WICCA?

This url http://www.geocities.com/wicca_hoax/ contains articles dedicated to the trashing of Wicca and Paganism.

On this issue, I had something to say. My essay to them appears here:

Wicca, Legit or Not - What Constitutes Being Legitimate? Does it Even Matter? By: Tani Jantsang
Thanks to Comrade Kaiden for additional information on 1800's Satanism. Thanks to Comrade Proletariat for additional information on Newton.

Pagan-Christian, or Shamanistic or Pagan agrarian traditions of serfs during middle-age and dark-age Europe are synthesized now and referred to by Wiccans as "traditional witchcraft." And yes, it is most definitely political in a sense of self-empowerment. I suggest you check into Robert Graves's accounts of the Goddess and of Hellenic Pagan traditions. Most modern practitioners of Wicca do not live on farms and are not serfs. They are working women in an industrial/technological world.

Yes, all of this WAS simply folk magic as one of your flustered scholars is belaboring (the obvious) - or let us say these were The People's Beliefs, and no one has to "cast serious doubts" on the idea of witchcraft as an ancient organized religion. Peasants didn't organize as a general rule, without getting slaughtered for trying. The people into Wicca TODAY have synthesized this as an alternative to the prevailing Christian organized religion. Once upon a time, a few Jews created Christianity against the prevailing organized Judean organized religion. And at that, it went through some quick changes. Are you saying that people can't ORGANIZE and have their own beliefs? Or that they can't make a system out of these beliefs - JUST AS the Christians eventually came to make a system with specific dogma? Of course ALL of this is political at the roots. Wicca is a religion that appeals to women who'd rather identify with The Goddess than identify with Eve, a subjugated and maligned woman. Much of this also appeals to the Gay Community who's members would be foolish to identify with a religion that calls them damned and evil.

Crowley and Gardner are mentioned as having much to do with modern Wiccan thought. You forgot about Dennis Wheatley? While they may have had a lot, or a little to do with these things, what about Jules Michelet? He tells you a story and pretty much nails it right on the head, on target: SERFS - get it? Feudal Lords - GET IT? A thing around which serfs can organize - as they do even right now. Do the Moslems of today (2001) turn the American flag upside down? Yes, they do. They also make effigies of Bush, like voodoo dolls, and mutilate them. Did the serfs in the past practicing "whatever" turn the cross upside down? Yes, they did, one would almost have to assume this as an as-given - the cross was a symbol of MILITARY power that the Pope had back then. There were also the legitimate lodges which are wholly apart from Crowley or Gardner, despite claims these two might have made to the contrary.

Of course the real thing is political. Why not? Are you saying that Christianity is a "legit" religion and not some STUPID concoction pieced together from scant Judaism, much Manichaeism and much Paganism? If you want to go that route, then the ONLY legit indigenous real religion is SHAMANISM. Why put a time limit on when something can be "legit?" What's legit about Islam?

To see all this wasted scholarship over the "Wiccan issue" is a joke. Someone has a real bug up their buns over this non-issue. You can only legitimize this by putting a time limit on something? When DID Christianity or er, Catholicism, standardized as we know it, start? At the year 1? No, it actually started when the Council of Nicea legitimized and standardized the junk - the distinction was born; it was OFFICIAL, so said these men (heh). Then, exact date back then, we had Orthodox Catholicism versus everything else. Are any of the characters in the New Testament even real people? Some Rabbis say NO (CF Refuting Missionaries on www.apodion.com/vad/ look in alphabetical index). We don't even know if "Jesus Christ" or "Jeshua ben Josef" even existed. We DO know that his last name wasn't Christ - the Christos is exclusively a Gnostic concept and had nothing to do with Judaism. Standardized Catholics merged these two things together. So doesn't that deligitimize Christianity as a religion, too? Sure it does. And so what? Go tell millions of Christians, advocate pulling their books out of stores, ban the Bible will ya?

I sell an article entitled "Real Wicca" with a lot of the modern mythology blown (see AD).

You speak of religious fraud? What is Christianity? What is Islam? Then let's ask what is Protestantism or Catholicism or Pentacostalism or - the many other KINDS of Christianity - including Santeria? What is Sunni and what is Shi'ite - and then what is Sufi? One might say that Judaism is not a religious fraud since they don't try to convert people, but modern Judaism is Rabbinical and very different from the Israelite or Hebrew religion; Jews explain this themselves.

We have an organization, Satanic Reds, that utilizes Left Hand Path LEGIT stuff from Vedanta, Tantra, Taoism and Hermeticism. All of this tradition is older than Christianity or Islam. All of it is related since this tradition speaks of a Boundless Darkness OUT OF WHICH a Light emanated and out of which all things that exist emanated. It is opposed to creationism and theologically classified as atheistic. It is more akin to Deism in some ways. And we have POLITICS up front. FD Roosevelt is one of our "Saints" or Heroes. So is Gene Roddenberry. Does this make it NON legit? Of course not.

Someone ought to inform Raymond Buckland about the Heterae, and the Age of Aspasia in fact. Perhaps a reading of "Tree of Destruction" would help - it is in our socio-political section (www.geocities.com/satanicreds/). Buckland seems to have "control" issues. No one needs to read this pop bullshit. Robert Graves is superb on these issues. The ONLY real "cult" that existed amongst agrarian peoples was Shamanistic. That different cultures shared similar beliefs, e.g., regarding the sun and the moon, is explained by the work they did and the conditions in which they all lived. If someone wants to call this all "witchcraft" so what? That's what organized religion branded them all. If they want to become an organized religion today - more power to them! Why shouldn't they organize?

There are plenty of books by Christians regarding their angelic encounters; Born Again "How Jesus saved my life" books. Do you advocate banning these books, too?

Right now, we have people in our (USA) government wanting to take away a lot of our rights and privacies - all due to the actions of MOSLEMS. This is something to be concerned about, not some book that buyers can choose to buy or not buy. The USA is not a Christian government founded on Christian religion or principles and never was: Treaty of Tripoli 1803 I think. Why don't you tell that to Ashcroft and to the Fundies that do Christian prayers in our own White House everyday? I don't see how stores selling books infringes upon my TAX DOLLARS. What they are doing in the White House does.

Ultimately, I have to wonder why all these anti-Wiccans CARE so much about this non-issue. Do they wish to convert these Wiccans/Pagans to some OTHER religion? Or to Atheism? If so: WHY?

Do you want to know what Wicca is in a nice, short and sweet sum up? Read Robert Graves, "White Goddess." Do you want to know how it became political? Read Jules Michelet, "Satanism and Witchcraft." What IS this Wicca? It's a synthesis of many folk ways of many ethnic groups of agrarian peoples, mostly serfs and other disenfranchised peoples of the past, and shamanism. It is extremely positive toward women's empowerment and rights and extremely tolerant toward our, as Plato called it, Third Sex - the Gays (male or female). It is also extremely progressive toward the Working Class. That's good enough reason for it to be Established Religion and legitimized.

Now, for the tour de force for refuting the modern notion that Wiccans got it all in a moderntime from Gardner and Crowley, as the url I mentioned stated.

The history of Witchcraft is very difficult to accurately document. This leads to wild claims on both sides, alleging it to be a 20th century fabrication on one end, and an unbroken line of unaltered tradition dating back from the Paleolithic on the other. The main problem is that the people who were likely to become Witches, real witches, were unimportant in the eyes of those who created the history. The very image the word Witch conjures up is female, and even those who preserved the history of magic, like Eliphas Levi and A. E. Waite, preserve the history of male artifice rather than the natural Theurgy of the Witch. Michelet preserved the essense in his "Satanism and Witchcraft" of the Sorceress.

The following text is taken from the now out-of-print book "Witches" by Una Woodruff (the book itself is an art book, the text is all from the English occult scholar Colin Wilson). This should serve to document, once and for all, that an actual Witch cult with definite Satanic leanings existed - and perhaps continues to exist - in Europe.

It absolutely proves what I said in refutation to an anti-Wiccan pile of bullcrap. I said that Witchcraft is NOT some modern invention based on Gardner and Crowley. AND - as Michelet said, Witchraft and Satanism are Comrades.

[Starting on page 26 of the Introduction]

"Historically speaking, the oddest thing about witchcraft is that nobody bothered much about it until the year 1300. An early church document called the Canon Episcopi denounced the notion that 'certain abandoned woman perverted by Satan' really flew through the air at night 'with the pagan goddess Diana' as an absurd delusion or dreams. In practice, local healers and 'wise women' were a common feature of country life. The 'witchcraft craze' began when the Church decided it was time to stamp out a heretical sect called the Cathars – also known as the Bogomills, Albigenses and (later) Waldenses. The Cathars were religious 'purists', the mediaeval equivalent of Quakers or Methodists; they denounced the wealth and corruption of the Church and insisted that the only way to get to heaven was by leading a godly life. Understandably, this worried the princes of the Church. The Cathars also believed that everything to do with matter is evil, while everything to do with spirit is good. The world, they said, was created by the devil, and the truly religious man should reject all worldly things. One of the odder beliefs of the Cathars was that since Jesus was wholly good, he could not have possessed a human body; so they taught that Jesus was a phantom. In 1208, the Pope – Innocent III – declared a crusade against the Cathars – and in particular, against Count Raymond of Toulouse, one of whose squires has assassinated the Papal Legate. In 1209 and 1210, twenty thousand crusaders swept across Languedoc, storming towns and massacring their inhabitants. A monk named Dominic Guzman – later St. Dominic – set up the Inquisition in Toulouse in 1229, and his agents went around Languedoc rooting out heresy and burning heretics. Rather like the late Senator Joseph Macarthy, Dominic got carried away by his mission until he saw heretics everywhere. It was easy to distort the Cathar belief that the world was created by the devil into the notion that the Cathars worshipped the devil [since the bible said God created the world - the devil must have been the Cathar God]. But it was another century before a new Pope – the paranoid John XXII, who believed his enemies were plotting to kill him by magic – finally gave the Dominicans his support. The 'witch hunt' now really began: at first in the Pyrnees and the Alps, into whose valleys the remnants of the heretics had retreated. The aim was no longer merely to root out heresy – unsound doctrines – but to destroy the servants of the devil. And during the next four centuries, many thousands of 'witches' were strangled and burned – many of them, perhaps most, undoubtedly innocent. In England, the repeal of the witchcraft act in 1736 put an end to the persecutions; the same thing happened all over Europe. The spirit of science, symbolized by Isaac Newton's Principa Mathematica, made belief in magic seem absurd.

"But was the 'witchcraft craze' really smoke without fire? The remark in the Canon Episcopi (dating from about the 4th century AD) about the goddess Diana offers an interesting clue. Why Diana, the Roman moon goddess? Because from the very beginning, the history of magic has been associated with the moon. Diana was also the earth goddess – and therefore the goddess of fertility. This association of witches with Diana can be found throughout the centuries. In the 1880s, an American scholar named Charles Leland became fascinated by the English Gypsies – as George Barrow had been half a century earlier – and became president of the Gypsy Lore Society. In 1886 he went to Florence, continuing his studies of Gypsy magic and lore, and encountered an Italian witch named Maddelena, who told fortunes and sold amulets. He employed Maddelena to gather what traditions she could about the origins of Italian witchcraft, which was known as la vecchia religione, the old religion. She finally provided him with a handwritten manuscript called Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches. This tells the story of the goddess Diana who had an incestuous affair with her brother Lucifer, and gave birth to Aradia (or Herodias); it was Aradia who eventually came down to earth and taught men and women the secrets of magic. This, according to The Gospel of the Witches, was because the Church and the aristocracy were treating the poor with such cruelty that Diana felt they needed to be provided with some means of self-defense. That is to say, witchcraft was originally a movement of social protest, like the Peasant's Revolt. In his Witchcraft, Magic and Alchemy (1931), Grillot de Givry hits upon the same idea: '… it is perfectly logical that certain men … having seen that God possessed his rich and hounoured Church on earth … should have asked themselves – above all, if they believed they had a right to complain of God, Who had condemned them to a wretched state of life and denied them worldly goods – why Satan … should not have his Church also ... why they themselves should not be priests of this demon, who would, perhaps, give them what God did not deign to give …'"

This is the same sentiment eloquently echoed and strongly stated by Jules Michelet in 1862.

The text continues: "There is every reason to believe that Aradia is a genuine document, for there could be no possible reason to forge such a work. It would hardly attract the attention of anyone but a folklorist – and, in fact, it went out of print almost immediately. It proved one of the most powerful pieces of evidence that witchcraft was a survival of a pagan cult of the moon and earth goddess – a fertility cult.

"During the First World War, an English archeologist named Margaret Murray was living in Glastonbury when she decided to study the history of witchcraft. Without, apparently, studying Aradia (at least she never mentions it), Margaret Murray reached the conclusion that witchcraft was a survival of a pagan fertility cult. It was her view that the image of the devil – as a horned man with a tail – originated in the hunting rituals of our Cro-Magnon ancestors in which the shaman wore the skin of the animal about to be hunted. When man became a farmer rather than a hunter, he directed his magic towards the earth with the object of ensuring a good harvest. These innocent pagan festivals continued down the ages. The Church attempted to stamp them out, partly because they were a pagan survival, partly because of their strong sexual undertones – but in many country areas the 'old religion' was simply blended with the new, dances around the maypole replaced the pagan fertility ceremony with its ritual phallus.

"In recent years, Margaret Murray's theory – which was once accepted by most respectable scholars – has been violently attacked, on the grounds that she censored the evidence about witchcraft cults and sabbats to support theories. And there can be no doubt that her later book The Divine King in England (which appeared when she was 94) is wildly eccentric, with its theory that many of the English kings were members of the 'old religion'. Yet no one who looks impartially at the evidence can doubt that witchcraft was closely bound up with the cult of Diana, and that many of its ceremonies were pagan survivals. In his book The Roots of Witchcraft, Michael Harrison mentions that after the Second World War, Professor Geoffrey Webb was given the task of surveying damaged churches built before the Black Death which contained stone phalluses. (Scholars have long been puzzled by carvings on many ancient churches showing a crouching woman holding open the lips of her vagina – they are known as Sheila-na-gigs.) Harrison also mentions an event documented in the Bishop's Register of Exeter in the 14th century, which states that the monks of Frithelstick Priory in Devon were caught worshipping a statue of 'the unchaste Diana' in the woods, and made them destroy it. Why 'unchaste' Diana, when she is usually known as the 'queen and huntress, chaste and fair'? Because the Bishop recognized the ceremony for what it was – a fertility ritual.

"Amusingly enough, Montague Summers [the translator of the Malleus Maleficarum] is enraged by the theory of Margaret Murray, and denounces it as imaginative moonshine. He is determined to promote his own view that the witches were genuine heretics, inspired by the devil, and that the church was right to 'stamp out the infection lest the whole of society be corrupted and damned'. As we have seen, there is a great deal to be said for his opinions – even though he takes them to the point of absurdity. He is almost certainly in the right when he attacks Margaret Murray's view that Joan of Art and Gilles de Rais were priests of the Dianic cult who were sacrificed for their faith.

"All of which only demonstrates that the subject of witchcraft is far more complicated than it at first appears. The truth seems to be roughly this: the 'old religion' survived from the days of our Cro-Magnon ancestors, and in late Neolithic times led to the construction of stone 'temples' like Avebury, Stonehenge and Carnac. This religion involved the invocation of earth spirits and deities – like Van Der Post's 'spirits of the Slippery Hills'. It managed to co-exist quietly with Christianity in Europe – although the authors of the Canon Episcopi knew about it nearly a thousand years before Pope John XXII made it a crime. Almost certainly, it has nothing to do with the rise of Catharism, whose roots are in Manichaeism and Gnosticism. But the persecution of the Cathars drew the attention of the Church to the Old Religion, with dire results. In fact, one of the first results of the persecution of witches was probably to cause them to band together and take their stand against the doctrines of Christianity. So, to some extent, the church created the heresy it was so determined to destroy. If we can believe Aradia, they did worship the devil – or Lucifer, the sun god – as well as his sister Diana. And many of them probably practiced ancient forms of magic passed down from paleolithic times. It was not the Church that stamped out witchcraft – it was Newton and Liebniz and Dalton." This actually, is an incorrect statement about scientists!

"And now, it seems, the wheel has come full circle. As we begin to understand something of the mysterious powers of the human mind – as, for example, an increasing number of people recognize that dowsing actually works – we can also begin to sense something of that magical understanding of the universe possessed by our ancestors."

The characterization of Newtonian physics as antithetical to the magical view of the world needs to be heavily qualified. When John Maynard Keynes bought a trunk full of Isaac Newton's papers and inspected them, he was startled to find that Newton spent as much time studying alchemy and numerology as he did formulating his laws of motion. Newton, Keynes declared, "was the last of the magicians." The essential worldview and his fellow travelers in the Enlightenment was that the world was a beautiful place infused with the Divine in the form of rationally comprehensible natural laws (contra the Christian view that the world is awful, mankind is a cursed being, and is ruled by the devil) and that nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed" (to use Francis Bacon's phrase). On these points, Newton's Enlightenment worldview is fundamentally similar to the LHP and RHP views of older, magical cultures - and antithetical to the medieval Christian worldview.

So the quoted text above that depicts Newton and magic as opposing worldviews, it would be more accurate to say that the scientific worldview of Newton was in many ways a continuation, clarification, and elaboration of the magical worldview (which included watered-down versions of ancient science, including Classical science and philosophy), which viewed nature with admiration and curiosity - and the antithesis to the Christian or Manichean worldview, which viewed nature with hatred, ignorance, and contempt.

For more informaiton on Newton, see The World Treasury of Physics, Astronomy, and Mathematics, edited by Timothy Ferris, in which there is an essay Black Magic and White Magic by Jacob Bronowski. There's now also a Newton biography called The Last Sorceror by Michael White.

 

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