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Traditional Witchcraft


In the article, I will frequently use the word "some" because of the vast amount of traditions out there of Traditional Witchcraft.

What is Traditional Witchcraft? Traditional Witchcraft is not Wicca; Traditional Witchcraft is Traditional Paganism. It is the practice of pre-Wiccan and pre-Christian beliefs (or at least trying to revive the old ways). There are many traditions in Traditional Witchcraft and it should be noted that not all Trads have the same beliefs and practices, but there are basic principles that are followed. Now on to the differences: Wicca is an oath bound, orthopraxic, fertility-based witch cult and mystery religion. Gerald B. Gardner created it in the 1950s and he never actually called it Wicca, but rather "Wica". Traditional Wicca requires its members to be initiated into a coven to actually be considered Wiccan and therefore there is no such thing as a "solitary Wiccan". It is said that in Wicca, one must be initiated in order to receive the Inner Court information (such as the deities "true" names). Depending on the tradition, Traditionalists may or may not require the seeker to be initiated.

Traditional Witchcraft does not follow the Wiccan Rede (created by Gerald B. Gardner) or the Threefold Law. "An ye harm none, do what ye will" is a part of the Wiccan Rede and many people refer to this as a law, when in fact the word "rede" actually means advice. We take responsibility for whatever we do, whether it be harming or healing. Traditionalists know that there is a creative and destructive side of nature; therefore there is no "white" or "black" magic. There are many Eastern philosophies included in Wicca (such as Karma), but Witchcraft originated from Western Europe and Trads prefer to stay true to the old ways which include folk magic. Traditional Witchcraft may be considered a religion to some, while others consider it just a craft, incorporating the craft into their religion. It all depends really.

Wiccans write in a journal that's called a Book of Shadows. They keep their workings, rituals, and other information in it. Some Trads do not keep a journal of their workings because of the belief that one should forget about it after it is done and then some write down their workings and experiences. Personally, I keep a binder full of my own workings that I have written and other information (such as moon cycles, planetary symbols and cycles, rune symbols, herbs and their chemical uses, etc.) that I call a grimoire. Some just call their book a journal. It really doesn't matter what you call it. The land and the ancestors are very important aspects of Traditional Witchcraft. Some Trads call on their ancestors for aid in working. I call on spirits and my ancestors in my workings and in divination; I ask for their wisdom and their guidance. While working outdoors, it is not uncommon for Trads to call on the land spirits or communicate with them. Spirits are an important aspect of Traditional Witchcraft. Ancestors are very important in the Trad. Craft because we searched for the old ways, which come from our ancestors! Spirits can provide us with knowledge and power. Spirits protect us when in working; they are called upon to bring power. We are surrounded by spirits, hence why they're important.

Many Traditional Witches do not believe in deities and many do. It all depends on your beliefs. I don't believe in deities and never have. I believe in and use the power of nature. We don't "worship" nature, though, as many people believe. Fate is a belief held by many. Many believe that your past affects your present and your present affects your future. I don't believe that our future has been laid out for us. This is the Way of Wyrd. Free will is also not believed in, as this is a part of Christian faith and the neo-Pagan movement. Although free will is not believed in by many, there is still common sense; if you manipulate a person's mind to love you and they do not truly do, do you believe it will actually last? Hexes, curses, jinxes, etc. are not shunned in Traditional Witchcraft. If one truly needs to perform a hex or something of the like because the individual, friends, or family were hurt badly, then one would. Hexes and jinxes can be seen as a little slap, whereas curses are more extreme in their power. I have performed a few hexes and one curse; the curse was worked because of the extreme pain it caused a certain friend and I and how badly we were hurt for multiple years. I've seen many "fluffy" sites describing how it's always better to fill a person's heart with love instead of performing hexes, jinxes, and curses and not recognizing the destructive side of nature at all! While it is better to perform "positive" workings, do you really think that filling a person's heart with love will stop them from doing the degrading things they have done?

Traditionalists do not believe in the Summerlands as Wiccans do. We believe that spirits dwell in the spirit world, or Otherworld, and may return as a land spirit or in the form of something else. There are three levels of the world: Underworld, where the spirits dwell and where wisdom is kept, Middle World, what we live in, and the Upperworld, the home of the divine. The belief of afterlife varies from person to person. Hedge-riding is a practice that involves travelling to the spirit world through the use of trance work and other various techniques to alter the conscious mind (including entheogens, which are herbs and other substances used to induce trance) which allows the spirit to leave the body. Shamanic journeying is another practice involving leaving the body for spiritual growth; it is very similar to hedge-riding and is essentially rooted off of it. Common techniques to induce trance involve drumming, rattling, heavy dancing, rocking, entheogens, meditation, flying ointments, and a lot more. Books for the beginner are Hedge-Rider by Eric De Vries, Trance-portation by Diana L. Paxson, and The Temple of Shamanic Witchcraft by Christopher Penczak.

Many Traditionalists do not cast circles and some may cast what they call a "compass round" which is basically a circle, but does not have the same use as a circle does to a Wiccan or neo-pagan. Wiccans use circles in order to keep the energy within it and then send it out to the Universe, whereas a compass round is used for protection. A circle in Wicca creates a sacred space to perform their workings, but Trads consider all land sacred and therefore do not need to perform a compass round for a sacred space. Sabbat, or festival, observations and celebrations differ from tradition to tradition. Some Trads observe four and some observe eight. Personally, I observe eight. I do not relate these sabbats to specific legends that Wiccans believe in. I observe them for the change in nature.

Some Trads use the pentagram to symbolize the elements of the earth (Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit) while others don't believe in these elements because it originates from the East. Many neo-Pagan associate these elements with guardians/watchtowers to the four directions of the earth. Personally, I believe in the energy that flows from the four directions and from above and below. Robin Artisson has explained this in detail on his website. The symbol of this is called the "Witches Foot" or Hagal rune (from the Armanen Futharkh). Animism is a part of Traditional Witchcraft because we believe everything on this earth has a spirit (like plants, trees, etc.), just like Shamans.

Although there are many differences between Wicca, Traditional Witchcraft, and Neo-Paganism we all believe that nature is sacred and seek knowledge of the abyss.
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75 Comments

I admit that about 1/2 of the original article does not particularly resonate with me; however, the first few sections contain some interesting comments. I also enjoy the fact that the discussion did not turn into another round of "let's define Trad".

Might be fun to get more opinions on some of the posts here.
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I admit that about 1/2 of the original article does not particularly resonate with me; however, the first few sections contain some interesting comments. I also enjoy the fact that the discussion did not turn into another round of "let's define Trad".

Might be fun to get more opinions on some of the posts here.


I don't even bother at this point to define myself, lol. I find the personal responsibility thing an interesting concept as it is often quoted but never seems to be defined as to whom one is responsible, exactly. I have allies and things I believe in, and we work together, and they know what I do so it is seen, known. I've taken responsibility for it. Because if someone/thing sees what you do, then they know you are responsible for it. So to me personal responsibility is much more than merely answering to myself, it is being responsible to and answering to the ways of the things one works with.... their ancestors, their allies/friends, (and for me, personally, god/s). Like if the outcome of a spell is not what one planned - that person is still responsible for the outcome that DID happen, for they are the one who put it in motion.

I think it's also good to remember that the opening thread is an article. Written by one person. It is not subscribed to by all who practice, nor is it taken from a long-lost and well-hidden traditional manual. It is merely what one person believes and they wrote an article about their beliefs.


M
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CelticGypsy
Dec 01 2012 06:09 PM

As for the elements, I think it is worthwhile to know their meanings and symbols (for how can you work with any element in magic if you don't know what it represents, what to call upon it for?), but at this time I work with more than 4 elements. Water exists, whether one lives in Asia or Europe or TimBuckTwo, lol... it is the symbolism of that element within one's own particular tradition that I think is important when working with an element.

M


I've worked with the Elements and truely enjoy the alliance with them. I can see, taste, touch, smell and feel them. They ring true to me. All of them, except Air, I can not see it, but I do see the manifestation of it with my other senses. It's still truth to me. When I have the nudge to learn more from the Air Element, I study the steam boiling in the tea pot, I can run a spoon through the steam, collect the droplets of air/water, and stir that Element of Air into a mixture I am crafting. I'm still pursuing always the Element of Air. lol !


Regards,
Gypsy
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Voted that up CG, I love the idea of collecting the air element with a spoon!
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Hello!

I have a lot of question.

What is Way of Wyrd?

I wish I knew how to perform exercises on a hedge-riding. I've practiced witch's foot but I read that I have to leave an offering to the spirits...

How do you contact of spirits and ancestor?

Where I can find books of bennigers? In Spain, it´s impossible!

Thanks!!
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Way of Wyrd is a book by Brain Bates http://www.amazon.co...s/dp/1401905013
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I really enjoyed reading this,one of the first thing i red when i first came here. 

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I loved reading this post, and all the responses! It's amazing how similar some views are, yet how many different "threads" branch from any particular view. :)

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Sorry to revive a very old thread, but I can't understand this bit

"I don't believe that our future has been laid out for us... Free will is also not believed in..."

Surely if you don't believe in free will, ie that you can, within the limitations of the present, act as you wish, that is the same as saying that the future is laid out. Free will is the opposite of fate, so to disbelieve in one surely means the belief in the other? Can someone explain what I'm not understanding?

Aside from this confusion, it was a great and informative post, much appreciated and needed!
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I didnt re-read the whole of thread but that's just one opinion. Personally, I think it's a combination of both - some things are meant to be and others, not so much.
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I re-read that bit about free will, and I think perhaps it was referring to the neo-pagan belief about not imposing on someone else's free-will. But I don't know as I am not the writer of this article. But also remember this article is not a description of TW - it is a description of one person's interpretation of TW. There are a multitude of beliefs and paths of TW. So re the article, some people agree with some of it, some people agree with all of it, and others may or may not agree with any of it. It is merely an article; it is not "the Laws of TW". So I wouldn't bang your head against a wall trying to define it to the nth degree... :-)

M
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Sorry to revive a very old thread, but I can't understand this bit

"I don't believe that our future has been laid out for us... Free will is also not believed in..."

Surely if you don't believe in free will, ie that you can, within the limitations of the present, act as you wish, that is the same as saying that the future is laid out. Free will is the opposite of fate, so to disbelieve in one surely means the belief in the other? Can someone explain what I'm not understanding?

Aside from this confusion, it was a great and informative post, much appreciated and needed!


I cannot see inside your mind, Forester. Maybe this might help.

Free Will: Make a left turn - You live.
Make a right turn - You die in a head on collision.

The future is ever- changing depending on what we do presently. Left or Right turn.

Take Death for example: We are all Fated to die, however Free Will exists.... until 'fate' steps in.
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Take CPR for example: you die. Heart stops, not breathing- that is enough to declare someone dead legally period. BUT you happen to drop dead near someone able to do CPR and it happens to work. So were you fated to die, but the rescuer altered what "should" have happened.... OR must you have been fated to live since you were fortunate enough to have a rescue worker nearby?

I would say it is bendable and some things more so than others. In this case you may have been fated to collapse and die temporarily so to speak, but what could have been permanent death was thwarted by CPR. Now was that luck? Was it someone's protection spell looking out for you? Were their other forces helping your spirit not leave your body? Their are literally infinite possibilities. Infinite opportunities to change an outcome. And free will seems to rule the day. Or does it? Was everything aligned just so that you didn't die because it "wasn't your time"- a.k.a. Fate. I tend to think there are so many factors at play below the tip of the iceberg that we can observe that it is to a degree unknowable.

I'm going with Yes, both. When all factors seem to indicate one thing should have happened but something else does- that tends to look like fate, and I think sometimes is. But, I strongly believe free will is dominate most of the time. Hell as with the above example everything could appear to be pushing events one direction yet the result is a surprise and it still not be fate- it COULD be that an ancestor or some other factor intervened on your behalf- which is again- free will.
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I think everyone has an absolute expiration date. When Fate says you're done - you're done. This is a belief and not a provable fact.

I also think that there can be many 'exit points' along the paths we walk. Times when Death comes a knocking but we have the choice to stay or go. It can be as simple as putting down the razor blade and calling a friend instead (was that a spirit or a nudge that perhaps, it wasn't time?) Or as dramatic as a bunch of doctor celebrating 'it's a miracle - we don't have a medical/scientific explanation'. That's obviously not the entire scale, just a couple examples.

The CPR thing - every high schooler in the states is taught CPR. The Red Cross holds class after class. They really do go out of their way to make sure that as many people as possible know how to do it. People can even fake it just from watching tv. If there is anyone around when a person falls over dead - I think the chances are greater that someone in the monkey gallery does know CPR than not.

These are huge topics within themselves - fate, death, rebirth, and there is no one single point of view under the heading of Trad Craft.
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My mother always says there is nothing you can do to make your life longer, but there is a hell of a lot you can do to make it shorter. I agree with that. I think we all have a specific expiration date, but that date can be moved up depending on the decisions we make and what we do with our lives, and even just being in the wrong place at the right time.

M
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RoseRed: Wow !!!

To me, the idea of many Exit Points during ones lifetime is a very profound one.

Many years ago I had a vision that taught me : In order to actually die (past the point of No Return) one's mind, body and soul must be in 100% agreement.

Without the complete consent of all 3 (mind, body; soul) ... the 'struggle' between life and death occurs... until an 'agreement' is made.

Personally, I didn't expect this' idea' to stand-the- test-of-time, but it has, so far.
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At least until that final exit point.
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Well duh !!! lol
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@Rosered. I was using the CPR thing as an example to illustrate a point about different variables and different ways to view those variables. You could fill in the blank with a scenario you find likely and the points remains the same.
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I was using the CPR thing as an example to illustrate a point



I wasn't.

It's one of the very few things that bring people back from the dead. And sometimes, it's still a choice, in the end.
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Thank you. Just thank you. Most of this I've felt, other parts I've learned and some of it I'll chew on. This is likely the most concise description and explanation I've seen to this point. So, again, thank you.

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AuroraFenris9
Mar 13 2017 01:41 PM
I agree. Simple....intellectually written...and states everything very clearly and concisely. Very interesting article
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Bumping for the new members, enjoy!

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SorcererSupreme
Sep 19 2017 05:45 PM
Admin-
Thanks for the book references.
I've always loved astral projection and am constantly in search of new material.
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UnMasked1467
Jul 22 2018 08:12 PM

Great post, very informative and resonated with me in a big way... I'm a big believer in the dual nature of magic and forces in general-- you can't have light without darkness, creation without destruction, or positive without negative. It's all about keeping the balance, as far as I can see. And sometimes, people need to be taught a lesson. I really liked how straightforward and clear your post was. Thank you!

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