Witchcraft has never been dead ... just dormant. Its space-age awakening is demonstrated in the daily press. Besides the University of South Carolina teaching a Witchcraft course, it is also taught at the Centennial College, Toronto, Canada. The Free University of Toronto is also giving a course on Magic and the Black Arts. By the time this is published Centennial will be giving an "Advanced Course In The Occult." Famous folk singer Donovan has written and recorded the song "Season Of The Witch". Bewitched has been a long running successful TV show.
The fantastic success of the Broadway musical Hair has been so in spite of its nude scene. It lists a staff Astrologer in its credits and has another Astrologer in its cast, actress Sally Eaton. The offBroadway play Celebrations had a "Company Witch" in the person of actress Cindy Bulak. Nine students of the University of Chicago dressed as witches, painted their faces chalk-white, with black-encircled eyes, danced and chanted a Black Magic Ritual while putting a hex on the University's disciplinary proceedings.
The University responded by closing the proceedings with the announcement that future meetings wouldn't be open to students, including student witches! At the celebrated March on The Pentagon hippies performed an exorcism and witchcraft ritual, singing, dancing, chanting, in an attempt to lift The Pentagon, to exorcise its "evil spirit".
A militant women's organization is called W.I.T.C.H. In the October, 1968 Vogue Richard Goldstein wrote a fashion-oriented article called "Season Of The Witch" and said: "Fire and energy can liberate as well as destroy. It is impossible to talk about even something as insular as beauty without noting that the same turmoil and insurrection that provides the terror of our time also inspires its greatest achievements. The style of the sixties is creative anarchy. In all endeavours, it is characterized by a rebellion against form, a deflation of dogma, and an assertion of self against the Establishment."
The July 1969 Beyond Magazine had an article "Is Witchcraft Good Or Bad" by Wentworth Williams about Mich Micheyl, a French entertainer who was brought into court and threatened with imprisonment on the charge of "practicing medicine without a license" because she had cured a woman of persistent headaches. She has "healing hands", is a "magnetic healer", and would be considered a "white witch." Another case was that of Mrs. Joyce Alan of Lancashire, England, who read cards without charging, read a policewoman, told her her husband was playing around with another woman.
Mrs. Alan was given a summons. Charge was thrown out of court but the policewoman's husband found out, called her a witch, got her neighbors to treat her accordingly and persecuted her by throwing rocks through her windows etc. She fought back. Sued a neighbor who broke her windows. When this woman fell and broke a leg they accused her again of witchcraft and a mad crowd attacked her. Next day her house caught fire. She finally left. If Mrs. Alan was a witch her neighbors were devils!
This illustration is from a German incunabulum of1484 Clearly seen are the positions of the Zodiac in connection with the body.
The March 21, 1969 Time Magazine reported:
"To lend a little magic to public entertainments, Los Angeles enjoys the services of an Official County Witch ... a title conferred by the County Supervisor on Mrs. Louise Huebner, a thirtyish, "third-generation astrologer and sixth-generation witch." Sorceress Huebner, who affects clinging outfits of silver for her increasingly frequent broadcasts and public appearances, made her official debut last July at a folk festival in the Hollywood Bowl, at which everyone was supplied with red candles, garlic and chalk and instructed to repeat after her three times: "Light the flame, bright the fire, red the color of desire". The spell was supposed to increase sexual vitality, and some reported that it did.
The Midpenninsula Free University of California offers the following courses: Advanced Astrology, Jungian Astrology, Occult Things and The New Age, Out of the Aquarium and into the Aquaruin, and the Occult and Astrology Workshop. Many anti or non-establishment "free universities" across the country are offering courses in all phases of mysticism, witchcraft, black magic, astrology and the occult.
Following is the letter I received from Professor Sidney Birnbaum, who teaches a History of Witchcraft non-accredited course at the University of South Carolina:
21 May 1969
Dear Dr. Martello:
The enclosed typescript may be of some interest to you. It is a copy of a manuscript that was given to me by a student in my Witchcraft course ... in real life, a graduate student in the History Department. The writer, who is personally known by my student, is a young lady in her mid-twenties; a professed student witch who claims to be descended from a long line of witches. She is, I am told, studying the craft under a powerful witch in Madison, Wisconsin.
I don't doubt her sincerity when she says that she is a follower of the religion she describes. However, I believe that most of what she has written is just so much nonsense. It is exactly the sort of airy speculation that passed for anthropology at about the turn of the century. As a matter of fact, the religion she follows is probably no older than that and bears no relation to actual witchcraft.
The course went rather well, I think. We met about six times. For the most part the students came to listen: it was difficult getting any discussion at all going, and I lectured for well over half the time. By the way, your books were very useful in this respect. Passing them around for examination did start quite a lively discussion. It developed that most of the students were interested in astrology and that many of them were interested in Tarot, subjects I know nothing about. One of the students mentioned a friend who followed a religion based upon reading Tarot cards. Unfortunately she wasn't able to prevail upon him to address the class.
It is difficult to make general statements about religious orientation. The more vocal students appear to have left organized religion far behind them; so far behind, in fact, that they seem surprisingly ignorant of the beliefs, the practices, and the theological posture of the major organized religions. They have not yet found a substitute, but they continue to seek. As for the others, the silent ones, I believe that for the most part they are quite happy with the religion of their parents, but are too overawed by the vocal minority to mention it.
I'm curious about your interview with the witch. Did it really come off? If you can find the time to write, I'd appreciate hearing from you about it.
Sidney Birnbaum Mathematics Dept. University of South Carolina
The Student witch's paper, "A Brief Outline of White Witchcraft, or The Old Religion" is included at the end of this chapter.
In writing this book I had a twofold purpose: 1) To tell "where it's at" and "what's happening NOW" in the world of modern witchcraft and 2) To avoid as much as possible the usual historic rehash of the subject found in most books dealing with witchcraft. The historical data I have included is pertinent to the book and is primarily that which most such books leave out; The chapter on "Christmas: Pagan
Holiday" is a good example.
The following is quoted from Reason: The Only Oracle of Man by Ethan Allen published in Bennington, Vermont, 1784: "Witchcraft and priestcraft, were introduced into this world together, in its nonage; and has gone on, hand in hand together, until about half a century past, when witchcraft began to be discredited ... This discovery has depreciated Priestcraft, on the scale of at least fifty per cent per annum ... "
Sir William Blackstone in his Commentaries on the Laws Of England in the 1850 edition, pg. 59, had this to say: "To deny the possibility, nay, actual existence of witchcraft and sorcery is at once flatly to contradict the revealed word of God in various passages of both the Old and the New Testament, and the thing itself is a truth to which every nation in the world has in its turn borne testimony, either by example seemingly well tested, or by prohibitory laws which at least suppose the possibility of commerce with evil spirits."
In closing I'd like to quote one more statement from America's own Mark Twain in his book Europe And Elsewhere: "During many ages there were witches. The Bible said so. The Bible commanded that they should not be allowed to live. Therefore the Church, after doing its duty in but a lazy and indolent way for 800 years, gathered up its halters, thumbscrews, and firebrands, and set about its holy work in earnest. She worked hard at it night and day during nine centuries and imprisoned, tortured, hanged and burned whole hordes and armies of witches, and washed the Christian world clean with their foul blood. Then it was discovered that there are no such thing as witches, and never had been. One does not know whether to laugh or to cry. Who discovered that there was no such thing as a witch — the priest, the parson? No, these never discover anything. At Salem, the parson clung pathetically to his witch text after the laity had abandoned it in remorse and tears for the cruelties it had persuaded them to do. The parson wanted more blood, more shame, more brutalities; it was the unconsecrated laity that stayed his hand."
Elsewhere in the same book Mark Twain says: "There are no witches. The witch text remains; only the practice has changed. Hell fire is gone, but the text remains. Infant damnation is gone, but the text remains. More than 200 death penalties are gone from the law books, but the texts that authorized them remain."
A Brief Outline of White Witchcraft or, "The Old Religion" By A Student Witch
Tradition holds, and anthropological evidence tends to bear it out that at one time a race of 'pygmies' or very small people (averaging 4-1/2 - 5' tall at maturity) lived in Northern France on the type of topography known as heaths. This would date back to around 2000 B.C. As other tribes moved into the area this race of dwellers upon the heaths, or 'heathens' as they eventually came to be called, retreated north and west finally crossing the English Channel.
When the Saxons invaded Britain, the 'little people' came under considerable persecution and kept moving toward Wales, finally settling in that region, though some moved on to Ireland, where they may have been the origin of folk tales about 'the little people'. This is further borne out by the fact that these dwellers upon the heath began to construct conical underground dwellings to escape notice of their more warlike neighbors, some of which still exist in Wales and southwestern England.
The invading Normans found natural allies in the 'little people' in their struggles against the long recalcitrant Saxons. As often happens when two minorities unite in opposition to an hostile majority, considerable intermarriage took place. Gardner suggests that the progeny of this mingling were the ancestors of the present day Welsh, also citing the continuing popularity of the Eisteffod, (*) which grew out of religious observances which included rune-singing.
[*] Probably should be Eisteddfod.
Was this article helpful?