Monday, January 28, 2013

Onto the Soapbox: Practice Centered Craft

The most important part of practicing Witchcraft is the practicing. The Craft itself is many things, but foremost it is an art; a methodology. Our particular brand of Witchcraft happens to be religious as well. It is common within the greater Contemporary Pagan Witchcraft community to only focus upon the religious beliefs of our Craft. The reason, I believe, for this is the preconceived paradigm common to Western religion for focusing upon belief first.
The dominant religion/s for Western culture for the past thousand plus years have all been orthodox. So of course it makes complete and total sense that the focus is upon belief first in our culture. When someone a Witch have never met before first learns about their spirituality, they are likely to ask "What do you believe?" and not "What do you do?"  Likewise anyone that has converted from one of those religions, and the vast majority of our membership has, has had this focus of thought indoctrinated. The result of which often means that our Craft is not applied as designed and so individuals are often dissatisfied with results.

Contemporary Pagan Witchcraft has beliefs that are derived from two places; our lore and the beliefs that are born from our practice. In my last blog I briefly discussed beliefs being a product of practice, and in truth this is largely how the Craft interacts with beliefs. However; there is another bit that I didn’t mention as a source of beliefs—lore. Part of our lore, taken from myth, tales, ritual script, and a host of other places lays the ground work for beliefs to develop. For instance, our lore makes reference to the Underworld, think a moment about Samhain and this is clear. Herein the lore is the basis for the belief of such, the nature of which is not relayed except through the practices in which this ‘place’ is interacted with. The ideas of what the Underworld is thus vary quite a bit. What is important to note is that lore also informs about belief, in addition to practice.

Taking into consideration the tendency to stick with a belief centered paradigm and approach to the Craft, as mentioned, the lore tends to get more attention by those new to the path than practice does. From the perspective of the design of our Craft, this is backwards. Why? Well, consider exactly why it is that practice begets belief.

Practice begets belief because of the experience of the practices. Our community may debate the nature of deity, the Otherworld, cosmology, and a whole host of other things, but rarely is argument made by those that practice regularly on whether or not any of these exist. The nature of that existence is still argued, because Witches are opinionated folk and love to argue, but without specific qualifiers attached there is no debate because the experience of practicing our Craft informs us that, for example, the Otherworld exists, because we have been there, felt its touch, or otherwise interacted with it.

By focusing primarily upon lore and researching ‘correct beliefs’ of Contemporary Pagan Witchcraft above actually engaging in a regular practice thereof the primary purpose and tool built into the function of crafting is removed. After all, what we are crafting is ourselves and our understanding of existence. An existence that can is only known through our interaction with it. If there is no practice whereby our inner most self and the forces of our lore are interacted with then the basis for establishing experience informed belief does not exist. The answer that Traditionalists provide is simple: Stop debating, arguing, and trying to think the answer into existence but instead practice, engage, and from the experiences thereof KNOW. One can't learn to walk if all they do is lay around thinking about it.

I know that I sound a bit preachy with all of this, but it needs to be said. A Witch is simply someone that practices Witchcraft. Take the craft (i.e. practice) out of Witchcraft there can be no Witch. The short of it all is that Witches do— that is our paradigm. The rest results therefrom as part of the journey. The journey is the goal, with no end and no beginning, all is now. Instead of trying to believe in a good life, live a good life—do it.

Boidh Se!

-Spanish Moss

"Lost in a thicker bare-foot upon a thorned path."

1 comment:

Lynn said...

Yep, JUST. DO. IT.