Traditional Witchcraft, Spirituality, and Ethics

FDG2016TphatCurrently, it is a prevalent opinion among Pagans that traditional witchcraft was strictly magical, lacking theology or moral aspects. While I can respect that theory, it is not congruent with my own experiences. I suspect whether traditional witchery had sacred or ethical aspects varied by locale or by family tradition.

I never argue with anybody’s experience, only their theory. Theory is ever-changing. I’d never want to invalidate anyone’s experience, including my own. I’ll share mine below.

My experiences lead to conclusions that differ from the aforementioned current popular Pagan position. I hope to add to the Pagan dialogue on the topic, and provide support for those who, like me, have an unpopular point of view.

Growing up in a family tradition, I learned magic and a mystical worldview con leche. Therefore magic and mysticism were a given, as much a part of life as the air I was breathing. In the process, a religious and ethical worldview was deeply ingrained in my cells.

Note I say “my cells,” not “my brain.” It took my entire childhood and adolescence to imbibe the tradition’s basics, because cellular lessons take time.

The understandings of the tradition were so deeply imbedded in our home life that much of the family tradition was taken for granted, not out and out spoken, but more implied and lived. This includes the theist or moral aspects.

In fact, calling it an understanding in the above paragraph is somewhat of a misnomer. It is not so much an understanding as a way of being.

In any case, a lifestyle with many of its important aspects being subtle or unspoken seems an earmark of many traditional witches I have met.

When I got older, I saw that this subtlety sometimes causes people who were viewing the family tradition from the outside to not see the tradition’s deep religious and ethical roots, only the more overt—and perhaps less core—trappings. When I participated in family traditions in Europe, I usually found deep religious and ethical roots in them.

Observers are not engaged in the family culture. They are standing outside it, watching. Only by being part of a shamanic family culture over a long period of time can one can really understand the culture. The notion that to watch something is to fully understand it is a fairly current concept of scholarship. As I said above, learning the traditional witchcraft of my family required an experiential, long term lesson.

It has become almost de rigeur to insist traditional craft never had sacred or principled aspects. This makes it important to me to write this post about my family tradition, because I feel I’m speaking up for my Gods, for my witch ancestors, and for others who feel as I do.

I do not like it when a theory ceases to be a theory and becomes a mandated belief—in other words, when someone is mouthing somebody else’s words to, consciously or not, invalidate other seekers. Unfortunately, the concept that traditional witchcraft had neither ethical nor theological base has become yet another Pagan rote declaration, usually said—or written—in an intimidating tone of I-know-better-than-you-so-whatever-you-think-is-stupid.

I can admire people who authentically believe other than I do. An informed and friendly exchange of ideas about traditional craft, spirituality, and ethics could be a lovely thing. Healthy debate is a wonderfully educational process for everyone involved. A supportive, respectful, and thoughtful exchange of ideas can do wonders.

But debate is not the same as trying to legitimize and define one’s path by invalidating someone else’s. That hurtfully invalidates a lot of newbies who already feel insecure about their belief system. This can crush a newcomer’s spirit.

Coming to our community, hoping to finally find fellowship, but instead encountering someone just as invalidating as mainstream society, can be doubly heartbreaking, because they thought they had finally entered a safe space. So they often never participate in our community again, and end up without support in their Pagan explorations.

People who need to squash others in order to validate their own power have less power than they think, and more mere bluster than they realize.

Thus, I felt impelled to write this post to support invalidated Pagans.

A last thought on traditional witches and ethics: perhaps in some cases, a lack of morality had less to do with any tradition and more to do with human nature. Some people just take anything, even that which is moral and sacred to begin with, strip it of those roots, and use it for their own selfish—or even evil—goals.

I hope this post is a useful contribution to Pagan dialogue about traditional craft.

If you want experiential lessons in traditional craft, I teach The Third Road, a tradition I channel, informed by the magic of my ancestors and my mom. (Channeling teachings is part of traditional craft.) I teach mostly via group phone calls—aka teleseminars. Here’s the link to subscribe to my newsletter, which tells you about upcoming classes: http://www.well.com/user/zthirdrd/InfoForm.htm

Bless you.

Upcoming Event: Santa Magic

Santa Magic
A Four-Week Teleseminar
About Pagan Santa and His Yule Elves

Santa is in my pantheon. … Yup, you read that right. It started years back, when a friend told me she prayed to Santa.

But there was no information anywhere about Santa as a God.

So I developed the material myself.

Mind you, I found academic stuff about Santa’s roots as a ferocious ancient deity, but what about Jolly Santa who delights children? I had to develop that material myself.

I commenced to created a working relationship with a God who is jolly Santa wearing red—including his aspect as a ferocious God—by developing a theology, rituals, prayers, liturgy, and talismans. You learn pivotal parts of this in the class.

Convinced that Jolly Santa has important traits beyond those of the aforementioned ferocious God, I channeled a theology about that, with congruent ritual, etc. Now I enjoy a lusciously fun, yet complex and deep, connection with God Santa, and I’d like to share some of it with you in this four week teleseminar (class via group phone call) that is both class and ritual.

To give you a sense of my Santa God: He is a thoroughly Pagan Divinity—he gives material gifts all year long and chuckles at my mistakes instead of being judgmental. Santa bestows wonder, hope, and belief in goodness, while keeping me safe from harm. Santa is part of my year wheel; he sparkles until dark winter months are imbued with light.

Enrollment limited to 16 people so we can really connect during ritual. This event is experiential learning, so you’re guided into actually feeling the Yuletide joy and inspiration this God bestows.

FeyGirlJpegAs I channeled, one fun idea that came to me was Yule elves: kind of like the regular Santa’s elves but with a whole Pagan and magical twist.

We’ll look at what can you do as a Yule elf to help Pagan Santa with his work—spreading magic and wonder throughout the world, at Yule season and all year long.

People kept asking for more information, after reading my blogs about Pagan Santa and his elves. The readers would tell me things like “Oh my God, I relate to this so much, and I think I’m one of his elves!” Their questions motivate me to teach this class. I don’t know if I’ll teach it again, but feel strongly about teaching it once.

Yule25BlackThe sacred foolishness of this playful class opens the door to depth and magic. There are playful ways to get profound, e.g., clearing inner blocks to self-care during the holiday season and experiencing mystical states. My jolly Santa is deep, empowering, and healing. Expect to experience both healing and joy, laughter and power. Fun is important to my Santa—after all, he’s Pagan.

We meet in the year’s darkest weeks—Santa’s domain—continuing a bit after Yule to explore receiving Santa’s gifts all year long.

Nuts and bolts:
* These are group meetings by phone. To participate, just dial the phone from anywhere.
* Class meets four consecutive Tuesdays, from 6 to 7 PM EST, starting Tuesday December 15.
* Reserve Tuesday Jan 12, same time, for a makeup class in case I’m unavailable for one of the planned sessions.
* Tuition: $160. Your usual long-distance charges apply and appear on your phone bill. The event’s area code is a U.S. #.
* Upon receipt of payment, I email you event phone number, etc.
* Call me—814-337-2490—for more info or to discuss scholarship, trade, or payment plan. Do not email me. Refunds unavailable.
* Scroll down to enroll: enter your phone number and pay securely with PayPal.


Pls give yr phone number.



Be filled with child like wonder. All year long. Enroll now.

Pantheism and Mosquitos

Pantheism and Mosquitos: Practice Vs Theory

I am theologically a theist but, practically speaking, often apply my belief system in a pantheist manner. For a couple of years, I’ve been trying to figure out how to work mosquitoes into my pantheist practice. Ok, I know it is funny (and I like being funny), but it is also true.

I’ve no theoretical problem with mosquitoes being the Goddess. It is practically speaking that I am stumped. And I don’t have much use for theory without practice.

I suffer from Skeeter Syndrome. For example, today, mosquito bites at my elbow caused a single swelling that is five inches across and quite high.

Francesca De Grandis, 2013

Francesca De Grandis, 2013

For me, being fed by the Divine requires being in the moment. God is now. When I try to escape the now, I might leave myself behind. When I look for solutions in some faraway place, well, as they say, there’s no place like home. The now is where I have to find metaphysical home.

As a pantheist, I believe all of self is a weave, all of existence is a weave.

I also think pantheism implies a divination system: Every particle of the universe, every moment and being in my day, can be read for guidance. Applying my pantheist theory sometimes requires 1) watching for that guidance 2) examining the weave of the moment for a weave of meaning 3) acting on what I discover.

I’m about to have oral surgery. There are a myriad of reasons that I am far more likely to have complications from a simple surgery than most folks are. I’m doing everything I can to prepare really well for surgery.

Looking at the swollen arm, it occurred to me: Mosquito is God. Oh my God (heh), mosquitoes are trying to help me with the surgery, perhaps.

I started wondering about the root cause of extreme allergic reactions to mosquito bites. What exactly about me makes me so allergic to the bites? Holistically speaking, this allergy might not be isolated. Perhaps there’s some deficiency in me as a whole that causes the allergy? Is it a deficiency that, taken care of, would make me do better with surgery?

I researched this question online, to no avail. Then I called an herbalist friend. She had no insights.

I called another friend, Susun Weed. Though rushing to cook dinner, she kindly gave me a quick ‘n’ dirty answer (adding that I could get a full answer through her radio show. Her answer was hurried, so I hope I understood it correctly; if you want to correct me, please do). Susun said I have an “inflammatory response,“ which is caused by eating foods that cause inflammation. She told me to stop eating pepper in all forms. She said I should cut down on stimulants like coffee and ginger, and to eat anti-inflammatory herbs, eg linden, comfrey leaf, and marshmallow root.

Web of Life, silk hand painted altar cloth, Francesca De Grandis

Detail from Web of Life, silk hand painted altar cloth, Francesca De Grandis

Ah, the weave! Her choice of examples was synchronistic. Though I do not drink coffee, I’d started using peppercorns and ginger again, last year, after a few decades of neither. Needless to say, they’re banished from my diet again.

A few days later, hoping for more lessons from Mosquito, I realized I often get bit at my joints. I thought, “Hmm, joints are points of connection…My joints also swell…Swelling is like blocked energy…How am I blocking my inner connection of all my aspects?…How am I blocking my connection to friends or community or cosmos or god?” I will not list the answers I came up with, bc this post is twice as long as I had hoped.

The next few days, I received other lessons from Mosquito. In other words, I’m one of those people who mosquitos adore. Despite my best efforts, I can walk out the door and have fifty bites within ten minutes. Take my allergic reaction into account, and it adds up to a lot of opportunities for learning.

I’m not the only person who tunes into the moment or life’s synchronicities to obtain Divine guidance. But this particular incident excited me because I had woven various aspects of my pantheist world view—god is in the now, all of self and life is a weave, the weave of the moment is divination, to name a few—with yet a second weave of practical application: analysis of the bug-induced swelling, a holistic view of my body, mindfulness about the surgery, research online, and so on.

The incident is not unusual for me. So why did I write all this? Do i think my accomplishment so superior to any of yours that i had to show it off? No.

Here’s the thing. The moment to moment down-to-earth acts of a truly (aka actually applied) integrative life are a rapid fire, complex weaving of all one’s aspects, woven yet again in rapid-fire complexity with the external environment. Sharing a single moment of it could take a month of writing.

The event about the mosquito is one such event, expect that, for a change, it can be shared fairly easily! I will have spent only eight hours ballpark writing this. Even though i am oversimplifying it, it still works well enough for my purposes:

1) I want to share my life. Writing this allows me to “shout” my excitement at finally seeing dang awful Mosquito as god, and about possibly doing better after a possibly dangerous surgery that has had me scared. I also want to share the accomplishment! I am proud of and delighted by my weaving of so many things, including following through on them so practically. (The weave is incomplete without practical follow through) 2) As a teacher, I stress the importance of application of pantheism principles, as opposed to just knowing the theory. Practical application of theory is often misunderstood as just creating more theory, or teaching the theory to others. I’ve learned that examples are often a great way to make one’s premises clear. My story gives examples, in one (albeit long) post. 3) I want to walk my talk; the pantheist principles mentioned above are all things I am teaching right now. My mosquito story affirmed to me that I do walk the walk. 4) When we tell our stories, its details might help others more than any theory. The details per se might not be solutions or otherwise useful info in themselves, but they imply massive amounts of info. Massive.

I hope you post a story of your own below.

Suggestion: Do you have a challenge or opportunity that you need guidance about? Observe the weave of events happening around you right this minute. Are they a mirror of you? Do they offer guidance? Imply suggestions? Act as role models?

No Need to Fit In!

People trying to decide if I’m the right guide for them often say, “I’m eclectic, so I don’t know if I’ll fit into what you teach.”

image

Detail. Faerie Realm, silk painting, Francesca De Grandis

Oh dear! It is terrible that the prevalence of bad teachers requires that issue to even come up.

Most of my students are eclectic. I am, too. Those who look for the core of reality, the heart of magic, and the essence of mysticism do not want to be boxed in by labels (Wicca, hedge witch, Druid, Taoist, Christian), and are not looking for ego-feeding titles. They are drawn to teachers who, whatever their path, support students to find their own idea—and experience—of the core of reality, heart of magic, and essence of mysticism. I hope I’m one such teacher.image

During our lessons, we transcend labels and titles, to focus on finding our individual beliefs, personal myths, and shamanic gifts. If folks already have them, I help them polish their personal approach, even if they’re already master level.

Magic, Spirit, and life cannot be standardized.

I do tend to call my classes “Wicca” or “Faerie.” I’m of the generation in which “Wicca” and “Faerie” referred to (among other things) individualized earth-spirituality. Unfortunately, nowadays, those terms are often used rigidly, to denote a set liturgy and belief system, which invalidates many beautiful Gaia lovers.

You’re not alone if you’ve faced invalidation. When first teaching (eek, that was in the eighties!), I thought I knew the one true way. Then I realized my students were my peers and fellow travelers. Guess what? After explaining I wld no longer support a hierarchy, imageI lost many of my students, they migrated to a fundie tradition of fey magic. I was devastated, stunned that people I loved—many of these were my beloved initiates—could not make that move with me, that attempt at being egoless. It was, and still is, painful to see ego takes precedence over ethics, effective magic, fey sensibilities, and beauty. But I mention my experience because it might be validating for folks who went through something similar. Ok, enough negative stuff. To quote “Buffy, “not for me the furrowed brow.”

Onto the rest of my beautiful day—my Gods’ embrace, a flow of joy, magic, and right livelihood, a flow carrying me toward even more joy, magic, and right livelihood. I hope this post is validating and/or, if you’re considering me as a guide, informative.

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥
Want shamanic counseling? I can guide by phone. Book an appointment online. http://www.outlawbunny.com/pastoral-counseling/