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PostSubject: What Is The Craft?   Fri Jun 10, 2016 9:36 am

What Is The Craft?



Not so many Centuries ago, our ancestors burned yule logs at Christmas as a symbolic gesture to bring light and warmth back to the world on the mid-winter solstice at the darkest time.  They danced around the maypole on May morning, the beginning of the Old Celtic Summer, to stir into life the Earth energies in a sacred spiral pattern.  These rituals go back into the midst of time and appear in similar forms in many different cultures and ages.  Today, however, too many modern societies have lost the sacred connection and scorn such gestures as superstition, treating the skies, the Earth and the seas merely as larder, fuel store and garbage can.  Once, things were very different....

The Craft is many things to many people.  But to me, Witchcraft, or "The Craft" is essentially the process of dawing on ancient wisdom and powers via the collective mind that we as individuals can spontaneously but unconsciously access in our dreams and visions.  In Magic, we can use rituals and altered states of consciousness to access this cosmic memory bank at will and in doing so, draw on the accumulated powers of many generations, especially in healing Magic.

This cosmic consciousness - or Great Mind, or Akashic Record as Theosophists call it - is perhaps what made it possible for pyramids to be built at almost the same time in lands as far apart as Egypt and South America, and for Shamanism to follow similar patterns in unconnected continents.  By accessing this source of power, we may create a ritual or use certain crystals without consciously knowing their significance, only to find out that our invented spell closely resembles one from another time or culture; we know how to heal without being taught. 




Gaining such knowledge has been described as "inner plane" teaching and if you can trust your own deep intutions, you need very little formal training about Magic.  If you scry at the Full Moon or during one of the Ancient festivals, by looking into water and letting images form, this deep wisdom will offer solutions to seemingly impossible dilemmas.

The practice of Witchcraft demands great responsibility, for you are handling very potent material when you deal with Magic.  The benefit is that by focusing and directing your own inner powers and natural energies you can give form to your thoughts and needs or desires and bring them into actuality.  The more positive and altuistic these focuses are,  the more abundance, joy and harmony will be reflected in your own world.
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PostSubject: Re: What Is The Craft?   Sat Jun 11, 2016 7:33 am

Witchcraft



Witchcraft  broadly means the practice of, and belief in, magical skills and abilities that are able to be exercised individually by designated social groups, or by persons with the necessary esoteric secret knowledge.  Witchcraft is a complex concept that varies culturally and societally; therefore, it is difficult to define with precision. 

Witchcraft often occupies a religious, divinatory or medicinal role, and is often present within societies and groups whose cultural framework includes a magical world view.  Although witchcraft can often share common ground with related concepts such as the paranormal, magical, superstition, necromancy, possession, shamanism, healing, spiritualism, nature worship and the occult, it is usually seen as distinct from these when examined by sociologists and anthropologists.
 
The concept of witchcraft and the belief in its existence have existed throughout recorded history. They have been present or central at various times, and in many diverse forms, among cultures and religions worldwide, including both "primitive" and "highly advanced" cultures, and continue to have an important role in many cultures today. 



Historically, the predominant concept of witchcraft in the Western world derives from Old Testament laws against witchcraft, and entered the mainstream when belief in witchcraft gained Church approval in the Early Modern Period. It posits a theosophical conflict between good and evil, where witchcraft was generally evil and often associated with the Devil and Devil worship. This culminated in deaths, torture and scapegoating and many years of large scale witch-trials and witch hunts, especially in Protestant Europe, before largely ceasing during the European Age of Enlightenment. 



Christian views in the modern day are diverse and cover the gamut of views from intense belief and opposition (especially from Christian fundamentalists) to non-belief, and in some churches even approval. From the mid-20th century, witchcraft   became the name of a branch of modern paganism. It is most notably practiced in the Wiccan and modern witchcraft traditions, and no longer practices in secrecy.

The Western mainstream Christian view is far from the only societal perspective about witchcraft. Many cultures worldwide continue to have widespread practices and cultural beliefs that are loosely translated into English as "witchcraft", although the English translation masks a very great diversity in their forms, magical beliefs, practices, and place in their societies. During the Age of Colonialism, many cultures across the globe were exposed to the modern Western world via colonialism, usually accompanied and often preceded by intensive Christian missionary activity. Beliefs related to witchcraft and magic in these cultures were at times influenced by the prevailing Western concepts. Witch hunts, scapegoating, and killing or shunning of suspected witches still occurs in the modern era, with killings both of victims for their supposedly magical body parts, and of suspected witchcraft practitioners.
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PostSubject: Re: What Is The Craft?   Sat Jun 11, 2016 7:34 am

Probably the most obvious characteristic of a witch was the ability to cast a spell, "spell" being the word used to signify the means employed to carry out a magical action. A spell could consist of a set of words, a formula or verse, or a ritual action, or any combination of these.  Spells traditionally were cast by many methods, such as by the inscription of runes or sigils on an object to give it magical powers; by the immolation or binding of a wax or clay image (poppet) of a person to affect him or her magically; by the recitation of incantations; by the performance of physical rituals; by the employment of magical herbs as amulets or potions; by gazing at mirrors, swords or other specula (scrying) for purposes of divination; and by many other means.

Throughout the early modern period, the English term "witch" was not exclusively negative in meaning, and could also indicate cunning folk.  There were a number of interchangeable terms for these practitioners, 'white', 'good', or 'unbinding' witches, wizards, sorcerers, however 'cunning-man' and 'wise-man' were the most frequent.

The contemporary Reginald Scot noted, "At this day it is indifferent to say in the English tongue, 'she is a witch' or 'she is a wise woman'". Folk magicians throughout Europe were often viewed ambivalently by communities, and were considered as capable of harming as of healing, which could lead to their being accused as "witches" in the negative sense. Many English "witches" convicted of consorting with demons seem to have been cunning folk whose fairy familiars had been demonised; many French devins-guerisseurs ("diviner-healers") were accused of witchcraft, and over one half the accused witches in Hungary seem to have been healers.

Some of the healers and diviners historically accused of witchcraft have considered themselves mediators between the mundane and spiritual worlds, roughly equivalent to shamans.  Such people described their contacts with fairies, spirits often involving out-of-body experiences and travelling through the realms of an "other-world".  Beliefs of this nature are implied in the folklore of much of Europe, and were explicitly described by accused witches in central and southern Europe. Repeated themes include participation in processions of the dead or large feasts, often presided over by a horned male deity or a female divinity who teaches magic and gives prophecies; and participation in battles against evil spirits, "vampires", or "witches" to win fertility and prosperity for the community.
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PostSubject: Re: What Is The Craft?   Sat Jun 11, 2016 7:35 am

Belief in witchcraft continues to be present today in some societies and accusations of witchcraft are the trigger of serious forms of violence, including murder. Such incidents are common in places such as Burkina Faso, Ghana, India, Kenya, Malawi, Nepal and Tanzania. Accusations of witchcraft are sometimes linked to personal disputes, jealousy, and conflicts between neighbors or family over land or inheritance. Witchcraft related violence is often discussed as a serious issue in the broader context of violence against women.

In Tanzania, about 500 older women are murdered each year following accusations against them of witchcraft.  Apart from extrajudicial violence, there is also state-sanctioned violence in some jurisdictions. For instance, in Saudi Arabia practicing 'witchcraft and sorcery' is a crime punishable by death and the country has executed people for this crime in 2011, 2012 and 2014.

It is not only abroad that punishes people accused of Witchcraft.  Here in the UK, the violence dealt out to those thought of being a Witch is also horrific.

Lilke this case in London of a 15 year old boy who killed his mother with a claw hammer...

http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/401497/Boy-killed-his-witch-mum-Old-Bailey-hears

and this one...

Kristy Bamu, 15, drowned in the bath of a blood-soaked flat on Christmas Day 2010 after begging to die in a ‘tale of horror’. He suffered 101 separate injuries as he was attacked with weapons including metal poles, pliers, knives, a hammer and heavy ceramic tiles.  His sister Magalie Bamu and her boyfriend Eric Bikubi, both 28, are accused of beating him to death because they believed he had been possessed by evil spirits.  His two other sisters were also badly wounded after being accused of sorcery, black magic and witchcraft. The siblings had been sent from home in Paris by their parents to enjoy a festive break with their sister at her flat in Forest Gate, East London.

But the visit descended into an almost unimaginable nightmare of violence.
http://www.skeptical-science.com/religion/15-year-boy-accused-witchcraft-murdered-religious-fanatics-uk/



Thankfully,  cases like those mentioned above are few and far between here in the UK.  Witchcraft and Wicca are now practised openly,  as a religion of positive ethical principles.  Some Traditions are organised into autonomous covens and led by a High Priesthood,  where other Witches practice alone.  I will cover the traditions in later posts.


There is also a large "Eclectic Wiccan" movement of individuals and groups who share key Wiccan beliefs but have no initiatory connection or affiliation with traditional Wicca.  One can be "Witch" without being "Wiccan".  Wiccan writings and ritual, show borrowings from a number of sources including 19th and 20th-century ceremonial magic, the medieval grimoire known as the Key of Solomon, Aleister Crowley's Ordo Templi Orientis and pre-Christian religions. 


Both men and women these days are equally termed "Witches."  Yes, there are Male Witches, and no, they are not called Wizards or Warlocks.  "Warlock" is an archaic derogatory term used by the Witch hunters during "The Burning Times"—the era of persecution and execution on a massive scale of people who were accused and convicted of witchcraft—to describe male witches. Warlock actually means "oathbreaker." A male Witch is properly referred to as a Witch.


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