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.

Cleansing Away Negative Influences

Traditional Purification Spell Adapted for Modern Pagans

EggWLvs

This time-honored ritual cleanses you of negative energy that you have accumulated. Even if outright evil’s touched you, this spell can help take care of it.

It is simple: rub a raw egg over your whole body. Do not break the egg; you’re rubbing the unbroken egg, still in the shell, all over yourself.

A modern twist: If you’re concerned about salmonella, hard boil the egg first. Do you have an opinion about whether a hard-boiled egg would be as effective? Let me know. Here’s my opinion:

I prefer the traditional spell. I’d also prefer a world in which salmonella was not even an issue. And I’m not going to give up eggs for breakfast or for magic, just because we live in an imperfect world. That would be letting the negativity of the world get to me.

Magic is a tool to deal with an imperfect world and make it better. This spell helps rid me of the negative influences of this imperfect world. So I adapt the spell.

Also, I think the effort of hard-boiling somewhat compensates for the loss of the vibrance in a raw egg. Your effort is a form of energy, a vibrancy unto itself, which adds to the spell. I don’t mean you have to have any intention of that when you boil the egg. Your effort is simply energy, without you even trying to make it so.

If you feel the need to further compensate, I wrote liturgy for that purpose. Say it right before you rub the egg on yourself: “This egg is part of the circle of life. By this and by the ancient Mysteries which have long empowered this spell for witches, I shall be cleansed.”

Traditionally, you then throw the egg into running water, such as a river or stream. If that’s an insane option—e.g., you can’t reach running water without traveling an unreasonable distance, or winter has frozen the nearby river, here are modern alternatives:

Wherever you dispose of it, be sure it’s far away, where negative energy the egg has taken on does not come into contact with anyone, and where the elements can purify the negativity away.

When I had really good plumbing and lived urban, I’d smash the egg into my toilet bowl and flush it. I figure that constituted running water, LOL. Then clean your toilet, so no egg remains.

But if you have poor plumbing, or a group does this ritual so there is more than one egg to get rid of, you might clog your toilet.

You can bury the eggs, unless e.g., winter has frozen the ground stone hard.

If I was going to do it here, in winter weather, I’d walk to the woods on my property. They’re a fair distance from my house. Then I’d hurl the egg even further away, into the woods.

I wouldn’t compost it usually, because compost tends to be kind of close to the house.

This is a simple but powerful rite. I only use it for big problems. In other words, this imperfect life keeps throwing garbage at us, so we need to keep cleansing it off, instead of letting it get to us. That sort of cleansing is comparable to the usual ongoing cleaning a house gets: You wash the dishes, vacuum the rug, and so on. But occasionally, you shampoo the rug, because a lot of crud accumulated or there was a big spill. It is deep cleaning time! In the same vein as the rug shampooing, the egg rite is really more for bigger problems.

And it is not beneath the most spiritual people. I have two clients who inspire and uplift me with their integrity, beauty, and sheer radiance, but I taught them this ritual recently. No matter how attuned we are, we occasionally let the major yuckiness we meet get under our skin.

I love channeling new spells, but sometimes the oldies are perfect. I’m grateful they’ve been in my repertoire for many years. I’m also grateful the Muse sent me adaptations. Blessed be.

NewsPrpl

Diana Lucifera

Faerie art, Francesca De GrandisDiana Lucifera
Love, Beauty, Blessings, and Occult Danger

Diana, the Light Bearer.
Magna Mater.
Goddess of Stregas.
You are all power, love, and beauty.
You are bliss.
You are eternity in which I reside each moment.
You are every moment.

This blog is not about the wonderful Diana that many American Pagans know—virgin huntress and patron of Dianic Wicca, a women-only witchcraft tradition.

This blog is about the equally wonderful Diana, known more in Europe. She is the Great Mother. I painted the above portrait to honor Her.

I discovered amazing love from Her and for Her. After I’ve given my students rituals to experience the same, the majority of the men chose Her as their Patron.

Pray—not just read—the following prayer, to experience an example of Her heart. It can only be understood experientially.

Prayer for Solace and to Be Filled with Her Spirit

Diana, enfold me in your embrace. Comfort me. In the wailing of my heart and the sorrow that wracks my back and chest, let yourself shine down upon me, your moon self. Hold me. Be with me. Let me feel your loving presence. Send the Bird of Heaven to me, to enter my heart and fill me with your spirit.

You know, I think I published this prayer/poem in a 1980s SageWoman magazine. … Yup, except there I’d called it “Invocation to Diana.” I called Anne NN, who gave me this link to the issue.

Running with Psychic Scissors

A blessing can become a bane. The bigger the blessing, the more it can sour. Diana bestows immense blessings, so let’s discuss how a blessing can turn against one. Much of what I will say can be adapted to apply to many other blessings and occult explorations.

She loves each of us completely, knowing every cranny of our psyche. This makes us feel special, as we should. However, specialness can cause us to doubt She can love anyone else so purely. That is arrogance.

Arrogance can ruin any blessing, in ways that harm you and people around you.

Whether a relationship with Her is new or decades old, we can stay humble, by knowing 1) its amazing love is unique yet not unique and 2) it will always be only a beginning of the love and power She can give. Thus we walk in grace and fulfillment of our life goals.

She bestows great love and great power, both beautiful beyond description. When you think you have a monopoly on a pure beauty, you’re in trouble.

I try to help my students navigate amazing gifts they receive, not just those from Diana. The occult world is dangerous if navigated alone. Without input from a teacher and other friends, any of us can badly harm self and others, despite good intentions.

For one thing, when you receive a blessing of immense power, negative spirits might try to trick you into using it for evil. They might masquerade as your Patron Deity, feeding your ego (arrogance) with “spiritual” nana.

They also might give you untrue information about your allies, making you mistreat and forsake them, so that you have no input to counter the negative spirits’.

Plus, we do not hear everything from our actual Patron correctly. We listen with flawed perceptions. Other people’s input is important.

After watching a fair number of people whose amazing, illuminating visions preceded those people’s descent down the tubes, I’m grateful for teachers who saved me from my own arrogance by consistently giving me input.

Anyone, newbie or adept, can profit from simply praying, “Diana, please shine your light on my heart, so that I stay humble in your love.”

Diana’s Secrets

Golden_Bough_CaduceusDiana offers moonlit secrets. Meditate on this painting to receive a secret blessing from Diana. (You may have seen my former renditions of this decades ago. Now that I paint digitally, I can offer Her a better version.)

Paradoxes: Her secret wisdoms, being so perfect, are only for you. Keep the secrets, but do not think they make you more deserving than other people.

Closing

With humility, your power and bounty never cease.

Serve according to Her will, then your heart and cup forever fill.

She accepts our flaws.

Diana’s decades-long flawed servant, my blessings only increase.

BotmBevldNwslter

Ethical (and Unethical) Fey Teachers

The following was a post I made on the Faerie Nation Yahoo group in 2008. I’m blogging it now because the problems it addresses keep on happening, I recently heard instances of it that broke my heart. And they did not all happen to a newbie! I hope my thoughts helps someone.

Ethical (and Unethical) Fey Teachers
Francesca De Grandis, May 5, 2008

For hundreds of years, fairy glimmers in the woods have beckoned, reflecting our secret longings, illuminating our honest needs. Puritanical moralists caution us about the evils of the fey. But we know better than that: The good folk can help free us from repressive religions and absurd social strictures. In addition, when we are barraged by a logic that denies magic and miracles, that fairy glimmer reassures us, telling us that mysticism is real, and that the wondrous is possible.
 
But not all the realms of fairy have beneficent dwellers. There is an Unseelie Court. And not all fey-touched magicians can be trusted, whether they call themselves fey, faerie, feri, fairy, or faery. (To define Unseelie in an oversimplified manner: Just as the Faerie Queen and her Seelie court might help us, so the Unseelie Queen and her followers are more likely to malevolently perpetuate great tragedy for humans.)

Eagle with Iris in Great Darkness, Francesca De Grandis. For info about a limited first edition print of this painting, click on it

Sate your hunger for luminous mystery and faerie mysticism, and for the fellowship thereof. But don’t let that ferocious appetite, authentic though it is, blind you to the following fact. Some people with immense glamour and fey power are pawns of the Unseelie Court. Perhaps this happens because power has made them so haughty that they are unwitting dupes for the forces of evil. Or perhaps they themselves become outright evil. Whatever the reason, it does happen.

Silence allows it to continue. I might sound strident but: I will not tolerate Fey practitioners who participate in molestation of children, sexual harassment of students, disregard for magical safety, and flashy curriculums lacking a moral compass that withstands the rigors of daily life. I am available by phone (814-337-2490) if you’re concerned about yourself or a friend when it comes to such people. Newbies to the community are vulnerable, and I post this warning for them and for anyone else who needs support around these issues.

While many cautions against the fey realms can be rightly interpreted as disguised attempts to suppress us, and to make us milquetoast, there are valid cautions. Dark mysteries needn’t be an excuse for a teacher to dominate. Wild hearts don’t mean that a teacher can ignore your sexual boundaries. Powerful magic needn’t lack caution. The quest for utter fulfillment needn’t lead to hollow longings or addiction.
 
There are dark mysteries that are wholesome, wildness that is authentic, satiation that is both attainable and ethically possible. Powerful magic can safe. Fey fellowship, wild lovers, and powerful teachers can be both otherworldly and good. Find them all!

Francesca De Grandis, May 2012

So mote it be.

In Her service,
Francesca De Grandis

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Here is another blog by a woman named Mae that also addresses this issue. (It also says very kind things about me. Mae, thank you again.)