Magic and Witchcraft In History and Folklore (Part 2)

The Magic of Alchemy

During the medieval period, alchemy became a popular practice in Europe. Although it had been around for a long time, the fifteenth century saw a boom in alchemical methods, in which practitioners attempted to turn lead and other base metals into gold.

The Early Days of Alchemy

Alchemical practices have been documented as far back as ancient Egypt and China, and interestingly enough, it evolved around the same time in both places, independently of each other.

According to the Lloyd Library, “In Egypt, alchemy is tied in with the fertility of the Nile River basin, fertility being referred to as Khem. By at least the 4th century BCE, there was a basic practice of alchemy in place, probably related to mummification procedures and connected strongly with ideas of life after death… Alchemy in China was the brainchild of Taoist monks, and as such is wrapped up in Taoist beliefs and practice.

The founder of Chinese alchemy is considered to be Wei Po-Yang. In its earliest practice the Chinese aim was always to discover the elixir of life, not to transmute base metals into gold. Therefore, there was always a closer connection to medicine in China.”

Around the ninth century, Muslim scholars like Jabir ibn Hayyan began to experiment with alchemy, in the hopes of creating gold, the perfect metal. Known in the West as Geber, ibn Hayyan looked alchemy in the context of natural science and medicine. Although he never did manage to turn any base metals into gold, Geber was able to discover some pretty impressive methods of refining metals by extracting their impurities. His work led to developments in the creation of gold ink for illuminated manuscripts, and the creation of new glassmaking techniques.

While he wasn’t a terribly successful alchemist, Geber was very gifted as a chemist.

To read more of Patti Wiggins post on this fascinating subject please click on this link: http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/wiccanpaganhistory/fl/The-Magic-of-Alchemy.htm?utm_campaign=list_paganwiccan&utm_content=20170221&utm_medium=email&utm_source=exp_nl&utm_term=list_paganwiccan

The Wiccan Elements

The Symbolism of the Skull

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A beautiful blood stone skull is in my guardianship that I have lovingly named Prometheus. Being with him during a meditation the other day invoked a thoughtful process of the meaning of the human skull throughout the ages.

You often find it in ghoulish pictures of Gothic inspired imagery created to invoke mystery, but the human skull has held a far greater meaning one that is held in both reverence and fear.

One of the classical meanings of the human skull is that of “memento mori” that which means to remember your mortality. This expression is directed to remember your death or literally to die. The ancient Greek philosophers that practiced Stoicism, Neoplatonism and Epicurean philosophy often pondered on the meaning of death, a subject that has not been diluted over time. One that was most probably taken from the ancient Sanskrit of the Verdict system.

The idea of philosophy as the “Practice of Death” is central to the western philosophical tradition and the meditation of death is the meditation of life.

“The exercise of living well

And the exercise of dying well

Are one and the same”

-Epicurus- (340BC)

It is through this practice that philosophers maintain tranquillity in the midst’s of the tumultuous circumstances of life therefore inward concentration can be thought of dying before you die. This will assist in living in the present and making the most of your life, it will assist you to live in whatever Nirvana you choose. It will encourage you to seize the day or “Carp Diem” usually represented as a skull with a red rose wreath.

Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism and even Christianity all hold similar concepts, even in the macabre meaning of the Knights Templar that is associated with the Holy Grail all of which create a state of enlightenment akin to that spoken of by the Gnostics, alchemists and mystics.

For some, skulls can also symbolise protection, strength, power, fearlessness, wisdom, guidance, surviving through difficult times and immortality all of which lean towards the mysteries of dying before you die.

A beautiful poem by Rumi invokes feelings of the ancient translation of death one that reverberates till this day.

“Die! Die! Die in this love! If you die in this love, your soul will be renewed. Die! Die! Don’t fear the death of that which is known if you die to the temporal, you will become timeless.”

-Rumi-

Halloween, All saints day, All souls day, The Day of the Dead in Mexico (Dia De Mouertos) all have similar meaning. These festivals are popular with the symbolism of the skull that is identified with death. This is the time where the veil between the worlds is thin and therefore a good time to communicate with those from the spirit world. They will hear your prayers, they will give you guidance, and they will even offer you protection. These festivals span thousands of years and in Mesoamerica were dedicated to the Lady of the dead.

Another image that you may be familiar is the serpent crawling through the eye sockets of the skull. The serpent is considered a Chthonic God of Knowledge and Immortality (God of the Underworld). The serpent is always making its way thought the skull, representing knowledge that persists beyond death. As the Serpent guards the tree in the Garden of Hesperides and in a familiar story thousands of years later in the Garden of Eden it holds the secrets to the cosmos. The eternal knowledge within, the Holy Grail, the Kapala (in Sanskrit) and all of infinity.

NeoWicca

Sometimes you may see the word “NeoWicca” used at About Pagan/Wiccan. It’s one that appears often in discussions about modern Pagan religions, so let’s look at why it’s being utilized.

The term NeoWicca (which essentially means “new Wicca”) is typically used when we want to distinguish between the two original traditional forms of Wicca (Gardnerian and Alexandrian) and all other forms of Wicca. Many people would argue that anything other than a Gardnerian or Alexandrian tradition is, by default, NeoWicca. It’s occasionally said that Wicca itself, which was only founded in the 1950s, isn’t even old enough to have established a “neo” version of anything, but this remains the common usage in the Pagan community.

Much of the publicly available material labeled as Wicca in books and on websites is in fact considered NeoWiccan, simply because Gardnerian and Alexandrian material is generally oathbound, and is not made available for public consumption.

To read the rest of this article by Patti Wigington please click on this link: http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/glossary/g/What-Is-Neowicca.htm

What is Paganism?

Many people come to this website because they’ve heard a little about Paganism, maybe from a friend or family member, and want to know more – but a lot of readers come here because they’re starting with the very first question: What is Paganism?

Keep in mind that for the purposes of this website, the answer to that question is based upon modern Pagan practice – we’re not going to go into details on the thousands of pre-Christian societies that existed years ago. If we focus on what Paganism means today, we can look at several different aspects of the word’s meaning.

In general, when we say “Pagan,” we’re referring to someone who follows a spiritual path that is rooted in nature, the cycles of the season, and astronomical markers. Some people call this “earth-based religion.” Also, many people identify as Pagan because they are polytheists – they honor more than just one god – and not necessarily because their belief system is based upon nature.

 

To read the rest of this article by Patti Wigington please click on this link: http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/blogs/fl/What-is-Paganism.htm

The Mechanics of a Spell

The Cosmic Cookie trail led me to the following post on the Mechanics of a Spell.  I feel the article does a good job explaining the process of creating a spell.  For myself, I would create a Sacred Space to do any planning though.  I tend to meditate to receive the messages from my guides on how to proceed.

You can access the blog post at the following link:  http://silverwitch.tumblr.com/post/141365221533

©03302016 Wolf Woman Ways

 

A Definition of an Eclectic Witch

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Usually eclectic witches are also solitary witches because they form they own path for spirituality and do not follow just one tradition. I have come in contact in the past with two covens of eclectic witches. Their gathering were very interesting as each esbat a different member would act as priestess and lead their ritual.

One Definition of Crone

CRONE

One can choose anytime after all your children have become adults or for women menstruation has stopped to go through a Crone ritual. Becoming a Crone does not mean you are it means you are wise. For men Crone status usually does not apply because women were always thought of as the wise people in the village after a certain age.

Witchcraft Definition

According to law books of the Middle Ages, the act of invoking evil spirits or consulting, covenanting with, entertaining, employing, feeding, or rewarding any evil spirit.

According to statutes issued since the time of Henry VII, the crime of witchcraft included “taking up dead bodies from their graves for the purposes of witchcraft “or killing or otherwise hurting any person by such infernal arts”.

The murderous zeal against those who are inclined to practice the occult – especially prevalent in Europe during the 1600s – originated in the Christian Bible, Exodus 22:18:

“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”.

The biblical research indicates that the witch was female and that her actus reus was to create or invoke spells to harm others. Night-flying and metamorphosis were also suspected activities.

In Crisis of the Seventeenth Century: Religion, the Reformation and Social Change (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2001), author Hugh Trevor-Roper wrote:

“The monks of the late Middle Ages sowed: the lawyers of the sixteenth century reaped; and what a harvest of witches they gathered in!”

It infected America in the late 1600s, Salem, Massachusetts in particular, where the indictment read of a suspected witch, and taken from The Blue Laws of New Haven Colony, 1838:

“… not having the fear of God before thine eyes, thou hast entertained familiarity with Satan, the grand enemy of God and mankind … and by his help hast acted things beyond and besides the ordinary course of nature … doing many preternatural arts, by mischeviously hurting bodies and goods of sundry people … hast practiced witchcraft formerly and continuist to prectice witchcraft, for which according to ye lawes of God…, thou deserveth to die.”

By the 1700s, the crime was no longer punished by death.

From: http://www.duhaime.org/LegalDictionary/W/Witchcraft.aspx