Happy New Years To All

First off, I want to introduce myself a little bit so that y’all feel more comfortable listening to me ramble on. Then, I’ll  talk in brief about what my year has been like, how that has affected things, and what resolutions I plan to make for this new year!

I’m so thankful to be here writing for all you readers out there; if you will, sit with me and let me share my stories and adventures. I have much to write and lots more still to come, journeys lie ahead that I haven’t even seen coming. If you caught the last post then you’ll know by now this is Hazey and I’m officially The *new* Bad Witch, only here to serve and report on the ‘real bad witches’ I encounter. I think it’s the perfect way to start off a new year and wish all the best New Years Blessings to anyone reading this!

My name comes from my Great-Grandmother’s name mixed with my personality. Hazey. Charming, Eccentric, Out-Spoken, Kind, Challenging, and Loyal. Trusting to a fault sometimes. Unique, young, talented, optimistic and strong willed.

I was born in a small town made of nothin’ but dirt roads and power lines. I moved to the lovely city of Auburn when I was four and have been here since. I went to the local high school and, no, I’m not in college. I am a trained and certified Tattoo Artist and Body Piercer for a living. I have a loving family and the best friends in the world. I have identified as pagan since I was about fifteen. I have always known that I was different than 90% of the kids I grew up around and once I got older, I realized that having conversations with plants and animals was in fact *not strange* and that there are others out there with similar stories and like minds.

This time last year I had been on the search for a teacher. What I found, the person, or being, or whatever you wish to name it, was not exactly what I had been searching for but I didn’t know that yet. I was enchanted and charmed by a Rattle Snake, one you’ll come to hear plenty about in my future writing.

I was planning my wedding, head over heels in love with my soul-mate. The same teacher I found married us in the summer. We spent three beautiful months being married and, at the same time, being turned against each other by people that called us “family.”

Things didn’t work out for the two of us, the stress, the mess, the drama. It was all too much and like a cheap toy, broke under pressure. I was out of a home, a job, and a spouse.

Needless to say, I had to make some pretty big choices and things did a 180. I was feeling down and making my way around town, needing a hand to help me off my knees. Needing someone to shake me, so I would be able to really see. So, I shook myself pretty darn hard, fell face first in what I thought and was told was a huge steaming pile of shite. I think it was just Black Work, getting out the impurities isn’t an easy process but it is a sacred one.

Again, as if I hadn’t gone through enough, my life jumped tracks. Call it what you will, I call it Divine Energy at work. By October, I landed my little arse on the “opponent’s” field and padded up for a hell of a game. I would soon come to see a sadly detailed web of lies a *little* spider had worked so hard to spin for me. In time, all of this will come to the surface. I wept for this spider and wished that it wasn’t so, but nonetheless it was something that was far out of my control.

Now here I am, writing my first blog via my cell phone, headed back to Auburn after my first attempt to get an RV. It didn’t go as planned but I have a strong feeling we can still make it happen. Good vibes and energy appreciated! A year has come and gone and things are finally starting to go the way I would like. We can only wait and see.

I usually never keep my New Years Resolutions I make but this year I vow to put forth my best effort and stay strong to my word.
1. Write more, at least two blogs a week. That’s at the least.
2. Paint more, practice always improves skill.
3. Save money, which means for me trying to resist over-indulging.
4. Be more open minded to others, just because you heard something doesn’t make it true and you’ll never know until you find out for yourself.
5. Putting my trust in the right places for the right reasons. Blind faith is dangerous.
6. Lastly, consume more knowledge and practices of things that interest me and help me on my spiritual path.

I want to thank all of you who are reading this and hope to have a new blog for you soon. I also want to give great thanks to my mentor, Ehsha, who has helped me more than she’ll ever know. I am truly thankful to have such wonderful relationship with you and look forward to all that you can teach me.

Until next time,
Blessed Be and Happy New Year
Xoxo Hazey.

Hel and Back

This one spans three decades and may take a minute. Grab a drink and put your feet up.

It was 1980 and I sat in the church van with Maria Villalobos-Ramirez, Lourdes Bacardo, Anita Rodriguez, and Dolores Ortega. Between the five of us we had gone through all of the butane in Anita’s Clicker portable curling iron, half-a-bottle of Love’s Baby Soft, a tin of grape Lip Lickers, and a full eyeliner pencil and a lighter.

We were headed to camp (yes, think Jesus Camp only less affluent) and we were singing. Songs that started out about roadtrips, “Lonely days turn to lonely nights, you take a trip to the city lights,” “Surrounded by strangers I thought were my friends / I found myself further and further from my home,” and “I gotta be cool, relax, get hip, get on my tracks. Take a back seat, hitch-hike. . .,” disintegrated into, “There’s gonna be a heartache tonight,”[1] “I wanna kiss you all over,” “Oi, oi . . . I’m a powerload . . . watch me explode!” That’s about when Brother Preacherman said enough was enough and that we should sing gospel songs instead.

That’s when TBW decided to rebel. I parodied a choir-girl stance and began, “Hey Momma, look at me, I’m on my way to the Promised Land.” Right on cue, the other girls chimed in, “We’re on a highway to Hell!”

Brother Preacherman was too tolerant of my bad behaviors.

We think of going to Hel as a bad thing. We tell the feckheads in our lives to go to Hel. Some of us even provide directions. But as someone who’s been to Hel and back, I can tell you that the ride sucks, but the return has its rewards.

Let me explain.

Part One: I left the comforts of my rather insular covens and headed for The Bamas in 2002. I worked on my doctorate, raised my babies, and kept doing my thang. I tried “coming-out of the broom closet” once or twice—okay, constantly—but very few people understood what I was up to. There was an “English Graduate Organization Prom” that I attended with my new-found grad-school bestie that first year; I had only been around for a few months and I thought it would be good to mingle. I was wearing a headband right on my hairline; a die-hard-fundie (who had made off-color comments about a pentagram shirt I wore to class) asked me, “Do all of you wear those?”

“All who?”

Wicc-ahh, wit-ahh, whatever you call yourself.”

I had been pegged by a Church of Christer—but for a totally banal headband.

I threw a bang-up Samhain party (which I referred to as a “Samhain” party rather than a Halloween party—and was met with “a whaah?”) some weeks after that and all of my Witchy-Chachkas were very visible. Everyone must have thought they were décor.

Another time, a few years later, I sat on my back porch with my immediate supervisor (and friend), her fiancé, The Only Other possible-Pagan (she was ambivalent at the time), and The Bad Husband. I don’t remember what precipitated the event, but I was reading Tarot. My boss wanted to know, “Where’d you learn that?” Just as I was about to tell her everything, the other woman shot me a terrified look that said, “NO! Keep your mouth shut!” To this day, I wonder what she was afraid of?

After that, I wore pentagrams, spiral goddesses, serpents, and medicine bags to work. You name it, I tried signifying with it and no one saw me. (I still have a giant “Witch” sign over my desk—next to a rune glyph, a spiral goddess pendulum, and a little portrait pin of Marie Laveau.)

All of this is just to say that when I decided to make myself known, I had to take my stav in both hands and pound the ground. Hard.

I think I was a little out of line. Much like singing AC/DC in a church van.

Because that action set me on a road to Hel, through the fires, and into relationships with some of the Baddest Witches eveh.

Part Two: The Descent

It was Summer 2007, I had just earned a Fellowship: the department was paying me to finish my dissertation rather than teaching. The above mentioned grad-school bestie was so resentful that I had gotten the award rather than her that she “broke-up” with me. No shit.

The Only Other possible-Pagan took a job in another state and shoved off—and not on good terms.

In late-May, I set the need-fire, I took my stav, and I called for three witches that would teach me what I needed to learn from here on out.

See “The Witch’s Duh.”

I had just met a brand-spanking-new grad-student with the craziest aura I have ever seen. (She is the #2 of my “Trance” post, btw.) Having sent my children to stay with family in Chicago,[2] by July 3, I was three chapter drafts into my dissertation. There was a toga party.

That’s how it began.

After that, there were 12 months of phonecalls with her voice on the other end saying, “Oops, I ended up in bed with the wrong boy again, can you help?” and “I’m drunk and the boy I like is being mean to me, can you help?” Imagining her as salvageable, I always did. But the relationship wasn’t entirely unreciprocal. Having felt like I had bled every ounce of my person for others, I had little to no sense of self left in the cupboard. We joked that she thought she was “all that” and that I didn’t even believe I was “a bag of chips.” But her unbridled vivaciousness would not contend for her BFF (actually, this relationship was the first time I’d heard/applied this term of endearment) to be less than awesome. She said that she loved me and she brought the dead parts of me back to life.

It was February of 2008 when I decided to dust off my grimories and hit the books harder than ever.[3] By April, I was ready for my last elevation with Bertie. I graduated with a PhD in May. Over the summer, The Only Other Pagan came back to town and we made amends. She had wholeheartedly adopted Witchiness—plus she brought a friend back with her.

We were tightthighttight for three months.[4]

Then, in September/October, I got talked into rigging a Dom-Jot table. I take full responsibility for having gone along with it. I lost my mind that fall and nearly lost everything else by New Year.

Part Three: In Hel and Back Out

In January 2009, I had a Naussican spear through my chest (see “It’s a Wonderful Q” for this reference), and found myself standing at the Gates of Hel without a shovel.

I started teaching Witchcraft on a more formal basis; I knew that if I was going to have to climb my way out of Helheim, I was going to need to buckle down. I spent the next ten months mentoring Witchcraft students online and teaching a select few in person. I spent those same ten months deflecting ridiculous fallout from that fight with a Naussican. I started writing a book called The Bad Witch Files—but I never knew how it ended, so it never went very far. It still calls me in bits and spurts.

I continued teaching (secular and religious) and learning and practicing and trying to piece my life back together in some way that looked like life, even if it still smelled of sulfur.

In October 2010, I started blogging here and you can go see the milestones for yourself. I think it was summer 2011 before I realized I was on the road back from Hel. I knew the journey was going to be long. And I knew that if I was ever going to make it all the way out, I was going to need to articulate myself—use my voice.

And—here was the hardest part—then I had to work through forgiving myself.

But, in order to avoid the calm stillness and silence where certainty resides, I kept myself a moving target, often chasing my own tail. Having spun m’self round and round, I have finally come full circle after traveling to Hel and back.

Part Four: The Return

It was back in February 2012 that I finally found the new mentor I had been craving. I had studied and practiced all the Hermetics, Ceremonial Magic, Theurgy, and Goetia I wanted to alone. After ten-fricking years of going it alone, I was ready to be taught, lead, united with others.

I looked to him to teach me all about Teutonic Shamanism. Unfortunately, it didn’t take too long for me to drain him of everything he knew, leaving me back at the drawing board.[5]

Right back where I started.

Fortunately, I did not go to jail, but I did collect $200. And by “collect $200,” I mean “pulled my head out of my arse and found my voice.”

Yawp, bitches. [6]

At the beginning of that shitefeckedup four year trek, I knew I had Heathen ethics, I knew I had High Ceremonial practices, I knew I had a moral compass aligned with Matthew 25:40, I knew I had a Helluva sound occult education behind me, and I knew I had – gifts—we’ll go with “gifts.” But I had never been forced to articulate what I “was.” I always considered myself a Heathen Sorcerer, perhaps because my childhood nickname was, “Y’lil’heathen,” perhaps for more substantial reasons stemming from my appreciation of the Anglo-Saxon ethics I learned as an undergraduate. I laid claim to the title “Sorcerer” in my early 20s, before I was even a mamma.[7] But, while I knew what it meant in my body and in my soul, I was never really sure what that might mean—you know, on paper, with other people looking at it.

Polyphanes wrote a post last week that struck a chord with me. He wrote: “I’m so far over the place, hither and thither, that I break a lot of people’s definitions, preconceptions, and labels. In other words, as befitting my Hermetic nature, I’m a trickster and don’t fit into any one bin, since I’ll just flit right out and into another one. I’d be like a Schrödinger’s Cat of traditions, except with less neurotoxin.” 

I felt a little like an unexplained Copenhagen interpretation too.

I’ve given you the rundown of my Jesuit educational upbringing with Bertie. Though Bertie tried her best to balance Catholic Christianity and Occult-Paganism for me, I held on to some of the vestiges of my Evangelical fears of “evil” and “Hel” for quite a while. I’m not ashamed to admit that. But, today, it seems like a lifetime ago that I was articulating my sense of Evangelical Detox. That’s not to say I discovered it in 2010, but that I had just found the voice to articulate the experience.[8]

Perhaps the most profound experiences are what ended my ongoing tailspin in the last few months. Having gotten back in constant contact with Bertie, I was pressed *from the outside* to journey back to the inside. Having lost Brother Preacherman and Mama Lisa over the summer, I was shocked into appreciating the “call” (or were they saying “caul”?) other folks saw hovering on and about me. Having learned what I’ve learned from Maman Lee a few months back. And having been pressed by The Road Less Traveled to reeeeealy articulate the difference in several traditionssome of which are my own, some of which I didn’t understand nearly as well as I did after being asked to clearly express those distinctions—I found that my voice was there all along. It was a little browbeaten and tired, it had been vilified and colonized—but it was still audible. And it still sounded like me.

Back in December 2011, I think I busted through some hymeneal (hmmm, hymnal?) membrane when I clearly articulated my thoughts about the word “vagina.” It had been—dare I say it—pricking at me for a while. And much like really good sex, once I found the right spot, it was all over.

In February 2012, I picked up the stav I had left idle for too long and started working on Teutonic Shamanism[9]—very close to the pathworking Bertie had taught me in the 90s.[10] It was these pathwork journeys, ironically, that brought me back out of Hel. And how I found my voice.

As for the journey, it’s not at an end. But I’m glad to be trading in these uncomfortable shoes.

So here’s what I’ll tell you in the next few posts:

  • What it means to go to Hel and Back in Teutonic Shamanism
  • Why I’m settling deeper into a new path (or, really, praxis)—that’s not different, just a better amalgamation of what I always was
  • What I’m teaching in Delta, Alabama next month and in Auburn, Alabama in November and December
  • How all of this relates to Wolves and Ulfarnir
  • How you can go to Hel too!

Thanks for sticking it out for this long post.

B, Q, 93,

TBW


[1] Which I thought was, “There’s gonna be a party tonight.”

[2] One of whom, at not quite twenty, we lost this week.

[3] Ergo the 2008 in my email address—that was the year I set “stuff” up under the name Ehsha.

[4] This is all a sort of side-story which is more of an irritation than anything real. But it bears mentioning given what I had requested—three witches to teach me. Boy howdy. Witch’s Duh.

[5] This is no disparagement on him. It’s just that everything was the same stuff I had been teaching for years myself—just with different names.

[6] Walt Whitman. Leaves of Grass. I’m teaching this in a few weeks. Squee.

[7] I remember the conversation with my sister. I didn’t have the language to discuss High Magic versus Low Magic yet, but I knew the connotation of “Sorcerer” versus the connotation of “Witch.” Having always understood Wicca as initiatory, I never laid claim to it as an eclectic idea. I still have a hard time getting my head wrapped around non-initiatory Wicca as “Wicca.”

[8] And it seems kinda trippy to me that I started envisaging an online Pagan Seminary back in September 2008 and started actually working toward it by publishing the results here nearly three years later. Now, here at the end of 2012, it seems the time has come to fully articulate that ambition.

[9] I don’t know how many of you saw the “Wyrd Sister” page before I turned it into the retail page it is now. If you missed it back in January, it aimed at being a page which cataloged my last leg of training in Seiðr. It rapidly got too close to STFU mysteries, so I switched it.

[10] And now I have vajay and stav and pounding jokes running through my head—that’s appropriate.

Secrecy

I am entrenched in a writing project and, thanks to the flu on a few fronts, some make-up work with my students. Strangely, all of these things are focusing on “Magical Timing.” I thought, “Great! The PBP is on the letter T this week and I can write a post for timing and kill three birds with one well aimed stone!’

Grumble.

Seems my “timing” is not as well-tuned as I thought. This week’s post is brought to you by the letter S – not T.

Therefore, I offer a repost and revision of an old post called “Hush, Hush,” one of my very first Files. The subject is Secrecy – a very practical lesson on matter and waves:

Unfortunately, we still live in a place and time where Paganism – or anything outside of the American Christocentric imperative – is not welcome. Primarily, this is because of misunderstanding, but such misunderstanding is often based in jingoistic bias. Of course, we don’t literally burn witches anymore but plenty of people have been burned by the judgment or ridicule of others. So, there is a very “real world” reason for Pagans to maintain in silence and anonymity. This doesn’t mean that I support hypocrisy. I would never recommend that you “pretend” to be something that you are not, but I recommend that you think about all aspects of your secular life before making your spiritual life common knowledge.

Some are fortunate to live in open-minded arenas, some in a less amenable atmosphere. Some have broadminded families, some families will be angry, hurt, upset, even fearful about your decision to study Pagan spiritualties. This isn’t their fault. More than likely, they will base their comments (if you decide to tell them) on their feelings of love for you and their misguided belief that you are “dabbling” in something dark, dangerous, or even demonic.

Aside from avoiding judgment, there are other reasons to maintain silence. Maybe not about being Pagan, but about conducting a Pagan ritual. Many practitioners will tell you that they maintain silence to protect a coven secret or rite. This is all very appropriate and should be respected. But more importantly, I think, there are two reasons to keep silence. Both are very theoretical: one based in psycholinguistics and the other in quantum physics.

One major reason to keep silent involves the nature of magic and of spoken language. For me, to speak is to conjure. Derrida and Lacan knew this. Power resides with those who control language. We can subvert language and we can evolve language, but we only do this because it is language that gives us power. Most popular representations of the magician involves a “magic word”: think of Disney’s many magical characters, the Harry Potter series, “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,” and almost any TV show or movie involving Witchcraft (I particularly remember “Shazam” from the 1970s). Consider Ancient Creation Myths where the universe is spoken into existence: Mesopotamian, MesoAmerican, and Middle Eastern (“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light”). Creation Myths all include a “speaking” into creation.

Another reason to keep silent is to refrain from collapsing the wave. Consciousness moves as light does. It is, therefore, both a particle and a wave; it is also, for that reason, both simultaneously “here” and “not here.” A particle, quite simply, is perceivable matter – something with mass; a wave is a transfer of energy within some substance – i.e. a disturbance in the water or in the air. Light is like quantum matter, constantly vacillating between existing and not existing, literally “popping” in and out of existence. We don’t know where they go. We don’t know from whence they return. Like our consciousness. We know that we enter altered states when in deep sleep; yet we do not know where our consciousness goes or what, if anything, displaces it while it is gone.

This is why spells are told to no one. Sound is wave only.

Everything in existence is nothing more than a wave of information (or possibilities) until we observe it in some way. Until we actually observe the not-yet-a-particle, it’s nothing more than a wave. Until it is observed, the wave is “pure potential” itself, existing in every possibility at the same time. It’s doing everything that is potentially possible – all at once.

Once we observe the wave (speak the secret), it “solidifies” into a material reality.

Much like the collapsed wave, I believe that speaking a thing changes it. I believe that confining the meaning of a Great Mystery to the limits of spoken language can “ruin” a spell. This is like taking “potential everything-ness” and reducing it to an observable/hearable singularity.

This is not to say that language is not used for spell-crafting. But in the instance of casting, language is used in conjunction with the will. This makes the words carry the will rather than the literal meaning of the word. Yes, this is a Mystery. But there seems to be something to the argument that banal or causal conversation without the power of will weakens the power of the spell.

Further, some practitioners believe that speaking a thing makes it so. For this reason, they will never talk of magical affairs without first casting a protective circle. Whenever two or more witches are together and start talking about magic, for fear of “drive by” casting, you are likely to find one who will insist on some witchy prophylaxis. If, as many believe, words are thoughts and thoughts are things, we create every time we speak.

You are encouraged to keep your silence. Protect it. Nurture it. Enshroud it. It is always possible to reveal a thing – it is almost impossible to re-conceal it.

Q&A Part II – Voodoo and Hoodoo

To pick up where I left off with The Road Less Traveled’s set of intricate questions, I will actually end up mirroring the methodology of the post which I submitted yesterday. I love writing about this kind of stuff and my noodle is brimming with commentary about the more intellectual aspects of Paganism, so this is all perfectly timed. Plus, taking many pages of commentary and boiling them down to three or so pages forces me to concentrate on the real crux of the issue. I just hope y’all enjoy eavesdropping on my answers to TRLT as much as I enjoy composing them. I think I’ve exhausted the portion that asks, “What is the main difference between” Witchcraft(s). Here I will look at the variation among Voodoo(s) so that I can also address Hoodoo later in this post. Sorcery will have to wait.

Just as across Europe there are sets of non-homogenous “versions” of Witchcraft, some falling under neoPagan Gardnerian paradigms, some not, there are many, many ATR-based[1] (African Traditional Religions) religions. Voodoo itself, like Witchcraft, is not a uniform system. In several countries Voodoo is practiced with varying traditions, purposes, and structures.

Bear in mind that my information regarding Voodoo and all other ATR-based religions is derived from a scholarly perspective only; I am an outsider of these traditions.

We are most familiar with Haitian Voodoo,[2] which is likely the most visible of the Voodoo traditions. Since the decline of Duvalierism, Voodoo has been instituted as a national religion with official status. This makes a big difference when you compare it to South American Voodoo. (Yes, I mean South American Voodoo – not Santeria. I’ll get to Santeria in a minute.) Consider the freedoms granted in a religion that is sanctioned by the government versus one that must operate in clandestine modes. In Venezuela, for instance, the accepted religion is Catholicism, however, folks practice Voodoo as a regular course. We are familiar with the syncretic correspondences made between Catholic saints and Voodoo loa (and Santarian orisha) and understand that this arose out of the need to veil the practices from the eyes of officials. In Venezuela, as I understand it, Voodoo practices are not outlawed, yet citizens “identify” themselves as Catholic. So it seems to me that Voodoo could be envisioned as either a systematic religion in toto (as in Haiti) or a limited practice with a syncretic relationship to Catholicism (as in Venezuela, Cuba, and other locales). Both must be, in my opinion, deemed valid; however we should be cautious to identify what we mean when we refer to “Voodoo” since there is such variance across cultures.

I know you didn’t ask this part, but I’d like to offer the information since I have it on hand. There are many other ATR-based religions that are alive and well in the 20th Century. Across the Caribbean and into South America, there are as many variations that stem back to African religions as there are Witchcraft traditions (as there are Christian denominations, for that matter). Just to name a few, consider Umbanda of Brazil, Candomble of Uruguay, and Cuban Santeria.

At this point, I’d like to jump ahead to one of your latter questions that I will answer in full later. You asked if a non-black could practice Voodoo. Based on what I’ve just said, the answer *must* be “yes.” Of course, one cannot be a Haitian Voodooist (or Voodooisant) unless one is, in fact, Haitian. (I’ll discuss New Orleans Haitian Voodoo soon.) The connection between the people of Haiti, its historical politics, its government and local officials, and its religion is strong.[3] Nonetheless, given the variety of Voodoo sects, we have to acknowledge that not all of their adherents are the same race.

Hoodoo, the way I have come to understand it, is not a religion per se. As a matter of fact, most hoodoos are Christian and regularly incorporate Biblical passages into Workings. Rather, hoodoo is a set of practices based on folk magics from many cultures. These cultures include: multiple ATRs, multiple Southeastern NATP (Native American Tribal Practices) – especially Cherokee –and (believe it or not) white European traditions like those brought over with the Pennsylvania Dutch hex-meisters, Scots-Irish herbalists and midwives, and Germanic occult practices. If you want more information, I recommend Hoodoo in Theory and Practice: An Introduction to African-American Rootwork by Catherine Yronwode,[4] the most recognized author in American Hoodoo. Part of her work explains:

Hoodoo consists of a large body of African folkloric practices and beliefs with a considerable admixture of American Indian botanical knowledge and European folklore. Although most of its adherents are black, contrary to popular opinion, it has always been practiced by both whites and blacks in America. (“Hoodoo, Conjure, and Rootwork: Definition of Terms”)

This makes sense the more I learn. For instance, The Bad Witch loves etymology. The origin of a word can tell you everything you need to know about a concept; or it can point you away from long-held misunderstandings about a concept. The etymology of hoodoo surprised me. Of course, hoodoo can be used as a verb, a noun referring to the practice, a noun referring to the practitioner, or an adjective. But while most dictionaries link hoodoo to voodoo, I found that the word hoodoo enters the American language in 1875, just before conjure comes to be used as a synonym for hoodoo in 1889.[5] So a connection between hoodoo and voodoo doesn’t make any sense, and is likely why the connection is disregarded by linguistic researchers. For example, Daniel Cassidy, author of How the Irish Invented Slang: The Secret Language of the Crossroads (CounterPunch Books and AK Press. July 2007), hoodoo is actually connected more clearly to the Gaelic, Uath Dubh, which is pronounced hoo doo.[6] So, it sounds to me that hoodoo is intended for anyone at all – but seems to have originated in Appalachia.[7] Hoodoo is also directly connected with and alternately referred to as “conjuration.” To conjure is both to summon and to influence. In the form of influencing, this is nothing more than basic Witchcraft. In the form of summoning, this is a little more like Sorcery. In my next post, I’ll talk about the difference between Goetia and Theurgy. This will, I hope, flesh in issues of Hoodoo conjure.

Also, as I understand it, hoodoo is non-hierarchical and non-initiatory. Whereas Haitian Voodoo adheres to a strict code of initiation, “couche,” and formal training (again, see Filan for the politics of the situation), hoodoo does not. This is likely where Louisiana or New Orleans Voodoo comes in. NOLA Voodoo is formally initiatory and prospective hoguns and mambos are expected to go to Haiti or Africa for initiation. I met one man in NOLA who claimed to be an authentically initiated Voodoo hogun; he was white. So it seems that whites can, in fact be Haitian initiated Voodooists. But, I have also heard that there are scammers in NOLA who claim to be trained or initiated in Africa, but are not. And I have heard that there are scammers in Africa who charge exorbitant amounts to conduct initiations for Americans, initiations that are not officially recognized by native practitioners. The lineage of white Voodoo “leaders” is often suspect – whether this suspicion is founded or not.

Most of the scholarship I look at argues that because Voodoo was a way for African-Americans to have a measure of influence over whites, they would have never conferred legitimate power on someone without any African lineage. But, this contradicts what I know: Mambo Sallie Ann Glassman is Jewish/Ukrainian, right? And only three (?) of the Mambos on the Haunted New Orleans “top ten” list (however valid that is) are black.

I am, admittedly befuddled on this subject. And we can’t really take anecdotal evidence here, considering the possibility of scams, now can we? Can anyone offer clarification?

To address your question of the origins of power, my understanding is that hoodoo attributes magical acts to personal power and to the natural properties of herbs, roots, minerals, etc.[8] As for a pantheon? Because hoodoos tend to be Christian and not Pagan, I would imagine that Jehovah is a viable supreme God; but because hoodoo is not a religion, but a practice, it seems to me that you should be able to Work within any religion that did not contradict hoodoo. There is also at least one commonly recognized African deity; known as Legba (aka Nbumba, Nzila, Ellegua, and Eshu), he is the “dark man” one can meet at the crossroads. As the keeper of the gate between life and death, a trickster, he seems to be more like the Pagan Devil than Biblical Satan. Where hoodoo connects the idea of “sin” and “evil” is beyond me at the moment. I do get the impression that death and hell are not nearly as terrifying as they are in many other Christian systems. And it also seems to me that it is not necessary to be a Christian to practice hoodoo.

The same goes for sorcery – which I’ll address tomorrow!

Thanks for hanging in there!

TBW


[1] And when I say “ATR-based,” it is with the realization that “Voudon” is historically (whether accurately or not, I haven’t checked the sources) to Nigeria and Dahomey. Yorùbá comes from, well, Yoruba. Both of these are the more recognized stem-religions from which most ATR-based traditions, like Palo, Congo, and Bantu, branch.

[2] And if you are not, there are two films I recommend: The Divine Horseman: The Living Gods of Haiti, based on Maya Deren’s work between 1947 and 1954 – so long as you promise to take it in a historical context – and Buying the Spirit, by Journeyman Pictures (2003).

[3] If you are interested in this topic, I *highly* recommend The Haitian Vodou Handbook: Protocols for Riding with the Lwa by Kenaz Filan (Destiny Books, 2006).

[4] I have been instructed to read it in its entirety by Maman Lee. It’s truly fascinating. Yronwode explains the admixtures of of not only ATR, NATP, and European occult practices as mentioned above, but she also discusses Middle-Eastern (Kabbalist and Judeo-Christian) and Eastern (Hindu and Taoist/Buddhist) influences on Hoodoo. Some really cool and well-documented stuff.

[5] Oxford English Dictionary. “Hoodoo,” n and adj , 1; “Conjure,” n, 3.

[6] Uath Dubh means:

Dark specter, evil phantom, a malevolent thing; horror, dread; a dark, spiky, evil-looking thing. Uath, (pron. voo) n., a form or shape; a spectre or phantom; dread, terror, hate. . . . Dubh, (pron. doo), adj., dark; black; malevolent, evil; wicked; angry, sinister; gloomy, melancholy; strange, unknown. (O’Donaill, Niall and Patrick Stephen Dinneen. Focloir Gaeilge-Bearla/Irish-English Dictionary. de Bhaldraithe, Tomás. English-Irish Dictionary. Dwelly, Edward. Faclair Gàidhlig gu Beurla le Dealbhan/The Illustrated [Scottish] Gaelic- English Dictionary)

[7] By the way, there is a newfound interest in a thing referred to as “Granny Magic.” I was very keen on the concept, but the more I read the more I think it is misrepresented. Maybe I’ll tackle that later. Maybe in answer to the new question you posed!

[8] This doesn’t contradict my earlier statement that I believe power comes from the Creator. In panetheistic views, the Creator is always already immanent in all of Creation. So, cool.

Guest Post: The Karate-Kid Witch

Here is the little ditty one of my trainees wrote and asked me to blog for her.

It took me a full day to quit slobbering all over myself and get it posted.

 

My name is Selene and I am a very lucky girl.

I really never thought I would (type) say those words and mean it.

My mother walked out on my father and me when I was two. My dad did the best he could, which wasn’t great. He died when I was fifteen which left me in the care of evangelical relatives who rejected my sexual identity and made me feel shame and self-loathing.

This is surprising to those who meet me; I am more likely to wear an argyle sweater and Mary Janes than I am to have body-mods or short hair. If I had a dime for every person who told me that I “don’t look like a lesbian,” I’d have enough money for therapy.

When I graduated from high school, I moved out and back to the town where I had lived with my dad. I worked as a waitress to earn enough money to get a little community college under my belt. My big dream was always to go to “real” college. No one in my family had ever gone and I imagined myself collegiate. But there was never an opportunity for me.

That’s one side of the story. I am happy to report that I am on the other side of that story.

Last year I met The Bad Witch. Funny thing is I didn’t know she was “The Bad Witch” until about three months ago. I called her teacher, mentor, mother-figure. Ehsha keeps her private life private.

Anyone who has the opportunity to study with Ehsha should grab the opportunity with both hands and hang on tight. It will change your life. (She’s a huge pain in the ass. The best teachers always are.) One thing she’s best at is teaching you a lesson you didn’t even know you’d signed up for. Mr. Miyagi style – wax on, wax off.

When I first latched on to Ehsha, I thought I was going to be spoonfed. I thought she would hand me some answers and I would become a Karate-Kid Witch with no difficulty whatsoever. I thought the process involved little more than touchy-feely lessons about candles and moon phases, ancestors and goddesses, wands and familiars. I thought the hardest thing I’d learn was ritual processes and maybe some “energy work.” The woman I have become laughs at the girl I was.

Of course, I cannot reveal the details of everything I learned; The Bad Witch scolds us, “Tace!” and makes the sign of Harpocrates, ordering us to make an offering to the enigmatic pantheon of “STFU.” This is our little joke. But I can tell you that I have learned the most important thing I know. Magic comes from inside, is directed inward, and can only affect the internal. The most fabulous part of this lesson is that the internal is everything. As I learn to master my insides, and I’m still learning by the way, I learn to control everything. All of those terrifying things that I thought were out of my control are now my daily lessons in altering myself and achieving my True Will. Sounds simple, right? But those of you who have done real magical work know that learning this lesson – I mean really learning this lesson, in all its measured progressions – is a painful process. Applying the knowledge that comes after this lesson is learned is a whole different can of worms.

And I don’t like worms. I too was a huge pain in the ass. I was not a good student. I must have quit three times. Ehsha must have let me quit three times. She said that if I was unwilling to proceed, I was unfit for initiation. This pissed me off. I ranted and raved and made a damn fool of myself one weekend. Then I realized that I wanted her to know it for me. I wanted her to want it for me. I wanted her to do it for me. Once I settled down and stopped kicking and whining, I fell into line. That was the best thing I ever did. It might sound like “submission” to you. And maybe it is. But I was not submitting to Ehsha’s will. I was learning to submit to my own Will. And let me tell you, my Will beat the crap out of me. And The Bad Witch cheered it on.

That ever happen to you? You want something but you want someone else to tow the line for you? Then you realize that the line that needs towing is the line to “your own getting-rightness,” as Ehsha will call it. Once you learn that submitting to your own self (your True Self, not your ego-self) is the only way to avoid submitting to the Will of others, you’ll know what I mean. Wax the floor.

Like I said, I’m still learning.

One of the first things my cohort and I learned with Ehsha, after STFU, was, “Learn, and obey; success will be your proof.” Giving over that much trust to someone is hard for a girl who has been browbeaten for twenty years. Just do what I say and you’ll see? Well we did. Mostly. We screwed around and dropped some balls and picked our noses and some old wounds. But at the end of it all, success is our proof. Paint the fence.

At the beginning of the course, we were asked to write out, in detail, one goal. As we went along, we were periodically asked to revise, to more precision, the goal. I wanted to go to college. One of my cohort wanted to live in South America with his daughter and her mother. A third wanted to own his own business. Teak got his act together pretty quickly and ended up inheriting his uncle’s small business in Texas. Ryan is currently in the process of moving to a resort town (where he was given his dream-job) in Brazil with his baby girl and brand new fiancé.

This guest blog, which my mentor has graciously allowed me to share with all of you, is my way of announcing to The Bad Witch that I have been accepted to University of Florida and am moving to Gainesville this weekend. I have a full ride, Mama, and a lovely apartment off campus. Success. Wash the car. I’m scared to death. But I am going to strike a strong crane pose and kick college’s behind.

The Bad Witch may not have everyone’s respect, then again, not everyone really knows The Bad Witch – the real woman behind the provocations. As for me, success is my proof that she deserves my respect. Proof that she knows what she’s talking about. Proof that she cares for me deeply. Proof that I did well to submit to my own best interests. Proof that it was the divine that led our paths to cross last October. Proof that keeping silent is key. Proof that when The Bad Witch is in her role as teacher, all is right with the world (an allusion to Browing’s “Pippa Passes”).

I have a lot more to go on this road. But I can’t begin to tell you how glad I am to know how to put one foot in front of the other in the right direction

Thank you for everything, Ehsha. My heart bursts with admiration for you.

Clean Up, Aisle Three . . .

It’s been a stormy day here in The Bad Witch’s town and I’m a little late at getting to my post. It seems that whenever it storms, it storms. Know what I mean?

Now, I know I don’t tell you the details of my work like some bloggers do.[1] Some of y’all post photos of your altars and your tools and some of you give scripts for your rituals and some of you report your supplications verbatim. I love you for it. But it just never occurs to me to talk about the specifics of my practice (though I have). Theory, sure. I’ll go on and on all day about what I do and don’t venerate in The Star Ruby and how I tackle “O, Phalle!” (And why I feel the need to rewrite everything I was taught after 2002.) But it doesn’t occur to me to be really detailed. Until today that is.

Let me step back for a minute and give you a few background notes that you’ll need to follow this story through.

Most of my referrals are Christian women – Southern Baptist Convention to be exact. Some are Catholic, but not enough to speak of.[2] I’m always amused that women who were raised to believe that Pentecostal “speaking-in-tongues” lay somewhere between mass-hypnosis and demonic possession are the first to call on an Occultist when thing get out of their Preacherman’s reach. But, Lawd! Don’t tell nobody!

My discretion, my banal appearance, and my knowledge of Scripture (and ways of showing that Jesus approves of “what we do here today”) make me very popular among the polyester peplum crowd.

Oh, and my effectiveness. That too.

Most of those who call me want me to help out with things for which they are simply unwilling to pay a psychologist or a lawyer. So, I advise them and give them whatever placebo they think they need – and ultimately leave them with the business card of a local psychologist or a lawyer. No charge.

But every once in a while there’s something real that needs handling.

This was the case with a woman I helped with a “house issue” a few years back. (It’s The South; we don’t say “haunting” or “spiritual disturbance” or “demonic” anything – it’s a “house issue.”) Back then, she just had a “bad feeling about the place.” It is a huge old farmhouse in a little-bitty town the next county over. It had been her rents-in-law’s place, they had given it to their son, he had married her – we’ll call her Estelle, and she and her husband had lived there for thirty years until he died – a few months before “the issue” began.

She’d had her minister come out and “bless” the house a little after the funeral. Not only did things not improve, they deteriorated. She reported an increasing sense of dread, particularly in certain areas of the house, things would inexplicably break – not always precipitated by a fall, her children and grandchildren reported disembodied voices and vague apparitions: typical stuff. Estelle’s granddaughter is a local (very young, insanely successful) businesswoman with whom I have a friendly working relationship. One day while conducting business, she pointed at my pendant, “Do you do things for other people?”[3]

That’s how that happened.

This morning, Estelle’s daughter, we’ll call her Sally, phoned me and asked me to “help out” as she believed she may have been (in a whispered undertone) “cursed.” After a lengthy conversation I surmised the following. Sally knows this woman – um, Veronica – who, Sally feels, has some sort of “black magic” power over her. I tried all of the standard, “Are you giving Veronica power over you,” examination only to discover that this was indeed, a real deal. I won’t spin too much energy on telling what’s the specific what –as I don’t want to feed it. But I feel like I can offhandedly tell you this much: Sally has always been a bit competitive with Veronica; they went to high school together, they fought over boys together, eventually they fought over husbands, etc. Veronica always seemed to end up on top and it seemed, to Sally, that it was always at Sally’s expense. Sally has taken to calling Veronica “The Evil Bitch” as a proper noun in everyday conversation. Obvs there’s more to it – but that’ll do for now, no? Now, Sally believes that a series of very unlikely events have been directly caused by The Evil Bitch. After a series of discoveries I found that, “Yes, The Evil Bitch is doing these things,” and, “No, Veronica is not doing these things.” Everything pointed to Veronica being fairly detached from and disinterested in Sally and, well, to be honest, utterly benign. The Evil Bitch on the other hand was – well – an evil bitch. I scratched my head for a minute.

If you have been through this kind of thing before, I beg you – don’t tease me that it took me a minute to figure out WTF was happening. I’m not new at handling my own, um, “demons,” but, despite having left a stack of doctor and lawyer’s business cards about town, I haven’t handled more than a half-dozen real issues for other folks (aside from family – they count as my own demons[4]). Most of these have been fairly run-of-the mill.

When it occurred to me, it occurred to me hard.

Sally has put so much energy into developing the The Evil Bitch character – in frighteningly intentional ways – that she created a fecking thoughtform – not just a larva or gooey astral pest – one strong enough to actually do things. It wears Veronica’s face because that’s how Sally created it. It looks – for all intents and purposes – that Veronica is doing the damage because Sally created The Evil Bitch to pass for Veronica. It soothes Sally’s psyche to believe that Veronica is “out to get her” and it creates a much needed villain for Sally and her catty girlfriends. (Not unlike Batman, hmmm.) But, having poured that much energy into an energy being, giving it a name, giving it a purpose, no shit – giving it instructions. (I kid you not; sometimes I just want to shake people.) And, of course, because Sally is not a trained Magician who knows better, the damned thing has no death date or means of constraint. Fun, huh? I can dismantle the thing – getting Sally to let go will be the hardest part – but it won’t be cool. And I’ll still need to leave her with a card for the local psychiatrist.

Here’s my parting thoughts on this. I know that there are people tossing energy around all the time; I know that, often, this causes manifestations. I know that “normal” folks “work magic” all the time. None of that is a surprise to me, nor should it be to you.

I am called to mind of a conversation – what? Three years ago? – I had with someone who purported to be a hard-core Magical practitioner. In the context of a profound conversation, I asked about his/her thoughts on egregores, servitors, and elementals. S/he said that s/he “observed the elementals” and that s/he had “many servitors” and that “some of them don’t even know [that they are his/her servitors].” More head scratching.[5]

I only tell you this because I use this instance to remind myself that not everyone is on the same page when it comes to genuine Magical practice. But, like I also said – everyday-folks toss energy into the aether and get appropriate manifestations. But does that mean that they are “doing Magic”?

I’m not saying that they aren’t – this is a sincere question. Is what Sally did “Magic”? Sure, it’s akin to what Magicians do on purpose; does the fact that she did it unknowingly and ill-advisedly make it “not Magic”? Is it about “intent” again?

If so, then is what the aforementioned Self-proclaimed Magical Practitioner (SMP) does really “Magic”? Or is it “Just the way the universe works”? S/he has intent – just not knowhow. Does the fact that s/he doesn’t understand the theory behind it – or even have the language to discuss it competently – make it “not Magic”?

We Magicians like to be imperious[6] and it pisses some of us off just a little when those we perceive to be our intellectual inferiors “stumble onto” our playingfield. And we might even like to say, “Sure, it’s magic; but Sally had to call a real exorcist to sniff out and take care of The Evil Bitch.” Or, “Sure, it’s Magic; but SMP would be laughed out of any conversation with self-respecting Magicians and prolly wouldn’t be able to control his/her thoughtforms once created.”

But, then again . . .

 

Whatcha think?

Blessings, Quarks, 93,

The Bad Witch

 


[1] I figure that just because I don’t tell you about what I cook every night doesn’t mean that you assume my family starves, or because I don’t tell you about social life you think I’m a hermit or a pariah, or because I don’t tell you about my BMs you assume I have a toxic colon, or because I don’t tell you about my sex life you think I’m celibate (or a prude). I figure y’all have enough sense to know my life is bigger than this page – and I appreciate that about you. Likewise, I figure that just because I don’t tell you the specifics of my training and practice schedule doesn’t mean you should assume I don’t have one. I am a Witch after all.

[2] Anyway, Southern Catholicism is more like Northern Baptistery than it is like anything in my experience with The Roman Catholic Church.

[3] I always feel like I look a little like the late Zelda Rubinstein when I first talk to someone. I can’t shake the feeling that I am 4’3” and my hair won’t stay tied up.

[4] Remind me to tell you about my Momma’s china cabinet and my (adult) nephew’s garbage can monster. *Hand on head.*

[5] Servitors, just for the record, are not human beings that one manipulates into doing our bidding without their consent. Those are called “victims.”

[6] Admit it.

“What’s Wrong With Wicca?”

Hang in there. This is a long one.

I was surfing around the net for an article about something entirely different and stumbled upon the Christian Research Institute’s article “What’s Wrong With Wicca?”[1] under their “Expertly Researched” articles, alongside a colonialist (at best) article on “Shamanism”[2] which reminded me of my Godmother, a missionary.[3] There was yet another, “Homosexuality Facts and Fiction,” that boasted a circumlocution of logic that I have only ever seen homophobic Christians manage.[4]

Let me put on my old lawyer hat one more time and disclose[5] that I was raised in an Evangelical background and retain a great deal of reverence for The Christ, I have a degree in religious studies from a Jesuit university and had my sights set on Episcopal seminary in the 90s,[6] I hang out with Christians (and love them dearly) and go to church with my momma when I visit her, I teach World Religions as part of a number of college level courses, I teach (or have been hired to teach in the Fall) at a leading Pagan seminary,[7] I believe in one Creator (but that’s just me), I do not worship The Satan,[8] and I have a PhD from a pretty decent university. In other words: I know my shit – and I know Christians’ shit too. So, when I poke a few holes in this article by the Christian Research Institute, I hope you won’t resort to Straw-Man-in-a-Pointed-Hat shaped ripostes.

The article starts out fairly enough, stating that Wicca has its origins in Gardner’s work. And that Wicca rejects, “Christian paternalism, homophobia, and insensitivity to the environment.” However, the author diminishes this sensitivity to humankind and Creation by relegating it to the realm of teen rebellion. Where I begin to part ways with the author on more significant grounds than on a rhetorical situation of terms is in the claim that “the worldviews of Christianity and Wicca are . . . worlds apart.”

I had just spent a wonderful evening with some of my aforementioned Christian friends when I found this article.[9]Whenever I am together with this

“Walking a Blended Path”

group, we end up having some wine and discussing hermeneutics. We fascinate each other.

There was a newbie in the group this week and she asked me the perennial question: “So, what do you [Pagans] believe?” After the lawyer-hat moment of explaining that Paganism is not a homogenous belief system and that I spoke only for myself, I proceeded to explain my take on deity, creation, prayer, Christ’s human-divinity (and how that relates to our human-divinity as children of God), what it means to be created in the image of God, angels and demons – well, we didn’t get into demons too much – and the designations of the material and the ethereal, and I talked about Kabbalah without actually talking about Kabbalah. Her continual response was that there didn’t seem to be any incompatibilities between my belief system and her belief system.

Except “Grace.”

Her one qualm was that I did not have a place for Grace. “Ah,” I explained, “I also don’t have a concept of sin.” After explaining The Law of Return and The Law of Attraction (using terms like “Karma” to help move things along), I went on to clarify that, as I was taught it (under the dogma of The Church of God), Grace is God’s love and mercy spontaneously and inexplicably given to us unearned and without condition. Therefore, “I live under perpetual Grace; my Creator loves me for reasons I have yet to understand and I find blessings in the most unlikely places.”

She then asked about the “end questions” and I explained that I do not believe in a finite existence. I explained my stance on recurrent incarnations and the support for continued consciousness. After resorting to terms like “Nirvana” for the sake of comprehension, we had to agree to disagree on Heaven and Hell. But that’s OK. Theologians do it all the time.

All of this is simply to discount the statement that Pagan and Christian worldviews are unharmonious. Aside from eschatological issues like eternal damnation, I’d say we have a lot of the same pages.

The CRI article defines Wicca as “distinctively feminist form of neo–paganism” where adherents “worship creation rather than the Creator.”

First off, when did “feminism” become an anti-Christian sentiment? Oh, right, The Dark Ages. I am under the impression that Mary, Deborah, Judith, Susanna, and Junia are all female names. But right, they were cut from the Bible (4th Century), relegated to the hidden places, and then Mary (one of them, anyway) was transformed by Pope Gregory (6th Century) into a prostitute and Eve was . . . . Nevermind, we know how that goes.

More importantly, I don’t know any Pagans who “worship nature.” I mean, unless I’ve been misunderstanding y’all for a quarter-century.[10] I know plenty who revere nature; but s’far as I know, there’s a whole lot more “god” and “goddess” being venerated. And I’ve heard a whole lotta “Nature is God is Nature is God” and I agree. As for me, I pray to intercessory gods, but I worship The Creator. Granted, I am panetheistic (with a li’l pandeist for flavor) and believe that all of Creation is inseparable from The Creator and that there is a Divinity that extends beyond what is immediately and logically perceptible. But that’s me. I don’t speak for y’all and your interpersonal experiences with The Divine. I mean, who does that?

Next, the article goes off on the Wiccan Rede, claiming that “Wiccans hold that moral and religious truths are ultimately relative” and that “the Wiccan worldview stands in direct opposition to the biblical notions of absolute moral truth.”

Um, really? The Bible has “notations of absolute moral truth.” OK then, all you theologians can go home now. Those who study Biblical hermeneutics and Midrash are done for the day. Lose your WWJD? bracelets and take five; The Christian Research Institute has it all in hand.

Besides that ridiculousness, I don’t think we practice “moral relativity.” Do you? Most Pagans, in my experience, have a sense of right and wrong which is, in my opinion, much stricter than the modern interpretation of Biblical ethics. My understanding of The Law of Return (also taught as a parable by The Christ in Matthew 13) involves a far more complexly nuanced set of values and responsibilities than the simplistic absolutist teachings of the Christian Church. None of these value judgments conflict with the Red Letters of the Bible, but rather run up against the authoritarian Medieval and Moral Majority enforcement of the post-Crucifixion Church-Building gospels. Mostly those involving folks’ sexuality and the “place” of women. No one seems to want to discuss Christ’s definition of all humanity as equal “children of God,” his prohibitions against material greed, or his admonitions to love unconditionally, maintain a sense of humility, and create and preserve peace.[11] All very Pagan values.

The article wraps up with the complaint that, “Wiccans practice magick (spelled with a k to differentiate it from conjuring for entertainment) in an attempt to manipulate the natural world and alter mental and material conditions. As such, Wicca is an esoteric occult practice designed to manipulate reality in concert with the Wiccan’s will.”

A) Don’t get The Bad Witch going on that K. All of Gardner’s texts spell “magic” without the K. That was Crowley and an entirely different religious system.

B) This author’s definition of magic sounds an awful lot like “prayer” to me.

C) Wicca is a religion, not a practice. I know plenty of Wiccans who don’t “do magic.” Just like I know lots of Christians who don’t pray.

The argument seems to be that “Scripture unequivocally condemns all occult practices as detestable to the Lord,” citing Deuteronomy 18:10–12; Acts 13:6–11; 16:16–18; and Galatians 5:19–21.

First, let me say that the article’s author used The King James version of the Bible.[12] There is no mention of the Apocrypha or the Gnostic Gospels. There is no mention of translations in the Septuagint or the Vulgate or any translation prior to James’ – written during The Inquisition and European Witch Hunts. The history of the relationship between James and the persecution of Witches is well known (but in case you missed the memo, here’s a summary article) and most people understand that the KJV statement that none should “suffer a witch to live” (Exodus 22.18) really refers prohibitions against poison, but because of personal obsessive fears, King James changed “poisoner” to “witch.”[13] Look it up.

Sure, there are Biblical prohibitions against sorcery. But then again, the Torah was all about establishing a new community with a new religion. Of course the rules are going to be, “Don’t do what the Egyptians did.” (There are over 600 commandments, btw. Not just 10. ) The rules prohibiting Ov and Yidoni have very little, if anything, to do with Gardnerian Wicca.

Besides, of all of the prohibitions against Witchcraft-y things in the Bible, some of our greatest heroes employed them. I’m getting long-winded here, so I’ll save this part for another post. For now, just have a looksee at this and this and this and this book (which I plan to review for you soon( and this book (which I have to finish so I can include it in said review).

Finally, I’d like to talk about the “exclusive salvation through Jesus Christ who alone is ‘the way and the truth and the life.’”

Now, I’m a Johnian when it comes to Christology. But John 14:6 really rubs me the wrong way. Mostly, because, all too often, it is used to “prove” that Christianity is the *only* way to God (“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me”). But, nowhere else in all of the gospels does Jesus speak of himself with exalted titles or of “one exclusive way.” I mean, The Christ tells us how we may not have access to the divine,[14] but other than in John, he never says – “only one path to the divine.” The statement is very unlike the Jesus who said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” and “Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me” (Matthew 25:40 & 45) and “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12). To use John’s verse to justify exclusivism is, in my opinion, grossly simplistic. After all, when you sin against your fellow human, you sin against Christ (1 Corinthians 8:12). Look at it this way too: the Gospel of John (typically attributed to the “beloved disciple” of Jesus – John of Zebedee) was written around 100 CE, more than 50 years after John of Zebedee was beheaded by Agrippa I (in 44 CE). So, we have to understand the quote as one of “church-building” not one of Christ’s actual propensities toward elitism. (Christ the Snob, can you imagine?)

But moreso than Jesus’ persona, logical apolitical translation dictates that we not understand John’s statement as exclusivity. Can I get an Aramaic dictionary please?[15] The word translated into the Greek to mean “I” is, in the original Aramaic (which John (ironically) used so fitly to make Christ less snobby), “ena-ena.” The problem is that ena-ena does not actually connote a singular individual “I” but rather a “comprehensive-universal I” – more like ʾehyeh ʾašer ʾehyeh or “I am that I am” (Exodus 3: 13-14). Further, the word for “comes” is “erchetai,” a present tense verb. Jesus, talking to his disciples after telling them he would soon die, was comforting them in the now – not prescribing limitations for all time.[16] So, to understand it properly,

John: 14:6 actually says: “The Great I Am is the truth, the way, and the life. I’ll show you how to get there.” Therefore, if you know El, the God of Israel, or if you know Brahman, or the Tao, or Ahura Mazda, or Wakan Tanka, or The Great Creator, The Almighty, The Alfather, or any Divine essence representing The Logos of the Greek philosophers, then you know The Great I Am. After all, it is John who points us to the Logos as Creator, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). When it comes to the Divine, we have to concede that, “Ultimate Reality is beyond all cultures and the human capacity to know, it is in the broad, fundamental identity of apprehension that all cultures across the world find” (fausto. “Reinterpreting John 14:6.” the Socinian 24 September 2005. Web. 23 June 2012).

So, in the end, this is The Bad Witch’s response to some of Christianity’s misapprehensions concerning Witchcraft. While the CRI article addresses Wicca by name, I assume it intends to challenge all forms of Witchcraft and Occult Practices. Most of what I’ve said here applies broadly to my understanding of Wicca, Druidry, Heathenry of all flavors, Witchcraft of all shapes and sizes, and Ceremonial Magic(k) (which often calls directly on the Judeo-Christian God) of all sorts.

I’ll give Satanism its own post – someday.

May God (by what ever name you call upon) Bless You, Introduce You to the Infinite Magic of Quarks, and Remind You that Love is the Law (aka: BB, Quarks, and 93),
TBW

[1]               “What’s Wrong With Wicca?” Christian Research Institute. CRI, 15 December 2010. Articles. Web. 18 June 2012.

[2]               Ritchie, Mark Andrew.  Christian Research Institute. CRI, 10 June 2009. Articles. Web. 18 June 2012.

Ritchie, Mark Andrew. Christian Research Journal 25. 4 (2003). Print.

[3] I can recall being ten or eleven when she came home from a “mission trip” lauding her apostles for having converted Indians. I asked her, as ingenuously as I could muster: “Do you mean they aren’t Indian anymore?” Even when I was ten, no one mistook The Bad Witch for naive.

[4] The attempted enthymeme ran like a bit like this:

Premise: homosexuality is an “unhealthy” and “unnatural” lifestyle.

Primary rationale: promiscuity is unhealthy and homosexuals are promiscuous. (Disregard everything involving (specifically late-twentieth-century-American) acculturation and stereotyping.)

Secondary rationale: we may disregard all science showing that homosexuality is a naturally occurring (in 10% or more of the human population) orientation whenever we are able to terrorize a population into recanting their expressions of self-identity. Use only the grossly outdated and outmoded (and therefore attackable) Kinsey Report as evidence to the contrary.

Ta-da!

[5] Because I have a feeling this article will have readers that don’t bother to go back and check my credentials before attacking them.

[6] Until the whole “women should not handle Eucharistic wine” brouhaha which split my local parish into warring factions separated firmly by a stone aisle and disrupted my discernment committee to the point of dysfunction.

[7] The Bad Witch is *not* my legal name.

[8] And I have a pretty clear, theoretical, intellectual, and spiritual understanding of the mythological-historical figures Lucifer, Mephistopheles, Beelzebub, and the concept of Satan as opposed to The Boogie Man.

[9] Hear me on this – these are some of the most God-fearing Christian women in Alabama. They are, however, non-judgmental, open-minded, loving women. They are also business-owning, PhD toting, pro-weed, pro-choice (though also predominantly pro-abstinence), tattooed, drinking, swearing, smoking (and smoking-hot) women. One is recently married to a man who good-humoredly refers to them, not as Christians, but as “Christ-y” to differentiate their Christ-like belief system from what has become of the institution of the Pauline Church.

[10] And if I am, please tell me. I need to know these things.

[11] No one but The Bad Witch and a few of us Wicked Pagans.

[12] I can remember a recent conversation with The Bad Husband, woefully miseducated by Carmelites, which ended with his interjection: “There’s more than one version?!” According to one of the aforementioned Christian women, a staunch Catholic raised on the Douai Bible (a not apolitical version itself), “The first time [she] read the King James Bible, [she] said, ‘What is this shit?’”

[13] In the Hebrew Scriptures, the Hebrew word for such an individual is m’khashepah / m’khaseph. In the New Testament, a criminal who murders people by secretly preparing and administering poisons, “pharmakia,” from which we derive “pharmacy,” was translated as “witchcraft.” Burn her, she’s a . . . pharmacist!

[14] “What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight” and the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:14-31) and “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24 likewise Mark 10:25 and Luke 18:25).

[15] This is where The Bad Witch rocks – wrote a whole thesis on John’s use of “Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani?”

[16] Historical decontextualization is my hermeneutic pet-peeve.