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Thursday, 30 December 2010

A Brief History Of The Craft

A Brief History Of The Craft Image
WitchCraft covens seem to have existed during the burning times
(the catholic witch hunts from 1300-1600), but whether all those
burned, hanged, stoned, drowned and etc. (varying from 100,000
documented cases to 9 million estimated cases
), were witches is a
debatable point. The Witchcraft mythos say that we are descended
from the ancient Goddess worshippping peoples whose religion got
pushed underground by the Christians circa 500 ce. This may be
true, but it is impossible to prove If the Goddess's priestess did
indeed survive in the form of goody-wives and herb-women, their
religion must have been carefully concealed and cautiously passed
on in an oral form.

We personally think that though there were indeed pagan traces
left all over and incorporated into christianity, this doesn't
necessarily mean that they were Goddess worshippping pagan traces.
Patristic paganity had taken over the Goddess worshippping people
for more than 1500 years by the start of christianity.

Modernly, somewhere in 1940 an English civil servant with a
penchant for whipping and bondage, Gerald Gardener, got himself
"initiated" into a "New Forest" coven in England. A long-time
witch Sybil Leek, from the New Forest who didn't particularly
appreciate Gerald, confirms it. Once Gardner had his hands on the
rituals Old Dorothy taught him, he decided that they were
fragmentary and needed to be reconstructed. And here we have an
odd little problem. Gardner had worked in a Ritual Magician's
lodge with Aleister Crowley, a long-time family acquaintance of
Sybil Leek's. Crowley was a consumate showman bent on shocking
the public. Sybil was always sad about him, feeling that he had
strayed from the true path of the Craft, but he was apparently
born to one of the hereditary witch families of England. In spite
of this, his Ritual Lodge was based on his interpretations of the
Magical Lodge of the Golden Dawn, a tradition started in 1890.

Old Dorothy handed to her neophyte, Gardener, the treasured and
cared for rituals that she and her coven had preserved for ages
past. Gardener decided that the rituals were fragmentary and hired
Crowley to "reconstruct" them. A very public Witchcraft movement
was started by this. Gardener published and got onto TV a lot in
the fifties and sixties. Alex Saunders who managed to steal one
of his books of shadows and start his own Craft current, was known
to the TV media in England as "The King of Witches."

These Craft currents were very hierarchical, male dominated
(though token bows were given to the women), secretive, and until
very recently totally heterosexual. They work on the ritual magic
image of the sexes being opposite and use this thought form to
create images of electrical generators from sexual tension between
male and female. Gardnerians circled nude, used their cords to
tie initiates and scourge them as part of the initiation. There
are no orgies however. The nudity was to encourage the "magic"
which was thought to be inhibited by the robes. Present day
Gardnerians mostly circle robed.

Other Craft currents are the Alexandrian, similar to Gardnerian.
The Dianic, a non-patristic oriented spirituality, birthed by
Morgan Fairchild, encouraged by Z Budapest (a hereditary witch
from Eastern Europe
) and Marion Weinstein. The Fairie, a highly
eclectic movement and the Radical Fairies, a Gay men's grouping.
Also we have the eclectic people who study religious archeology
and arrive at a synthesis that speaks to the modern day witch in a
modern context. The biggest of these is called NROOGD (New
Reformed Orthodox Order of the Golden Dawn
) and the solitaries,
people who are witches but belong to no group.

We feel a large percentage of human beings have a very strong need
for a spiritual experience. Each human is different, however. In
our expressions of religion we tend to vary greatly. Thus we have
many religions extant today in America and the World. People must
find the religion that fits their souls. For SunBear and Salmon,
this religion is the religion of Wicca, Witchcraft.

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