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Traditional Witchcraft

Forums ► Other Paths ► Traditional Witchcraft
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Traditional Witchcraft
Post # 1
After looking through the forums I couldn't find anything on the subject, so here we go! Traditional Witchcraft, also known as Old Ways Craft, Cunning Craft, the Crooked Path, and many other names is witchcraft practiced today as it was hundreds of years ago. Through family traditions, confessions given during the witchcraft trials, and firsthand accounts from those who sought the help of the witches themselves, we are able to observe a practice that has been done for centuries. In places such as Cornwall, England where the practices never truly died out, we are able to observe a plethora of old world witchcraft traditions. Their culture, folklore, an ultimately belief systems have been preserved and continue to thrive.

Traditional Witchcraft is predominantly seen as a practice rather than a religion. Yes, that does mean there ARE Christian Witches. Within this practice, there is a strong belief in animism, or the idea that everything natural in this world is inhabited by a spirit. There is also a heavy reliance upon the Earth itself. Traditional Witches don't neseccarily have to try to be in tune with nature. By the way we practice out craft, we already are. We revere nature for all that it is. Yes, nature is beautiful, kind, and loving. It is also cruel, harsh, and unforgiving. We will not hesitate to use parts of an animal in a spell, just as we won't hesitate to use herbs or flowers. Traditional Witches generally place a large emphasis on the idea of balance, and the principles of light and dark. In the Traditional Craft, we follow no moral code other than our own. We don't believe for a second in the "Threefold Law" as set forth by Gerald Gardner. We take full responsibility for our actions, as they are done with immense amounts of thought.

In the Traditional Craft, there is a heavy use of magic. It is often joked that Wiccans spend most of their time preparing for magic, while Traditional Witches spend most of our time doing magic. We firmly believe that the Earth is already sacred. To "cleanse" a space would be redundant in our minds. This leads us to another key point. Traditional Witches do not need to "Cast Circles" before performing magic. For special occasions, or for VERY important works of magic, we will do what's known as "Laying a Compass." This is not however, the same as casting a circle. While Wiccans use circles to create sacred space for their work, Traditonal Witches use the Compass Round to bring themselves closer to the spirit world. Traditional Witches have also made quite a point of working with all manner of spirits, the most commonly heard of being the familiar spirit. This would naturally come from the animistic view of the world.

Another large difference in Traditional Craft is the celebrations. In most Traditional settings, the Full Moons are of the most importance. These are nights when the spirit world is alive, power flows freely, and all things are "awake" if you will. These are our Sabbats. We do have festivals we celebrate during, but they are not as important to us as the Full Moons. In regards to our festivals, the number celebrated differs not only from tradition to tradition, but from person to person! Each witch will do things their own way. I personally observe the equinoxes, solstices, and a few other minor holidays here and there.

This article is by NO means a "be-all-end-all" to Traditional Witchcraft. There are hundreds of different traditions whose beliefs and practices are VERY different from those listed here. Are there any Traditional Witches on this site? If so, be sure to leave a comment describing what you can of your practices!

Re: Traditional Witchcraft
Post # 2
Are there any resources you could suggest on this particular line of tradition?

I see a lot of ... let's say traditions being mixed in a lot of things available to read online, and in some books (such as a book on supposedly Native American traditions, but the author starts going on about shamanism and the chakras).

What you describe in your post is something I'd like to learn more about.

Re: Traditional Witchcraft
By: Moderator / Adept
Post # 3
The problem with any history of witchcraft is the quoting of confessions at the witch trials. Under torture a person accused of witchcraft would "confess" to anything! And so all the stories are "written" down; flying on broomsticks, having a familiar, able to turn into animals. Any old woman living alone with a cat must be a witch. But, I was trained by a Yorkshire witch; and yes, it is mostly about nature and the natural order of things. Then there is the problem of the written history of witchcraft. Witches never wrote anything down! For the simple reason that most of them could not read or write! All the magic was memory, handed down from parent to child. Of course, the witches of old times had a spiritual side. They believed in the Gods, just as everyone did in those pre-Christian days. Some still do! But I can assure you that witchcraft is not only practised in Cornwall. It is very much alive in every county of England; most of Wales, and of Scotland. But, as always, real traditional witches are very secretive people! And they do not gather in large "covens". They never did! Before Christianity there would most likely only be one witch in a village; and they were "healers".Only in the large towns and cities were there any doctors!
Wicca was only formulated to get witchcraft made legal in England.

Re: Traditional Witchcraft
By: Moderator / Adept
Post # 4
By the way, the three-fold law was written about by Gardner; but the idea was that of Doreen Valiente.And also that of Crowley. In fact, most of the ideas in the book "Witchcraft Today" are Doreen's! The "sacred circle" also, and the many uses of candles, are from Doreen. We have a Doreen Valiente museum here in England. Everything Doreen ever used she left to The Pagan Federation.
Gardner and Valiente were a great partnership, and were mainly responsible for getting witchcraft made legal in 1951.

Re: Traditional Witchcraft
Post # 5
Oh anything taken from the confessions is ALWAYS taken with a grain if salt. Also, there were many people who confessed simply because they wanted to. Isobel Gowdie is a good example of this. While her confession does speak of shape shifting into a hare, there are dozens if spells and charms she relate, as well as beliefs which have been found to be perfectly in line with the folklore if the time. And yes, the practices do continue in multiple places! It's fantastic! Cornwall was simply off the top of my head.

For anyone searching for online resources, I can tell you there aren't quite as many as I would like. However, googling traditional witchcraft will garner some good results. Those interested should look into books such as "Traditional Wotchcraft: A Cornish Book of Ways" and "The Black Toad" by Gemma Gary. Two books I have personally read and feel comfortable suggesting. While they do focus specifically on the Cornish "Pellar" tradition they are great tools for taking the first steps. If anyone is interested in these practices, I strongly urge you to look into them. I'm still fresh on the path myself, but in the short time I've been on it I have found so much fulfillment and happiness. Everyday I'm learning something new. What I've shared here are just the very basics.

Re: Traditional Witchcraft
Post # 6
I am not new to witchcraft. In some form or another, I have been doing it all my life. Of late, however, I have come to rethink my position on what exactly I am praying to. The truth is that I have no idea. I was wondering if there is a way anyone knows of that I could gain some clarity. Is there any kind of meditation process or ritual that I could perform to connect with the other side?(by other side I mean who or what I pray to)

Re: Traditional Witchcraft
Post # 7
As far as Traditional Craft, I know there are some witches who pray. Personally, I don't. To me, there is nothing worth praying to. Instea of wasting my time in prayer, I go out and make things happen. Have you co side red that maybe it should e the same for yourself?

Re: Traditional Witchcraft
Post # 8

I love that you bothered to make this thread Dakota, thank you so much, it is music to my ears :D

Re: Traditional Witchcraft
By: Moderator / Adept
Post # 9
I am 82 years old. I have read hundreds of books, many claiming to be about witchcraft. I have never found one that got it right. All of them write of "traditions" and myths and legends. Folklore. They never explain magic, because they do not know what magic really is!
Spirits,ghosts, demons; no real witch believes in such things!
I have been a witch all my life. I was trained by a real witch! I have never cast a spell! My witch teacher never cast a spell! She would have laughed at the idea.
I didn't read about magic; I was shown magic! Everything on this thread relates to "beliefs". Witchcraft,real witchcraft, is not a belief! It is as natural as breathing. There is nothing supernatural about witchcraft, or magic.
As for "animism" real witches know perfectly well that we are animals, exactly the same as any mammal on Earth. We are primates. Apes!
So, beliefs are written about; so called witchcraft is written about; folk lore; all are written about in countless books! I have never come across any book that describes magic! Because the authors do not understand magic! They have merely read other books on the "subject". But magic cannot be learnt by reading; you have to be "shown" magic to really understand what it is. And even then, many witches, like myself, don't really understand how magic works; we just know that it does!

Re: Traditional Witchcraft
Post # 10
Okay, I must say in fairly confused. Animism has nothing to do with animals. Animism is simply a belief that every natural thing has a spirit. As far as books on witchcraft and magic I agree it's better to witness and learn but it can be written about and had been successfully do e. the best writing on magic is not the writing that tries to explain how it works, but the writing that tells you it can't be explained. Any books attempting to tell you how it works have failed.

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