Sunday, November 20, 2016

Destiny and Doom in the Craeft

One of our earliest articles, Witch Marks, Witch Blood, and the Kuthune, has been a perennial
favorite of blog visitors since Glaux first wrote it in 2011. In it, she talks about the history and folklore of the magical inheritance or birthright -- the idea that some Witches are descended from other Witches and will pass aspects of their power onto their descendants, much as they received power from their ancestors.

There are two really salient points that I think are often overlooked in Glaux's article, judging from some of the comments and questions we receive. Both points are stated very clearly, though, and I think they bear repeating.

"Witch Marks" by Gemma Gary
1. The concept that Witches inherit their power through bloodlines and have a physical birthmark of  this lineage is a folkloric concept that does not bear out in every case. You can absolutely be a witch without having any known witches in your family tree. You can also be a red-head with three nipples and a goat-hoof birthmark on your inner thigh and not be a Witch at all.

2. Witches today most often form a blood bond and take a mark at their initiations. We take blood oaths to our covens and to the Witchfather himself. We tattoo ourselves so that the bond is visible to those who know its meaning.

Witchcraft is a CRAFT. Says so right on the label. It is a work, an action. Whatever may be in your blood is meaningless if you allow it to lie dormant. Yes, you may be a direct descendant of Isobel Gowdy or Alice Kyteler or Sarah Goode. You may even be able to prove it through birth, death, and marriage certificates. (Not likely, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt.) You could also be a direct descendant of Charlemagne, but that does not make you Emperor.

If you are descended from Witches, be proud ... and do something worthy of them. Do not wait for witchy things to happen to you. Find your power and learn to use it. I promise that it will not come exploding out of you the way it does for young witches and wizards on television or in the movies -- when you reach a certain birthday or when a particular family member dies and "inherit their power." Your power is yours alone, as are your action. They can be influenced by family and friends, but it is you who must walk the Crooked Path if you ever want to know what secrets lie at the heart of the forest (or upon the empty fields at night).

If you have no idea if you carry the Blood of Qayin, don't fret, my love. He will give it to you himself.  And he will mark you in a way that makes sense to both you and him. This, after all, is what those medieval witch-hunters had assumed anyway. The lore in those trial records claims that the mark isn't a "birth" mark per se, but a mark placed upon the body of the Witch after she made a compact with the Devil -- usually by drinking a concoction made of blood, wine, and herbs.

Along these lines, I had someone recently write to me with questions about their possible "great destiny within Witchcraft." I am not trying to embarrass this person, but I want to use (part of) this correspondence as an instructive moment for others, if possible. I see so many people hoping that there is something inherently magical and special within them that marks them for greatness. To them, I say, "There may be some gift inside you. But YOU will have to do the hard work of digging it out, clearing away the dirt, polishing that gem, and finding a way to share it with the world."

This particular person wrote with the following inquiry:

Some people think I have a huge Wicca destiny due to my birthday, and while you don’t follow Wicca, a folklore insight would be helpful. I do not practice but am researching whether my birthday is a big deal, and if yes probably will. Do you find anything noteworthy of my Samhain birthday 1969?

I replied with the following:

Traditionally (historically), there was no set “date” for Samhain. There have been three different ways for figuring up the date, to my knowledge. Samhain is the final harvest, and it happened before the cold weather claimed the crops that had been left in the field too long. Many rural Pagans simply used weather signs or local signs as their markers for Samhain. The Druids (who were the priestly class of the Celts), marked Samhain astrologically – when the sun reaches 15* Scorpio (which usually puts Samhain between Nov 4 and 7) – as this would have been the midway point between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice. And now, contemporarily, we use a set date based on the Julian calendar (which was the calendar of the Church).

Given that Samhain has many more years of history as a floating holiday, it’s hard to see a birthday of 10-31-69 as particularly indicative of being marked for destiny within the Craft. It’s like being born on Easter (a floating holiday in the Christian tradition.) It’s cool, and it can have a lot of personal meaning to someone whose faith and spiritual experience are rooted in the folklore of that religion.

As for your birthday being a “big deal” – it truly isn’t within the Craft, other than as a cool curiosity. However, your birthday is absolutely a big deal in the astrological influences in your life. As is your birth time and place. If you haven’t already done so, I would recommend checking out a free birth chart generator like the one at Every member of my coven is expected to be familiar with their stars. We ALL have a destiny, and we all have energetic patterns. Astrology is a great way to unlock some of the secrets of your life.

Truthfully, nobody is marked for greatness within any branch of the Craft unless they choose to walk this path. Wicca, Stregha, Rootwork, or Traditional. This can be a grueling, ordeal-based path. On a mundane level, we can (and do sometimes) lose our jobs because we are Witches, lose our children because we are Witches, lose our families because we are Witches. Glaux and I both lost jobs (good jobs) in the name of the Craft. I have friends who have fought court battles over the right to parent their children within this religion. One won that battle. Another is still fighting with tooth and claw just to have basic rights to SEE her kids on a reasonable basis.

This isn’t a path where you can go shopping to see which one has the highest potential for bringing you power and glory. If those are what you crave, you will likely not find either here within the Craft – in any branch of it. The Power comes from within. Glory isn’t something worth seeking. Not for Witches. Not as a Witch. It’s bad for our health. (There are plenty of famous Witches these days, but most of them are famous in their Trade – not their Craft.)

Pardon Our Dust ... A Blog Re-Newed

On May 30, 2011 (three or so years into our practice of this path), Glaux posted this blog's first post
-- "Everything Old is New Again." We published hot and heavy in the first 12 months of the blog's existence, striving to share what we had come to experience of the American Folkloric Witchcraft tradition in a way that coincided with the Wheel of the Year. We both maintained long to-do lists of articles to write and topics to explore, and we talked almost daily about witchcraft and this path. Glaux posted a lot of articles on my behalf -- things I had written as part of the foundational materials to our work, blog articles for my other blogs that were applicable to this work. It was messy, but it didn't matter. We loved each other, and it didn't matter who posted what.

We wrote almost all of the articles in the first 18 months of the blogs existence, and then we turned our attention inward. We had more work to do -- with our coven, with the festival grounds (Camp Midian) of which we were/are founders and part owners, and with our relationship. Glaux and I got married on June 25, 2014 -- the day same-sex marriage became legal in Indiana.

It's not my intention to share too much about our relationship. We've both been open online about the love we have always had for each other, and we've also both been upfront about our struggles (together and independently) with mood disorders. Within a year of our wedding, Glaux and I were separated, mainly in an effort to find healthier ways of managing these disorders. We divorced shortly thereafter, and Glaux returned to exploring some other paths of magick and occultism (that we both share in common) while I continued to focus my efforts on American Folkloric Witchcraft with the help of the coven we founded -- Coven Caer Sidhe.

Very recently (Samhain of 2016, in fact), Glaux and I sat down and discussed the current state of the AFW trad (as we know it, through those we have personally initiated), and we are committed to maintaining a working partnership, moving forward in parallel (or at least complementary) ways within the Trad, and sharing more of our collective insight through this blog.

In an effort to sort through the blog and properly assign authorship to the pieces that are here, I'll be deleting some posts and re-posting them in my name. Glaux's original work will remain in her name. And new material is going to be added, as the covens (yes, we have at least three working covens now) continue to explore American folk magick. We're also inviting some of our well-studied members to post as authors to this blog.

It may get a little messy around here for the next couple of months while the dust settles, and you may see some posts that you've seen before, if you're an avid follower of the blog. We trust that you'll get what you need, and we encourage comments, questions, and feedback all along the way.
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