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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Hwicce

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Lords and Ladies

According to Edred (“Bad Boy of Ásatrú”) Thórsson's ground-breaking 1999 work of revisionist witch history, Witchdom of the True, those seeking Keltic origins for Wicca are barking up the wrong tree of life.

They should instead, he says, be sniffing around the roots of Yggdrasil. Historically speaking, the Lord and Lady of modern Wicca, he holds, are actually none other than Frey and Freyja.

It's a contentious idea, especially among contemporary heathens.

We don't know whether or not the heathen English worshiped Frey and Freyja. It's certainly possible that they did, but we have no proof. (Anglo-Saxonist Stephen Pollington calls the evidence "circumstantial.") Considering how little we know about pre-Christian Anglo-Saxon religion, the lack of evidence doesn't prove much.

If, however, the Hwicce—the Anglo-Saxon tribe which, according to maverick archaeologist Stephen Yeates, gave rise to modern witchery—did indeed know Frey and Freyja, we can say what they would likely have called them. Both Norse names have cognates in the Old English word-hoard.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Mother Night

“Mother Night”: a resonant name. Midwinter's Eve: the night that gives birth to the rest of the year.

To the Hwicce, the Anglo-Saxon tribe ancestral (some say) to today's witches, it was Módraniht: the Night of the Mothers. Anglo-Saxonist Philip A. Shaw relates this to the Germanic cult of the Matronae, attested on the Continent in more than 1000 inscriptions (Shaw 41). Many contemporary heathens accordingly offer to the dísir (female elves) and human foremothers at Midwinter.

The phrase (in the singular) entered modern English by way of Kurt Vonnegut's 1961 novel of the same name, the tale of a Nazi collaborator, which took its title from Goethe's Faust (1:3). “I am part of the part that was everything in the beginning,” Mephistopheles tells Faust, “part of the darkness that gave birth to light: light that in its arrogance challenges Mother Night [Mutternacht] and claims the possession of space” (Fairley 21).

Mother Night: the Void, the Primal Darkness. “Diana was the first created before all creation,” says Charles G. Leland in Aradia: The Gospel of the Witches. “In her were all things; out of herself, the first darkness, she divided herself; into darkness and light she was divided. Lucifer, her brother and son, herself and her other half, was the light” (Leland 18).

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Let no one doubt that the Asgardsrei ("Asgard's Ride") still rides the skies of the American Midwest during the Thirteen Nights, j
  • Paul B. Rucker
    Paul B. Rucker says #
    Bravo for the further explication... I attended a lecture ("Yuletide-- a Time for Tomten") at the American Swedish Institute last

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Why We Speak English

In this season of the ancestors, I remember Horse and Hench, the legendary brothers (some would say, lovers) who led their people to the Promised Land.

England, that is.

You may, perhaps, know them as Horsa and Hengist, as they would have been called in their own day: literally “horse” and “stallion.” Hench is a worn-down form of hengist: a henchman was originally a hengist-man, literally a horse (or stallion)-man: i.e. a squire or groom.

Some would claim them as historic figures. J. R. R. Tolkien—himself a Hwiccan lad— certainly thought so. But of course it's not that simple.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Witcheries

Consider the suffix -ry or -ery,*  which comes to us from Latin (-arius) via Old French (-er, -ier) via Middle English (-erie) and, attached to a noun or verb, can mean either a craft, study, or practice (husbandry, midwifery), a collective plural (Jewry, nunnery), or a place in which a particular activity takes place (bakery, hatchery).

So witchery can mean:

  1. Witchcraft,

  2. Witches collectively, and

  3. Witch Country.

     

One of my favorite lines from the Charge of the Goddess has always been: For behold, I am Queen of all Witcheries. Apparently there are multiple witcheries, and She's queen of them all. Andrew Mann said of Her in 1597: She has a grip of all the Craft. That's quite a claim.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
World's Witches Get Official Tartan

AP: Minneapolis, MN

If Steven Posch has his way, the witches of the world will soon have their own official tartan.

“Hopefully, it will be a done deal by next Samhain [Halloween],” he says.

“The process is surprisingly straightforward,” he adds. “You submit your pattern to the Scottish Registry of Tartans. If it's not already on file, you send them a swatch, pay the fee, and—yan, tan, tethera [one, two, three]—it's official.”

Is the Witch tartan an ancient pattern?

“The Dobunni [the ancient British tribe which, according to some, are ancestral to the witches of today] must have had their own traditional plaids,” says Posch, “but those have all, alas, been lost to the mists of time. This Witch tartan will be a new one, designed by a select Midwest artist.

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  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Your posts never cease to amazing and amuse me - thanks!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Witch Country

They call it the Driftless Area.

What strange forces spared one isolated region along the Upper Mississippi River, asks Timothy S. Jacobson, from the repeated crushing and scouring effects of massive continental glaciers during the last million-plus years? What pre-Ice Age throwbacks survived here in this unique refuge that holds more Native American effigy mounds, petroglyph caves, strange geological features, and rare species than anywhere else in the Midwest?

Every tribe has a territory. In this, the Midwest Tribe of Witches is no different from any other.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Hearken to the Witches' Runes

We can be virtually certain that the Hwicce, the Anglo-Saxon tribe said (by some) to have given its name and lore to historic witchcraft, knew and used the runes.

They, of course, would have named them in the Mercian dialect of Old English, the language that they spoke every day. It is worth asking what those names might have become had the runes remained in continuous use into our day.

Certainly they would have modernized along with the rest of the language; many of the Anglo-Saxon rune-names have remained part of the living language and are entirely recognizable today. We would expect the names to have retained a certain amount of archaic vocabulary, and also to reflect a certain degree of semantic and phonetic “drift” as well: i.e. to include words whose meanings have changed over the centuries, and whose pronunciations no longer reflect those of Old English.

Since some of my family come from the old Hwiccan tribal territories, I figure I have as much right to the runes as anybody. My entirely personal decision to base this version on the Elder, rather than the Anglo-Saxon, furthorc may offend some rune purists. Oh, well. In my experience (I wrestle with it myself), purism is usually its own punishment.

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