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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Old Craft

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Nigel Jackson Illustration | Occult art, Sacred art, Traditional witchcraft

A New Book by Nigel Jackson

(Well, Kind Of)


In the waning years of the “20th” century, Nigel Jackson's Call of the Horned Piper and Masks of Misrule: The Horned God & His Cult in Europe spearheaded an Old Craft Revival among many of us for whom an increasingly pastel Wicca had lost its incisive edge.

Jackson offered, instead, a vision of the Craft altogether darker and more dangerous, a Craft of blood and ecstasy. Even more compelling than his dreamy, over-adjectived prose were his illustrations: archaizing woodcuts redolent of wood-smoke and mystery. His later Witches' Tarot transformed the Tarot's (let's be frank here) thoroughly Christian imagery into a hedge-labyrinth of Old Craft mysticism instead.

Following a public break with Witchery (announced, oddly enough, in several rambling and—frankly—incoherent screeds published, of all places, on Amazon Reviews), Jackson now identifies as some sort of mystical Christian “Traditionalist” (in the politically-reactionary René Guénon sense) and esotericist-at-large in the “Western” tradition.

So imagine my surprise when I'd heard that he'd written (and, better yet, illustrated) a new book about the Craft.

Well, kind of heard.

 Nigel Jackson- masks of misrule. | Occult art, Mystical art, Occult

In the dream, I'm visiting the home of some Old Craft friends when I see Jackson's new witch-book on an end-table beside the couch.

Forever West is the title. Having heard of the book—this is dream-world, not real-world, hearing, mind you—but not yet seen it, I leaf through it eagerly. The book has the long-ways horizontal format of a children's book. It seems to be an extended parable of some sort.

Most notable are the illustrations, sandwiched between layers of text, which occur on virtually every page. All of them depict a girl taking a step on a city sidewalk. Behind her are the walls of brick buildings, and the mouth of an alley. The scene is entirely urban, with no sign of any other people or any green thing. At first sight identical, the illustrations actually depict, like the still frames of a film, the incremental movements of a single step.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

A Life in the Craft


The Craft isn't for everyone. For many, it's a step on the Way.

But for some of us—the lifers, bred in the bone—the Way of the Wise becomes a home. Oddly, though, a life in the Craft is a matter little addressed in the current literature.

So it is with acute pleasure that I welcome today's guest blog by my friend and colleague, Frebur Hobson of Branch and Bone, a man Wise from the ground up.

"Times fallow and fertile": weigh well his words.


Seasons of the Craft

A Guest Blog by Frebur Hobson


When we first find the Craft, it fulfills a need: a need for a home, a need to live with ways that speak to our hearts. We meet the Craft, and we see in it what we don’t have in ourselves or in our community. We see magic and romance and validation, and we are in love.

First degree.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Mending Hearts: Olde World Spell
Sol and Luna,
the sun needs the moon like the cock needs the hen.
The sun and the moon have both hatched from the same egg
and represent the eternal attraction of opposites.
Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs



On second thought, R___, I think that your definition witch = scientist + engineer + poet (which I really, really like) does indeed fit the "hill and holler" crowd. I'm drawing here on Owen Davies' academic study of historic British "cunning folk" (in his book of the same name).

Scientist: Draws conclusions from impartial observation of results.

Engineer: Designs practical applications of conclusions for specific instances.

Poet: Dresses up practical applications to maximalize psychological effect.

That's actually a very good description of how village witches (according to Davies) used to work. It reinforces my sense that it's the cowans that are the believers; the witches may or may not be believers themselves, but the major thrust is to use the belief of others for their own purposes (both for good, and for ill). ("Help when you can, harm when you need to.")

Davies sees this as having been a largely cynical pose on the part of the witches themselves--who, let's face it, were witching largely for gain--but me, I'm not so sure.

Last night my dad was telling me that my niece is having some warts removed today. This led to a discussion of warts generally, and he passed along a folk cure that he'd heard of (I neglected to ask from where, but bear in mind that my hometown Pittsburgh is the northernmost tip of Appalachia) about rubbing warts with stump-water by moonlight. As a practitioner myself, I'd think that one would want stump-water that reflects the full Moon: that way the warts will wane away as the Moon wanes. (And I guess we know which gods one would want to call on; but that's me, thinking in Witch again.)

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Say It with Symbols

The sabbat site was off a rural road. We needed something to mark the entrance, something that would say, to those in the know, “Here Be Witches."

A sign?

A bunch of helium balloons?

In the end, I nailed a deer skull to the top of a fencepost. From every tine, a long red ribbon fluttered.

Even the youngest among us can read that rune.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Witches with Their Feet on the Ground

As a movement, the modern Old Craft has tended to be characterized by a verbal style that I can only call “opaque.”

Anyone who has ever tried to work her way through the letters of Robert Cochrane (1931-1966), Father of modern Old Craft, will know what I'm talking about. Cochrane hints, but rarely tells. He's very good at dropping a few evocative details, then drawing the veil back over. He writes, as my friend and colleague Bruner Soderberg once rather acidly observed, “to impress rather than to inform."

His would-be successors, alas, have often tended to follow suit. Particularly notorious for the opacity of his prose was mage Andrew Chumbley (1967-2004), whose books have got to be among the most-collected and least-read titles on the shelves of modern Witchdom.

Chumbley seems immune to clear exposition. He will never say “mystery” when he can possibly say arcanum, “flying ointment” instead of unguentum sabbati. Maybe there really are people out these who are impressed by high school Latin, but personally, I'm not one of them.

Old Craft thrives here in the American Midwest. What both intrigues and impresses me about Midwest Old Craft is its very lack of opacity. Rather, the standard Chumbleyian style of “I know something you don't know” obfuscation seems to us a pomposity, a bore: in fact, an admission of poverty. It strikes us—whether rightly or wrongly—as a ploy to cover lack of substance.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    By its very nature, Old Craft defies clear exposition. It's best transmitted through evocation: story, dance, song. And surely it
  • Ian Phanes
    Ian Phanes says #
    Can you recommend any Old Craft books that are "crisp, clear, succinct"?

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Chest of Tools

It's the question always asked of the witch.

If your magic is so powerful, then why are they hanging you?

When things go wrong in your own life, you may well have asked yourself much the same question.

If I'm such a powerful witch and all, then why is my life such a mess?

Well, as they say, sometimes the magic works, and sometimes it doesn't.

But that's to miss the point.

When they gave us the Craft, the gods never promised that life would be easy.

They never said that there would be no hardship.

In fact, they gave us the Craft precisely because they foresaw that there would be hardship. Hardship, alas, there will always be.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Gods, that's great, John. Good old Zen.
  • John Zelasko
    John Zelasko says #
    There is a saying in Zen that goes something like this: Before enlightenment - haul water, chop wood. AFTER enlightenment - haul w
  • Chris Moore
    Chris Moore says #
    That's a big chest of tools, depending on whom you ask. What tools of the Craft are the most needed, here and now?
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Athame, chalice, and pentacle. Ha, ha: just joking. Three come to immediate mind, and of course they're all powers/strategies of t
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    In Medicine Wheel by Sun Bear the Author says he is not interested in any philosophy that doesn't grow corn. Witchcraft grows the

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