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