What does traditional witchcraft mean, not wicca

Wicca: History of the Secret Cult of Witches

“Success is your proof”, a logical statement from the Liber L Vel Legis, makes it clear that in the New Eon man can achieve anything he wants. Robert Anton Wilson wrote on this subject in his cult books: “Man is programmed for total success in the universe!” However, success is only possible if we know our roots! When we know where we come from and who we are.

Only when this clarity is present do we find out where we want to go. “Identity” is only possible in the course of a conscious confrontation with the past that has shaped us, both the individual-personal and the traditional-religious. From this basis a spiritual evolution of the tribe into its ever-growing crown is only possible. Without recognition of what our identity and freedom is based on, there is no success!

Success is not a gift, but a merit of effort, a reward for passing exams. The Liber L also speaks of this in these contexts.

In my opinion, this is an important claim of Wicca: preservation of tradition, veneration of the ancestors, worship of the matriarchal side of God in order to meet these claims of "where we come from".

If that is conscious, then the potency is: initiation, contact with the gods, magic to understand and use the possibilities of the present. As for the future of the European-pagan priestly cult: Inspiration & creativity in the worship service is required, a spiritual commitment is to be made, to ourselves and for ourselves, for the divine man of the New Aeon. But also to be in service and at eye level with the gods - an open field of experimentation for the existing and future Wicca priesthood.

What is Wicca?

Wicca is a mystery cult. Wicca is a natural religion that consists only of initiated priests and priestesses. Wicca is a lifelong service to the gods. Wicca is currently the fastest growing spiritual movement in the western-oriented world. The term "mysteries" comes from Latin (mysterium literally means secret, secret doctrine, secret cult). According to current religious studies, the following are characteristics of a mystery cult:

1. a mysterious event as a cult myth
2. The secret initiation, sometimes a series of initiations
3. Cultic celebrations to honor certain deities, to which (as a rule) only the initiated are allowed.

For necessary reasons, the matriarchal-led Wicca circles seem to open up more in these times and present their knowledge than in the past decades. The cult is currently experiencing a worldwide increase as in the late sixties of the last century. Young witches are exposed to a flood of data that places little value on in-depth knowledge of tradition.

Origin and meaning of the word Wicca

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the roots of the word “Wicca” lie in the old English term wiccian, which means “witchcraft, magic”. The masculine noun would therefore be wicca, the feminine wicce, with the plural wiccan. The form used in cult is wicca, which is used for both sexes and is translated by some authors as "wise".

According to my own research, the root of the word wicca can possibly be traced back to the Germanic vi-karr, which refers to a “devotee”, since in old Germanic times a devotee was identical to a person who wears “holy hair” (ve- / vi = holy and kar (r) = hair). The consecration hair, the waving hair, was a sign of the outer consecration of Odin.

The hair was not cut as a sign of consecration to God. This is also evident in Germanic names such as Vikarr or Odinkar (Os-kar). Vicarr - in Saxo Wicar - was also the name of a Norwegian king who died of a victim of Odin.

The mysterious Merovingian priest-kings are also said to have considered their hair sacred and never cut it.

The Merovingians - like the Templars and Cathars - followed the tradition of a “Gnostic Church of Love”, which was ultimately based on the teachings of Mary Magdalene. The cult of the Black Madonna, which is still represented in Europe with over 400 cult sites, also has its origin here. The English term witchcraft or the craft ("the art") means art, craft, but also "magical abilities" such as healing, influencing, protecting or banishing.

These are skills that have to be learned over a long period of time and that play only a minor role among recreational magicians these days. Certainly a result of the quick lifetime and haste. Hardly anyone can or wants to take the time necessary to learn a tradition. Everything has to show results as quickly as possible. The sorcerer's apprentices of today forget that magic is the work with energies and always has an effect.

Regardless of whether this influencing of things was intentional or not. Before a newcomer can be accepted into a coven, he must complete a one to three year apprenticeship. The understanding, which begins with the study of the history of the witch cult and then requires many steps of training, should grow like a tree.

The origins of Wicca

The different traditions of Wicca in Europe

Wicca arose in Germany at the beginning of the early romantic period (end of the 18th / beginning of the 19th century) from the criticism of religion by Goethe and Schlegel as a philosophical ideal model of a natural religion. The Jena-Weimar heathen circles by J. W. von Goethe, Friedrich von Schlegel, Fichte and Novalis indicate the first traces. The origins of these pagan circles lie in the so-called Jewish living rooms.

At that time, these living rooms were centers of artistic and intellectual life in Germany. They were places of intellectual freedom and elitist exchange and a source of innovative social, religious and artistic ideas. The driving force of the romantics was the spirit of magic.

The romantics used the imagination to get rid of their pent-up frustrations and to conjure up a world shaped in their own image. The Veccio cult was brought into being in 1789 as an old religion in the Schlegel mountain party as "the worship of nature over the worship of women".

In the following period the old religion was part of the life reform movement and the female emancipation movement, which was strongly influenced by the writings of Dorothea Veit (née Mendelson, married to F. von Schlegel).

According to a documented statement by MacGregor Mathers (actually Liddell Mathers, a Rosicrucian who was inspired by the "Celtic Movement" and later called himself MacGregor), the German witch circles of that time also developed the "Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn" ( Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn) significantly influenced.

It is interesting in this context that the English Golden Dawn received the authorization or the charter to found the association of German magicians who also inspired the first magical ceremonies. The Golden Dawn received the description of the lower degrees of the initiation rituals from Nuremberg ("the secret chiefs").

The initiates of Nuremberg then strictly refused to pass on the rituals of the higher degrees of adepts. MacGregor Mathers (see above) and Aleister Crowley devised their own, based on the knowledge already given, and staged their ascent in England itself. It is noteworthy that the British coven, Gerald B. Gardner (founder of the Gardnerian Wicca) found in the New Forest , acted as the "innermost circle of a Rosicrucian lodge". In the German tradition of the magical Merlins forge, it was common until the 1950s for a Rosicrucian group to precede a coven as an esoteric forecourt.

But let's go back a bit: In 1899 the oldest book about "witchcraft" by Charles E. Leeland was supposedly written: "Ar (c) adia - the doctrine of witches". In this authentic witch book in German, he described the story of Maddalena's Italian witch family. To this day, many Wiccan followers refer to the rituals and invocations presented in the book in their ceremonies. Since the goddess is at the center of Leeland's work, it is particularly popular with the Dianic (feminist) circles that exclusively worship the Great Goddess.

In 1921 the British Egyptologist and anthropologist Margaret Murray published the first part of her study results and with her book: "The Witch Cult in Western Europe" put forward a thesis that is still controversial today: Accordingly, she saw parallels between the belief in witches and an early historical fertility cult that she advocated the original religion of Western Europe held.

She spread the knowledge of the tradition of an ancient Earth Mother tradition. There are innumerable indications for this thesis. The fertility cult is said to have persisted in Europe until the time of the Inquisition. Today it is assumed that the primordial religion survived in secret, that is, an increasing and decreasing tradition has existed for thousands of years. For many Wiccans, these insights form the basis of their religion. Just like the research of the archaeologist Marija Gimbutas. The popularity of the witch cult is due not least to the merit of these two women.

Gerald Brosseau Gardner (see above), born in 1884, who turned to magic after several trips to the Middle East from 1936 onwards, according to his own report, he became a member of a witches' association in the New Forest / southern England in 1946 (other data speak of 1936/1939), who maintained close contacts to Italian Freemasonry through Giovanni Recigno, whose family members were in turn supporters of the Aradia witch current.

Recigno was also a member of the "Order of the Pentagram", which was very closely associated with Julius Evola's group "UR" in Rome and with the "Myriam School of Esoteric Initiation" founded by Guilianno Kremmerz in 1926.

Gardner was initiated into the first degree of the Wicca cult by a witch named "Daffo" (Dorothy Clutterbuck) from New Forest. Although he was never initiated into the second or third degree, he formed numerous new covens.

Logically Gardner also knew Aleister Crowley and was like him a member of the famous "Ordo Templi Orientis" (Order of the Orient Templars), which was founded in the modern era in 1902 by the Germans Karl Kellner and Theodor Reuss. Kellner was a high level Freemason and in the influential "Hermetic Brotherhood of Light".

In the 1890s, Kellner claimed to have met three adepts who were essential to him: a Sufi and two Hindu tantrika (I know the names). Kellner then taught a version of the Far Eastern Red Tantra adapted to the West, in which the female aspects of the Supreme Deity are the focus.

This is interesting insofar as influences from Sufism and Tantra can also be found in traditional Wicca.

I found a rare reference in John Carter's biography about Jack Parsons after Crowley was allegedly involved in an inner coven. What is certain is that Crowley was instrumental in shaping the beginning of modern Wicca. Rumors persist that he wrote essential parts of the "Book of Shadows" for Gardner in exchange for money.

If one compares some parts of the Liber Al vel Legis (Book of Law) with the Wiccian shadow book, one cannot avoid noticing amazing similarities (almost literally) in some parts and especially in their language. Of course, only initiated Wiccans can determine and compare this.

For these and other reasons, the Liber Al vel Legis is a book for initiated Wiccans that they acknowledge and study. In this deep sense one could say that a real Wicca is always a thelemite. Only the other way round is usually not the case. A rapprochement between Wicca and Thelema would, in my opinion, be desirable and in the spirit of the New Aeon, since both obviously have similar roots, at least since the Crowleyan times.

Mind you, I'm not talking about the free-flying wicca that is spreading, sometimes - especially among young people - without any sense or wit. Wicca in the market-screaming sense of the popular love and money magic rituals certainly has little to do with the Thelemitic ideas of a spiritual lifestyle.

From the teachings of the O.T.O. a secret order emerged in it: the "Argentum Astrum". The adepts of the "Silver Star" were all men (including A.C.) who were initiated by the priestesses. The Egyptian-oriented A.A. contains far more interesting secrets that only become clear after a long study and, above all, your own inner insights.

In the O.T.O. A number of well-known spirits of the time gathered, William Butler Yeats, Dion Fortune (alias Violet de Virth), the order grandmasters Theodor Reuss, Aleister Crowley, Rudolf Steiner and many more. Rudolf Steiner's anthroposophical movement emerged on these magical foundations, which today's anthroposophists don't necessarily hang on to.

There were also excellent contacts to the "Ancient and Archaeological Order of Druids", which was headed by famous artists such as William Blake. The Druid Order was founded (1874) by the same man who founded the "Societas Rosicruciana" (Society of the Rosicrucian) in 1865: Dr. Robert W. Little.

The most important revitalization attempt of modern times goes back to Gardner, who took up the material of Margret Murray and published the novel "High Magic’sAid" in 1949, where he tells in detail about the rituals of the Wicca. From 1951, Gardner referred to himself as the "King of the Witches". In England, the witch laws that had existed since the time of the Inquisition were not repealed until 1954 (WitchcraftAct).

In the same year Gardner published "Witchcraft Today" and in 1959 "The Meaning of Witchcraft" and the "Book of Shadows", a book that was previously only passed on individually, a set of rules with rituals and invocations. "Witchcraft Today" became the main work for the majority of Wiccan fans. The "Book of Shadows" caused the witchcraft to spread across England.

At the same time the newspaper "waxing moon" appeared in the USA. It was the first international witches' newspaper that had a great influence on the development of Wicca. The "Wicca Research Group" was founded in a London hotel in the 1950s. That was the hour of birth of modern Wicca as we know it today. Gardner died in 1964, leaving the Witch Museum on the Isle of Man, where he exhibited his collection of witch weapons.

On June 6th, 1965, Alex Sanders was appointed as his successor by high priestesses of various covens for seven years as the "King of Witches". Sanders claimed to have been introduced to the cult by his grandmother at the tender age of five, which many doubt. He fundamentally changed Wicca in the 1970s and many of the old coven structures in Europe were destroyed.

Sanders was re-elected in 1972, 1979, and 1986. Like Gardner, he was a member of the O.T.O. As early as the 1960s, the Wicca movement split into a Gardnerian and an Alexandrian stream, as many Gardnerian Wiccans rejected Alex Sanders as head and witch-king. This debilitating dispute between the two camps lasted until the death of Alex Sanders on April 30, 1988 (Beltane / Walpurgis Night).

Since then there has been no more witch-king. Sanders had chosen his own son as his successor, thereby breaking the tradition according to which the king should be elected by the "Britain Witchcraft Council of Elders". Derek Taylor, who had been homosexual with Alex Sanders for the past few years, took care of the spiritual training of the coming Witch King. However, Derek was found murdered at the end of February 2000, the background and the perpetrators are still unknown.

Many Wiccans cannot do anything with the patriarchal stimulus term of the "head / king", since they tend to adhere to the matriarchal form of society and want to pay homage to the old witch law "Nobody above me and nobody below me" in the sense of a female "ring" community. There is no real difference between the two Traditional British Wiccans (TBW), as they come from a common tradition.

Gardner preferred the more chaotic form of magic, the spontaneous enchanting expression of the rituals, while Sanders paid attention to a stricter liturgy and ceremonial magic. His preferred way of working is essentially based on Gardner's ideas.

Origins of the Wicca

The ceremonial process for Sanders, however, provides for appropriate ritual robes, while Gardner was an outspoken nudist. For all rituals he preferred the so-called Skyclad, the “heavenly dress”, in order to appear innocently, humbly and openly before the gods.Traditional Wiccans still prefer Skyclad in their rituals today - for many good reasons.

The Alexandrian witches are said to have a greater spiritual openness. Alex Sanders, for example, called the archangels, which caused a corresponding displeasure at Gardnerian Wicca, as they wanted to break away from the Hebrew / Christian influences in the best pagan tradition.

Many Alexandrian covens, for example, use the knowledge of the Hebrew Kabbalah, which does not play a role in the Gardnerian branch.

That said, although the British couple Raymond and Rosemary Buckland (were among the last to be initiated into the cult by Gardner personally) founded another not very well-known branch of Wicca in the United States in 1974, which they called Seax Wicca and its foundations were summarized in one work: "The Tree".

The two terms Gardnerian Wicca and Alexandrian Wicca emerged only after Gardner's death. The mixed form from both directions, which contains elements of one as well as the other, is called Algard Wicca. In principle, however, the designation is superfluous. The decades-long dispute could only be resolved in the 90s by the witch Vivianne Crowley (not related to A.C.), who was easily initiated in all three degrees of both currents.

In addition, she established the "Pan European Wicca Convention" (PEWC), which has been taking place in a different European country since 1990 and brings together many TBW and the traditional lines of "Hereditary Witchcraft" in a circle for mutual exchange.

The lines of "Hereditary Witchcraft" encompass the innumerable family traditions into which one can only be born or marry into. These can mainly be found in Scotland, England, Ireland, but also in Italy. So far not accepted by the TBW are the witches, who come from the "Ecclectic Wicca" and are called "free-flying" in Germany, who initiate themselves partly and for various reasons, which is considered possible by such important living Wiccans as Vivianne Crowley.

Most witches can understand that this will sometimes be a more dangerous path than swimming in the familial and energetic flow of the TBW or even belonging to a (also new) initiating line. Self-initiation can lead to a number of catastrophes and a lot of so-called karmic chaos (if it is accepted by the gods!), Because the "push-up" effect can be considerable.

But on the other hand, if you look at the sometimes dubious path of Gardner and Sanders and countless other TBWs (also here in Germany), the legitimacy and elite mania that some of the traditional Wiccans are constantly riding around is more than questionable.

The magical works and engagements of many TBWs today are in no way more powerful or move more than the work of other Wiccans. And here too, in my opinion, the old saying applies, which is older than the Bible: "You should recognize them by their fruits!"

The term "Wicca" is used e.g. in the USA for every witch who professes to the beliefs and to the workings of the ancient religion, initiation or not. In some states of the U.S.A., Wicca is officially recognized as a religion and registered in the passport. Well-known representatives are the "Church of Wicca" or the "Circle Sanctuary". The latter, under the direction of Selena Fox, fought with the state of Wisconsin for recognition of ecclesiastical status for around two years.

The persistent practical action there is what makes the quality and not just “the appearance” (meaning ambiguously) of an initiation. Mention should also be made of the "Dianic Wicca", the witches who come from the women's movement and who do not work with men. Apart from this strongly feminist branch of Wicca, whose coven does not accept men, men and women have equal rights in the cult. Dianic covens have become far more popular than others in recent years.

Wicca in Modern Development

Well-known representatives of this Dianic direction such as Zsuzsanna Budapest see Wicca as the religion of women. The politically very active Californian witch Starhawk is of the opinion that Wicca is to be understood as a cult of the goddess, in that the Great Mother takes precedence over the male principle. However, she works ritually with men.

The great success lies in this feminine point of view. Wicca is a religion that gives women a strong and proud role by including the female cycles (e.g. in the full moon festivals). For many women, Wicca also corrects the situation: after centuries of patriarchy, the historical and cultural memory of the pagan pre-Christian matriarchy is being refreshed considerably.

Ultimately, modern Wicca currents are about the emphasis on the sacred feminine and the corresponding recognition of women, as was also common with our pagan ancestors (Celts and Germanic peoples), consciously of the pendulum movement of power between the sexes in the future to balance in the middle and create a real and real balance. If we look at the global problems, such an approach can only make sense.

Different pagan tendencies are not necessarily mutually exclusive for the followers of the Wicca. Members of a Wicca coven can also belong to other spiritual groups, other magical cults or the world religions. Although many covens, for example, reject Christian church membership, there are quite a few who also allow that.

Some Wiccans work with the African voodoo magic or the Central / Latin American Santeria, the indigenous shamanism of North America or the Celtic druidism. In the last few decades independent currents have developed that integrated elements of other spiritual paths into their rituals.

Wicca is a creative cultic-religious movement that preserves old magical traditions only if they are meaningful and meet the requirements of today's spiritual development. This is also in the verifiable sense of Gerald Gardner, who wanted to know the traditional BOS creatively reviewed and supplemented, by the following generations. However, not everything old is discarded, for the roots are sacred to the Great Mother. Remembering where we come from is important to most Wiccans. Because the tree cannot grow without roots.

Wicca is an innovative movement in the New Eon of Horus. This is also what makes Wicca so attractive today. However, this should not be understood in such a way that arbitrariness determines the rituals or ceremonies. The magic in our countries relates primarily to pagan, preferably Celtic, but also increasingly Germanic traditions, without the latter having anything to do with National Socialist abuse.

Unfortunately, Germanic-oriented Wiccans are often put in the brown drawer. The main aim is to reawaken our heritage (e.g. runes) and to use the energies positively, to carefully open the closed, taboo-laden symbols (such as the swastika) and to work with the liberated energies for the benefit of the community, possibly it to develop further.

See also my article “German Mythology”, part 1 +2, published in the magazine “Tattva Viveka” No. 14 (July 2000) and No. 15 (November 2000); also on the Internet in the Philosophy Knowledge Archive.

Egyptian mysteries and symbols also play through the tradition of the O.T.O. still a special role in many covens. The influence of the "Eleusinian Mysteries", which in ancient Greece held a decisive role for the serious seeker, are also clear. In Eleusis, the seasons were ritually celebrated with festivals and initiation rites were performed in mysteries.

These intermingling leads to new branches in the Wicca cult. For the past twenty years these alchemical processes have been a constant source of misunderstanding. Many Wiccans meanwhile hold the view that all pagan and natural religious currents within the cult have similarities (= e.g. drawing the circle, invoking the cardinal points, honoring the elements), which come together in a Wicca core tradition let yourself be grasped. This exists beyond any doubt and ensures a lively and stable trunk from which many branches grow. The ethnologist Michael Harner made similar considerations for shamanism.

Shamanism has been experiencing an enormous rebirth in western countries for several years. At the beginning of the 80s, shamanism came to the German-speaking area with the historically important Alpach congresses.

This was followed by the "Planetary Rainbow Gathering" in Interlaken, where for the first time representatives of all leading religions and cultures on planet earth sat together in the Indian medicine wheel.

Representatives of the indigenous peoples who have come to Europe in the last twenty years have repeatedly pointed out that their goal is not to Indianize the Europeans. We Europeans are not Indians and are usually far too domesticated to be shamans in the original sense, who, like all indigenous peoples, are strongly guided by their instincts.

Unfortunately, we have lost this positive ability. The above advisors saw themselves as an initial spark, so that one's own European-shamanic roots can be discovered and a new / old "trunk" with many branches can grow.

According to her, which is still relevant, it is important to revive the pagan shamanic traditions in Europe or to discover the little that our ancestors have handed down in terms of useful material.

Perhaps it is even necessary to creatively invent appropriate rituals on the worldwide similar structure of shamanism with the coloring of our own cultural and magical needs! Quite a few committed Wiccans in Europe are in the process of doing this work. It's not for nothing that our cult is called “The Art”.

Historically, the Christian faith and the later Inquisition completely wiped out the Celtic and Germanic tribal communities in Europe and, in the long term, displaced them. The shamanic knowledge could only survive in secret in a few families who were (and are) those who authentically pass on the witch knowledge to their descendants up to our time (see above family traditions: Hereditary).

In this respect, the ancient Wiccan tradition may be much older than it is depicted in the described revivals by Gardner and Sanders and many others. There are voices who credibly claim that the Wicca comes from a European shamanic primal religion that goes back to the Stone Age. The whole historical story may be true, but in any case it is no longer consistently unbroken. So it is pointless to debate it. What is more important is what committed Wiccans are currently doing and where the movement is evolving.

From 1984/85 onwards, the Celtic Wicca elements of the TBW by Berthold Röth and the shamanic Indian sun dance teachings of sweet medicine (Deer Tribe Metis Medicine Society) by the medicine woman Diane Seadancer were successfully mixed in an alchemical ceremony. This gave rise to the tradition of the Celtsun Medical Society, from which the Celtsun Wicca originate and form an independent group.

The word Celtsun means "Celt" for "Celtic" and "Sun" for the Indian "sun dance". Here the sun unites with the moon (Wicca), fire with the water (Wicca). Together they create a rainbow. According to an Indian prophecy, the future of the earth belongs to the rainbow people. Because despite the different skin colors of the human races, the same (long-mixed) red blood flows in all of us, the color of our bones is white and the love of our hearts includes everything.

"Rainbow people - with one heart and many colors"

A German network has been growing since 1996, in which Gardnerian-Wicca, Alexandrian-Wicca, Celtsun-Wicca, Istari-Wicca, Free Flying, Vikings, Thelemites, O.T.O., representatives of Druid and Daoist traditions and representatives of the Earth Lodge organizational group can meet. By helping to build new pagan brotherhoods and sororities, a better relationship between the sexes is promoted and the unification of the original tribes of Europe is sought.

The aforementioned Wicca lines also support the vision of Hyemeyohsts Storm, who built the Black Horse war medicine wheel for Europe in 1995, which would reshape Europe for the next 12 years. The so-called Shamanic Wicca (generic term) include both the traditional Celtsun-Wicca, which is more than twenty years old, and the new Istari-Wicca line, of which I am the high priestess.

"Let's be one (in a circle) to worship the force, the force that moves the universe. Merry meet again!"

Sources / references:

  • Janet Farrar & Gavin Bone: "Progressive Witchcraft", Arun-Verlag 2005
  • Vivianne Crowley: "Wicca" - The Old Religion in the New Age -, Edition Ananael 1993
  • June Jones: "The Witches King" - The World of Alex Sanders -, The World of Books Ltd., London 1984, ISBN 3-88325-321-9
  • Colin Wilson: "Das Occkulte" - The ultimate book for those who would walk with the Gods -, March-Verlag, Berlin 1982 (now as TB)
  • Ross Nichols: "The magical knowledge of the Druids" - tradition and history of the Celtic secret doctrine -, Heyne Verlag, Munich 1998, TB
  • Josef Dvorak: "Satanism" - Heyne Verlag, Munich 2000, TB
  • Ean Begg: "The Unholy Virgin" - The Riddle of the Black Madonna -, Edition Tramontane, Bad Münstereifel 1987
  • Eire Rautenberg: “German Mythology”, part 1 in the “Tattva Viveka” (July 2000), part 2 in the “Tattva Viveka”, November 2000
  • Berthold Röth: "Modern witches - the shamanic tradition of Wicca", article 1992, published on the Internet
  • Berthold Röth: "Natural religion and witchcraft" - The European tradition of (new) paganism -, article in "Tattva Viveka" No. 9
  • Claudia Hötzendorfer: “Wicca - a changing tradition”, article in “Visionen” No. 6/20022
  • John Carter: "Space travel, sex and rituals" - The occult world of Jack Parsons, Hadit Verlag 2003

Eire Rautenberg