The Watchtowers and Abrahamic Wicca

My first significant encounters with Wiccan thought were with Kaatryn McMorgan’s All One Wicca and the Farrar’s The Witches Bible. MacMorgan gave me a firm grounding to begin my studies, but the Farrar’s intoxicated me with the beauty and majesty of Wicca. I remember being particularly struck by the Watchtowers.

Being ignorant of their origin, history or deeper meanings, my imagination unfolded a scene right out a Fantasia: vast castles with central towers in the cardinal directions, rising dreadfully at the far edges of the Universe. The north filled with dwarves, gems, soil, trees, leaves. The east an airy palace full of strange winds, trumpets, chorales. The south brimming with magma, fiery lizards, torches, strange smoke. The west a sea palace strewn with canals, pools, lagoons, waterfalls. Long before I read Tolkien I saw these towers guiding and directing the elemental energies that make up the fabric of the universe.

I picked up Mac Morgan’s The Circle, Cubed this morning. It’s one of those books I’m managing to read at a snail’s pace. I was surprised to find I agreed with her criticism of using the Watchtowers, as well as other Abrahamic practices such as the LBRP, in Wicca. It feels strange to recognize that my views have shifted so significantly over the years.

The Watchtowers come from staunchly Christian Enochian magic, got a makeover by the Golden Dawn and found their way into Wicca. Maybe pre-Gardnerian, maybe through Gardner himself or maybe in the many post-Gardnerian variations that have sprung up over the years. MacMorgan makes the interesting observation that Enochian magic was the result of Dee’s attempt to gain for the Church of England magical access to God that everyone knew the Catholics had (and the Jews, and the Gypsies, and the…). I find it amusing to think of there being a magic race to place alongside the arms race and space race.

Now, the Watchtowers themselves are not the elements or the cardinal directions. The classical elements honored in Wicca are older than Socrates himself, and folks knew their north from south long before Dr. John Dee came along. If the Watchtowers aren’t necessary to Wicca and are Abrahamic in nature, then are they really appropriate for any non-Abrahamic Wiccan tradition? Unless you have statues of Jesus and the Magdalen on your altar, it seems awfully discordant.

I’m biased in the matter. I left Christianity, rejected monotheistic theology and have no use for angels. I know there are Christo-Pagans out there, and there are Christo-Pagans I admire greatly, but that doesn’t mean I get it. I’m curious what other people think though.

Do Abrahamic elements belong in Wicca? Should Wiccans invoke angels? Should they adopt a Judeo-Christian cosmology?

About Star Foster

Polytheistic Wiccan initiated into the Ravenwood tradition, she has many opinions. Some of them are actually useful.

  • http://www.elementforge.com Adrian Hawkins

    I think that what ever you find magical should be incorporated into your belief system.

    I was raised Wiccan and remember the summoning of the watch towers as one of my favorite parts of ritual going back to the age of four. Each time I summon them it is still a deep, profound, and magical moment for me.

    On the other hand, I incorporate many practices from many places such as Alchemy, shamanism, druidry, and Qabbalah. My mother was raised Jewish and I have always felt a great tie to the tree of life. Like my mother used to say when she was alive, I’m Jew-witch.

  • http://www.groveofthelion.com/ Adrian Hawkins

    I think that what ever you find magical should be incorporated into your belief system.

    I was raised Wiccan and remember the summoning of the watch towers as one of my favorite parts of ritual going back to the age of four. Each time I summon them it is still a deep, profound, and magical moment for me.

    On the other hand, I incorporate many practices from many places such as Alchemy, shamanism, druidry, and Qabbalah. My mother was raised Jewish and I have always felt a great tie to the tree of life. Like my mother used to say when she was alive, I’m Jew-witch.

  • http://dianarajchel.com Diana Rajchel

    I practice eclectic Wicca from a place of “do what works.” I also consider Wicca a modern construction – and so we incorporate pieces of what went before, and as long as we’re honest about ourselves with the practice, that’s fine. Most of what we did came before, just as Christianity has elements of Zorastrianism/Mithraism (how much so depends very much on which of the hundreds of denominations of Christianity you happen to encounter) that also came before. An A&E documentary that’s now on Netflix explores the mythological roots of angels. In that circumstance, the conclusion seems to be that they are of Sumerian/Assyrian origin, and that Abrahamic tribes adopted the concept and created an angelic mythology unique to their respective outbranches of religion. While what we know of angels is rooted in the Christian concepts, they are not a Christian invention.

    I also realize that a wholesale rejection of Christianity is very much a necessary part of some people’s transformation of faith. My experience was not of rejection and rebellion; it was akin to looking across the table at a long-term partner and saying “this isn’t working anymore.” I harbor no resentment toward my Christian acculturation, and I acknowledge that while I’ve evolved, Christianity was part of that ancestry and it will at times work its way in. As to occult Christiantiy, I have found that it’s much more tolerant than the Coca-Cola and Pepsi versions of Christians so many know or have survived. My use of their symbols in personal practice is not a betrayal to my gods, and I’m wary of becoming narrow-minded by rejecting symbols just because of their origin. I’ve known great kids with awful parents more than once in my life.

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      I’m a big fan of gospel music, so I’m not about throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

      I think my issue is that Wicca is not an empty box waiting to be filled, and your past may not longer be relevant in your future. Christianity is no longer Mithraic, but it’s own deep, self-sustaining tradition.

      If Wicca is to grow in depth and become self-sustaining, is incorporating elements that illustrate a non-complementary worldview wise?

      • http://dianarajchel.com Diana Rajchel

        I don’t believe that angels/archangels as entities unto themselves have a necessarily conflicting worldview. Nor do I think *all* Christianity conflicts with Wicca, although certainly a good chunk of denominations do.

        As I said, it comes back to “do what works.” I know from direct practice in CM that the LBPR, etc. works – which suggests that either a)my worldview is not relevant to the physics/metaphysics of the ritual or b)that perhaps the archangels, as real beings, have their own opinions about who they want to work with.

      • Drakonyx

        I’m extremely eclectic. I studied Christianity in some depth before leaving it because I found too many inconsistencies, but the way I dealt with those was by retaining the consistent elements and incorporating them into my subsequent beliefs. I don’t see anything wrong with that. 

      • Drakonyx

        I’m extremely eclectic. I studied Christianity in some depth before leaving it because I found too many inconsistencies, but the way I dealt with those was by retaining the consistent elements and incorporating them into my subsequent beliefs. I don’t see anything wrong with that. 

  • http://blog.dianarajchel.com Diana Rajchel

    I practice eclectic Wicca from a place of “do what works.” I also consider Wicca a modern construction – and so we incorporate pieces of what went before, and as long as we’re honest about ourselves with the practice, that’s fine. Most of what we did came before, just as Christianity has elements of Zorastrianism/Mithraism (how much so depends very much on which of the hundreds of denominations of Christianity you happen to encounter) that also came before. An A&E documentary that’s now on Netflix explores the mythological roots of angels. In that circumstance, the conclusion seems to be that they are of Sumerian/Assyrian origin, and that Abrahamic tribes adopted the concept and created an angelic mythology unique to their respective outbranches of religion. While what we know of angels is rooted in the Christian concepts, they are not a Christian invention.

    I also realize that a wholesale rejection of Christianity is very much a necessary part of some people’s transformation of faith. My experience was not of rejection and rebellion; it was akin to looking across the table at a long-term partner and saying “this isn’t working anymore.” I harbor no resentment toward my Christian acculturation, and I acknowledge that while I’ve evolved, Christianity was part of that ancestry and it will at times work its way in. As to occult Christiantiy, I have found that it’s much more tolerant than the Coca-Cola and Pepsi versions of Christians so many know or have survived. My use of their symbols in personal practice is not a betrayal to my gods, and I’m wary of becoming narrow-minded by rejecting symbols just because of their origin. I’ve known great kids with awful parents more than once in my life.

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      I’m a big fan of gospel music, so I’m not about throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

      I think my issue is that Wicca is not an empty box waiting to be filled, and your past may not longer be relevant in your future. Christianity is no longer Mithraic, but it’s own deep, self-sustaining tradition.

      If Wicca is to grow in depth and become self-sustaining, is incorporating elements that illustrate a non-complementary worldview wise?

      • http://blog.dianarajchel.com Diana Rajchel

        I don’t believe that angels/archangels as entities unto themselves have a necessarily conflicting worldview. Nor do I think *all* Christianity conflicts with Wicca, although certainly a good chunk of denominations do.

        As I said, it comes back to “do what works.” I know from direct practice in CM that the LBPR, etc. works – which suggests that either a)my worldview is not relevant to the physics/metaphysics of the ritual or b)that perhaps the archangels, as real beings, have their own opinions about who they want to work with.

      • Drakonyx

        I’m extremely eclectic. I studied Christianity in some depth before leaving it because I found too many inconsistencies, but the way I dealt with those was by retaining the consistent elements and incorporating them into my subsequent beliefs. I don’t see anything wrong with that. 

      • Marge Wood

        I’m a Christian but not the nut case kind. Right now I am trying to find out, mostly for research purposes, is it possible for a Wiccan to also be a Christian in any form? I’ve read a lot of this page and think maybe there are lots of kinds of Wiccans just as there are lots of kinds of Christians or other religious groups.  I’m not interested in becoming a wiccan but I am interested in knowing the facts. Help!

        • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

           Of course. Plenty of folks blend the two.

  • Lucretia

    I think this is a really interesting point. The watchtowers have never really had much resonance for me. It’s not that I tried to make a break from xtianity, so much as that I never really knew much about it or was shaped by it to begin with (despite going through the confirmation process). I find a lot of the ceremonial magic that was borrowed from the golden dawn and others to feel very inorganic and overly formal. So I guess regardless of ties to other non-pagan religions, those elements just don’t work for me. I guess I agree with the above posters in that what matters is if something feels right. 

    • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

      Yeah, I’m with you on this.  I didn’t come to Wicca fleeing from or in reaction to Abrahamic faith, nor was I educated in Abrahamic faith until I started poking at it as an adult to see what all the fuss was about.  I also never resonated with the Watchtowers when that manner of Circle casting was taught to me… for pretty much the same reasons: it felt rigid, inorganic and overly formal.  

      tl;dr: Seeeeeeebling!  :D

  • Lucretia

    I think this is a really interesting point. The watchtowers have never really had much resonance for me. It’s not that I tried to make a break from xtianity, so much as that I never really knew much about it or was shaped by it to begin with (despite going through the confirmation process). I find a lot of the ceremonial magic that was borrowed from the golden dawn and others to feel very inorganic and overly formal. So I guess regardless of ties to other non-pagan religions, those elements just don’t work for me. I guess I agree with the above posters in that what matters is if something feels right. 

    • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

      Yeah, I’m with you on this.  I didn’t come to Wicca fleeing from or in reaction to Abrahamic faith, nor was I educated in Abrahamic faith until I started poking at it as an adult to see what all the fuss was about.  I also never resonated with the Watchtowers when that manner of Circle casting was taught to me… for pretty much the same reasons: it felt rigid, inorganic and overly formal.  

      tl;dr: Seeeeeeebling!  :D

  • tailmon12

    I agree with most of the article, yet I have two major points I disagree with.

    1. Angels. They are not only a Christian (or even solely Abrahamic) construct. There are angels in many religions, including Hellenism. Granted, if Wicca “shouldn’t” incorporate the Abrahamic version of angels then it also shouldn’t consider the Greek version or the version of any other religion. But in contrast to even that argument, I know of an Alexandrian initiate who mentioned that “There are angels who answer to the Calls of the witchblood and hedge-rider [...]“. Not being an initiate myself, I cannot analyze or interpret this claim. I trust said initiate though and believe he speaks the truth. Thus, there might be angels specific to Wicca.

    2. Just like you mentioned in a comment that Christianity is no longer Mithraic, I think that the Watchtowers, in Wiccan liturgy, are no longer Abrahamic, Enochian or even Golden Dawn. They have been intergrated into the liturgy of some Trads and they have undergone changes and enough transitions to no longer be tied to their place of origin in ways other than academia and history. At least, that’s how I see it.

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      I see the difference as you don’t see Christians chanting Mithras name, yet there are Wiccans chanting Yahweh’s name. Is it truly Wiccan, or is it Enochian Christianity plugged into Wicca?

      Also, Witch Angels is a weird concept. It’s like saying the God and Goddess of Wicca have house-elves. I could get references to the Fey, or to Daimones, but that the Gods have angels to praise them and do their bidding is weird. Lucifer was an angel. Trying to incorporate Luciferian beings into Wicca blows my mind a little.

      • http://www.elementforge.com Adrian Hawkins

        What about Aradia: gospel of the witches?

        • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

          That’s Stregha, which isn’t Wicca last time I checked. Although Wicca did borrow a good bit from it, it’s basic tenets and worldview are far different from the whip and chair magic of Aradia.

          • http://www.elementforge.com Adrian Hawkins

            Right, but it is easy to see the influence of the work in the Gardnerian Book of shadows such as The Charge of the Goddess. It wouldn’t be to far fetched if more was included by some as well.

          • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

            I’m trying to think of something I would say with confidence was a basic tenet of Wicca. Beyond “the work of the Wicca is worth doing”, I’m failing.

          • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

            Interesting. That’s something to think about. Maybe write about.

          • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

            It’s something I’ve touched on in my own writings, and have been musing on returning to in more detail at some point.

          • http://www.elementforge.com Adrian Hawkins

            I think it would be interesting to read.  I also imagine a large flow chart or family tree of all the early influences on Wicca would be pretty neat, I think I might do that for fun one day.

            Jon, I can list my beleifs  and the the tenets i try to live by but I doubt  there is a large list a lot of Wiccans would agree on.

            If your interested though, here is a link: http://www.unicorntrad.org/info/beliefs.html

          • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

            I disagree with most of that list :)

            More to the point, I think; I wouldn’t care in the slightest if a student agreed with you rather than me on all such matters. Indeed, I would see that as contrary to my rôle – if I’ve brought someone to and through initiation and the regular working of our liturgy, and the views they come to from that experience contradict mine, then I’ll still feel I’ve served my tradition well and passed on what is important to us despite the doctrinal disagreement.

          • Adrian Hawkins

            I can’t agree or disagree with you whollyon the service part as i simply don’t know I haven’t initiated anyone. However, i suspect tht you are right.

          • http://www.elementforge.com Adrian Hawkins

            I think it would be interesting to read.  I also imagine a large flow chart or family tree of all the early influences on Wicca would be pretty neat, I think I might do that for fun one day.

            Jon, I can list my beleifs  and the the tenets i try to live by but I doubt  there is a large list a lot of Wiccans would agree on.

            If your interested though, here is a link: http://www.unicorntrad.org/info/beliefs.html

      • tailmon12

        I think part of the problem is the rather.. uh… one-dimensional way you see angels. First of all, what makes you think angels AREN’T daimones? A daimon is any spirit greater than a man and lesser than a God (or, indeed, a minor deity). Bright examples of “servant” daimones are: Telesphorus, the aide of Asklepios, the nymphs accompanying Artemis, the Satyrs following Dionysos, the Iynges, Synoches and Teletarchai, angelic beings serving Hekate as per the Chaldean Oracles and many more.

        Furthermore, the first and foremost meaning of “angel”, and therefore the primary duty of those entities is “messenger”. Both the Greek “άγγελος” which is the origin of “angel” and the Hebrew “mal’akh” mean “messenger”. Hermes and Iris, two Gods of the Hellenic pantheon are often referred to as “angels” (the word is also often used for human messengers – the word itself in Modern Greek has changed into “αγγελιαφόρος” – “aggeliaphoros” meaning “bearer/bringer of news”). Heck, Iris even has the whole “winged spokesperson of God” package! To think that the only thing they do is praise a God is like me thinking cows are nothing more than natural milk factories. o_O

        As far as Wiccans chanting Yahweh’s name, I can’t see how that could happen given that Wicca has *specific* Gods. I don’t know anything about the cases you refer to, but I would guess they were either not initiated/traddies, working on a non-Wiccan ritual/working or something along those lines. Also, being Wiccan doesn’t mean you can’t pursue other venues. I know of quite a few Initiates in a number of Trads that follow additional systems *separately* from their Wiccan practice, including a Sufi! :)

        Finally, I don’t understand why it should blow your mind at all. I’m not initiated and thus not privy to the inner workings but as far as I know, Wicca originates from the New Forest coven’s skeletal system which was a type of surviving traditional British witchcraft; a kind that would, by default, be rife with Christian imagery and concepts.

        • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

          Yup, all winged spirits are angels.

          The LBRP is a rite in which you chant the names of Hebraic angels and of Yahweh.

  • tailmon12

    I agree with most of the article, yet I have two major points I disagree with.

    1. Angels. They are not only a Christian (or even solely Abrahamic) construct. There are angels in many religions, including Hellenism. Granted, if Wicca “shouldn’t” incorporate the Abrahamic version of angels then it also shouldn’t consider the Greek version or the version of any other religion. But in contrast to even that argument, I know of an Alexandrian initiate who mentioned that “There are angels who answer to the Calls of the witchblood and hedge-rider [...]“. Not being an initiate myself, I cannot analyze or interpret this claim. I trust said initiate though and believe he speaks the truth. Thus, there might be angels specific to Wicca.

    2. Just like you mentioned in a comment that Christianity is no longer Mithraic, I think that the Watchtowers, in Wiccan liturgy, are no longer Abrahamic, Enochian or even Golden Dawn. They have been intergrated into the liturgy of some Trads and they have undergone changes and enough transitions to no longer be tied to their place of origin in ways other than academia and history. At least, that’s how I see it.

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      I see the difference as you don’t see Christians chanting Mithras name, yet there are Wiccans chanting Yahweh’s name. Is it truly Wiccan, or is it Enochian Christianity plugged into Wicca?

      Also, Witch Angels is a weird concept. It’s like saying the God and Goddess of Wicca have house-elves. I could get references to the Fey, or to Daimones, but that the Gods have angels to praise them and do their bidding is weird. Lucifer was an angel. Trying to incorporate Luciferian beings into Wicca blows my mind a little.

      • http://www.groveofthelion.com/ Adrian Hawkins

        What about Aradia: gospel of the witches?

        • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

          That’s Stregha, which isn’t Wicca last time I checked. Although Wicca did borrow a good bit from it, it’s basic tenets and worldview are far different from the whip and chair magic of Aradia.

          • http://www.groveofthelion.com/ Adrian Hawkins

            Right, but it is easy to see the influence of the work in the Gardnerian Book of shadows such as The Charge of the Goddess. It wouldn’t be to far fetched if more was included by some as well.

          • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

            I’m trying to think of something I would say with confidence was a basic tenet of Wicca. Beyond “the work of the Wicca is worth doing”, I’m failing.

          • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

            Interesting. That’s something to think about. Maybe write about.

          • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

            It’s something I’ve touched on in my own writings, and have been musing on returning to in more detail at some point.

          • http://www.groveofthelion.com/ Adrian Hawkins

            I think it would be interesting to read.  I also imagine a large flow chart or family tree of all the early influences on Wicca would be pretty neat, I think I might do that for fun one day.

            Jon, I can list my beleifs  and the the tenets i try to live by but I doubt  there is a large list a lot of Wiccans would agree on.

            If your interested though, here is a link: http://www.unicorntrad.org/info/beliefs.html

          • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

            I disagree with most of that list :)

            More to the point, I think; I wouldn’t care in the slightest if a student agreed with you rather than me on all such matters. Indeed, I would see that as contrary to my rôle – if I’ve brought someone to and through initiation and the regular working of our liturgy, and the views they come to from that experience contradict mine, then I’ll still feel I’ve served my tradition well and passed on what is important to us despite the doctrinal disagreement.

          • http://www.groveofthelion.com/ Adrian Hawkins

            I can’t agree or disagree with you whollyon the service part as i simply don’t know I haven’t initiated anyone. However, i suspect tht you are right.

      • tailmon12

        I think part of the problem is the rather.. uh… one-dimensional way you see angels. First of all, what makes you think angels AREN’T daimones? A daimon is any spirit greater than a man and lesser than a God (or, indeed, a minor deity). Bright examples of “servant” daimones are: Telesphorus, the aide of Asklepios, the nymphs accompanying Artemis, the Satyrs following Dionysos, the Iynges, Synoches and Teletarchai, angelic beings serving Hekate as per the Chaldean Oracles and many more.

        Furthermore, the first and foremost meaning of “angel”, and therefore the primary duty of those entities is “messenger”. Both the Greek “άγγελος” which is the origin of “angel” and the Hebrew “mal’akh” mean “messenger”. Hermes and Iris, two Gods of the Hellenic pantheon are often referred to as “angels” (the word is also often used for human messengers – the word itself in Modern Greek has changed into “αγγελιαφόρος” – “aggeliaphoros” meaning “bearer/bringer of news”). Heck, Iris even has the whole “winged spokesperson of God” package! To think that the only thing they do is praise a God is like me thinking cows are nothing more than natural milk factories. o_O

        As far as Wiccans chanting Yahweh’s name, I can’t see how that could happen given that Wicca has *specific* Gods. I don’t know anything about the cases you refer to, but I would guess they were either not initiated/traddies, working on a non-Wiccan ritual/working or something along those lines. Also, being Wiccan doesn’t mean you can’t pursue other venues. I know of quite a few Initiates in a number of Trads that follow additional systems *separately* from their Wiccan practice, including a Sufi! :)

        Finally, I don’t understand why it should blow your mind at all. I’m not initiated and thus not privy to the inner workings but as far as I know, Wicca originates from the New Forest coven’s skeletal system which was a type of surviving traditional British witchcraft; a kind that would, by default, be rife with Christian imagery and concepts.

        • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

          Yup, all winged spirits are angels.

          The LBRP is a rite in which you chant the names of Hebraic angels and of Yahweh.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lamyka-L/649965363 Lamyka L.

    This is a much more complex question then it may seem, since it asks about Wicca (also especially since some now use the term ‘Wicca/Wiccan’ more for convenience). We all know that it was created by someone who was entrenched firmly in the O.T.O. and Golden Dawn. Besides the mythologies they chose to work, an important difference is realized when you talk to any Thelemite. They’re magick practitioners–it’s a job, a means to an end, not a Faith (ok maybe a splash of Spirituality).

    If anything they’ve passed on to their love-child Wicca the ‘do whatever works’ mentality as any good professional will tell a job seeker. However if you worship and claim fealty to a certain God or Gods, don’t you think assuming an ‘open-relationship’ right off the bat is being a jerk?

    What a lot of Wiccans forget (and this I think is why there are so many more 3rd generation Wiccans realizing this now) is that many Gods don’t like being thrown into a grab bag. Some Gods don’t like your attention or devotion being averted somewhere or to someone else. This may very well include what words and rituals you are using. 

    Personally I get sick at the thought that someone would want me to do a abrahamic based ritual when my people already have our own. As an interfaith participation I’ve done an Enochian ritual with Lon Milo Duquette but to use that or Abrahamic mythos makes me cringe and feel like I’m cheating on my Gods. It doesn’t mean that ‘do whatever works’ is bad, but it is not equal to ‘by any means necessary’.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lamyka-L/649965363 Lamyka L.

    This is a much more complex question then it may seem, since it asks about Wicca (also especially since some now use the term ‘Wicca/Wiccan’ more for convenience). We all know that it was created by someone who was entrenched firmly in the O.T.O. and Golden Dawn. Besides the mythologies they chose to work, an important difference is realized when you talk to any Thelemite. They’re magick practitioners–it’s a job, a means to an end, not a Faith (ok maybe a splash of Spirituality).

    If anything they’ve passed on to their love-child Wicca the ‘do whatever works’ mentality as any good professional will tell a job seeker. However if you worship and claim fealty to a certain God or Gods, don’t you think assuming an ‘open-relationship’ right off the bat is being a jerk?

    What a lot of Wiccans forget (and this I think is why there are so many more 3rd generation Wiccans realizing this now) is that many Gods don’t like being thrown into a grab bag. Some Gods don’t like your attention or devotion being averted somewhere or to someone else. This may very well include what words and rituals you are using. 

    Personally I get sick at the thought that someone would want me to do a abrahamic based ritual when my people already have our own. As an interfaith participation I’ve done an Enochian ritual with Lon Milo Duquette but to use that or Abrahamic mythos makes me cringe and feel like I’m cheating on my Gods. It doesn’t mean that ‘do whatever works’ is bad, but it is not equal to ‘by any means necessary’.

    • John

       I think that you are giving the gods/goddess human character’s, (christian concept) my god is a jealous god etc. Many gods don’t like being thrown into grab bags….is this from your experience?? I am a Trad Wiccan, I see the god and goddess as my friends, I also do not worship my gods, I devote to them, worship is a belittling concept and disrespectful to our selves. I’m sure your best friends don’t mind you having other friends, no matter the culture and who they are. My view is, if ya don’t like it, then don’t do it, and let others that find particular ways of devoting to their gods/goddess that work for them, get on with it.
      Wicca is an evolving path, I hear people asking is your brand of Wicca authentic, my answer to that is, yes! ….authentic to me and the way I practice it. My opinion is that, Wicca should give you room to express who you are, and that gives you room to work in your particular way, and not be hemmed in by a book of rules, of course there is the basic structure to help you in this endeavor, this is what drew me to Wicca 37 years ago, and still find great freedom and joy now in my workings. It is easy to become a Wiccan purist, but in the end, it becomes hard on your practice and can really make your relationship difficult with the old one’s, Blessed Be.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Literata-Hurley/100002634654698 Literata Hurley

    I agree with you entirely, Star. The Watchtowers, the LBRP, all of it only really make sense in their original context. To me, when you separate them from that context, they become disjointed and incoherent, or worse, they subtly carry along the problems of the monotheism from which they emerged, insinuating troubling assumptions and ideas into your practice and worldview, often at a subconscious level.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Literata-Hurley/100002634654698 Literata Hurley

    I agree with you entirely, Star. The Watchtowers, the LBRP, all of it only really make sense in their original context. To me, when you separate them from that context, they become disjointed and incoherent, or worse, they subtly carry along the problems of the monotheism from which they emerged, insinuating troubling assumptions and ideas into your practice and worldview, often at a subconscious level.

  • http://www.facebook.com/deirdre.hebert Deirdre Hebert

    I tend to be of the opinion that when you diverge from a thing sufficiently, it becomes something else. As for the watchtowers, or the LBRP, I don’t know how they first got to be connected with Wicca. If it was Gardner who incorporated them into Wicca, then they are part of Wicca – and we might say that Wicca has roots partially based on the Christian religion – as strange as that might be.

    If they were incorporated by someone else – later – then that’s all they are – something attached later, but certainly not a part of Wicca.

    That’s one reason that I don’t claim to practice Wicca. I do what works. I’m a Pagan, and while some of my practice comes from more traditional Wicca, some of it comes from various Druidic paths and other sources. I used to worry about what was authentic or not, but in the ends, you’ll never have any real agreement as to what is and what is not authentic Wicca. So, rather than say what I do is Druidry or Wicca or anything else – I just say I’m a Pagan, and I do what I do. I don’t work with the Watchtowers or the LBRP. But what I do works for me, and that’s all I really need to worry about.

    • http://www.wiccanweb.ca Makarios

      “If it was Gardner who incorporated them into Wicca, then they are part of Wicca – and we might say that Wicca has roots partially based on the Christian religion – as strange as that might be.”

      Not all that strange. There is some interesting coverage of this very topic in Joanne Pearson’s
      Wicca and the Christian Heritage: Ritual, Sex and Magic.
      Submitted FWIW.

  • http://www.facebook.com/deirdre.hebert Deirdre Hebert

    I tend to be of the opinion that when you diverge from a thing sufficiently, it becomes something else. As for the watchtowers, or the LBRP, I don’t know how they first got to be connected with Wicca. If it was Gardner who incorporated them into Wicca, then they are part of Wicca – and we might say that Wicca has roots partially based on the Christian religion – as strange as that might be.

    If they were incorporated by someone else – later – then that’s all they are – something attached later, but certainly not a part of Wicca.

    That’s one reason that I don’t claim to practice Wicca. I do what works. I’m a Pagan, and while some of my practice comes from more traditional Wicca, some of it comes from various Druidic paths and other sources. I used to worry about what was authentic or not, but in the ends, you’ll never have any real agreement as to what is and what is not authentic Wicca. So, rather than say what I do is Druidry or Wicca or anything else – I just say I’m a Pagan, and I do what I do. I don’t work with the Watchtowers or the LBRP. But what I do works for me, and that’s all I really need to worry about.

    • http://www.wiccanweb.ca Makarios

      “If it was Gardner who incorporated them into Wicca, then they are part of Wicca – and we might say that Wicca has roots partially based on the Christian religion – as strange as that might be.”

      Not all that strange. There is some interesting coverage of this very topic in Joanne Pearson’s
      Wicca and the Christian Heritage: Ritual, Sex and Magic.
      Submitted FWIW.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kargach Rob Henderson

    The discordant feeling of using what I knew was a monotheism-based magical practice (silly me for being involved in a Golden Dawn practice first) was one of the factors that convinced me that I wasn’t really a Wiccan.  And I surely don’t miss calling them any more, but if otherw want still want to do it, that’s their concern.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kargach Rob Henderson

    The discordant feeling of using what I knew was a monotheism-based magical practice (silly me for being involved in a Golden Dawn practice first) was one of the factors that convinced me that I wasn’t really a Wiccan.  And I surely don’t miss calling them any more, but if otherw want still want to do it, that’s their concern.

  • http://profiles.google.com/avowensmp87 Audrey Owens

    I’ve been reading through “A Witches Bible” at an excited snail’s pace for the past couple of weeks. It’s funny that I find this post at a time when I’m working towards entry into a traditional Wiccan group, and a lot of the independent course study material we have to work through introduces candidates to Qabalistic elements as well as yogic. One of the topics is learning the Hebrew alphabet, which is where my mind throws up a wall of misunderstanding; ‘what is this doing here?’, it seems to say.

    There are a couple of things at work here. One is that we have to accept that modern traditional Wicca is a combination of elements that takes a little bit from notable religious teachings. While you yourself are an entirely different being from your parents, you still have the DNA and genes from them that you cannot get rid of. The presence of angels in Wicca (if one incorporates this into their practice) and the Watchtowers is like this. 

    The second issue is that those of us who come into studying Wicca come with a preconceived flavor in mind. For whatever reason, we believe that Wicca is going to be totally different from what we embraced before, and we expect to find no reflection of our previous beliefs within it’s bounds. But this is mere hopeful thinking. Some of us, when we see something that smacks of Abrahamic tradition or bears familiarity with a Christian practice, we tend to try to avoid it like the plague. Even the Hebrews borrowed elements of ancient Egyptian spirituality when they left Egypt; why should we expect Wicca to do different just because it appears that way?

    Don’t get me wrong; there are some practices that are now distinctly Wiccan, although their roots may come from elsewhere. But that’s something we have to live with sometimes.

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      So are you saying that the best we can hope for from Wicca is a sort of bastardized Christianity?

      I actually first came to Wicca expecting to find it to be more Abrahamic than it is. It’s a spiritual journey, the hard work hasn’t changed, the need for character and values haven’t changed, but the entire worldview and expression is different.

      I entirely reject the notion that Christianity and Wicca at the same at the core, or that they are two paths to the same source. Quite frankly, I’d be pissed that any Wiccan teacher would waste my time with Jewish mysticism. It would imply she or he have no faith or trust in Wicca itself if they feel it needs Qabbala to bolster it. If you’re learning Jewish mysticism as a student, what makes you think you’ll learn Wicca as an initiate? Why not just study Qabbala outright?

      • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

        I likewise reject the notion that Christianity and Wicca are the same at the core, and find the whole “different paths to the same source” idea dispiriting (why should we even want to all end up in the same place, that notion lacks ambition for humanity to my mind).

        That doesn’t mean I don’t think Christianity hasn’t had an influence upon the grimoire tradition and folklore practice that Wicca comes from. Or for that matter, upon other forms of witchcraft (the Clan of Tubal Cain has “Tubal Cain” right there in its name!). Rather, this no more makes us Christian, than the Kýrie Eléison makes Christians Apollo worshippers or their setting up hospitals makes them Muslims.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1309881889 Lezlie Kinyon

          Gardener was an interesting guy and personally, believe that there is still research to be done on the origins of the ideas he put forth in his books. (Especially concerning the time he spent in Indonesia and the influence of Valiente.) I also find that much of the writing mentioned in this blog to be based in 19th century esoterica rather than the vibrant, dynamic, creative, egalitarian spirituality that has grown into the tradition(s) we call Wicca in 2011.
          I do agree with the above, and also reject the idea that Christianity & Wiccan spirituality are the same at the core, and also find the whole “different paths to the same source” notion to be discouraging.  If I were to quote any writer on modern Wiccan the-a-logy or theology, I would mention the 20th century adage that “the Goddess is not Jehovah in drag”, rather than the 19th century esoterica of Farrar or Mac Morgan. While you will find Wiccans incorporating ideas from a thousand sacred sources into meditations, I am no more “seeking the one” than a Siberian shaman nor am I a practitioner of Quabbalah in disguise, neither am I a Buddhist to declare that “all is one”. Rather, in my experience, Wiccans are open to ideas, to embracing the whole, when we meet, sing, dance (and, so on) the difference between what goes on in a Christian church and a Wiccan Circle is night and day and too deep and wide to enumerate.  It is not in my nature to say that one Wiccan is wrong and another is right or that one brand of Pagan spirituality has it over another – one great strength we have as a community is that we can argue philosophy until he cows come home, and still celebrate -together- the deeper meaning of what it is to embrace modern Paganism.  In short: we attend each other parties and when asked, we actually like each other and borrow freely from each other in our ritual creation – be it Streghira, English traditionalist Wicca, or NROOGD.  That is a huge difference between what it means to be a modern Pagan Wiccan and follow any variety of Abrahamist faith.

      • Lillith_Talon

        So the basics of all religious study should be single minded zealotry? Because learning something that might add to your magical arsenal is only appropriate when it comes from a religious standpoint completely segregated from anything that is not from your core values…My, My, how far from the time of Tomas de Torquemada. 

        • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

          Well, as I’m not intent on creating an arsenal of any sort, nor aiming to be as violent as the Zealots, I’d say no.

          However, being true to one’s core values and beliefs I believe is always admirable.

          • Lillith_Talon

            *Sigh* I meant arsenal of intellectual weaponry. No intent on calling in the broom paratroopers, or the “warts and toads” brigade. I’ll leave that to the J.K. Rowling’s and Joss Whedon’s of the World.  As in learning that which can add to one’s own wonderful experience. An application of spiritual energy that may not be present in one’s core system but was readily available in another. Like the the shamanic voyage which comes from several hundred different traditions. The practitioners (whose beliefs are often boiled down into stereotyped techniques quite happily utilized and bastardized by Wiccans and Christians alike) are very happy to teach and trade with other Shamanic cultures. Rupert Isaacson’s : “Horse Boy”  shows a moving tableau of such cultural exchanges as witnessed by a parent trying to aide their child.  I am a Pagan Pantheist and have taught and worked in various paths before coming to my core values. I feel that it is essential for all practitioners to collect knowledge (not as a selfish hoarder of the intelligentsia but to better oneself as a magical practitioner) as this allows for many paths to solve a number a magical conundrums from varying angles previous unexplored by those stuck on “the one gear” or in this case glued to “the one path”. I am not calling for everyone to dabble in everything but a working knowledge from several faiths can offer some amazing advantages in problem or just situational issue solving. 

            As for my for my comment on Zealotry, not all zealotry is relegated to the Bin Laden’s of the world. I know people of all faiths who are like an open book that has been left with a few blank pages at the end, ready to have the reader add their story to the original’s richness and beauty, but I also know others whose mind is like a vice and without violence in the physical realm can still deal crushing blows to those who do not share their faith or opinions. Quiet Zealotry is just as dark and can be deeply damaging without ever inflicting a physical scar.

      • Andreakhess

        Waste your time with Jewish mysticism? Wicca is one of the paths of the Western Mystery tradition. Kabbalah as it exists now, is far from being an exclusively Jewish doctrine, it is an integral part of the Western Mystery Tradition. If a Wiccan teacher didn’t touch on it, I would be worried.
        I know your a smart lady Star. So I’m sure your well aware of Wicca’s origins, many of which stem from Thelema, The Golden Dawn and even 18th and 19th century Independent Catholic initiatives. These or your roots, this is your Wiccan heritage. 

        So I wonder, what is this Wicca you speak of? That as you say, shouldn’t need Kabbalah, angels, watchtowers etc. to bolster it? 

        • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

          I believe it to be a tribal religion originating in southern England. I may be wrong.

          Kabbalah is Jewish mysticism, and a Jewish mystery tradition. Which is neither Pagan, nor Witchcraft, nor English. It is useful, it is lovely, it is good to be somewhat familiar with, but it is not Wicca.

          • http://www.facebook.com/fernwise Fern Bernstein-Miller

            Star, where do you feel Wicca got duotheism, small initiatory group structure, its liturgical cycle, etc, from?  What tribes in southern England had any of that?

          • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

            Tribal is a descriptor, not a suggestion that it comes from the Iceni or Atrebates.

          • http://www.facebook.com/fernwise Fern Bernstein-Miller

            A descriptor of what?

            Where do you think that duotheism, small initiatory group structure, and the liturgical calendar sprang from,, and when? 

          • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

            The small structure comes from what was commonly understood as being how witches worked, being a part of the witch trial accusations that was retained in Murray. Murray is less accepted now of course, but at the time, especially since it featured in trial accounts also, to suggest that witches didn’t work in small groups would have required some ‘splaining.

            Likewise the four-sabbat calendar with the growth to eight being documented by the first-hand account of Frederic Lamond.

            The duotheism (or duo-heno-theism) likewise we can find in such an understanding, though the relatively strong focus upon the goddess rather than upon the god is interesting as we might expect the opposite from a witch-trial based understanding, whether or not its interpreted via Murray.

            So all of this is pretty much what was expected of witches so far.

            I’m very fond of d’Este & Rankine’s _Wicca: Magickal Beginnings_, being of the histories of Wicca I’ve read the only one that focuses on Wicca itself and its rituals rather than the personalities involved. As such I’d say it’s the best history for an actual practitioner that I know of.

            They ultimately argue that Wicca is primarily an inheritance of the grimoire tradition, and this thesis seems well-made to me, despite my disagreeing with some of the details.

            Interestingly, while this is at odds with a popular image of the pre-Gardnerian witch as an illiterate folk-magic-worker, contrasted to the upper-class grimoire-based ceremonial magician, it ties very well with actual accounts of pre-Gardnerian folk-magic, in which grimoires quite strongly feature. Further, while it positions a source firmly within the Christian era (the grimoires themselves) this source is one that harkens to pre-Christian sources considerably, though often under Christianised disguise.

          • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

            As far as where Wicca really comes from? I have no clue. Maybe Gardner invented it, maybe he received it. Maybe it stems from the Victorian era or maybe folks read Margaret Murray and tried to emulate her Witch Cult. Yet I know it’s something that is recognizable and distinct from other religions. You might say it’s like pornography: hard to define but you know it when you see it.

            So what is it that makes it distinctive? Cohesive? Enduring? That’s what I want to find out.

          • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

            I’m not sure I agree with the know it when you see it (for that matter, Justice Stewart, who coined it in relation to pornography, recanted it as untenable in a later trial).

            Such instincts are certainly a good guiding voice, but often what to one person is “obviously” not an essential part is something that goes to the very core of another’s understanding. When it comes to comparing to the history, some of the most aspects most frequently reasoned as not belonging in Wicca are both demonstrably old in both Wicca’s public history and in earlier accounts of witchcraft and folk-magic (the scourge and the blade come immediately to mind) while some most widely accepted are more likely to be relatively recent (the equinoxes and solstices being sabbats – not that I’d remove them either!).

            Ultimately, “I know it when I see it” plays to ones own prejudices and also hides ones own awareness of those prejudices. It’s good when you want a quick decision but poor when it comes to examining more deeply or for anything you will continue long term; precisely the times when it’s most important to consider “hmm, is this really as ‘obvious’ as I thought, or am I just making unfounded assumptions”.

  • http://profiles.google.com/avowensmp87 Audrey Owens

    I’ve been reading through “A Witches Bible” at an excited snail’s pace for the past couple of weeks. It’s funny that I find this post at a time when I’m working towards entry into a traditional Wiccan group, and a lot of the independent course study material we have to work through introduces candidates to Qabalistic elements as well as yogic. One of the topics is learning the Hebrew alphabet, which is where my mind throws up a wall of misunderstanding; ‘what is this doing here?’, it seems to say.

    There are a couple of things at work here. One is that we have to accept that modern traditional Wicca is a combination of elements that takes a little bit from notable religious teachings. While you yourself are an entirely different being from your parents, you still have the DNA and genes from them that you cannot get rid of. The presence of angels in Wicca (if one incorporates this into their practice) and the Watchtowers is like this. 

    The second issue is that those of us who come into studying Wicca come with a preconceived flavor in mind. For whatever reason, we believe that Wicca is going to be totally different from what we embraced before, and we expect to find no reflection of our previous beliefs within it’s bounds. But this is mere hopeful thinking. Some of us, when we see something that smacks of Abrahamic tradition or bears familiarity with a Christian practice, we tend to try to avoid it like the plague. Even the Hebrews borrowed elements of ancient Egyptian spirituality when they left Egypt; why should we expect Wicca to do different just because it appears that way?

    Don’t get me wrong; there are some practices that are now distinctly Wiccan, although their roots may come from elsewhere. But that’s something we have to live with sometimes.

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      So are you saying that the best we can hope for from Wicca is a sort of bastardized Christianity?

      I actually first came to Wicca expecting to find it to be more Abrahamic than it is. It’s a spiritual journey, the hard work hasn’t changed, the need for character and values haven’t changed, but the entire worldview and expression is different.

      I entirely reject the notion that Christianity and Wicca at the same at the core, or that they are two paths to the same source. Quite frankly, I’d be pissed that any Wiccan teacher would waste my time with Jewish mysticism. It would imply she or he have no faith or trust in Wicca itself if they feel it needs Qabbala to bolster it. If you’re learning Jewish mysticism as a student, what makes you think you’ll learn Wicca as an initiate? Why not just study Qabbala outright?

      • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

        I likewise reject the notion that Christianity and Wicca are the same at the core, and find the whole “different paths to the same source” idea dispiriting (why should we even want to all end up in the same place, that notion lacks ambition for humanity to my mind).

        That doesn’t mean I don’t think Christianity hasn’t had an influence upon the grimoire tradition and folklore practice that Wicca comes from. Or for that matter, upon other forms of witchcraft (the Clan of Tubal Cain has “Tubal Cain” right there in its name!). Rather, this no more makes us Christian, than the Kýrie Eléison makes Christians Apollo worshippers or their setting up hospitals makes them Muslims.

        • LezlieKinyon

          Gardener was an interesting guy and personally, believe that there is still research to be done on the origins of the ideas he put forth in his books. (Especially concerning the time he spent in Indonesia and the influence of Valiente.) I also find that much of the writing mentioned in this blog to be based in 19th century esoterica rather than the vibrant, dynamic, creative, egalitarian spirituality that has grown into the tradition(s) we call Wicca in 2011.
          I do agree with the above, and also reject the idea that Christianity & Wiccan spirituality are the same at the core, and also find the whole “different paths to the same source” notion to be discouraging.  If I were to quote any writer on modern Wiccan the-a-logy or theology, I would mention the 20th century adage that “the Goddess is not Jehovah in drag”, rather than the 19th century esoterica of Farrar or Mac Morgan. While you will find Wiccans incorporating ideas from a thousand sacred sources into meditations, I am no more “seeking the one” than a Siberian shaman nor am I a practitioner of Quabbalah in disguise, neither am I a Buddhist to declare that “all is one”. Rather, in my experience, Wiccans are open to ideas, to embracing the whole, when we meet, sing, dance (and, so on) the difference between what goes on in a Christian church and a Wiccan Circle is night and day and too deep and wide to enumerate.  It is not in my nature to say that one Wiccan is wrong and another is right or that one brand of Pagan spirituality has it over another – one great strength we have as a community is that we can argue philosophy until he cows come home, and still celebrate -together- the deeper meaning of what it is to embrace modern Paganism.  In short: we attend each other parties and when asked, we actually like each other and borrow freely from each other in our ritual creation – be it Streghira, English traditionalist Wicca, or NROOGD.  That is a huge difference between what it means to be a modern Pagan Wiccan and follow any variety of Abrahamist faith.

      • Lillith_Talon

        So the basics of all religious study should be single minded zealotry? Because learning something that might add to your magical arsenal is only appropriate when it comes from a religious standpoint completely segregated from anything that is not from your core values…My, My, how far from the time of Tomas de Torquemada. 

        • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

          Well, as I’m not intent on creating an arsenal of any sort, nor aiming to be as violent as the Zealots, I’d say no.

          However, being true to one’s core values and beliefs I believe is always admirable.

          • Lillith_Talon

            *Sigh* I meant arsenal of intellectual weaponry. No intent on calling in the broom paratroopers, or the “warts and toads” brigade. I’ll leave that to the J.K. Rowling’s and Joss Whedon’s of the World.  As in learning that which can add to one’s own wonderful experience. An application of spiritual energy that may not be present in one’s core system but was readily available in another. Like the the shamanic voyage which comes from several hundred different traditions. The practitioners (whose beliefs are often boiled down into stereotyped techniques quite happily utilized and bastardized by Wiccans and Christians alike) are very happy to teach and trade with other Shamanic cultures. Rupert Isaacson’s : “Horse Boy”  shows a moving tableau of such cultural exchanges as witnessed by a parent trying to aide their child.  I am a Pagan Pantheist and have taught and worked in various paths before coming to my core values. I feel that it is essential for all practitioners to collect knowledge (not as a selfish hoarder of the intelligentsia but to better oneself as a magical practitioner) as this allows for many paths to solve a number a magical conundrums from varying angles previous unexplored by those stuck on “the one gear” or in this case glued to “the one path”. I am not calling for everyone to dabble in everything but a working knowledge from several faiths can offer some amazing advantages in problem or just situational issue solving. 

            As for my for my comment on Zealotry, not all zealotry is relegated to the Bin Laden’s of the world. I know people of all faiths who are like an open book that has been left with a few blank pages at the end, ready to have the reader add their story to the original’s richness and beauty, but I also know others whose mind is like a vice and without violence in the physical realm can still deal crushing blows to those who do not share their faith or opinions. Quiet Zealotry is just as dark and can be deeply damaging without ever inflicting a physical scar.

      • Andreakhess

        Waste your time with Jewish mysticism? Wicca is one of the paths of the Western Mystery tradition. Kabbalah as it exists now, is far from being an exclusively Jewish doctrine, it is an integral part of the Western Mystery Tradition. If a Wiccan teacher didn’t touch on it, I would be worried.
        I know your a smart lady Star. So I’m sure your well aware of Wicca’s origins, many of which stem from Thelema, The Golden Dawn and even 18th and 19th century Independent Catholic initiatives. These or your roots, this is your Wiccan heritage. 

        So I wonder, what is this Wicca you speak of? That as you say, shouldn’t need Kabbalah, angels, watchtowers etc. to bolster it? 

        • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

          I believe it to be a tribal religion originating in southern England. I may be wrong.

          Kabbalah is Jewish mysticism, and a Jewish mystery tradition. Which is neither Pagan, nor Witchcraft, nor English. It is useful, it is lovely, it is good to be somewhat familiar with, but it is not Wicca.

          • http://www.facebook.com/fernwise Fern Bernstein-Miller

            Star, where do you feel Wicca got duotheism, small initiatory group structure, its liturgical cycle, etc, from?  What tribes in southern England had any of that?

          • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

            Tribal is a descriptor, not a suggestion that it comes from the Iceni or Atrebates.

          • http://www.facebook.com/fernwise Fern Bernstein-Miller

            A descriptor of what?

            Where do you think that duotheism, small initiatory group structure, and the liturgical calendar sprang from,, and when? 

          • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

            The small structure comes from what was commonly understood as being how witches worked, being a part of the witch trial accusations that was retained in Murray. Murray is less accepted now of course, but at the time, especially since it featured in trial accounts also, to suggest that witches didn’t work in small groups would have required some ‘splaining.

            Likewise the four-sabbat calendar with the growth to eight being documented by the first-hand account of Frederic Lamond.

            The duotheism (or duo-heno-theism) likewise we can find in such an understanding, though the relatively strong focus upon the goddess rather than upon the god is interesting as we might expect the opposite from a witch-trial based understanding, whether or not its interpreted via Murray.

            So all of this is pretty much what was expected of witches so far.

            I’m very fond of d’Este & Rankine’s _Wicca: Magickal Beginnings_, being of the histories of Wicca I’ve read the only one that focuses on Wicca itself and its rituals rather than the personalities involved. As such I’d say it’s the best history for an actual practitioner that I know of.

            They ultimately argue that Wicca is primarily an inheritance of the grimoire tradition, and this thesis seems well-made to me, despite my disagreeing with some of the details.

            Interestingly, while this is at odds with a popular image of the pre-Gardnerian witch as an illiterate folk-magic-worker, contrasted to the upper-class grimoire-based ceremonial magician, it ties very well with actual accounts of pre-Gardnerian folk-magic, in which grimoires quite strongly feature. Further, while it positions a source firmly within the Christian era (the grimoires themselves) this source is one that harkens to pre-Christian sources considerably, though often under Christianised disguise.

          • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

            As far as where Wicca really comes from? I have no clue. Maybe Gardner invented it, maybe he received it. Maybe it stems from the Victorian era or maybe folks read Margaret Murray and tried to emulate her Witch Cult. Yet I know it’s something that is recognizable and distinct from other religions. You might say it’s like pornography: hard to define but you know it when you see it.

            So what is it that makes it distinctive? Cohesive? Enduring? That’s what I want to find out.

          • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

            I’m not sure I agree with the know it when you see it (for that matter, Justice Stewart, who coined it in relation to pornography, recanted it as untenable in a later trial).

            Such instincts are certainly a good guiding voice, but often what to one person is “obviously” not an essential part is something that goes to the very core of another’s understanding. When it comes to comparing to the history, some of the most aspects most frequently reasoned as not belonging in Wicca are both demonstrably old in both Wicca’s public history and in earlier accounts of witchcraft and folk-magic (the scourge and the blade come immediately to mind) while some most widely accepted are more likely to be relatively recent (the equinoxes and solstices being sabbats – not that I’d remove them either!).

            Ultimately, “I know it when I see it” plays to ones own prejudices and also hides ones own awareness of those prejudices. It’s good when you want a quick decision but poor when it comes to examining more deeply or for anything you will continue long term; precisely the times when it’s most important to consider “hmm, is this really as ‘obvious’ as I thought, or am I just making unfounded assumptions”.

  • Nicole Youngman

    I like MacMorgan’s work too (thanks for the tip on the recent book, I’d overlooked it!). I very much prefer to filter the Christian influences out of Paganism & really like OBOD’s tradition of using animal imagery when we invoke the directions. That said, there aren’t any “pure” religions that haven’t been influenced back and forth by the others, so I think it’s a matter of personal/coven/group preference whether one continues a particular way of doing things or not.

  • Nicole Youngman

    I like MacMorgan’s work too (thanks for the tip on the recent book, I’d overlooked it!). I very much prefer to filter the Christian influences out of Paganism & really like OBOD’s tradition of using animal imagery when we invoke the directions. That said, there aren’t any “pure” religions that haven’t been influenced back and forth by the others, so I think it’s a matter of personal/coven/group preference whether one continues a particular way of doing things or not.

  • http://profiles.google.com/cosettefromjupiter Cosette Paneque

    I think Abrahamic elements belong in Wicca insofar that Gardner presented Wicca with those elements already incorporated into it due to the influence that the Golden Dawn had on him. Having said that, I don’t believe it is necessary to keep them if you prefer to practice without them. I’m Wiccan and an initiate of BTW-derived tradition, but I reject many of those elements. I’m not that interested in ceremonial magick and prefer a very earthy kind of paganism and I think Wicca allows for that kind of flexibility.

  • http://profiles.google.com/cosettefromjupiter Cosette Paneque

    I think Abrahamic elements belong in Wicca insofar that Gardner presented Wicca with those elements already incorporated into it due to the influence that the Golden Dawn had on him. Having said that, I don’t believe it is necessary to keep them if you prefer to practice without them. I’m Wiccan and an initiate of BTW-derived tradition, but I reject many of those elements. I’m not that interested in ceremonial magick and prefer a very earthy kind of paganism and I think Wicca allows for that kind of flexibility.

  • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

    I am inclined to agree with the view of d’Este & Rankine than Wicca is primarily a continuation of the Grimoire tradition.

    The Watchtowers belong more firmly to that tradition than to Abrahamic tradition more widely. And their link to Abrahamic tradition is a downright heretical one, bordering some would have said on paganism, at best (and even more so, at odds to the Protestant theology that was favoured in England at the time – the Enochian magicians are no “priesthood of all believers” – they were most certainly not playing by the rules of Christian theology, but stand out as heretics even in a time of competing heresies).

    Coming to us at least partly (and probably more than partly) through Thelema, we’re originally at a further remove again (and a paganised remove at that).

    Likewise the influence of the LBRP on the quarter-calling form (or for that matter, the common practice of adding the LBRP itself to Wiccan use) is taking something that was already at more than one remove to the originally exclusively-Judaic Qaballah (Renaissance rabbis would not have found it familiar).

    For a more direct inheritance from Abrahamic practice, I would look to the use of altars. Of course, altars have been part of pagan use for a very long time before the coming of Christianity. That does not however, mean that we got them directly from said pagans, with no influence from the fact that a Christian altar would be something familiar to everyone in the entirety of Europe.

    Likewise, elements of Wiccan practice that can be found within Christianity include:

    Favouring deosil movement over widdershins for most operations.
    The shared consumption of consecrated food.
    Knives.
    Wands.
    Cups.
    Pentagrams.
    Pentacles.
    Cingula.
    Working naked, particularly during initations.
    Water as a clenser.
    The four elements, along with a fifth (literally “quintessence”) sometimes included and sometimes not.
    The words “priest”, “priestess”, “witch”, “Wicca”, “Dryghtyn”, “pagan” – all of which are particularly strong cases of the influence of the Christian perspective upon the development of the English language.

    These mostly have some degree of pre-Christian origin too, though some don’t (“preost”-derived words of priest and priestess, rather than “theyne”-derived words relate entirely to Christian theology, and the concept of “pagan” entirely to Christian society), and in many that are pre-Christian, the debt is almost entirely via Christianity (the pentagram and the use of the four elements [there is some evidence that pagans in Western Europe could just possibly have had enough knowledge of Greek thought to know of the Empedoclean elements, but it's a stretch and more so to consider them as having been common enough knowledge that they didn't come to us today entirely via Christian thinking]). All of the above are more readily found in Christian use than the watchtowers – which were never mainstream Christian, and come from a source that wouldn’t be scared off by non-Christian influence. (Also, consider the influence of the Chaldean Oracles). With those elements that existed in European folklore (use of knives, favouring deosil) separating the Christian from the non-Christian becomes meaningless. We might as well prohibit all modern language and technology for the influence of Christian thought upon Renaissance science and Protestant thought upon Enlightenment science.

    At the end of the day, Wicca is not a reconstruction. Depending on who you ask, either it was created in the 1940s and 50s, it was created a century or less before then, or it evolved out of European witch practice. But none of these postulate that it was an attempt to reconstruct a pure paganism as if the Middle Ages never happened (if anything, the strong influence of the Middle Ages was what was falsely claimed). In either case, an inheritance of Christian form (though not necessarily Christian theology, and there is no theology in any of the items mentioned so far) is inevitable. Hell, the language we are using here to communicate is half Shakespeare and the other half King James!

    If you take the BTW appraoch, you pass down the traditions in toto. In which case the watchtowers are part of that. If you take the eclectic approach, you use what works, in which case the watchtowers are a very viable option, and one in which the mark of Christian influence is slight compared to such things as using a pentagram.

    The point of Wicca is not to be pagan as a goal in itself. “Pagan” is a term that many find useful in describing what we are and how we relate to some other religions (though there have been those who disagreed since at least as far back as Maxine Sanders rejection of the term). Ignoring the objections for the moment, if “pagan” is a useful label for us (and I personally feel it is), the label should serve to label, not to prescribe.

    After all, worrying about whether or not something is pagan, is something of 100% Abrahmic origin, never found in any pre-Abrahmic source.

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      So by this argument Christians should be kosher and celebrate Jewish holidays?

      The word priest is not a Christian word by any stretch of the imagination. It’s like saying the word Sun is a Christian word.

      Pre-Abrahamics were concerned about about the appropriateness of things in their rites. The Eleusinian Mysteries and the Flamen Dialis, for instance. Egyptian influence in the religio Romana was suspect.

      • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

        Christians can argue about whether Acts 10:15 and Mark 7:19 allow non-kosher foods and I’ll find it fascinating but not really care. Some do indeed celebrate Jewish holidays, and I do indeed find it fascinating, but don’t much care.

        The word “priest” comes from proest which specifically referred to Christian priests, as opposed to pagan. When “sacerdos” was translated into English then if it referred to a Christian, “proest” would be used, if it referred to a pagan, “sacerd” would be used, and if it referred to a Jew then one might find either used. “Proest” also covered anyone under Christian orders, with “massproest” used to specify one who could say the mass. The word’s origin relates directly to the idea that Christian priests are not the same as pagan priests.

        Not that I think we should abandon the word 1000 years later, just that I think we should say that after 1000 years it doesn’t matter that the word originally had this distinction that excluded pagan priests.

        I’m also concerned about the appropriateness of things in my rites, or else I wouldn’t find this article interesting at all. What I’m not worried about is pursuing non-Christian purity through removing aspects of Wiccan tradition. If I was, I’d not worry about the watchtowers until after I’d dealt with the pentagrams and deosil circling and altars and nudity, all of which have a much stronger influence from Christianity.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1309881889 Lezlie Kinyon

        I often wonder if the athalme in Gardner’s works was more derivative of the kris he encountered in his work in Indonesia than with anything current in the Anglican Church of his home country or the Golden Dawn of his age.  It all remains a tiny movement, and it’s one with a multitude of “roots” and
        still growing, while still somewhat elisuve.  The quartered circle is hardly one invented by any
        particular tradition.  I respect and participate in calling the quarters
        by the Gardenarian Watchtowers, knowing that it is an esoteric heresy
        used by Enochians, and I can sing the songs to the elements of my
        American histories, or participate in writing a new one and sing it with
        all the Pagans at a festival or a Reclaiming’s Spiral Dance.  It is the action and the intent that counts. That is *magic*,
        the rest is *interesting*.
        Today, while there does seem to be some distinct differences evolving between what Wicca is becoming in the UK (Gardener’s home ) and what what Wicca is becoming 3000 miles away on the West Coast of the Americas, this is only to be expected and – IMHO to be embraced. (It’ll make an interesting dissertation for a future scholar 20 years from now … ) 
         One of the most exciting developments of (very) recent years is the emergence of the Shamanic paths, the Slavic and Italian (there will be more) traditions of Witchcraft – remarkable! IMHO: We must open our minds, our hearts, and *our Circles* to these folk, it makes us richer as a community to have you here, dear ones!  How marvelous you are! and, how magical!  I want to hear your songs, dance with you and celelbrate the cycle of the seasons with you. (This is not assimilation, it’s celebration.) We are all Pagans and we get to define what that *is* ourselves.

        • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

          I think it’s clear that Gardner had a fascination with magical use of knives and that both the kris and that athamé appealed to this.

          However, the athamé bears little similarity to the kris in physical appearance or occult use. It does bear similarities both to the knives (though not in a simple one-to-one matching) of the grimoire tradition, particularly the Key of Solomon, and to the use of black-handled knives in the folk magic of the Pretanic Isles, with similarity to Irish use of the scian dubh being particularly remarkable.

          This is not quite the same as the sgian dubh that is part of Scottish national dress – both Irish scian dubh and Scottish sgian dubh literally mean just “black knife” – but perhaps of related folklore originally, considering that the use against unseelie as well as mortal foes was one of the reasons for a Highlander always having a knife on their person. Considering the Wiccan tradition that the athamé is a weapon that can be used against spirits, this would chime well enough.

    • Andreakhess

      Thanks for taking the time to post this Jon. Excellent information. 

  • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

    I am inclined to agree with the view of d’Este & Rankine that Wicca is primarily a continuation of the Grimoire tradition.

    The Watchtowers belong more firmly to that tradition than to Abrahamic tradition more widely. And their link to Abrahamic tradition is a downright heretical one, bordering some would have said on paganism, at best (and even more so, at odds to the Protestant theology that was favoured in England at the time – the Enochian magicians are no “priesthood of all believers” – they were most certainly not playing by the rules of Christian theology, but stand out as heretics even in a time of competing heresies).

    Coming to us at least partly (and probably more than partly) through Thelema, we’re originally at a further remove again (and a paganised remove at that).

    Likewise the influence of the LBRP on the quarter-calling form (or for that matter, the common practice of adding the LBRP itself to Wiccan use) is taking something that was already at more than one remove to the originally exclusively-Judaic Qaballah (Renaissance rabbis would not have found it familiar).

    For a more direct inheritance from Abrahamic practice, I would look to the use of altars. Of course, altars have been part of pagan use for a very long time before the coming of Christianity. That does not however, mean that we got them directly from said pagans, with no influence from the fact that a Christian altar would be something familiar to everyone in the entirety of Europe.

    Likewise, elements of Wiccan practice that can be found within Christianity include:

    Favouring deosil movement over widdershins for most operations.
    The shared consumption of consecrated food.
    Knives.
    Wands.
    Cups.
    Pentagrams.
    Pentacles.
    Cingula.
    Working naked, particularly during initations.
    Water as a clenser.
    The four elements, along with a fifth (literally “quintessence”) sometimes included and sometimes not.
    The words “priest”, “priestess”, “witch”, “Wicca”, “Dryghtyn”, “pagan” – all of which are particularly strong cases of the influence of the Christian perspective upon the development of the English language.

    These mostly have some degree of pre-Christian origin too, though some don’t (“preost”-derived words of priest and priestess, rather than “theyne”-derived words relate entirely to Christian theology, and the concept of “pagan” entirely to Christian society), and in many that are pre-Christian, the debt is almost entirely via Christianity (the pentagram and the use of the four elements [there is some evidence that pagans in Western Europe could just possibly have had enough knowledge of Greek thought to know of the Empedoclean elements, but it's a stretch and more so to consider them as having been common enough knowledge that they didn't come to us today entirely via Christian thinking]). All of the above are more readily found in Christian use than the watchtowers – which were never mainstream Christian, and come from a source that wouldn’t be scared off by non-Christian influence. (Also, consider the influence of the Chaldean Oracles). With those elements that existed in European folklore (use of knives, favouring deosil) separating the Christian from the non-Christian becomes meaningless. We might as well prohibit all modern language and technology for the influence of Christian thought upon Renaissance science and Protestant thought upon Enlightenment science.

    At the end of the day, Wicca is not a reconstruction. Depending on who you ask, either it was created in the 1940s and 50s, it was created a century or less before then, or it evolved out of European witch practice. But none of these postulate that it was an attempt to reconstruct a pure paganism as if the Middle Ages never happened (if anything, the strong influence of the Middle Ages was what was overstated). In either case, an inheritance of Christian form (though not necessarily Christian theology, and there is no theology in any of the items mentioned so far, though there is indirect theological influence on “priest” over “theyne”) is inevitable. Hell, the language we are using here to communicate is half Shakespeare and the other half King James!

    If you take the BTW appraoch, you pass down the traditions in toto. In which case the watchtowers are part of that. If you take the eclectic approach, you use what works, in which case the watchtowers are a very viable option, and one in which the mark of Christian influence is slight compared to such things as using a pentagram.

    The point of Wicca is not to be pagan as a goal in itself. “Pagan” is a term that many find useful in describing what we are and how we relate to some other religions (though there have been those who disagreed since at least as far back as Maxine Sanders rejection of the term). Ignoring the objections for the moment, if “pagan” is a useful label for us (and I personally feel it is), the label should serve to label, not to prescribe.

    After all, worrying about whether or not something is pagan, is something of 100% Abrahmic origin, never found in any pre-Abrahmic source.

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      So by this argument Christians should be kosher and celebrate Jewish holidays?

      The word priest is not a Christian word by any stretch of the imagination. It’s like saying the word Sun is a Christian word.

      Pre-Abrahamics were concerned about about the appropriateness of things in their rites. The Eleusinian Mysteries and the Flamen Dialis, for instance. Egyptian influence in the religio Romana was suspect.

      • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

        Christians can argue about whether Acts 10:15 and Mark 7:19 allow non-kosher foods and I’ll find it fascinating but not really care. Some do indeed celebrate Jewish holidays, and I do indeed find it fascinating, but don’t much care.

        The word “priest” comes from proest which specifically referred to Christian priests, as opposed to pagan. When “sacerdos” was translated into English then if it referred to a Christian, “proest” would be used, if it referred to a pagan, “sacerd” would be used, and if it referred to a Jew then one might find either used. “Proest” also covered anyone under Christian orders, with “massproest” used to specify one who could say the mass. The word’s origin relates directly to the idea that Christian priests are not the same as pagan priests.

        Not that I think we should abandon the word 1000 years later, just that I think we should say that after 1000 years it doesn’t matter that the word originally had this distinction that excluded pagan priests.

        I’m also concerned about the appropriateness of things in my rites, or else I wouldn’t find this article interesting at all. What I’m not worried about is pursuing non-Christian purity through removing aspects of Wiccan tradition. If I was, I’d not worry about the watchtowers until after I’d dealt with the pentagrams and deosil circling and altars and nudity, all of which have a much stronger influence from Christianity.

      • LezlieKinyon

        I often wonder if the athalme in Gardner’s works was more derivative of the kris he encountered in his work in Indonesia than with anything current in the Anglican Church of his home country or the Golden Dawn of his age.  It all remains a tiny movement, and it’s one with a multitude of “roots” and
        still growing, while still somewhat elisuve.  The quartered circle is hardly one invented by any
        particular tradition.  I respect and participate in calling the quarters
        by the Gardenarian Watchtowers, knowing that it is an esoteric heresy
        used by Enochians, and I can sing the songs to the elements of my
        American histories, or participate in writing a new one and sing it with
        all the Pagans at a festival or a Reclaiming’s Spiral Dance.  It is the action and the intent that counts. That is *magic*,
        the rest is *interesting*.
        Today, while there does seem to be some distinct differences evolving between what Wicca is becoming in the UK (Gardener’s home ) and what what Wicca is becoming 3000 miles away on the West Coast of the Americas, this is only to be expected and – IMHO to be embraced. (It’ll make an interesting dissertation for a future scholar 20 years from now … ) 
         One of the most exciting developments of (very) recent years is the emergence of the Shamanic paths, the Slavic and Italian (there will be more) traditions of Witchcraft – remarkable! IMHO: We must open our minds, our hearts, and *our Circles* to these folk, it makes us richer as a community to have you here, dear ones!  How marvelous you are! and, how magical!  I want to hear your songs, dance with you and celelbrate the cycle of the seasons with you. (This is not assimilation, it’s celebration.) We are all Pagans and we get to define what that *is* ourselves.

        • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

          I think it’s clear that Gardner had a fascination with magical use of knives and that both the kris and that athamé appealed to this.

          However, the athamé bears little similarity to the kris in physical appearance or occult use. It does bear similarities both to the knives (though not in a simple one-to-one matching) of the grimoire tradition, particularly the Key of Solomon, and to the use of black-handled knives in the folk magic of the Pretanic Isles, with similarity to Irish use of the scian dubh being particularly remarkable.

          This is not quite the same as the sgian dubh that is part of Scottish national dress – both Irish scian dubh and Scottish sgian dubh literally mean just “black knife” – but perhaps of related folklore originally, considering that the use against unseelie as well as mortal foes was one of the reasons for a Highlander always having a knife on their person. Considering the Wiccan tradition that the athamé is a weapon that can be used against spirits, this would chime well enough.

    • Andreakhess

      Thanks for taking the time to post this Jon. Excellent information. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/deirdre.hebert Deirdre Hebert

    Been doing more thinking. I actually edited a book on Wicca that included much of what you talk about here – including the Watchtowers, Kaballah, etc. It’s not my form of Paganism, but it’s some people’s Wicca. It’s definitely a part of what some people practice.

    And thinking about “What’s Christian”, “What’s Jewish” and “What’s Pagan” – there are NO clear lines. The story about the God born of a virgin, sacrificed, and raised from the Dead isn’t Christian or Pagan. We have shared most everything. The chalice and blade IS the chalice and communion wafer. The Incense, water, candles, altar – much of Christian (and especially Catholic or Orthodox) practice is VERY familiar to Pagans. 

    Judaism comes from Zoroastrianism and local, earlier Pagan religions. There isn’t much that is truly new or unique in any religion; people are very good at copying and adapting.If the Watchtowers came from Enochian magic or not – that’s not what really matters. I think that what really matters regarding their use in Wicca is whether or not they were intended to be used in Wicca. Just as the Catholic church would be very different if it permitted women to be priests, Wicca with Enochian (or Christian gnostic or any other un-original) elements is different than Wicca without.Historically, in Christianity, if a sufficient number of people dissents and breaks away from the rest of the church Body – it’s a scism – a new church is formed. There are the traditionalists – and the dissenters – the Protestants. What’s acknowledged is that one group is doing something different from the other. It’s only right or wrong if you adhere to one position over the other.The argument from the outside isn’t who’s right and who’s wrong. From a Pagan perspective, we might more rightly look at the problem of what to call each of these groups – if they are sufficiently different, we can’t use the same name. Maybe we can differentiate with different by using different prefixes – like we do with Dianic, Alexandrian, Gardnerian – etc. It could get cumbersome though – Enocian Faerie Celtic Wicca is a mouth-full. But then again, so are many Christian denominations. Just look at how many different types of Baptists there are!We use names and terms to help us identify a group that we might be compatible with. Someone who wants to practice Wicca, and sees an advertisement for a Wiccan group meeting on a Sunday, might be a bit put off if they are sitting in a pew, start with an opening song, hear a sermon about the trinity of Jesus, Mary and the Father, have communion, maybe sing some more songs, and then leave. However if it was advertised as “Christian Wicca”, that might make more sense.I’m going to spend some more time reading Gardner. If he incorporated the Watchtowers – then that’s fine with me. I won’t complain about them being there, and I’ll look at groups that don’t use them as Wicca – sans Dee. If he didn’t, then I’ll simply consider groups that use them somewhat Enochian. At this point, I’ve celebrated with people who use the watchtowers and with those who do not. At times, I’ve found them comforting – perhaps because of my Christian upbringing. Michael, the  Archangel and his sword are a strong memory. But Wiccan ritual without the watchtowers has been just as powerful.In the end, what I know is that things can be different without being right or wrong. And that’s what led me to Paganism in the first place.

  • http://www.facebook.com/deirdre.hebert Deirdre Hebert

    Been doing more thinking. I actually edited a book on Wicca that included much of what you talk about here – including the Watchtowers, Kaballah, etc. It’s not my form of Paganism, but it’s some people’s Wicca. It’s definitely a part of what some people practice.

    And thinking about “What’s Christian”, “What’s Jewish” and “What’s Pagan” – there are NO clear lines. The story about the God born of a virgin, sacrificed, and raised from the Dead isn’t Christian or Pagan. We have shared most everything. The chalice and blade IS the chalice and communion wafer. The Incense, water, candles, altar – much of Christian (and especially Catholic or Orthodox) practice is VERY familiar to Pagans. 

    Judaism comes from Zoroastrianism and local, earlier Pagan religions. There isn’t much that is truly new or unique in any religion; people are very good at copying and adapting.If the Watchtowers came from Enochian magic or not – that’s not what really matters. I think that what really matters regarding their use in Wicca is whether or not they were intended to be used in Wicca. Just as the Catholic church would be very different if it permitted women to be priests, Wicca with Enochian (or Christian gnostic or any other un-original) elements is different than Wicca without.Historically, in Christianity, if a sufficient number of people dissents and breaks away from the rest of the church Body – it’s a scism – a new church is formed. There are the traditionalists – and the dissenters – the Protestants. What’s acknowledged is that one group is doing something different from the other. It’s only right or wrong if you adhere to one position over the other.The argument from the outside isn’t who’s right and who’s wrong. From a Pagan perspective, we might more rightly look at the problem of what to call each of these groups – if they are sufficiently different, we can’t use the same name. Maybe we can differentiate with different by using different prefixes – like we do with Dianic, Alexandrian, Gardnerian – etc. It could get cumbersome though – Enocian Faerie Celtic Wicca is a mouth-full. But then again, so are many Christian denominations. Just look at how many different types of Baptists there are!We use names and terms to help us identify a group that we might be compatible with. Someone who wants to practice Wicca, and sees an advertisement for a Wiccan group meeting on a Sunday, might be a bit put off if they are sitting in a pew, start with an opening song, hear a sermon about the trinity of Jesus, Mary and the Father, have communion, maybe sing some more songs, and then leave. However if it was advertised as “Christian Wicca”, that might make more sense.I’m going to spend some more time reading Gardner. If he incorporated the Watchtowers – then that’s fine with me. I won’t complain about them being there, and I’ll look at groups that don’t use them as Wicca – sans Dee. If he didn’t, then I’ll simply consider groups that use them somewhat Enochian. At this point, I’ve celebrated with people who use the watchtowers and with those who do not. At times, I’ve found them comforting – perhaps because of my Christian upbringing. Michael, the  Archangel and his sword are a strong memory. But Wiccan ritual without the watchtowers has been just as powerful.In the end, what I know is that things can be different without being right or wrong. And that’s what led me to Paganism in the first place.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FCM62LRWJYSJZAWCXGUA62L7B4 nothing

    I’ve been practicing for 27 yrs. I thought Wicca was a do what works for you religion? What’s with all the judgements being thrown around here?? If it works for me or the next guy what difference can it possibly make to anyone else?? and in reverse…if it works for you who am I to judge what you believe or what you do, if it works for  YOU?? Can we all agree to disagree? I know that’s really a simple concept but I think it would work here, right now. I thought it was us against them lol not us against us. :)

    • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

      We have agreed to disagree. This is us disagreeing. I often find disagreeing very informative. I’ve so far very much enjoyed this article where Star wrote things I disagreed with.

      As for “who am I to judge what you believe or what you do”, are you not a thinking person with a brain? That makes you someone to judge what people believe of do. This is why discernment is considered a quality to develop in more than one occult and/or religious system.

      • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

        I enjoy disagreeing with you as well! :)

        • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

          Sure, what’d be the point in only discussing things with people I agreed with. I’ve already got myself to agree with, more of me would just be boring.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=548883612 Flame Bridesdottir

            As my grandfather used to say, “If both of us are right, one of us is unnecessary.”

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FCM62LRWJYSJZAWCXGUA62L7B4 nothing

    I’ve been practicing for 27 yrs. I thought Wicca was a do what works for you religion? What’s with all the judgements being thrown around here?? If it works for me or the next guy what difference can it possibly make to anyone else?? and in reverse…if it works for you who am I to judge what you believe or what you do, if it works for  YOU?? Can we all agree to disagree? I know that’s really a simple concept but I think it would work here, right now. I thought it was us against them lol not us against us. :)

    • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

      We have agreed to disagree. This is us disagreeing. I often find disagreeing very informative. I’ve so far very much enjoyed this article where Star wrote things I disagreed with.

      As for “who am I to judge what you believe or what you do”, are you not a thinking person with a brain? That makes you someone to judge what people believe of do. This is why discernment is considered a quality to develop in more than one occult and/or religious system.

      • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

        I enjoy disagreeing with you as well! :)

        • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

          Sure, what’d be the point in only discussing things with people I agreed with. I’ve already got myself to agree with, more of me would just be boring.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=548883612 Flame Bridesdottir

            As my grandfather used to say, “If both of us are right, one of us is unnecessary.”

  • Anonymous

    Isn’t Wicca a tradition that traces its origins to Gardner? If so, then the Watchtowers should be part of your ritual practice… otherwise, you aren’t really practicing Wicca. This is symptomatic of the problems the trad has had to deal with since people started learning witchcraft from books rather than from experienced and knowledgable high priests and priestesses. Wicca is not a pick and choose tradition… it wouldn’t BE a tradition if it was.

    Based on the arguments above, say you throw out the watchtowers. What’s next? Casting the circle? Cuz that’s pre-Wiccan too. What do you have left after that?

    The comments about Kabbalah, Dr. Dee, ‘angels’ and medieval magic made above show a profound ignorance of the history of magic in Western civilization. 

    • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

      I’m going to do a bit of an about-face here. I’ve argued below for the case for the Watchtowers, in their Wiccan form (which is not identical to Dee’s, though clearly influenced by that), being considered part of Wiccan practice.

      This said, I would not agree with your statement that the comments above show an ignorance of the history of magic.

      No statement of fact above is far from the mark (one may nit-pick ). For that matter, even “If the Watchtowers aren’t necessary to Wicca and are Abrahamic in
      nature, then are they really appropriate for any non-Abrahamic Wiccan
      tradition?” isn’t something I’d disagree with as a reasonable thing to ponder. I would answer the “if” clause differently, and hence my different conclusions to the author, but the question is a reasonable one.

      In short, I’m in complete disagreement with the thesis of this article, but I do not think it fair to describe as based in ignorance.

  • sindarintech

    Isn’t Wicca a tradition that traces its origins to Gardner? If so, then the Watchtowers should be part of your ritual practice… otherwise, you aren’t really practicing Wicca. This is symptomatic of the problems the trad has had to deal with since people started learning witchcraft from books rather than from experienced and knowledgable high priests and priestesses. Wicca is not a pick and choose tradition… it wouldn’t BE a tradition if it was.

    Based on the arguments above, say you throw out the watchtowers. What’s next? Casting the circle? Cuz that’s pre-Wiccan too. What do you have left after that?

    The comments about Kabbalah, Dr. Dee, ‘angels’ and medieval magic made above show a profound ignorance of the history of magic in Western civilization. 

    • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

      I’m going to do a bit of an about-face here. I’ve argued below for the case for the Watchtowers, in their Wiccan form (which is not identical to Dee’s, though clearly influenced by that), being considered part of Wiccan practice.

      This said, I would not agree with your statement that the comments above show an ignorance of the history of magic.

      No statement of fact above is far from the mark (one may nit-pick ). For that matter, even “If the Watchtowers aren’t necessary to Wicca and are Abrahamic in
      nature, then are they really appropriate for any non-Abrahamic Wiccan
      tradition?” isn’t something I’d disagree with as a reasonable thing to ponder. I would answer the “if” clause differently, and hence my different conclusions to the author, but the question is a reasonable one.

      In short, I’m in complete disagreement with the thesis of this article, but I do not think it fair to describe as based in ignorance.

  • Anonymous

    (shrug) I wasn’t looking for agreement.

    Everything in Western Civilization carries the ‘taint’ of Christianity… there’s no getting around it, even in the secular world. That’s part of the history of Western Civilization and it’s been there for almost 2000 years. To try to purge Wicca from this perceived taint is to try to ignore the hundreds or thousands of years of history that preceded it. Some of that is magical history in other traditions too. Wicca is syncretic and has made the watchtowers, the magic circle and everything else that is part of the tradition its own. Folks are entirely free to toss out the watchtowers, the circle, etc… but they wouldn’t be practicing Wicca. Wicca as a tradition originates with Gerald Gardner. If you’re not part of the tradition, you’re not practicing Wicca. It’s really that simple.

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      So are you suggesting only Gardnerian-esque practice is valid as Wicca? That would invalidate a lot of Wiccan traditions…

      • http://twitter.com/LWMag LittleWitchMagazine

        Honestly? Yes, I would. Traditions like Dianic and many other Wicca-inspired traditions vary too much from the original Wicca to count as such. The whole idea of calling yourself a follower of a specific Tradition is invalid unless you actually follow that Tradition. 

        Then again, Pagan faiths allow a great degree of freedom in what you choose to believe and this, I guess, is one of those freedoms. 

      • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

        There is a major difference between saying that something is not Wicca and that something is not valid.

        If I point out that cake is not pie, that does not make either of them less tasty.  :)

    • http://profiles.google.com/cosettefromjupiter Cosette Paneque

      At the heart of many religious debates is the issue of modernity. For example, Roman Catholics criticize their church over what they view as being old-fashioned and out of touch with contemporary issues such as the use of contraception, the ability of priests to marry, or the ordination of women. Conservatives argue that infallibility is, well, infallible and the church cannot change its position on such issues even, perhaps especially, in the face of a changing culture.

      But the reality is that religion is a living thing. It does change. Just as Christians today don’t practice Christianity like they did 2000 years ago, it’s natural that many Wiccans wouldn’t practice Wicca exactly like Gardner might have 60 years ago. Personally, as a liberal, modern woman, I reject some of Gardner’s ideas such as an aging high priestess having to step down for one that is younger and more beautiful or that a man can’t teach another man because a homosexual attraction might develop or that I will burn in the Christian hell for certain transgressions. Gardner was not opposed to change anyway; the several revisions to his Book of Shadows, his changing, growing list of Wiccan Laws, and the many contributions his most famous and influential high priestess Doreen Valiente made to his BoS and coven demonstrate that. 

      I agree that there are certain fundamental characteristics to Wicca, but I also think it is a highly flexible and adaptable religion.

      • http://twitter.com/LWMag LittleWitchMagazine

        I agree that Wicca should be able to adapt and change to the current time. Without it, no religion will last long. I do, however, feel that this change should occur within the bounds of that religion. If it doesn’t, it would be like saying that Christianity is just an adapted form of Judaism. A statement like that degrades both Christianity as well as Judaism. 

        I agree Wicca should adapt to its time but it started out an oath-bound, initiary, Tradition and should remain so. The TIW and DRW Traditions that are coming up in reaction to Wicca are just as valid as Traditions but they are not the same thing. They are strong enough to stand on their own and should get the chance to do so without striving for a label not meant for them.

    • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

      By that argument, when Catholicism did away with the Latin Mass, it ceased to be Catholicism.  I find that concept a bit challenging to wrap my brain around.

  • sindarintech

    (shrug) I wasn’t looking for agreement.

    Everything in Western Civilization carries the ‘taint’ of Christianity… there’s no getting around it, even in the secular world. That’s part of the history of Western Civilization and it’s been there for almost 2000 years. To try to purge Wicca from this perceived taint is to try to ignore the hundreds or thousands of years of history that preceded it. Some of that is magical history in other traditions too. Wicca is syncretic and has made the watchtowers, the magic circle and everything else that is part of the tradition its own. Folks are entirely free to toss out the watchtowers, the circle, etc… but they wouldn’t be practicing Wicca. Wicca as a tradition originates with Gerald Gardner. If you’re not part of the tradition, you’re not practicing Wicca. It’s really that simple.

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      So are you suggesting only Gardnerian-esque practice is valid as Wicca? That would invalidate a lot of Wiccan traditions…

      • http://twitter.com/LWMag LittleWitchMagazine

        Honestly? Yes, I would. Traditions like Dianic and many other Wicca-inspired traditions vary too much from the original Wicca to count as such. The whole idea of calling yourself a follower of a specific Tradition is invalid unless you actually follow that Tradition. 

        Then again, Pagan faiths allow a great degree of freedom in what you choose to believe and this, I guess, is one of those freedoms. 

      • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

        There is a major difference between saying that something is not Wicca and that something is not valid.

        If I point out that cake is not pie, that does not make either of them less tasty.  :)

    • http://profiles.google.com/cosettefromjupiter Cosette Paneque

      At the heart of many religious debates is the issue of modernity. For example, Roman Catholics criticize their church over what they view as being old-fashioned and out of touch with contemporary issues such as the use of contraception, the ability of priests to marry, or the ordination of women. Conservatives argue that infallibility is, well, infallible and the church cannot change its position on such issues even, perhaps especially, in the face of a changing culture.

      But the reality is that religion is a living thing. It does change. Just as Christians today don’t practice Christianity like they did 2000 years ago, it’s natural that many Wiccans wouldn’t practice Wicca exactly like Gardner might have 60 years ago. Personally, as a liberal, modern woman, I reject some of Gardner’s ideas such as an aging high priestess having to step down for one that is younger and more beautiful or that a man can’t teach another man because a homosexual attraction might develop or that I will burn in the Christian hell for certain transgressions. Gardner was not opposed to change anyway; the several revisions to his Book of Shadows, his changing, growing list of Wiccan Laws, and the many contributions his most famous and influential high priestess Doreen Valiente made to his BoS and coven demonstrate that. 

      I agree that there are certain fundamental characteristics to Wicca, but I also think it is a highly flexible and adaptable religion.

      • http://twitter.com/LWMag LittleWitchMagazine

        I agree that Wicca should be able to adapt and change to the current time. Without it, no religion will last long. I do, however, feel that this change should occur within the bounds of that religion. If it doesn’t, it would be like saying that Christianity is just an adapted form of Judaism. A statement like that degrades both Christianity as well as Judaism. 

        I agree Wicca should adapt to its time but it started out an oath-bound, initiary, Tradition and should remain so. The TIW and DRW Traditions that are coming up in reaction to Wicca are just as valid as Traditions but they are not the same thing. They are strong enough to stand on their own and should get the chance to do so without striving for a label not meant for them.

    • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

      By that argument, when Catholicism did away with the Latin Mass, it ceased to be Catholicism.  I find that concept a bit challenging to wrap my brain around.

  • http://www.facebook.com/PaPaSIN PaPa Sin

    Everything Christianity has is based on Paganism. From Adam to Abraham. These stories are Pagan stories that existed long before judaism. Remember Abraham came from Babylon. I dont advise in mixing christianity and Wicca. Wicca goes back before Gardner to Babylon and before.

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      You have a source for pre-Gardnerian Wicca?

      • http://www.facebook.com/PaPaSIN PaPa Sin

        Witch comes from medieval English Wicche, formerly Angl-Saxon Wicca, masculine or Wicce, feminine: a corruption of witga, short form of witega, a seer or diviner; from anglo-saxon witan, to see, to know. Similarly, Icelandic vitki, a witch, came from ita, to know; or vizkr, clever or knowing one. Wizrd came from Norman French wischard, old french guiscart, sagacious one. You have to study history. From Africa to the Middle East to Europe and America. Shamanism becomes Wicca even the Babylonians had High Priestesses.

        • http://www.facebook.com/PaPaSIN PaPa Sin

          Guardner only coined the term Wicca. It existed long before his manipulation.

          • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

            Source? This is conjecture, not a reliable source.

          • http://profiles.google.com/cosettefromjupiter Cosette Paneque

            In Gardner’s “The Meaning of Witchcraft”, he claims that ‘wicca’ is the Anglo-Saxon masculine word for witch and ‘wicce’ is the feminine form. I’ve never seen anything definitive to substantiate that and I think he just conflated it with the Hwicce, one of the peoples of Anglo-Saxon England.

          • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

            Actually, that’s pretty well attested from sources starting with Laws of Ælfred (though it uses the plural, “wiccan”). It’s also found in Halitgar, Ælfric and glossaries of the time. The question marks are on:

            1. The way in which this did (or perhaps didn’t) come into Modern English with Gardner’s “Wica” (latter re-spelt as “Wicca” by just about everyone, though still pronouncing it as if it were Modern English rather than Old English).

            2. In the other direction, on where “wicca”/”wicce” came from. Gardner argued it was cognate with “wise”, but he was just quoting Skeat’s Etymology directly at the time, and this was the accepted etymology at the time (amusingly, Gardner talks of how curious it was that the Wicca used an Anglo-Saxon word – elsewhere almost every obscure English word he mentions – “dwale”, “warrick” and so on – he suggests are Celtic, but all with the exception of “deosil” are also Anglo-Saxon, and even “deosil” had been absorbed into colloquial English in some areas). Since then this etymology is much less accepted, and a variety of other roots are proposed, and argued about with a surprising amount of vehemence on very little evidence and to very little real import given that what a word meant over 1300 years ago is of minimal impact on what it means now (consider that “corsage” is cognate with “corpse” but we don’t find it equivalent etiquette to give either to a prom date).

          • http://twitter.com/ashareem HR Mitchell

            The term greatly predates Gardner. Leland uses it in at least one of his books, and the historical provenance of the word goes back several hundreds of years.

      • http://www.elementforge.com Adrian Hawkins

        As far as I am aware of the only use of the word Wicca dates back to the 13 century. There are other words that could have been used, but I am more inclined to believe that this might be one of the cases where Gardner picked an old often bot used word to make things appear more mysterious and ancient. Like his penchant for Shakespeare english

        • http://www.facebook.com/PaPaSIN PaPa Sin

          Also the term Wicca is only a recent translation. I think thats where people lose sight of its history.

  • http://www.facebook.com/PaPaSIN PaPa Sin

    Everything Christianity has is based on Paganism. From Adam to Abraham. These stories are Pagan stories that existed long before judaism. Remember Abraham came from Babylon. I dont advise in mixing christianity and Wicca. Wicca goes back before Gardner to Babylon and before.

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      You have a source for pre-Gardnerian Wicca?

      • http://www.facebook.com/PaPaSIN PaPa Sin

        Witch comes from medieval English Wicche, formerly Angl-Saxon Wicca, masculine or Wicce, feminine: a corruption of witga, short form of witega, a seer or diviner; from anglo-saxon witan, to see, to know. Similarly, Icelandic vitki, a witch, came from ita, to know; or vizkr, clever or knowing one. Wizrd came from Norman French wischard, old french guiscart, sagacious one. You have to study history. From Africa to the Middle East to Europe and America. Shamanism becomes Wicca even the Babylonians had High Priestesses.

        • http://www.facebook.com/PaPaSIN PaPa Sin

          Guardner only coined the term Wicca. It existed long before his manipulation.

          • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

            Source? This is conjecture, not a reliable source.

          • http://profiles.google.com/cosettefromjupiter Cosette Paneque

            In Gardner’s “The Meaning of Witchcraft”, he claims that ‘wicca’ is the Anglo-Saxon masculine word for witch and ‘wicce’ is the feminine form. I’ve never seen anything definitive to substantiate that and I think he just conflated it with the Hwicce, one of the peoples of Anglo-Saxon England.

          • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

            Actually, that’s pretty well attested from sources starting with Laws of Ælfred (though it uses the plural, “wiccan”). It’s also found in Halitgar, Ælfric and glossaries of the time. The question marks are on:

            1. The way in which this did (or perhaps didn’t) come into Modern English with Gardner’s “Wica” (latter re-spelt as “Wicca” by just about everyone, though still pronouncing it as if it were Modern English rather than Old English).

            2. In the other direction, on where “wicca”/”wicce” came from. Gardner argued it was cognate with “wise”, but he was just quoting Skeat’s Etymology directly at the time, and this was the accepted etymology at the time (amusingly, Gardner talks of how curious it was that the Wicca used an Anglo-Saxon word – elsewhere almost every obscure English word he mentions – “dwale”, “warrick” and so on – he suggests are Celtic, but all with the exception of “deosil” are also Anglo-Saxon, and even “deosil” had been absorbed into colloquial English in some areas). Since then this etymology is much less accepted, and a variety of other roots are proposed, and argued about with a surprising amount of vehemence on very little evidence and to very little real import given that what a word meant over 1300 years ago is of minimal impact on what it means now (consider that “corsage” is cognate with “corpse” but we don’t find it equivalent etiquette to give either to a prom date).

          • http://twitter.com/ashareem HRM

            The term greatly predates Gardner. Leland uses it in at least one of his books, and the historical provenance of the word goes back several hundreds of years.

      • http://www.groveofthelion.com/ Adrian Hawkins

        As far as I am aware of the only use of the word Wicca dates back to the 13 century. There are other words that could have been used, but I am more inclined to believe that this might be one of the cases where Gardner picked an old often bot used word to make things appear more mysterious and ancient. Like his penchant for Shakespeare english

        You might have things considered paganism or witchcraft but those things could be entirely different things

        • http://www.facebook.com/PaPaSIN PaPa Sin

          Also the term Wicca is only a recent translation. I think thats where people lose sight of its history.

  • Matthaios

    While Wikipedia is not always the best reference, two interesting articles can be found here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watchtower_%28magic%29

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lares

    My personal opinion is that the “Watchtowers” of Wicca and of the
    Enochian systems are different. While they may have a similar name, the
    feel is different. I’m a Wiccan who participates in Enochian magic on
    occasion. While I thought there was a connection when I first studied
    the Enochian system, I’m pretty certain that similarities are nominal.

    Did Gardner (or someone before him) borrow the term “Watchtower” from
    the Golden Dawn system? If it was, I’d guess that it was only because
    “watchtower” was a convenient term and that the Watchtowers called upon
    in a Wiccan circle are more akin to the old Roman Lares and not the
    Judeo-Christian angels.I’ve heard it said that Witches are magpies–they take what works. If the Watchtowers were lifted from the Enochian system…it works…and it’s become it’s own thing. And even if they are lifted, that doesn’t make them unnecessary.
     

  • Matthaios

    While Wikipedia is not always the best reference, two interesting articles can be found here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watchtower_%28magic%29

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lares

    My personal opinion is that the “Watchtowers” of Wicca and of the
    Enochian systems are different. While they may have a similar name, the
    feel is different. I’m a Wiccan who participates in Enochian magic on
    occasion. While I thought there was a connection when I first studied
    the Enochian system, I’m pretty certain that similarities are nominal.

    Did Gardner (or someone before him) borrow the term “Watchtower” from
    the Golden Dawn system? If it was, I’d guess that it was only because
    “watchtower” was a convenient term and that the Watchtowers called upon
    in a Wiccan circle are more akin to the old Roman Lares and not the
    Judeo-Christian angels.I’ve heard it said that Witches are magpies–they take what works. If the Watchtowers were lifted from the Enochian system…it works…and it’s become it’s own thing. And even if they are lifted, that doesn’t make them unnecessary.
     

  • http://twitter.com/LWMag LittleWitchMagazine

    I feel Wicca evolved out of everything that came before… as did everything that came before evolve from what came before that. Why would you choose to discard the power and beauty in that? I enjoy Darwin’s theory of evolution and I apply it to religion as much as biology. Religion is part of human evolution, culture and society. It all comes form the same source; a need to make sense of life. I place no religion above another but feel most comfortable with Paganism. I don’t mind at all that many other religions and traditions have found their way into it. I think it wouldn’t make sense to reinvent the wheel, so to speak. 

  • http://twitter.com/LWMag LittleWitchMagazine

    I feel Wicca evolved out of everything that came before… as did everything that came before evolve from what came before that. Why would you choose to discard the power and beauty in that? I enjoy Darwin’s theory of evolution and I apply it to religion as much as biology. Religion is part of human evolution, culture and society. It all comes form the same source; a need to make sense of life. I place no religion above another but feel most comfortable with Paganism. I don’t mind at all that many other religions and traditions have found their way into it. I think it wouldn’t make sense to reinvent the wheel, so to speak. 

    Edited to say that I never use the word ‘watchtower’ when inviting the elemental powers. Even though I might mean something different, the Watchtowers should be called with great respect and with a great deal of ritual that I simply don’t know enough of to be safe.

  • http://www.facebook.com/PaPaSIN PaPa Sin

    The cross was originally a Pagan hospice symbol placed on doors that represented the four corners north south east and west and it was a way for travelers to know where they could seek shelter and medicine in rome before christianity started its path against paganism, which help to establish what W/we call gypsies today who often mix both christianity and witchcraft like haitians.

  • http://www.facebook.com/PaPaSIN PaPa Sin

    The cross was originally a Pagan hospice symbol placed on doors that represented the four corners north south east and west and it was a way for travelers to know where they could seek shelter and medicine in rome before christianity started its path against paganism, which help to establish what W/we call gypsies today who often mix both christianity and witchcraft like haitians.

  • http://www.facebook.com/PaPaSIN PaPa Sin

    but how can you mix one religion that damns another?

    • http://twitter.com/LWMag LittleWitchMagazine

      I do it be distinguishing that Christians are not the same as the Christian faith. The Christian faith has been interpreted in a multitude of ways by its followers and we have the right to interpret it our way. 

      In sheer power, no God or Goddess can defeat the Christian God or even Jesus. So many people pray to them, send energy to them. While I haven’t attempted working with them, I do respect them a great deal. I understand any Pagan who chooses to work with them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/PaPaSIN PaPa Sin

    but how can you mix one religion that damns another?

    • http://twitter.com/LWMag LittleWitchMagazine

      I do it by distinguishing that Christians are not the same as the Christian faith. The Christian faith has been interpreted in a multitude of ways by its followers and we have the right to interpret it our way. 

      In sheer power, no God or Goddess can defeat the Christian God or even Jesus. So many people pray to them, send energy to them. While I haven’t attempted working with them, I do respect them a great deal. I understand any Pagan who chooses to work with them.

  • Anonymous

    Yes. Wicca originates with Gardner. I don’t think a ‘tradition’ can seriously be categorized as Wicca if it doesn’t.

  • sindarintech

    Yes. Wicca originates with Gardner. I don’t think a ‘tradition’ can seriously be categorized as Wicca if it doesn’t.

  • Anonymous

    Papa Sin wrote: “Guardner only coined the term Wicca. It existed long before his manipulation.”

    That may be true from a linguistic perspective but, when ‘Wicca’ is used within the context of religion, it’s implied that one is speaking of the tradition popularized by Gardner.

  • sindarintech

    Papa Sin wrote: “Guardner only coined the term Wicca. It existed long before his manipulation.”

    That may be true from a linguistic perspective but, when ‘Wicca’ is used within the context of religion, it’s implied that one is speaking of the tradition popularized by Gardner.

  • Anonymous

    Note: DISQUS is being retarded again… those last posts were supposed be direct replies.

  • sindarintech

    Note: DISQUS is being retarded again… those last posts were supposed be direct replies.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

    I used to be Mormon.  Mormons have an elaborate and secret temple ceremony.  It turns out a lot of the symbolism was borrowed by Joseph Smith from Masonry.  Oh, and some of Joseph Smith’s most interesting theological speculations were the product of conversations with a Rabbi and can be found in Kabbalistic writings.  Some people would be really bothered by this knowledge.  But that’s because most Mormons believe their religion was revealed to Joseph Smith like God revealed the Ten Commandments to Moses.  But as far as I know Wiccans don’t believe that Gardner’s religion was *revealed* to him. 
    Traditions, even ones divinely inspired, do not descend from heaven whole cloth onto a blank slate.  The Bible was not actually written by the finger of God.  Mormonism, Wicca, and every other religious tradition are culturally and historically contingent.  Are there elements of Christianity in Wicca?  Sure.  Gardner did live in a Christian country after all.  Did Gardner see Wicca as compatible with Christianity (at least at first)?  Joanne Pearson thinks so and some of Gardner’s writings suggest so. 
    What should matter is not whether some element of our religious tradition (whether Mormon, Wicca, or whatever) came from some other source.  Of course it did.  It all did.  Does anyone think that the God and Goddess of Wicca revealed the Book of Shadows to Garnder on stone tablets from Mt. Sinai?  No.
    So what should matter is whether some parts of the Christian *paradigm” made its way into Wicca through the shared symbolism.  Wicca and Christianity may share some symbolism, but they are paradigmatically different.  I would only be concerned if some shared symbolism was conveying a message which is contrary to the Wiccan paradigm, original sin for example.  While some of the outward forms of the symbols may be the same, the meaning and the feel or resonance of the symbols are different.  (The same thing goes for Mormons and Masons.)
    So back to the Watchtowers.  It should not matter what the origin of the Watchtowers is.  But is the symbolism communicating something to you that deviates from your understanding of what Wicca is all about?  If so, then you have good reason to discard it.  If not, then embrace it, own it, make it your own. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

    I used to be Mormon.  Mormons have an elaborate and secret temple ceremony.  It turns out a lot of the symbolism was borrowed by Joseph Smith from Masonry.  Oh, and some of Joseph Smith’s most interesting theological speculations were the product of conversations with a Rabbi and can be found in Kabbalistic writings.  Some people would be really bothered by this knowledge.  But that’s because most Mormons believe their religion was revealed to Joseph Smith like God revealed the Ten Commandments to Moses.  But as far as I know Wiccans don’t believe that Gardner’s religion was *revealed* to him. 
    Traditions, even ones divinely inspired, do not descend from heaven whole cloth onto a blank slate.  The Bible was not actually written by the finger of God.  Mormonism, Wicca, and every other religious tradition are culturally and historically contingent.  Are there elements of Christianity in Wicca?  Sure.  Gardner did live in a Christian country after all.  Did Gardner see Wicca as compatible with Christianity (at least at first)?  Joanne Pearson thinks so and some of Gardner’s writings suggest so. 
    What should matter is not whether some element of our religious tradition (whether Mormon, Wicca, or whatever) came from some other source.  Of course it did.  It all did.  Does anyone think that the God and Goddess of Wicca revealed the Book of Shadows to Garnder on stone tablets from Mt. Sinai?  No.
    So what should matter is whether some parts of the Christian *paradigm” made its way into Wicca through the shared symbolism.  Wicca and Christianity may share some symbolism, but they are paradigmatically different.  I would only be concerned if some shared symbolism was conveying a message which is contrary to the Wiccan paradigm, original sin for example.  While some of the outward forms of the symbols may be the same, the meaning and the feel or resonance of the symbols are different.  (The same thing goes for Mormons and Masons.)
    So back to the Watchtowers.  It should not matter what the origin of the Watchtowers is.  But is the symbolism communicating something to you that deviates from your understanding of what Wicca is all about?  If so, then you have good reason to discard it.  If not, then embrace it, own it, make it your own. 

  • Anonymous

    “But is the symbolism communicating something to you that deviates from your understanding of what Wicca is all about? ”

    I would suggest that if someone thinks that the watchtowers (or anything else in the tradition of Wicca) deviates from their understanding, perhaps they should simply dig deeper. That would be a good step on the way to ‘wisdom’.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

      It might be a good step on the way to Gerald Gardner’s wisdom, but not necessarily your wisdom or my wisdom.  Since you’re obviously a traditionalist, we’ll have to agree to disagree on that point.

  • sindarintech

    “But is the symbolism communicating something to you that deviates from your understanding of what Wicca is all about? ”

    I would suggest that if someone thinks that the watchtowers (or anything else in the tradition of Wicca) deviates from their understanding, perhaps they should simply dig deeper. That would be a good step on the way to ‘wisdom’.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

      It might be a good step on the way to Gerald Gardner’s wisdom, but not necessarily your wisdom or my wisdom.  Since you’re obviously a traditionalist, we’ll have to agree to disagree on that point.

  • Don Frew

    I keep reading folks in this discussion referring to the Watchtowers as
    part of the Craft’s inheritance from Gardner.  I’m confused by this
    since (at the risk of someone saying I’m revealing too much) the
    “Watchtowers” are only a part of the Gardnerian corpus in that they are
    present in one ritual script in which a non-initiate is present.  If
    anything, this emphasizes their “otherness” to Wicca (as conceived in
    the tradition Gardner joined).  The Watchtowers were never part of the
    standard, basic Gardnerian circle script and are not found in the
    liturgical material for initiates in Gardner’s or Valiente’s Books of
    Shadows. 
    Valiente had much more exposure to Golden Dawn material than Gardner, since she possessed the GD-initiate teaching materials which had originally been given to GD-member “Nisi Dominus Frustra”.  It seems clear from Valiente’s comments on page 64 of her _The Rebirth of Witchcraft_ (1989) that SHE (i.e. Valiente) interpreted the Mighty Ones of the directions in the Wiccan texts as being the same as the Watchtowers of the Golden Dawn tradition, but nothing in Gardner’s writings – published or unpublished- supports this.  Even if Valiente interpreted things this way, she didn’t alter the texts of the Wiccan scripts to reflect her interpretation, even in her own Book of Shadows.
    The Farrars, probably influenced by Valiente, make use of the Watchtowers in their Alexandrian adaptations
    of Gardnerian rituals and this may have misled some into thinking that the Watchtowers were Gardnerian in origin.
    Others may
    have added the Watchtowers to their practice, but if so, this is not a
    “Gardnerian” thing and has very little, if anything, to do with the
    Craft’s inheritance from Gardner.  So, please, let’s just remove that historical error from this discussion of the relevance of the Watchtowers to modern Craft practice.

    Don Frew

    HP, Coven Trismegiston

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      I wasn’t aware when they were added, but I did have the impression they were post-Gardnerian. I’ve always understood that a lot of the CM influence came in through Alex Sanders.

      • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

        I’ve just been inclined to agree with Valiente on the derivation from the Enochian.

        For that matter, I don’t know of any rendering “Mighty Ones” that precedes the King James Bible. Not that that makes the Mighty Ones the same as the Elohim so translated in the KJV (though since its sometimes – and sometimes not – interpreted as referring to pagan gods, I wouldn’t rule that out either), or that any of this makes any of Wicca Christian.

        • Don Frew

          Iamblichus used the Greek term “krataioi” to describe the Daimons in his _On the Mysteries_ (Society of Biblical Literature 2003, 299), which Garth Fowden translates as “mighty ones” in his _The Egyptian Hermes_ (Princeton 1993, 139).  The Greek work could equally mean “strong ones” or “powerfull ones”. 
          If, as I have argued elsewhere, we follow Gardner’s direction and look to Neoplatonic theurgy to understand much of the material that Gardner received (_The Meaning of Witchcraft_ 1959, 185-189), then the so-called “Dryghton Prayer” is a representation of the 4-realm Neoplatonic cosmology and the Mighty Ones are indeed in the role of the Daimons, as opposed to the Elemental forces of the world of matter. 
          While a 4-Element paradigm entered Gardnerian Craft with the advent of Valiente, there is no evidence of such a paradigm in the material Gardner received, no association of tools or directions with elements, etc.  In fact, both Dayonis and Robert – who worked in Gardner’s coven – confirm that they were discouraged from working with elemental forces and did not associate the Mighty Ones of the directions with the elements.  Gardner himself attests that the group he joined did not like to work with the Elementals (_Witchcraft Today_ 1954, 126).
          It would seem that Valiente’s importing of a 4-Element paradigm (probably from the Golden Dawn) included importing her own interpretation of equating the Mighty Ones with the Watchtowers.
          (BTW, Jon, I just finished _What Thou Wilt_ and very much enjoyed it.  I am recommending that our local Gardnerians have a sort-of book-club discussion of it.)
          Blessed Be,
          Don Frew

          • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

            If anything, it would seem from what you say that “mighty ones” serves to translate krataioi better than it does in the KJV (where “gods” would arguably serve better in at least some cases). Still, I’m only arguing for the influence of a turn of phrase so my point stands. I am not after all agreeing that Christian artefacts equates to being in some significant way as per the article, and certainly not that it makes for a Christian heresy (as per the subsequent article). I argue merely that it makes for something that exists among Europeans in the late 20th Century, because our very language is full of Christian artefacts to begin with, as is the entire last millenium of the history of thought. As such we will end up finding them somewhere if we keep looking (and if we not only keep looking but seek to rout them out we’re applying a Puritan Protestant view of how religion works and actually being even more Christian-influenced in such an attempt).

            Your point on Neoplatonism can be turned this way too. I’m in partial agreement, it seems to me too to be clear from Gardner and from the Dryghtyn* prayer that there is a Neoplatonic view being expounded, however it also seems to me to be clear from Gardner that this is more offered as an explanation of what he finds in Wicca than as a basis for how Wicca is to be constructed and he lacks confidence in applying it resolutely to all his co-religious – “Exactly what the present-day witch believes I find it hard to say” – and there are incongruities he can’t explain – the witch he knows who regularly attends Church services. Still, this objection of mine to finding Wicca to be definitely Neoplatonic – and more so that Wiccans must agree with Neoplatonism – aside, I agree that Neoplatonism is an important matter of study in relation to Wicca. If nothing else, it would help reduce the overstatement of the importance of Fortune’s formulation on the popularitiy of views which combine a degree of monotheism and a degree of polytheism with the assumption that such entails her more explicitly Christian views (though no doubt she is of more direct impact than Sallustius on more recent paganism and perhaps an influence on why Sallustius reads so modernly to us today).

            Still, Neoplatonism was, in part at least, a reaction to Christianity, and quite definitely there was a dialogue between those two. To the purist pagan with a beady eye for Christian “corruption”, Neoplatonism could be more suspicious than the watchtowers (Neoplatonism was perhaps influenced by Philo Judaeus and influenced Saint Augustine; Dee influenced magicians forever either on the fringes of Christian orthodoxy or else rejecting Christ entirely – which is therefore the more “Christian”). Certainly, I imagine they would react with more suspicion to Neoplatonic examination of “Logos” than to the image of a castle in the far quarters.

            To my view, with a beady eye merely for things that I find interesting rather than will desire to reject or promote, it’s no such thing, but just another aspect of history being rich, complicated, and many-splendored. I therefore have no dislike of the suggestion that we have Christian influences but also no fear that we are therefore insufficiently pagan.

            (Thanks very much for your kind words on _What Thou Wilt_. After a quiet period when I’ve had the opportunity to let its faults outweigh its graces in my mind, there’s been a few people saying or writing that they enjoyed it, and since it seems to me that people enjoying or benefitting from a book is the entire point of publishing, my humility has no qualms about taking pleasure in such comments).

            * Post-script: It occurs to me that “Dryghtyn” seems again a term most immediately understood as applying to the god of Abraham and only by extention to other gods – and then it loses its monotheist position (Apollo in one place is described as a dryghtyn among others, but elsewhere the term is used as a definite singular). I’d give up in the face of counter-evidence to this without a fight – the full history of the term is not an area I’m well-versed in – but otherwise it again points to a place where Christianity has affected the language but not the actual theological stance.

          • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

            I am really enjoying this discussion!

            I just ran across MacMorgan’s claim that the Watchtowers were considered to house the sinners not trusted to remain in hell, and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The archangels were essentially wardens, and that’s why they were invoked, as both security and as “lie detector” as no one would risk sin in their presence.

            I always took the Dryghtyn to be similar as the Tao: a rather ineffable, uncommunicative, vast life force.

          • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

            The bit about the über-sinners is new to me, and I’d love to hear more (it reminds me of the sort of unauthorised folk cosmologies by which e.g. fairies are reconciled with angels, and so on). Dee described them as being the seats of angels of the earth that God had set against the devil, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t ALSO say something else that I either don’t recall or never came across. My knowledge of Dee is close to being exhausted here!

            As these spirits belonging to watchtowers that protect the world the idea that this goes back to lares in towers outside Roman Empire cities seems reasonable. Unfortunately, that’s one of those ideas I’ve come across that don’t know whether it has any historical basis or is just someone’s UPG masqueraded as history (why can’t people footnote?).

            An interesting other angle I just very recently came across: While “watchtower” became a term associated with biblical studies in the 19th C (and since then, particularly via Jehovah’s Witnesses), it’s relatively recent to find it directly in the translation rather than as an explanation of the meaning of a name. That it is found in the New World Translation has led to Jehovah Witnesses being accused with being involved with Enochian magic, and therefore not properly Christian! (By anti-Freemason conspiracy nuts, so the logic gets very strained very fast)

            As to Dryghtyn, I wouldn’t argue with your reading, though my lack of familiarity with Taoism means I can’t agree or disagree with confidence. From the prayer alone one could take it as a pretty Deist view of the divine, but its coëxistence with polytheist practices, and the stated opinions of Gardner both lead to the sort of Neoplatonic reading Don mentioned above (Gardner seems to me to treating that there is some “one” behind it all as too great an assumption to really examine, but that’s another conversation). In Fortune’s “All gods are one God, all goddesses are one Goddess, and there is one Initiator.” then Dryghtyn is the “one Initiator” that starts it all. (Personally, I’m pretty agnostic about “the one”, despite loving the prayer when it’s used in ritual, but that’s another conversation again).

            Historically though, Dryghtyn (and oh so many other spellings – I favour driȝtin because of my love of the letters that have died out in English) is a Middle English title-used-as-address used for the Christian God, in places where in Modern English one would use “Lord” (It goes back to titles for warlords and is cognate with dronning in Danish). It was also used for Pagan gods, but only by extension of the main sense and then it wasn’t a form of address:

            We at ere voide ay of vice & vacant of syn̄,

            Quat suld we moue in-to þe montts? þat mysters bot litill,

            Outhire Appole to adoure or any othire driȝtins. http://xtf.lib.virginia.edu/xtf/view?docId=chadwyck_ep/uvaGenText/tei/chep_1.1389.xml;chunk.id=d28;toc.depth=1;toc.id=d4;brand=default(It was used earlier, in Anglo-Saxon too. Funny, but when I was doing poorly in Anglo-Saxon in college I consoled myself that I’d never be using it in later life, not realising that I would in fact wish for the lingual skills to research use of “dryhten”. As it is, the Middle English above just about stretches me to my limits).So, anyway, the word as used for the divine is a Christian artefact and since it’s not particularly meaningful to address “the one” of such a Neoplatonic conception (and Dryghtyn isn’t addressed by the prayer that blesses in his/her/its – gendered pronouns become a bit meaningless – name) it’s not a particularly sensible word to use, but then if etymologies were always sensible we’d be speaking a very different language indeed!

          • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

            The uber-sinners comes from MacMorgan’s “The Circle, Cubed” and it’s lacking clear footnotes on the origin of this but she seems to have used “Clavicula Salomonis” as her primary source.

            I want to say Margaret Starbird also linked the word Magdalen to tower or watchtower, which adds an interesting layer of Christian mythos for the Dan Brown fans.

            Don Frew’s look at the word Dryghtyn and the anti-Saxon stance of New Forest Witches according to Gardner that he outlined somewhere in this maze of comments is pretty fascinating. The idea it’s Greek for “He of the Oaks” evokes the priest of Diana Nemorensis, which I’ve heard BTW folk discuss before…

          • Don Frew

            BTW, I have always been fascinated by the seeming contradiction between Gardner’s assertion that the Witches with whom he worked were firmly anti-Saxon (_The Meaning of Witchcraft_, p. 30, 94-95), adding that “…there is no trace of Saxon customs in the cult” (MoW, p. 28), and his telling us that arguably the two most important words in the Craft – “Wicca”, the name for the religion, and “Dryghtyn”, the name for ultimate Divine reality – are Anglo-Saxon.  Gardner even goes through some mental gymnastics to try to explain this seeming contradiction as oppressed people assuming the label forced upon them by their oppressors, but this never rang true for me.

            It might be important to point out that it was GARDNER who said that the name for the religion was the Anglo-Saxon word “wicca”, NOT the group he joined.  THEY called themselves “the Brotherhood of the Wica”.  “Wica” with one “c”.  You can see the transition from one to the other on pages 94-95 of _The Meaning of Witchcraft_.  Gardner made the assumption that this was based on the A-S word “wicca”, but what if he was wrong?

            I think I know where “Wica” with one “c” might have come from, but let’s take a look at the only other Anglo-Saxon word in Gardner’s Craft.  If the Witches Gardner joined hated all things Saxon, might he not have misunderstood “Dryghtyn”?  In Anglo-Saxon “Dryghtyn” – actually “dryhten” – means “the leader of a group” and was used by early translators of the Bible into A-S as the A-S cognate for “Lord”.  As such, it became linked with Christianity.

            In the earliest text available to us containing material Gardner received from the coven he joined – “ye Bok of ye Art NMagical” – there is an essay on which languages are best for use in magic (BAM 1939, 61).  The most strongly recommended is Greek.  There is a word in Greek that sounds remarkably like “Dryghtyn”… “Dryton”, a proper name meaning “he of the oaks”.  This could be a fitting epithet for the Greek supreme God, Zeus, or for a British god.  Isn’t it possible that Gardner HEARD “Dryton” and, not knowing Greek, ASSUMED it was the British word “Dryghtyn”?  It would be an easy enough shift to make, AND it would explain why the Saxon-hating Witches used a Saxon word to describe their ultimate Divine reality… because it WASN’T a Saxon word.

            Just a thought.

            Blessed Be,
            Don Frew

          • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

            This isn’t the only place where Gardner is Saxon-blind though:

            ‘Some words they use, such as “Vavasour” one who holds lands for another) are probably Norman-French. Other words are seemingly Celtic, but the main Corpus of the language is made up of words like “Halch”, “Dwale”, “Warrik”, “Ganch” etc., which seem to belong to some older tongue.’ [Gardner 2004, "The Meaning of Witchcraft", page 60].

            Vavasour is indeed Norman-French (though hardly the cant secret word Gardner suggests). Halch, dwale, warrik and ganch are all simply Modern English words – albeit obscure ones – and all are of Anglo-Saxon origin.

            It would seem that Gardner simply wouldn’t recognise a
            Sax word gif it bat him
            in þe ærs!

            Contariwise, he much emphasises Celtic influences, but the one Celtic word we have much used in the Craft that isn’t common in vernacular English is “deosil”. This though is a word that had been absorbed into colloquial English though. Hence this use of a Celtic word may be a fluke that owes more to Modern English than it does to Irish and Scottish.

            The anti-Saxon mentality you mention could be the very reason for this, setting up starting assumptions which hides the Saxon influence (as an Irishman, it’s not a set of starting assumptions I’ve never seen before!)

          • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

            Actually, to add a bit more. Given Gardner’s Saxon-blindness when faced with very Saxon-sounding words (how can you not peg “ganch” as Saxon?), would he actually have been at all likely to know “Dryghtyn” well enough to mis-hear another word as it? We mis-hear towards the familiar. Gardner’s one direct use of Saxon is merely to quote from Skeat’s Etymology, and so not really a direct use at all.

            Considering this, I’m now doubly doubtful of this explanation. If anything, Gardner would have been more likely to mishear Anglo-Saxon Dryghtyn as Greek Dryton, than the other way around!

          • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

            Musing on this reminded me of something this morning.

            Do you have any good information on the history of how Dryghtyn was pronounced? By the pronounciation of Old and Middle English it should really be either dricht-in with the ch like that of loch and the r rolled or if spelt with a y as above (but not the only spelling that existed in the period) as drucht-un (and dricht-un and drucht-in also appearing as they really don’t seem to be in good agreement about where a y and were an i should go, despite these not being similar vowels in the English of the time).

            I’ve heard that “rhymes with Brighton” was stated commonly by Valiente, but then aside from providing amusement when considering that at the time “dryghtyn” was a common word, Brighton was pronounced with an icht soudn too, this also doesn’t go as far as I would like in being clear as to how much concensus there was on the matter.

            It’s a minor point of little real importance (and any “real” answer wouldn’t stop the fact that we now have both Middle and Modern English pronunciations in use) but does hit on something I find interesting, along with the fact that one such pronunciation would rule out the Dryton theory entirely.

  • Don Frew

    I keep reading folks in this discussion referring to the Watchtowers as
    part of the Craft’s inheritance from Gardner.  I’m confused by this
    since (at the risk of someone saying I’m revealing too much) the
    “Watchtowers” are only a part of the Gardnerian corpus in that they are
    present in one ritual script in which a non-initiate is present.  If
    anything, this emphasizes their “otherness” to Wicca (as conceived in
    the tradition Gardner joined).  The Watchtowers were never part of the
    standard, basic Gardnerian circle script and are not found in the
    liturgical material for initiates in Gardner’s or Valiente’s Books of
    Shadows. 
    Valiente had much more exposure to Golden Dawn material than Gardner, since she possessed the GD-initiate teaching materials which had originally been given to GD-member “Nisi Dominus Frustra”.  It seems clear from Valiente’s comments on page 64 of her _The Rebirth of Witchcraft_ (1989) that SHE (i.e. Valiente) interpreted the Mighty Ones of the directions in the Wiccan texts as being the same as the Watchtowers of the Golden Dawn tradition, but nothing in Gardner’s writings – published or unpublished- supports this.  Even if Valiente interpreted things this way, she didn’t alter the texts of the Wiccan scripts to reflect her interpretation, even in her own Book of Shadows.
    The Farrars, probably influenced by Valiente, make use of the Watchtowers in their Alexandrian adaptations
    of Gardnerian rituals and this may have misled some into thinking that the Watchtowers were Gardnerian in origin.
    Others may
    have added the Watchtowers to their practice, but if so, this is not a
    “Gardnerian” thing and has very little, if anything, to do with the
    Craft’s inheritance from Gardner.  So, please, let’s just remove that historical error from this discussion of the relevance of the Watchtowers to modern Craft practice.

    Don Frew

    HP, Coven Trismegiston

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      I wasn’t aware when they were added, but I did have the impression they were post-Gardnerian. I’ve always understood that a lot of the CM influence came in through Alex Sanders.

      • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

        I’ve just been inclined to agree with Valiente on the derivation from the Enochian.

        For that matter, I don’t know of any rendering “Mighty Ones” that precedes the King James Bible. Not that that makes the Mighty Ones the same as the Elohim so translated in the KJV (though since its sometimes – and sometimes not – interpreted as referring to pagan gods, I wouldn’t rule that out either), or that any of this makes any of Wicca Christian.

        • Don Frew

          Iamblichus used the Greek term “krataioi” to describe the Daimons in his _On the Mysteries_ (Society of Biblical Literature 2003, 299), which Garth Fowden translates as “mighty ones” in his _The Egyptian Hermes_ (Princeton 1993, 139).  The Greek work could equally mean “strong ones” or “powerfull ones”. 
          If, as I have argued elsewhere, we follow Gardner’s direction and look to Neoplatonic theurgy to understand much of the material that Gardner received (_The Meaning of Witchcraft_ 1959, 185-189), then the so-called “Dryghton Prayer” is a representation of the 4-realm Neoplatonic cosmology and the Mighty Ones are indeed in the role of the Daimons, as opposed to the Elemental forces of the world of matter. 
          While a 4-Element paradigm entered Gardnerian Craft with the advent of Valiente, there is no evidence of such a paradigm in the material Gardner received, no association of tools or directions with elements, etc.  In fact, both Dayonis and Robert – who worked in Gardner’s coven – confirm that they were discouraged from working with elemental forces and did not associate the Mighty Ones of the directions with the elements.  Gardner himself attests that the group he joined did not like to work with the Elementals (_Witchcraft Today_ 1954, 126).
          It would seem that Valiente’s importing of a 4-Element paradigm (probably from the Golden Dawn) included importing her own interpretation of equating the Mighty Ones with the Watchtowers.
          (BTW, Jon, I just finished _What Thou Wilt_ and very much enjoyed it.  I am recommending that our local Gardnerians have a sort-of book-club discussion of it.)
          Blessed Be,
          Don Frew

          • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

            If anything, it would seem from what you say that “mighty ones” serves to translate krataioi better than it does in the KJV (where “gods” would arguably serve better in at least some cases). Still, I’m only arguing for the influence of a turn of phrase so my point stands. I am not after all agreeing that Christian artefacts equates to being Christian in some significant way as per the article, and certainly not that it makes for a Christian heresy (as per the subsequent article). I argue merely that it makes for something that existed among Europeans in the mid-20th Century, because our very language is full of Christian artefacts to begin with, as is the entire last millenium of the history of thought. As such we will end up finding them somewhere if we keep looking (and if we not only keep looking but seek to rout them out we’re applying a Puritan Protestant view of how religion works and actually being even more Christian-influenced in such an attempt).

            Your point on Neoplatonism can be turned this way too. I’m in partial agreement, it seems to me too to be clear from Gardner and from the Dryghtyn* prayer that there is a Neoplatonic view being expounded, however it also seems to me to be clear from Gardner that this is more offered as an explanation of what he finds in Wicca than as a basis for how Wicca is to be constructed and he lacks confidence in applying it resolutely to all his co-religious – “Exactly what the present-day witch believes I find it hard to say” – and there are incongruities he can’t explain – the witch he knows who regularly attends Church services. Still, this objection of mine to finding Wicca to be definitely Neoplatonic – and more so that Wiccans must agree with Neoplatonism – aside, I agree that Neoplatonism is an important matter of study in relation to Wicca. If nothing else, it would help reduce the overstatement of the importance of Fortune’s formulation on the popularitiy of views which combine a degree of monotheism and a degree of polytheism with the assumption that such entails her more explicitly Christian views (though no doubt she is of more direct impact than Sallustius on more recent paganism and perhaps an influence on why Sallustius reads so modernly to us today).

            Still, Neoplatonism was, in part at least, a reaction to Christianity, and quite definitely there was a dialogue between those two. To the purist pagan with a beady eye for Christian “corruption”, Neoplatonism could be more suspicious than the watchtowers (Neoplatonism was perhaps influenced by Philo Judaeus and influenced Saint Augustine; Dee influenced magicians forever either on the fringes of Christian orthodoxy or else rejecting Christ entirely – which is therefore the more “Christian”). Certainly, I imagine they would react with more suspicion to Neoplatonic examination of “Logos” than to the image of a castle in the far quarters.

            To my view, with a beady eye merely for things that I find interesting rather than will desire to reject or promote, it’s no such thing, but just another aspect of history being rich, complicated, and many-splendored. I therefore have no dislike of the suggestion that we have Christian influences but also no fear that we are therefore insufficiently pagan.

            (Thanks very much for your kind words on _What Thou Wilt_. After a quiet period when I’ve had the opportunity to let its faults outweigh its graces in my mind, there’s been a few people saying or writing that they enjoyed it, and since it seems to me that people enjoying or benefitting from a book is the entire point of publishing, my humility has no qualms about taking pleasure in such comments).

            * Post-script: It occurs to me that “Dryghtyn” seems again a term most immediately understood as applying to the god of Abraham and only by extention to other gods – and then it loses its monotheist position (Apollo in one place is described as a dryghtyn among others, but elsewhere the term is used as a definite singular). I’d give up in the face of counter-evidence to this without a fight – the full history of the term is not an area I’m well-versed in – but otherwise it again points to a place where Christianity has affected the language but not the actual theological stance.

          • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

            I am really enjoying this discussion!

            I just ran across MacMorgan’s claim that the Watchtowers were considered to house the sinners not trusted to remain in hell, and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The archangels were essentially wardens, and that’s why they were invoked, as both security and as “lie detector” as no one would risk sin in their presence.

            I always took the Dryghtyn to be similar as the Tao: a rather ineffable, uncommunicative, vast life force.

          • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

            The bit about the über-sinners is new to me, and I’d love to hear more (it reminds me of the sort of unauthorised folk cosmologies by which e.g. fairies are reconciled with angels, and so on). Dee described them as being the seats of angels of the earth that God had set against the devil, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t ALSO say something else that I either don’t recall or never came across. My knowledge of Dee is close to being exhausted here!

            As these spirits belonging to watchtowers that protect the world the idea that this goes back to lares in towers outside Roman Empire cities seems reasonable. Unfortunately, that’s one of those ideas I’ve come across that don’t know whether it has any historical basis or is just someone’s UPG masqueraded as history (why can’t people footnote?).

            An interesting other angle I just very recently came across: While “watchtower” became a term associated with biblical studies in the 19th C (and since then, particularly via Jehovah’s Witnesses), it’s relatively recent to find it directly in the translation rather than as an explanation of the meaning of a name. That it is found in the New World Translation has led to Jehovah Witnesses being accused with being involved with Enochian magic, and therefore not properly Christian! (By anti-Freemason conspiracy nuts, so the logic gets very strained very fast)

            As to Dryghtyn, I wouldn’t argue with your reading, though my lack of familiarity with Taoism means I can’t agree or disagree with confidence. From the prayer alone one could take it as a pretty Deist view of the divine, but its coëxistence with polytheist practices, and the stated opinions of Gardner both lead to the sort of Neoplatonic reading Don mentioned above (Gardner seems to me to treating that there is some “one” behind it all as too great an assumption to really examine, but that’s another conversation). In Fortune’s “All gods are one God, all goddesses are one Goddess, and there is one Initiator.” then Dryghtyn is the “one Initiator” that starts it all. (Personally, I’m pretty agnostic about “the one”, despite loving the prayer when it’s used in ritual, but that’s another conversation again).

            Historically though, Dryghtyn (and oh so many other spellings – I favour driȝtin because of my love of the letters that have died out in English) is a Middle English title-used-as-address used for the Christian God, in places where in Modern English one would use “Lord” (It goes back to titles for warlords and is cognate with dronning in Danish). It was also used for Pagan gods, but only by extension of the main sense and then it wasn’t a form of address:

            We at ere voide ay of vice & vacant of syn̄,
            Quat suld we moue in-to þe montts? þat mysters bot litill,
            Outhire Appole to adoure or any othire driȝtins.
            http://xtf.lib.virginia.edu/xtf/view?docId=chadwyck_ep/uvaGenText/tei/chep_1.1389.xml;chunk.id=d28;toc.depth=1;toc.id=d4;brand=default

            (It was used earlier, in Anglo-Saxon too. Funny, but when I was doing poorly in Anglo-Saxon in college I consoled myself that I’d never be using it in later life, not realising that I would in fact wish for the lingual skills to research use of “dryhten”. As it is, the Middle English above just about stretches me to my limits).So, anyway, the word as used for the divine is a Christian artefact and since it’s not particularly meaningful to address “the one” of such a Neoplatonic conception (and Dryghtyn isn’t addressed by the prayer that blesses in his/her/its – gendered pronouns become a bit meaningless – name) it’s not a particularly sensible word to use, but then if etymologies were always sensible we’d be speaking a very different language indeed!

          • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

            The uber-sinners comes from MacMorgan’s “The Circle, Cubed” and it’s lacking clear footnotes on the origin of this but she seems to have used “Clavicula Salomonis” as her primary source.

            I want to say Margaret Starbird also linked the word Magdalen to tower or watchtower, which adds an interesting layer of Christian mythos for the Dan Brown fans.

            Don Frew’s look at the word Dryghtyn and the anti-Saxon stance of New Forest Witches according to Gardner that he outlined somewhere in this maze of comments is pretty fascinating. The idea it’s Greek for “He of the Oaks” evokes the priest of Diana Nemorensis, which I’ve heard BTW folk discuss before…

          • Don Frew

            BTW, I have always been fascinated by the seeming contradiction between Gardner’s assertion that the Witches with whom he worked were firmly anti-Saxon (_The Meaning of Witchcraft_, p. 30, 94-95), adding that “…there is no trace of Saxon customs in the cult” (MoW, p. 28), and his telling us that arguably the two most important words in the Craft – “Wicca”, the name for the religion, and “Dryghtyn”, the name for ultimate Divine reality – are Anglo-Saxon.  Gardner even goes through some mental gymnastics to try to explain this seeming contradiction as oppressed people assuming the label forced upon them by their oppressors, but this never rang true for me.

            It might be important to point out that it was GARDNER who said that the name for the religion was the Anglo-Saxon word “wicca”, NOT the group he joined.  THEY called themselves “the Brotherhood of the Wica”.  “Wica” with one “c”.  You can see the transition from one to the other on pages 94-95 of _The Meaning of Witchcraft_.  Gardner made the assumption that this was based on the A-S word “wicca”, but what if he was wrong?

            I think I know where “Wica” with one “c” might have come from, but let’s take a look at the only other Anglo-Saxon word in Gardner’s Craft.  If the Witches Gardner joined hated all things Saxon, might he not have misunderstood “Dryghtyn”?  In Anglo-Saxon “Dryghtyn” – actually “dryhten” – means “the leader of a group” and was used by early translators of the Bible into A-S as the A-S cognate for “Lord”.  As such, it became linked with Christianity.

            In the earliest text available to us containing material Gardner received from the coven he joined – “ye Bok of ye Art NMagical” – there is an essay on which languages are best for use in magic (BAM 1939, 61).  The most strongly recommended is Greek.  There is a word in Greek that sounds remarkably like “Dryghtyn”… “Dryton”, a proper name meaning “he of the oaks”.  This could be a fitting epithet for the Greek supreme God, Zeus, or for a British god.  Isn’t it possible that Gardner HEARD “Dryton” and, not knowing Greek, ASSUMED it was the British word “Dryghtyn”?  It would be an easy enough shift to make, AND it would explain why the Saxon-hating Witches used a Saxon word to describe their ultimate Divine reality… because it WASN’T a Saxon word.

            Just a thought.

            Blessed Be,
            Don Frew

          • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

            Gardner is Saxon-blind though:

            ‘Some words they use, such as “Vavasour” one who holds lands for another) are probably Norman-French. Other words are seemingly Celtic, but the main Corpus of the language is made up of words like “Halch”, “Dwale”, “Warrik”, “Ganch” etc., which seem to belong to some older tongue.’ [Gardner 2004, "The Meaning of Witchcraft", page 60].

            Vavasour is indeed Norman-French (though hardly the cant secret word Gardner suggests). Halch, dwale, warrik and ganch are all simply Modern English words – albeit obscure ones – and all are of Anglo-Saxon origin.

            It would seem that Gardner simply wouldn’t recognise a Sax word gif it bat him in þe ærs!

            Contariwise, he much emphasises Celtic influences, but the one Celtic word we have much used in the Craft that isn’t common in vernacular English is “deosil”. This though is a word that had been absorbed into colloquial English though. Hence this use of a Celtic word may be a fluke that owes more to Modern English than it does to Irish and Scottish.

            The anti-Saxon mentality you mention could be the very reason for this, setting up starting assumptions which hides the Saxon influence (as an Irishman, it’s not a set of starting assumptions I’ve never seen before!)

          • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

            Actually, to add a bit more. Given Gardner’s Saxon-blindness when faced with very Saxon-sounding words (how can you not peg “ganch” as Saxon?), would he actually have been at all likely to know “Dryghtyn” well enough to mis-hear another word as it? We mis-hear towards the familiar. Gardner’s one direct use of Saxon is merely to quote from Skeat’s Etymology, and so not really a direct use at all.

            Considering this, I’m now doubly doubtful of this explanation. If anything, Gardner would have been more likely to mishear Anglo-Saxon Dryghtyn as Greek Dryton, than the other way around!

          • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

            Musing on this reminded me of something this morning.

            Do you have any good information on the history of how Dryghtyn was pronounced? By the pronounciation of Old and Middle English it should really be either dricht-in with the ch like that of loch and the r rolled or if spelt with a y as above (but not the only spelling that existed in the period) as drucht-un (and dricht-un and drucht-in also appearing as they really don’t seem to be in good agreement about where a y and were an i should go, despite these not being similar vowels in the English of the time).

            I’ve heard that “rhymes with Brighton” was stated commonly by Valiente, but then aside from providing amusement when considering that at the time “dryghtyn” was a common word, Brighton was pronounced with an icht soudn too, this also doesn’t go as far as I would like in being clear as to how much concensus there was on the matter.

            It’s a minor point of little real importance (and any “real” answer wouldn’t stop the fact that we now have both Middle and Modern English pronunciations in use) but does hit on something I find interesting, along with the fact that one such pronunciation would rule out the Dryton theory entirely.

  • Ex-HP

    Wow.  And exactly how many of these angels can dance on the head of a pin?   It’s debates like this that make me glad I left Wicca.

    • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

      It depends on the dance obviously. The number of angels that can céilí dance on the head of a pin is fewer than the number of loved-up angels on MDMA raving to repetitive beats. With interpretive dance, it depends on the choreographer.

      • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

        Riverdancing requires a reinforced pin.

        • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

          Of course, since these are angels in Wiccan circles, it must be thirteen dancing the Rune (twenty-six if two covens got together for a Grand Sabbat)

  • Ex-HP

    Wow.  And exactly how many of these angels can dance on the head of a pin?   It’s debates like this that make me glad I left Wicca.

    • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

      It depends on the dance obviously. The number of angels that can céilí dance on the head of a pin is fewer than the number of loved-up angels on MDMA raving to repetitive beats. With interpretive dance, it depends on the choreographer.

      • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

        Riverdancing requires a reinforced pin.

        • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

          Of course, since these are angels in Wiccan circles, it must be thirteen dancing the Rune (twenty-six if two covens got together for a Grand Sabbat)

  • Marlon Hartshorn

    I don’t think it matters what we call ourselves or what the details of our particular group is.  What matters is that we:  1) Always have empathy for others  2) That we don’t deny the reality of a situation, especially if it’s right under our nose & contradicts what we already believe and 3) that we stay receptive & open and loving & accept all people of all genders, races, mindsets or beliefs, as having great potential & deserving of respect 4) Learn to not accept violence as a means to an end. The end doesn’t justify the means. 

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      That’s kind of the point: if the end doesn’t justify the means then what we call ourselves and the details of our practice do matter.

    • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

      1. Empathy is only ever a beginning to compassionate action. Empathy can lead to nothing but impotent hand-wringing or turning other people’s suffering into theatre. It’s not enough to be empathic.
      2. The problem is, even the most deluded people are sure they aren’t denying reality. This is much more easily said than done.
      3. If that mindset is sociopathic, I’m really not going to waste my time being receptive to it.
      4. If that mindset is not only sociopathic, but poses a clear and immediate threat to physical well-being, then I’m damn well going to accept violence as a means to the end of removing that threat.

      I don’t see what this has to do with anything here though.

      • Anonymous

        Unfortunately, you are making the same argument a fundamentalist Christian does, in fact the worse kind, the revivalist/evangelical kind.

        As for point #2: You mean the deluded are sure they are right, not sure they deny reality. If they knew they denied reality, they would at last try to approach not seeing things the same way. 

        Violence is the only solution if your immediate well being is threatened, but a violation still exists even if it’s violence in self defense. But I agree with U, I’d personally use violence in that situation but I was speaking more about senseless violence not violence for a positive end.

        It does apply to what is here.  In my practice as a Wiccan, I don’t give one thought to Gardner, Valiente, or what importance they gave to Elemental Energies or Watchtowers. Who cares?  The only thing that is important to any Witch is your direct connection to other dimensions, and that resides within you, not other people. Historically, the conversation is interesting but I don’t see how it affects my effectiveness or helps my understanding much in ritual.  I learn through trial and error, as I’m sure did Gardner and Valiente.  From what I’ve read, I wouldn’t associate with Gardner if I knew him in real life now, I don’t think he’s that important of an individual. Far  more important to educate ourselves and learn as much as possible.

        • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

          It’s the old question of the unexamined life. If you’re not willing to examine and learn from history, you’re doomed to repeat it’s mistakes. If nothing else, studying Gardner and Valiente provides great insight into coven dynamics. Knowing why you do something and where it originates adds another level of energy and power to your practice.

          I don’t think I’d like Gardner either, and I’m fairly certain I couldn’t stand Alex Sanders for long, but they are now among The Mighty Dead and part of the energetic current of Witchcraft. Invoked or not invoked, the Craft Elders are there.

          • http://musingsofawiccan.com MARLON

            Oh sure I agree & I actually enjoy learning from Elders, they are the richness of life for sure.  I don’t even know who Alex Sanders is.   I often wonder why we can’t work with their personalities or their “larger selves” even, i.e., Crowley, Valiente, Sybil Leek, or any big person in witchy history, does anyone work with them astrally?  So curious about that but that doesn’t relate to the post. Sorry if I’m going off topic.   I like Valiente quite a lot more than anyone else in terms of learning/education. 

          • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

            That you don’t know who Alex Sanders is saddens me. He founded one of the most influential Witchcraft traditions. This is why discussions like this are important.

            I don’t believe in working with the shades of our Elders as if they were tools, but Jimahl do Fiosa did write a book about contacting Alex Sanders after his death that is a fascinating read.

          • http://musingsofawiccan.com MARLON

            Aww well don’t be sad!  It’s all OK.  I am learning.  He looks very interesting.  I’m extremely interested also in the channeling aspect. I think I may’ve came across his name in reading before but just never looked him up.  Thanks for the info!

          • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

            Have you ever heard of the Alexandrian tradition?  If so, you’ve indirectly heard of Alec Sanders.  There’s a pun there: the AlecSandrian tradition.

        • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

          Since fundamentalism came out of the revivalist and evangelical movements (both as seeds of their own denominations and more strongly, as influences within other denominations – particularly Baptist though it was within Presbyterianism that the fundamentalist/modernist controversy arose most sharply) I’m not at all sure how you can make the latter a kind of the former, rather than the other way around.

          Given the suspicion within the evangelical movement, and even more so the revivalist movement, of tradition qua tradition, and the strong emphasis of both – the latter in particular  – upon personal experience, I’m really at a loss as to how you can align what I say with them, and then argue that “direct connection to other dimensions” is important and somehow suggest that this revivalist-style approach is of greater distance to revivalism.

          Finally, I’m truly at a loss as to how from such a position you can label all of revivalism and evangelicalism as “the worse kind” in comparison with fundamentalism, when such movements gave us the much of the Christians involved in social improvement and the rights of man, from the abolitionists through to the peaceful but forceful activism of Martin Luther King and his comrades. Personally, while the revivalist personal-connection-is-key and evangelical personal-understanding-of-the-message-is-key approaches are not approaches I’m much given to, I will not consider a tree that gave such fruit as to be irredeemably rotten.

          While I reserve the right to decide what is important to this particular witch myself, irregardless of what you may think on the matter, I do agree that personal experience is important – not the only thing I deem important, but important all the same. In my practice I not only don’t give much thought to Gardner or Valiente, I don’t give much thought to anything at all, having more pressing matters at hand. I do relate upon the inherited traditions as the means by which I acchieve that end, and the end does indeed justify the means – the end must alsways justify the means in any indeavour, they just must not be taken to justify a means that is in itself indefensible.

          Here though, I am not in circle, I am taking part in a conversation that was started by an article. The ineffable experience isn’t going to work here, because it’s ineffable, and the exposition and examination isn’t going to lead to the ineffable, but this is hardly the point either. We aren’t in circle, we’re having a conversation. Personally, I do find that such examinations do indeed enrich my experience of ritual itself, because while only the intellectual aspect of the psyche is fully engaged, and the emotional just a little, in ritual all of the spyche is engaged and anything that increases the connection made by one part increases the connection made by all, providing that one part is not pursued to the detriment of the rest. I don’t pursue that side to the detriment of the rest, but the other things I do are not going to be expressed here, where we are relating by written prose alone.

          From what I’ve read of Gardner he was a lovely guy but I see little relevance. We’ve discussed Gardner and Valiente themselves very little, and instead almost entirely the traditions that we have (or have not) received by their efforts. While historically I think that they were indeed important individuals, they haven’t really come up as individuals until your post now. I am pretty sure that I am not the only person who has found this educational.

          I return to my question of relevance. How does Star’s wishing to examine implications she sees in the use of the Watchtowers relate to the four points you put forward as “what matters” either in the positive or the negative?

          • http://musingsofawiccan.com MARLON

            Hey Jon, this is a very long post & I have to go to work. I will reply later tonight in full. I peeked at your web site, I have a blog also where I write.  Perhaps I have gotten off-topic a bit from Star’s original idea but I think it still relates to the topics brought up in the posts/replies. It doesn’t matter 2 me which label came first, or the strict progression of fundamentalist toxic Christianity, which I think has been one of the worst things to ever happen to mankind, but what does matter 2 me is the simple argument I made: that your initial reply is a refutation of the 4 points I made which are characteristics of  some of the worst thoughts in revivalist-type Chrisitian thinking since the 1960s to now.  I don’t have a degree in religion or such so not as up-to-par with the knowledge of religion as you obviously are, just saying they are miserable people who think it’s OK to force their views on other people, particularly gays or anyone who isn’t white, male or wealthy. Anyway, this is getting way off topic.   I personally DO enjoy working with the Elemental Energies. I’ve been working with a trad Gardnerian Wiccan Elder myself and love what I’ve learned.  I think the Watchtowers conversation is very interesting and I’ve learned a lot just from reading all the posts here.  So grateful we have such smart folks in the Pagan community!  

          • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

            Heh, I’m a college drop-out, so no religion degree here either :)

          • MCH

            I’ve seen evangelicalism and fundamentalism used synonymously (e.g., on Wikipedia) so I used the terms interchangeably. I don’t know any Baptists who think of themselves as progressives or part of modernity. For that matter, most all monotheists share a common belief that sex is evil and demoralizing and this colors their unrealistic attitudes towards everyone else who lives in a democracy, something they adamantly and passionately detest.  The reasons for this are characteristic of most all fundamentalist Christians. They deny reality, and exhibit strong lack of empathy.  They have to deny reality, in order to justify their unethical treatment of minorities and women. Women are subordinates to men, another common belief, and this colors their actions. The Religious Right strongly agrees with these concepts  which is why they want to weaken or abolish social programs, because their monotheistic religion precludes them from even caring about other people, i.e., lack of empathy shows itself again.  The recent attacks on Social Security and Medicare are cases in point and are based on the idea that we should not dare care about each other.  

            The monotheistic tree is fairly rotten to its core.  All religions fragment and branch off, because people fragment and branch off, on an energy level.  Smaller fragments are created which then establish their own ways of life and views.  These views may be morally horrific, so some system needs to be in place to counter that.  Monotheism is inherently negative and irrational because it is based on untruths and lies and has in modern time been devastated to not much more than hate groups. The myths are not understood as such but as literal truths, and what spiritual truths were squeezed out of what was left of Christianity have been not just distorted but completely fabricated to the greater ends of greed, e.g., corporatism and globalization, with its roots in colonialism.    

            Each step along one’s path must be worthy of the end goal, otherwise the end will be flawed and not worth having.  If the end result is of great concern to you, then try your personal best not to mar the construction of what you make in life with stressing too much negativity or irrationality.   Gardner and Valiente did come up several times in the posts above us.   In reference to Star’s original post, Mac Morgan’s being critical of “using Watchtowers and other Abrahamic practices,” as Star notes above, and alluding to the fact that such practices were based in Enochian magic, is a good link to what I’m saying here.  

            I’m all for moderation in religious views. I think whatever religion one is should be practiced sanely in the context of a democracy and should always support social programs, compassion, empathy for others and strong financial support for the needy. Anything less results in racism, hatred and moral degradation.  If you want to continue this debate, we should do it off site on a blog. Any additional conversation I think would be too lengthy for this blog.

  • http://musingsofawiccan.com MCH

    I don’t think it matters what we call ourselves or what the details of our particular group is.  What matters is that we:  1) Always have empathy for others  2) That we don’t deny the reality of a situation, especially if it’s right under our nose & contradicts what we already believe and 3) that we stay receptive & open and loving & accept all people of all genders, races, mindsets or beliefs, as having great potential & deserving of respect 4) Learn to not accept violence as a means to an end. The end doesn’t justify the means. 

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      That’s kind of the point: if the end doesn’t justify the means then what we call ourselves and the details of our practice do matter.

    • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

      1. Empathy is only ever a beginning to compassionate action. Empathy can lead to nothing but impotent hand-wringing or turning other people’s suffering into theatre. It’s not enough to be empathic.
      2. The problem is, even the most deluded people are sure they aren’t denying reality. This is much more easily said than done.
      3. If that mindset is sociopathic, I’m really not going to waste my time being receptive to it.
      4. If that mindset is not only sociopathic, but poses a clear and immediate threat to physical well-being, then I’m damn well going to accept violence as a means to the end of removing that threat.

      I don’t see what this has to do with anything here though.

      • http://musingsofawiccan.com MCH

        Unfortunately, you are making the same argument a fundamentalist Christian does, in fact the worse kind, the revivalist/evangelical kind.

        As for point #2: You mean the deluded are sure they are right, not sure they deny reality. If they knew they denied reality, they would at last try to approach not seeing things the same way. 

        Violence is the only solution if your immediate well being is threatened, but a violation still exists even if it’s violence in self defense. But I agree with U, I’d personally use violence in that situation but I was speaking more about senseless violence not violence for a positive end.

        It does apply to what is here.  In my practice as a Wiccan, I don’t give one thought to Gardner, Valiente, or what importance they gave to Elemental Energies or Watchtowers. Who cares?  The only thing that is important to any Witch is your direct connection to other dimensions, and that resides within you, not other people. Historically, the conversation is interesting but I don’t see how it affects my effectiveness or helps my understanding much in ritual.  I learn through trial and error, as I’m sure did Gardner and Valiente.  From what I’ve read, I wouldn’t associate with Gardner if I knew him in real life now, I don’t think he’s that important of an individual. Far  more important to educate ourselves and learn as much as possible.

        • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

          It’s the old question of the unexamined life. If you’re not willing to examine and learn from history, you’re doomed to repeat it’s mistakes. If nothing else, studying Gardner and Valiente provides great insight into coven dynamics. Knowing why you do something and where it originates adds another level of energy and power to your practice.

          I don’t think I’d like Gardner either, and I’m fairly certain I couldn’t stand Alex Sanders for long, but they are now among The Mighty Dead and part of the energetic current of Witchcraft. Invoked or not invoked, the Craft Elders are there.

          • http://musingsofawiccan.com MCH

            Oh sure I agree & I actually enjoy learning from Elders, they are the richness of life for sure.  I don’t even know who Alex Sanders is.   I often wonder why we can’t work with their personalities or their “larger selves” even, i.e., Crowley, Valiente, Sybil Leek, or any big person in witchy history, does anyone work with them astrally?  So curious about that but that doesn’t relate to the post. Sorry if I’m going off topic.   I like Valiente quite a lot more than anyone else in terms of learning/education. 

          • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

            That you don’t know who Alex Sanders is saddens me. He founded one of the most influential Witchcraft traditions. This is why discussions like this are important.

            I don’t believe in working with the shades of our Elders as if they were tools, but Jimahl do Fiosa did write a book about contacting Alex Sanders after his death that is a fascinating read.

          • http://musingsofawiccan.com MCH

            Aww well don’t be sad!  It’s all OK.  I am learning.  He looks very interesting.  I’m extremely interested also in the channeling aspect. I think I may’ve came across his name in reading before but just never looked him up.  Thanks for the info!

          • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

            Have you ever heard of the Alexandrian tradition?  If so, you’ve indirectly heard of Alec Sanders.  There’s a pun there: the AlecSandrian tradition.

        • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

          Since fundamentalism came out of the revivalist and evangelical movements (both as seeds of their own denominations and more strongly, as influences within other denominations – particularly Baptist though it was within Presbyterianism that the fundamentalist/modernist controversy arose most sharply) I’m not at all sure how you can make the latter a kind of the former, rather than the other way around.

          Given the suspicion within the evangelical movement, and even more so the revivalist movement, of tradition qua tradition, and the strong emphasis of both – the latter in particular  – upon personal experience, I’m really at a loss as to how you can align what I say with them, and then argue that “direct connection to other dimensions” is important and somehow suggest that this revivalist-style approach is of greater distance to revivalism.

          Finally, I’m truly at a loss as to how from such a position you can label all of revivalism and evangelicalism as “the worse kind” in comparison with fundamentalism, when such movements gave us the much of the Christians involved in social improvement and the rights of man, from the abolitionists through to the peaceful but forceful activism of Martin Luther King and his comrades. Personally, while the revivalist personal-connection-is-key and evangelical personal-understanding-of-the-message-is-key approaches are not approaches I’m much given to, I will not consider a tree that gave such fruit as to be irredeemably rotten.

          While I reserve the right to decide what is important to this particular witch myself, irregardless of what you may think on the matter, I do agree that personal experience is important – not the only thing I deem important, but important all the same. In my practice I not only don’t give much thought to Gardner or Valiente, I don’t give much thought to anything at all, having more pressing matters at hand. I do relate upon the inherited traditions as the means by which I acchieve that end, and the end does indeed justify the means – the end must alsways justify the means in any indeavour, they just must not be taken to justify a means that is in itself indefensible.

          Here though, I am not in circle, I am taking part in a conversation that was started by an article. The ineffable experience isn’t going to work here, because it’s ineffable, and the exposition and examination isn’t going to lead to the ineffable, but this is hardly the point either. We aren’t in circle, we’re having a conversation. Personally, I do find that such examinations do indeed enrich my experience of ritual itself, because while only the intellectual aspect of the psyche is fully engaged, and the emotional just a little, in ritual all of the spyche is engaged and anything that increases the connection made by one part increases the connection made by all, providing that one part is not pursued to the detriment of the rest. I don’t pursue that side to the detriment of the rest, but the other things I do are not going to be expressed here, where we are relating by written prose alone.

          From what I’ve read of Gardner he was a lovely guy but I see little relevance. We’ve discussed Gardner and Valiente themselves very little, and instead almost entirely the traditions that we have (or have not) received by their efforts. While historically I think that they were indeed important individuals, they haven’t really come up as individuals until your post now. I am pretty sure that I am not the only person who has found this educational.

          I return to my question of relevance. How does Star’s wishing to examine implications she sees in the use of the Watchtowers relate to the four points you put forward as “what matters” either in the positive or the negative?

          • http://musingsofawiccan.com MCH

            Hey Jon, this is a very long post & I have to go to work. I will reply later tonight in full. I peeked at your web site, I have a blog also where I write.  Perhaps I have gotten off-topic a bit from Star’s original idea but I think it still relates to the topics brought up in the posts/replies. It doesn’t matter 2 me which label came first, or the strict progression of fundamentalist toxic Christianity, which I think has been one of the worst things to ever happen to mankind, but what does matter 2 me is the simple argument I made: that your initial reply is a refutation of the 4 points I made which are characteristics of  some of the worst thoughts in revivalist-type Chrisitian thinking since the 1960s to now.  I don’t have a degree in religion or such so not as up-to-par with the knowledge of religion as you obviously are, just saying they are miserable people who think it’s OK to force their views on other people, particularly gays or anyone who isn’t white, male or wealthy. Anyway, this is getting way off topic.   I personally DO enjoy working with the Elemental Energies. I’ve been working with a trad Gardnerian Wiccan Elder myself and love what I’ve learned.  I think the Watchtowers conversation is very interesting and I’ve learned a lot just from reading all the posts here.  So grateful we have such smart folks in the Pagan community!  

          • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

            Heh, I’m a college drop-out, so no religion degree here either :)

          • http://musingsofawiccan.com MCH

            I’ve seen evangelicalism and fundamentalism used synonymously (e.g., on Wikipedia) so I used the terms interchangeably. I don’t know any Baptists who think of themselves as progressives or part of modernity. For that matter, most all monotheists share a common belief that sex is evil and demoralizing and this colors their unrealistic attitudes towards everyone else who lives in a democracy, something they adamantly and passionately detest.  The reasons for this are characteristic of most all fundamentalist Christians. They deny reality, and exhibit strong lack of empathy.  They have to deny reality, in order to justify their unethical treatment of minorities and women. Women are subordinates to men, another common belief, and this colors their actions. The Religious Right strongly agrees with these concepts  which is why they want to weaken or abolish social programs, because their monotheistic religion precludes them from even caring about other people, i.e., lack of empathy shows itself again.  The recent attacks on Social Security and Medicare are cases in point and are based on the idea that we should not dare care about each other.  

            The monotheistic tree is fairly rotten to its core.  All religions fragment and branch off, because people fragment and branch off, on an energy level.  Smaller fragments are created which then establish their own ways of life and views.  These views may be morally horrific, so some system needs to be in place to counter that.  Monotheism is inherently negative and irrational because it is based on untruths and lies and has in modern time been devastated to not much more than hate groups. The myths are not understood as such but as literal truths, and what spiritual truths were squeezed out of what was left of Christianity have been not just distorted but completely fabricated to the greater ends of greed, e.g., corporatism and globalization, with its roots in colonialism.    

            Each step along one’s path must be worthy of the end goal, otherwise the end will be flawed and not worth having.  If the end result is of great concern to you, then try your personal best not to mar the construction of what you make in life with stressing too much negativity or irrationality.   Gardner and Valiente did come up several times in the posts above us.   In reference to Star’s original post, Mac Morgan’s being critical of “using Watchtowers and other Abrahamic practices,” as Star notes above, and alluding to the fact that such practices were based in Enochian magic, is a good link to what I’m saying here.  

            I’m all for moderation in religious views. I think whatever religion one is should be practiced sanely in the context of a democracy and should always support social programs, compassion, empathy for others and strong financial support for the needy. Anything less results in racism, hatred and moral degradation.  If you want to continue this debate, we should do it off site on a blog. Any additional conversation I think would be too lengthy for this blog.

  • Anonymous

    Now look what you’re making me do: I’m going to have to go back and re-read all of my seminal books- both Abrahamic and Occult, along with my diaries and notebooks.

    I do feel like there’s some insights developing from this discussion- and that is the realization that “Wicca” is sort of like that elephant being examined by the blind men, and that perhaps ‘eclectic’ is the wrong word to use when describing it. Modern Christianity, with its cherry-picking of Scripture and wide range of sub-sects is more eclectic than any form of Wicca.

    “Syncretic” might be more accurate, considering the use of elements from Kabalistic, ceremonial, Native American, Christian, and other sources.

    This might require a new thread to discuss at length.

  • sunfell

    Now look what you’re making me do: I’m going to have to go back and re-read all of my seminal books- both Abrahamic and Occult, along with my diaries and notebooks.

    I do feel like there’s some insights developing from this discussion- and that is the realization that “Wicca” is sort of like that elephant being examined by the blind men, and that perhaps ‘eclectic’ is the wrong word to use when describing it. Modern Christianity, with its cherry-picking of Scripture and wide range of sub-sects is more eclectic than any form of Wicca.

    “Syncretic” might be more accurate, considering the use of elements from Kabalistic, ceremonial, Native American, Christian, and other sources.

    This might require a new thread to discuss at length.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mhaoil-Lain/100000789234060 Mhaoil Lain

    I think sometimes the problem with “religion”, is that we exaggerate our differences so as to maintain a distance from other belief systems. It’s how we make ourselves feel “special”, unique, or a little more enlightened. The truth, which most of us don’t like to admit, is that our basic beliefs are really not so different. Here’s an article by Ali Ravenwood, a Wiccan Priestess, who tells of a conversation with her Christian friend, and how they really don’t see the world so differently.
    http://northerntribes.wordpress.com/2011/08/15/in-defense-of-christians/

    • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

      I think there’s a danger in either extreme.

      If we “other” the different, then where there is difference there is a perceived threat or a perceived inferiority, and if we react to that perceived threat or inferiority we will do harm unnecessarily.

      However, if we consider everyone to be essentially the same, then whenever the differences that do exist between us appear, they appear as aberations: The differences are people being “wrong” at best, perverse twistings of the “real truth” at worse.

      Indeed, I think this is why intra-religous discord can be so much more aggressive than inter-religious. I’ve never met a Christian who was upset that I didn’t interpret the Rede as meaning I always have to avoid doing harm, or that modern ecological concerns don’t have much of a direct place in my spirituality. I’ve certainly had pagans act like I’m Hitler’s more-evil twin for such views though.

      Besides, what’s wrong with feeling “special” if you are allowing that others may also be special too (I’ll agree on “enlightened”, but then I don’t believe in enlightenment anyway…).

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mhaoil-Lain/100000789234060 Mhaoil Lain

    I think sometimes the problem with “religion”, is that we exaggerate our differences so as to maintain a distance from other belief systems. It’s how we make ourselves feel “special”, unique, or a little more enlightened. The truth, which most of us don’t like to admit, is that our basic beliefs are really not so different. Here’s an article by Ali Ravenwood, a Wiccan Priestess, who tells of a conversation with her Christian friend, and how they really don’t see the world so differently.
    http://northerntribes.wordpress.com/2011/08/15/in-defense-of-christians/

    • http://www.hackcraft.net/ Jon Hanna

      I think there’s a danger in either extreme.

      If we “other” the different, then where there is difference there is a perceived threat or a perceived inferiority, and if we react to that perceived threat or inferiority we will do harm unnecessarily.

      However, if we consider everyone to be essentially the same, then whenever the differences that do exist between us appear, they appear as aberations: The differences are people being “wrong” at best, perverse twistings of the “real truth” at worse.

      Indeed, I think this is why intra-religous discord can be so much more aggressive than inter-religious. I’ve never met a Christian who was upset that I didn’t interpret the Rede as meaning I always have to avoid doing harm, or that modern ecological concerns don’t have much of a direct place in my spirituality. I’ve certainly had pagans act like I’m Hitler’s more-evil twin for such views though.

      Besides, what’s wrong with feeling “special” if you are allowing that others may also be special too (I’ll agree on “enlightened”, but then I don’t believe in enlightenment anyway…).


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X