Witchcraft and Wicca (one of the major forms of witchcraft) both derive their names from the AngloSaxon words for wisdom; 'witch' is from the old English word wita, meaning 'wise' and the Wicca were the wise ones. Witchcraft is said to be the oldest religion in the world. It is the indigenous shamanistic religion of Europe that has, in spite of ferocious persecution from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries, survived in the folk tradition of many lands and through families who kept alive the old beliefs and worship of the Earth and the Moon Mother.
Not so many centuries ago, our ancestors burned yule logs at Christmas as a symbolic gesture to bring light and warmth back to the world on the mid-winter solstice at the darkest time. They danced around the maypole on May morning, the beginning of the old Celtic summer, to stir into life the Earth energies in a sacred spiral pattern. These rituals go back into the mists of time and appear in similar forms in many different cultures and ages. Today, however, too many modern societies have lost the sacred connection and scorn such gestures as superstition, treating the skies, the Earth and the seas merely as a larder, fuel store and garbage can. Once, things were very different, as Black Elk, the Sioux shaman, explained:
'In the old days when we were a strong and happy people, all our power came from the sacred hoop of the nation and, so long as the hoop was unbroken, the people flourished. The flowering tree was the living centre of the hoop and the circle of the four quarters nourished it. The East gave peace and light, the South gave warmth; in the West, thunder beings gave rain and the North with its cold and mighty wind gave strength and endurance.'
And so the Earth was respected as the sacred mother, giver of life and crops, to whose womb the dead returned. It is no accident that the Sioux Medicine Wheel and the Celtic Wheel of the Year are so similar in formation and purpose, linking all life to the cycles of nature. So if we are to use magick in a positive way, we must remember that it brings responsibility along with benefits.
Li th i j gn Iiqssq dh
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