Witchcraft – The Old Religion

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.

Many Family Traditional Witchcraft (FamTrad) practitioners and many solo witches still maintain an Earth adoring attitude to their practices and beliefs. The roots of Family Traditional Witchcraft come from pre-Christian, European/British shamanic religious tradition. It is essentially termed a ‘pagan’ religion, which means, that it is not Judeo-Christian in origin. These ancient beliefs, (wherever in the world they have survived) are all earth, nature and fertility orientated, where its adherents worship at the turn of the seasons and at the new and full moons. They generally acknowledge both male and female Deities and Ancient Powers, (long lost to the modern day average person). They believe in magick and divination and although a spiritual and philosophical path, it is first and foremost a religion, termed the ‘Craft’, meaning the “Craft of the Wise”. Groups of families that can trace a direct, unbroken line back to ancient times are, as mentioned earlier, known as “Traditional” or “Hereditary” witches. Traditional groups still tend to be extremely secretive indeed and do not usually recognize or mix with other pagan paths.

All Witches are basically termed Pagans, and the very term PAGAN comes from the Latin PAGUINI, meaning countryside, (or Paganus, meaning, ‘not of the city’ or rural). So in this sense PAGANISM is the old religion of the country folk. Pagan religions are nature based, respecting the needs of the planet and her natural systems. Pagans hold all life to be sacred and regard the human species to be Nature’s care-takers, responsible for Her well-being.

Pagans are aware of the cycles of nature and observe them as festivals throughout the changing year. We see and feel the magic in Nature, the magic of balance and harmony. We bring this loving balance into our lives through our worship of the God and the Goddess, not just a male deity, or trinity of all male deities.

We strive ever after greater spiritual development. We do not attempt to confine and limit our fellow worshippers with dogma, but encourage each to find one’s own personal truth and fulfillment. We are individuals, not clones!! It is our differences that make us special.

The ancient wise women of the villages were of these original so-called witches. They were the old traditional healers, the midwifes, the oracle readers and general counselors sought out by village folk and sometimes by people who lived far away, only hearing about the great power of some of these wise ones. They were also sought by all kinds of people to right injustices done against them by way of magick. Therefore, an aura grew around these wise ones and although sought for many things, were feared much as they are today.

Around the world, these wise healers and shamans continue to practice, such as in Africa, South America, Australia, Native Americans, Bomohs of Indonesia and Malaysia, Taoists of Chinese origin, European gypsies and of course the village wise ones of today. These arts still thrive and in fact are growing once again. Traditions that have been handed down over the generations, mostly kept secret are still active beyond expectations.

Most of these people practice alone and try to find their roots and connections with nature and the universe following teachings that have been handed down to them from their family or mentor. They follow the patterns of the sun and the moon, and feel the changing energies directly. Nowadays, some others have wished to be part of a form of coven, or in large family, or ethnic groups, to share ceremonies and regular meetings with and reunite with the Ancient Powers by raising large amounts of energy within such a group.

What Traditional Witchcraft is really about on its practical side is the hidden powers of the human mind. these can be aided by traditional knowledge of techniques which will bring them out and develop them; but basically the powers of witchcraft, shamanism, magic(k) or whatever one likes to call it are latent in everyone.

Doreen Valiente

Many traditional witches do not belong to covens, excepting their own family or some gypsy groups, but follow a different, solo branch of a magickal heritage; the path of the folk healer, old wise woman, the hermit, the wizard, the midwife, the druid or shaman. Working alone, they connect deeply with nature, talk to spirits and utilize forces that surround them and generally follow the patterns of the sun and moon, and feel the changing energies of the year’s turning cycle. This was not only prevalent in Britain and Europe, but the world over and every nation can relate to the old healer and mystic who was generally viewed with both respect and not a little fear.

I don’t believe that strict structured covens existed per se, but most probably like any Shamanic way of life, singletons (the old wise ones) and perhaps small family units who served the people, helped heal them and their animals, cast spells to help people who came looking. They were probably feared also, because of that very thing.

Even in today’s times in China, Malaysia and other Asian countries, there exists a strong belief in magick. the Malay and Indonesian Bomohs are the witches of Asia, as are the Taoist priests similar to the witches and Druids of millennia ago. They still do what has been handed down to them through generations of family traditions and their magick, (although much weaker and watered down than more ancient times) is still working!

Not only in Asia though; we can find this sort of country folk healing/magick all over the world in small rural areas, where time more or less has stood still and such arts have and are being passed on to either family, or if the old wise one had no family, then perhaps someone that they picked out for training, knowing he/she “is of the blood”.

Most traditional witches and shamans such as these have had the teaching handed down through family tradition, from mother to daughter, or granddaughter; from father to son, or grandson. The teachings and beliefs carried on in a direct line from antiquity. Over the years, with the famous witch hunts, (the burning times) and later with such rapid modernization, a lot of this teaching was diluted, left out and/or forgotten. Most of it never written down and handed down by way of rote and poems/songs.

Modern day family members suddenly were disinterested in such things and never took any teaching seriously and certainly didn’t want to live the life of hermit in such exciting times. Much teaching and ways of magick disappeared within the space of only a few hundred years. There are a few traditions that have kept up the teaching, amongst traveling people, such as water witches, who travel the canals of England and Europe, and some gypsies who travel the roads. Others who live on estates that have kept secret for generations and still maintain it.

A modern seeker might be introduced to these ancient teachings by some old shaman who doesn’t want the magick to totally disappear and looks without the family circle for a worthy student, but is usually quite rare. Much teaching is so diluted that what is left is only the tip of the ice berg. It is true also that students have to make it their way of life and dedicate themselves to learning. This is hard to do in modern times and most will pick something up, find it too difficult, or tedious and after a few years simply drop it.

There is enough information nowadays for a solitary practitioner to read and study and then, more importantly, put the teachings into practice and actually “try” everything. This way, the inner-self matures and strange things start to happen. Coincidences become too meaningful to be mere chance and magick is born and nurtured within them. This takes trial and error and much dedication in practice and is the secret to real magick.

Anyone can learn something of their magickal powers. The ancient arts and spells are there to be rediscovered, given patience, common sense and a longing to know. You can heal yourself, gain peace from stress of modern day living and find ways of coping with the constant turmoil of living in the twenty first century. You can protect yourself from psychic vampires, those that constantly want your help and attention and wear you down. You can also do good for others, by healing by many means, see into the future and recover the treasures of wisdom from the past, connect to Mother Nature and the forces that abound in this universe and even manipulate reality to one’s inner wishes, the highest art of magick itself.

To obtain all this and more, one must become dedicated and be willing to work and struggle, practice and practice even more. Knowing that in every failure, there is a seed of success and once more push one’s inner resources to the limit. A true apprentice! Discipline to be able to do all this will come as one sees more and more successes and strange coincidences that comply with one’s inner wishes happen in their lives. It can be done and the Coven of Cythrawl can help these interested dedicants in pointing the way, whether they live here in Singapore, or as far away as New York or the Yorkshire moors. No one can simply pass on power and it certainly cannot be bought!

It must be seeded by direction, nurtured by practice and harvested when needed.

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