Witchery: Why Eclectic Witchcraft?

As previously discussed, there are many different paths to travel for spirituality.  When it comes to the world religions, spiritual paths, and even practices such as secular based witchcraft, there are branched paths leading from some of the oldest and most established belief systems in the world, from all over Africa, Asia, and Europe in numerous directions. Being the cradle of civilization, many of the best known belief systems started in Africa and spread as humanity and written history did to other continents and countries as time progressed and people looked for a place to call their own.

Some of the so-called new, or neo, pagan practices have been based on rediscovered information, some of it extremely well documented as having roots which come from ancient times that have been brought forward, to our modern era, through renewed interest in the ancient ways that our ancestors practiced their beliefs. From African Diasporic Traditions handed down person to person, which held focus on relationships with nature, ancestors and spirits, etc. to Norse beliefs with their own traditions, Gods, and Goddesses, to ancient Celtic beliefs passed down orally for centuries, and finally preserved in written form during the Middle Ages, and on to discovered Egyptian practices found on papyrus centuries after they were written. People are returning to the faiths that call to their individual spirits in record numbers.

From old and new traditional paths to the varying forms of Witchcraft, to Wicca, and to other new age belief systems that have sprung up during the last one hundred years, people are actively seeking a way to make sense of their personal beliefs, whether they are related to a specific faith or stand-alone practices. Many different varieties: Asatru, Candomblé, Hellenic Reconstructionism, Kemetic Reconstructionism, Luciferianism, Neopaganism, Satanism, Vodou, Witchcraft , Yoruba, Zoroastrianism, and so many more systems, or paths, are practiced around the globe, not just centralized to where they once began. People of all ethnicities are discovering practices they never knew existed before, but which seem to be made for their souls.

http://www.humanium.org/en/children-and-religions/

However, just as the Abrahamic faiths of Christianity, Islam and Judaism have become fractured religions, consisting of many, and in the case of Christianity sometimes thousands, of variations that continue to divide as time and beliefs progress, so have many other belief systems, including the African Diasporic faiths, Buddhist faith, Hindu faith, etc. They have splintered into varied belief forms that change and adapt to the people who follow them. All these various paths are valid for the people who believe in them and each of these paths have their own inherent beliefs and basic truths, and as truth is truth, and truth is universal, all these basic truths may be shared from one path to another. This explains the prevalence of so many paths having the same truths as their core values.

This is my reason for practicing eclectic witchcraft. Eclectic witchcraft tends to blend portions of many paths together as one. It takes the common truths as seen from all the different paths and acknowledges them as equally valid and blends them together into a single craft, or path. Each eclectic witch must make a choice of which portions of belief systems they will use in their practice of witchcraft. Some choose to use a blend of Nordic and Celtic paths; others may choose a blend of Christianity and Vodou; while still others may practice an eclectic blend of witchcraft that is completely devoid of any religious overtones and entirely secular in nature.

The thing about eclectic witchcraft is that it does not have to be a “one-size-fits-all” belief system. With eclectic witchcraft, as you study different paths and belief systems, if something specific calls to you, a particular practice, a specific deity, an accepted way of performing a ritual or casting a spell, etc, you learn all you can about it, try it out, and see if it blends well with your current beliefs and practices. Mixing and mingling various beliefs and practices in a way that specifically suits your soul. For a layman’s way of describing the way it works, imagine that all the spiritual paths are lined up in little bowls on a table, in a fashion similar to a salad bar. Just as you might choose a variety of lettuces, and vegetables whose flavors blend well, so may you find a group of ritual or spell casting techniques that blend into a nice whole for you. Add in some varieties of additional flavors like croutons or cheeses, just as you might add in working with a powerful entity or a deity, or a specific additional layer, like metals, runes, glyphs, or sigils, or themes or colored candles. Top it all off by adding in some herbs, and/or spells oils, just as you would top the salad with a dressing and voilà, it is perfect for you!

By Tudokin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Some say this is cultural appropriation, others say it is a misappropriation, of the cultural beliefs of a group to whom a person was not born. However, in this day and age of mixed ethnicities, multiple lineages, and even belief in past lives and reincarnated souls, which I believe bear direct importance on our current lives, I cannot believe in this strict interpretation of a spiritual path. I am aware that some consider this a very unpopular stance. I understand that some people object to others practicing a faith or path they feel the person is not entitled to, born to, or raised in. Again, I cannot believe in this strict interpretation. I cannot force myself to believe that merely because I was born to a specific set of parent’s with a set variety of ethnic lineages that I am beholden to the one way that my parents chose to raise me, n a narrow subset of a spiritual path shared by the one or two accepted lineages that my parents chose to acknowledge.

If this irritates or inflames others sensibilities; I will apologize for being the source of this irritation, but I will not limit the path that calls to my soul, base on someone’s irritations or even their cultural outrage. Cultural diversity, especially in the United States and other regions that were heavily influenced by centuries of immigration and inter-marriage are known for the multicultural “melting” pots they are. I do not believe, nor have I experienced, being judged by various and assorted deities, merely because my chosen list of deities with whom I have taken the time to build relationships, is not purely based a single pantheon, path, or faith. If this were so, then why would they work together so well when called upon? I find it interesting that the “man-made” rules call for one specific thing, yet the deities do not seem to follow these rules that some men claim they prefer.

As an eclectic, my job is to honor and respect any deities with whom I work. Personally, I speak to them, give gifts, and address them on issues that share important with work for which they are well known. I would not ask a war deity to bless a spell relating to marital health for a couple, any more than I would ask a deity of harvest, drink and song to join their energy with mine to fight against atrocities committed in the name of ISIL or Boko Haram. Common sense is still a requirement for any spiritual path, just as it is for every day life, even for eclectic witches. Follow in the ways your soul leads you, not in arbitrary rules established by some group of people who do not know you. If you are called to a strict interpretation of one specific path, then follow your path with joy, but remember, all witches are different and as such each witch’s path may differ greatly from your own, it is a good point to practice tolerance until you are given a reason not to.

Witchery: Sympathetic Magick

For many witches, the various forms of sympathetic magick are some of the most common practices of their witchcraft. Sympathetic magick takes one of two forms, either the form of “similarity” or the form of “contagion”.

With similarity, a witch’s spells, or items used in spells, such as trees, plants, herbs, stones, metals, etc. which have their own specific properties, are applied to a desired outcome for a person, event, animal, place, or thing. The magick is used to apply the intent behind the witch’s spell to work its similarity from the spell toward the exact focus of the spell. Such as, in casting a spell to end a drought, words, actions and intentions are directed, in addition to the items used, to achieve an end to the drought, even as the witch sprinkles the ground around their feet with water.

With contagion, items previously in contact with a person, animal, or place, retain the link they have with the person, animal, or place, such as in the case of hair trimmings, fingernail clippings, or clothing worn by a person, or items owned by them and exposed to their presence for some time. A simple use for contagious magick like this is the use of poppets. The same goes for animals, including their collars (for pets) their bedding or even their remains after they cross over. For places, it is common to use dirt from a specific location in a spell. Stones, plants, and other natural matter typically have, not only a link to the place they were harvested, but also unique properties of their own that must be considered when used in spell casting.

Whether using sympathetic magick for divination, to bring someone safety or something, to locate a lost object, bring an enemy low, or raise a friend from troubles, there are various ways to achieve each desired effect. Finding the right method to suit the individual witch is a matter of personal preference. Some witches prefer to use nothing more than verbal spells or signals from their hands and/or body, while others may prefer to construct a complex magickal working including a handcrafted spell, written on parchment in a special ink, performed inside a sacred circle, at an altar, with herbs, stones,  colored candles, etc. decorated in magickal symbols and anointed with a specific oil that suits their purpose, possibly with other accoutrement designed to strengthen or weave layers into their spell work. Every witch has a preference for each type of spell they cast.

Sympathetic magick has been practiced and its history traced back to many locations all around the world for millennia. From ancient cannibalistic societies who believed eating the dead flesh of their conquered enemies would give them power over the enemies, or even steal the power a specific defeated enemy possessed, to ancient cave drawings of hunting believed by some to be ancient spells cast for luck in the hunt, examples abound. Even the common pagan practice of ritualistic sex to bring about greater fertility for crops and animals is a form of sympathetic magick.

Sympathetic magick has existed for thousands of years and is still practiced by millions of witches, today. As the old adage goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. As such, if a new witch intends to start using witchcraft in their lives, a good place to start is with sympathetic magick.