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Traditional Witchcraft and..."degrees"

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  • Mairwen
    replied
    i figured you're welcome

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  • Humming Bird
    replied
    Originally posted by Mairwen View Post

    Margaret


    Yep i got them half mixed-up. Thank you for that clarification.

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  • Mairwen
    replied
    Originally posted by Humming Bird View Post
    Margot Murray
    Margaret



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  • Humming Bird
    replied
    That's mostly a Wiccan thing yes. There are today, various teaching covens of traditional witchcraft which have their specific lineage and use a degree structure simply because it is an excellant way to train people in a tradition. However, traditionally witchcraft was a very solitary practice. It certainly has more practitioners today than at any point in history. It's a different world. Sure, every once in a great while individual practitioners would gather out of need to accomplish a thing, but its always been a rather lone wolf sort of path classically. The notion of a Coven emerged from the naming of peers during accusatory confessionals. Then Margot Murray had a hand in putting forth this idea of a "Coven" and the "Sabbatic Dance".

    Traditional practice was taught master to apprentice, as many trades are.
    As with any trades, you sometimes had workers guilds.

    That's were things like Freemasonry come from, a workers guild.
    I'm sure Cunningfolk sometyimes had something similar though not as ritualized or ceremonial.
    It might have simply been getting together for cofee while discussing the issues of the day concerning that profession.
    Actually Wicca gets its idea of three degrees straight from Freemasonry.

    In all honesty, Wicca takes more from Hellenic views of initiation and mystery cults here than European Cunning, much to the ire of one, Robert Cochrane.
    The Hellenics were very big into ceremonies of initiation and rebirth and that influence is felt today, as this is just one thing we have inherited from the Greek world.

    -and that is something i want to stress. Initiation is not about titles, its about experiencing some sort of gnosis, a mystery and thus being more than you previously were.
    You can get that in traditions that dont do formal initiation, but its more of a "wax on wax off"kind of learning.

    In fact early Wiccans did not consider themselves pagan because at the time that was akin to peast or common folk and they saw themselves as clergy.
    Cochrane said No, this has always been a tradition of the common folk and so there wasa class battle in the feud between Gardner and Cochrane.

    Wicca gets the notion from Freemasonry and the OTO., and even the Golden Dawn.

    But we dont live in a world were people are going to move and spend years learning under a teacher on a 1 on 1 setting.

    I've seen plenty of Cochrane and Stregan traditions cross-pollenate with Gardnerian and/or Alexandrian lines and take that ceremonial structure they use as a basic for coven work, becoming a covened tradition.

    Do you have to be initiatied to be a traditional witch? No, not formally i wouldn't say so... but you couldnt just decide you were either, someone had to teach it to you. it wasnt like it is today were people can just pick up a book and start calling themselves a witch. Because witchcraft has a lore and a culture about it, and the cunning traditions it emerged from wasn't just "whatever feels right" but had its own techniques and such that would be instructed, and these things were highly kept secret just as trade secrets today are kept secret.

    i've also seen traditional witches and even cunningfolk adopt a degree system today as a sense of gatekeeping. I do not see an ything wrong with that so long as you are looking after your own traditions and arent trying to tell others they cant practice theirs.

    i myself have ev en developed by own third degree system as a way of developing the adept of Tsalagi 'Cherokee' medicine.
    These structures do have their place.

    Originally posted by Mairwen View Post

    i never even heard the term "granny witch" until somewhere around 2001? it just seemed to appear.
    This is spot on, the word witch hasn't been taken in a positive light by the most traditional of people since the witch trials. To us the term witch means something completely different than what it means to most in the neopagan community. Traditional Witches tend to actually like the lore and image than have from being associated to the trials, but in traditional communities that actually have folk medicine going back.. calling someone a witch isa pretty accusatory of malice or working in sin/taboo.

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  • Mairwen
    replied
    Originally posted by monsnoleedra View Post
    Just an aside but all the member's of family trads that I have dealt with never claim "Witch" as a title. There more Granny Magics, Cunning folk, Hedge Riders or practioners of folk magics. Seldom did one see any that called themselves witches.
    i never even heard the term "granny witch" until somewhere around 2001? it just seemed to appear.

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  • Mairwen
    replied
    Originally posted by Humming Bird View Post
    It sounds like they just assumed Wicca when they heard the term Witch.
    i think so, as well. it's a common mistake, sadly.

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  • underblackice
    replied
    I have a lot of those who claim to follow "traditional witchcraft", but I'll try to leave them at the door before I start this.

    First, "traditional witchcraft" is an exceptionally broad term, which can't really include any form of wicca because traditional implies, well, something with a history where at some point it has evolved to being non-traditional - and wicca is a 20th century religion.

    Secondly, the idea of degrees is fairly recent. The first universities to exist were around the 1100s, and that was a very narrow sort of education, open to very few people with a system that wasn't really evident anywhere else except in religious institutions (not religions, but the institutions, primarily Catholicism). The term "degree" itself originated in the "early 13c., from O.Fr. degré (12c.) "a step (of a stair), pace, degree (of relationship), academic degree; rank, status, position," said to be from V.L. *degradus "a step," from L.L. degredare, from L. de- "down"". Etymologically, the word isn't likely to have passed into common usage until the 19th century, when many people still couldn't read and would have no need to understand the notion of a degree.

    Furthermore, in times where most people couldn't read or write (anywhere up until the Industrial Revolution, c.1750-1850), what need would they have for "degrees" or levels of any sort? People would simply progress. A more logical marker would be once they acquired a certain skill, or performed a certain act - but since skills and acts rarely occur in a routine order (for example, one may master herb-growing or gutting an animal, but neither has any reason to come before the other), there would no need to have a numbered system, more a "you can now sew" or "you are a herb-worker" or somesuch. Even in common trades there was simply an apprentice and master, not any degree or level except once one was on par with the master.

    All these things lead me to believe that claiming anything about Traditional Witchcraft without quite a few scholarly articles to prove it, or a family tree with evidence of witches in it, is rather stodgy. Perhaps some families have been practicing for several generations, but family witchcraft is not necessarily traditional (as in, that which was practiced in the British Isles and Europe prior to the 17th century or thereabouts).

    Additionally, I'm skeptical of the idea of covens existing anytime before the aforementioned industrial revolution. Perhaps teacher/learner crafters, but having a coven of witches just seems highly impractical, and at many times dangerous, an unworkable in a time when people spent their lives working to eat and survive, not to convene to worship the earth every moon-time with a group of like-minded people. Not to say witches didn't exist, just that I imagine they were solitary or else familial, and taught in the manner a mother teaches her child to wash their hair and brush their teeth and tie their laces and make lunch and so on. A part of life, not something separate which required levels to pass.

    Just my two cents' worth - I did not intend to attack or offend anyone, so I hope I have not done so.

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  • Louisvillian
    replied
    Originally posted by TuathaSidhe View Post
    Say huh? I was just informed that Traditional Witchcraft has a clergy and degrees, and that basically I am not a Trad. Witch if I don't follow that.

    So again...say huh? That sounds alot like Trad Wicca to me and not Trad Witchcraft.
    Depends on the form. There are Traditional Witchcraft covens and groups that use a similar degree system and priesthood structure as Traditional Wicca. That's because they all have the same roots in the Western Occult revival of the 19th and 20th centuries, and in Fam Trad folk magic practices. Remember, Wicca is a specific religion that practices witchcraft. It is not the only form of Witchcraft religion, and Trad Wicca is but one form of Trad Witchcraft.

    But, and this is just an outsider perspective here since I practise solitary(ish) Wicca, I wouldn't say that practising in a solitary system of a group that lacks a degree system would invalidate one's claim to being a Trad Witch. All that one requires is coming from a traditional witchcraft background with their practices.
    Last edited by Louisvillian; January 31st, 2012, 01:17 AM.

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  • Irishwaterz
    replied
    In The Tradition I was raised in and still follow there are 4 degrees and 6 levels within each degree, so basically you start off as a seeker and climb the levels after doing certain tasks, learning certain lessons, etc, You earn a level by doing this and then you earn another level and then after you have earned 6 levels you become a 1st Degree Shadak Witch and so on and so forth.

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  • monsnoleedra
    replied
    EntwinedScylla wrote: Erh... that I'd take exception to. In my experience there is a damn sight more focus on a dual god (not two gods, just one who plays two roles, probably related to the Bucca), and very little, if any, interaction with anything you might call a "Goddess".
    I know for my family it was more Spirit that was called upon. Almost genderless except to the content that it was seen more masculine / feminine depending upon who and why it was being done. For instance with moon rites for my sisters it was clearly feminine, for my part in understanding as a male it was semi-feminine. Yet very much masculine with regard to male mysteries.

    Oddly enough, anyone not related by blood to the family wasn't taught about it. Which means husbands and wives were utterly, -UTTERLY-, ignorant as to what their spouses were getting up to. And that there was nothing in the way of "sexual fertility magick" being done... for, eh... obvious reasons.
    For us one might, I say might be pulled in if they were deemed worthy by the elder. Though certain lessons and such were taught or shown so that the children were always influenced in the right way, even by those not part of the tradition.

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  • EntwinedScylla
    replied
    Originally posted by TuathaSidhe View Post
    Trad Craft is a clergy based goddess worshiping path who honor the goddess and the horned god...that is the "true" traditional witchcraft.
    Erh... that I'd take exception to. In my experience there is a damn sight more focus on a dual god (not two gods, just one who plays two roles, probably related to the Bucca), and very little, if any, interaction with anything you might call a "Goddess".

    Clergy? Maybe. But not in the sense of pastor and flock. As another poster said, "Head of the Family", but also "Second In Line For Head", and "People who can also take over if the other two die horribly." And then, 'course, everyone else.

    Oddly enough, anyone not related by blood to the family wasn't taught about it. Which means husbands and wives were utterly, -UTTERLY-, ignorant as to what their spouses were getting up to. And that there was nothing in the way of "sexual fertility magick" being done... for, eh... obvious reasons.

    People are doing their best to cram things into a Wiccan mold, because that's the comfortable one they know of. If Wicca is different from this "other stuff", it may just poke holes in their belief about the age and authenticity of Wicca... :?

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  • TuathaSidhe
    replied
    Originally posted by EntwinedScylla View Post
    My mentor was Fam-Trad, they had degrees. In fact, his lot had nine of 'em.

    I would not say it's not "trad" without them, though.

    *nods* I'm not saying that families can't or don't have them, but this dude was saying that Trad Craft is a clergy based goddess worshiping path who honor the goddess and the horned god...that is the "true" traditional witchcraft.

    Just made me go...huh? o.O


    Thanks guys!

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  • Micheal
    replied
    Traditional Wicca(Gardnerian&Alexandrian), only has 3 degrees as well, like craft masonry, so I'm not sure where degrees would fit into Trad Craft unless someone created them relatively recently. I could only guess family traditions that employ them would have them in place to represent different levels of understanding, which is different to any Irish folk traditions I've heard of regarding apprentices at least. Also, Wicca's degrees are present in order to train its initiates for priesthood, so one would assume that Trad Craft with degrees are combining family traditions with a particular religion or priesthood, something that historic British Isle cunning folk did not do.

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  • monsnoleedra
    replied
    Originally posted by DracoJesi View Post
    Family Tradition could mean anything... just depends on the family

    ^
    Just in case the obvious needs stating

    Just an aside but all the member's of family trads that I have dealt with never claim "Witch" as a title. There more Granny Magics, Cunning folk, Hedge Riders or practioners of folk magics. Seldom did one see any that called themselves witches.

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  • Humming Bird
    replied
    Family Tradition could mean anything... just depends on the family

    ^
    Just in case the obvious needs stating

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