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Taking Responsibility ...



Does traditional Old Craft travel from the Old World to the New? asks Melusine Draco.


I had to smile recently when reading a review of one of my books where the (anonymous) reviewer stated quite categorically that she didn’t like me very much because she found my approach to traditional British Old Craft elitist, another commented that it didn’t correspond to US Wicca.  On the other hand, in the press release for ‘Hands of Apostasy’ those of us who had been invited to contribute to this prestigious American anthology were commended for sharing a ‘common feature of extreme selectivity when it comes to prospective members, and the willingness to reject those proven unfit for the work’.


As the ‘public representative’ of a genuine British Old Craft coven it is my responsibility to ensure that the traditions and teaching of that group remains true to the Old Ways and not corrupted by political correctness.  We make no apologies for not conforming, for being tribal in protecting our own, with many of us eating red meat and cursing our enemies.   Perhaps it’s not surprising that our Old World ways do not generally translate to the New World outlook ... and yet one of my best students was an American Desert Storm veteran ... and our ways have found favour with an important American publisher.


In our Old Craft coven everyone is responsible for their own actions with no room for believing that the reality of life’s brickbats and emotional upset is not largely of their own making.  We accept that taking responsibility means a ruthless degree of self-honesty.  Unfortunately, a large proportion of contemporary paganism has become a ‘culture of entitlement’ in that many feel that they should be given access to traditional teaching without the bother of putting in any effort.   But as I commented in a recent interview:  You cannot teach yourself what you don’t know exists ... just as you would not want to climb K2 in the company of someone whose only previous experience had been a casual hike in the Malvern Hills”.  That’s why we often find that solitary witches who have progressed under their own steam eventually come to us because they want to add more structure to their magical lives and to explore the magical realms on a much deeper level. 


 We also live in an age of ‘blame and shame’ and it is too easy to blame others for being different; or attempt to undermine those whose belief (and practices) does not conform to the popular ideals of the pagan ethos.  Frequently this kind of resentment is corrosive and damages the judgement.  If we don’t take responsibility for our own behaviour, we often feel dictated to by other people’s ideas; once we embrace self-responsibility it is extremely empowering and we start to think for ourselves.  We accept that we cannot change people but we can change how we respond to them and by taking responsibility for our own attitude towards them we learn to see things more clearly in terms of not that their way of thinking/belief is wrong, but why do they believe or think that way?


The notion of taking responsibility for ourselves has its roots in every break-away tradition, including the Dalai Lama’s three important concepts: respect for self, respect for others and always taking responsibility for everything we do; and the existentialist movement of the 19-20th centuries that broke away from the influence of the ‘establishment’.    At heart, traditional British Old Craft is not altruistic and never has been; it does not feel the need to shoulder responsibility for the rest of the human race.  We are what can best be viewed as ‘tribal’ in outlook and feel that the best way we can serve our fellow humans is to look after our own, despite the fact that this viewpoint is often at odds with popular modern thinking. 


Melusine Draco is the author of the Traditional Witchcraft series (Moon Books) and Magic Crystals, Sacred Stones (Axis Mundi Books).


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Mélusine Draco originally trained in the magical arts of traditional British Old Craft with Bob and Mériém Clay-Egerton. She has been a magical and spiritual instructor for over 20 years with Arcanum and the Temple of Khem, and writer of numerous popular books on magic and witchcraft. Her highly individualistic teaching methods and writing draws on ancient sources, supported by academic texts and current archaeological findings.


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