Re-Interpreting “Worship” in Witchcraft

Re-Interpreting “Worship” in Witchcraft November 4, 2011

An interesting conversation came out of my post on belief yesterday and I’d like to briefly touch on it.

It’s nothing new that many Witches adamantly deny that the Gods are to be worshipped but rather they are equals, allies, friends or even tools. I don’t agree with this but I do get a bit peeved when it’s suggested “real” Witches don’t worship the Gods or that it’s a “Wiccan thing,” with the implication that anything “Wiccan” is somehow less.

Here’s what bothers me about this: the lore of modern Witchcraft is full of descriptions of and exhortations to worship the Gods. Saying that the oral lore contradicts this isn’t helpful, and neither is claiming the lore isn’t scripture. Either the written lore is obsolete and not worth passing on, or it’s lie and completely false advertising.

Or, and apparently this is the most extreme option, when the lore says worship it actually means worship. Like when traditional Witchcraft is referred to as The Old Religion, it might actually mean traditional Witchcraft is a religion.

If Witches aren’t meant to worship the Gods, then there’s a lot of false advertising out there.

In Aradia Witches are instructed “Ye shall assemble in some desert place, Or in a forest all together join To adore the potent spirit of your queen, My mother, great Diana.” In this context, adore can be interpreted as worship. Indeed, Doreen Valiente must have thought so, for in her reworking of this passage of Aradia into The Charge of the Goddess she added “Let Her worship be within the heart that rejoiceth; for behold, all acts of love and pleasure are Her rituals.”

In the 162 laws set forth by Lady Sheba, an exhortation to worship the Gods claims the third spot:

3. The Wicca should give due worship to the Gods and obey Their will, which They ardane, for it was made for the good of the Wicca, as the worship of the Wicca is good for the Gods. For the Gods love the brethren of the Wicca.

In the New Book of the Law by Lady Galadriel of the Unicorn tradition, worship of the Gods also claims the third spot:

3. The Goddess is the Great Mother, and the God is the Great Father, and we are Their children; and we shall worship Them, for They are the rulers of the Universe, and all that is therein. Therefore, O Children of the Gods, try Them not, nor attempt to test Them, for They shall show you that he Ways of the Craft are not to be belittled or mocked.

For Moss Bliss, aka J. Random Folksinger, worship claims the first spot:

1. The Witches should worship the Gods as is their due, and obey their will. For the worship of the Gods is good for the Witches even as the worship of the Witches is good for the Gods: For the Gods love all their Witches.

And Gardner also mentions worship in the Ardanes:

3. The Wicca should give due worship to the Gods and obey Their will, which they ardane, for it was made for the good of Wicce, as the worship of the Wicce is good for the gods. For the Gods love the brethren of the Wicce, and it is from this love that cometh the Power.

Roy Bowers, aka Robert Cochrane, spoke of devotions and prayers in working with the Gods.

So from the textual evidence, it would seem that worship is implied in Strega and mandatory in Wicca, although many Gardnerian-descended Wiccans might disagree with this.

So either the leading proponents of modern Witchcraft are lying about it’s nature to the unintiated, which seems counter-productive, or modern traditional Witches are reinterpreting traditional lore to suit them, which is often their complaint about popular Wicca.

As an initiate of a trad Craft tradition that has quite a bit of non-Gardnerian-descended Craft in it’s upline, I’ve copied down more exhortations to worship the God’s than my cramped hands ever cared to, so I tend to view the word worship to actually mean worship. Not in an abasing, groveling sort of way, but as an acknowledgement of their position in theurgic Witchcraft.

What do you think?

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