Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A History of Witchcraft

Merry Meet

From The Book of Shadows of Aslinn Dhan Dragonhawk, Christian Wicce

A History of the Craft

There are arguments among occultists and historians and anthropologists as to the age of the art of witchcraft. Witches believe the craft is at least 24,000 years old. Historians and anthropologists say witchcraft is only 3000 to 4000 years old. This seems to be a willingness of occult practitioners to attach themselves to ancient, primitive, shamanistic practices that are found throughout Europe leaving evidence of their presence through Paleolithic, archeological sites. Though some elements of their practices in antiquity can be found in the Craft, the Craft, as we know it today, is overwhelmingly identified by the celto-nordic spiritual practices of the last 5,000 years, intermixed with other primitive practices.

As communities became more developed and stable, serious studies of herbs, drugs, and diets as well as more complicated religious disciplines grew. Knowledge and wisdom were thought to be gifts of the gods and goddesses. These gods and goddesses took interest in different aspects of human life. Those with wisdom learned how to communicate with the gods and goddesses and learn how to work cure with potions and herbs and prayers and spells and rituals. Communication with the gods could be as simple as prayer and as complex as ritual possession. All religions practice a form of ritual possession, even Christianity in its more primitive forms invites the Holy Spirit to possess and speak through them with the holy and secret language or unknown tongues.

As travel became easier, people of different cultures and spiritual practices shared knowledge and wisdom and spread their religious practices. These practices and wisdoms became integrated until the knowledge and practice became universally accepted. Once they were universally accepted, they became absolute knowledge and wisdom.

During this period of development, there were no doctors, as we understand the word. People who understood common ailments understood through long periods of observation, study of the flora and fauna around them. They also knew that to call upon the gods would build confidence in their patients. The early healer knew that herbs and ointments and tonics and rubs were only part of the solution. A person was body and soul and illness affected both.

The wise ones kept their art secret, revealing only to their students. These students would eventually, through oral tradition and eventually through writing, preserve this knowledge. How the Craft became dominated by women no one really knows for sure, but one can suppose it came about because of three things: Women were more spiritual and the responsibility of keeping religious practice in the home fell to women. The religion also included female deities, and finally women were the regular hearthside nurses who took care of the sick and injured and women in labor.

Next time: Midwifery

Blessings be, Aslinn Dhan