a cache of usenet and other text files pertaining
to occult, mystical, and spiritual subjects.


Authenticity vs. Companionship

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.traditional.witchcraft,alt.pagan,alt.satanism,alt.witchcraft,alt.religion.wicca
From: lorax666 
Subject: Authenticity vs. Companionship (Neuvoreligious Authority in Wicca) 
Date: Wed, 31 Dec 2003 02:09:02 GMT

50031230 vii om

Mary Meat, Raven!

#> Gardner created its rudiments as 'witchcraft' and begat a religion
#> under the name 'Wicca' over time, bequeathing home-constructed
#> Shadowbooks for lineage use. 'witches' prior to that time weren't
#> part of any organized cult. (Raven) says that estimation of time is WRONG:
# Mmmm... pause.  Quite aside from whether the cults described by writers
# like Michelet, Leland, and Murray had any historical existence, 

if they had existence, did they call themselves 'witches'?

# there seem to have been groups formed in *response* to such literary 
# works, before Gardner.  

a group doesn't make a cult, but I'm interested in what sources you
may have that describe them.

# Maybe the New Forest coven he mentioned was one such.

there's more than contentions about New Forest demonstrating its reality?

#> more intriguing yet, the *fantasies* of Christians were in part
#> the inspiration for these Wiccan termonological sets and practices.
#> authors like Pennethorne Hughes set the stage inspiring Gardner
#> with oldtime tales of Sabbats and Satan-worshipping revels.
# Specifically, Hughes, in his 1952 book WITCHCRAFT, mentions having
# participated in such a witchcraft group at Oxford, back in 1928,
# apparently inspired by Murray's work.

is he reliable? does what he describe have credibility? I figure the
likes of Penguin doesn't usually waste their attention on idiots,
and my recall is that Hughes was some kind of academic, but I'm not
entirely sure how far he was from Cavendish or Wilson or Levi. :>


#>#> as an argument of 'one true wayism' by false analogy.
#> 'one true wayism' tends to ascribe value *to all*, whereas describing
#> Wicca as 'not something created yesterday and called this' doesn't
#> give any discerning characteristics other than origins for the
#> evaluative criteria. better assessment-schemes include liturgy,
#> cosmological presuppositions, magical restraints, ethics, etc.

in case I was ambiguous here, I meant by 'value *to all*' a PREscribed
value (i.e. its truth is indicative of its singular results; its
uniqueness sets into contrast all other religious paths; its wayness
incorporates all possible spiritual paths). thus to say 'one true way'
as I've learned it in Neopaganism is a post-Christian criticism that
describes the folly of a restricted and peculiar fanaticism about 
one's religious pursuits.

#>#>#> D. Valiente can claim to be wiccan because she practiced wicca
insert 'legitimately' and this is more easily supportable.

#>#>#  Yes, exactly.  As anyone else who practices Wicca is a Wiccan.

with that insertion your argument is more difficult to substantiate.
legitimacy is carried out through initiated lineages.
# The issue above being that another was arguing further criteria than
# simply practicing Wicca -- such as "lineage".  Two people practicing
# completely identical rituals, indistinguishable from each other to
# any observer at all, would by that rule be separated, one as Wiccan,
# the other as not, because one had a "lineage" and the other did not.

neo-Wiccan, perhaps, or poseur-Wiccan, yes.

# (But if the record of lineage were destroyed in a calamity, 
# what then?)

records only indicate substantiation, not communicated transmission.
one can see this issue crop up in Buddhist and Sufi trads too, at
times there are novel upstarts where streams dwindle to a trickle.

#>#> Not all others who came along later follow those [tenets] which
#>#> define that "initial" wicca.
#> one of the relations to Judeochristian traditions which many
#> Wiccans who are post-Christian share is their fondness for
#> belief in 'tenets' (beliefs). the belief-basis of Wicca is
#> usually not completely understood ... and, within MY 
#> experience, was *downplayed* by most intelligent Wiccans 
#> (esp. Elders) with whom I've ever studied or spoken.
#> in part this describes a diversity within the Wiccan community
#> as a whole, but also it appears to describe its relation to
#> its pre-Wiccan (i.e. Christian) roots (because of the emphasis
#> on doctrine, fidelity, believers, etc.).

# Yes, I've noticed and remarked on that in the past, along with the
# special place of the Christian outsider-word "pagan", as compared
# to the Jewish outsider-word "goy" and the Muslim outsider-word
# "kafir".  Isn't it amazing that we're not debating over neo-goy
# and neo-kafir categories, practices, and subgroups?

it has been this in particular which gives me reason to class Wicca
and other similar religious traditions as post-Christian, along with
Satanism and a variety of others which seem to be filling out a path
behind a previously-dismissive or at least xeno-identified name.

I've even considered, since the Wiccans adopted the name 'Cowan' to
mimic this tradition (shock!), coming up with something more specific 
than 'Herd member' for usage by Satanists in the same general vein.
'Cow'? the ever-popular 'Sheep'? some suggested 'Sheeple'. I guess
the Satanists might want to be offensive to their non-members. :>

#># If, as you've now indicated twice, it is participating 
#># in the practice that makes one a member of the religion, 
#># then one's lineage is not a limiting factor. *Whoever* 
#># conducts ritual by, say, the Gardnerian BoS would be 
#># 100% in compliance with the *practice*, and thus be Wiccan --
#># by both versions of the criterion you gave to call Valiente 
#># a Wiccan.
#> what POSSIBLE criteria are there to determine a Wiccan? 
# Waaall, ya see here, this trademarked Authentic Wicca[TM] jewelry,
# for only $49.95, will mark *you* as a Real Wiccan[TM], compared
# to all those *other* poseurs with Brand-X jewelry.....   Yup.

ok, that's a valid option: Dress. I'll try to begin a taxonomy:

	* lineage
	* initiation-based
	* liturgical/ritual form
	* tenets/doctrine/symbolism
	* appearance/dress/jewelry
	* ethics (e.g. Rede-adherence)
	* self-identity

this kind of spectrum can basically be drawn for *every* religion,
and different religious select different criteria along that
spectrum for their discernments, from the verifiable to the ideal.

#> how many different possible Wiccans are there?
# How many members does the Dark Horde have?  (Sorry; S.C.A. joke.)

ack! I don't get it (only my friends were members :>).
in accord with the above, some examples:

	Formal Wiccan     -- initiated in one of the lines
	Solitary Wiccan   -- initiated by the gods
	Great Rite Wiccan -- practice is the key, not initiation
	Goddess Wiccan    -- worships the God/dess, not knowledge
	Athame Wiccan     -- has the right tools and get-up
	Rede Wiccan       -- minimizes harm and attains the ideal
        Blessed Be Wiccan -- qualifies if she believes she does


#> can one combine Wicca with other spiritual/religious paths? 

now these I've already *seen*:

	Christian Wiccan
	Buddhist Wiccan (/Zen Wiccan)
	Satanist Wiccan
	Yahwe/Ashera Wiccan
	Jewish Wiccan
	Faerie Wiccan

and they *each* span that spectrum as mentioned above, except
to those who select one or more of them as qualifications and
maintain their gatekeeping quality for authority.
# Such an heretical thought must condemn the thinker to the ranks of the
# infamous Dabblers.  (...who wander forever in the Realm of Thud....)

it sounds like a penalty.
'Dabbler Wiccan' is probably like 'Minerval' in OTO. :>
it gives the impression of either someone *else* or one who
is kinda trying out the riteforms and not sure if they fit.

#> these kinds of questions divide up some of the Neopagan
#> community rather badly. control over who does what in
#> the name of what are the focal issues involved in many
#> of these methods to discern the Wiccan. losing control
#> over who is and is not "one of us" drives many of these
#> contentions about 'the real X'. 

quoting "WITCHCRAFT FOR TOMORROW", pp.21-22, 1978, by Doreen Valiente:
#$ After all, times and circumstances have changed radically since the days
#$ when everything was supposed to be concealed under an oath of secrecy.
#$ Today, people all over the English-speaking world are forming, or trying
#$ to form, covens of the Old Religion.  It is time that they were able to
#$ find guidance instead of what they so often are finding, namely,
#$ exploitation.

exploitation averted through catholicism?

#$ The exaggerated claims of some self-styled 'leading witches' 

does it really help to call them 'self-styled' if they're lineaged?
where does the self-styling end and some other kind of styling
begin? are certain styling types better than others?

#$ may be a
#$ standing joke to experienced occultists; but the way in 
#$ which sincere newcomers to this ancient path 

does her contention that it is an "ancient path" serve the results
she seems to be supporting here?

#$ are being overawed and exploited by what is often sheer bluff, 
#$ has ceased to be at all amusing.  

isn't the 'ancient path' a bluff too? where does the bluffing end?

#$ I am sick and tired of these self-appointed 'leaders', 
#$ who sometimes even resort to threats against anyone who 
#$ questions their pretended authority.  

now they are self-appointed too, and pretending to authority.
is there no authority within her ancient path she finds reliable?
or is it just *leadership* she doesn't like (i.e. hierarchy)? 
I've known many a Wiccan what said there's no hierarchy, only
legitimacy (for expansion of the cult by proper means).

#$ So I have decided
#$ to write a book which will put witchcraft into the reach 
#$ of all.  [...]

note: not put Wicca within the reach of all.

#$ This book, therefore, is simply intended to aid those who 
#$ want to worship the Old Gods and make magic in the old 
#$ ways.  [...]

note: not worship the Old Gods as Wiccans.

#$ Many people, I know, will question the idea of self-initiation, 
#$ as given in this book.  To them I will address one simple 
#$ question: who initiated the first witch?

the question is fallacious. witches were apparently largely
solitary women in the backwoods, no 'initiation' necessary. 
perhaps the first Wiccan-witches (of the West? :>) did some
quasi-masonic thingees after the Rosicrucians and Goldawnians,
and they might be said to have initiated themselves, or maybe
they were initiated by Satan, or the God/Goddess or someone.
maybe Jesus initiated them.

# There are, by this reading, fundamentalist fans of Elvis.
# (Admit it, he's the King, or you ain't nothin' but a hound dog.)

hey, the Temple of Elvis is alive and kicking.

Raven on Valiente:
#>#># But one of the practices she (among others) has conveyed is
#>#># self-initiation.

#># Her book, WITCHCRAFT FOR TOMORROW, does include a 
#># 'self-initiation' rite, but it doesn't seem to have 
#># anything to do with joining country clubs.
#># She gives it as a valid way to join a religion, for which she 
#># helped write the founding documents.  

I don't follow that meaning from the quotation you provided.
worshipping the Old Gods is not necessarily sufficient for
a religion. perhaps everybody doing it would be founding
their own thing which *parallels* Wicca.
# Yes, I'm referring to Valiente's revision, resulting in 
# the current Orthodox Gardnerian Text (as far as any text 
# in Wicca can be such ).

I think it can be for Gardnerians. did Gardner think so?

#>#> Neither one of us is responsible for Doreen's choice of words and
#>#> are merely arguing variant meanings of the same ill-chosen term.
#># And isn't it interesting that other well-known, widely respected, 
#># fully lineaged, and published Wiccans, like Janet & Stewart Farrar, 
#># chose to use the very *same* term, 'self-initiation', that 
#># Valiente chose to use?

sure, but self-initiated into Wicca? would they just qualify for
one of the lesser castes of Wiccans, rather than Gardnerianism?
re self-initiations in Wicca: 
#>#># So that occurs in Wicca -- which was (if you recall) 
#>#># the issue at hand.
#>#>  No, "self-dedications" may occur in wicca; 
#>#> "self-initiations" do not.

I haven't seen text from DValiente supporting self-initiation into
the religion of Wicca, only into the worship of the Old Gods.
#> tradition-bound vs. self-responsible.
# Raymond Buckland, for one, considers the two terms 
# effectively synonymous:

yes, but I'm not sure I like him. why should we rely upon his word?

#$ These solitary Wiccans would do what amounted to a 
#$ self-initiation. They would ritually dedicate themselves 
#$ to the old gods and their ways.

isn't this similar language? the old gods could be worshipped by
those other than Wicca.

# This makes TN's insistence that "self-initiation rituals" 
# be called "self-dedication rituals" somewhat irrelevant, 
# but what else is new?

without qualifiers they *are* meaningless. self-initiation
into Wicca is arguably impossible if we're talking about
some kind of lineage-based conference. self-dedication to
the old gods is obviously possible regardless of whether
any kind of lineage or naming is engaged.

#># You seem to be stepping away from zekatlady's claim that "there is no
#># self initiation within the Wiccan religion" (which denies the existence
#># of the ritual, and thus the possibility of such a ritual being performed),
#># to a slightly different claim that "self-initiations" (plural, suggesting
#># actual *performances* of the ritual) do not *occur* in Wicca.
#> it all depends on where people seek to circumscribe the religion itself.
#> the first question I would ask is *why* should someone wish to make
#> this kind of restriction and whom it truly serves. what level of type
#> of authority do such individuals seek to draw to themselves? often
#> those who purport them have some social status thing going.
# Well, golly gee, Mr. Lorax, if we let just *anyone* take up the religion

identifying with a sect of the Old Religion (worshippers of the old gods,
like the Asatruar and others) is silly. undertaking to practice such a
worship is self-dedication, by this argument, self-initiation into Wicca
(the original focus of discussion?) may be somewhat impossible.

# without going through us -- I mean, the Proper Controls -- then we 
# would have nothing to hold over them, and where would our power 
# base be then?

oh no no no no! we're not talking about power, but about AUTHENTICITY.
there ain't no social power in it, you heard Doreen and Company. we're
trying to prevent FAUX-Wicca from getting a foothold by making it
dependent upon certain passwords, riteforms, godnames, etc., and those
who are careful will only connect up with the authentic Wiccans.

here's where I break down and *support* the Wiccan fundies! there is
a good reason to maintain a support of *any* religious fundamentalism
as long as it doesn't extend into the fanatical and proselytizing:
preservation of information over time. it's not 100% guaranteed, but
it is more likely to yield something valuable because of the attention
focussed upon it and the value *expected* from it than loose contents.

I think I've thrown in my support in as many different directions as
I'm able behind TNaismith's position (which I think easily defensible).
I'd like to hear more from you about why it might be that Wiccans in
history would want their cherished lineages to be ripped out from
under them and sold to the highest bidder or via printing presses. :>

blessed beast!


The Arcane Archive is copyright by the authors cited.
Send comments to the Arcane Archivist:

Did you like what you read here? Find it useful?
Then please click on the Paypal Secure Server logo and make a small
donation to the site maintainer for the creation and upkeep of this site.

The ARCANE ARCHIVE is a large domain,
organized into a number of sub-directories,
each dealing with a different branch of
religion, mysticism, occultism, or esoteric knowledge.
Here are the major ARCANE ARCHIVE directories you can visit:
interdisciplinary: geometry, natural proportion, ratio, archaeoastronomy
mysticism: enlightenment, self-realization, trance, meditation, consciousness
occultism: divination, hermeticism, amulets, sigils, magick, witchcraft, spells
religion: buddhism, christianity, hinduism, islam, judaism, taoism, wicca, voodoo
societies and fraternal orders: freemasonry, golden dawn, rosicrucians, etc.


There are thousands of web pages at the ARCANE ARCHIVE. You can use ATOMZ.COM
to search for a single word (like witchcraft, hoodoo, pagan, or magic) or an
exact phrase (like Kwan Yin, golden ratio, or book of shadows):

Search For:
Match:  Any word All words Exact phrase


Southern Spirits: 19th and 20th century accounts of hoodoo, including slave narratives & interviews
Hoodoo in Theory and Practice by cat yronwode: an introduction to African-American rootwork
Lucky W Amulet Archive by cat yronwode: an online museum of worldwide talismans and charms
Sacred Sex: essays and articles on tantra yoga, neo-tantra, karezza, sex magic, and sex worship
Sacred Landscape: essays and articles on archaeoastronomy, sacred architecture, and sacred geometry
Lucky Mojo Forum: practitioners answer queries on conjure; sponsored by the Lucky Mojo Curio Co.
Herb Magic: illustrated descriptions of magic herbs with free spells, recipes, and an ordering option
Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers: ethical diviners and hoodoo spell-casters
Freemasonry for Women by cat yronwode: a history of mixed-gender Freemasonic lodges
Missionary Independent Spiritual Church: spirit-led, inter-faith, the Smallest Church in the World
Satan Service Org: an archive presenting the theory, practice, and history of Satanism and Satanists
Gospel of Satan: the story of Jesus and the angels, from the perspective of the God of this World
Lucky Mojo Usenet FAQ Archive: FAQs and REFs for occult and magical usenet newsgroups
Candles and Curios: essays and articles on traditional African American conjure and folk magic
Aleister Crowley Text Archive: a multitude of texts by an early 20th century ceremonial occultist
Spiritual Spells: lessons in folk magic and spell casting from an eclectic Wiccan perspective
The Mystic Tea Room: divination by reading tea-leaves, with a museum of antique fortune telling cups
Yronwode Institution for the Preservation and Popularization of Indigenous Ethnomagicology
Yronwode Home: personal pages of catherine yronwode and nagasiva yronwode, magical archivists
Lucky Mojo Magic Spells Archives: love spells, money spells, luck spells, protection spells, etc.
      Free Love Spell Archive: love spells, attraction spells, sex magick, romance spells, and lust spells
      Free Money Spell Archive: money spells, prosperity spells, and wealth spells for job and business
      Free Protection Spell Archive: protection spells against witchcraft, jinxes, hexes, and the evil eye
      Free Gambling Luck Spell Archive: lucky gambling spells for the lottery, casinos, and races