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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

All right, I'm just going to say it.

If you think that your paganism is just a matter of your personal relationship with the gods, you're wrong.

Or, at least, you're only partially right.

All realized paganisms are tribal. They're the religions of a particular group. If in the old days you had asked someone “What's your religion?”, they would (assuming that they understood what you meant by “religion”) have answered you: “My religion is the [Name of Tribe or People] religion.”

That's the way that the Kalasha—the last remaining Indo-European-speaking people who have practiced their traditional religion continuously since antiquity—talk about their religion to this day.

Let me give you an example. I'm a Witch. My religion is the Witch religion.

The ancestors, of course, didn't know that they were pagan. Now we do. It's a situation analogous to that of American First Nations. Before Columbus, they didn't think of themselves as a collective group. They thought of themselves in terms of their own people: Dakota, Anishinabe, Ho-Chunk, etc. It wasn't until later that they began to see themselves as Indigenous Americans, a group sharing a common identity.

It's like that with us, too. Now we see that, beyond our immediate tribal affiliations, we've got shared concerns with others that we perceive as being unlike ourselves: that, in fact, we share a common identity.

 

 

The old Hwicce (Witch) language had two words that dictionaries define as “tribe, people, nation”: thede and lede.

(1000 years ago, that would have been þéod and léod, but of course, that was 1000 years ago, and language changes just like everything else.)

Here's the difference between the two terms: your thede is your immediate tribe; your lede is your tribe's tribe.

So as for me, I'm Witch by thede, Pagan by lede. The Kalasha girls shown above dancing at the Joshi (Spring) festival are Pagan by lede, Kalasha by thede.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

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Do the gods hear petitionary prayer?

Well, let's take one example. Does Earth hear petitionary prayer?

Different people would give you different answers to this question. Speaking for myself, while it would be easy to say no, that's not quite right.

Here's what I would say. Whether or not Earth qua planet hears our petitionary prayer, we don't know. Here's what we do know: Insofar as we ourselves are Earth and of Earth, Earth does indeed hear our prayers.

In some ways, the entire question strikes me as wrong-headed. We all have work, including the gods. Why would we think that answering our prayers is among the work of the gods? The gods, in fact, are already doing their sacred work all around us every day: the Sun shines, the Storm gives rain, the Earth brings forth. If you ask me, it's not their job to make sure that—to quote Quentin Crisp—I get that blue bicycle that I always wanted.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Is Witchcraft a Religion?

According to the Twitter witches, witchcraft isn't a religion, it's a magical technology.

According to Margaret Murray, Gerald Gardner, and several million Wiccans worldwide, witchcraft is primarily a religion with a strong grounding in magical practice.

So who's right?

If I had to pick a side of the hedge to stand on—I can scarcely believe that I'm saying this—I would be among the nimble-thumbed Twitteratti. But let me add a caveat.

As I see it, the Craft is an inherited magical technology. It's the ancestral magical technology of the Tribe of Witches. As such, it does not per se constitute a religion.

But here's the caveat: just like everything else, magical technologies are not culturally freestanding. Every magical technology is, of necessity, grounded in a particular culture.

Ours roots in the tribal culture of the Tribe of Witches, in which—like pretty much every other pre-modern culture—religion and everyday life are so thoroughly interlaced as to be indistinguishable from one another. There's no separate word for “religion” in the old Witch language.

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I would have said that witchcraft is a way of looking at and interacting with the world that is contrary to the general beliefs of

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Find Your Elemental Tribe

Spring is, in my opinion, the best time of year to really connect with nature, the elements, and elementals. Everything is coming back to life and is fresh and new. 

Fire, the first element and initiating spark and spirit of all life makes its vibrant, solar return in spring and continues to gain strength and heat until the peak at midsummer. Fire burns, water flows and rains down, the fragrant air stirs and the earth bears new growth. All the elements have returned in all their glory. 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
What Do You Say When a Witch Dies?

What do you say when a witch dies?

Well, witchhood is a kind of tribal affiliation.

Those who have no tribe often find it difficult to understand the depth of the sense of belonging that comes with tribal identity. Those that do, know that, naturally, when you die, you don't want to come back just anywhere; you want to come back to your people, to those that you love.

Uncle Gerald got it absolutely right when he says in Witchcraft Today (140) that our hope beyond death is for rebirth among our own.

Once a witch, always a witch, they say. Not even death takes that away.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Well now it's odd. Today at work an idea popped into my head of a group of witches at a funeral all dressed up in black robes and
  • Helga Hedgewalker
    Helga Hedgewalker says #
    I think it's true. I have many times in this life met people who became important future coven-mates and just KNEW they were impor
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I'll note with amusement that in the WT passage cited above, the witches tell Gardner that to be reborn among one's own is a rewar
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    From what I've read in books on past life regression we do have a tendency to reincarnate in groups. Apparently a lot of American

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
In Praise of Tribalism

Among the chattering classes on both the Left and the Right, it's become fashionable to decry what they call “Tribalism,” meaning solipsistic hyper-partisanship.

You'll notice that none of those doing the decrying actually belong to a tribe.

Those of us who do know that, in fact, they're wrong.

Tribalism is not the problem. Tribalism is the answer.

It's the lack of true tribe that is the problem.

Human beings are tribal animals. We're born with a need to belong: to be part of the life of an ongoing people, a group larger than a family but smaller than a nation. This provides us with a sense of belonging that nothing else can satisfy.

Since the longing to belong is inherent, when we don't have it, we seek it out. The tribe-substitutes that we end up with instead are all too often either something destructive—like a gang, or the Party—or something ephemeral and utterly trivial, like the Game, or the Concert.

Pagans, I would contend, are an emergent tribe, at least in potentia. Thou mayst not be a pagan alone. All pagan religions are tribal religions: they come with an inherent affiliation to a particular people. A paganism without a people is an incomplete paganism.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
How Do You Extinguish a Sacred Fire?

The gathering of the Tribe is over.

The sacred Fire of Gathering, which was lighted when the Tribe first gathered, must now be extinguished.

But how do you extinguish a sacred Fire?

Well, here's how the Tribe of Witches does it.

On the final morning of our Grand Sabbat witch-moot, we gather around the Fire, and make the same offerings and prayers to It that we've made on every morning of our gathering.

Then we quench the Fire with offerings. At the Grand Sabbat, for reasons that I won't go into here, we use red wine to do this.

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