Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Defining the Path of the Witch

So what is the path of the Witch? According to one religious studies scholar devotional paths are defined primarily as, “a means, or a discipline, directed at achieving enlightenment, redemption, or union with the divine.”*

The Craft fits neatly into this definition, albeit not all of the elements of it, our path does not seek redemption. Witchcraft is, however, a means and a discipline. That is why it is called a Craft, it is akin to smithing, weaving, or other crafts aimed at something. Our Craft just happens to be a religious craft, specifically employed by Witches, towards spiritual goals. By our Craft we are able to do the work of our Lady and our Lord as well as direct our spiritual focus thereof, which relates to both enlightenment and union. Of note though, is that different forms of Witchcraft define enlightenment, union, and the work in different ways, but no matter the nuances the essence remains the same—salvation.

In religion there are other methods of achieving the goals of a particular religion, which should make sense seeing as how each religion has its own diagnosed problem, solution, and goals. The Craft shares some of the elements of these other traditions but we do so within the parameters of our own paradigm; not theirs.

Some religions define their approach off of faith, thus they are often referred to as a Faith. To them it is about belief first and foremost. The Craft is orthopraxis though, and so belief is not primary. Instead the path of the Witch is defined by doing, by action, by practicing the Craft of the Witch. This does not mean that belief, and faith as a byproduct, do not enter the picture. The arrangement is simply different. The central theme with the various forms of Contemporary Pagan Witchcraft is that “practice begets belief.” Practice our Craft and you will develop some form of belief, as to what those beliefs might me, well that is individually defined. The similarity in the resulting beliefs is a product of like practice and experience, but not always, there is a very wide spectrum of beliefs within religious Witchcraft.

Just as the path underfoot is not a path primarily of faith it is not a revealed path, meaning that the path is not founded upon the insights or revelations that some individual had and taught there from. The Craft does have within it room for insights and revelations, they are just on a different scale. Individuals Crafting their path may have personal insights or revelations about something along the way, those epiphanies remain personal though and do not form the basis for the whole. They are personal.

Our Craft is a methodology of taking the lid off of our own cauldron, to see what is inside. As a result of such inner work we discover where our belief lay and do so with insight and personal revelation, but it is the primary practice thereof that defines our Craft as a devotional path; a very individualistic path even in groups.

It is a great misconception that Traditions define the path of individuals, nay they only provide a means for very different individuals to work together through shared practice. When those individuals are in mixed company or not in a group they maintain their own personal Craft—the Craft of the Witch is one of freedom! In the end, defining the Path of the Witch can best be summed up as “the things that Witches do,” whatever that means. Devote yourself to Crafting your path and the rest will follow.

Boidh Se!

-Spanish Moss

“Lost in a thicket bare-foot upon a thorned path.”

*Livingston, J. C. (2009) Anatomy of the Sacred.

No comments: