Traditional Witchcraft on the Internet

I get some weird messages online. Sometimes it’s the worst kind of gossip attributing disgusting and malicious acts to people who would surely be in prison if such things were true. Sometimes it’s people offering to be my secret occult advisor or who claim special knowledge because they own Gerald Gardner’s old chamber pot. Those are messages I can generally safely ignore. Sometimes, though, people have a weird idea in their heads, and it’s an idea I hear repeated until I feel compelled to write about it. So I’m going to write about traditional Witchcraft on the internet.

I like to think this Witch is wearing Wellies.

There is this strange idea that traditional Witchcraft doesn’t belong on the internet. I get a chuckle when I hear this because it’s generally a trad Witch complaining about it on the internet. A bit like the Amish complaining about Weird Al’s Amish Paradise video appearing on MTV. What are the Amish doing watching cable television? (No such complaints surfaced to my knowledge but Weird Al got a kick out of reporters asking him about it). So if you truly believe traditional Witchcraft doesn’t belong on the internet, arguing about it online perpetuates the problem instead of solving it.

However, I absolutely believe traditional Witchcraft belongs on the internet, and here’s why:

Traditional Witchcraft is known for being oathbound, which at times is taken so far that the Craft itself becomes a sacred cow to be sacrificed on the altar of secrecy. As a new initiate, I’m guesstimating that at the very least, 60% or more of traditional Witchcraft isn’t oathbound. Of course, everyone loves a secret. A big juicy secret can seem far more desirable than something big and juicy that isn’t secret. So like an illusionist’s trick, while the glitter of oathbound materials twinkles seductively just out of view, the meat and potatoes of traditional Witchcraft sits in plain sight, completely ignored.

Of course, it’s not just non-initiates that get caught up in the razzle-dazzle, but some initiated Witches seem to have an idea that oathbound secrets are the kit and caboodle of traditional Witchcraft. There’s a temptation to get caught up in the secrecy and let it go to your head. While oathbound details shouldn’t be revealed, they aren’t a badge of superiority. They give you no free pass to ignore the meat and potatoes of Witchcraft, to ignore the core values and embrace arrogance and elitism. Traditional Witchcraft is many things, but it’s certainly not too refined to discuss the open bits in open forums.

I’ve undergone the ordeal of initiation and taken dread oaths of secrecy, but instead of finding myself limited by what I can say, I find myself strangely freed. I will never reveal oathbound secrets on this blog, for a lot of very good reasons but mostly because I have no desire to reveal them. That said, I find myself wanting to talk about trad Craft more than ever, because this side of initiation I see how much there is to talk about.

You see, when I started writing here at Patheos, I was a student sitting through classes, which at the time I sometimes found rather boring(At this point in my life I’m tempted to whack people who explain what the Sabbats are with an umbrella). I’d spoken to my priestess about writing here and we came to an agreement about boundaries. I check in with her occasionally, but so far there’s been no objection to my subject matter. In fact, for awhile she complained I didn’t write about Wicca enough! After initiation my priest chuckled with me about a few things I’d written in the past and how different he knew my views would be now that I’d made it through initiation. Even though I’d written about the experience of initiation, I still hadn’t said anything forbidden and several people found what I wrote was worthwhile.

I’ve come to realize there is a way to write about traditional Witchcraft which gives it a human face, which shows it to be the warm, loving and difficult path I’ve come to know. There is a way to communicate the heart of traditional Witchcraft without breaking oaths or trying to replace the traditional teaching methods. Even I wanted to try, nothing I can write can replace studying with good teachers. I know, I’ve got amazing teachers. However, communicating the core values is possible and necessary for inter- and intra-faith dialogue.

I don’t believe all that is old is bad and all that is good is new, but just because something is old doesn’t make it good, right or desirable. There’s plenty of old school stuff in the Craft and it’s great old stuff. I’m getting a kick out of learning it and my head is still spinning from initiation. However, this secrecy business can go too far. There’s no benefit in holing up in an ivory tower looking down your nose at people. No real benefit in using the secrecy to control and abuse people. The glitter of secrecy enables such things as Motel 8 initiations and other nasty business to take place. In many cases, secrecy has become the reason and ceased to be a tool.

Yet when you look at another great Mystery Tradition, you find that there was artwork, literature and a whole tradition around discussing the Eleusinian Mysteries while still not revealing them. Maybe that’s why they lasted so long and were so meaningful, because they prompted a new way of discussing and looking at the world. Today we have no real idea what the Mysteries actually were but we know the penalty for revealing them was death. This didn’t mean that people didn’t talk about them, didn’t exhibit the changes it wrought in them or were caught up in wrapping everything that touched the Mysteries in shrouds of secrecy.

I know that the initiatory experience I went through was, for me, on the same level of wonder as Eleusis and deeply meaningful. Initiation created a change within me that I’m still dealing with, but it didn’t give me arrogance, false entitlement or an idea that all associated with the Craft is to be shrouded in secret. It is dawning on me that a trad Witch is more than her oaths, that not all that glitters is gold, and that now that I’ve survived initiation it’s time for me to go back to the garden I was at times bored in and get to work again. Some of that weeding, planting and harvesting will be featured on this blog from time to time.

If you think that traditional Witchcraft is about secrecy, if you’re on a power trip, if you treat the Craft like an elitist old boy’s club, if you think it entitles people to wait on you or if you think it gives you the right to look down on others while clutching your secrets to your chest like Gollum clutches his ring, then you may not think traditional Witchcraft belongs on the internet. Which is probably a good thing, because the internet isn’t patient with people who behave like that.

Most of traditional Witchcraft belongs in the light of day. It can bear scrutiny because it’s about how you carry yourself, how you treat others, the values which inform your decisions and the wisdom you exhibit. It wouldn’t do anyone the least bit of good for the secrets to be on the internet. They live between people who respect each other, who have a physical and energetic connection and who celebrate sacred things in starlight. So I will keep secret things secret, I will continue to study the Old Religion, and what is worth sharing I’ll write about on the internet. I expect I’ll have a lot to write about, although none of it will be glitzy oathbound secrets and just be meat and potatoes stuff like values. If traditional Craft can survive Gardner, Sanders and Cochrane (and in fact it may only have survived thanks to them), it can most certainly survive me, and I’ve said far less then any of those fellows.

I’m a human Witch practicing a human religion, and if there is anything about traditional Witchcraft that’s worth communicating, it is its humanity. That’s why I love it so darn much. Traditional Craft has gotten a bad rap for being snotty, arrogant, deceitful and, in some cases, abusive. I think that’s unfair. I don’t think every trad Witch is someone I’d care to know, but I also think a few bad apples have spoiled it for the rest.  I recently asked my priestess for advice regarding my work here and she told me to keep reminding people this isn’t the only path. That’s a simple but very true statement. There is no one right way, no one true religion. There is no “correct” tradition of Witchcraft. The is no single true Pagan path. We’re not better than each other. We’re not righter than each other. Holding lore is no sign of superiority. If your path makes you a better person, then it’s the right path for you.

Drew Jacob made a very interesting observation once. He said you judge a path by it’s elders, because they are living proof of the kind of person that path creates. Our purpose is to be human, and to be the best human we can be. I’ve found elders to teach me that I respect and admire, who have and will continue to teach me difficult lessons. I’m a better person today because of traditional Witchcraft. That is worth sharing. That is why traditional Witchcraft should be discussed on the internet.

About Star Foster

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

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

    I should also add that I’ve getting a lot of insight and enjoyment out of Raven Grimassi’s books, particularly his new book “Old World Witchcraft.” If anyone knows how to talk about the Craft without breaking oaths, it’s Grimassi.

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

    I should also add that I’ve getting a lot of insight and enjoyment out of Raven Grimassi’s books, particularly his new book “Old World Witchcraft.” If anyone knows how to talk about the Craft without breaking oaths, it’s Grimassi.

  • http://herbylady.myopenid.com/ DJ Martin

    Perhaps *more* than 60% of traditional Craft isn’t oathbound. Of my Trad friends (and there are many), only two are oathbound. We all follow our own, individual crooked path and few are even in groups/covens. Talk about it on the ‘Net? You bet. It’s the only place I can converse with those of a like mind, given that I live in the heart of the bible belt. Reveal all my secrets? No. Everyone has to find their own way.

    I wrote a blog post awhile back about this subject: http://www.herbylady.com/blog/?p=918

    • Matthaios

      That percentage probably does vary from tradition to tradition, line to line, coven to coven…and maybe individual to individual.

  • http://herbylady.myopenid.com/ DJ Martin

    Perhaps *more* than 60% of traditional Craft isn’t oathbound. Of my Trad friends (and there are many), only two are oathbound. We all follow our own, individual crooked path and few are even in groups/covens. Talk about it on the ‘Net? You bet. It’s the only place I can converse with those of a like mind, given that I live in the heart of the bible belt. Reveal all my secrets? No. Everyone has to find their own way.

    I wrote a blog post awhile back about this subject: http://www.herbylady.com/blog/?p=918

    • Matthaios

      That percentage probably does vary from tradition to tradition, line to line, coven to coven…and maybe individual to individual.

  • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

    From the
    perspective of non-Wiccan, “oldline” witchcraft:

    Certain
    things aren’t particularly “oath-bound” in the sense that you swear not to
    divulge them.  Families teach their
    children, but there’s no problem with teaching someone outside of your
    bloodline.  The reason for not putting
    certain spells, rituals and recipes on the Internet, or in a book, is because
    they must be taught in person, from one human being to another, with
    demonstrations and monitoring.  Otherwise
    it might be dangerous.  The results
    mightn’t be what you expect.  Baleful
    magick might be the consequence.  Harm to others. You could
    even poison yourself.

    This gave me an idea for an article…

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

      Spellwork is such a minor part of it. I don’t publish spells. I don’t think I’d be good at it and there are plenty of resources for that sort of thing.

      • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

        Workings and rituals are about 1/2 of (my) family witchcraft.  There is a spell or ritual for everything… food prep, laundry, travel, kids… everything!  I count divination under that, everything must be checked for auspicious times and places.  Stories of the Gods and “honor” makes up the rest.  Another way that Wicca is different… wonderful, yet different.

  • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

    From the
    perspective of non-Wiccan, “oldline” witchcraft:

    Certain
    things aren’t particularly “oath-bound” in the sense that you swear not to
    divulge them.  Families teach their
    children, but there’s no problem with teaching someone outside of your
    bloodline.  The reason for not putting
    certain spells, rituals and recipes on the Internet, or in a book, is because
    they must be taught in person, from one human being to another, with
    demonstrations and monitoring.  Otherwise
    it might be dangerous.  The results
    mightn’t be what you expect.  Baleful
    magick might be the consequence.  Harm to others. You could
    even poison yourself.

    This gave me an idea for an article…

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

      Spellwork is such a minor part of it. I don’t publish spells. I don’t think I’d be good at it and there are plenty of resources for that sort of thing.

      • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

        Workings and rituals are about 1/2 of (my) family witchcraft.  There is a spell or ritual for everything… food prep, laundry, travel, kids… everything!  I count divination under that, everything must be checked for auspicious times and places.  Stories of the Gods and “honor” makes up the rest.  Another way that Wicca is different… wonderful, yet different.

  • AlanHeartsong

    So much of what used to be oathbound material is in published books and published on the Internet now, as someone starting a new Trad I’m finding that I’m having to really think about what *can* be oathbound, and why it should be.

    Some experiences just can’t be shared in writing, or even verbally.  They have to be experienced.  I could write pages about the initiatory experience from both sides, but it wouldn’t transfer the experience to the reader.  Some folks in the Traditional Wicca community absolutely *hate* some of the pagan authors for publishing what they have in the oathbound sections of their Book of Shadows, but that doesn’t really serve any purpose.

    We have to have some oathbound material or the mystery will be totally removed from our mystery traditions.  But we can certainly talk about it online without sharing the secrets  :)

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

      We have to have some oathbound material or the mystery will be totally removed from our mystery traditions.

      I completely disagree with that one sentence.  (I agree with everything else in your comment.)  That’s like saying that watching a porn movie totally removes the mystery of sex.  I’ve seen several reputable initiates, including Alex Sanders say things along the lines of “you could tell all the secrets and not reveal any of the mysteries.”

      None of the three initiatory lineages I belong to have oathbound material.  If I decide it’s appropriate, I can share anything.  Would I?  There is one part of my American Welsh-derived coven’s initiation that I’ve never seen mentioned anywhere.  I would have to have a very good reason to discuss that with anyone.  But I never took an oath to keep it secret.  If there was a reason to share it, I would.

  • AlanHeartsong

    So much of what used to be oathbound material is in published books and published on the Internet now, as someone starting a new Trad I’m finding that I’m having to really think about what *can* be oathbound, and why it should be.

    Some experiences just can’t be shared in writing, or even verbally.  They have to be experienced.  I could write pages about the initiatory experience from both sides, but it wouldn’t transfer the experience to the reader.  Some folks in the Traditional Wicca community absolutely *hate* some of the pagan authors for publishing what they have in the oathbound sections of their Book of Shadows, but that doesn’t really serve any purpose.

    We have to have some oathbound material or the mystery will be totally removed from our mystery traditions.  But we can certainly talk about it online without sharing the secrets  :)

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

      We have to have some oathbound material or the mystery will be totally removed from our mystery traditions.

      I completely disagree with that one sentence.  (I agree with everything else in your comment.)  That’s like saying that watching a porn movie totally removes the mystery of sex.  I’ve seen several reputable initiates, including Alex Sanders say things along the lines of “you could tell all the secrets and not reveal any of the mysteries.”

      None of the three initiatory lineages I belong to have oathbound material.  If I decide it’s appropriate, I can share anything.  Would I?  There is one part of my American Welsh-derived coven’s initiation that I’ve never seen mentioned anywhere.  I would have to have a very good reason to discuss that with anyone.  But I never took an oath to keep it secret.  If there was a reason to share it, I would.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=685041384 Fanny Fae

    I am no longer Wiccan, but still very much a Witch. My Initiation is Kemetic and we do have oathbound material but that is mainly because if someone mouths off about what is seen, and specific experiences, it may very well colour and/or take away from the experiences of those who are still yet to go through Initiation.

    It’s like each of us has our own birth and death and we each have to walk the Path of our choice alone, ultimately.  I think you are right, Star, far too often, Initiation gets treated as some sort of merit badge or pass into the “exclusive club” of Witchcraft and really, it is all about how you conduct your life, what your word and your integrity, and your actions say about you and where you are at.

    Good article, as always! :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=685041384 Fanny Fae

    I am no longer Wiccan, but still very much a Witch. My Initiation is Kemetic and we do have oathbound material but that is mainly because if someone mouths off about what is seen, and specific experiences, it may very well colour and/or take away from the experiences of those who are still yet to go through Initiation.

    It’s like each of us has our own birth and death and we each have to walk the Path of our choice alone, ultimately.  I think you are right, Star, far too often, Initiation gets treated as some sort of merit badge or pass into the “exclusive club” of Witchcraft and really, it is all about how you conduct your life, what your word and your integrity, and your actions say about you and where you are at.

    Good article, as always! :)

  • kenneth

    I would make a couple of observations about oathbound material. One is that most of the secret initiatory stuff just wouldnt’ be all that interesting or meaningful to someone reading it outside of the context and experience of the event.  It has nothing whatever to do with the secrets being “too dangerous” for the uninitiated. It’s more akin to the contents of a love letter. You don’t want to cheapen it by posting it online for gawkers. 

    The people who over-play the secrecy card, on the other hand, tend to be those who take themselves a little too seriously. They’re the ones who like to infer that their magick and tradition is so powerful that one must spend years of study at their feet to gain even the lowest levels of it because otherwise the initiates’ head would surely explode! One of the first warning signs that you’re dealing with this sort is when a High Priestess drops her voice into the baritone range like Sauruman and speaks of her tradition in slow spooky tones….

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

      I think of it as my grandmother’s chocolate cake recipe. That recipe means something to me because it’s tied up with a lot more than just tasty cake. I’m not just going to give it to people outside my family because it’s none of their business. They have their own grandmothers.

  • kenneth

    I would make a couple of observations about oathbound material. One is that most of the secret initiatory stuff just wouldnt’ be all that interesting or meaningful to someone reading it outside of the context and experience of the event.  It has nothing whatever to do with the secrets being “too dangerous” for the uninitiated. It’s more akin to the contents of a love letter. You don’t want to cheapen it by posting it online for gawkers. 

    The people who over-play the secrecy card, on the other hand, tend to be those who take themselves a little too seriously. They’re the ones who like to infer that their magick and tradition is so powerful that one must spend years of study at their feet to gain even the lowest levels of it because otherwise the initiates’ head would surely explode! One of the first warning signs that you’re dealing with this sort is when a High Priestess drops her voice into the baritone range like Sauruman and speaks of her tradition in slow spooky tones….

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

      I think of it as my grandmother’s chocolate cake recipe. That recipe means something to me because it’s tied up with a lot more than just tasty cake. I’m not just going to give it to people outside my family because it’s none of their business. They have their own grandmothers.

  • http://johnfranc.blogspot.com/ John Beckett

    Excellent essay followed by insightful comments.  For too many people the lure of secrecy isn’t knowledge, but the ego-boost they get from knowing something that others don’t.

    There is no occult knowledge.  There are only ineffable mysteries.

  • http://johnfranc.blogspot.com/ John Beckett

    Excellent essay followed by insightful comments.  For too many people the lure of secrecy isn’t knowledge, but the ego-boost they get from knowing something that others don’t.

    There is no occult knowledge.  There are only ineffable mysteries.

  • Anonymous

    These issues of contextual secrecy are not limited to witchcraft.

    Around 2000 I went to a series of workshops on Love, Intimacy, and Sexuality given at Harbin Hot Springs north of San Francisco. They asked us all to agree to keep the contents of the course secret. There were two main reasons for that.

    First, like the “mystery traditions,” or even a good novel or movie, a “spoiler” is a spoiler. You don’t want someone whispering to his girlfriend, “I saw this last night. The butler did it,” right at the beginning of the movie. You want to watch it unfold yourself, and to have the ending blurted out right at the start — well, there aren’t a lot of valid excuses for gratuitous violence, but that just might be one of them. It’s why critics offer spoiler alerts.

    The other is more important, and that is that the information cannot be correctly interpreted outside of its context. As you point out, it has to do with trust and intimacy. A tremendous amount of the workshop time is spent creating the safe environment in which the intimacy can be usefully explored. If I were to just blurt out, “And then at 2:30 on Sunday afternoon, we did this….” I’m skipping over a very full, minute-by-minute schedule of events from 7:00 pm on Friday that puts that 2:30 Sunday event into a meaningful context. What gets communicated by blurting it out is, at best, senseless. At worst, it might sound terribly weird. Yet as I experienced it, in that full context, it was sublime, warm, loving, enlightening, and completely wonderful. I simply cannot convey what I experienced by telling you what we did.

    As I am not an initiated witch, I have no idea if this rings true to your initiation experience, but I’m going to guess it isn’t TOO far off the mark?

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

      To some degree, yes. A lot of traditional Craft is about relationships, and divorced from the relationships can be rather cold and meaningless. At least in my view.

  • http://www.themonthebard.org/ Themon the Bard

    These issues of contextual secrecy are not limited to witchcraft.

    Around 2000 I went to a series of workshops on Love, Intimacy, and Sexuality given at Harbin Hot Springs north of San Francisco. They asked us all to agree to keep the contents of the course secret. There were two main reasons for that.

    First, like the “mystery traditions,” or even a good novel or movie, a “spoiler” is a spoiler. You don’t want someone whispering to his girlfriend, “I saw this last night. The butler did it,” right at the beginning of the movie. You want to watch it unfold yourself, and to have the ending blurted out right at the start — well, there aren’t a lot of valid excuses for gratuitous violence, but that just might be one of them. It’s why critics offer spoiler alerts.

    The other is more important, and that is that the information cannot be correctly interpreted outside of its context. As you point out, it has to do with trust and intimacy. A tremendous amount of the workshop time is spent creating the safe environment in which the intimacy can be usefully explored. If I were to just blurt out, “And then at 2:30 on Sunday afternoon, we did this….” I’m skipping over a very full, minute-by-minute schedule of events from 7:00 pm on Friday that puts that 2:30 Sunday event into a meaningful context. What gets communicated by blurting it out is, at best, senseless. At worst, it might sound terribly weird. Yet as I experienced it, in that full context, it was sublime, warm, loving, enlightening, and completely wonderful. I simply cannot convey what I experienced by telling you what we did.

    As I am not an initiated witch, I have no idea if this rings true to your initiation experience, but I’m going to guess it isn’t TOO far off the mark?

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

      To some degree, yes. A lot of traditional Craft is about relationships, and divorced from the relationships can be rather cold and meaningless. At least in my view.

  • Jim Pearson

    As I see it we should be open about our faith in all types of media, the more open we are the less assumptions those who don’t walk the crooked path will have about who we are, what we do and what we think will have. Yes we should keep the secrets we have sworn oaths to secret.

    Im not saying we should run down the street shouting I am a Witch/Wiccan (what ever you are)  but we should be able to be open about what we are and if someone asks a question be comfortable enough in our selves to answer the question. 

    The biggest enemy we are facing at the moment is the ignorance and misconceptions created by years of closed doors.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1678081929 Bill Wheaton

      Jim, in many ways I agree.  I love the internet and what it has done with the widespread knowledge of Paganism “Wicca” (the current popular meaning), occult practices, artistic expression and culture in all that related regard.

      But that isn’t American Trad Craft or even English Trad Craft.  Those are wonderful expressions but not the same thing. There are common touch points.

      And because of that, I really think that the whole notion of recruiting others to Paganism is a good thing – an idea that is verbally shunned, yet thoroughly embraced at the same time by a majority of Pagans.  In that way, we can be more open and drop the pretense that we don’t recruit, because we do, all the time.

      But closed doors keep people from camping out in your living room and rearranging the furniture to make it more feng-shui for them as they pass through.  Other people should be ignorant about what is in my living room.  That isn’t the enemy, it’s privacy and integrity.  We aren’t open about the mysteries simply because we swore an oath not to.  Oaths are like locks, meant to keep honest stupid people honest.  The oath bound things have their own intrinsic value.

      The enemy is doubt – lack of knowledge, inability to see and push things through, unwillingness to take risk, and holding one’s council from those who would tread on it.  A Witch does none of those things because they build for themselves a structure in which to reside that prevents it.  The wall that separates the worlds works both ways.

  • Jim Pearson

    As I see it we should be open about our faith in all types of media, the more open we are the less assumptions those who don’t walk the crooked path will have about who we are, what we do and what we think will have. Yes we should keep the secrets we have sworn oaths to secret.

    Im not saying we should run down the street shouting I am a Witch/Wiccan (what ever you are)  but we should be able to be open about what we are and if someone asks a question be comfortable enough in our selves to answer the question. 

    The biggest enemy we are facing at the moment is the ignorance and misconceptions created by years of closed doors.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1678081929 Bill Wheaton

      Jim, in many ways I agree.  I love the internet and what it has done with the widespread knowledge of Paganism “Wicca” (the current popular meaning), occult practices, artistic expression and culture in all that related regard.

      But that isn’t American Trad Craft or even English Trad Craft.  Those are wonderful expressions but not the same thing. There are common touch points.

      And because of that, I really think that the whole notion of recruiting others to Paganism is a good thing – an idea that is verbally shunned, yet thoroughly embraced at the same time by a majority of Pagans.  In that way, we can be more open and drop the pretense that we don’t recruit, because we do, all the time.

      But closed doors keep people from camping out in your living room and rearranging the furniture to make it more feng-shui for them as they pass through.  Other people should be ignorant about what is in my living room.  That isn’t the enemy, it’s privacy and integrity.  We aren’t open about the mysteries simply because we swore an oath not to.  Oaths are like locks, meant to keep honest stupid people honest.  The oath bound things have their own intrinsic value.

      The enemy is doubt – lack of knowledge, inability to see and push things through, unwillingness to take risk, and holding one’s council from those who would tread on it.  A Witch does none of those things because they build for themselves a structure in which to reside that prevents it.  The wall that separates the worlds works both ways.

  • http://www.peacockfairy.com Ruadhán J McElroy

    A bit like the Amish complaining about Weird Al’s Amish Paradise video appearing on MTV. What are the Amish doing watching cable television?

    Teens raised in the Amish church go on rumschpringe and tend to watch an awful lot of MTV during that time, by the way.

    Drew Jacob made a very interesting observation once. He said you judge a
    path by it’s elders, because they are living proof of the kind of
    person that path creates. Our purpose is to be human, and to be the best
    human we can be. I’ve found elders to teach me that I respect and
    admire, who have and will continue to teach me difficult lessons. I’m a
    better person today because of traditional Witchcraft. That is worth sharing. That is why traditional Witchcraft should be discussed on the internet.

    [like] :-)

  • http://omo.peacockfairy.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

    A bit like the Amish complaining about Weird Al’s Amish Paradise video appearing on MTV. What are the Amish doing watching cable television?

    Teens raised in the Amish church go on rumschpringe and tend to watch an awful lot of MTV during that time, by the way.

    Drew Jacob made a very interesting observation once. He said you judge a
    path by it’s elders, because they are living proof of the kind of
    person that path creates. Our purpose is to be human, and to be the best
    human we can be. I’ve found elders to teach me that I respect and
    admire, who have and will continue to teach me difficult lessons. I’m a
    better person today because of traditional Witchcraft. That is worth sharing. That is why traditional Witchcraft should be discussed on the internet.

    [like] :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/chkraemer13 Christine Hoff Kraemer

    My experience is that oathbound material only has meaning in context, so revealing it to people without that context tends to make the material meaningless.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chkraemer13 Christine Hoff Kraemer

    My experience is that oathbound material only has meaning in context, so revealing it to people without that context tends to make the material meaningless.

  • Catmomma

    I signed up for your blog as I found you to be a capable, unbiased and perceptive writer. I am a happy solo & wont be going thru an initiation but respect those whose path that includes. We are all individuals with differing experiences resources & preferences. The internet has allowed us to communicate with others and learn all little of others worlds. I find it very enjoyable to be able to do this. We dont need to have every detail revealed  in order to get the feeling of those experiences. There will always be folks at differing levels of knowledge and there will always be those who feel the need to impress others by any means possible. Eventually they trip over their own words.
    BTW we have a strong Amish community in my area. They have no problem using the net to communicate events and sales to the public. They arent Luddites by any stretch.

  • Catmomma

    I signed up for your blog as I found you to be a capable, unbiased and perceptive writer. I am a happy solo & wont be going thru an initiation but respect those whose path that includes. We are all individuals with differing experiences resources & preferences. The internet has allowed us to communicate with others and learn all little of others worlds. I find it very enjoyable to be able to do this. We dont need to have every detail revealed  in order to get the feeling of those experiences. There will always be folks at differing levels of knowledge and there will always be those who feel the need to impress others by any means possible. Eventually they trip over their own words.
    BTW we have a strong Amish community in my area. They have no problem using the net to communicate events and sales to the public. They arent Luddites by any stretch.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1678081929 Bill Wheaton

    Seems this has generated a few comments, and I can’t wait to read them all.  But at first glance, I will make a quick comment…

    You said, “Traditional Witchcraft is many things, but it’s certainly not too refined to discuss the open bits in open forums.”The open bits.  Thing is…  Everything is connected.  Yes, there is the Taoist adage of revealing things, and its corollaries.  But the thing is, since it is all connected, and the internet is so very impersonal and transient, one walks a very thin line by risking inadvertent exposure.  Others may do it, and there are certainly a lot of very interesting things about traditional craft that you can find on line.  But that doesn’t mean I have to go out there and talk about it for all to see.  There is also the risk of incomplete messages being passed.There is a sense of the sacred when we talk of such things.  And while the sacred is inherently part of my very being, modesty prevents me from uttering profanity.  It is the old ‘pearls before swine’ aspect, which is also a privacy aspect.  While some are arrogant and elitist and prove they talk much and listen little and fail to have grasped basic humility, it doesn’t mean the opposite of what they do -respect for the sacred and their fellows- necessitates openness and exposure.To lead others or even ease their path requires ‘being there’, and as far as I can tell, discussion over internet forums more often than not leads to misunderstandings. It presumes way too much and lacks reaction to interpersonal movements in the present.   Real learning, such as one might find at the knee of one’s HPs comes with an open heart in which to seek – one’s own heart.  A Forum, like an open-house night might be a start, and get basic things out of the way – but it’s over-intellectualizing beyond that and gets in the way of things really soaking in IMO.Quantity and reaching mass audiences – that is what the internet is good at.  Traditional Craft isn’t about that though.  A priest/ess is lucky to have one student in his lifetime that doesn’t disappoint or fail in the end.  The internet can’t walk there.  No, the internet is not patient.  Hand in hand with that the internet has the attention span of a 6 year old.  In the end, we could really do fine without it.That said, there is nothing wrong with expressing who we are, what we feel, how we interact and what holds meaning for us.  That too is part of it.”I dig Rock and Roll music,I could really get it on in that scene.I think I could say somethin’,If you know what I mean.
    But if I really say it,The radio won’t play it.Unless I lay it between the lines.” -PP&M

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1678081929 Bill Wheaton

    Seems this has generated a few comments, and I can’t wait to read them all.  But at first glance, I will make a quick comment…

    You said, “Traditional Witchcraft is many things, but it’s certainly not too refined to discuss the open bits in open forums.”The open bits.  Thing is…  Everything is connected.  Yes, there is the Taoist adage of revealing things, and its corollaries.  But the thing is, since it is all connected, and the internet is so very impersonal and transient, one walks a very thin line by risking inadvertent exposure.  Others may do it, and there are certainly a lot of very interesting things about traditional craft that you can find on line.  But that doesn’t mean I have to go out there and talk about it for all to see.  There is also the risk of incomplete messages being passed.There is a sense of the sacred when we talk of such things.  And while the sacred is inherently part of my very being, modesty prevents me from uttering profanity.  It is the old ‘pearls before swine’ aspect, which is also a privacy aspect.  While some are arrogant and elitist and prove they talk much and listen little and fail to have grasped basic humility, it doesn’t mean the opposite of what they do -respect for the sacred and their fellows- necessitates openness and exposure.To lead others or even ease their path requires ‘being there’, and as far as I can tell, discussion over internet forums more often than not leads to misunderstandings. It presumes way too much and lacks reaction to interpersonal movements in the present.   Real learning, such as one might find at the knee of one’s HPs comes with an open heart in which to seek – one’s own heart.  A Forum, like an open-house night might be a start, and get basic things out of the way – but it’s over-intellectualizing beyond that and gets in the way of things really soaking in IMO.Quantity and reaching mass audiences – that is what the internet is good at.  Traditional Craft isn’t about that though.  A priest/ess is lucky to have one student in his lifetime that doesn’t disappoint or fail in the end.  The internet can’t walk there.  No, the internet is not patient.  Hand in hand with that the internet has the attention span of a 6 year old.  In the end, we could really do fine without it.That said, there is nothing wrong with expressing who we are, what we feel, how we interact and what holds meaning for us.  That too is part of it.”I dig Rock and Roll music,I could really get it on in that scene.I think I could say somethin’,If you know what I mean.
    But if I really say it,The radio won’t play it.Unless I lay it between the lines.” -PP&M

  • http://www.facebook.com/marienne.foxwood Marienne Hartwood

    For me, oathbound comprises three domains: 1. Personal/intimate details; 2. Things that wouldn’t make sense out of context, could be dangerous if done wrong, or is the “family secret recipe”; and 3. Things that need to be experienced first-hand. Item 1 is pretty obvious that you don’t share–you don’t give out people’s personal information. That has nothing to do with Craft vs. non-Craft. It is just polite social conventions. It does not benefit those on the inside of the circle to violate their privacy. For Item 3, it does not benefit those outside the circle to spoil an experience they might have by giving out details about certain rites. That leaves Item 2, wherein comes the difficulty. Certainly, sharing information that could be dangerous to individuals is something I’d be cautious about–after all, I don’t want the return for knowing what I’ve shared has contributed to injury, death, or worse. Things that wouldn’t make sense out of context would lead to further ridicule of traditional Craft, or would continue misunderstandings. As far as sharing family secret recipes… that’s certainly up to the individual, however I know what my ancestors would do if I gave up the store!

    But the bigger issue, what of traditional Craft can be discussed, is a sticky wicket. Ultimately, no written word can adequately convey a Craft that is wholly about what you experience, not what you learn. At that point, do you share some of what you can, knowing that it can make your Craft look shallow, hokey, superficial, silly, or meaningless? Do you take the risk that you might get lucky and someone out there might get it? It’s a tricky situation. Odds are, however, that those who will “get it” from what is able to be shared publicly will already be the people on the inside, thus further strengthening the “us” vs. “them” mentality that (in my view, unnecessarily) comes up from time to time. And what of the people who it does touch on a deep level who will never have the opportunity to find trad Craft in this lifetime? Does it help or harm them to show them what they’re missing?

    Lots of questions, but I for one will enjoy watching however this plays out. You know, the whole “journey not the destination” bit. ;)

    Thanks for the awesome series of blogs, and welcome to the family!

  • http://www.facebook.com/marienne.foxwood Marienne Hartwood

    For me, oathbound comprises three domains: 1. Personal/intimate details; 2. Things that wouldn’t make sense out of context, could be dangerous if done wrong, or is the “family secret recipe”; and 3. Things that need to be experienced first-hand. Item 1 is pretty obvious that you don’t share–you don’t give out people’s personal information. That has nothing to do with Craft vs. non-Craft. It is just polite social conventions. It does not benefit those on the inside of the circle to violate their privacy. For Item 3, it does not benefit those outside the circle to spoil an experience they might have by giving out details about certain rites. That leaves Item 2, wherein comes the difficulty. Certainly, sharing information that could be dangerous to individuals is something I’d be cautious about–after all, I don’t want the return for knowing what I’ve shared has contributed to injury, death, or worse. Things that wouldn’t make sense out of context would lead to further ridicule of traditional Craft, or would continue misunderstandings. As far as sharing family secret recipes… that’s certainly up to the individual, however I know what my ancestors would do if I gave up the store!

    But the bigger issue, what of traditional Craft can be discussed, is a sticky wicket. Ultimately, no written word can adequately convey a Craft that is wholly about what you experience, not what you learn. At that point, do you share some of what you can, knowing that it can make your Craft look shallow, hokey, superficial, silly, or meaningless? Do you take the risk that you might get lucky and someone out there might get it? It’s a tricky situation. Odds are, however, that those who will “get it” from what is able to be shared publicly will already be the people on the inside, thus further strengthening the “us” vs. “them” mentality that (in my view, unnecessarily) comes up from time to time. And what of the people who it does touch on a deep level who will never have the opportunity to find trad Craft in this lifetime? Does it help or harm them to show them what they’re missing?

    Lots of questions, but I for one will enjoy watching however this plays out. You know, the whole “journey not the destination” bit. ;)

    Thanks for the awesome series of blogs, and welcome to the family!

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

    I think that if something is oathbound, it has to have a strong reason to be. Protecting privacy and safety are both absolutely valid.  But if it’s something already in the public sphere then making it “oathbound” then the entire purpose of secrecy is highly suspect to me: it becomes not about ensuring safety, but about controlling people within the group while cultivating an attitude of paranoia about others. I don’t have any problem with oathbound culture, as long as there’s real thought as to what is oathbound, why, and so long as it’s used to protect – not control.

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

    I think that if something is oathbound, it has to have a strong reason to be. Protecting privacy and safety are both absolutely valid.  But if it’s something already in the public sphere then making it “oathbound” then the entire purpose of secrecy is highly suspect to me: it becomes not about ensuring safety, but about controlling people within the group while cultivating an attitude of paranoia about others. I don’t have any problem with oathbound culture, as long as there’s real thought as to what is oathbound, why, and so long as it’s used to protect – not control.

  • http://olemanofcury.wordpress.com/ Darroch Greagoir

    As a hereditary cunning man of the crooked path of Traditional Cornish Witchcraft I think that the internet is a wonderful resource for learning about herb-lore, folklore, and what have you; However, I think the real issue here is (1) what I call ‘over-sharing witches’ and by that I mean a major part of the traditional craft is spirit work and if you rely on other would be trad witches to teach you then really it is self defeating at best and (2) those who are not hereditary witches telling everyone what to believe and in most cases it is what I term as ‘fake-lore’ is again self-defeating.  Lastly, another issue is when those who are not traditional witches, cunning folk, etc. write about the beliefs of the Elder Faith because in most cases it is fractured, filled with falsehood, and causes more damage than good.

    Warm Regards,
    Darroch


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