My great grandmother, Margaret Harris, my father's ancestor, was born in Dublin. She arrived in Canada from England by boat in 1912. Unfortunately very little is known of my mother's ancestors' arrival except the earliest member of her family documented was a female, born in either the town or country of Berwick, Scotland, in 1799.
I am a witch. Descended from women of Europe being a witch and witchcraft is my heritage.
Raymond Buckland-he was an englishman who moved to America in 1962. He founded Seax Wica a new tradition of witchcraft. He reconstructed what witches do to suit modern times. Modern day witches often call witch, a wiccan, and witchcraft, Wicca. I agree that Wicca doesn't carry the negative stereotypes attached to witches and witchcraft. I acknowledge like a witch, wiccans are directed toward a good purpose, not to harm. Both with inner energy skillfully blends with nature's forces to produce positive, visible change.
Witches, before my time, connected by blood or cause, were faced with great adversity. It must be remembered that women and children lost their lives for being a witch. To call myself anything else but a witch and practice witchcraft would do my ancestors and sisterhood an injustice.
The Roman occupation in Britain attempted the destruction of witchcraft. Julius Caesar did not appreciate earth based faith. He wrote history about the Celtic people but little could believed for he saw them as an enemy.
Witches and the practice of witchcraft was constantly persecuted by Christian authorities in order to make women and their families conform. The Church, The Counsel of Tours in 567 A.D., and the Berghamstead in 697 A.D., grouped the pracrice of witchcraft and sorcery together to mean the same. The Christian concept of the devil transformed the idea of sorcerer into that of a witch. Sorcerers were known to be evildoers.
In 565 A.D., St Columbia, under the orders of the Pope, pulled the Tor-Stone from the top of Avalon. In 1604 King James the I produced a version of the bible and the book was titled after his given name. He also became famous for his anti-witchcraft laws.
The women worshopped deities and the extreme action was to force them to change their faith and believe in their one god. The Church did not underestimate wise women influence over the people. The hierarchies laid down the law to forbid anyone to consult with a witch for guidance in future events. It slowly became immoral and undesirable to claim one's witch heritage.
Once the Christian Church attained power in the Western world it banned witchcraft faith and sorcery altogether. The Church preached that there was only one god who had divine title over all creation. In order for the common people to communicate to their Creator, they must follow rules which He dictated mainly to the privilege men who ruled the Church. The men drilled into the people that there was only one energy form which everything else was born. Their Creator's power was the only power that humans should praise although they may do His work in the name of his son, Jesus.
The Catholic faith had no acknowledgement on the balance of masculine and feminine energies. The male-dominated churches placed women beneath them. Their mothers, wives, and daughters were treated in a subservient manner. To be pleasing to the eye, speak when spoken to, and show respect and courtesy to the men folk at all times.
God's ideology is not wrong. It is the way some clergy, monks and church hierarchies distributed the belief of sin, heaven and hell on God's behalf that needed to be questioned, The men in power who preached purity was the only way to be worthy of the Kingdom of God. If God laws were not followed He would punish them from heaven and the church would set penalties here on earth in His name. Christianity's God is being infinite, all powerful, all good, all creating, all knowing, and loving, but judgemental of mankind, transcendent over, and omniscient in the world.
In the nineteenth century the rationalists argued that God was originally simply the chief over many gods and that 'He' absorbed the attributes of "His" fellow divinities. Slowly 'He' became one God. In the bible the cardinal summary of divine law given by God to Moses on Mt. Sinai follows. The Commandments that are of primary importance in the ethical systems of Christianity went as follows: One God shall be worshipped and not adored in graven images; not to profane the name of the Lord; keep the Sabbath holy; honor parents; not to kill; not to give ourselves away to lust; not to steal; not to bear false witness; not to covet a neighbor's wife and not to covet a neighbor's goods.
The church had difficult time at first persuading the people to change to the new social and ethical behavior. The Church decided to incorporate witchcraft with their belief to make the conversion more acceptable. As Christianity grew throughout the lands the practitioners increased. The prophets determined witchcraft no longer served their purpose. The Church officials claimed the wise women caused harm through supernatural means and was not of their Creator's love. They claimed at night the womanhood flew on brooms to preform evil. They spread terrible rumours that professed on Sabbats and the Esbats witches took part in ceremonies that involved making a pact with their so-called devil. Propaganda was spread to destroy the nature faith and those who followed it.
The propaganda included the seven varieties of a witch's operation: to inspire love, to inspire hate, to cause impotence, to take lives, to send disease, to take sanity and damage property. A woman was portrayed as temptress who brought kings to their downfall.
The term Sabbat became regulary applied in the mid-fifteen century to describe the eight holy days in a year that witches observe a seasonal change.
THE GREATER SABBATS
IBLOC February 2
BELTANE April 30
LUGHNASADH August 1
SAMHAIN October 31
THE LESSER SABBATS---
around WINTER SOLSTICE December 21
SPRING EQUINOX March 21
SUMMER SOLSTICE June 21
AUTUMN EQUINOX September 21
The seventeenth century, "the age of reason", is when it became a crime of fraud against all who practiced witchcraft. For nearly 250 years witches were hunted down and executed. For 150 years witches were condemmed for their harmless beliefs
Thousands of women lost their lives for participating in the witches' Solar rituals known as Sabbats. Some people did not understand the celebrations were to honor a Goddess or God, Nature, the Sun and Moon for the bounties given to them here on Earth.
In this situation it proved that ignorance is not
Witch hunters fabricated the wise women's' custom festivals which followed the movement of the changing season into a diabolic time to suit their own purpose. They preached wise women revelled in gluttonous feasts, worshipped the unruly dead and their sacred rites were blasphemous and diabolical. There are books in print which contain stories written by witch hunters that state witches flew through the air to the Sabbats on the backs of demons and innocent animals who had their forms magically changed to preform the deed.
The woodland deity the Green Man was mistaken for a so-called demonic creature. They described him as a ugly, smelly and grotesquely deformed. His upper torso, arms, hands, fingers and face are that of a male. The lower half of his body is clad in hair with legs, hooves, and horns in the form of a he-goat. They called the beast the Devil.
The Green Man, the wise women knew he is a God that represented the very life force of nature. He symbolizes the life force and vitality of each individual. A symbol of spirit that is renewed with each breath, each day.
The Church continued to discredit the wise woman's way until the practice was reduced to the level of idiocy.
It took time, but it came to pass that communicating with spirits who reside in the other world as diabolic. Apparitions were conjured phantoms. The marvels preformed in the magic circle were no more than mere hoaxes. The accusation of witchcraft became an easy means to destroy an enemy. The art of magic was known as Magicism and consisted of three stages:
1. Primary knowledge or initiation by participation in the nature's secret.
2. The intention to transform psychic forces into the realization of a precise object.
3. Execution of rituals and female ceremonies.
The judgement delivered against a wise woman almost always meant death by burning at the stake and total confiscation of property. Although English law questioned false accusation, this was not always true during the reign of King James I. James I, son of Lord Darney and Mary, Queen of Scots, was born in 1566 and died in 1625. As an adult he ruled as King of England from 1603 to 1625. James I was suspected to favor Christians. In 1604 King James I produced a version of the bible and it was titled after his given name. He also became famous for his anti-witchcraft laws. The Witchcraft Act first took effect on June 1, 1563. In 1604, King James I replaced the witchcraft of 1563 mandate with stricter penalties. The statute of 1604 was replaced on June 24, 1763 with a law against pretending to practice divination and witchcraft.
The seventeenth century, "the age of reason," is when it became a crime of fraud against all who practiced the craft. Children as young as seven were admitted as a witness against a suspect in many English trials. John Smith was known as the "Leicester Boy." In 1607, at age five, he accused several women of putting a curse on his head. He went further to name nine others who were all hanged on July 18, 1616. King James I eventually uncovered the child's lies while under cross-examination.
Reginald Scot, born in 1538 in Kent, England, obtained his degree at Oxford. In London in 1584 he wrote a book entitled, "Discovery of Witchcraft." His book denied the reality placed on witchcraft and the power of demons. King James I ordered the book destroyed when he came to throne in 1603. Not until 1651 was the work reprinted. Trials and tortures multiplied and it is impossible to judge the numerous executed victims. The courts used legal proofs to uncover who was a wise woman by engineering:
Proof of Cold Water - The right hand was tied to the left foot and the left hand tied to the right foot. The suspect was thrown into a tank of water; if they floated they were guilty, an innocent person would sink.
Proof by Boiling Water - The accused would plunge their hand into a bowl of boiling water to take out a Holy ring. The hand was then bandaged and sealed. After three days the burns of an innocent person would have been healed.
Proof by Fire - The accused was ordered to carry a bar of red hot iron for a distance of nine to twelve paces.
Proof of the Cross - An accused person would be made to stand in front of a cross with his arms outstretched for long periods of time.
Although our ancestors were faced with the Inquisition, and then the witch hunts, the womanhood kept the wise woman's unity alive. A female today cannot be denied her civil liberties to practice her faith of her choice. Wise women are protected under federal and state statute to practice our belief without acts of bigotry, harassment, discrimination, or hatred in most countries and states. Their biggest crisis created great strengths, their trails and tribulations built our foundations.
Although the women before me faced with the Inquisition the sisterhood kept their way of living alive. In seclusion, faced with torture and death, they continued to honor and marvel in natural places designed by equals or greater than themselves. The sisterhood had a strong commitment to attract the positive and keep negative at bay. The secret knowledge was passed from one generation to the next so their faith would survive. Witches survived the brink of extinction.
If you are a witch and practice the craft, remember those who sacrificed their lives all in the name of equality, and all that is good for anything else would be a violation, an unjust act to all those who made sacrifices to keep the belief alive. Because of them today, witchcraft is not only recognized as spiritaul faith, but witchcraft is a way of life, openly lived, without bias or prejudice on the part of the law.
There were a lot of injustice done to wise women and their families. So many innocent lives lost. Past generations, through the price of indifference and contempt, constructed a society that would be mutually appealing and mutually enjoyed. The practice of witchcraft has lasted throughout history against the odds. Acceptance over time softened attitudes. Therefore, the experience had served the cause of peace. We are not put on earth to aimlessly float, bmp into one another, and cause disturbances in each others lives. Peace is not natural. Everyone has an opinion and will view situations differently. It is almost impossible to maintain equilibrium a hundred percent of the time. Ultimately peace is a matter of personal choice.
Life is sometimes unfair, wrongs are put right, bad things are just a fact of living. Peace is reached when there are social conditions that wildly overlap in agreement of self-restraint, individually motivated to harm none that included self. The best way to deal with life is to try to be the best person not just to benefit ourselves but for others.