“A Deed Without A Name: Unearthing the Legacy of Traditional Witchcraft”

“A Deed Without A Name: Unearthing the Legacy of Traditional Witchcraft” January 23, 2017

A Deed Without a Name: Unearthing the Legacy of Traditional Witchcraft

Written By Lee Morgan, Illustrations by Brett Morgan.  Published by Moon Books.

The Tradition of Witchcraft

Those of us who claim to be traditional witches or identify with the idea of pre-modern traditional witchcraft, enjoy our scholarly books with research done by academics using primary sources.  We enjoy the hunt for books written by shadowy masters unknown to the mainstream.  Morgan’s vision was to weave together the most prominent of historical references which are some of the central themes of modern traditional witchcraft, into a cohesive presentation of traditional European lore and practice.  According to Morgan this book was written to be of value to the “practical student of non-wiccan, post-Christian European Witchcraft.”  The practice of magic has been around for millennia, however witchcraft, especially post-Christian practices consequently absorbed much of the symbolism of the dominant faith.  Morgan is sure to point this out explaining the changes that occur in magical practice from antiquity throughout the early modern period.  Many of these examples cite the work of Carlo Ginzburg and Eva Pocs, who were both influential in the study of historical witchcraft.

Illustration by Brett Morgan.
Illustration by Brett Morgan.

 

An important aspect of Morgan’s writing is his acknowledgement of the Christian reversals that occurred throughout the 15th through the 17th centuries, such as the Witches’ Sabbath, spirit flight, and pacts with the Devil.  Many of these reversals shaped our modern understanding of witchcraft.  He also distinguishes between the modern revival referred to as Traditional Witchcraft and the other modern revival Wicca.  Both streams of witchcraft developed alongside one another, and both share ancient roots.  According to Morgan, traditional witchcraft draws on folkloric material and is largely shamanic, whereas Wicca is a religion whose practice is a fusion of Western Occult Ceremonial and natural magic traditions.  There is often a lot of confusion within the witchcraft community between these two traditions, however they share the same historical roots and the further back one goes the more these traditions have in common.

The author compares the tradition of witchcraft to an eternal myth which may at first glance seem fragmentary, but after applying the “light of scholarship” and the “dark of occult intuition” we are able to temper and bend these fragments into the links of a long chain of ancestral knowledge.  Morgan associates the scholarly component of witchcraft with the straight track and the path of experiential gnosis via occult practices is the crooked road.  Both paths intertwine and compliment one another.

I think it is a key trademark of the traditional witch to not only acknowledge the role the early Church played in creating the stereotypical witch, but to also embrace some of those stereotypes as a form of empowerment.  Traditional witchcraft does not reach into the distant past for a unified pagan religion. The folk practices of central and western Europe remained intact for 1000 yrs after Christianity came to Rome, many of those practices continuing on right alongside the Rites of the Catholic Church.

Illustration by Brett Morgan.
Illustration by Brett Morgan.

This book outlines the origins of these centuries-old practices, and how they relate to modern traditional witchcraft.  Spirit flight and spirit familiars are two important theme that the author discusses in depth, outlining various historical accounts and techniques for achieving the states necessary to commit this “deed without a name.”  The author also includes instructions on various arcane rites, tables of correspondence, and a reading list for further study into traditional witchcraft, medieval occultism, and the grimoire tradition.

You can buy the book here: Moon Books

 

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