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Phyllis Curott

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  • #31
    I just read 'Witchcrafting' and, to be honest, I found that I didn't agree with most of it. Most irritating was the absolutely ENDLESS sniping at Christianity. 'Book of Shadows' annoyed me with its anti-Christian bias, but 'Witchcrafting' goes even further. I'm beginning to get very, very tired of the whole Christian-bashing thing, and wish people would just get the hell over it already. But I digress.
    There is a large amount of information in this book, but it's not anything that dozens of Wicca 101 books have presented before. It's always a good thing to have more than one persepctive, and Ms. Curott has a very good writing style, but she's just rehasing what's already been done.
    The history in her book......well, it is to laugh. While she does say that Wicca is a newer religion, she drags out the damnable phrase 'women's holocaust' and says that those killed were usually pagans, midwives, and healers, the whole bit as you'll find it in any other Wicca 101 book, except with a disturbing twist: She reccomends Triumph of the Moon in the very same chapter, and has it in the references, yet seems to have completely ignored the destruction of the silly idea that midwives and healers got the full brunt of persecution. I don't remember if 'Triumph of the Moon' says so, but we know now that it was usually the midwife or healer who would be the first to accuse someone of witchcraft, a truth that will have many a Wiccan sticking their head in the sand for years to come, I am certain.
    Rather irritating is all this endless talk of energy, energy, energy; intuition, intuition, intuition. I myself am psychic as a brick and it was annoying to see all the material components of magic dismissed as props, the ceremonialist who works with a recepie type of spellwork gently mocked and derided. Ms. Curott insists that the energy comes from you the spellcaster, so why, then, would you use herbs and stones and things in the first place?
    I can't really get my opinion across on this book...it's not good. it's not bad. I've seen better and I've seen worse. It's just sort of.................there.
    Score:
    Christian-bashing: -1
    Shoddy history in spite of referencing 'Triumph': -3
    Decent beginner's info: +1
    Nice, conversational writing style: +2
    Okay spell ideas: +1
    Overall score: 0 (maybe 0+)

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    • #32
      Originally posted by Silverfire Darkmoon
      we know now that it was usually the midwife or healer who would be the first to accuse someone of witchcraft, a truth that will have many a Wiccan sticking their head in the sand for years to come, I am certain.
      I've been researching the witchcraze like mad lately and I don't "know" this. I have several good, scholarly sources saying the opposite. I'd be very interested in knowing where you read this, as I'd like to look into it.
      Please visit my blog!

      Nowadays, every girl with a henna tattoo and a spice rack thinks she's a Sister of the Dark Ones. —Willow Rosenberg

      If that which thou seekest, thou findest not within thee, thou wilt never find it without thee.
      www.deborahlipp.com

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      • #33
        There's a sterling article on the CoG website that may be found here: http://www.cog.org/witch_hunt.html
        and I think there's a bit in the second-to-last chapter of 'Triumph of the Moon'. It does make sense to me, at least - witchcraft primarily affected things in the female domestic sphere, like deforming babies, bewitching butter churns, and whatnot, so the accuser would usually be a woman. And, of course, in Salem, it was that foul cabal of 'witch-bitches' (as one of the accused called them, I think it was John Proctor) what did all the accusing, and not a male among the lot.
        I also think that a doctor would probably resort to witchcraft as a cause of last resort, so as to a: preserve his reputation and b: because if medicine is supposed to be so damn great, then why the hell can't it cure whatever has gone wrong? In order to keep professional medicine in good standing, I imagine they'd be very hesitant to resort to accusations of witchcraft.
        Of course, my opinions reflect my reading, and yours reflects yours, and we have obviously read different sources.
        I think the author of that article had more on the subject in her reviw of Z. Budapest's book 'The Holy Book of Women's Mysteries', but the site those reviews are on appears to be down, unfortunately.

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        • #34
          I'm familiar with Jenny Gibbons work. She has mixed praise for Anne Llewellyn Barstow, whose research she praises but whose feminist polemics she condemns. (Gibbons' antipathy for Barstow may affect her judgement. In the article, she cites 2 reasons why Barstow increases the death toll from 60,000 to 100,000, but Barstow offered 3, and the 3rd is most compelling—Barstow includes the many deaths from other causes than execution, i.e. death in prison from starvation, torture, or suicide, mob lynchings before trial or after acquittal, and so on.)

          Barstow and Cohn (praised by Gibbons) both cite many cases of midwives being accused of witchcraft, and many cases where midwifery was, in fact, part of the charges against a woman. That is, one could be accused of "witchcraft, consorting with the devil, and practicing womanly arts" (midwifery). It was a common cause for accusation, particularly in cases where full-blown witchcrazes were not occuring. One of the chief fears about witches is that they were consecrating babies to the devil. It seems like one of the prime reasons that midwives were accused is not that they were medical competitors, but that they got to babies before clergy could, and therefore could "baptize" to the devil before clergy had a chance to baptize to Christ. During witchcrazes, midwives took care not to be alone with the infant or the mother. Gibbons says that midwives were unlikely to be accused of witchcraft, but she doesn't separate her figures for "normal" accusations and accusations during witchcrazes. Several authors I've read point out that during crazes, everyone could get swept up in it. In order to figure out who was likely to be accused, you have to separate the figures. It is during "normal" periods that midwives were in the greatest danger.

          I am currently about halfway through The Devil in Shape of a Woman, a very well documented book about New England witch hunts, including but not limited to Salem. It is pretty clear that New England's witch hunts were different from Europe in a number of important ways, so throwing in a remark about Salem to make your case is not likely to really support the argument. At any rate, you change partway through, we started by talking about midwives and now you're talking about women.
          Please visit my blog!

          Nowadays, every girl with a henna tattoo and a spice rack thinks she's a Sister of the Dark Ones. —Willow Rosenberg

          If that which thou seekest, thou findest not within thee, thou wilt never find it without thee.
          www.deborahlipp.com

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          • #35
            Originally posted by Silverfire Darkmoon
            Rather irritating is all this endless talk of energy, energy, energy; intuition, intuition, intuition. I myself am psychic as a brick and it was annoying to see all the material components of magic dismissed as props, the ceremonialist who works with a recepie type of spellwork gently mocked and derided. Ms. Curott insists that the energy comes from you the spellcaster, so why, then, would you use herbs and stones and things in the first place?
            Well, the belief is that herbs and stones and things are used in order to focus the energy of the magician/witch. They have no specific powers of their own, but they act as metaphysical prisms, harnessing the energy put out by the practitioner and focusing it in a particular direction. For instance, when casting a circle with an athame, you are the one who actually provides the energy and does all the work, but your energy is directed into the point of the athame and therefore focused for better use. Therefore, you *could* cast circle with only a finger, but the athame serves to make it more powerful.

            This is why we call them "tools". They are themselves powerless unless used by someone.

            And by the way, you don't have to be psychic to have energy and intuition. It's a matter of focused intent. Even a good Ceremonial Magician would agree with that.
            Ben Trismegistus
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            • #36
              Originally posted by Ben Trismegistus
              Well, the belief is that herbs and stones and things are used in order to focus the energy of the magician/witch. They have no specific powers of their own, but they act as metaphysical prisms, harnessing the energy put out by the practitioner and focusing it in a particular direction. For instance, when casting a circle with an athame, you are the one who actually provides the energy and does all the work, but your energy is directed into the point of the athame and therefore focused for better use. Therefore, you *could* cast circle with only a finger, but the athame serves to make it more powerful.

              This is why we call them "tools". They are themselves powerless unless used by someone.
              AND not everyone agrees with this view. There are different ways of viewing it. In The Way of Four Spellbook (forthcoming) I discuss different sources of power. Viewing a stone or tool as being only a prop is, IMO, limited. Here are other powers a stone, herb, or tool may have:
              • The power of the magician/witch; the use of the item as a prop to focus the mind
              • Its own power; the inherent power of its life force, molecular structure, vibratory rate, etc.
              • The stored power of cultural belief. This is a common power of something like Tarot cards, in which the fact that others have used them a great deal over a length of time builds up a well of power that the magician taps when using the tool.
              • The stored power of repeated use by the individual. For example, one's athame becomes more powerful over time because it retains some charge from each working.
              • The stored power deliberately placed in it through consecration or charging.
              Please visit my blog!

              Nowadays, every girl with a henna tattoo and a spice rack thinks she's a Sister of the Dark Ones. —Willow Rosenberg

              If that which thou seekest, thou findest not within thee, thou wilt never find it without thee.
              www.deborahlipp.com

              Comment


              • #37
                Originally posted by DebLipp
                AND not everyone agrees with this view. There are different ways of viewing it. In The Way of Four Spellbook (forthcoming) I discuss different sources of power. Viewing a stone or tool as being only a prop is, IMO, limited. Here are other powers a stone, herb, or tool may have:
                • The power of the magician/witch; the use of the item as a prop to focus the mind
                • Its own power; the inherent power of its life force, molecular structure, vibratory rate, etc.
                • The stored power of cultural belief. This is a common power of something like Tarot cards, in which the fact that others have used them a great deal over a length of time builds up a well of power that the magician taps when using the tool.
                • The stored power of repeated use by the individual. For example, one's athame becomes more powerful over time because it retains some charge from each working.
                • The stored power deliberately placed in it through consecration or charging.
                Yes that's all true. I was just explaining Phyllis's viewpoint as an answer to Silverfire's question.

                But wouldn't you agree that even with those other sources of power, a tool will have little effect if not wielded by a magician with well-focused intent?
                Ben Trismegistus
                Super-Cool Retired Admin Type

                R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to me. Click here.


                Check out my former rock band, Wayward Sun!

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                • #38
                  Originally posted by Ben Trismegistus
                  Yes that's all true. I was just explaining Phyllis's viewpoint as an answer to Silverfire's question.

                  But wouldn't you agree that even with those other sources of power, a tool will have little effect if not wielded by a magician with well-focused intent?
                  Sure, that's true. A car is nothing much if you can't drive. But if you CAN drive, a Ferrari is way better than a Ford Escort.
                  Please visit my blog!

                  Nowadays, every girl with a henna tattoo and a spice rack thinks she's a Sister of the Dark Ones. —Willow Rosenberg

                  If that which thou seekest, thou findest not within thee, thou wilt never find it without thee.
                  www.deborahlipp.com

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                  • #39
                    Originally posted by DebLipp
                    Sure, that's true. A car is nothing much if you can't drive. But if you CAN drive, a Ferrari is way better than a Ford Escort.
                    Except in gas mileage.
                    Ben Trismegistus
                    Super-Cool Retired Admin Type

                    R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to me. Click here.


                    Check out my former rock band, Wayward Sun!

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                    • #40
                      Originally posted by DebLipp
                      AND not everyone agrees with this view. There are different ways of viewing it. In The Way of Four Spellbook (forthcoming) I discuss different sources of power. Viewing a stone or tool as being only a prop is, IMO, limited. Here are other powers a stone, herb, or tool may have:
                      • The power of the magician/witch; the use of the item as a prop to focus the mind
                      • Its own power; the inherent power of its life force, molecular structure, vibratory rate, etc.
                      • The stored power of cultural belief. This is a common power of something like Tarot cards, in which the fact that others have used them a great deal over a length of time builds up a well of power that the magician taps when using the tool.
                      • The stored power of repeated use by the individual. For example, one's athame becomes more powerful over time because it retains some charge from each working.
                      • The stored power deliberately placed in it through consecration or charging.
                      I'd add one other possible way of looking at the inherent "power" in things...

                      If you consider the Divine to be immanent, that is to be actually present in all things, then perhaps the power in a stone or a plant or even manufactured items is that thing's Divine essence?

                      And perhaps the energy/essence has very distinct flavours and strengths depending on the particular item (i.e. the type of plant, as well as the individual plant when compared with others of its species.)

                      I guess it's sort of an animistic view of things. But it is one that I think is very much in tune with a lot of Wiccan and other Pagan philosophy.

                      (And I agree with both you and Ben T. in the comparison to having a car and knowing how to actually drive.)

                      Ben Gruagach
                      MysticWicks forum guide in "Paths: Wicca", "Books" and "History"
                      author of The Wiccan Mystic: Exploring a Magickal Spiritual Path
                      visit my website at http://www.witchgrotto.com
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                      • #41
                        Originally posted by Ben Trismegistus
                        Except in gas mileage.
                        And insurance premiums.
                        Please visit my blog!

                        Nowadays, every girl with a henna tattoo and a spice rack thinks she's a Sister of the Dark Ones. —Willow Rosenberg

                        If that which thou seekest, thou findest not within thee, thou wilt never find it without thee.
                        www.deborahlipp.com

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          I read Book of Shadows, and I thought it was great to hear about someone else's path into the Craft. I also think it's great to have a Pagan Lawyer available. P.C. was also in the pbs program "Religion and Ethics Weekly" which did a blurb about Wicca and I thought she did a great job in it. I didn't know about the protesting of "The Craft". I'd like to know more about that. The fact that she had the guts to do shuch a think is cool in my book. I'm not going to poo poo her money -she's a lawyer, naturaly she's going to have more than I. It's not like she didn't earn it.

                          Dove


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                          • #43
                            "One of the chief fears about witches is that they were consecrating babies to the devil."
                            Ooooooooohhh, that's something I never even THOUGHT of! This is why I love getting into discussions like this; other people's viewpoints give valuable insights and new perspectves on things.
                            I had something to say about one of the statements in her book about how the Church tried to take power away from the pagan religions or soemthing, but now I can't remember what it was! Damn and blast. This is why I can't do any drugs - my memory is bad enough as it is!
                            As for tools, I think it's an error to say that they're just props, but I also think it's an error to say that they're essential to magical work. The truth, as with everything else, lies between, it would seem.

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                            • #44
                              Phyllis Curott

                              MM,

                              I have her first two books and I enjoyed both of them. With most books I take the things that I can relate to and incorporate them into my craft. I found her books easy to read and enjoyable. As for how her first book was promoted, to me me thats neither here nor there..You can't run for public office without the almighty dollar ..it may not be fair but it is what makes the world go round...I'm sure there are many talented people in the world that don't get their five minutes or more of fame but thats life...I won't boycott someones work because they had the doe to promote it and get it out there for me to look at it......I guess its not soo much how you get to the top as what you do when you get there...She has been quite active..

                              I would much rather read Curott then Fiona Horne...she destroyed any credibility the craft had with her abysmal performance on Mad House..

                              Ugggg!

                              BB,

                              Niamh
                              :shifto sleep, perchance to dream

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                              • #45
                                I like Phyllis since Book of Shadows was the first book I read that was Witchcraft related and was something I could relate to very easily being both because of her writing style and being a fellow New Yorker I know of many of the places she referenced in her books. Having her talk about her journey into Witchcraft spoke to me and felt "right" and help dispell some fears I had about Witchcraft at the time.

                                As for Fiona I will have defer to Phyllis since I belive they are friends and because Morgana owner Morgana's Chamber here in the city spoke highly of her when I brought up the whole a Mad Mad house controversy.
                                "It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are tweny gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg"- Thomas Jefferson
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