A Faerie Haven: Living in Myth, Being Magic

For some people, magic isn't something they do, it is what they are. This blog focuses less on theory and more on lyrical mysticism, applied spellcrafting, experiential awareness of Divinity, and related topics. A haven for you who long to become your myth and live your poem. Faerie tales do come true.

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Traditional Witchcraft, Spirituality, and Ethics

Currently, it is a prevalent opinion among Pagans that traditional witchcraft was strictly magical, lacking theology or moral aspects. While I can respect that theory, it is not congruent with my own experiences. I suspect whether traditional witchery had sacred or ethical aspects varied by locale or by family tradition. 

I never argue with anybody's experience, only their theory. Theory is ever-changing. I'd never want to invalidate anyone's experience, including my own. I'll share mine below.

My experiences lead to conclusions that differ from the aforementioned current popular Pagan position. I hope to add to the Pagan dialogue on the topic, and provide support for those who, like me, have an unpopular point of view.

Growing up in a family tradition, I learned magic and a mystical worldview con leche. Therefore magic and mysticism were a given, as much a part of life as the air I was breathing. In the process, a religious and ethical worldview was deeply ingrained in my cells.

 Note I say "my cells," not "my brain." It took my entire childhood and adolescence to imbibe the tradition's basics, because cellular lessons take time.

The understandings of the tradition were so deeply imbedded in our home life that much of the family tradition was taken for granted, not out and out spoken, but more implied and lived. This includes the theist or moral aspects. 

 In fact, calling it an understanding in the above paragraph is somewhat of a misnomer. It is not so much an understanding as a way of being.

 In any case, a lifestyle with many of its important aspects being subtle or unspoken seems an earmark of many traditional witches I have met. 

 When I got older, I saw that this subtlety sometimes causes people who were viewing the family tradition from the outside to not see the tradition's deep religious and ethical roots, only the more overt—and perhaps less core—trappings. When I participated in family traditions in Europe, I usually found deep religious and ethical roots in them. 

 Observers are not engaged in the family culture. They are standing outside it, watching. Only by being part of a shamanic family culture over a long period of time can one can really understand the culture. The notion that to watch something is to fully understand it is a fairly current concept of scholarship. As I said above, learning the traditional witchcraft of my family required an experiential, long term lesson.

It has become almost de rigeur to insist traditional craft never had sacred or principled aspects. This makes it important to me to write this post about my family tradition, because I feel I'm speaking up for my Gods, for my witch ancestors, and for others who feel as I do. 

I do not like it when a theory ceases to be a theory and becomes a mandated belief—in other words, when someone is mouthing somebody else's words to, consciously or not, invalidate other seekers. Unfortunately, the concept that traditional witchcraft had neither ethical nor theological base has become yet another Pagan rote declaration, usually said—or written—in an intimidating tone of I-know-better-than-you-so-whatever-you-think-is-stupid.

I can admire people who authentically believe other than I do. An informed and friendly exchange of ideas about traditional craft, spirituality, and ethics could be a lovely thing. Healthy debate is a wonderfully educational process for everyone involved. A supportive, respectful, and thoughtful exchange of ideas can do wonders.

But debate is not the same as trying to legitimize and define one's path by invalidating someone else's. That hurtfully invalidates a lot of newbies who already feel insecure about their belief system. This can crush a newcomer's spirit.

 Coming to our community, hoping to finally find fellowship, but instead encountering someone just as invalidating as mainstream society, can be doubly heartbreaking, because they thought they had finally entered a safe space. So they often never participate in our community again, and end up without support in their Pagan explorations. 

 People who need to squash others in order to validate their own power have less power than they think, and more mere bluster than they realize.

Thus, I felt impelled to write this post to support invalidated Pagans.

A last thought on traditional witches and ethics: perhaps in some cases, a lack of morality had less to do with any tradition and more to do with human nature. Some people just take anything, even that which is moral and sacred to begin with, strip it of those roots, and use it for their own selfish—or even evil—goals.

I hope this post is a useful contribution to Pagan dialogue about traditional craft. 

If you want experiential lessons in traditional craft, I teach The Third Road, a tradition I channel, informed by the magic of my ancestors and my mom. (Channeling teachings is part of traditional craft.) I teach mostly via group phone calls—aka teleseminars. Here's the link to subscribe to my newsletter, which tells you about upcoming classes: http://www.well.com/user/zthirdrd/InfoForm.htm

 Bless you.

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Francesca De Grandis aka Outlaw Bunny is the bestselling author of "Be a Goddess!" Founder of The Third Road, a Faerie Shamanism tradition that she teaches through both text and oral tradition, De Grandis says, "I'm a trickster working for benevolent chaos Gods, so I don't play mean tricks." Bard, painter, mystical innovator, and busy elf who works part-time for Santa Claus, she blogs here and on her own sites, www.stardrenched.com and www.outlawbunny.com


  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor Tuesday, 15 March 2016

    Excellent, Francesca. Having no knowledge of the discussion you reference nor of people's reasons for their opinions, it yet strikes me that any long-term family tradition could only have meaning within the environment of natural human emotions - love, fear, hatred, concern for welfare and the desire to find ethical ways of dealing with fate and concepts of deity. How in the world could any such tradition be judged as strictly magical, lacking theology or moral aspects? After all, without such aspects - which underlie the basic fiber of human existence - why would people even stay interested in magic for very long? Lacking such basic aspects, what relevance would it have had to their everyday lives?

    I love the wonderful picture!

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Tuesday, 15 March 2016

    Thank you. ❤️❤️❤️

    Ted, you are just brilliant! You are also sane, using your fine mind to reason things out logically instead of to endorse some crazy idea.

    To expand on something in my article: there are so many unethical people in the world that, of course, a lot of them will be traditional practitioners. I suspect some people simply assume those unethical practitioners represent traditional practitioners as a whole.

    So glad you like the picture. I'm rather proud of it, because I made the hat myself. I find hat making a magical process.

  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor Wednesday, 16 March 2016

    The hat is fantastically YOU.

    I didn't mention before that you've presented a cogent and scholarly treatise on some people's reasons for putting down others. It's a great addition to my recent piece on why most pagans will always be solitaries!

    And, of course, your common-sense conclusion makes perfect sense: Individual Human Nature is what colors the practice, not whatever techniques are used. Unethical people will always be unethical, and spiritual people will always be concerned with morality and theology. I proposed the notion in my Meditation classes that the various techniques - mantra, breathing, yantra, malas, etc. - were simply delivery systems for the experience of Meditation itself. In similar vein, I think that the various practices of magic are only delivery systems for something more significant - something to do with the very life expression of the practitioner herself.

    I would even propose that many people err by superstitiously giving Magic a higher position on the pyramid than it actually deserves. As Jesus observed about the Sabbath, humankind was not made to serve Magic, Magic was made to serve humankind. (Here come the angry emails, folks!)

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Wednesday, 16 March 2016

    Wow, thanks!!!

    Where is your piece about why most Pagans will always be solitaries?

    I want to add to your proposal that meditation techniques are "simply delivery systems for the experience of Meditation itself ..."

    What i have to say is personal, so is usually only shared with my students. But i know you will get it.

    Only speaking for myself, I have to watch that I do not mistake ritual, spells, meditation, prayer, etc., for what they are supposed to lead me toward. My reliance must be on my Gods, not on my spiritual and magical practices alone. The latter would be a self-reliance that would eventually fail me, because there is much in life stronger than I am, and my unaided power to deal with the, will never be as great as my Gods. Yes. I have to devote myself to those practices, or I lose my connection with the Divine. But the value of those practices is only in what they lead me to: My Gods have my back, using their power to take care of all that is beyond my ken and my control. They created a magical universe through which their magic flows. I put myself in that loving stream of power not only by ritual, meditation, etc., but also by serving community according to my Gods' agenda. So mote it be.

  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor Wednesday, 16 March 2016

    Wow, that is so perfectly expressed. A belief in total self-reliance will trip up many an ego
    -driven practitioner. The Greeks called it Hubris, and they knew what they were talking about.

    At the same time, as you point out, the work must be done; and it is done through rituals, meditation and service. Thanks for such a clear statement!

    Here is my essay on Solitaries: http://witchesandpagans.com/pagan-studies-blogs/common-ground/why-most-pagans-will-always-be-solitaries.html

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Wednesday, 16 March 2016

    Thank you. We are a "mutual admiration society," LOL.

    I am heading over to check out yr essay right now.

  • katherine manaan
    katherine manaan Thursday, 17 March 2016

    This is a beautifully written, article; cogent, lucid, heartfelt. You have such a exquisite way of expressing your opinion Francesca, layer on top layer, without attacking others. Your work has meant so much to me over the years and continues to help me in so many ways. Be A Goddess is at the top of the booklist for my students. I recently bought the Sacred Marketplace and I am loving it. Thank you for all you do. Blessings, K

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Thursday, 17 March 2016

    Katherine, You are very kind, making me feel special. Thank you.

    I feel honored and humbled that you have your students read one of my books. What do you teach?

    You bought A Sacred Marketplace? Cool! Thanks again. I do not see your name among the buyers. Pls email with the name or email addie you bought it under, so I can connect that name with your lovely comments. That way I can know you better.

    My email adresss is outlawbunny at outlawbunny.com though note I typed "at" (to avoid getting email spam from robots), so you need to fix that when you actually email me.

    If you want to use A Sacred Marketplace in one of your classes, I offer bulk discounts on the book, just let me know if you want one.

    Well, thank you for starting my day off with your love. Bless you, bless you.

  • katherine manaan
    katherine manaan Thursday, 17 March 2016

    I work and write under the name of katherine manaan. you have me under katherine tupman:) i have 2 websites one under the name of katherine manaan and the other under the name of goddess heal mystic, do readings, healings, write paradigm changing fiction, and lead workshops. at one point, I had a group that I'd attuned to reiki 1,2,3. They'd jelled so well and wanted to learn the craft so I taught them for a year and a day. i had them all reading, Be A Goddess. I am still reeling from A Sacred Marketplace, so different from the way I've been thinking. I literally read a paragraph and have to go for a walk:) I am so glad you're on the planet. k

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Thursday, 17 March 2016

    Thank you, lovely to get to know you. You sound like you do a lot of different things, very multifaceted. It seems multifaceted people are drawn to my work, which I love, because then we can work together shamanically on many different things. Hmm, have to save that line to use in a newsletter or something, LOL.

    I am delighted to know that A Sacred Marketplace is really different from how you've been thinking, because my goal was to bring in new perspectives. Wow, you are really making my day.

    I think you're wise to read a bit then go for a walk. Like I say in that book, it's really packed, and that is good, but can be overwhelming unless you pace it. Good for you! Rock on!

    I am glad you are on this planet, too. We need lots of people who are shoulder to shoulder, trying to make a positive difference in the world.

    Blessed be.

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