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  • What is a Traditional Witchcraft?

    This post will only speak for my own personal beliefs/convictions as a Traditional Witch (Trad Witch from here on in the post)... However, I will try to generalize as much as possible to create some form of flexibility for those who have opposing/differing viewpoints.

    Trad Witchcraft as referred to in this post is seen as Common Traditional Witchcraft or "CTW" instead of British Traditional Witchcraft or "BTW". Common Trad Witchcraft is whatever works for the individual Witch with roots in many sources/practices.

    Trad Witchcraft is a personal path that may be religious, spiritual, both, or atheistic. It can be passed down from generation to generation but it can also be a path that is stumbled upon that resonates within the spirit of the Witch. To follow a Trad Witchcraft path is not a decision made overnight but a decision based on years of studying, reflecting, soul-searching, and practicing in some way, shape, or form.

    Trad Witchcraft is not Wicca. There is Traditional Wicca (which is neither solitary nor eclectic) that may have bits and pieces in common with Trad Witchcraft, but not much from my understanding of things.

    Below are just some outlined common beliefs that Trad Witches may share, even if the methods or interpretations vary from Witch to Witch. In Trad Witchcraft, there is really no right or wrong answer/belief. It is an individualized path free from rules and regulations except the mores/ethics of the individual Witch.

    • Trad Witches may or may not believe in/associate with any form of Deity or Cosmic Power. However, almost all Trad Witches honor/revere Nature especially since seeing oneself as Nature is therefore finding Deity within the individual Self. [As for myself, I am very into Goddess-worship, however that is just me and works for me.]

    • Trad Witches do not follow an established set of rules or regulations but develop their own mores/ethics and take responsibility for their actions and the consequences thereof.

    • Many Trad Witches may or may not get tired of hearing "Blessed Be", "Perfect Love and Perfect Trust", and other Wicca colloquialisms. Read the next bullet as to why this may be so.

    • Trad Witches are not all "love and light". We, in fact, maintain the balance of Light and Dark, Positive and Negative, and work with equality in healings/cures and hexings/curses. Although, it all depends on one's mores/ethics to determine just how far one would go to achieve what is desired.

    • Trad Witches do not call the quarters or watchtowers and cast circles as done in Wicca, but may call in the directions or elements to guide and enhance the workings. Some call this the Compass Round, Treading the Mill, Marking, etc. The Trad Witch view of circles is for protection or to build up energies for release.

    • Some Trad Witches do not celebrate the Pagan holidays (Sabbats, Quarter and Cross Quarter celebrations) but may observe the holidays that they choose to observe instead. The same goes with Esbats, or, Lunar celebrations.

    • Trad Witches believe in the Spirit realm and communicate between both the Spirit realm and the Human realm. Beliefs of afterlife vary between Witches.

    • Trad Witches may or may not choose to incorporate various other religious/belief systems or practices (i.e. Christianity, Hoodoo, Voodoo, Buddhism, New Age, Spiritualism, Occultism, etc.).

    • Many Trad Witches rely on the power of Self to achieve their desire. Some may use tools of some sort to aid concentration and focus, others may not. One of the biggest things one will hear a Trad Witch say is that one must know themselves. The Self is the greatest tool/weapon that the Witch has and it comprises of the will, intent, mind, body, and spirit of the Witch.

    These are just some of the generalized, basic beliefs of Traditional Witches. Again, all of these are from my experiences as a Trad Witch and is not meant to be a comprehensive self-help to Trad Witchcraft.

    Hope you enjoyed getting to know a bit about what Traditional Witchcraft, or Common Traditional Witchraft, really is.
    Last edited by Meisopomenos; March 5th, 2009, 02:59 AM. Reason: Edit.

  • #2
    Also, just to make note...

    The Trad Witches that I know enjoy the movies "Practical Magic" and "Hocus Pocus". It's entertainment and fictional, but relates to Traditional Witchcraft more than other movies... This isn't really pertinent to the thread, but just thought of it and thought it may give a better idea of movies that are more related to Trad Witchcraft.

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    • #3
      Thanks for sharing that with us. I've not come across the term common traditional witchcraft before. Does this have more of an emphasis on hedge-riding and less of an emphasis on local herblore than British traditional witchcraft?

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      • #4
        So this would include the folk groups like Appalachian folk magic, Pennsylvania Dutch and Ozark folk magic? Or am I mistaken?
        sigpicI have been llama'ed by Meisopomenos

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        • #5
          Originally posted by green aventurine View Post
          Thanks for sharing that with us. I've not come across the term common traditional witchcraft before. Does this have more of an emphasis on hedge-riding and less of an emphasis on local herblore than British traditional witchcraft?
          Actually, local herblore is very dominant as well (especially for those using Hoodoo), but for some TW's (Trad Witches) the herb may speak to them and give them a different definition of how they want to be used by their energies. There is also a LOT of hedge-riding but is done in each one's own unique individual way.

          I am not BTW so I cannot speak because I don't fully know what they believe (although they are seen as TW's as well...) From what I do know, BTW is an initiatory form of Trad Witchcraft and is hierarchically structured and very secretive.

          CTW is more of a self-developed path and practice (not always religious) that steps outside the bounds of Wicca and tends to focus on the development of Self and the power that comes with the knowledge of self and the understanding of balance without rules or regulations outside of the Witch's personal convictions and the level of secrecy is up to the Witch alone. Those who have been taught by family, however, will have much secrecy because it is a hereditary bond and can only be revealed to other family members or those who the Trad Witch sees fit to welcome to some or all of their family beliefs. (Yes, no "harm none" or "three-fold law" in Trad Craft!)

          I hope I didn't run in circles or become redundant. Hopefully that answers your question.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Carri View Post
            So this would include the folk groups like Appalachian folk magic, Pennsylvania Dutch and Ozark folk magic? Or am I mistaken?
            Nope, you're correct.

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            • #7
              Thanks for your reply. It did answer my question well and a couple of others that I had. I should probably say that I am neither Wiccan nor BTW myself although I have found both these areas of interest and now CTW as well. If I've understood you right, then it would be possible for a (non-wiccan) trad witch to live in Britain and be CTW rather than have to follow or be classified as BTW?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by green aventurine View Post
                Thanks for your reply. It did answer my question well and a couple of others that I had. I should probably say that I am neither Wiccan nor BTW myself although I have found both these areas of interest and now CTW as well. If I've understood you right, then it would be possible for a (non-wiccan) trad witch to live in Britain and be CTW rather than have to follow or be classified as BTW?

                Absolutely! As a matter of fact, a Witch (CTW) can live anywhere and incorporate local and/or non-local practices, beliefs, and/or religions. Matter of fact, you can even incorporate Wicca into a Trad Craft format. (Although, I have a hard time swallowing that but, it's possible just like being a Christian with Trad Witch practices/beliefs.)

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                • #9
                  That's interesting. CTW seems to me like core traditional witchcraft where the word 'core' would be used in the same way as it is used in the term 'core shamanism' (I haven't read Michael Harner myself but I'm guessing people like Leo Rutherford and Alberto Villoldo would be in a similar vein who I have read).

                  Originally posted by Meisopomenos View Post
                  Matter of fact, you can even incorporate Wicca into a Trad Craft format. (Although, I have a hard time swallowing that but, it's possible just like being a Christian with Trad Witch practices/beliefs.)
                  Yes, it crossed my mind that technically you could incorporate Wicca (or even BTW, perhaps). I personally like the tantric side of Wicca but not so much the ethics or the idea of drawing a circle and calling everything into it. I'd be interested to see how people would do it.

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                  • #10
                    I know I'm going to get blasted for this but the explanation seems too vague. What makes traditional witchcraft different from other styles of witchcraft?
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                    Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. - Buddha

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                    • #11
                      Phil...

                      I've tried explaining it before to you, but when you state that I just really don't know what you are asking. Your questions are vague and I just cannot seem to answer them.

                      Maybe I should ask you why YOUR style of witchcraft is different from others?

                      Maybe then I could understand exactly why you are asking that question...

                      I could just get aggravated with that question since I've heard it, I don't know how many times now... But in all seriousness, what is it that you don't get with the explanations that you have been given? Why are you asking that question?

                      If you ask me a specific question, I will give you (or try to find you) a specific answer...

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Meisopomenos View Post
                        Phil...

                        I've tried explaining it before to you, but when you state that I just really don't know what you are asking. Your questions are vague and I just cannot seem to answer them.


                        I never saw that answer so I do apologize. My question really isn't vague since it pertains to what you believe traditional witchcraft is.

                        Maybe I should ask you why YOUR style of witchcraft is different from others?
                        But I don't put my style of witchcraft under the heading of traditional witchcraft, even though, by your definition, it could be.

                        Maybe then I could understand exactly why you are asking that question...
                        I thought it was obvious why I was asking the question.

                        I could just get aggravated with that question since I've heard it, I don't know how many times now... But in all seriousness, what is it that you don't get with the explanations that you have been given? Why are you asking that question?
                        I've only asked twice (and this was a second time). You've only given me one explanation. The reason I'm asking the question is because your definition of traditional witchcraft is too vague.

                        If you ask me a specific question, I will give you (or try to find you) a specific answer...
                        Okay, I'll try asking again, even though I thought I was being specific enough. What makes traditional witchcraft different than other witchcraft paths?
                        Facebook::Witch blog::Book Blog
                        Gods and Goddesses, Paths: Dianic & Goddess Witchcraft, Theology & Philosophy, Just Current Events, and Political Pagan Forum Guide.

                        Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. - Buddha

                        Question everything.

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                        • #13
                          I some what agree with Philosophia on this one. When I read your defination I see more of a 20th century catch all phrase than what traditional witchcraft is from my experience. The broad stroke of covering things seems just that to me, a broad brush.

                          Trad Witches may or may not believe in/associate with any form of Deity or Cosmic Power. However, almost all Trad Witches honor/revere Nature especially since seeing oneself as Nature is therefore finding Deity within the individual Self. [As for myself, I am very into Goddess-worship, however that is just me and works for me.]
                          To some degree I agree with this but dispute the notion that almost all trad witches honor or revere nature. Nature is more often than not the canvas upon which the trad witch gathers the componets of thier craft. It is not honored nor revered only attempted to be understood and feel the ebb and flow of its cycles. It is a cycle of understanding and knowning the relationship of all componets of it.

                          What you fail to state is that most trad witch's define their morals and religious beliefs based upon the social norms of thier area of influence. The PowWow of Penn is based upon those social and religious norms, the Applachian Witch is based upon those beliefs and influences. The Blue Ridge folk witches are heavly influenced by the Christian influences also. Many to include or be built around a Christian religious foundation.

                          Parts of the lore actually passed into some of the more remote facets of Christain religions and the ways they are practiced in the mountains and hollows.

                          Trad Witches are not all "love and light". We, in fact, maintain the balance of Light and Dark, Positive and Negative, and work with equality in healings/cures and hexings/curses. Although, it all depends on one's mores/ethics to determine just how far one would go to achieve what is desired.
                          Now this one I do agree with.

                          Trad Witches do not call the quarters or watchtowers and cast circles as done in Wicca, but may call in the directions or elements to guide and enhance the workings. Some call this the Compass Round, Treading the Mill, Marking, etc. The Trad Witch view of circles is for protection or to build up energies for release.
                          That is another broad brush statement. Most of the Blue Ridge mountain witch's I know do not do any of that. Most of the Appalachain witches I have spoken to also do not do any of that. The PowWow does something different based upon the strong biblical influence.

                          Most do no even acknowledge the notion of circles of protection. Mosty of your statement actually seem's to be reflective of the "Modern" pagan view of what they do.

                          Heck most that I am aware of only do charms and wards. Very few do or even understand the notion of high magics. Yet, the herb lore and green or kitchen witch facets are far above the average.

                          Some Trad Witches do not celebrate the Pagan holidays (Sabbats, Quarter and Cross Quarter celebrations) but may observe the holidays that they choose to observe instead. The same goes with Esbats, or, Lunar celebrations.

                          Again, another modern pagan notion of what they do. Most I am familiar with acknowledge none of the so called pagan holidays as we know them today. Many acknowledge the old mountain festivals or local holidays and traditions that have been passed down through the years. Some do acknowledge the notion of the full moon and its influence but that is from a natural association not so called pagan perspectives.

                          Trad Witches believe in the Spirit realm and communicate between both the Spirit realm and the Human realm. Beliefs of afterlife vary between Witches


                          Some do, some don't. Many of the one's I know wouldn't be caught dead speaking to the dead. Other's will not do it them selves but go to a person that is a spirit keeper or such to communicate with the deceased.

                          After life is often driven by the religious association they have.

                          Trad Witches may or may not choose to incorporate various other religious/belief systems or practices (i.e. Christianity, Hoodoo, Voodoo, Buddhism, New Age, Spiritualism, Occultism, etc.).



                          Again a modern notion of what traditional is. The trad I was raised under would only include things from Christianity if any. The other items are at best new notion concepts.

                          In my family we have water witches, we have spirit keepers, we have the old wise woman. Yet none of them would ever consider or even know what most of those other things were or are.

                          I probally have more exposure to them than any one else in my family. Yet, as a Green Witch I do not incorporate any of them into my practive. As a follower of a Shamanic notion I do not do it either.

                          With regard to occultism, well occult means things hidden so that I suppose I do.

                          Many Trad Witches rely on the power of Self to achieve their desire. Some may use tools of some sort to aid concentration and focus, others may not. One of the biggest things one will hear a Trad Witch say is that one must know themselves. The Self is the greatest tool/weapon that the Witch has and it comprises of the will, intent, mind, body, and spirit of the Witch.
                          Again a yes and no answer. Depends on the function of the particular witch calling. As a brewer of spells and potions the power of self is nothing it is all in the knowledge of lore and herbs. As a water witch, again power of self is only important to the ability of the witch to feel and touch the energy of what they seek.

                          Sorry but your traditional witchcraft is not what I know and was raised around in the mountains. It is not what I was taught by my relatives or things I was exposed to by various occult groups and other religious traditions.

                          Perhaps a traditional view of modern notion of what a traditional witch is but not one that has been handed down through the family lines or lore of the mountain's and farm lands.

                          Not to say it is wrong for you but to my understanding it is incorrect, at least in title concept anyway.

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                          • #14
                            Again, my definition was not meant to be a guideline for all Trad Witches... Those were just some basic beliefs as I have known and seen among the Trad Witches I have been around. Also, the Trad Witches I have been around do tend to have a modern aspect to their Craft and use whatever work for them.

                            With your post, it is proof of just why I could only make such a "broad" or "vague" statement/post. There are so many forms of Trad Craft, but the one I have been stating mostly refers to Common Traditional Witchcraft, the way it is through my eyes...

                            Again, the post wasn't meant to sum up everything.

                            Also, I appreciate your post MonSno_LeeDra... But please don't think that my post was meant to define all Trad Witches, just the ones I have been exposed to and the path that I follow. It just barely skims the complex surface of Trad Craft.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Philosophia View Post
                              What makes traditional witchcraft different than other witchcraft paths?
                              In lieu of MonSno_LeeDra's post...

                              How about letting other members help define Trad Craft the way they see it through their eyes? I can only skim the surface and my perspective is, as you say, "vague." There are so many forms of Trad Craft and my post only skims the surface and even then, it is limited to what I have seen, studied, and done.

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