Enigmatic Witchcraft

Revised Excerpt from Consume Thyself

Historic Witchcraft is a sub section of European Christianity. A form of Folk Christianity and magical beliefs combined with medieval/renaissance/modern era folklore and evolved from Pagan influences. With variation across lands. Having many similarities, such as fairy belief, yet no set “way”. Many folk of the land would know more about local folklore than the mythology of the Bible. In a sense their “Folk Christianity” could be considered a sub section of Folklore and magic. Typical history is always written from the viewpoint and about the aristocracy. When studying the religion of Europe, one often studies the religion of the upper and “middle” class. This is an extremely small percentage of the spiritual understanding of a land. This is something to deeply understand in all aspects of historical and anthropological study… Some lands are far closer to their pagan timeline than others. There is “folkloric” healing,cursing, charming, protection, visions, shape shifting, projection, familiars, etc. existent in “backwater” regions of Europe during the past centuries from medieval to modern era, yet this is not necessarily witchcraft, as witchcraft is only such when accused or able to be accused. Therefore there is no set “way” of witchcraft. A multitude of folkloric elements and true beliefs that become demonized by Christian authorities, or sometimes demonized by practitioners. Witchcraft as a true term is only relevant to Europe, the “Europeans” of It’s colonies and Christianity, other cultures and lands falling under something different. Just as North American native priests were described by the English as being similar to witches, never witches themselves. Which also brings forth the insight that “witches” were doing something distinct and recognizable for such comparison. Too much to be written of here. Many folkloric elements of “witchcraft lands” are vastly gone, save common “things” that are found even in modern western society, such as ghosts, folk medicine, many abrahamic religious beliefs, etc. Yet at the same time in some “remote” lands in Europe there are still many “witch like” practices, if such authorities existed modernly and wished to accuse. Folkloric beliefs and aspects that involve animal sacrifice, herbal practices, protections, etc. These are all aspects of Folk Christianity, just as historic witchcraft was a form of Folk Christianity, inspired by evolved European Pagan folklore and ways. There is so much overlap, so much grey… To be inspired through a personal path of western pagan mythology modernly is not witchcraft. There is no such thing as systematic ritual magic, as in one plus one equals two. As the projection and empowerment of ones intent varies with each individual, alongside ever changing meanings and inspirations(empowerment) of various “ingredients.” Save technical substances with technically true aspects. The ritual is only for the self or those viewing and/or participating in the result of performance art. There are acts of social and solitude empowerment that each must find for themselves. Is one spiritually able to influence the world around them? Or is one forming a powerful course of action before action, thus influencing the world around them? Perhaps both? Ask oneself? Trance/Altered states open up a complicated web of understanding. Able to be viewed from the realms of psychology to the realms of spirituality and magic. Both seeking to express the same actual act, whether the trance itself or ‘spiritual projection’. This leads into the study of psychics and energy, whether old or new as is typically the case, whether from psychology or magic. This is the “foundation” of any magic use, attempts and results within all cultures, if viewing psychics and energy as cultureless. Such a belief, real magic, matters nothing of the opinions of others.

Modern witchcraft is what it is, yet equally is what it is not. There is large variation within such an expression. From those seeking to pull from historic understanding to those claiming expression from entirely different continents. From a liberal safe place of anything goes, to a conservative approach of secrecy and source seeking. What the neo-creators of many such paths created, has spun into something entirely different over the decades, to become a liberal movement that was never intended. There are inspirations from victorian theatrics in nearly all these paths that have nothing to do with any sort of continuation of real historic expression. Although victorian artistic expression is also an expression of past folklore, folklore an extension of past influences. Thus, whatever neo witchcraft is, it is also not. Just as the old, there is no set “way”. Nor a set expression of self. Neo witchcraft is a free for all of anything goes, recently pulling a modern political approach of liberality. Many practitioners expressing a practice of self empowering theatrics and artistic symbolism of others, that left to their own right carry no power. Another subject is of Hermeticism, what it was historically and everything it was not. Hermeticism (Hermes is not Wotan), Alchemy and Kabbalahish practices have nothing to do with Historic Witchcraft, and for the most part have little to do with the historic versions of themselves. As one will grasp unto the neo/victorian forms of such things, seeking continuation. A side note, the fantasy genre is not an expansion of folklore or mythology, it is the rape and butchery of folklore and mythology. On another end of the spectrum you have the “black mass” types. Who seek the past accusations cast from christianity, whether past accusations sometimes real or often pulled from tortured tongues. Simply seeking short lasting rebellion. For they believe the black metal they listen to, being a satanist, etc, is intimidating or powerful. A reminder of a few theatrical victorian fakes in an abstract way. Regardless, “some” of the neo-witchcraft spectrum. Not an extension of the historic.

There are many aspects of history continued through time, artistic and spiritual expression, cultural expression, etc. that have a place of timelessness. There are many that do not. As humans one must decide for themselves, time will decide the rest.

The Highland Sword

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The Scottish Highlands. The very thought stirs romantic images within one’s mind. Not far from the truth. Cold, wet, windswept moors and rolling hills. Lonely mountains and sharp cliffs. Jagged coasts and misty forests. A quiet haunting feeling, of loneliness and sadness if you listen. Lost pipes upon the wind and hilltop fires summoning men. There is a sense of lethargy there, of time moving somewhat slower. A sense of emptiness, for the highlands are still empty as to what they once were. This spirit saturates the air. A people always on the “outside” of history. From the mysterious Picts of the ancient world, to the last of the Jacobite clansmen. In a way, the “Gaels” are history’s “Last Barbarians”. Living a simpler, materialistically poorer life than “civilization”. Warlike and proud. Destined to lose… This is what we feel of the Highlands, what we want to see. As an artist, there is half of me that desires the loneliness of solitude (my wife the exception of course). The desire of feeling as a passing ghost. To be lost in a poem of romance. To drink strong whisky and eat hearty meat. The sound of haunting music, shadowy fires, and the folkloric tales of faeries and heroes. For indeed there are many ghosts upon this land. The Highlands were a wellspring of folklore and myth. The combination of Gaelic, Nordic, Pictish, Welsh and Saxon folklore. A wealth of inspiration and longing. On a very real note, Scotland could arguably be one of the most active centers of folkloric belief during such an era. The folkloric belief in this land was rich and swayed into the lives of many. Far greater than that of other realms, due to this “backwater” culture. Fairy (ghost/spirit) belief and interference, folk healing, curses, and other supernatural encounters being an everyday aspect of life. Many of the witchcraft trials here speak highly of this, with many very unique. The Highlands seemed to be a nesting ground for such a thing, whether accused or not, recorded or not. The commonality of folklore causing many sincere beliefs to slip through uncorrupted by threatened interrogators, as opposed to other lands. The Highlands are a place to explore our mind and imagination, regardless of the dirty truth of past reality, the landscape demands a level of introspection. Many of those in America, especially the mid east coast have ancestry directly from these lands. The high level of this is due to the Highland clearances. The failures of the Jacobites, and the consequences of such action. This is the sadness that saturates the land, this lonely loss of life and noise. My matrilineal side being  German, my patrilineal direct “son of” Scottish line came after the failings of the second uprising, settling the land of the Tennessee frontier. A new beginning from an old loss.

It is of these Jacobites and contemporaries, that we have the passing of a martial art. A form of Swordsmanship. A multitude of manual’s and instructions on the topic of many weapons, with a strong emphasis of the broadsword and targe. An interesting note of the Jacobites was their preference for close combat. A romantic yet outdated battlefield approach. Yet this is an image that has endured, and rightfully so. The Scottish Swordsman and duels of honour. This style takes us there. While on the modern battlefield the “Highland Charge” brought defeat. While once feared, Technology always replaces Prowess…

The combat style is quite the array of weapons when fully equipped. A broadsword in one hand, the hand clearly protected, not the wrist. A targe in the other, a spike sprouting from the middle of the shield, and a long dirk held downwards. That is, three points and locking locations. Unique in appearance. The image of the two handed claymore, although the single handed sword was also a claymore, stands clear in our minds. Yet the sword and shield are more relevant to the martial art and time. The twohander an archaic weapon, although there is evidence of the twohander being used in the last Jacobite uprising. Of the art, there is much to study, mainly of the finer aspects the technology grants after basic mastery. Something to explore on your own then any text specifically. The foundation is the same as any sword art. Of note is the aiming of the wrists, in that it is directly focused on again and again. To mainly strike at from underneath. This is were a downward pointed dirk is of great importance in deflection. Yet this form is not touched upon deeply. The projecting shield spike offers a great way of snagging and displacing a sword or bayonet. All the while counter attacking. Just as the backward step to protect the leg. The style is actually similar to the very early I.33, especially in “stepping” or lack of. Yet it is not I.33, as the two are clearly recognizable to witness stylisticly. It is said there might even had been clan styles, this is a tangible thought, yet probably leads more directly to training methods than clear differences in the appearance of fighting.

When I was younger, my father, brother and I visited an aloof antique dealer and collector that was a friend of my fathers. He lived in a very old house atop a hill, with absolutely everything within antique. Everything. Owned arguably the largest personable collection of American Revolutionary War arms in the world, whole armoury rooms under lock and key. As well a a creator of reproductions. Buried money in antique ceramics in his backyard. Million dollar quilt in an old chest the Smithsonian wanted to purchase, wouldn’t sell. A hole you could see the road on his van floor, etc. He also had an array of Scottish broadswords and targets, as well as some renaissance arms. Not to mention any other form of antique you could imagine. The basement the kind of place only goblins and ghosts could live in, and who knows of the attic above the third floor. Sleeping in an antique bed, surrounded by antiques and such a setting, enflamed the imagination, yet often into dark places for a young one. I will always remember the arms and such. As such a thing is more personal than any museum could be. The old shields and broadswords an inspiring memory, one can almost hear the pipes and see the fires.

While this style is something I have trained in and feel very confident with. A next training cycle is falling completly under this style. The practice of a smaller twohander (60”), almost completed in oak. As well as the broadsword (longer than my single handed sword), a stout targe with a nail through the middle (filed and wrapped in leather tip for “safety”), and a strong dirk. To all match technology more appropriately as opposed to the “close enough” items I have used. Although the bare footed training will be somewhat coming to a close in a couple months, as my yard is four acres in the middle of literally thousands of acres of forest. Not suburb forest, untouched ever forest. Nature wants to kill you not hug you, that kind. Bloody, oozy, itchy feet that appear diseased are not preferred, although I am sure to suffer at some point this season. I will miss the cold burning toes of winter training.

Artwork: Highland Swordsman 2012

Werewolf

In all of my research through the years of my life. One of ever increasing knowledge, is European folklore from both an anthropological and historical level. Being able to loop a thread quickly through many eras and cause one to understand. One particular interest of mine is that of the werewolf. The European werewolf. This has nothing to do with universalist blanketing concepts of aspects such as south american jaguar men, african shape-shifters, japanese fox women, etc. This has to do with the actual subject of the true werewolf and sound steps of concepts and folklore surrounding them. Just as the term “african witchcraft”, or “native american shamanism” is a falsehood of concept and lore… The lore of the “werewolf”, a somewhat current term, stretches through Europe as long as there is research to find. With a strong germanic influence, and one might speak Balkan and Celtic influence, yet I believe both are from a pre-Germanic source. As people of somewhat shared identity lived upon these lands for tens of thousands of years, alongside wolves. Abrahamic influence and times changing the perception of what one (as in the threaded line) was, and its role within society. A change of form and yet not, as still that of a wolf in the eyes of Europe. One must search as many original werewolf trials as possible. As in the late medieval-early modern era many were tried and executed. Men, and woman were charged on accounts for werewolfery, often hand in hand with witchcraft. And yes, many of these accounts are based upon actual deserving charges, both good and bad. It was not simply a fictitious mass hysteria sweeping through Europe. It was a definition of truth often, yet equally one of falsehood, vindictive twisting of beliefs and judgements. Just as witchcraft. Yet also actions of atrocities, given a term. Remember though, most atrocities are just called religion, and without religion, it would be the same atrocities given a different title… I enjoy to write of folklore, in an academically sound, yet narrative way, while hopefully exposing new concepts. For folklore is to be a living breathing thing. So few can express it as such with sincerity. And yes the roots of the wolf are one to be taken very sincerely. What does stand out to me repeatedly, something that does not necessarily reach out to a specific group, yet perhaps sparks many, is the narrative of folklore, particularly European, as well as artistic representations of it. As these are our roots, and the greatest art is founded upon these concepts. Folklore is: religion, mythology, cultural perspectives, fireside entertainment, perceptions of real events, etc. The wolf cult in a lore sense is very old. Do these rennaissance concepts apply directly of it? Or simply a scapegoat of folklore applied upon something vastly different?… Such a grand narrative of ever changing perspectives and core roots is folklore rooted in reality. Something to be expressed in a grand narrative,of art lore and reality.