Alex Sanders Altar
Old George Pickingale
I was listening to an interview with writer Robin Artisson on Witchtalk last night and a witch from the British Isles he had talked to brought up a very important point – Can witches not from the British Isles really practice British Traditional Witchcraft?
I know that here in North America to be legit you almost have to claim to be BTW, to have some lineage back to the old country. My own lineage comes from Sybil Leek who learned in England and France, so our Coven of the Catta used the BTW tag. But we also carry lineages from mainland Europe through Dr Frederick LaMotte Santee. Many of us in America claim great great grandparents as having come over from England, Ireland and Scotland, so it is in our blood and genetics. But since we do not live in the UK then can we really claim to be BTW despite whatever rituals we use and witch poly-theology we believe? I am not sure.
There are some fantastic writers and bloggers out there sharing very primitive pre-Gardnerian witchcraft, which is often called hedgecraft, like Nigel Jackson, Robin Artisson, Peter Paddon, etc, but many of these now live in the States or other countries, though many still do like in the UK. What I liked about Artisson’s and other’s books of this genre is that they do research on old books of folklore, or talk to the oldest wise man or wise woman they can find still alive, and these are dying off quickly.
So these researching witches are trying to reconstruct the best they can what type of pagan religion was practiced in the old British Isles. But they are also making their own path through their own shamanic visions. Both methods work, because I think the ancestors and land spirits are still there on the astral to help in the latter. And I also think an important possibility is that they are reincarnated from bring priests and priestesses in those religions in past lives.
I also see many blogs where those who live in Finland or Germany or Australia who are doing a great job working with others to reconstruct Asatru or other pre-Christian systems. And I think with their genetics and their feet walking on those lands they are doing the right thing if those old gods are truly talking to them.
In my own coven we work with Diana, Astarte, Pan and Faunus. I personally really only relate to Diana because that is the best name that springs to mind when I think of magickes of the Moon. But for the god I think more of Cernunnos because he is much older and reminds me of Lord Pashupati the old form of Shiva. I really have zero attraction to Mediterranean deities whether Greek, Roman or even Middle Eastern. But I do feel attracted to Isis, Anubis and Hekate, but then maybe I was their priest at one time. And I also believe most Hermeticism and many occult practices from the Mediterranean area come from Egypt. I have a hard time relating personally to many of the god/esses of witchcraft, but some do feel like good friends.
I also like to work with some of the Vodoun Loa as practiced in Haiti, and I do not know why, but they seem more like good fun loving dangerous powerful friends, yet I am not of African or Caribbean descent.
I am of German and Scots-Irish descent, though the fact is that here in the history of America we All have black and AmerIndian blood in us and this has been proven by dna tests in the older immigrants as the native populations were assimilated before they were mostly wiped out. So maybe this ancestral genetics and spirits are coming though us even now.
I feel attracted to many of the Himalayan Buddhist, Shaivite and native Naga religions, and why is that? I think it is because they have preserved many of the old forms of the gods that were wiped out in Europe by Christianity, and the type of religion practiced in Nepal which combines all three feels and looks like that European native paganism. Or maybe once again it is from past lives. But there are deities in those pantheons that I cannot find in any other religious system, and the practices are thousands of years old and most importantly continue today.
I also work with the runes and can feel my German heritage in them, and powwow because I live in the middle of the Pennsylvania Dutch.
I may sound like an eclectic, but I am really a traditionalist because that is the main system I was initiated in and what I priest in. But in my own private practice I work many paths in an eclectic way. I really do not have to answer to anyone or justify any of this to anyone, and you should feel the same.
So what type of witchcraft should we practice in North America? Since we live on originally Native American soil, should we try to practice their form of shamanism? I do not think we can do so exactly because we were not raised in that system, and no matter how much money you pay to fly to Peru to spend a week with some new age guide imbibing the native hallucinogen you are Not going to learn their system and consider yourself a native shaman. But I think one should seek out the sacred Indian places that may still be visible in your area, and I can list 3 within 20 miles of here where I have worked magicke. There are sacred rocks, trees and stream in Every country.
I think everything everyone is doing is just fine. If you want to practice the systems of Gardner and Sanders, then do so. If you want to practice heathenism or paganism or strega trying to reconstruct your ancestor’s religion, then do so. I read a lot of talk about what do we call ourselves? How about just witches? Lol. Practice what works for you, no matter what your race or ancestry because all the sources are out there to do that. We are blessed in this time to have access through books and the internet to almost Everything Ever written on various religious systems.
But what I would suggest from experience is to get in touch with the land and seasons and dirt and soil or where you live now. Go out in the woods and listen to the spirits and make offerings to them. Figure out the best face for your God and Goddess, as they are all the same with many faces. If you live in an urban environment in an apartment then drag as much of nature as you can inside like stones, crystals, branches, bird feathers and have some live plants. I find a large flat stone in front of the altar worked well for me to connect to the earth when I lived thusly. And find some land nearby whether your back yard or a park or even a grave yard to make some sacred space by a tree or other area of beauty.
It’s all about what gives you wisdom and makes you feel the sacredness of yourself and everyone and nature, and all about what is in your heart that makes you a better person.
There, I finally wrote something from myself instead of reblogging others works……
Here are more Robin Artisson web presences:
And once again here is the link to All the interviews on Witchtalk which I have been listening to for almost two weeks now. There is a lot of wisdom in these spokesmen and women of various paths.