Yoiking and Zauberstab

First off, Merry Christmas to any of you who are celebrating it this week. I hope your Yule was as groovy as mine was. While I could not celebrate with my broader kindred (for (positive) reasons that require a separate post), I did have a great birthday party (thanks to The Husband) jam-packed with Absinthe, dirty lyrics by Prince played over the world’s coolest amplifier, and a couple-dozen folks that have a very special place in my heart.

I also went to a lovely Christmas party where the host thought enough to “mazal tov” and “drink hail” to his non-Christian guests: this led to “It’s kinda cold for dancing nekid—especially in an elevated chair,” jokes.

I’ve wanted to write about yoiking for some time but waited for the Y post in the Pagan Blog Project to do it. Then, of course, I missed it. I also wanted to talk about this groovy term “Zauberstab traegerin” so I saved that and missed it as well. Here’s my attempt to make up my shortcoming. This post isn’t really much of an argument; it’s just informative.

I recently had a birthday. My daughter knew that I had wanted to read Steig Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy for some time but never got around to it. I wouldn’t let anyone watch the movies until I did. For this reason, among others, she bought me The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo on audiodisk.[1] It’s a very political story with a murder mystery and family intrigue. I only mention this because Larson is fairly critical of Swedish politics, especially economic policy and racism. Racism in Sweden you ask? Yes, Larsson constructs a character that exposes the the neo-Nazi roots of the Sweden Democrats party. (Look here for more info on “The Dark Side of Sweden.”) Larsson’s character, Richard Vanger, has a particular penchant for eugenics and genocide—particularly of the Sami (also Sámi or Saami), the indigenous people of Arctic Europe.

Because my own Heathen roots are of an Anglo-Saxon and Dutch flavor, somewhat different from the Nordic and Scandinavian variety, I never really encountered discussion of the Sami until this year.

While talking with a Scandinavian peer (she too calls herself Völva in her own—very different—tradition) about vocalizations and the American yawp, she mentioned a practice of yoiking (or joiking). I knew what this was, sort of, but thought it was closer to yodeling than it actually is.

According to the University of Texas Music Department, the yoik is:

A form of song which utilizes a scale and vocalizations which are unfamiliar to virtually everyone in the Western (American and European) world, the history of the yoik is representative of all the encroachment and abuse that the Sami people have suffered at the hands of outsiders.

Here’s a this.

And here’s a this.

And this looks so entirely familiar, even though I know it’s not.

Bob Tarte explains (“You Must Be Joiking.” The Beat Magazine: 22, 4. 2003. Web.):

Joiking originated in the chanted vision songs of Sámi shamans perhaps predating the Sámi migration into northern Scandinavia from the southeast 2,000 years ago. . . .[T]his improvised style of singing . . . is less about actual words than melody and vocal textures . . . . A person could joik about a hunt, a frozen stream or the birth of a baby. But what makes these fluid songs with no fixed rules unique is that they aren’t considered to be about a subject. The joik, and by extension the joiker, are said to actually become the subject. . . . And you don’t have to believe in spirits or channeling to experience the rush [of joiking]. Call [it] the summoning of the unconscious or a wordless connection with the deepest archetype of song itself, and its surge is equally impressive.

I hate to compare distant and distinct cultures to one another for fear of colonizing, but I can’t help see the similarities between the Sami yoik and Native American vocalizations.[2] (While it is not my intention to make this my argument, in these moments of similarity, I have to wonder if those theories about Solutrean migration to The New World are accurate at all.) Both are intended to induce a “shamanic” trance, are used to call animals and spirits, and to shapeshift—what Tarte means by “become the subject.”[3]

I had asked the peer in question about the relationship between the Sami and her Norwegian ancestors and didn’t receive a suitable answer for my tastes. We are still hammering it out. It had become my impression, after being pointed to a woman named Yngona Desmond (make up your own mind about this one), that the Sami and other northern European cultures were unrelated. Desmond, who claims to be “Vinland’s Volva, an honorary title of respect and recognition, gifted . . . by Sámi Noaide,”[4] is a “Heathen leader” in Georgia who regularly leads a boar hunt.[5] It seems like yoiking and seiðr—especially in the form of galdr—are connected; I just want to be very careful about lumping cultural practices together based on geography.

(a.k.a. Dancing nekid in an elevated chair.)

Like I said, I don’t have a point to make here. I just felt like saying, “Hmm, would you look a’that?”

Likewise, I want to point you to a term: Zauberstab traegerin, German for “wand bearer.” But a Zauberstab is not just any kind of stick, stylus, or rod. It translates as “wand” but connotes specifically as “magic wand.”

I love that about Deutsche. I’ve told you about how I feel about words like Schadenfreude. The German language can cram a whole concept into one word.

(I also think of words like Zigeunerleben (“Gypsy life”), which makes me wonder how much racism is intended by—or even accidental to—the song by Robert Schumann (which I remember from high school chorus). The song is a romanticized[6] depiction of “wandering gypsies, so wild, so free of care, with eyes flashing brightly, with dark flowing hair” and “raven-haired maiden[s]” who “dance . . . [while] bright as a torch, burns her passionate glance.” And now that I know what I know about Sweden and the Sami, I’m starting to wonder even more about Germany and the Romany. I mean, I know that “gypsies” were rounded up in the 40s, so why do we sing this song seemingly about a racial fetish in high school? That’s totally beside the point—but it makes me think: Why am I back on the subject of Nazis?)

I’m not sure where I stumbled upon the term Zauberstab traegerin—it’s one of those moments that I wish I’d taken better notes. I mean Zauberstab is easy enough to find all over Harry Potter cites in German, but I know I found “Zauberstab traegerin” as a complete term. In terms of Völvastav, Völvakona, and Stavkona (“the wand carrying magic woman”) this is a significant term that I am now beginning to think I may have dreamed.

Happy holidays.


[1] Why they didn’t keep the original title, Män Som Hatar Kvinnor (Men Who Hate Women) is not beyond me, but it’s a better epithet for the novel than a nod at one of Salander’s many tattoos.

[3] If you have caught on to my Deleuzian proclivities, you have to know that I love that he used the term “become.”

[4] I was subsequently pointed to this quote on a New Age Fraud discussion thread by someone who was very concerned about the new preponderance of “fake tribes” here in the Southeast of the United States. I had no idea that this was such a common problem. Seems it is. It also seems that it’s one  New Age Fraud takes seriously enough to investigate and subdue. I’ve been asked a lot of questions over the past month and have had to educate myself right-quick on accounto’ I had no idea this was a widespread thing for fakers to do. Though I don’t really approve of the hate-filled rhetoric, I found this page (also handed off to me by the “concerned” person/people) very helpful in understanding what’s legit in a “tribe” and what’s not. It made me think twice about Desmond and others.

[5] I don’t know anything other than what I can deduce from the questions I was asked about Desmond, what I read briefly on the discussion thread in the footnote #3, and what little I read on her blog. I was (coincidentally?) just lent a copy of Völuspa: Seiðr as Wyrd Consciousness (cross-country), but haven’t read it yet. As ever, I’ll let you know.

[6] Here I mean “fanciful”—not to be confused with “Romanticism” which is specific to a literary movement.


This post is part of a year-long project. Rowan Pendragon’s The Pagan Blog Project; “a way to spend a full year dedicating time each week very specifically to studying, reflecting, and sharing . . . .    The project consists of a single blog post each week posted on prompt that will focus on a letter of the alphabet” (http://paganblogproject/).

Uruz and Fehu

When I first learned about runes in the 80s, I learned to use them as a magical tool rather than a tool for divination. They remain one of the most useful tools in my arsenal. It’s easy to hang a rune sign out in the open without anyone asking any questions. I’ve made rune glyphs for my daughter’s saddle, for my front door, for a friend’s new abode, for well, just about everything.

I never really learned to “read” them until about a decade later. But despite the fact that I knew Vitki, the art of using runes within Seiðr, it wasn’t until last year that I really started making and using runes specifically for divination.

Let me tell you why.
Because I was a fool.
Plain and simple.

Runes were “too primitive” and “not esoteric enough” to strike my fancy. They were too simple and straightforward and made too much “common sense” for a sorceress who looked for “challenge.”


As I embarked on the prospect of learning Teutonic Shamanism, I learned that it’s the graceful simplicity of runes—not to mention the familiarity of the language—that reaches the subconscious of an English-speaker in the way that the intensely archetypal images of the Tarot do.

Here, let me show you. Keeping in mind that the “thorn” (þ) makes the “th” sound—not a “p” sound, can you make any sense of these sentences? (Courtesy of Bruce Mitchell’s An Invitation to Old English &Anglo-Saxon England, 1995.)

His linen socc feoll ofer bord in þæt wæter and scranc.
Hwær is his cþýþþ and cynn?
Se cniht is on þære bryge.

All you have to do is look at Jera to see the give-and-take of seed and harvest; Nauthiz to see “need” (as the two stick rub together to create need-fire) and friction; Pertho to see everything represented by the “chalice” of other traditions (‘cept Pertho has legs); Gebo to see fairness and equal-exchange—after all, we still use the X to symbolize a kiss; and Tiwaz, well—look for yourself: ↑.

So, I spent some time this week really thinking about why Uruz and Fehu look so different from one another on account of they both represent “cattle” of one sort or another. (I’m not the only one to compare these two runes; it seems a no brainer. Have a look: here and at Wandering Woman Wondering (she has some other great bits–you should go have a look for yourself). But let me break it down for you, “Ehsha style.”

Uruz—Aurochs (an extinct paleolithic wild ox, not unlike a bison)
Fehu—Domesticated cattle
The accepted meaning of Uruz is strength and Fehu is understood to indicate wealth and luck.[1]

My meditations on Uruz have always revealed “survival” and “instinct” along with “strength” and “power”; whereas my meditations on Fehu have always revealed “transitory-ness” and “that-which-is-subject-to something outside itself.” To me, the latter is not unlike bondage. I keep going back to the difference between wolves and beagles. A different set of instincts, a different way of communicating, a different set of drives. The wolf is ferocious, strong, and free (and nearly extinct as a result—and more valuable as a subsequent result); the beagle brays at everything, is vulnerable, and wants nothing more than to get his belly rubbed by his owners. Yeah, they both bite—but you don’t bring a beagle to a wolf pack and expect it to fit in. You can prolly expect it to be eaten alive.

The same goes for the ox and cow. Wild ox are ferocious, strong, and free (also extinct as a result—and more valuable as a subsequent result); cows are, well, they are “mooish.” They are vulnerable, and tip-able. And well—ever meet a cow? Both are good for food, but one is a little harder to catch. Or was. It is, perhaps ironically to this post, the trials inherent in catching the ox that led our ancestors to domesticate cattle. Easy pickin’s.

Some of the things I have been thinking about in terms of “cattle-wealth” is that the herd is less mobile than a wild herd. When I’ve had to move a few horses from one farm to another, it took a team of people, special vehicles, and a day or two off from work. When Curly showed Billy Crystal how to move a herd of cattle, we all got to watch as he learned the Hermetic lesson of “just one thing” along the way. And we got to see that it takes a little more than moving a few horses.

Now imagine driving wild oxen.

So, by “wealth,” I think of domesticated, controllable, and fairly immobile. Wealth, yes—but limited. I also think of the skills set associated with wealth. I know that some people see Fehu as meaning a skills-set that can be applied across the board. Like—if I have the skills-set to be a cattle farmer, this doesn’t go away. If I move to another place, I will still know how to be a cattle farmer. Perhaps I can even apply what I know about cows to something else.

But then I started thinking—yes, you know how to be a cattle farmer; but how useful is this off the farm? There is little need for cattle farmers in the city. I best keep my nary’ass on my own farm and keep to my own bovine herd. Right?

But the wild ox. Hmmm. That’s a little different. No one can get rich off the wild ox because it can’t be tamed. Because it don’t make no nevermind to the ox whether it’s got humans to housebreak it or not. I take that back. A wild ox would impale someone who tried breaking its spirit in an effort to add to the wealth of a cattle farm.

So then what? The ox gets hunted for its pelts because it can’t be reined in—just like the wolf? Yup.

But, fortunately, the runes keep a sacred space for this animal in Uruz. Here, the Aurochs-ox is not extinct. In this rune, the Aurochs-ox runs free and is unyoked by the need of those that would domesticate him, tame him, limit him, make profit from him. And the Aurochs-ox is mobile; he goes where his instincts take him, rather than being fattened up for the slaughter.

See, when I compare these two runes in my mind, they are like comparing apples to oranges, wolves to beagles, heifers to bison. The cattle of Fehu applies to the owner of the herd whereas the ox of Uruz applies to the animal itself. (And as Dora told you, I always want to be “the thing itself.”)

Plus, there’s this linguistic thing. To cow someone is to intimidate, to coerce, to force them into service.[2] That’s a way to wealth and transitory popularity—lots of property and an ability to coerce herds. (And the best way to coerce herd animals is to make them feel safe. Right up to the point where you slit their throats. Tell them all about the wolves outside the farm; tell them about the plentiful grain in the slop bucket. Hell, yea, domesticated beasts will sit down and set-a-spell for a full trough.) But it’s indicative of having others in a thralldom that’s so bound and unnatural to my Heathen soul.

Let me have the role of ox any day. Let me be a killer-wolf over a crated, fenced, processed kibble-eating beagle any day. I may have to forage and scrape for my sustenance. But I will be free. I know I will continually have to fight off the slings and arrows of the hunters who are after my hide. Likely they’d like to don it for a ritual in which they pretend to be me. But I will be free. And I am fortunate in that the hunters these days have poor eyesight—they are nearly blind. And their arrows come no nearer piercing my hide, made tough from my existence in the wild—made tough by the necessity of avoiding the hunters,[3] than they are to being anything other than cattle themselves. But I will be free.

Today, I represent the enduring spirit of Uruz. And the cows out there can suck my sheath.

B, Q, 93,



This post is part of a year-long project. Rowan Pendragon’s The Pagan Blog Project; “a way to spend a full year dedicating time each week very specifically to studying, reflecting, and sharing . . . .    The project consists of a single blog post each week posted on prompt that will focus on a letter of the alphabet” (http://paganblogproject/).

[1] Some folks see Fehu and Uruz and “brains and brawn” respectively, but I have a problem with that interpretation.

[2] It likely has something to do with the Old English cu and Old Norse kyr being related to the Old Norse kuga—meaning “to oppress.” But no one knows f’sure.

[3] See the Catch 22? My hide wouldn’t be nearly as strong if hunters hadn’t made me that way.

The Bad Witch and the Monkey-Bird

Holy shit! I never told you about the monkey-bird.

I bought the house I live in in 2004. There is almost an acre of land behind the useful part of my yard which I’ve been gradually clearing since last March; with the onset of fall weather and the completion of the chicken-coop, I’ve had more luck then over summer. In 04, the whole yard was a jungle of maidenhair ferns, crepe-myrtles, and pampas grass which we reclaimed have over the last eight years.

But when we first moved in, there was something out there.

I was convinced that there was a monkey in my backyard. I mean, I knew there wasn’t, but still.

There was an eerie sound that came from the yard: “ogh, ogh, ogh, oooooooooh!” And the ape-like howling and whooping was unlike anything my Chicagoian ears were used to hearing. I mean, the summers I spent in North Alabama were mostly full of bug, frog and air conditioner sounds with the occasional “moo.”[1] The sounds were also accompanied by loud crashes in the trees, which would shimmy under the weight of something bounding from branch to branch.

Bigger than a squirrel.

Flying opossum?

Maybe, I teased, it was a monkey.

And, of course, freaked myself out.

It didn’t help that The Bad Husband had moved to Nebraska for work, leaving me and three babies in this big-ol’ house all alone.

After six months or longer, I ran to the back-porch every time I heard it. I only ever saw the crashing and heard the oogha-whooping.

Until one day.

I had been outside clearing what-ever-it-was-I-was-clearing-that-week so I could put in an herb garden.

Though the creek-bed had run dry the month before, due to the new construction about a mile away, I had seen lots of animals looking for the water that used to be there. I was never surprised to pull up a handful of weeds and find that I had a frog as well.

On this day, I sat on my garden bench to rest my back which had grown weary of bending and pulling. I looked out over the area I had cleared and imagined the herbs I would grow there. Exhausted, I “zoned out” a bit and visualized until I could smell tarragon, coriander, basil. I heard the flapping of feathers and felt a slight breeze on my face. But this wasn’t unusual for when I was in the zone, so I didn’t startle.

Until, that is, I opened my eyes.

Not six feet away was my monkey-bird; at long-last I got to see it out of the trees. Staring at me was a curious Great Blue Heron. It buzzed a guttural sort-of glugging sound and took a spindly-legged step forward. I’m not sure I breathed. Just remembering the boldness of that bird makes my head swim.

Then, it opened its huge wings, squatted down and leapt into the air, crashing in the trees as it flew off.

Though I have seen them while on vacation (it seems whenever I get close to water, I have some sort of encounter with a Heron), I haven’t seen a Great Blue Heron in my yard for a few years now. Until today.

Whenever I go out to my chicken run, I get the feeling that there is a bigger bird looking at me from “the back-backyard.” My fear was that it was the Redtail-Hawk that hangs out around my house from time to time. (It has even perched on the bannister of the small balcony of my temple-room for hours at a time—just watching me.) But today, my monkey-bird came back. S/he grabbed a piece of fence and stared, cocking her head from side to side, and flew off—going south.

The wind said, “Beware. She will transform you.”

I have a very open relationship with the spirit-world and have no problem communicating with and recognizing guardian spirits and elementals. I’ve even run up against a few other things that I understood, even if I didn’t have a proper name for them. But whenever a specific deity contacts me, I feel pretty dense—like they have to drop a ton of bricks on me to get my attention. As a youngon’, Mhór-Ríoghain grabbed me by the wrist and said, “c’mon.” Even though I wasn’t particularly Celtic (only in that I identify strongly with my maternal-grandfather’s Scot origin).

Then, when my life went to Hel four years ago, she moved off. Maybe to make room for others. I spun my wheels looking for a mentor, looking for a deity-archetype to whom I could look for guidance, looking for a new path upon which to set my feet.

In the spring, I thought it was Hestia. And, it was—only not. I mean, she had a thing or three to teach me, but it was not a long-term relationship; I knew it from the start. I also knew that Megaera was only around to do a job and then move along. Someone suggested Ceredwin was being friendly last June.

Now I have a year of a red-tail hawk staring at me, a heron re-clanging around, a thousand-pound boar rooting at me (this is a story from the fair where I met the timberwolves), remembrances of my unborn twin, a-lost-and-found amber necklace, a strong attraction to Seiðr, and a new “chair.”


Freyja and Herons. Sander J. Nystrøm, 1893.


Freyja and Hildisvíni


Freyja in the High Seat


Freyja and Brísingamen

Freyja Morphing into a Falcon/Hawk

Freyja as Sorceress




To quote The Bad Son: “Derp.”

To quote The Bad Baby: “-.-”

Because of her associations with death, Freyja is bridge or of connection between us and our ancestors; and as queen of the Valkyries, Freyja has a fierce side as well as a protective side, just like an alpha wolf: Frejya is a Goddess of raw power.

Now if I could just get some cats to pull a chariot . . .

Almost a year ago, I wrote an Open Letter to Polyphanes, my fellow-blogger and adored friend. I had told him about the instructions my agathos gave me: “Learn to make mead.” Learning to make mead sent me on a quest that was not unlike unraveling my sweater and then trying to figure out what I was gonna wear. Embracing my ancestry was familiar—something I had always done fairly easy. Embracing ancestral “doings” was a little more sticky (on account o’all the honey involved). There are issues of mead-making, of course—and then there are issues of shell-shaking, cave-dwelling, hexe-crafting, pow-wowing, high-seating, fruit-canning, pipe-smoking, spirit-speaking, bagpiping, chicken-raising, moonshining, butter-churning, and cotton-picking. What tradition answers that call? (I’ll be able to tell you my answer before Yule.)

Embracing my ancestors’ deities is going to be even more of a problem. I’ve always embraced Anglo-Heathen ethics—but neither Ásatrú nor Vanatru speak to me as clearly as I want my religion to. So I invented a term for myself about a year ago; this I feel in my bonzes.[2] Like a lot of traditions, it considers pantheonic “gods” and “goddesses” to be more akin to “deified ancestors” and spiritual intercessors than creator-gods, so I can be friends with Freyja without extra Odinic baggage.

Depending on which way the birds fly, I’ll fill you in on what I can without breaking any Harpocratic rules.

All in good time, they say—just like the materialization of an ancient chronicle.

I’ll be in touch . . .

B, Q, 93,


[1] Climate control with a chance of meatballs.

[2] A longer definition will soon follow.

Some New Baubles and Things to Share

Pimping again.

I came across Wane Wyrds not long ago via The Pagan Pages Blog Hop and really liked the way Cena explained some of the misconceptions about Vanatru. I liked it so well, that I thought I’d share her post, “Misconceptions about Vanatru: What it is and what it isn’t,” with you.

And I’ve also enjoyed several well-spent hours reading/looking at Donald L. Engstrom-Reese’s work at Walking In Beauty, where he defines Queer Spirit for a Pagan community which is, in my opinion, far too hung up on binaries for its own good. I especially like this page where he offers some terms and definitions.

I’ll have a few more to add in a few weeks as I fill you in on my new group: Ulfarnir. I’m thinkin’ maybe they might need their own page.

Which reminds me–I had the great pleasure to meet some real Timberwolves yesterday and talk with the woman who takes care of them. (“You don’t train a wild animal,” she reminded me, “you work with its instincts rather than against them.”) It was an amazing experience and I learned some valuable things. Therefore, I plan to go back and revise my post on wolves to include what I learned. Stop by and see it in a day or so.

I always tell you that I’ll get back to this subject or that subject in another post–sometimes I forget or just get sidetracked. If there was something I said I’d tell you and I haven’t, drop me a reminder. I plan to run through the last few posts and gather up the stragglers when I have a minute; until then, I’ll follow your cues.

You’ll also notice that I’ve added a button for “Heathens Against Hate.” Go poke them.

I hope you dig the new layout. It seems that the more longwinded of my posts can scroll on-and-on, so I wanted a broader middle column for ya.

And, as I’m always up for suggestions, I took a loyal reader’s advice and added a tip-jar. I weighed the decision and looked at a lot of others’ opinions (like this one). In the end, I figured–as a minister, writing at The Files is part of my job. All of the contributions go toward supporting the things I do in the Pagan community. Why would I shortchange my community of some much needed financial support? Besides, some of the blogs I respect most have a tip-jar. I reckon it’s done. If I’ve made you laugh, made you cry, pissed you off enough to make you do something productive, or just given you an idea to reflect on for a bit, consider contributing. (It will show up as Open Path Sanctuary & Templum Gnostica, the legal brainchild behind all the pixie dust.) All of the bells and whistles I am adding to the Pagan community depend on the support of readers and enthusiasts like you.

As ever, I encourage you to go visit the folks on my blogroll. And if I have been remiss in including your blog or if you have a suggestion for a Bad Blog for me to add, drop me a line (abadwitch@yahoo.com).

Blessings, Quarks, and 93!




I’ve been mulling around the idea of “reclaiming seiðr” and trying to think about some ways to broach the subject that I don’t see a lot of Heathens doing “Magic(k)” anymore. And, in trying to write a post about reclaiming seiðr, I ended up with a different can of worms.

I apologize a post ahead of time if there are pockets of practitioners across the country who engage in galstar (galsterei). Please feel free to bring yourselves to my attention; I’ve been looking for you.

In my neck-of-the-woods, we have little more than moothorn-heralds who blót for the sake of mead consumption, neo-nazis, and “wannabeathens.”

It pisses me off.

And this is where the can of pissed-off worms opened up.

Wannabeathen is how I think of Witches/Heathens (not just Ásatrúar) who want to claim a non-Wiccan practice and yet temper all of their practices with the commodified tenets of Wicca. It’s rude and judgmental of me, I know. I admit this. But when The Bad Witch is pissed off, I tend not to care if I offend those whose rationale I find unambiguously offensive.

If you are a Heathen (or Native or Voodooisant or Solomonic), bother to find out what Heathen (Native, Voodoo, Magickal) practices and values are. Don’t be oblivious and think that you can just “substitute” Wicca for Heathenism (Nativisms, Voodoo, Sorcery).

If you are Wiccan, practicing Wiccan practices and valuing Wiccan values, call yourself Wiccan, for pete’s sake. There’s no problem with those who choose that path. Owning it is certainly more respectable than hiding behind Heathenry (Native Practice, Voodoo, Sorcery) while deriding and yet perpetuating neo-Trads like Wicca.[1]

It’s the deriding that gets me. Don’t say, “I can’t stand that Wicca-shite,” and then pull out your triple goddess circlet and cast a circle using an athame.

The problem is – hang on, I’m having a hard time putting this into words. The problems are multiple and complex. (Let me put on my lawyer-hat for a minute.)

  • I consider the designation “Wicca” to refer to the stuff that stems from Gardner.
  • Wicca is lovely. [2]
  • However, most folks don’t have a clue about Gardnerian/Alexandrian/Whateverian Wicca but pick and choose an “eclectic” path. This too is totally lovely. Find your god where your god is. All paths lead to the divine. Eventually.

My problem is with those who want to say that they are not Wiccan, yet still manage to co-opt all of their practices from Wicca. I know too many “witches” who purport to be practicing “ancient ways” or “ways of the elders” and yet look up their rituals and correspondences in Bucklands’ or Cunninghams’.[3] Or, eek, non-reviewed online sources. To me, this smacks of ignorance. It says to me, “I don’t want to be called Wiccan and therefore will call myself *this.*” And yet the *this* they end up practicing is a mangled sort of watered-down Wicca.

Why not just go through proper training?  (Whether with a coven or in solitary.) Wicca is a fine tradition, why evade it? If it’s your thing, embrace it. If it’s not your thing, quit co-opting it, deriding it, and calling it something else. Condemnant quod non intellegunt, no?

Why not just train and do right?

Oh, wait, now I remember: Discipline. Ego. Entitlement. Competition. Title-whoring.

As I see it, the reason many people (and I don’t mean this to apply to my readership, I mean some in my local circle with whom I’ve had many a sit-down) resist being called Wiccan is that they resent the system of elevations and designations. Many times, they resent the system because they don’t want to go through (or don’t know how to begin) the arduous series of initiations and formalized training involved with formal-traditions.

Lots of Witches would prefer to simply *start out* as High Priestess, without going through the training. (I laugh at them. This too is rude and judgmental. Nonetheless, “Bahahahaha.”)

Again with the lawyer hat:

I’m not valuing formal-traditions over informal ones. I’m just saying – if you have an instinctive practice (this would, by definition, *not* be a tradition), quit annexing Wicca. I write about Wicca colonizing the rest of Witchcraft, but the door swings both ways. Those who don’t know where else to go for their information on . . . say . . . celebrating the Summer Solstice in a Diné or Tsalagi tradition, end up turning to neo-Celtic and Wiccan “Litha” rituals.

And this is totally fine – as long as you own it.

Again, I’m not saying that a Homa or Osage cannot practice Wicca. Neither am I saying that White Bread from Illinois cannot practice the ways of the elders. (Hot damn, I’m defensive today.) I’m just saying – call it what it is. Own it!

I’ve a house to clean and another to go look at (I may be buying the farm sooner rather than later – both literally and figuratively). I’ll come back to my diatribe on wannabeathans soon. I’ll bet you can’t wait.

Til then, be true to yourself.

B, Q, 93,


[1] Go ahead, argue that Heathenism is a neo-Trad. Ásatrú, sure. In my book, Ásatrú and Odinism are about as neo as Gardner, if not more. I’m talking about esoteric Heathenry as is found in texts from pockets of The Black Forest where the tribes executed the bishops and cardinals who tried to clear their groves. Anyone notice The Black Forest is still standing? Just saying. Sure, it’s littered with cathedrals too. But “Indians” were taught to “Pray” and yet were able to maintain their spirituality. And if you want to argue that actual handed-down-Native-American practices is neo, – let’s fight.

[2] Though I was trained in it from the ages of nineteen to twenty-eight (through six of seven elevations), I am not (now) Wiccan. Having spent the last few months going over my initiation “folders” (Giant-ass binders that weigh a freaking ton and have many of my notes written in pink glitter-gel pen. Wow.) I find that I am being slapped silly with the things I had forgotten in the trauma that was “moving to Alabama” and being totally solitary for ten years.

[3] Perfectly fine resources – for Wiccans.