I am sure i am going to offend someone in this post, especially the excellent male witches i have read about and met and worked with over the decades. And the fact is that i am a male witch so what i am writing applies to me also. I am not trying to set up some dichotomy between male and female practicers of witchcraft. I am just writing my own opinions based on the life of a witch priest over time, and i find as i have become older and am blogging i tend to just put this stuff out there to be read or spit up irregardless of how politically incorrect it may be.
There are many types of witchcraft – the religious aspect, the ceremonial magickal aspect, the mystical aspect and the folk magicke aspect amongst others. There were originally, and sill are, the native practices of paganism and animism. There were and are the medieval style practices of healers and wizards. And there are the later versions of “Wicca” from Gardner onwards. My premise is based on the original native forms of witchcraft, whether you want to call them shamanism or root craft or whatever. We do not know what our ancestors really did. But we do have more recent anthropological data about what they do today. In these remnants we see from ancient cultures there were the female mysteries and the male mysteries and they held their own rites in their own times in their own sacred spaces that were Not to be spied upon by the other gender. I think the only time they would come together would be for rites for marriage and fertility. It seems from research that the men were probably the hunters and the women were probably the first to gather and then learn to plant the first grains, so i think women were the first herbalists and as we know that is a big part of witchcraft. Women, being the source of all life, are more naturally tied in with the cycles of nature within and without. Women have always been the healers, the herbalists, the ones who picked and cultivated new crops, the ones who learned how to weave cloth and sew fur into clothes. Men tend to want to reduce the herbs to its one element to make a medicine to sell, to practice alchemy to change matter, to be the authoritative physician who thought that bleeding would heal people instead of applying nature’s remedies. Men love to make weapons and start wars and conquer new lands, but who is it who gathers up the children and heals the wounded and replants next year’s crop? The women.
There is of course the Dianic form of witchcraft, and i do understand where they are coming from. After thousands of years of enduring patriarchal dominate societies, both culturally and religiously, i can really understand the desire to just concentrate on the Goddess and the feminine aspects of religion. I still think some witch circles should just be for the women and some for the men, depending on the ritual, but for me i like the balance.
Now regarding the medieval wizards they seemed more like control freaks,calling on God and the Devil to bring up some demon to bring then a female spirit or lover to do their bidding. Yea i know they did more than that, especially the more spiritual ones who practiced QBL and worked with the Archangels. But they were obviously doing “the male thing” in their magickes, which i would not even call witchcraft or anything near to it. Men love the power of being a Magus and trying to make the spirits do things for them. Women are tied in with the rhythms of nature better and use a gentler approach of coaxing the spirits to bless and help them in general.
Gardner was more magickian than witch, relying on the Golden Dawn and thus the Solomonic magickal systems and adding some witchcraft practices into it. Sanders was similar but loved the drama of video and pictures of lots of women he could “initiate” into his system. They were male wizards more than witches to me. I don’t think it was until nowadays in modern Wicca there is a balance of both sexes and the wheel of the year is fairly evenly divided. And psychologically i think most educated people realize both genders have their anima and animus and do carry within themselves both the God and Goddess and Androgyne. And for those in the GNLT community it may be possible to invoke whatever gender of deity you wish despite your physical form.
Ad now lets leave theory and ancient history and let me share some things from my own history as a witch priest. My teacher Lady Phoebe told us that there is a balance of the Goddess and God, but the Goddess is just a little bit higher because it is from a woman’s body that we all come forth into this world. And in the coven the Priestess always had final say over the Priest. So that was the way i was brought up as a witch. In our coven I have had more women than men apply for teachings. I have noticed a lot of the men were what i call “come along witches” who pretend to be into witchcraft because their girlfriend or wife was into it, and often i think they did so just to keep their eyes on their women to make sure they are not fooling around with other men in their “new witch hobby”. Often later they did relax and really start getting into it, working well as partners, honoring the Goddess and God within each other.
In my own practices I like doing more spontaneous rituals in nature, to take breaks in formal rituals, to try to reach a trance state in which i invoke and feel at one with the primal god/man within myself. And i do my best to help my Priestess embody the Goddess within herself, though most do not need my “help”. I have never been much into spells and hate those rhyming chants. Even I could not just be into witchcraft. I had to balance it out with Tibetan Buddhism, Thelema and even Vodoun. I quietly draw talismans and burn a candle on them and cense them and then burn them or return them to the element relevant to their work. I think my magicke is more influenced by yogic techniques using mantras where i just visualize, say a seed mantra, wave a mudra, and it is so. But when i do a formal Coven of the Catta ritual I do it completely, the way it was written, the way i was taught.
I think in many ways women are superior to men, especially in social and cultural evolution. If the leaders of every country were women i doubt we would be spending so much money on weapons and more money on education and health care. If we worshiped the Goddess of peace and growth instead of the God of war we would be living in a better world.
In the end here i am Not saying that men cannot be wonderful witches, like the priests i have known. I am just saying that women make better more natural witches. There is a sisterhood there that male witches can participate in, but only to some degree.
It took me three days to write this and i already hate it because i am sure it is going to be misunderstood because i am trying to simplify something that is much more complex than a simple blog post. I expect positive and negative feedback and will respond, but do not want to get into a fight with anyone. These opinions are mine and mine alone, not the opinions of my coven or teachers.