Guest Post: Confessions of a Buddhist Witch, part one

Dual observance is a theme at my blog. I practice Traditional Witchcraft and Hinduism on the left-hand Tantric side of things. The following guest post is written by Willow Moon. I am honored to have such a wise teacher share his experience here.

Willow Moon has had a long and abiding interest in traditional Witchcraft since the 70’s which led him to be initiated and trained in a number of Witchcraft traditions.  In the early 80’s he met his first primary Tibetan Buddhist teacher. He started learning Buddhist practice and Tibetan language by engaging in week long mediation retreats and daily puja. Since that time he has continued to study both magic and meditation on a daily basis and in longer retreats. He is active in teaching Faerie Witchcraft.

I’ll be posting this in three parts over the next three Fridays. I hope you enjoy it!

*****

I am an initiate and practitioner of both Tibetan Buddhism and Faerie Witchcraft.  One may think they are such different religions that it is strange that one person would practice both.  Other than both being classified as “heathen,” “pagan,” or as “misguided” or “wrong” by arrogant people who are ignorant of their beauty, truths and benefits – there is much that is either similar or complementary in each path.

Of course, since I am only one person, I cannot speak for every Buddhist or Faerie (Feri) Witch.  I can only speak about my personal experiences arising from my practice and the personal instructions that I have received from my Buddhist teachers and Faerie elders such as Victor and Cora Anderson.

Both religions are intrinsically complementary because neither nurtures a sense of competition with other religions or Gods.  Because there is no competition there is no need to proselytize or to argue and convince others of the superiority of one’s choice for religious worship.  In fact, both of these religions encourage cooperation with others based on respect.

Both Faerie Witches and Buddhists demonstrate a respect towards all living creatures.  In Buddhism, animals are considered to be equal to humans in the sense that both have an inherent Buddha nature.  It is possible for animals to become enlightened by connecting to their original Buddha nature which is pure and unobstructed in the same way that it is possible for the Gods.  Buddhists consider that a human birth is preferable to both animal or God because it is easier for a human to connect to their Buddha nature due to their unique mixture of both suffering and pleasure.  Humans in general have enough suffering to stimulate them to better themselves and their world but also enough pleasure to encourage them to continue.

It is harder for animals to recognize their Buddha nature because they generally experience too much suffering and are often held in slavery to humans.  It is thus difficult for them to relax and let go of their fear for long enough to sense their true nature and develop it.  The Gods have a difficult time attaining complete freedom because they have too much pleasure and thus too little motivation to strive to uncover their original mind.  Since all animals and humans are considered equal by virtue of their Buddha nature, Buddhists tend to be kind and loving toward animals and humans alike.  Faerie Witches have no rules that tell us how we are supposed to treat animals, however it is part of our culture to love and respect animals as equal to humans, since humans are animals.  We have no cultural imperative to dominate and control those who are different than us.  In fact, anyone abusing an animal would be considered less than humane and one likely to abuse other humans as well.

Thangka Depicting Vajrabhairava. By anonymus (Sotheby’s) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Related to the mutual respect for animals is the natural process of reincarnation.  Both Buddhists and Faerie Witches in general consider that we can be reincarnated after death.  This is because both religions tend to view life as cyclical, that birth and death are cycles of life which continues indefinitely.  Buddhists typically think about the cycles of life in terms of centuries, planning and training for their future complete happiness and the happiness of society.  They know that a human can be reincarnated as an animal or an animal as a human because we all have the same basic nature.

Faerie Witches often consider the biological law of conservation of energy to be a basis for understanding reincarnation.  This natural law states that energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only change form and function.  Thus all forms of life are interchangeable.  Witches are usually taught that those who die move into a place of rest and peace often considered being in the western direction to be later reincarnated into the land as a plant or animal or human.  This is similar to the “Buddhafield of Great Bliss” or Dewachen which is Buddha Amitabha’s pure land of the dead that is located in the west where they rest and learn before reincarnation.

Both Buddhists and Faerie Witches generally agree that science is both beneficial and dangerous.  To Faeries, science is often seen as proving the truth of our ways and lore.  Faerie Witches, like Pagans in general, tend to enjoy the progress in understanding and benefiting our world that science affords us.  For instance, the knowledge that the sun is the creator of our world has been proven by science, just as the Pagans of old believed.  Buddhist teachings have a lot in common with the theories of modern quantum physics and biology.  Particularly in regard to the fluidity and plastic nature of matter and the body/mind that is changed by our actions, thoughts and feelings.  However, most Buddhists and Witches also agree that science has the ability to change our world into a genetic nightmare filled with pollution and weapons.  Science is only beneficial when it encourages the continuity of life and respect for individual dignity, just as businesses and politicians should.

(Check back next Friday for part two!)

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About Niki Whiting
  • Dubium

    I am so glad to read another witch’s
    experiences practicing both Witchcraft and Buddhism. I am Highest Yoga
    Tantric Vajrayana Buddhism initiate and a Minos in the Minoan Brotherhood.
    You are right, both traditions are complementary. As a matter of
    fact, I suspect the Western Magickal tradition owes a great deal to Tantric Practices.
    Practicing both for ten years I see so many similarities.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/awitchsashram/ A Witch’s Ashram

      I too see so many overlaps between the Eastern and Western mysteries.
      I’m glad you liked this post. Check back next Friday for part two!

      (Also, your comment posted twice, so I deleted the other one.)

    • willow

      Thank you so much! I also suspect that there are long forgotten connections between Vajrayana practice, lore and teachings because of the sometimes startling similarities. Perhaps via the Scythians or the silk road or Takalamakan?

  • Vicki Burns

    Yay! What a delightful surprise to see this wonderful article by one of my favorite people in the world, Willow Moon! Thank you…

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/awitchsashram/ A Witch’s Ashram

      Check back next Friday for part two of this article!

    • willow

      My dear, thank you for such a sweet comment! You are one of my favorite people too and the most remarkable jazz singer I have ever heard!

  • http://thephilosophyofkindness.wordpress.com/ Samantha

    This is a very exciting post to read. I practice Tibetan Buddhism but must confess that I’m very ignorant on most things Witchcraft. It will be exciting to see how these two overlap.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/awitchsashram/ A Witch’s Ashram

      Welcome! Just to be clear: Faerie is but one tradition of Witchcraft. While it has absorbed some Wiccan elements, Wicca is a different family of the Craft. So while I think there are some basics of witchcraft to be gleaned, you’ll be seeing the Craft through a distinct lens.

      • willow

        Welcome Samantha! I hope you find something useful and edifying in my post. Niki is correct in that I speak mostly about Faerie Witchcraft in particular and it is different than the public’s general understanding of Wicca. In fact, Faerie has a history here in America that precedes Gerald Gardiner’s creation of Wicca. Faerie may be closely related to what Gardiner learned but it is very different from what he taught.

  • http://saracamis.blogspot.com/ Sara Amis

    I attended a Goddess workshop this past weekend facilitated in part by a Tibetan Buddhist. Not surprisingly, we found that our perspectives went together pretty well…

    • willow

      Ah yes, one thing I adore about Tibetan Buddhism is the acknowledgement of the power, independence, wisdom and skill of women in general, Dakinis (spirit women) and Goddesses. I too have found that even where the two systems of thought diverge, they are still complementary. I have found much useful cross-over understanding of the way our world and our minds work. In fact, I was first introduced to a particular Tibetan Buddhist Dakini by Steven when I lived with his teacher.

  • Camille

    Such a wonderful post! Thank you! I’m practicing Mahayana Buddhism, and witchcraft as well! It sums up the relationship quite well! I like green magic, but I am not familiar with all of the types because I guess you could say I’m just starting out. I look forward to part two ^_^

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/awitchsashram/ A Witch’s Ashram

      Hi Camille! So glad you found this helpful. Parts two and three are up, as these guest posts are from a year ago! Enjoy.


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