<strong>Witch history</strong> History of witchcraft, witches, mythology and all things occult.
Since its public introduction in the 1950s, the Wicca religion has grown into a fascinating spiritual path for the 15,222 Australians . Yet very little is known about this modern, Earth centred religion.
What is Wicca?
Complexly, Wicca is often described as a form of pagan witchcraft that bases its practices on contemporary pagan rituals. People who practice Wicca(Wiccans) see it as a peaceful, harmonious and balanced way of life. Which promotes oneness with all life and living things. It is believed that the Wicca religion is inspired by- and shares commonalities with- the ancient traditions of witchcraft.
Technically, witchcraft and Wicca, although similar in many ways, are not identical. You can be a witch without being a Wiccan. Wicca is a recognised religion, while witchcraft itself is not a religion. Thus, Wicca is pretty much a modern religion based on ancient traditions of witchcraft.
Origins of Wicca
Wicca was developed in England during the first half of the 20th century and presented to the public in 1954 by Gerald Gardner, a retired British official. The Wicca religion is based on a variety of 20thcentury hermetic and ancient pagan motifs for its theological structure and ritual practices. Wicca has no central authority or religious figure.
Most modern Wicca traditional beliefs, principles, and practices were originally outlined by Gerald Gardnerand Doreen Valiente. Particularly in the 1940s and 1950s in published works. As well as in secret written and oral teachings given to their initiators. If ever there was a dude that looked like a stereotypical wizard, it’s Gerald. There are many variations in the core structure as the religion grows and develops over time.
‘Gardner’s theories were drawn from numerous sources, including Freemasonry, magical orders such as the Golden Dawn and fellow occultists, including Aleister Crowley,’ BBC.
Today, Wicca is divided into a number of different lines, sects and denominations, which are called traditions. Each tradition has its own organisational structure and centralisation level.
The Wicca belief system
The Wicca belief system is kind of based on the reconstruction of pre-Christian traditions that originated in the Ireland, Scotland and Wales areas. Although most of the information about how the Wicca ancestors lived, worshipped and believed was lost. Mainly through the efforts of the Medieval Church that wanted to erase the existence of Witchcraft from history. Today, modern Wiccans try to recreate these beliefs and practices.
At its essence Wicca is a deep fondness and reverence for mother nature. And everything within it and created in nature.
Perhaps due to its decentralisation, there are disagreements about the exact nature of Wicca worship. It bears the characteristic of a typical duotheistic religion, worshipping both a Goddess and a God or several of their variations. These are traditionally considered as the Goddess of the Moonand the Horned God. However, there are no rules about which patrons to worship some people worship as few as one, and as many as four or five.
As part of their spiritual practice, many Wiccans try to develop their intuitive abilities and practice magic. And even spellcraft by directing their psychic energy for specific therapeutic and relief purposes. While practising magic, Wiccans adhere to the Wicca Rede. This is a form of Golden Rule that is the central ethical law of the religion. ‘Let it harm none.’ Most Wiccans acknowledge that every magical power posted is magnified and returned to the sender.
Let it harm none.
Contrary to popular culture and all those brilliant movies and TV shows we love, Wiccans do not practice evil magic or honour the Devil/Satan as such. Wicca has existed pre-and post-Christianity and is not even anti-Christian.
You might also like to read about mythology.
This day’s tasseography showed up a classic symbol – the loveheart. Most people in the wolrd know what a loveheart is, how to draw one and what it unequivocally symbolises. History suggests that the loveheart came about through observations of plants, and/or perhaps early artworks.
Firstly, I love how perfectly formed this teeny tiny loveheat was. And is there anything more delightful than witnessing a delicate symbol of love in your morning coffee tasseography?
‘Since the late 15th century the dented red heart symbol was a common sight, and it was even used on playing cards,’ Vintage News.
I don’t tend to take the symbolism literally for me. Perhaps if I were reading for another, I would suggest this is a love of a romantic nature. But spotting lovehearts for me is more about the self, self identity and love as a universal energy. For lack of a better term. Perhaps, it is more clearly defined as a strong feeling of warmth to those around me and beyond.
How often do lovehearts show up in your beverages? Start keeping count.
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Witches… from blockbuster Hollywood movies to the plethora of books and media that either praise or condemn them. They are predominantly known to practice witchcraft which is the belief and use of magical skills and abilities. You may think you know quite a bit about modern witches but do you actually know the real history of witchcraft?
Let’s tug at the veil of mystery that surrounds witchcraft to show you its origin and various facts surrounding it.
The earliest records of witchcraft
The concept of witchcraft and those who practice it (witches) has persisted throughout recorded history and continues to have an important role in many cultures today. The practice of simple sorcery, a form of witchcraftwhich involves giving offerings to spirits or using charms, can be found in most traditional societies. Evidence of this can be found in cave paintings and prehistoric artwhich depict magical rites and religious rituals.
In fact, one of the oldest forms of religion, Shamanism (contacting spirits through dreams, meditation, and trances) is considered a form of witchcraft. Carole Fontaine, a recognised American biblical scholar, argues in her Ancient Mysteries documentaryon witches, that the idea of witchcraft has been around for as long as humans have tried to deal with diseases and avert disaster.
Alleged practices of early witches
In the earliest accounts of human and witchcraft history, witches were seen as servants of deities and goddesses and therefore were revered in their communities. The witchcraft label was applied to those who people believed could influence the mind, body, or property of others. Their practices usually include:
- performing magic
- concocting potions and ointments
- necromancy (conjuring the dead)
- demonology (control of spirits and demons).
Back then, the word “witch” was not exclusively negative and was used to describe a healer or a wise person. However, this all changed in the fifteenth century with the widespread popularity of Christianity and Islam. Witchcraft was then associated with heresy and apostasy and viewed as evil.
Condemnation of witchcraft
Scholars believe that the condemnation of witchcraft began long before the birth of Christ. Even as far back as 1300 years before the common era, when the Hebrews settled in Canaan. The Hebrews believed in the laws of the Bible. And considered witchcraft to be dangerous and prohibited it as a pagan practice. This was further heightened when the Indo-Europeans expanded westward. With them came a warrior culture and male gods that valued aggression, which overshadowed the once-revered female deities.
In the 1300s, when the bubonic plague decimated half of Europe, it also caused a lot of hysteria. Many attributed the plague to the Devil and his supposed worshippers. At this point, the Catholic Church’s Inquisition was already in full swing. And intensified its efforts to seek out and punish the causes of the mass deaths which included the Devil-worshipping witches.
During this period, hundreds of thousands of people were accused and executed for being witches. Others were imprisoned, tortured, banished, and suspects had their possessions and lands confiscated.
Hammer of the witches
This dramatic rise in terror of witchcraft led to an actual witch-hunting manual written in 1486 by two German monks. The Malleus Maleficarum, which is Latin for Hammer of the Witches, outlined how one could identify who was a witch and how to punish one. As well as how to put a witch on trial and why a woman is more likely to be a witch than a man.
The book grew in popularity and eventually became the handbook for trying witches in secular courts throughout Renaissance Europe. However, it was not used by the official Inquisition and was later condemned by the Catholic Church in 1490.
Modern witchcraft practices have grown since the early twentieth century. Now they can involve anything from magic, shamanism and folk medicine, to spiritual healing and calling upon spirits. Plus they veneration of ancient gods and deities. Several neo-pagan witchcraft groups have appeared claiming to be offshoots of traditional witchcraft.
It’s fair to say that witches have had bad press. And whilst there are always unethical and dangerous ones in any subset of people, witches are nothing to fear. Unless, of course, you fuck them over but they are here to help humanity.
Are soulmates real?
It’s a legitimate question. It’s a common question.
There are a plethora of theories on soulmates and whether soulmates are real. Undoubtedly, one of the most intriguing is that created by Plato in Symposium (385-380 BC), as told via Aristophanes. Plato believed there were three genders; male (which was born from the sun), female (born from Earth) and a hybrid combination of both (born from the moon). This third subset of people had two sets of genitals, arms and legs and a second face. Zeus feared their power (kinda) and thus proceeded to slice these people in half, ‘as if he were cutting an egg in two with a hair.’
Our other half
Since then, we ceaselessly search of our other half. Upon meeting that other half, we throw our arms around one another and become whole again. Or “get intimate”, as humans would have it. ‘And in their brief moments of love making they would be able to return to each other, becoming lost in their symbolical oneness if only for a short while.’
And don’t think that homosexuality (are excluded from this painful yearning: ‘The creatures who had been double women before, naturally sought out women; those who had been androgynous, sought out members of the opposite gender; those who had been double men, sought out the company of men, and not simply for intercourse, but so they could become whole again by being rejoined with their soul mates.’
The most glaring flaw in this theory is that it does not account or include other sexualities besides heteronormativity and (possibly) homosexuality.
This esoteric could be a reason why so many of us scrupulously search and search for our “other half”. Even against all logic, despite all great pain, all great fear and why some cannot rest until it has occurred. Most of us are doomed to spend a solid chunk of eternity, faffing about trying to find the separated part of us and until we do, human supposedly feel that icky incomplete feeling. We desire romance as a salve for the wound.
Soulmates and the belly button
According to this theory, that is why we have a belly button. Zeus chose not to have it healed so we could be reminded of this incident. Like feeling scattered and incomplete was not a reminder enough! Whilst this may not be a healthy view according to modern society (especially for so many of us that are learning to live “just” as a “half”), it has provided me relief in knowing that it’s okay to want a soulmate or partner occasionally. If humankind have been searching since Ancient Greece then most of us may just be more human than we realise.
And so many of us must continue our fruitless search for that ever elusive half. Not just any half but the “right” half (this conflicts epically with my personal beliefs, mind you).
‘The desire to love is synonymous with the desire to transcend the limitations of the ego and the physical body, and thus the desire to transcend death itself…
…By finding a true soul mate, human beings can help one another recover their original, exalted nature, at one with the Universe, as Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden before the Fall.’
Are soulmates real to you? Does this theory work for you?
Need a love tarot reading? Contact me now.
Leshy is a mythological creature from Slavic traditions that comes from the forest. He was a type of terrestrial devil penned in Collin de Plancy’s Dictionnaire Infernal (1818).
The trickster energy of this creature means he can appear as a giant but also as tiny as an ant (dependent upon his surroundings). Which is a metaphor for our confidence if we are in familiar surroundings.
Believed to watch over the forest in which he lives, he is known to lead people astray, particularly children. Although he sounds particularly evil with this set of behaviours, he is traditionally deemed more neutral. It’s in your actions that influence his evilness or neutrality. Some days he would steal children. And some days he would become all Robin Hood and steal from the rich to help the poor. It’s plausible to think that the fictionalised version of Robin Hood was even based on this mythology of Leshy. However, it’s more likely that it was the other way around. Since the origins of Robin Hood supposedly predate the written records of a Leshy.
Given the shared characteristics of his wavering temperament and environment he lives in (and guards), he is often deemed a fairy.
Mythology as metaphors
As we know, mythology and legends are storytelling vehicles for metaphors that plague humans (or things with a consciousness) throughout time.
To me, Leshy symbolises how others see you and treat you in the world. Dependent upon which baggage you cling to, or which internal struggles and sins you have yet to forgive yourself for. Still holding guilt for the child you gave up for adoption? The Leshy will lure you into the dark. Still worried about the chocolate bars you stole in high school? The Leshy (in the form of people around you) will reflect back to you that you are nothing but a thief.
Follow the directions of the Leshy and the path will always be clear but dare to go your own or a different way from his directions and trees will be bent to make your path unbearable and difficult.
The Leshy can be neutralised with self forgiveness and a decision to let go, if only a little. Let the Leshy rule the forest and its sacredness and inhabitants in peace.
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