Traditional Witchcraft

The Temple of Cythrawl is a member of the Oldest formed Traditional Witchcraft, the Ordo Anno Mundi, (OAM), a magical society from Britain offering full training in the Ophidian (Serpent-venerating) Traditional Craft, and has an official ancient linage and initiation structure. We have hundreds of members worldwide and each student’s progression in the Order is closely monitored by email and full feedback and supplementary lessons given to full member students. Many members from adjacent areas of the globe come together and form a Temple Coven to carry out rituals together. Others make a pilgrimage to the Order’s headquarters or other Temple Covens to meet, work and make merry.

For those of you living in Asia, the Temple of Cythrawl is the first ever Traditional Witchcraft tradition which has opened its doors in Singapore and given full permission to hive other Temple covens at its discretion within the Asian region.

Anyone, of course, from around the world interested in following the ancient workings of Traditional Witchcraft can come and knock on our door – for we wish to fervently continue the long lineage and great heritage with which we have been honoured with and are dedicated to not allowing this heritage to be corrupted or allowed to fizzle out over time.

Of course, this form of traditinal witchcraft is extremely “tight-knitted” and takes a lot of very hard work, both physically and mentally, but the rewards are extremely powerful magickal skills being learnt and actually realized are really worth all that hard work.

The first three degrees will show whether or not an initiate is capable of learning the deeper mysteries of the Order in the higher degrees and whether or not they have the stamina, determination and inner magickal qualities to stay the distance and make the magick of the Ancient Powers a part of their daily lives.

The Ophidian Traditional Craft which is the backbone of the Ordo Anno Mundi, has been around for a very long time! One of its magical texts, the “Oera Linda Book”, has sections that date back more than four thousand years! All followers in this form of Traditional Witchcraft would be introduced to, and able to study this book, after their official initiation into OAM. The OAM has members in all areas of the British Isles, and many now overseas, especially the USA, including an authorized hive Temple in Singapore, all with the grand blessings from the main Temple Coven in Britain.

Each level & degree of initiation of Traditional Witchcraft of the Ordo Anno Mundi, has certain “secret knowledge” imparted to the initiate, after they have proven worthy and proficient in the previous workings.

Ophidian Traditional Witchcraft

by Tony Steele

History

The Ophidian or Serpent-venerating Traditional Craft has been around for a very long time. One of its magical texts, the “Oera Linda Book”, has sections that date back more than four thousand years. Every ancient culture recognized a primordial Serpent-deity associated with wisdom and power, dwelling in the watery Abyss deep below the Earth’s surface. In more recent centuries this ancient belief was kept alive by Travelling Folk, especially those who lived and worked on the sea, on rivers, and (later) on canals, such as the “Water Gypsies”. Knowledge of the World Serpent also persisted in remote country districts all over Europe.

The Oera Linda Book was compiled over many centuries by the Frisians, a nation who in historical times lived around the southern coast of the North Sea. The Frisians believed that their ancestors had constructed the stone circles and megalithic monuments that are found all over Europe. They also claimed to be descended from the inhabitants of the lost island of Atlantis (or Atland, as they called it). The ancient Megalithic Culture existed across the whole of western and northern Europe, and was the earliest known civilisation on Earth. The Greek philosopher Plato, and the Oera Linda Book, both tell us that this vast area was divided into ten autonomous kingdoms, or kin-groups, spread out over large tracts of the continent.

The remains of the Megalithic Culture can be seen to this day in the form of cromlechs, dolmens, barrows, and stone circles such as Stonehenge. The earliest of these crypts, or temples, have been dated to around 4800 BC, so this gives us a reasonable starting point for the long and convoluted history of the Ophidian Craft – though some would say that it is as old as the human race itself.

Today, the Ophidian Traditional Craft is preserved and passed on by the Ordo Anno Mundi (OAM), which has branches in both Europe and North America. Based in Staffordshire, England, the OAM was founded on 18th March 1985 and traces its initiatory lineage to the Frisian-descended Canal Folk of the English Midlands. This illustrious lineage is passed on to all of its Initiates who undergo the training.

Core Beliefs

The two words that best sum up the Ophidian view of reality are animism and polytheism. Literally everything is alive, with its own sentience and feelings. Nature abounds with spirits of every kind, many of which are powerful enough to be classed as deities, either gods or goddesses (or sometimes androgynous).

Ophidians see all gods and goddesses as individuals, and do not conflate them all together as “aspects” of each other. They venerate Mother Earth (called Irtha in the Oera Linda Book) as the most powerful of the Goddesses, Mother of all the others. They also, of course, venerate the World Serpent (Wr-alda) who fertilises Mother Earth with his life-force. Together the World Serpent and Mother Earth brought forth three daughters (Lyda, Finda, and Frya), the Mothers of the human race. In addition, there is the Horned God (Fosite, or Wodin), who is seen as the messenger of the World Serpent.

Water is the physical manifestation of the World Serpent, and is therefore seen as the most magical of elements. In vast oceans, wide rivers, and tiny streams it moves in sinuous, serpentine motions across the Earth, bringing life to everything it touches. Flowing water is always accompanied by whorls and spirals of telluric energy, the invisible force that sustains all living things, including deities and spirits.

Ophidians also lay great emphasis on the veneration of ancestors. Indeed, many of their rituals involve the summoning of their ancestors to physical manifestation. The shades of the dead survive by regular infusions of the life-force from those still living, and mostly dwell in one of the Seven Hells that make up the Underworld. In a sense, their nature is vampiric (a word which has suffered much distortion in popular culture). Yet at the same time most Ophidians accept a form of reincarnation – though the specific ideas about this may vary slightly among individuals.

That this state of affairs will not last forever is implied by the belief that ultimately every human soul will leave the Seven Hells entirely and go and inhabit one of the stars of the firmament. Each of us has our own star, though we do not necessarily know which one. We can only find out by contacting our Cosmic Twin, a perfected and all-powerful version of ourselves that already inhabits the star in question. The most important star-cluster is the Pleiades, or Seven Sisters. The seven main stars of this group are equated with the Seven Hells of the Underworld, and the Seven Heads of the World Serpent.

Role of Priestesses

Priestesses are referred to as femmes (a term derived from the Ancient Frisian famna, meaning “familiars”). The role of the priestess includes leading rituals, training and counselling other Initiates, and generally representing the OAM in the wider community. Priestesses wear white, black, or red, depending on rank. They may also spend time acting as guardians of ancient sites such as stone circles.

The rights and duties of the priestesses are described in great detail in the Oera Linda Book. Whilst some of these have had to be adapted slightly for the modern age, the essence remains unaltered. Basically, the function of the priestess is to serve – firstly the World Serpent, then the other deities and ancestors, and finally her fellow Initiates.

Male Initiates are not regarded as “priests” in the same sense as the priestesses, because the Oera Linda Book tells us that only women can fulfill this role. Men can, however, act as teachers or organisers.

Organization of Groups

Like most branches of the Traditional Craft, Ophidian Witchcraft is primarily organised into Orders (sometimes called Clans). Not all members of an Order will be Initiates, however – some will be Neophytes awaiting initiation, and others, for example, will be family members who have no particular desire to undergo the training. Until the 1940s the Ophidian Craft was very much family based.

To be a Traditional Witch, one has to be initiated by another Traditional Witch. Although Covens exist, they tend to play a subsidiary role to the Orders, which may have a membership of a few hundred or so. Most of the Orders still in existence were founded during the twentieth century. It has to be assumed that many others were formed but never got off the ground, and at least two well-known Orders flourished until the 1960s when they were disbanded, their members and descendants later forming groups of their own.

Some Orders have six initiatory degrees, and others, such as the OAM, have seven. One has abolished degrees altogether. These changes have come about through natural evolution within each Order, as indeed have all the other differences. Typically, there will be an Outer Mysteries comprising the first three degrees, followed by an Inner Mysteries. The initiation itself will involve some sort of physical or mental endurance. The new Initiate will then be plunged straight into an intensive training programme.

Within each Order there are a number of Temples, or Covens, though by no means all members of the Order will be affiliated to one of these—either through choice or distance. In other words, membership of a specific Coven is not a prerequisite of initiation. Nomenclature varies considerably between Orders—in the OAM, for example, each Coven is headed by a Scribe. If the Coven is large, the Scribe will appoint one or more Ringleaders as assistants.

Festivals

The OAM uses a lunar calendar known as the Kroder to determine the dates of new and full moons. Covens tend to meet together for ritual purposes once a month, at new moon. There are also three traditional festival dates, derived from medieval practice, which are determined by the secular calendar – Old St Thomas’s (1st January), Old St George’s (4th May), and Old St Bartholomew’s (4th September). Nowadays it is just as common for Ophidians to use the standard eight festivals of modern Paganism.

Particular mention should be made here of the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance, which takes place on the Monday following the first Sunday after Old St Bartholomew’s Day. Since 1993 the OAM has held its annual council meeting during the Horn Dance weekend, at a location in or around the village in England. This gives OAM members from all areas a chance to meet up and discuss issues relating to the Order as a whole. The primary emphasis, however, is on having a good time and entering into the spirit of the occasion. No rituals are conducted at Abbots Bromley—instead, OAM members mingle freely with Pagans of all different paths who have come for the Horn Dance.

Standards of Conduct

All things in the universe – past, present, and future – are interconnected in a vast web of relationships. Everything we do affects everything else, mostly in ways that we cannot hope to understand. For this reason we should always be aware that any action or thought might have consequences far beyond its immediate objective. Yet the Ophidian Craft does not accept an immutable threefold (or indeed any other-fold) law of return—the universe is far too subtle for that, and any specific numerical value we might like to place on such things is bound to be arbitrary.

Magic itself is a neutral force, like electricity or magnetism, and can be used for any purpose whatever. This must not be interpreted as a “Do whatever you want!” system. Experience teaches us that negativity breeds more negativity, so is best avoided. The fact is that those who are seriously committed to treading the magical path will always develop a powerful set of personal morals and ethics. The point is that these are their own, not imposed by somebody else.

The OAM takes a very dim view of any member who brings the Craft into disrepute, either by abusing their position, or using magic for immoral purposes. Such people will be expelled.

Ways of Worship

The basic purpose of magic is to invoke, or create, non-physical entities, which are then given a specific function or task to perform—this is what we call a spell. The beings that are invoked have many designations, such as deities, spirits, thought-forms, and numerous others. In the Ophidian system no proper spell could be cast without invoking, or creating (birthing), a non-corporeal entity to carry it out. Because the ability to invoke entities is fundamental to the practice of Traditional Witchcraft, all of the Coven meetings are geared to this end. Ophidians will invoke, or create, any entity they deem proper to the occasion. Very often they will choose a being from their rich and diverse Elf-lore. Nature spirits abound everywhere, living on land and in water. Rituals always take place outdoors, at night, usually around the time of the new moon.

Runes the OAM Use

RunesThe word rune means “mystery” or “secret”. According to tradition the runes were devised by Friso, King of the Frisians, in the third century BC. Friso, who was familiar with Greek culture, intended to update the ancient Hallristingnor script, basing his new characters partly on Etruscan models (Friso’s script was further updated in the nineteenth century, under strong influence from the modern Roman alphabet). Friso’s runes later became known as the Elder Futhark, the word Futhark being derived from the first six letters of the runic alphabet. The Elder Futhark had twenty-four letters. Later, the Vikings of Scandinavia reduced this to sixteen letters, and in so doing created the Younger Futhark. Meanwhile, among the Frisians, Angles, and Saxons the trend was in the other direction. By the eighth century AD the number of letters had risen to thirty-three. This was the Anglo-Saxon, or Anglo-Frisian, Futhark (shown below), and it is this one that we will concentrate on, because Anglo-Saxon is the ancestor of the modern English language.

Runes

Magical Training with the OAM

  • Witchcraft and Sorcery
  • Evocation, spellcasting, ritual, and divination

II°

  • Pure Invocation
  • Summoning of nature spirits, deities, and other entities

III°

  • Transcending the Physical Body
  • Astral projection, visiting other planes of existence

IV°

  • Werewolf or Animal Transformation
  • Shape-shifting, magical continence, non-human powers

  • Core Tradition Elements
  • Traditional magical lore and techniques

VI°

  • Senate of the Order
  • Membership of the general assembly

VII°

  • Vault of the Order
  • Membership of the governing committee

The practice of Witchcraft allows one to develop abilities that transcend the mundane rules of existence, and to enter realms only dreamed of by other people.

One of the most important books in the Ordo Anno Mundi, is the “Oera Linda Book” and is an important magical text in the study of this form of Traditional Witchcraft.

Reading and Other References

Pennick, Nigel
Dragons of the West (Capall Bann, 1997)

Steele, Tony
Water Witches (Capall Bann, 1998)
Rites and Rituals of Traditional Witchcraft (Capall Bann, 2001)

Oera Linda Book
Complete text online: http://oeralinda.webs.com

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