Episode 66 - Finding Your Pagan Path

Episode 66 - Finding Your Pagan Path

Some notes from today's episode:

Witchcraft Traditions

  • African Tradition(s): In African traditions there are generally three classifications of practitioners who use magick. (1) The “Thakathi”: a malevolent practitioner who operates in secret to harm others, often using poison. (2) The “Sangoma”: (usually female) a diviner, predicting or advising on a person's future. (3) The “Inyanga”: (exclusively male) the Inyanga is the doctor of the tribe, a naturopath. Each Inyanga trains his son and the information is passed on from generation to generation.
  • American Traditions: The ancient peoples believed that the Gods they revered inhabited the land itself. When these early Pagans wished to honor their Gods, they created a connection between their homeland, where their Gods resided, and the land where they stood. So the new land became an extension of the homeland and when a Witch is within the homeland, they evoke or invoke the land itself as the connection to the spirit world. It was therefore quite natural for European settlers of traditional pagan beliefs, who immigrated to America, to adopt the local myths and customs into their own beliefs and rituals.
    -Appalachian 'Granny' Tradition: The tradition of Appalachian Folk Magick dates back to the first settlers of the Appalachian Mountains who came to the United States from Scotland and Ireland in the 1700's and who brought with them their "Old World" magickal traditions. Those traditions were then blended with the local tradition of the Cherokee Tribes into a combination of local herbal folk remedies and charms, faith healing, storytelling and magick. The 'Granny' Witches will often call themselves 'Doctor Witches' or 'Water Witches' depending upon whether they are more gifted in healing and midwifery, or if they are more in tune with dowsing for water, ley lines and energy vortexes. This tradition is termed 'Granny' from the prominent role played by older women in the mountain communities. 
    -Hoodoo Tradition: (also known as conjuring or root-work.) An American Witchcraft tradition created by African-American slaves. A folk magick tradition of the Gullah People of the South Carolina Lowcountry. Hoodoo's roots are in the spiritual practices that evolved from a number of West African traditions blended with the beliefs and practices of other cultural traditions such as American Indian spirituality and European ceremonial magick. This form of spiritual practice revolves around the natural power of the Earth and is considered an offshoot of Appalachian 'Granny' Magic. 
    -Pow-Wow Tradition: (Pennsylvania Dutch Tradition) Taken from the Algonquin word “pauwau", which means literally "vision seeker", its principles encompass shamanic like rituals of healing through visions and the application of traditional medicines, which are often accompanied by prayers, incantations, songs, and dances. The Pow Wow Tradition places great significance on the vision seeker as the central connection for group activities and rituals.
  • Asian Tradition(s): In Japan, the Shinto religion is itself a shamanistic religion and thus the Japanese do not attach negative connotations to witchcraft. The word "witch" is actually used with positive connotation in the Japanese language as a female with high skills or fame. Asian witchcraft generally centers on the relationship between the witch and the animal spirits or familiars and in Japanese witchcraft, witches are commonly separated into two categories: those who employ snakes as familiars and those who employ foxes; the Fox Witch being the most commonly seen witch in Japan. In China, witches use books, staffs, and other implements, similar to the western traditions of witchcraft and the witches are often accompanied by familiars in the form of rabbits, which are universally associated with the Moon, with fertility and with the Goddess. The witches of China are notable for their extensive knowledge of the occult properties of plants and herbs, as well as for clairvoyance and the study of astrology.
  • Australian Aboriginal Tradition: Aboriginal female elders were labeled by Christian missionaries as "witches" or, if men, as "witchdoctors" and these missionaries saw the traditional female practice of yilpinji or "love magick" as witchcraft. Yilpinji is achieved through an integration of myth, song, gesture and art against a background of the country.
  • Baltic Tradition: (Estonia/Latvia/Lithuania) The old pagan religions are more or less continued today in the Baltic region, but it often has influences from the more shamanistic elements of paganism. For many Baltic people the traditional customs and songs at the seasonal festivals are just part of the fabric of everyday life. Baltic Witches are primarily Augury Witches who are similar to shamans.
  • British (English) Tradition: The belief in magic and magical practices has been documented in the Britain Isles for millennia and the belief that witches have magickal influence over the natural world has existed as long as the people of Britain themselves. There are many people in Britain today who are practicing a form of witchcraft that is based on the practices and beliefs of the witches that have been passed down through generations.
  • Bruja (Latin American) Tradition: The word bruja or brujo is used to apply to someone practicing low magic within a Hispanic and/or American Indian cultural context. The practice of Brujeria, which is a form of folk magic, usually involves charms, love spells, curses, hexes, and divination. Many practices are rooted in a blend of folklore, traditional herbalism, and Catholicism. In general "bruja" was considered a negative term often associated with shape shifting demons, but modern Latin American witches have reclaimed the term.
  • Celtic Tradition: The Irish Tradition is really many traditions under the general heading of "Celtic" and Celtic paths are some of the more popular traditional witchcraft traditions. Most are very eclectic and hold to the ancient Celtic myths, divinities, magick and rituals. They are usually physical and spiritual healers who work with plants, stones, flowers, trees, the fauna and the fairies. A part of the Celtic path is a belief in the Fae.
  • Cornish Tradition: Cornish Witchcraft is part of the folk tradition and mythology of the people of Cornwall in South West England. It consists partly of folk traditions developed in Cornwall and partly of traditions developed by the people of Wales, Ireland and Brittany. There is much traditional folklore in Cornwall, often tales of giants and mermaids. The traditional magick of Cornish Witches commonly includes the work of the making and provision of magickal charms, simple rituals and magickal gestures with muttered incantations, the healing of disease and injury, and divination.
  • Egyptian (Kemetic) Tradition: Traditional Egyptian witchcraft is not a common practice today. Today, many people who practice "Egyptian witchcraft" are usually following a variation of Wicca that includes the involvement of Egyptian deities and is not the same type of practice that ancient Egyptians would have followed. Circles, altars, spells are all Wiccan-based but the use of the terminology, Egyptian Gods and Goddesses, and rituals performed during the time of ancient Egypt were usually performed by priests. The actual spiritual path from Egypt is called Kemeticism which is a closer to true Egyptian witchcraft and religion. Many spells and rituals in Egyptian witchcraft center on the afterlife, and ensuring the safety and success of the soul after death. The well-known Egyptian Book of the Dead is filled with such spells. Healing magick was also common, and it was just as important as more scientific medical practices.
  • Hellenistic (Ancient Greek) Tradition: A Greek witch is called a pharmakis (herb woman), from which we have the term pharmacist. Their basic tradition is working with herbs, medicines and poison. Many Greek tradition witches work with Hecate, the ancient Greek goddess of magic, witchcraft, the night, moon, ghosts and necromancy.
  • Nordic Tradition: A type of traditional witchcraft practiced in Norse and Germanic tribal societies which flourished during the Northern European Iron Age. "Seiðr" (see-fa) is the Icelandic word which is used to describe their magick rituals. Seiðr was a ceremony involving altered states of consciousness and cross-dimensional journeys, wherein sorcerers would gain secret knowledge and great power which was handed to them by the gods themselves. Most of the symbols and spells appear to be for solving problems in life, from catching a thief to overthrowing an enemy. Others help heal livestock, or look at cursing the animals of another. There are charms to help preserve food and ale, staves to bless the bearer with strength or courage, or symbols to help with fishing or prevent death by drowning. Many of the Nordic female witches are Augury Witches, who practice meditation or introspection for the purpose of clairvoyance and divination.
  • Romanic (Ancient Roman) Tradition: Generally, a witch in the Roman era had one of the most evil reputations in ancient witchcraft. A female witch, according to Roman folklore, was a strix (a night-owl) that could assume human form, and was the enemy of humans. The line between the wise women who used magic and a strix demon was pretty thin. Those who do practice in the Roman way work through animal spirit intermediaries, primarily owl familiars, the owl now being seen as a bringer of wisdom, revealer of secrets and omens and the bestower of intuition and clairvoyance. The Roman witch's magick will usually reflect the powers of the animal they work through.
  • Scottish Tradition(s) or Pictish and Hecatine Traditions: A solitary witch form of witchcraft from ancient Scotland. Since the beginning of tribal life in Scotland, there were women and men who worked with nature, the elements, herbs, and seership. Known as ‘soothsayers’, healers, magicians, witches and wizards, they lived and worked peacefully among all tribes. Pictish witchcraft attunes itself to all aspects of nature; animal, vegetable, and mineral and it is more magickal in nature and practice than it is religious. Pictish witches are solitary and rarely, if ever, do they work in groups or covens. Hecatine are even more solitary and little is known about them.
  • Slavic (Russian) Tradition: In traditional Slavic witchcraft, the power of magick is considered a realistic part of life. It is believed anybody can learn witchcraft with the proper teaching and that teaching often comes in the form of riddles that the initiate must solve. The Slavic witch often possesses the ability to astral travel and can quite easily fall in and out of trance states. Russia is considered the birth place of Traditional Shamanism and Slavic Witchcraft draws heavily on this influence.
  • Stregheria (Italian) Tradition: Stregheria (an archaic Italian word for "witchcraft") is sometimes referred to as "La Vecchia Religione" (the old religion). They follow a tradition that is based on the appreciation of wisdom and beauty, and is a collection of practices that have descended from the native traditions of the Italian and Sicilian regions. To many modern Stregherian witches, most Catholic saints are simply ancient pagan gods dressed in Christian garb and the majority of Stregherians have restored them to their pagan deity heritage.
  • Teutonic (Germanic) Tradition: From ancient times the Teutons have been recognized as a group of people who speak the Germanic group of languages. Culturally, this includes the English, Dutch, Icelandic, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish peoples. A Teutonic Witch finds inspiration in the differing traditional myths and legends and in the Gods and Goddesses of "The Homeland” where each individual dialect originated.
  • Welsh Tradition: Stems from the Wales region of the United Kingdom. There is a lot of overlap in this area with Celtic or Scottish witchcraft, but there really are a number of unique characteristics to Welsh witchcraft specifically. With great reliance placed on the power of the wise man or the wise woman, witchcraft in Wales had long been connected to healing. A witch was someone who made poultices and medicines and perhaps had charms or spells for healing cattle and other farm animals. Welsh witches believe themselves to be one of the oldest traditions.
Neo-Pagan (New Age) Movements
  • Asatru: Asatru is regarded as a modern day attempt to revive the old Norse faith. Its followers today hold as closely as possible to the original religion of ancient Norse paganism. Modern Asatru is polytheistic and centered around the worship of eight main deities, along with other minor deities and supernatural beings of varying importance and their rites and rituals are centered upon the exchange of gifts with the Gods and their kinfolk.
  • Druidry: In the Celtic religion, the modern words Druid or Druidry denote the practices of the ancient Druids, the priestly class in ancient Britain and Gaul. The historical knowledge of the Druids is very limited, as no Druidic documents have survived.
  • Feri Movement: A modern movement that was begun in the 1940’s by Victor Anderson and originally called the 'Vicia Tradition'.  It has its own theology with its own Gods, known as the Star Goddess, the Divine Twins and the Blue God.
  • Humanistic Movement: Humanistic practitioners follow a Nature-centered path, as contrasted with a deity-centered path. Humanistic practitioners tend to be atheistic or non-theistic and they define their approach to their interpretation of the Craft through the direct experience of the Natural world and not through the intervention of any Gods or Goddesses as they seek the power of Nature.
  • Indigo Children: Indigo Children commonly believe their souls come from another planet, galaxy or dimension and/or that they are the hybrid offspring of extra-terrestrial beings with whom they are in psychic communion.
  • Starseeds: Those who identify as Starseeds commonly believe that they descend from the ancient Star People.
Wiccan Movement
Wicca as a modern organized religion.  Wicca, as created by Gardner, is a concoction of ancient Western European folk traditions, mixed with ancient Egyptian and Kabbalistic mysticism.
  • Alexandrian Wicca: A modified Gardnerian system founded in the 1960's. More eclectic in practice, in most ways the Alexandrian Movement is very close to Gardnerian with a few minor changes.
  • British Traditional Wicca: An umbrella term used to describe the Wiccan Movement as it is established in Britain, the most prominent of which are Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wicca. Most British Wiccans practice a modern neo-pagan religion, more in line with the new age, humanist movement.
  • Dianic Wicca:  Sometimes referred to as a modern Cult of Diana, this is the most feminist Wiccan movement, with most Dianic Wiccans worshiping the Goddess Diana exclusively.
  • Eclectic Wicca: A term applied to practitioners that don't fit into any established Wiccan movement. An individual may be creating his or her own tradition of beliefs and practices and because their system can't be labeled as something else, it can be said to be eclectic. Or one might be a solitary, practicing what he or she has learned from available sources on Wicca and so his or her Wiccan practice would be considered eclectic. Though in such examples the practitioner would but not be part of an initiatory nor oath bound lineage, which are primary foundations of Wicca. So Eclectic Wiccans are in practice more like traditional eclectic witches than they are adherents of the Wiccan Rede of an established group or coven.
  • Gardnerian Wicca: These are the followers of the original Wicca as founded by Gerald Gardner in 1954. According to Gardner's manifesto, the Wiccan practice has a fairly dogmatic set of elaborate ceremonies and rituals which are overseen by his own initiated lineage of priests and priestesses.
  • Saxon Wicca: Founded by Raymond Buckland in 1973 and it is loosely based upon Saxon Paganism. Seax Wica does not require initiation or membership into a coven or lineaged group. Members may self-dedicate themselves to the path and they are encouraged to add to or modify the rituals and practices of the tradition as needed. Germanic deities and runes play a significant part in the practice.

How to Find Your Path
What to consider:
1) Ancestry
2) How do you or how would you like to learn
3) Do you want to practice alone or as a group
4) Start with practice and let belief follow
5) Trust yourself

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