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Posts Tagged ‘reconstructionalist’

salem witch trial

Examination of a Witch, by T.H. Matteson 1853.

Sometimes European witches get defensive of their traditional craft. While there are always welcoming people, there are also those that are more closeted and want to keep their culture to themselves. Some still comment that we left their country and created a new one and we don’t need to keep coming back and taking all that is good culturally from them and mutating it. Some don’t understand why many American append a hereditary country to our self identification: Irish American, African American, etc. In most cases our mothers and grandmothers were born in America and so why the obsession with the old country? I can express for myself that Ireland is a mystical homeland in addition to being a land of my ancestors. In the melting pot that is America, most people like to hold onto their original roots and preserve cultural traditions of their immigrant or native ancestors. It is part of the American culture to treasure the old country culture whilst still assimilating the language and culture of the states.

However, when seeking traditional witchcraft, Americans do not have to go back to an old country or bastardize Native American practices either. There are American forms of traditional witchcraft that are every bit as rich as the European ones. In addition, the American traditions have a more homey and American feel. They are built around the land, the dominant religions and the feeder old county cultures of the families who have dwelt in this country so long that no one in their family speaks the old language of their “home” country.

I have been enjoying an excellent book The Silver Bullet and other American Witch Stories that imparts the lore of the Appalachian witch tradition. The stories come complete with rituals to become a witch, to create a witch ball, and to attain a familiar. Long before Gardner came out and charged Buckland with spreading the word when he was sent to America, there were witchcraft traditions already. I learned a lot about these various traditions by reading Her Hidden Children by Chas Clifton. Chas writes about both Wiccan, neo-pagan, and traditional witchcraft and pagan practices in America before and after Gardner/Buckland. Clifton makes the case that much of contemporary popular witchcraft and neo-paganism has been influenced heavily by a rather particularly american activist spirit.

Her Hidden Children had a strong affect on my path, and since reading it I have sought out sources on American traditional witchcraft–especially those tied to the American West since that is where I am from. Hopefully I will get time to share my findings as I get a more solid idea of them here.

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Lugh

Lugh

A favorite God

Lugh/Luga/Llew is a pan-Celtic God.  He has the city of Lyons named for him, as well as a pan-Celtic holiday, Lughnasadh held is his honor or in honor of his foster mother Tailtu in August.   He is a god of many skills, granted to him by his mother and he is a god of light, he has a very bright aura like the sun.

Many of my favorite masculine Irish figures are not gods, but rather demi-gods or heroes: Fionn, Cuchulian, Ossian, and Angus.  However, Lugh is all God, so I call him one of my favorites.

We recently held Lughnasadh and we always have an excellent loaf of bread made by one of my coven mates and this year was no different.  It wasn’t long before we had eaten all of him except for the best share which was offered to Him for fertility in our crops.

Lugh Bread

Lugh Bread

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Keeper and Companion

Keeper and Companion painting by Sara Star in sepia tone

A favourite Goddess.

One of my favorite Goddesses is Brigit. I paint her aspect as a Saint quite a lot. And I hope to paint her more in pagan art.

Brigit is so many things, a hearth goddess, a well and spring water goddess, a muse, a healer a forger. I find she is all things relating to creation the spark of inspiration the making and the repairing/treating of the created.

As an artist I find her especially helpful and I think of her often and am devoted to her.

There are so many traditions associated with Brigit. From the Brigit’s mantle that you set out to collect due on Imbolc Eve, to the Brigit’s dolly and bed, to flame cells, to well dressings.

Brigit is my ama chara, my heart kindred friend. I love her and want to be alike to her.

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What’s your witchy background?

Little Witch

It all started on Halloween 1983

It began when I was very young, just  a girl and I was interested in witches and sympathetic to them and their familiars in stories–even when they were cast as the bad guys.  My mom encouraged my interest and taught me wishcraft and protection energy work.   She and my father were non-members of a new age eastern christian fusion church, Unity.  I became interested in Druidry and Irish folk custom in college, a few of my teachers were witches and druids in college, and one of my class mates was the priestess of an interfaith coven, and I started to get involved with it.  Her group broke up and decided to go totally Wiccan instead of interfaith. I moved on into a sort of Coptic/Gnostic interest in Christianity, especially iconography and Mary Magdalen and priestess and Mary Mother of God.

From there it was only a matter of time before I became pagan and witch.

Because of my background, I knew a number of solitary witches and magicians.  Friends lent me books, and one trusted friend suggested I find a group.  I shopped around a bit and eventually found Amy as she was founding her new group (she had moved to a new area too far from her old coven).  And we started, the group slowly grew, often it was only the two of us.  We studied together, she taught me a bit, and now it is at six/seven members.  I studied a ton, and I don’t recall exactly why, but Amy and I got interested in mandrakes.

My internet searches for how to grow mandrakes led me to a now defunct forum on Traditional Witchcraft.  I joined and learned and learned and researched and practiced and experimented so I could begin to give back.  Around the same time, I caught wind of Celtic Reconstructionalism–probably through one of the groups I tried out on experimental magic.

I also began to study under Jack Darkhand in the Millennium Tradition he was founding.   It is a Celtic and Witchcraft magic tradition and spirituality way.   I studied intensely his lesson for about half a year, read thoroughly on theory and spent a lot of time building my practice.  Then Jack Darkhand let me know he was dying.   Later on he and I had a small disagreement that led to us not continuing our lessons, but partin on good terms.  He died a year later and I went to his funeral to try and find other members of his tradition, but I did not, his friends told me it was a new tradition and only his widow is privy to more information than I am.  It saddens me know, because I mostly came around to his point of view on the disagreement and all those months of lessons we lost over it.

These three major sources molded me and I continue to work from lessons from all three, Traditional Craft, CR, and Jack Darkhand.  I bring all these things into the picture when I work with the coven and the other members bring their compatible but diverse backgrounds in as well.

It was ten years ago May, that I first got involved in magical and mystical traditions, and 6 years of being a pagan polytheist.

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I have been busy painting and creating all month.  I finished a commission of a greek goddess, I started on another one.  I finished an icon of Brigit for my coven and I created a mounted print of  the same–which is for sale in my shop .

Sacred Brigit Icon

Sacred Brigit Icon

I am fascinated with Brigit, she is a goddess and a saint of both water and fire.   I feel akin to her and I strive to be like her.  She is one of the two patron saints of Ireland.  And she just has an incredible energy.

Brigit signature symbol is the Brigit’s cross which is made of reeds or rushes.  She has a temple and well at Kildare with an eternal flame that was tended in the past by 19 priestesses and now is tended by 19 nuns.  Every 20 days Brigit tends the flame herself

My coven is going to put this icon atop a candle stand for 20 candles.

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