Monday, February 13, 2012

Witches and Grimoires

Kolossos from Delos. See link.

Or How to Avoid being Pwned by the Weight of History

Let's talk about Theban. Today, it is employed in widespread – if not occulted – use, though few magicians and witches ever realize just how widespread it actually is. A number of traditions from along the lines of British Traditional Wicca employ it for what can be best described as cryptographic reasons. Some have injunctions, for example, against writing or saying the Godnames that are used in that tradition amongst individuals who have not been initiated. To avoid being so ambiguous as to leave it unknown as to whether the God or Goddess is being referenced, however, the Godname can be written in Theban. There may even be examples of the entire contents of a BoS being in Theban, though I am unaware of this for obvious reasons. This is just one example of such a thing; there are many, many more. It may be seen used – and beautifully, I might add – on the cover of Robin Artisson's The Horn of Eventide.

It has been used by Ceremonial Magicians since Trithmius popularized it in 1518*. It gained renewed popularity after being represented in Paul Huson's Mastering Witchcraft (1970), which remains a staple book recommended to new-comers to the subject of the witches' craft. At least by some of us, anyway. If you're starting to guess that “everyone uses it,” then you're quite correct. And after all – it is beautiful, and actually works... Unless, of course, you're in the room with someone that can read the cipher. In which case, you may well be standing with a “Brother” or “Sister” in the truest sense of the word, regardless of how they choose to employ the Runes or Alphabet/Cipher.

Why do I bring this up? Occasionally, a Ceremonial Magician hears about some witch or another employing technology – or even wholesale use! – of a Grimoire and begins grumbling about “those witches, stealing from our tradition!”

I won't point fingers or be anymore of an ass than acknowledge the grumbling. Occult technology is occulted. The point is that you do not notice it. A great deal of technology from the Grimoires is evident in both the subject of Wicca** and witchcraft. It slips past the notice of both a great many practitioners of both Ceremonial Magick and Witchcraft because few people like admitting that in many ways, we all draw from the same cultural wells. We do this because what we draw from them is nourishing, and allows for us to use our technology precisely as we do. This is not new.***

We can trace, as another example, evidence of poppet magick by magicians (and later “witches,” depending on how they may or may not have seen themselves) all the way back to the Graeco-Roman period. They were known as Kolossoi. While today they are regarded as a “folk” or “witches” remedy for problems, they have almost always been used by a wide range of magical practitioners – from nefarious sorcerers at the Trivium to average folks with problems or desires.

Tech is tech. The clever employ it to get shit done.

If you think you “own” the tech, then I hate to let you in on this... But the joke is on you. Anyone can read the books, and plenty have.

Welcome to the 21st Century: Nothing Exists in a Vacuum. Nothing social, anyway. And spirituality? About as social as you get, friend.

If I've been a complete ass, feel free to tell me. But, I think I may have actually made my point in under 12 pages of citations and bias...

** See: Wicca: Magical Beginnings by David Rankine and Sorita D'este.
*** See: Popular Magic by Owen Davies. It may seriously break your brain. Some Cunning Folk used methods that I refer to as “Brute Force Sympathetic Magic.”


Morgan Eckstein said...

I am both a ceremonial magician and a witch---the two systems support one another. Yet I get grief from both sides because I mix the systems. The magicians I understand. It is the witches (wiccans) I don't---it is like no one have ever read Gerald Gardner (who openly stated that the two systems were connected).

Scylla said...

Been taking my share of flack from the Traditional-Witchcraft-Means-Whatever-I-Want-It-To-Mean crowd for my research into Solomonic stuff.

Truth is, as you said, tech is tech. And if it works it will be chewed on to extract it's delicious nutrients.

I have my reasons, but my reasons will mean approximately jack shit in the face of what OTHERS will do with my research.

This thing of "If Cochrane didn't do it, it ain't Tradcraft!" with a dollop of "I never read any author, real withcraft comes from the spirits." and a dash of "Gardner was a Sadomasochistic, twisted, old man... me? I do bloodlettings from my clitoris! Pain's the price of magick!" needs to stop. Seriously. Just stop. Stop ARGUING witchcraft (with hollow, flimsy, straw-man, dander), and just go do the shit already.

P.S. has some interesting alphabets.

V.V.F. said...

@Morgan - It's true. There are surprisingly few Wiccans who have ever read Gardner. People get told that he was just an old pervert (as Scylla alludes to), and he's totally dismissed.