The Bad Witch is trying as hard as she can to categorize Pagan and Earth Religions for her students. I knew that, with all of our paradoxical drives, including, but not limited to, our postmodern insistence that we not be defined, it was going to be hard. But, I didn’t imagine I was going to end up editing Wikipedia. I have never done this before. I’m waiting to see who I piss off first.
As I pointed out in my revision of the Wikipedia page on “Wicca,” many people still confuse the term “Wicca” as synonymous with the word “Witch” or “Witchcraft.” However, many writers are now using a much more (correctly) limited definition of “Wicca,” confining the term to the Gardnero-Alexandrian Traditions. Wicca is a relatively new religion, created by Gerald Gardner in the early 20th Century and revised by Alex Sanders in the 1960s. Though Gardner claims that Wicca is a survival of an ancient religious way, anthropological and archaeological evidence contradict this. For this reason, most scholars do not consider Wicca to be the same as “Traditional Witchcraft” but rather consider Wicca to be a modern revival of Traditional Witchcraft. Such “revival” sects are referred to as neoPagan.
Please do not misunderstand.
This does *not* mean that Wicca is not a valid path, a true religion, or a lesser form of worship. Some folks in the Pagan/Heathen community see calling a religion “new” as a besmirchment. This is ridiculous. I know we would all like to say that our “Old Ways” are preChristian and we all like to point out (and often giggle at) the Christian interpretations of Pagan festival traditions. I know we all like to remove the shame of sexuality and the stigma of femininity from our Holy Ways by embracing a more matristic past. But the truth of the matter is, without a written language, we cannot know what our Celtic and Norse progenitors were doing.
Gardener said he met with British Witches in the era just after two World Wars, after nearly two-thousand years of Roman Catholic influence in Europe. (Yes, yes. Even Protestants – hell, even Muslims, are influenced by Rome, let’s not fight with The Bad Witch on silly points. Save your battles for the real things.) What he developed was a cohesive, structured, and broadly applicable religious system that reinvented what was left of the “Old Ways” by integrating that which remained from antiquity and approximating that which may have been lost, altered, or abandoned (due to Christian persecution, technological advancements, and the socio-economic changes that came with industrialization). Gardener took what was known from the past, made some educated-hypothetical guesses at what was missing, an filled in the blanks. Mostly by using Golden Dawn stuff, but you gotta start somewhere. Wicca is a logical religion, it makes sense. But, it’s not ancient. Someone please explain to me how that’s an insult.
Likewise, Asatru. But I didn’t have to screw around with this Wikipedia page. It already said that Asatru is, “the contemporary revival of historical Germanic paganism. Precursor movements appeared in the early 20th century in Germany and Austria. A second wave of revival began in the early 1970s.” But that doesn’t mean that a good number of Heathens don’t misimagine their religion as being ancient. Sure, the Old Norse ways existed and we have plenty of evidence to put *a* puzzle together. But, when we get the puzzle arranged, is it the same picture our ancestors saw? And does it effing matter?
Those who read the Eddas and the Sagas and imagine that they are reading an ancient religious treatise are only partly right. It is a treatise alright, but a Christian one. As a college English Lit teacher, I know that when students read Beowulf, every anthology points out that the story was widely circulated by scops and bards but was never (that we know of) written down until about 900 AD. I’ve never read an anthology that shrank from pointing out that the Christian influences on Beowulf are profound and may (depending on which scene) entirely modify the character of Beowulf and the depiction of the Norse world and its understanding of the nature of good and evil. Why then do we believe the Eddas, written in the 13th Century by monks, and the Sagas, written in the 13th Century about events in the ninth and tenth Centuries, are loyal accounts of our ancestral ways? Now, don’t get me wrong. The Eddas and the Sagas are beautiful. The stories are probably pretty close to right – as far as the major points of plot are concerned. But can any writer take a strongly Christian aesthetic, value system, and legal standpoint and remain true to the representation of a polytheistic people?
Again, this does not mean that Asatru is not a valid path. The richness of Norse mythology mixed with the fierceness with which Heathens embrace and defend community and kin is what attracts me most.
So, where does that leave us? If we are looking for Old Time Religion, where do we find it?
I think back on my own religious upbringing. Raised in a Churchof God (Protestant, Charismatic, Evangelical, Pentecostal – tongues, no snakes, Fundamentalist) church. On the way home from Sunday school, Mommy would often ask, “What was today’s lesson?”
I’d say, “Naamen,” or whatever.
She’d say, “So, how does that relate to Nanabush?” or “What does that teach you about Cufe-Rabbit?”
Older than Gardnerian traditions, Correlian Wicca, a conglomerate religion based on the teachings of Blv. Orpheis Caroline High-Correll consider themselves a hybrid of Wicca and “Tribalism.” According to WitchSchool files, “the Correlian Tradition considers itself to be ‘Nativist’ –a word roughly synonymous with ‘Pagan’ . . . [and also] synonymous with ‘Witchcraft’” (Witchschool.com).
Now, I’m not one to try to limit others’ access to Native traditions, but Correlianism simply doesn’t ring-true to my car-rides home with my Picti-Scot/Creek little Mommy. It sounds more like Madame Blavatsky. Which is fine. Just not “Cherokee.” To me anyway. But screw me, I’m The effing Bad Witch, admittedly.
Maybe it was to the High-Corrells. But then I have to wonder, did their grandmommy go to a boarding-school and have her braids cut? Did their great-grandmommy watch as relatives walked away from the only home they ever knew, leaving her behind, at twelve, to marry a Scot Hvtkē? (Their logic being: we don’t know which is worse, maybe this way *someone* will live. Great-grandmommy did. We have no idea about the others.) Did their daddy’s kin traverse the boundary of the Cherokee Nation and settle there? Did the High-Correll wagon train more than three hundred miles in about two months (with thirty members of the family between 6 months to 69 years) through the Cherokee Nation at a time when the Cherokee Nation Police were supposed to prevent white settlers from entering?
I guess my only point is this, why can’t we just call a spade a spade and stop all of this religious posturing in an effort to *authenticate* ourselves? Can we just be what we are and do away with all of the effing politics? What we do is always already valid and we don’t need no stinking badges.
I’m The Bad Witch. Like it or not.
Call it ironic if you like, The Bad *Witch* is both Muskogee and Cherokee and a die-hard Heathen with a really-really Celtic matronym (that makes the Bestie giggle). TBW also loves herself some Jesus. A lot. And is deeply entrenched in Hermeticism and Occultism. What am I? I am Sorcerer. I am Magician. I am Witch, Hexe, and one who does Galdr (there is no one Norse word for “Witch” – everyone was one, so I reckon their word was “person”). I am völva.
I’m trying to figure out what my conclusion is and I’m starting to think I don’t have one. Really, perhaps, I’m just looking for feedback. Or maybe just to vent. I was trying to write a lesson, ended up editing Wikipedia, and now I’m out of ideas.
 Though my son did once as a Sarah Palin/Paul Revere/Stephen Colbert instigated joke. So, I knew how.
 That is not to say that the “Old Way” died out, just that it is likely that it’s not necessarily represented by Gardnerian Wicca. Iceland is a different story.
 I personally wet myself with glee every Spring when I see the dainty little after-Sunday-School children running through the fields seeking for eggs. If their parents only knew how their white suits and be-ribboned bonnets made them look more like the sperm they represent, there’s no way anyone would get an Easter hat next year.
 Obviously, I don’t like the perversions of the religion that lend itself to excuses for racism and an unhealthy obsession with hyper-physical-fitness. (Yes. Be healthy. Be strong. But everything in moderation, right?) Not all Christians are narrow-minded hate-and-fear-mongering fundies, not all Muslims are terrorists, not all Wiccans are “fluffy,” and not all Heathens are Nazis. Clear?
 Wow, I deleted a lot here . . .
 Everything had something to do with Rabbit. Trust me, grow up Southeast Native American and the Serpent of Genesis means something ENTIRELY different; it is both Tie-snake and Rabbit. Forget about Jakob and Esau; meet Lodge-boy and Thrown-away.
 The High-Correll family were descended from a line of Cherokee (Didanvwisgi) and Scots who were further influenced by Aradians and the mediumisticSpiritualistChurch in 1879.
What does sound Cherokee is what The Bestie (not the be confused with The Beasty) does. She too has Native heritage.
 Pronounced hoo-ut-kee. I don’t know how prevalent it is, but it’s what my aunties called white dudes.
 The Bad Witch’s family is marginally famous. (I get this stuff from historical records about my family; Daddy always hid these things from me.) This is why I use pseudonyms galore. The historians of our family by mutual consent agreed not to publicly discuss specific subjects. Apparently it’s “embarrassing” to be Cherokee when you are a founding family. Nonetheless, family historians are of the opinion that my über-Bavarian ancestors on Daddy’s side are all mixed with Cherokee blood.