The “W” word and that New Time Religion

Witchcraft is a beautiful word to me – it sums up my spiritual path, a path which I share with my husband. I first came upon it as a spiritual and religious term back in 1974, and again when I read a book by Stewart Farrar called “What Witches Do” in 1976. Other authors have influenced or inspired me since, and so have various people I’ve met and shared with. Nothing I’ve read is “gospel”, and some things needed a good deal of sifting and winnowing. Some people say you really can’t get “it” from books, and in a sense that is true, but I’d say it depends on who’s writing them, who’s reading them, how receptive a person is, and if the time is right. Everyone is different, and it depends on what happens to you. What I would agree with is that you don’t get it from one book, however good, and not without a meaningful search. There is no recipe book, or “how to” book for Witchcraft, not really, not the way I see it anyway. Neither is there a sacred text of Witchcraft, it’s not a “religion of scripture”. Witchcraft is a religion of Nature and of the spiritual ecology of which we are a part. None of this makes Witchcraft unattainable, far from it. The way to Witchcraft just can’t be summed up in so many words.

I’m a great believer in personal religion, and that’s what Witchcraft is to our family, even if it is not an amorphous “anything you like at all”. And I’m pretty old school when it comes to the Age of Aquarius. Yep, sign me up! I believe in inner directed spirituality, in equality, peace, love and healing. Sometimes you need to clear away a lot of old crap, but basically you reweave according to your hearts true wishes. Resolve the past, heal the present, reweave the future. Let your life flow. If that sounds very New Age, well it is. I also think of it as a perennial spirituality.

Of course to some “witchcraft” is a scary term, involving perceived associations with “Satanism” and various kinds of social hysteria and scape goating. But as Pagans we’re not about to devote ourselves to a Christian concept we don’t even believe in, and we have strongly held convictions about the necessity of ethical practice in things like magic, as in other things in life. I don’t believe people should use electricity, cooking or cars to hurt people either. I don’t believe people should give up electricity, cooking or cars (though we could do with less cars, and less dependence on hydrocarbon fuels, it’s true). For others “witchcraft” is just a technical term for folk magic practices with no inherent religion or spirituality. That’s why we capitalise “Witchcraft”, to make it clear what we mean.

That “New Time Religion” says it’s ok for you to be yourself and do your own thing, but you have to learn, be ethical, be aware. Witchcraft is only one form of this stuff, because basically it’s personal spirituality, and that’s where our power comes from; power in the sense of “ability”, because any other kind of power is a mirage masking a problem. So we dispel the mirage, work out the problem where it actually is, heal it, and get to be able to do an awful lot more with our lives, together, in this same global boat we’re in. And “global” is the word, because Earth is home, and taking care of home is the obvious thing to do.

In a lot of ways this is a time of dissolution of clans and traditions, old ways, old authorities, old prejudices. Many of us breathe a sigh of relief at that. But people also feel lost and try to kick it back into the same old thing, usually with language that seems almost Orwellian given what they advocate. So we get “family values” that focus on stopping the “wrong people” getting married, and try to take away people’s children (or stop them having them in the first place) because we don’t approve of other peoples’ love. We get fundamentalisms.

We also get a search for the new (and that’s going to keep on happening) but through old habits and perceptions. You get “enlightenment workshops” for a pretty penny, and you get cults looking for spiritual freedom through following a leader. You get “new” puritanisms and moralisms based on health, politics and a slew of new “buzz-values”. A lot of the goals are good, but the mental habits are the same old same old.

My point is that new kinds of spirituality have been emerging for quite some time (from before the twentieth century for certain), and will continue to, and in essence this is a good thing. We need new kinds of spirituality, with more genuine inner direction and freedom for the human spirit, with love for our home planet, and for ourselves in all our varieties.

Our answers are pretty simple, but don’t feed the old habit of needing essential validation from outside yourself. Our answer is heal, love, and walk your talk. Clear up your own backyard. Be free and take responsibility. Have fun, and let it be harmless. Work out what you value and truly long for. Work out what your heart ethics are and live them. See if it doesn’t work and give freedom and gratification. Celebrate interdependence and diversity, because if we’re part of Nature, that’s just how it is.

Whatever your spirituality may be, me and my husband wish you peace and many blessings.

“The Star” tarot card – artwork by David Palladini


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