Wednesday 16 April 2008

Wicca & Triumph of the Moon

I’ve never really talked much about my own faith path and my own community. So I figured I would take some time and do that while also talking about Triumph of the Moon as well. I’m blessed to be a part of an active community of like minded pagans. There is no requirement that you follow the same pagan path as us, be part of a coven or anything like that. There druids who come out some people who aren’t sure what they are and a lot of Wiccans of different styles. A few of us are starting to use the term Gaiaist Wiccan because of strong feelings and ties towards the Earth and sustaining its future.

We get together about once a week, some weeks are Book Study night, and other weeks our Tradition gets together. Along with both of those there are also movie nights, Knit-witches and other things that get us all together. As you can see it is a fairly active real time group. We also has a web component as well, with an e-mail discussion group and a group on Facebook. Like anything online sometimes they are more active then others. And the topics can change a lot from month to month.

Am sure you’ve noticed the three books listed on side left side of the blog Triumph of the Moon is the book that we are currently reading as a book study. Basically every second Tuesday we get together as a group reading through the book as a group one paragraph at a time. It really slows down the reading process and makes you think about what your reading and helps to absorb the information. It also makes for some great discussion and sharing of ideas.

So I want to start with a bit about the book, It is a look at the history and origins of modern Pagan Witchcraft. It is written by an academic Pagan Ronald Hutton and is written like a book for academics he doesn’t hold back or pull any punches when it comes to our real history. With that being said if your one of those Wiccans who insist that millions (Or more) of Witches where burned at the stake or that you have a hand written Xeroxed book of shadows that goes back to the dawn of time you might want to stop reading here. Because you are just deluding yourself and I would hate to take that away from you.

Hutton breaks things down in to sections looking at the origins of our practices, history, and where the people who put together what is modern witchcraft got there ideas from. A good portion of the book is also spent discussion what was going on in the world at the time these things were happening and being developed. It all plays such a huge part in what people where thinking and gives a great sense of context.

I could easily go on blog after blog on this subject but am going to limit myself to the Chapter that we just finished last night entitled ‘Finding a Witchcraft’ or at least a portion of it. The chapter ended with a long section on a book published by Leland it can be found on shelves today under the title ‘Gospels of Aradia’ the so called Gospels of Witches. If you haven’t read it I would strongly recommend it, despite its questionable origins. So much of our pagan culture comes from this book, even Doreen Valiente include references to it when she wrote the original Charge of the Goddess in the Gardnerian Book of Shadows.

The problem is that we have no way of know how much if any of the book is real. Leland prime source for information was a woman from the area Maddalena who is said to have inherited a family trove of charms, spells, and other information. She shared much of it with Leland, who hired her to bring back more and more information. After a time she brought back the story of Aradia in her own hand writing, afterwards she was never seen again. There was no attempt to back these stories up with other sources or confirm them. In the end it is likely we will never know if they were real or not.

If this commentary on the book so far has gotten your interest up, then I would encourage your to listen to Ronald Hutton Speak before reading the book. The experience really leads itself well to reading him and makes it more enjoyable. You can find a speech he gave on the Druid cast pod cast

I guess in the end I have to say I would rather have some understanding of the real history of my faith. Does it matter that don’t have some direct link to ancient times? Not in the least in my opinion. Does it matter to me that a lot of it was made based on the experience of a small group of people in England in the early 20th century? Again I have to say not at all, why should it when it works.


Dragonstar said...

I found what you said interesting. Maybe I should look for this book.

To me, religion (whatever your particular favourite) should be a way of living and making sense of your life. You seem to be doing that.

Anonymous said...

Yes, interesting book. I certainly don't think you should devalue your beliefs simply because they may be relatively "new" (whatever that means). At one time, Christianity was new as was Buddhism and every single other "great" religion. I think the key to the value of any belief system is its ability to inspire and to bring people together for good. That's really all you need.