaries, but I am curious about the rose bush that you develop connection with. Is this a plant that you visit regularly? Is it usually on your own property? Can you use the leaves and petals in workings, or is that not really done? Do you personally care for it?


Thanks for the great question. Yes, it's taught that we care for a specific bush. Many of us prefer to plant and tend it in our own garden, but others have chosen one in a public place because they live in an apartment and don't have a garden. A personal rapport with the plant is the vital thing after all is said and done.

Part of our ways is to go to the rose bush on each black moon and full moon. We give offerings and exchange the red and the green blood. This deepens the intimate relationship with She of the Thorn-Blooded Rose. In the winter this changes, and when the life of the rose has retreated underground, we have another way. This involves using the harvested leaves and petals, placing them in the mortar & pestle, and we "reanimate" the rose by mixing three drops of blood with three drops of liquid chlorophyll. We then use the mortar & pestle as a "portal" through which we continue "spirit communication" - if that makes sense.

So yes, the leaves and petals can be harvested, and are. This is always performed with reverence and by preparing both the plant and its spirit for the act of harvesting. We hum a specific tune, which we call the harvester's song, and then we take the leaves and petals.

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#13 Mountain Witch

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 09:11 PM

It's not for me but I'm always open to reading/hearing about others' paths - what they feel they can share, that is. Fascinating, ST!
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#14 Shadow Touch

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 09:21 PM

It's not for me but I'm always open to reading/hearing about others' paths - what they feel they can share, that is. Fascinating, ST!


Thanks, I appreciate the spirit of your reply. Through sharing we can all learn things, and sometimes what we learn is that it's perfect right where we are for now.

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#15 Marabet

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 11:02 PM

Very interesting, Shadow Touch! Thanks for sharing that. I especially liked the pricking ritual as well as the 5 points of study.

Like MW said it's not for me but I find it fascinating nonetheless.

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#16 Shadow Touch

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Posted 27 October 2011 - 01:40 PM

Very interesting, Shadow Touch! Thanks for sharing that. I especially liked the pricking ritual as well as the 5 points of study.

Like MW said it's not for me but I find it fascinating nonetheless.


Thanks for the kind reply. I appreciate that this Path isn't for everyone, and I'm sure people understand that I'm not here recruiting. My hope is to learn what, if anything, is similar in the practice of others when compared to the Thorn Path. My reading about Traditional Witchcraft leads me to believe we come from the same or similar origins. I'm curious about the possible relationship.

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#17 Marabet

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Posted 27 October 2011 - 03:42 PM

I would say that in my own practice I am veyr similar when it comes to "don't harm the innocent". But what stood out to me was the concept of the 5 areas of study. Recently this has been on my mind but in a different way so seeing the little bit that you offered here has sorta brought that out again. Basically my thought is that witch, or what have you, is a broad term and that within that we find different... avenues of interest? That doesn't quite sound right but hopefully you understand what I am getting at. Essentially everybody's got their something, points where they excel and points where they don't right into certain points being central to their practice. I know that's not what you were getting at but, and I could just not have been around the block enough to have noticed this before, listing the different avenues in such a manner is new to me and I like it.

Beyond that I don't have much in common more than likely because I don't work with plants. I have a garden, I eat them, I use them in teas and salves and tinctures (etc) but the magical connection you are describing is not something I have in my personal path or one I would like to seek out at the moment. I do like the idea of using plant lore as metaphor. I'm a sucker for metaphor, though.

I'm not sure if this is too off topic but could you go into why the rose a bit more? Or maybe there is a link that explains it?

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I ran to a tower where the church bells chime
I hoped that they would clear my mind
They left a ringing in my ear
But that drum's still beating loud and clear

{Florence + The Machine 'Drumming Song'}

#18 Shadow Touch

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Posted 27 October 2011 - 05:57 PM

Beyond that I don't have much in common more than likely because I don't work with plants. I have a garden, I eat them, I use them in teas and salves and tinctures (etc) but the magical connection you are describing is not something I have in my personal path or one I would like to seek out at the moment. I do like the idea of using plant lore as metaphor. I'm a sucker for metaphor, though.


I understand. On a side note, ancient thought once held that the effects of plants came from their spirit (sort of like being drunk was being possessed by Dionysos). Our distant ancestors didn't know about chemical composition, and so it seems natural they'd link the effects were either magical or spirit induced. I guess that today we have the choice of viewing things as a scientist or a mystic. In my Path we choose the mystical.

I'm not sure if this is too off topic but could you go into why the rose a bit more? Or maybe there is a link that explains it?


The rose features a great deal in old folklore. Author R.J Stewart talks about it in very interesting ways. In his book, The Well of Light, he discusses the "mystery of the double rose." He writes that the rose features prominently in Faery tradition, and he goes on to note that the rose is "an entity, a spiritual being, and a spiritual power." (page 110). Stewart points to the "Scottish Faery ballad" of Tam Lin, in which the "double rose" appears in connection with the sacred hill, the wood, the well, and the lovers. The double rose is one red and one white, and is used in the tale to pull Tam Lin from the spirit world where he is trapped. This has connection to the ways of the rose in my own tradition.

The double rose appears in old tales of star-crossed lovers. After their tragic death, a red rose is planted on one grave and a white on the other. The roses eventually become entangled as they grow, and then form a "lover's knot' above the graves. This is all very esoteric stuff involving the rose and its role in the material and spiritual realms.

But to answer your question, why the rose? - well, it's so rooted in old lore (particularly Faery lore) that we have to say 'how can it not' be the one! ;) But seriously, the question is answered in the experience of the rose through She of the Thorn-Blooded Rose (as well as through delving deeply into the role of the rose in folkloric traditions). In essence, the rose spirit is a "go-between" and an intermediary between both the Faery World and the Plant Realm. She opens the way, introduces one to other realities & beings, and is a guide and protector. This is why, in my tradition, we begin with her as we enter the Path of the Blooded-Thorn. I hope this helps, I'm open to further questions.

Edited by Shadow Touch, 27 October 2011 - 06:00 PM.

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#19 CelticGypsy

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Posted 27 October 2011 - 06:22 PM

I'm inclined to believe and can accept that any plant that a Witch forms an ongoing two sided relationship with would offer up knowledge regarding the plant realm and in my humble opinion, plants whether they are roses, dandylions or violets are sentient beings with tales to tell of their properties and the like. It's all about the relationship formed, the trust of one realm to another realm. One could even further this relationship to trees and their wisdom, kept secret.

Regards,
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#20 Shadow Touch

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Posted 27 October 2011 - 07:56 PM

I'm inclined to believe and can accept that any plant that a Witch forms an ongoing two sided relationship with would offer up knowledge regarding the plant realm and in my humble opinion, plants whether they are roses, dandylions or violets are sentient beings with tales to tell of their properties and the like. It's all about the relationship formed, the trust of one realm to another realm. One could even further this relationship to trees and their wisdom, kept secret.

Regards,
Gypsy


Thanks for sharing your view. I agree that all plants, and their spirits, have their tales to tell.

For me, and those of my tradition, the experience has been that specific plants (and their spirits) have individual "talents" and "ways" much like individual people do. By analogy, I wouldn't go to a friend who is a plumber and ask for electrical work in my home. I'd pick the electrician, although they are both lovely people. I think, also, that there is a tie in here with specific plants having specific correspondences in spell craft. Seems like the ideas associated with plants are more specialized than free form. But perhaps other people outside the Thorn Path experience this all differently.

Edited by Shadow Touch, 27 October 2011 - 07:56 PM.

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A thorn-blooded witch of the Old Ways