Today I wanted to briefly discuss two origin stories that are commonly told about witchcraft, one which was popular 20 years or so ago and one which is popular right now.
The older of these two origin stories talked about the Old ReligionⓇ and the Burning TimesⓇ. According to this story there was a Neolithic culture that venerated a great goddess. Witches were the priestesses of this goddess and healers of the people, guiding them with compassion and wisdom. These priestesses and their teachings went underground with the spread of Christianity, until, during the middle ages, there was a massive, concentrated effort by the Church to weed out the remainder of these magical people. However, although many were arrested, tortured, and killed, the old ways continued to be taught in secret, and some of their descendants survived to become the witches of today.
This account was based on the works of Margaret Murray which have been largely discredited by historians. However, this story still holds spiritual merit for many people, especially in the older generations of the Craft, and was at one time the common history of the Craft that you read in books. What we often forget is that something doesn’t have to be historically accurate and verifiable to hold spiritual value for people. (Look at the historical proof–or lack thereof–for the life and teachings of Jesus, for example.)
The origin story that’s become popular today is very different and goes like this. In Biblical (and apocryphal Biblical) times, God (yes, the Abrahamic God) set angels to watch over the earth. These angels were called the Watchers or the Grigori, and they fell from grace due to their lust for human women. (This is a very different fall from grace story than the one you might be more familiar with.) These fallen angels taught their human women (and the half-angel children resulting from their unions) the arts of war, crafting, witchcraft, et cetera. The descendants of the angels and the human women became the witches, so if you aren’t of this line of descent you are not a proper witch. (Although, how would one go about proving or disproving such a thing?)
Then, during the Middle ages, many women and men were arrested and tortured in an attempt to make them admit to being witches. There is some truth to this part of the story in that the trial records do actually exist and we know that many of these people did, under duress, admit to practicing witchcraft and to attending the witch’s Sabbat, worshiping the Devil, casting spells, and a number of other practices now associated with “traditional witchcraft.”. People who favor this origin story use it to promote their view that witches are transgressive figures who have never been honored as priests or priestesses but were instead always social outcasts regarded with suspicion by their wider communities. They also argue that if you are going to call yourself a witch you should model yourself after these trial records and pursue the practices described in them such as spirit flight, attending the Sabbat, focusing on “darker” magic (witches are “deathwalkers,” and if you aren’t you’re “fluffy”) and worshiping the Devil.
The problem is, this second origin story is also partly fiction, in that most of the people who were tortured and executed were NOT witches or descendants of angels, they were simply too old or too young, poor and powerless, disliked or envied, maybe too ugly or too attractive, alone and without defenders, possibly mentally ill, and in many cases possibly Jewish. (Yes, I said it.) The purpose behind these “witch hunts” was largely to confiscate any property that the victims might have, and a secondary purpose was motivated by revenge on the part of any neighbors they might have pissed off, or who didn’t feel they “fit in.” (Aka they were motivated by racism, prejudice, ignorance, etc.)
The argument I have heard people use in defense of this myth is that so many independent confessions were made that there simply must have been some sort of underlying truth to them, that a witch cult must have existed. However, I would point out that the common person at that time would have had a VERY good idea of what witchcraft was supposed to look like and consist of, in the eyes of the Church. After all, the process of converting everyone to Christianity had involved the demonizing of the old pagan deities and the old pagan customs. If you look back at the period of Anglo-Saxon conversion to Christianity you can see that there were long, long lists of customs and actions that had been prohibited, including gazing at the moon, making offerings to sacred springs, gathering with a group of others outside at night, working with herbs in certain ways, tying certain types of knots, etc., ad nauseum. In other words, a lot of the mythology of what supposedly made someone a witch, most of which was probably just surviving bits of folklore from the older pagan religions of that particular region, was well known among the common people. Even people who could not read would have had priests telling them to avoid doing these things, so they would have been well versed in what the Church considered witchcraft, and what the trial officials wanted to hear. This does not mean that an elaborate Sabbatic witch cult of the type described in the trial records actually existed. Instead, it is very likely that people confessed out of fear, parroting back these myths in the hope of receiving mercy at the hands of their tormentors, and that Christian imagination supplied the rest.
Why am I going into all of this? Well, I have been seeing a trend in social media of witchcraft “influencers” declaring that you should not call yourself a witch if you aren’t meeting one person’s or someone else’s definition of witchcraft. The definitions of witchcraft seem to change with every generation as far as I can see, yet people keep insisting that theirs is more valid than any of the others that have come before or that will come round in the future. I know these kinds of confrontational posts are favored by the algorithms and are likely to increase your social media following, but I think the community would be a much happier place and people in general would be happier if we would all just keep our eyes on our own papers so to speak and stop trying to police others on what they’re doing and calling themselves and what beliefs and practices they are including in their own spiritual paths.
Whether your conception of being a witch consists of following pagan gods and pre-christian customs from various cultures, or whether it involves basing your practice on medieval trial records, believing yourself descended from angels, and venerating the Devil and the Lady of Elphame, what works for you works for you. Neither of these origin myths of witchcraft are historically verifiable or 100% true, but both of them provide inspiration and a feeling of belonging for a number of people, so in short, you do you, boo! Your practice of witchcraft might be inspired by an origin story I haven’t even thought of, and that’s fine too as far as I’m concerned. Just stay in your own lane, and don’t presume to tell me or others what we should call ourselves or what we should do in our own practices. And that’s all I have to say for today. Blessed be.
THOSE WHO HAVE ALREADY PURCHASED THIS READING WILL RECEIVE THE ORIGINAL READING, NOT THIS REVISED VERSION.
This is because, in the readings I’ve already done, I have discovered two things:
Because each card in the Tarot contains both lights and shadows, it isn’t really necessary to have two separate cards for each month. It adds more detail, but also more complication.
I am having some resistance to reading so many different cards at a time (plus with my physical issues it’s really hard for me to sit for that long)!
In addition to the above, I wanted to make the reading more affordable so that more people could purchase it, should they so choose, so the price for the revised reading is $30 (the original version was $50).
***One other important change to note about this reading: It is now only available for purchase through December 4, 2021, so if you want one you shouldn’t wait too much longer.***
The reason for this is I remembered we have family visits going on later in the month and I want to put the shop on vacation mode before then.
You can purchase your reading at my Etsy shop here.
In honor of our first New England snowfall of 2021 (it wasn’t much, but it’s supposed to snow more as the week goes on), I have amped up my sale at The Wytch of the North on Etsy! Everything in my shop (with the exception of readings) is now 30% off, no coupon code needed!
The sale ends at midnight on December 2nd, and I will not be restocking anything (or adding any new items) from now through the end of the year!
This is a big, juicy reading you will be able to revisit and dip into all throughout the year ahead! It explores the lights and shadows that lie in your path–both the goodies the universe has your name on, and the challenges you might have to overcome to harvest all of that goodness.
The reading includes:
TWO oracle cards for an overview of your coming year as a whole. These cards will examine the overall “flavor” of the year: card #1 showing the energies and potentials that are most likely to be available to you (and most advantageous for you to work with) and card #2 what obstacles you may face in doing so.
TWO Tarot cards for each month of 2022: card #1 showing the influences and opportunities likely coming into play during that month, and card #2 reflecting the challenges and obstacles you may encounter along the way.
In all, the reading consists of 26 cards–two drawn for each month of 2022, plus two oracle cards for the predominant flavor of the year as a whole.
***Please note: My focus is NOT on attempting to predict your future for the coming year (since I don’t believe that is set in stone, but rather always changing depending on the choices we make day-to-day), but on divining what influences and energies will be most available to you and what potential they may bring to your life, in addition to what hurdles may stand in your way of reaching that potential. Armed with this information, you can plan ahead to navigate your way through the year to your very best advantage.***
You will receive an email with a downloadable pdf of your reading, which will include:
A clear color photo of your overall spread
A separate clear photo of just your two oracle cards
A separate clear photo of EACH of your pairs of Tarot cards drawn for each month
This means your reading will include 14 card photos in all, which will enable you to really study the details of your cards and come to new insights about their impact and meaning for you throughout the year!
*** I will email your reading to you within 5-7 business days of your purchase.***
When purchasing your reading, please include the following in your “note to seller”:
– Your name and email address
– Any background information about yourself, your life, your spiritual path, and your hopes or plans for the year ahead that you would like me to keep in mind while reading.
– Your birth date. This doesn’t come into the reading directly, but it helps me to get a better sense of you as a person and better connect with your energy.
****Please carefully note all of the following before purchasing a reading:
ABOUT ME & MY APPROACH TO THE CARDS
Beginning in 2005 and continuing for about seven years, I undertook intensive training in oracular seidhr, otherwise known as Northern Tradition trance work and prophecy. This work is aimed not at predicting the future as such, but instead at propitiating and receiving input and advice from the deities, the spirits, and the universe in general, to help us move forward in our spiritual development as well as with our goals in life.
As a reader, I am fully equipped to seek answers to your questions concerning most areas of life (love, career, relationships, personal development–everything except health and legal matters) but my specialty lies in petitioning the Divine for input into our lives and our progress, especially in regard to spiritual and religious pursuits. If you are a “hard polytheist” to any degree, this would involve my seeking messages on your behalf from individual polytheist deities. If you are a pantheist, nontheist, or anything else along that end of the spectrum, it may involve helping you seek answers from, and communion with, the divine as it resides within you.
Despite whatever degree of deity input comes through in my intuitive reading of your cards, I hold firmly to the concepts of free will and personal choice. Whatever a deity may say, imply, or not say, I will not ever tell you what you “should” do or what “will” happen; all power of choice remains with you.
I read your cards in a ritual setting within my sacred space, often in a semi-trance state. For this reason, the wordage length of your particular reading can vary. (Some messages and concepts require more words to communicate, others far fewer.)
POLICY AND ETHICS:
– Everything we discuss in connection with your reading is completely confidential and stays between us.
– I will not read for questions concerning health, legal matters, or any other issue that I deem better handled by a licensed professional.
– While I love feedback, I am unable to provide additional insight or clarity on readings for free. Please contact me to purchase a custom clarification reading if you have follow-up questions as a result of this reading. However, I feel that with a reading of this nature, sitting with it and seeing how it plays out during the coming year (and then perhaps coming back to me for additional insight as required) is usually the best course of action.
– I reserve the right to decline a reading and refund payment for any reason.
– I am unable to offer a refund for readings.
Legal disclaimer: All readings are sold as curios only, for the purposes of enjoyment and entertainment and are not to be used as a substitute for professional legal, psychological or medical advice.
The common advice in Traditional Witchcraft is to “stay in your own lane” culturally”–but what if your lane is considerably wider than most people’s? Also–yup, I did it: I changed my channel name again. (I’m hoping to keep this one for a while, though!)
A funny thing happened last week: I was fired from my job. Was it a week or two before I would have qualified for unemployment? Yes, it was. Did this happen while my wife is struggling with mobility issues following a work-related injury, which had led to my having to leave work suddenly in the middle of the day to assist her? Yes, it did. Did they accidentally pay me twice, leaving me to deal with the issue of figuring out how to repay them (which is ending up actually costing me money)? Yes, that happened too.
So, since I live in a small New England town where jobs are not that easy to come by, winter is coming on, and I have invisible illnesses (fibro and ME/CFS)–I am looking at work from home possibilities, but at the same time fully aware that I may need to go back to trying to manifest a supplementary income for our household through my own efforts.
With that, the most popular readings I used to offer in my Etsy shop are once again available (at a lower price than before, at least to begin with), and I’m working on filling up the shop with rosaries and other witchy treasures again.
AND if you like me as a reader you may want to check out my revised Tier levels over on Patreon: I have added some exciting reading perks at each level above $1, as well as a couple of handmade gift perks at the higher level tiers.
Funnily enough, I took the above photo just as a visual to accompany this post; the cards and runes were drawn completely at random. But then I looked at them more closely and found they aptly portray my feelings about the recent job loss. The Star, representing release from a traumatic situation and hope for the future (the Trump supporters, anti-vaxers and anti-maskers at the company I left are some of the worst people I’ve ever worked for); the Ten of Wands, showing how overwhelmed and overloaded I was in my work situation, in which I was asked to cover for a co-worker who was in rehab for a month, but definitely given no gratitude or understanding in return); the Eight of Swords, showing how trapped I felt in the job, because I wanted to quit but knew we couldn’t afford that. And then the runes above the cards showing the promise of a new day (Dagaz), a return to following my path (Perthro), and the knowledge that I am protected and watched over by my spirits and deities (Algiz).
I’m not gonna lie: money is very much a worry and a concern for me right now. But I also feel an immense sense of relief and realignment with where I am meant to be. This job was very much a lesson for me about protecting my own boundaries instead of trying to please people who will never be satisfied with anyone. (“We can’t find good help,” is one of the things they said during my initial interview.) I will take on outside work again if I can find it, but it will be on my own terms, and I won’t budge on that again.