- Contemporary Witchcraft
"This article is about Contemporary Witchcraft, click here for
Contemporary, or Modern, Witchcraft is a term that refers to any one of various
witchcraftor sorcerypractices, that are practised in the present day. The majority of these groups, such as Wiccaand Stregheriaclaim to be religions, whereas others claim to simply be a witchcraftpractice that can coincide alongside a religious belief such as Christianity.
Many of these groups claim to have ancient roots, usually in
European witchcraft, however none of them have so far brought any proof of this. Wiccawas the first of these groups to emerge, in the 1940s, and it has only been since then that the others have publically emerged. While other groups, such as those known as "Eclectics", do not claim any ancient lineage and profess to take ideas and inspiration from a variety of sources, merging them into a personalized practice.
The practice of contemporary witchcraft often involves the use of
divination, the practice of magic, working with the elements (earth, air, fire and water), and unseen forces such as spirits and the forces of nature. The practice of natural medicine, folk medicine, and spiritual healingis also common, so is the practice of alternative medicineand New Agehealing practices, such as crystal therapy, herbalism, Reiki, aromatherapy, and more.
Wicca first emerged in the 1940s when it was popularised by Englishman
Gerald Gardner. At the time he called the religion "Witchcraft", and he called the followers " the Wica". He initially claimed that it was an ancient Paganreligion that had been persecuted in the Witch hunts. Later studies indicate that it was in fact invented by either Gardner or someone who taught it to Gardner, and that it is more correctly described as a Neo-Paganfaith.
Wicca is a religion, and not just a witchcraft practice. Beliefs revolve around
pantheismand dualism, with the worship of the Triple Goddessand the Horned God. Magical practices are taken from both traditional European sorcery, as was practised by cunning folk, and also from the 19th century occultic practices such as those taught by Aleister Crowley. Wiccans celebrate the eight "Sabbats" that form the Wheel of the Year.
Wicca began as an initiatory mystery religion, where only members initiated into a
covencould practise the religion, and this form still survives as British Traditional Wicca(of which there are several forms, including Gardnerian Wiccaand Alexandrian Wicca). Later groups, moving away from an initiatory traditopn, focused on specific teachings such as feminismin the case of Dianic Wicca, and Anglo-Saxon mythologyin the case of Seax-Wicca.
Several of these coven practitioners later published the rites and beliefs of Wicca in books, and many read these, becoming solitary Wiccans. There has been some contention between traditionally lineaged Wiccans and solitary Wiccans, with some members of the first claiming that the latter are not true Wiccans.
Stregheria is an Italian witchcraft religion. Some practitioners claim that the religion is of ancient origin, originating in ancient
Etruscan mythologyand was the religion of the peasants when Roman Catholicismbecame the religion of the upper classes, however scholars have claimed that this history is a myth largely based upon Charles Godfrey Leland's " Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches", which was also used as a basis for Wicca. It was popularised in the late 20th century by Raven Grimassi.
Followers worship the Goddess
Diana, along with her brother Dianus/ Lucifer, and their daughter Aradia. They do not see Lucifer as the evil Satanof Christian myth, but a benevolent god of the sun and moon.
Practises are similar to that with other
Neo-Paganwitchcraft religions such as Wicca. The pentagramis the key symbol for followers in their magical rituals. Followers celebrate a series of eight festivals equivalent to the Wiccan Wheel of the Year, though others follow the ancient Roman festivals. They also participate in ancestor worship, something which is not common to other Neo-Pagan witchcraft beliefs.
The Feri Tradition is a modern witchcraft practise founded by Victor Anderson. Its emphasise is on ecstasy, often
sexualecstasy, and it has a basis in the traditional Hawaiian witchcraft of Huna.
Practitioners worship three main deities; the Star Goddess, and two divine twins, one of whom is the blue God. They believe that there are three parts to the human soul, and this is a belief taken from Huna.
Hedge witchcraft, or hedgecraft, is vaguely based on traditional
European witchcraft. Hedgecraft is loosely based on the old wise women (and men), cunning folk, herbalists, healers and witches throughout history. It emphasises solitary working based around nature, as well as shamanic practices and herbalism.
Some practitioners claim to be the continuing of the practices of
cunning folk,and wisewomen while others say "hedgecraft" draws from such sources but is a modern tradition, both may be correct.
Critics have pointed out it's many similarities with
Wicca. Certainly many of the Hedgewitch books currently published are very Wicca based. Most actual practitioners claim that hedgewitches can come from any religious or spiritual back ground, and that simply most hedgewitches choose to base their practice around Wicca. Some main differences between hedgecraft and Wicca is an significant loss of the formality of Wiccan ritual, the lack of initiation in to the tradition or a Coven, and the solitary nature of hedgecraft.
Rae Beth's 1992 book "Hedge Witch - a guide to Solitary Witchcraft", Hedge Witches worship the Triple Goddessand the Horned God. They celebrate the eight "sabbats" of the Wheel of the Year.
A Hearthwitch is a practitioner of a type of modern
Witchcraftthat is both domestic and nature based. The household hearth is a focal point for practising magic. The term was coined by author Anna Franklin to describe women's folk magic in her 2004 book "Hearth Witch" (Lear Books).
A greenwitch is one who's practice involves around that natural world including trees, herbs, wildflowers, wildlife and the cycle of the seasons. Green Witchcraft has been popularized by such authors as Ann Moura and Barbara Griggs.
Traditional Witchcraft is a kind of magickal and spiritual practise that is reportedly handed down from one witch to another. Whether there is an “unbroken line” or not, Traditional Witchcraft is based on the ancient practices of witches of old. Often a Traditional Witch looks to his or her own heritage for inspiration.
A traditional witch is usually irreligious or may be a practitioner of one of the many Pagan beliefs. These witches use meditation, herbs, and all of their surroundings to help them with their spells. They are mostly solitary and follow their own morals and guidelines for their use of magick.
* [http://www.knibb.org/rae/index.htm Rae Beth's Hedge Witch Home Page]
* [http://www.poppypalin.org/ Poppy Palin's Website]
* [http://www.annmourasgarden.com/ Ann Moura's Website]
* [http://www.hedgewitchescottage.co.uk Hedgewitches Cottage]
* [http://www.walkingthehedge.net Walking the Hedge]
* [http://www.angelfire.com/folk/greenwitch/enter.html GreenWood Manor]
* [http://www.hedgewytchery.com/ Hedge Wytchery]
* [http://www.annafranklin.co.uk/ Anna Franklin's home page]
* Cunningham, Scott & Harrington, David. "The Magical Household", Llewellyn, 1996
* Beth, Rae. "Hedge Witch: A Guide to Solitary Witchcraft", Robert Hale, 1992.
* Moura, Ann, "Grimoire For The Green Witch: A Complete Book of Shadows", 2003.
* Telesco, Patricia, "The Kitchen Witch Companion: Simple and Sublime Culinary Magic", 2005.
* Duerr, Hans Peter. "Dreamtime: Concerning the Boundary between Wilderness and Civilization", pp. 46, 47, 65, 97, 132. Translated by Felicitas Goodman. Blackwell, 1985.
* Jackson, Nigel A. "Call of the Horned Piper", pp. 4-5, 13, 14-15, 19-21. Capall Bann, 1994.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.