a cache of usenet and other text files pertaining
to occult, mystical, and spiritual subjects.


Proposed Composite a.r.w. FAQ for Comment, 2/4

From: (Lorax)
Subject: Re: Proposed Composite a.r.w. FAQ for Comment, 2/4
Date: Tue, 9 May 1995 01:46:25 -0700 (PDT)

Kali Yuga 49950508

[original to which I'm responding might be obtained from Rain if she didn't
 post it and/or toss it. ;>]

[MUCH omitted, cc'd to original cc list, posted to thread in ARW and AMT.]

|Rain (

|...Thanks again for your highly detailed comments, the attention, 
|dedication and learning you bring to the subject.

You are very welcome.

|To keep the other two authors abreast of these comments, I'm sending a 
|"cc" of this to them as well.

I did that, though you couldn't see it on the header.  I'm doing it again
here, though you won't see them in the header.

|>|1.1)  What is this group for?
|>|newsgroup for the discussion of Wicca, also known by some as Wicce,
|>|Goddess Worship, the Old Religion, Witchcraft (with a capital "W") ...

|I'd intended the distinction to be analagous to that between 'pagan' and 
|'Pagan' on alt.pagan.  Since it seems that primarily Wiccans or 
|Wiccan-inspired folks capitalize "Witchcraft," I want to distinguish this 
|from other witchcrafts as further detailed below.

I didn't know about the peculiarity off capitalization.  I'll watch out
for that, thanks.  I presume this is in response to beginning to see
Witchcraft as a religion rather than as merely one's way of life or
one's individual spiritual or magical path.

|>|2   Basic Orientation
|>|2.1  What are some basic beliefs in Wicca?
|>                    ~~~~~
|>Suggestion: instead of basic either 'common' or 'common basic'.
|I'm not sure I see that much of a difference here.  Care to elaborate?

'Basic beliefs' appears to imply a fundamental commonality, when my
understanding of what you want here is beliefs which are widely held
rather than held by the Source of the tradition(s) and non.

'Basic' describes a relation to the other beliefs.  'Common' describes
a relation amidst the throng of the stew that is Wicca.

|>|2.2  What god(desse)s do Wiccans worship?

|>|Most worship some form of the Great Goddess and Her consort, The Horned

|Certainly I think from Murray on She does [have a Horned consort], and 
|some horned god seems crucial to almost every Wiccan observance I can 
|think of.  

I'm thinking of more academic and objective evaluations of 'the Great
Goddess', from which I gather most Wiccans derived this phraseology
anyway, Murray being a poor example of scholarship in the area of the
Witch Cults and better at starting mythos.

|The two most notable exceptions to this that come to mind are Egyptian 
|reconstructionists (who take a straight Isis/Osiris/Horus view) or strong 
|feminists (who define as "Goddess Worshippers" more than Wiccans, despite 
|section 1.1 above).  So yes, I think the implication for a careful reader 
|is there, and should probably be left to stand, given the qualifier 
|"most."  Any comments?

None beyond that many Wiccans worship gods of various religions which do
not admit of Horned consorts, even while they may favor or focus upon
their Northern Euro preferences (and their parallels).  Egypt did have
Hut-hoor, did it not?  The Horned Goddess, if you like.  There are also
various horned gods which do not admit of easily identified consorts
themselves (Mithras comes to mind).  

A Wiccan who works with Kali may attempt to go back to Rudra to attempt
a connection with Siva, but this is not usual.  More often she will
work with what is more popular, and in this case Siva is not horny (in
the head ;>).  Does this make the witch's work 'not Wiccan'?  I don't
think so.

Therefore my contention is that there is at least a bifurcation about
this mythos.  I.e. it is popular amongst those who venerate the Celtic
deities, but when you attempt to draw out the Great Goddess, in any
context that I've seen (even Wiccan) She does not necessarily have a
horned consort at all.  I think what you're describing is a favorite
I agree it is favorite, I do not agree that it makes up the entirety
of Wiccan thealogy, only the favored (often due to heritage).

|>|Such duo-theistic forces are often conceived of as embodying complementary 
|>|polarities, not in opposition.  
|>Syntax quibble: 'duotheistic forces are often conceived as embodying
|> complimentary polarities, not those in opposition.'
|Doesn't the loss of the material-genitive "of" here imply that the forces 
|are conceived (different verb meaning, more like a zygote than a thought 
|here) explicitly *to* embody forces.  I would see the conception 
|following the forces, not preceding them in a causative manner....  
|Am I over-reading here or seeing this in an idiosyncratic way?

It could, but either way is therefore awkward.  Just because something is
conceived as exemplifying or including aspects reflective of a cosmology
this doesn't mean that the *cosmology* began there.  Now if you eliminated
the word 'as' *also*, then I think you'd be drawing nearer to what you
are attempting to avoid.   Personally I like to play on the word 
'conceived', especially in sex-magick texts. ;>

|>|2.5  What is basic Wiccan thealogy?
|>Does thealogy include mythology?  Hmmm, I am unsure.  'Mythology' seems to
|>imply a classification of *another religion's* thoughts about their deities:
|>what they did/were/became.  'Theology' seems more often to be associated
|>with rational attempts to explain one's relationship with one's *own* god,
|>the nature of one's *own* god, etc.  

|In this case I think the mythology has been carefully crafted to imply the 

Wait, I'm not sure you get my point.  The term 'mythology' is a skewed
referent.  It indicates 'stories about gods other than ours' in a kind
of scientific examination.  Good Christians don't talk about our God,
Jehovah as if stories about him are a 'mythology' (Wiccans might do this,
but that is often in reaction to the extremism).

I agree that the stories are indicative of the thealogy.  Moreover, I
think that they CONSTITUTE the thealogy.

|Conflation here has been carefully crafted into the stories themselves.  

My point was about conflation of 'myth' with 'thealogy' where such terms
ought not arise in contradistinction when discussing the Wiccan Path from
*within* it.

|Wiccan customs such as the Charge and the primacy of the priestess are 
|explicitly reinforced by myths Crafted  to support this.  The 
|consistency between mythology and thealogy is crucial and designed.

Are you saying that Wiccans do not believe the literality of the stories
constructed about the Lord and Lady?  Are they therefore myths because
they are not designated as 'history'?  I'm trying to get a fix on whether
you understood my original objection and how this might address it.

|>|...the Goddess.)
|>...refrain from an over-emphasis upon the transcendant usage of the term
|>'the Goddess', *especially* where you've just emphasized the favor that
|>Her *immanence* has with many Wiccans (supposedly).

|Is the capitalization of "Goddess" a "transcendant usage?"  

Yes.  It transcends individual forms/aspects.

|I understood it to be a reactionary convention, adopted from J/C/I and 
|now used by Wiccans as a designator for the *supreme* or monotheastic 
|"Great Goddess," especially following Dion Fortune's (?) famous line 
|about "All the goddesses are one Goddess and all the gods are one God, 
|and there is but one Initiator."  

The Great Goddess and Fortune's line are prime examples of the transcendant
usage of the term, yes.  Immanent usage of the term involves lower case
stylization.  'The goddess' refers to a particular goddess about whom we
may be discussing my relationship.  I am not saying that the Great Goddess
or the Goddess *are* transcendant (though there is certainly room to make
this argument as well), but that the term usage is transcendant of the
aspects which She supposedly takes to interact with us, including bare and
flagrantly faceless 'energy'.

|Is my usage somehow inconsistent?  I'm not understanding this. 

It is not that it is inconsistent but I think the way you used the term
it is deceptive.  When you begin speaking of how immanent the Goddess
can be and such, then unless you go on to say how this is the case (i.e.
through Her many forms, etc.), then your usage is confusing at least to
this reader.  

I agree, BTW that it is a reactionary convention.  The JCI 'God' is in
many ways a reactionary convention as well (as are many terms and artifices
contained within the Great Martyrdom Cult).  In JCI it is intended to
signify the One and Only God (esp. to whom we shall bow down and worship).
In Wicca it signifies either the Goddess in whom we dwell and make our
living (Nature, Earth, Energy, whathaveyou) or the composite/foundation of
the Feminine manifestations.

|>|     Wiccans often distinguish themselves from Satanists by emphasizing
|>|this immanence and preferring a complementary view of divinity to an
|>|oppositional one.  

|>...some Wiccans do have certain thealogical preferences and will 
|>occasionally attempt to use these to distinguish themselves from other 

|...overall I think the passage comparing Wicca to other "legitimate" faiths 
|in various ways is worthwhile.  

The implication of a 'legitimate faith' is part of the problem I have of it.
It is as though there are 'illegitimate faiths' and that we are capable of
not only distinguishing where the boundaries lie which define Ours and
Theirs, but that some of Theirs might not be 'legitimate'.  Poppycock.

|Might a wording such as "Many Wiccans may distinguish themselves from 
|Satanism..." work any better, in your opinion?  

If you must, then how about:

	Many Wiccans distinguish themselves from Satanists in emphasis
	of this immanence and the preference for nonadversarial gods.

|...most Wiccans do clearly distinguish themselves from Satanists and 
|vice-versa, with "evil wiccans" a clear minority.  

I think this is quite correct, though I am hoping that this will change
over time, some Wiccans becoming aware of the fact that exceptions to
the norms exist within Satanism, some Satanists becoming aware that not
all Wiccans are bambi-light-lovers.

|[For some reason they seem to like it that way?  An ascetic aesthetic 
|perhaps?  The GMC [Great Martyrdom Cult]? ;)

It is an example of the fabricate derivative of the GMC, yes.  Part of
what makes corrupted portions of the GMC identifiable is the lack of
self-esteem and willingness to abide uncertainty in self-identity and
one's relationship with others.  The purest aspects of the GMC, as I
can tell, are those which are not afraid to appear to be 'evil' in
the eyes of the general population (some in fact encouraging this 
precise association/identification).

|>|They may distinguish themselves from Christians in this
|>|view of immanent divinity and an embracing of ambiguity and polytheism
|>|(many gods).  
|>...'The Goddess' is LESS immanent, thealogically, [than] 'God',
|>whose name 'God' is intended to supplant or represent.  'The Goddess' is
|>the composite of the world's feminine divinities where as 'God' is often
|>taken to mean the Author (sometimes neither male or female or both) of
|>All.  In this way I think that your argument regarding immanence and the
|>embracing of 'ambiguity' is somewhat specious.
|Hmmm.  Do you think that "The Goddess" is only the composite of feminine 

'Only'?  Of course not, and again, it depends on who you ask.  If you ask
a very fresh Wiccan they'll tell you that the Goddess is immanent and has
a multitude of forms, being all of Nature and the entirety of Cosmic
Regenerativeness, Creation and Light.

However, if you ask some seasoned witches I think you'll get a number of
responses which will likely include that the Goddess is a metaphorical
and literal referent indicating simultaneously a faceless energy-force
some call 'life' and the various personal aspects of this same Being.

My point, again, is that where She is less personal then 'the Goddess'
is rather objective, an 'energy', some kind of nameless Being like the
Brahman of some Indians.  Especially when paired with this dying-and-
being-reborn Becoming-God will She appear much less the intensely
personal and self-identified Author or Container of 'the Creation' 
(yet another objectification of the All-which-is-me) not to mention

|I see the concept, personally, as embodying "Creator *&* Creation," 
|larger than "the Author," including such author's work and predecessors.  

I don't see how this applies.  JCI typically posits the radical
distinction between Creator and Creation.  My own experience indicates
that this rhetoric is largely rejected within Neopagan thealogy, neither
necessarily accepting that 'the World' *had* a 'Creator' in any linear
sense, nor accepting that She is somehow different from Her Child.  If
you are speaking strictly of how 'the God' is reborn etc., then I suggest
that this is no longer any but the Horned God of particular preference
among some Wiccans, not a thealogical commonality amongst the throngs.

There are countless Dianic Wiccans for whom 'the God' is either a hazy
and unnecessary fragment of Wiccan thealogy or does not appear within
the teachings at all, the Great Goddess either always having existed,
given birth to Herself, or appeared out of the nongendered Void.

|...[Starhawk's] story is the tightest of the Wiccan "origin myths" I've 

How many are there?  How important are 'origin myths' to Wiccans?  I
claim that origin myths are less important to the majority of Wiccans
than they are to the JCI trads, in some proportion due to reaction
toward upbringing, some out of maturation and exposure to Eastern
concepts which do not admit or require Beginnings.

|the Goddess is creation before differentiation and preceding gender 
|certainly (as "female" fetuses precede sexual distinction).  

While I agree that 'the Goddess' does represent this to many Wiccans,
this nondifferentiated pre-gendered 'Thing' is precisely what I mean
when I say 'TRANSCENDENT'.  It is what Muslims and Christians (the
mystics especially) talk about when they mean 'the Most High God'.
It does not admit of perceivable qualities.  This is the Unnamed Tao
which precedes the Mother of Ten Thousand Things.  This is what some
Witches call 'the Third Deity'.

The Unnamed Tao is often what is meant by 'the Goddess', but not
always.  When She manifests to us, then it is through one of Hir 
Things, generated by the Great Mother in any of Her forms (or, if
you wish, by the Generic Great Mother Goddess, which is still
transcendant of personality).

|As for being "specious," I won't argue that.  Inevitably I think this 
|passage is rather sketchy, hinting at straw-religions.

Yes, but I think that the speciousness lies not in these (quite commonly
misunderstood and seldom-discussed) aspects of Wiccan thealogy, but in
your attempts to set them into clarity (which I don't think you succeed
in doing here, being overly simplistic and too prone to generalization
where terminology varies considerably).  Besides, ambiguity sometimes 
goes a long way (happily!) to describing a cultural tendency.

I'm only arguing for inclusivity here, not trying to push a particular
interpretation/paradigm.  I think that the Wiccan crowds are inclusive
and do include a greater range of diversity than you are allowing.  I
hope that you can see my point as I discuss 'the Goddess' throughout
this post.

|...convey "typical Wiccan thought" than avoid mention of other religions.  
|It's a broad brush, I know, but I pray a useful one.

I think it a harmful brush in its broadness and encourage you to avoid
definition of Other Religions aside from 'typical Wiccan interpretations'
of same.  If people want to know the complexity of something other than
Wicca (JCI is *MORE* complex, not less), then they can find one of the
likely many FAQs on these subjects and do a comparison.  List references
for comparative religion if it concerns you so.  I don't think you're
doing Wicca or newcomers to it a favor by dealing overly simplistically
with 'alternetive religions' at the expense of accuracy.  All you'll get
is Christians who will think 'Hmm, they are wrong about Christianity so 
why should I believe what you say about Wicca?' (etc. for other religions).

|>|Unlike the Jewish, Christian or Islamic traditions, there is
|>|little emphasis on interpretation of "scripture" or a revealed text, 

|>...for the typical Wiccan scripture amounts to one's
|>Magical Record (in Wiccaspeak the 'Book of Shadows') and I do think
|>that there is (ought to be? :>) emphasis placed on interpreting this
|>Book for oneself, some of it indeed being revealed script.
|How prevalent are books of shadows, do you think?  

Looks like a blindspot on my part.  I thought that the Book of Shadows
was exceedingly common.

|...Do you think that many Wiccans keep records this way, in hopes of 
|assembling a scripture?  

Hmm?  Perhaps it is this type of question which I'm trying to stave off.
For some the Magical Record is a rote description of magical activities
and a dry rendering of things learned under tutelage of one's instructors.

For many (gods, I hope) it is not only some sort of record-book but also
a place for poetry, inspired words of the gods (from one's own experience
or that of one's forerunners), and the expression of one's personal genius.

This type of scripture is therefore not 'assembled' so much as that it 
comes together within the framework of the Book of Shadows in response
to serious magical work.  Perhaps this is the real differentiation between
books like _The Bible_ and the Witch's Book of Shadows.  The latter are 
neither codified nor contrived to form the entirety of a scripture.  

|I think the reaction against such bindings and legalism (and work) is 
|rather strong.

Scripture is more than binding and legalism.  All scripture is, from what
I can tell, is sacred writings.  Now that may come from your pen, from
mine, today, tomorrow, a hundred years ago from my grandfather, a thousand
years ago from a stranger, from a future alien being, etc.  It doesn't
matter where it comes from.  Moreover, it may be scripture today and be
tomorrow's leavings of red wine.  It may look like a waste of my time and
be utterly useless to me today even though hundreds of years ago it was
the First and Foremost Sacredness to a clan of Jews.  It may retain its
sacredness for me and nobody else.  It may inspire an entire tradition
only to die in a heap of meaningless scrivenings.

|>|and although many Wiccans may believe in some sort of reincarnation, 
|>|they may distinguish themselves from Buddhists in seeing life as a 
|>|journey or adventure without any desire to "leave the wheel" of rebirth.  

|>...a difference between Wiccan reincarnation and Buddhist rebirth (the 
|>two words being different for good reason).

|...Lord!  Which Buddhism?  How many Wiccans dare even approach that field 
|in earnest?  "Folk religions" almost by definition are made up of 
|generalists and dabblers.

I'm not a scholar of Buddhism but my inference is that 'rebirth' is the
proper rendering of the Buddhist terminology, as compared to 'reincarnation',
and that this spans most forms of Buddhism.  I could be mistaken.  Check it

|>It should be said, however, that many Wiccans (and other Hermetics), think
|>of 'all this' as a School, in which we are here to 'learn our lessons'
|>before 'moving on' to the heavens of happy romping or to some 'greater
|>unknown'.  In this way some Wiccan thealogy does approach the Indian desire
|>to get 'out of here' (Hindu yogis have a similar ideal in 'moksa').  
|Doesn't this seem to you at odds with the notion of immanence? 

Of course it is, which is precisely my point about the notions of immanence
being central to Wicca.  It ain't for some.

|but I think the core creed of Islam disqualifies it....  

I am muslim.  The core creed of islam does not disqualify it from being
accepted by any religious.  Islam is not a religion, it is a pathway, and
that pathway includes walking the will of the divine.  The Glorious (this
is the translation of 'Muhammad') is the Prophet of the Divine (often the
'One', yet even this is a qualitative restriction upon the Infinite).  No,
there is no need to exclude islam from Neopaganism or Wicca.

|...Do you read alt.islam much, by the way?  There is a definite category 
|for pagans and other "people of the fire," I gather, ...

One may find fundamentalists within all religious traditions.  They are not
representative of the esoterics, the mystics.  In islam the mystics are the
sufis, and these remain deeply hidden within the folds of Arabic mystique.
I've occasionally posted to muslim net-groups (studying for a year or three
the fundamentals and basics of the tradition: the 5 pillars, the various
elements of the sufi mystical and magical exploits, even going so far as
reading a wonderful translation of _Tales of One Thousand and One Nights_;
then there was the visit or two to see the local sheikh, the few visits of
worship to local mosques, and the intentional engagement of cybermuslims).
The gentle are there, one must simply become quiet enough to perceive them.

|_chela_ as the counterpoint to _guru_ is virtually unknown in the general 
|vocabulary, I don't think that people will mistake it for this more 
|precise meaning.... "guru" here is more the word I want....

Hermetics (esp. Crowley) utilize this language of 'chela/guru' positively.
Crowley recommends yogic asanas and other Indian practices in preparation
for magical rites.  I think you underestimate the positive value which
'guru' has indeed acquired among the Western occult and yogic cultures.
It would be a shame to slight anyone, so I suggest choosing an altogether
different term.  You don't like priest, so be it.  What about something
else, like 'demogogue', 'hierophant' or the more literally-accurate,

|...abusive hierarchy from eastern traditions (many using yogic terminology) 
|that would never be tolerated in a western setting and on people who use 
|these exotic terms (guru, medicine man, shaman, etc) to cover up such abuses.  

The problem is that one culture's 'abuse' is another culture's mysticism.
I'd rather not perpetuate culturalism or languagism at the expense of an
incredibly valuable potential.  Use English terms which mean what you wish
to say rather than accepting the dominant culture's twist of a valuable
esoteric technic.  'Cult-leader' works.

|The personal charisma implicit in "guru" is also, I think, more precise 
|here than the offic-ial "priest."

Look up the root of 'charisma' sometime.  It is a religious term often
associated with monks, priests, etc.  The point is that 'cult', 'charism'
and 'guru' have quite important positive meanings and siezing on their
popular negatives destroys some of the energy of their positive usage.
I can see the advantage of doing this when there is no alternative.  I
don't think this is the case with 'guru'.  I admit my bias, but I also
think I have a damn good argument.

|>|2.6  What are Wiccan ethics, the "Wiccan Rede" and "three-fold law?"
|>|     There are no ten commandments in Wicca, but there are some common
|>|expressions such as the "Wiccan Rede" and the "three-fold law."  According
|>|to most versions of the three-fold law, whatever one does comes back to one
|>|thrice-multiplied, kind of an amplified karma.  
|>are popular notions of its meaning which may or may not apply, and if one is
|>an historian or fond of comparative religion, this may prove confusing.
|Again, like "guru" I think "karma" is in general English usage and needs 
|little explanation....

It needs quite a lot or a subtitute term.  Don't bother with the relationship
to the Sanskrit or define the term as it is used.  In Buddhist studies it is
not translated (though it could be to its literal 'action') and so again you
come to a term with a perfectly beautiful usage within Buddhist *and* Hindu
studies obscured and twisted by typically Christian filters.  

I'm here attempting to persuade you to give up your Judeo-Christian bias
and learn some interpretations of those terms which are more positive
and less moralizing; more based on a global evaluation of religious
tradition and less skewed toward judgementalism and fallacious criticism.

It is what you would do with a Satanist who points to witches and says
that, no, just because the term means 'ugly old hag who curses people
with the evil eye' to the greater number of the population, this does
not mean that it does not have more positive applications (nature-
worshipper, for example).  So I am attempting to save you from a similar
fate at the hands of those (pop-religious/politics) who do not have your
best interests in mind.

|...yes, the usage is "moralistic and retributory," especially in regards 
|to the alleged three-fold law.  

Then you ought come right out and admit that most Wiccans are moralistic
and vengeful, in consequence of our Judeo-Christian background.  Doing
this at least you'll prepare the average reader for the preservation of
JCI slams on other religions.

|>|3.2  What are "dedication" and "initiation" in Wicca?
|>|...Valiente and others assert that those who choose to "bootstrap" a coven 
|>|into existence (by an initial initiation) or to use self-initiation may do 
|>|so, citing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  

|...I think Valiente is as close as we'll *ever* get (I hope) to a "Papess of 

No, a decentralized fabric cannot have a Papess.  Now organizations like the
Church of Wicca and various Gardnerian exploits may attempt to prove this
to the contrary, and yet there is a growing contingent of solitaries and
crazy-wisdom school Wiccans what don't give a rat's ass about degrees and
the sorts of things which would otherwise lead to such a Papess.

Same thing is occurring with Hermetica and Chaos Magick.

|...For _her_ [Valiente] to speak of this really means something, I think; 
|she is almost the Luther of Wicca.  

There is no Roman Catholic Church against which she railed.  The comparison
is dreadfully flawed.  She is one writer and witch among a throng of writers
and witches.  Only if the focus is retained upon 'lineage' and 'old things'
as it is within the JCI trad will Ms. Valiente's words be given any more
weight because of who she is than anyone else's.  I think it far more
respectful to say that the reason that her words perservere is because they
are *SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL* (esp. the Charge, for which she is most widely known
though not even the original author (Leland shafted of some of the credit,
or those stregae, should such (have) exist(ed)).

|...the UDL comes from a freedom-loving democratic ideal, as does so much 
|of Wicca.  In full:
|  Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and
|  religion; this right includes freedom to change his [sic]
|  religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community
|  with others and in public or in private, to manifest his [sic]
|  religion in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Not many Wiccans know or care about this I'd wager.  There is nobody to
enforce it.  There is nobody to give it shape.  There is no specific
community even to endorse it.  That Valiente does so only proves that
she favors it, not that it has any sway or significance beyond one of
Doreen's political extremisms.

|Pretty darn close to "an it harm none" to my ear...

No.  An it harm none, do as ye wilt is a guideline, not a bill of rights.
The Rede serves to protect others from our actions.  Such bills of rights
serve to protect the individual from the state.  There is a very very
important difference.

|;), indeed!  I really like this: Wrath, Age & Misery.

Was that intentional?  I typed 'wrath, age and mystery'. ;>

|[Valiente]'s a Luther, I tell you, decrying all popes!

What popes?  Does she not stand at the head of the most structured and
long-lived traditon of Wicca?  If anything she is as we have said above,
the Papess, not the Luther, for there is no Pope or Papess against which
she may struggle, no Church against which to pit her purity.  She repre-
sents the *establishment* not the challenger/innovator.

|>|Self-dedications are also quite common among new practitioners and 

|Self-dedication is a statement of allegiance and willingness to learn, 
|whereas initiation seems to me more an acceptance into a definite tradition.  

|...Cunninham's _Living Wicca_ ...a separate *initiation* rite, more like a 
|graduation than an initial commencement.  I don't know of it being used 
|(other than for babies, ala "wiccaning") before Cunningham.  Do you?

I'm not an historian.

|There's a neat paragraph about stage magic and psychic magick in this 
|month's _Green Egg_, BTW, page 35:
|   "Abel knew what they all knew - that sleight of hand, and the
|    clever use of tricks serve the suspension of disbelief,
|    rendering the audience more amenable to the very real magic
|    ever unfolding around and within them."
|I still suspect I'll leave it in (barring other objections), since the 
|complainers about stage magic might otherwise speak up, and I want to be 
|sure people understand Dee and Crowley were doing more with their 
|archaisms than saying they weren't David Copperfield.

Then quote them from their own works to this effect.

|>|3.9  What is a coven and how do I join one?
|>|     The coven is the basic, cellular "congregation" for some Wiccans, but 
|>|is often very formal, selective and closed, aiming for an ideal of "perfect
|>|love and perfect trust" among members.  
|>Say more about what this 'perfect love and perfect trust' includes, and why 
|>this ideal would lead to closed and selective groups
|Can you find a group (or three people within a group) who agree on this?  

Since when did this become your criteria?  I think the nature of what a
'coven' is could be agreed-upon, yes (how about 'magical working group'?).
Wrt perfect love and perfect trust give the most common understandings
and usages of these phrases.  It seems obvious to me that it is most often

either an ideal toward which to work or a guideline by which one will work.

|I think that the reasons for closure to develop trust are pretty evident, 
|don't you think?  

Not whether it is endpoint goal or an ideal of an ongoing nature.

|>Carlo GINZBURG, _Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches Sabbath_ (Penguin/Random
|>House, 1991).  Paperback ISBN 0-14-01858-8.
|>Max MARWICK, ed., _Witchcraft and Sorcery_, (Penguin, 1970).  ISBN ??
|>Pennethorn HUGHS, _Witchcraft_ (Penguin, 1965).  ISBN ??
|>Charles WILLIAMS, _Witchcraft_ (New York, US: Meridian Books, Inc., 1960).
|>ISBN ??
|>Jules MICHELET, _Satanism and Witchcraft: a Study in Medieval Superstition_,
|>(New York, US: Citadel Press, 1939).  ISBN ??

|When it was agreed to combine the three FAQs into one, part of the 
|agreement was to keep the bibliography down to a very few titles.  Adler 
|is included for comprehensiveness, Starhawk for influence and for being 
|the most literary and sophisticated of the introductory books (as well as 
|historically crucial).  Cunningham addresses solitary practice in a way 
|that appeals to a certain audience (perhaps intimidated by the text of 
|Starhawk or Adler), while Silver Ravenwolf covers the rest of the 
|air-brush intro market, providing good basic info and addressing issues 
|of "coming out" and connecting.  Kelly and Hutton are included to have 
|_some_ serious history, and Farrar is included because Llew particularly 
|likes it and it only seems fair to feature a Brit, eh?  I'd like to 
|include more books and an annotated bibliography, but for this FAQ it was 
|agreed to keep the list tightly trimmed.  Sorry.

What I see you doing here is omitting anything but modern Witchcraft.
I can't say I'm surprised.  Perhaps it is best, given that the focus
*is* 'Wicca' and this is only a few decades old.  I urge you to consider
these words, however (from a Satanist publication, 'Abrasax'):


	In previous columns, I've pointed out that Wicca has in fact
	borrowed ideas from Satanism, at least indirectly, despite endless
	public-relations statements to the contrary.  Modern Wicca is not
	"The Old Religion"; it is a new religion incorporating ideas from
	many sources, both ancient and modern.  And one of those sources is
	(gasp!) literary Satanism.

	Many well-read Wiccans do acknowledge that Wicca is a modern
	religion, inspired by Margaret Murray's theories.  Murray was an
	anthropologist who wrote a couple books in the 1920's arguing that
	the European witchhunts were really the Church's persecution of the
	remains of an ancient Pagan religion that worshipped a "Horned God"
	whom the Church mis-identified as the Devil.  This idea has been
	largely discredited amongst anthropologists and historians.  For a
	thorough debunking of Murray's theories, see _A_Razor_for_a_Goat_ by
	Elliot Rose (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1962, now back in
	print after a long hiatus).
	Murray's theory was not original with her; she merely developed it
	in greater detail than previous writers.  One of those previous
	writers was the 19th-century French historian Jules Michelet, who in
	1862 wrote a book titled _La_Sorciere_ (still in print in English
	under the title _Satanism_and_Witchcraft_).

	_La_Sorciere_ is the origin of Wicca's most basic self-image.
	Michelet was, as far as I know, the first well-known writer in
	recent centuries to use the word "Witch" (capital W) with today's
	positive connotations (e.g. healing and resistance to tyranny).  But
	you won't see much mention of Michelet in Wiccan publications --
	because _La_Sorciere_ was, first and foremost, a work of literary

	In _A_History_of_Witchcraft_ (1980), Jeffrey B. Russell writes:

	    Michelet's argument that witchcraft was a form of social
	    protest was adapted later by Marxists; his argument that it was
	    based on a fertility cult was adopted by anthropologists at the
	    turn of the century, influencing Sir James Frazer's
	    _Golden_Bough_, Jessie Weston's _From_Ritual_to_Romance_,
	    Margaret Murray's _Witch-Cult_in_Western_Europe_, and
	    indirectly T.S. Eliot's _The_Waste_Land_.  (_A_History_of_
	    _Witchcraft_, p.133).

	Russell states further:

	    Neopagan witchcraft has roots in the tradition of Michelet, who
	    charged that European witchcraft was the survival of an ancient
	    religion.  This idea influenced Sir James Frazer and a number
	    of other anthropologists and writers in the late nineteenth and
	    early twentieth centuries.  The publication of Charles Leland's
	    _Aradia_ in 1899 was an important step in the evolution of the
	    new religion of witchcraft.   [...]   The doctrines and
	    practices of the witches as reported by Leland are a melange of
	    sorcery, medieval heresy, witch-craze concepts, and political
	    radicalism, and Leland reports ingenuously that this is just
	    what he expected, since it fitted with what he had read in
	    Michelet.  (Russell, p.148)

	Michelet is indeed mentioned in the Appendix to Charles G. Leland's
	_Aradia:__Gospel_of_the_Witches_, one of Wicca's key sources.

	Diane Vera, "From the Dark Side" column, 'Abrasax': Spring 1993.

|Would you be interested in FAQ appendices?  On WWW sites and Bibliographies?  

The Mage's Guide will cover most of the WWW sites.  I don't personally think
that an extensive book selection will help out.  My concern was that you were
omitting quite important texts from the history of Wicca.  If that is what
you wish to do (whitewash it as a strictly modern development with no roots
in the GMC/et al), then that is your prerogative.  Surely the general Wiccan
community will love you for it. ;>

|...Here we are aiming for a very minimal list.

Minimal ought range the extent of possible alternative visions of Wicca.
I had hoped that the limitation of the references would not represent
the limitation of interest in the FAQ-maintainers.  This is the very
real dangers of FAQs.

|I was also entertaining talk.religion.newage; is alt.wicca up?  I'll 
|check tonight.

Newage, yes.  I doubt alt.wicca is up and running.


The Arcane Archive is copyright by the authors cited.
Send comments to the Arcane Archivist:

Did you like what you read here? Find it useful?
Then please click on the Paypal Secure Server logo and make a small
donation to the site maintainer for the creation and upkeep of this site.

The ARCANE ARCHIVE is a large domain,
organized into a number of sub-directories,
each dealing with a different branch of
religion, mysticism, occultism, or esoteric knowledge.
Here are the major ARCANE ARCHIVE directories you can visit:
interdisciplinary: geometry, natural proportion, ratio, archaeoastronomy
mysticism: enlightenment, self-realization, trance, meditation, consciousness
occultism: divination, hermeticism, amulets, sigils, magick, witchcraft, spells
religion: buddhism, christianity, hinduism, islam, judaism, taoism, wicca, voodoo
societies and fraternal orders: freemasonry, golden dawn, rosicrucians, etc.


There are thousands of web pages at the ARCANE ARCHIVE. You can use ATOMZ.COM
to search for a single word (like witchcraft, hoodoo, pagan, or magic) or an
exact phrase (like Kwan Yin, golden ratio, or book of shadows):

Search For:
Match:  Any word All words Exact phrase


Southern Spirits: 19th and 20th century accounts of hoodoo, including slave narratives & interviews
Hoodoo in Theory and Practice by cat yronwode: an introduction to African-American rootwork
Lucky W Amulet Archive by cat yronwode: an online museum of worldwide talismans and charms
Sacred Sex: essays and articles on tantra yoga, neo-tantra, karezza, sex magic, and sex worship
Sacred Landscape: essays and articles on archaeoastronomy, sacred architecture, and sacred geometry
Lucky Mojo Forum: practitioners answer queries on conjure; sponsored by the Lucky Mojo Curio Co.
Herb Magic: illustrated descriptions of magic herbs with free spells, recipes, and an ordering option
Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers: ethical diviners and hoodoo spell-casters
Freemasonry for Women by cat yronwode: a history of mixed-gender Freemasonic lodges
Missionary Independent Spiritual Church: spirit-led, inter-faith, the Smallest Church in the World
Satan Service Org: an archive presenting the theory, practice, and history of Satanism and Satanists
Gospel of Satan: the story of Jesus and the angels, from the perspective of the God of this World
Lucky Mojo Usenet FAQ Archive: FAQs and REFs for occult and magical usenet newsgroups
Candles and Curios: essays and articles on traditional African American conjure and folk magic
Aleister Crowley Text Archive: a multitude of texts by an early 20th century ceremonial occultist
Spiritual Spells: lessons in folk magic and spell casting from an eclectic Wiccan perspective
The Mystic Tea Room: divination by reading tea-leaves, with a museum of antique fortune telling cups
Yronwode Institution for the Preservation and Popularization of Indigenous Ethnomagicology
Yronwode Home: personal pages of catherine yronwode and nagasiva yronwode, magical archivists
Lucky Mojo Magic Spells Archives: love spells, money spells, luck spells, protection spells, etc.
      Free Love Spell Archive: love spells, attraction spells, sex magick, romance spells, and lust spells
      Free Money Spell Archive: money spells, prosperity spells, and wealth spells for job and business
      Free Protection Spell Archive: protection spells against witchcraft, jinxes, hexes, and the evil eye
      Free Gambling Luck Spell Archive: lucky gambling spells for the lottery, casinos, and races