While camping for a week this year at the
Spiritual Retreat known as Dragonfest, I had the chance to talk to a
local Priest who is Old School Witchcraft. I had spent the night
before, being hit repeatedly over the head with the metaphysical 2X4.
You know, that feeling you get when the Gods want
to be sure you listen to what they are saying. I had spent the evening
in question, in the RV of my friends John and Mari, talking about the
Drawing Down that they had been part of, the night before.
Both are old School Witchcraft, and powerful
There were a couple of things that caught my
attention. First, was that all the Priests and Priestesses that were
Drawing, were in very close proximity to each other, and to those who
were waiting to see the Gods.
The second thing was that there seemed to be a
general lack of respect by those who went before the Gods.
Having been on the Path since the late 80’s, I
guess that makes me Old School Witchcraft too. I don’t generally go to
the Drawing Down because I talk to the Gods daily.
I don’t need to have someone else as a medium. I
have drawn down at Dragonfest, many years ago, and I understand that
some people just want to have that confirmation you can get with such a
ritual. I just don't need that.
The problem was that there seemed to be quite a
few Seekers wearing t-shirt beer ads, who didn’t seem to realize that
when you speak to the Gods, you do so on your knees, and you certainly
don’t walk in and ask, “So, do you have something for me?”
I spent that night in denial, about coordinating a
Drawing Down for next year, while plotting and planning how I would do
it...if I were going to, that is.
I’ve found this is often how things work. I deny
that I’m going to do something the Gods tell me to do, but plan it out
just the same.
After I left the RV, I ran into friends on the
road, as they worked their Safety shift for the Retreat. Marion and I
ran Dragonfest as Co-Directors in 1998, this was our tenth anniversary.
Her husband Stephan has drawn down many times at
Dragonfest, in the past. Both have been practicing at least as long as
I have, and have written tips for large scale rituals they call Ritual
for 300. Again, Old School Witchcraft.
I talked to them for a few minutes, and asked
Stephan if he would be willing to Draw if I coordinated a ritual.
Somewhat to my surprise, he said yes.
Marion had some interesting ideas about the Gods
who walk among us. Generally, when there is a Drawing Down, the Priest
and or Priestess sit away from the Seekers, and wait for the Seekers to
come to them.
Marion’s idea was that should a God or Goddess be
interested, that they might get up, and walk to where the Seekers
await, and grab one to “take a walk” and talk.
The next day, I sought out my friend and Teacher,
Margaret. This is the woman who has always embodied what it is to be a
Priestess, to me. She is Old School Witchcraft embodied.
I can remember one time when she was working at a
local metaphysical bookstore, I had been stopping in on a regular
basis, in an attempt to date one of the ladies who worked there.
This was back when I first started on my Path, and
had no real idea what to do. I had gone in to the store on a Sunday
afternoon, and the young lady I wanted to see wasn’t working that day.
I asked Margaret if I could find out when she would be working next.
Margaret looked at me, and instantly, the
Priestess was there. I am 6’3” and she is probably about 5’5”, yet I
remember her towering over me, as she looked not at me, but into me.
I knew at that moment, that if she found anything
she didn’t like, I would get no information at all.
As quickly as the Priestess had appeared, she
disappeared, and in her grandmotherly way, Margaret said she would look
at the schedule for me.
I had passed the test. My motives were simple and
harmless, so she told me what I wanted to know.
It was at that moment that I decided that if I
ever got the chance, no matter how far along the Path I thought I was,
if Margaret ever offered a class, I would take it.
It wasn’t until many years later, that I got that
It took a bit of searching, but I finally found
Margaret over at Youthfest. I talked to her about what I had heard of
the Drawing Down, and found that she had already been discussing the
very same issues with Coven mates.
She and I agreed that we were on the same page as
to what we wanted to see in such a ritual, and she instructed me to
talk to Holly, who had been another Priestess in the Drawing Down two
Finding Holly was much easier, as she and her
husband had a vender’s booth. Holly and her husband have been
practicing their Craft many years longer than I have, and are
definitely Old School Witchcraft. Most of the talk I had was with her
husband, whom I mentioned in the first paragraph.
He had been working with her as she drew down, so
he had seen all the things she hadn’t been there for. He pointed in the
general direction of the rest of the Retreat and said, “I’ll bet 80% of
the people here are Fluff Bunny Pagans”.
Now that’s an inflamatory statement if ever I
heard one, and I’m sure the shock showed on my face.
He went on to say that he believed that most of
them wouldn’t know how to enter a Challenge Circle. I thought about
that, and realized that it has been a long time since I was challenged
at the entrance of a Circle with “How do you enter this Circle?” I had
to agree that he was probably right.
He talked about rituals they’ve done out on
acreage they use for ritual, where Seekers go one at a time from
station to station, on their way to meet the Gods.
Each Seeker finds their way alone to each station,
and the next station can barely be seen from the current one.
He talked of fording a shallow river fifty feet
across, barefoot and in the dark, stumbling over uneven ground that
couldn’t be seen, and hoping that he wasn’t lost.
All this, to strip away the mundane world, and
allow you to enter the Spiritual Realm. The solitude of being by
yourself, and being able to rely on no one but you, is a powerful
method for altering conscience.
This made my idea of walking a footpath next to
the stream, and then up the stairs by the waterfall seem downright
simple. I had been worried that people wouldn’t be willing to take a
physical journey to see the Gods, and now I was reminded that the Path
to the Gods should never be easy.
Knowledge gained with ease, isn’t as valued as
that gained by struggle. If you have to work for what you get, you feel
so much more satisfied than if it’s simply given to you.
Anyone who thinks they can just read a few books,
or a website, and become a Priest/ess, needs to rethink their Path.
Only with hard work and practice, does true Wisdom come.
This is Old School Witchcraft.
I have been honored to be in several rituals that
really left an impression on me. Those are the rituals where I think, “That
is the type of ritual I want to do, when I grow up!”
Thinking back on those rituals, they all involved
a Drawing Down, and most involved a physical journey. I had to go from
where I started, to where I needed to be.
We all know what our idea of a Fluff Bunny is. My
personal view is that they are the Witches who give lip service to
their Craft, but never really practice it.
They read a few books, attend some open rituals,
and they think they’ve got it.
Part of being a Witch, is challenge. You have to
challenge yourself, and be challenged by others, be they peers,
Priests, or the Gods.
To simply stand in Circle and take part in ritual
does not make you a Witch. To meet and overcome challenges, physical,
mental, emotional, and Spiritual, is what makes a Witch.
Anyone can say the words. Only those who live
them, truly understand what it means to be Wicce. The Wicce, or Wise
are those who push themselves beyond what is required, and into what is
This is Old School Witchcraft.
There are far too many who find this path, and
fall into the ‘Love and Light’ crap. Yes, there is love and light, but
there is also darkness and solitude.
There is a website I’ve seen where the webmistress
lists 50 principals that make a Witch. The
headlines, the parts that can’t help but catch your eye, are all very
fluffy, and nice when read in sequence.
It’s the details that follow each headline that
hold the real meat.
If you read just the headlines, it all sounds very
light and joyful, and...fluffy. Too many who come to this Path read
only the light and uplifting headlines. They don’t bother to look at
what’s behind them. Being an Old School Witch means getting the
details, and paying attention to them.
I also want to make sure that you understand that
I didn’t pick this particular website because I think it’s a bad site,
or disagree with what she has.
It is just a very good example of how most see
this Path. If that’s the Path they want to walk, they aren’t reading
Take a look at the website. The link opens a new
window, so you won’t lose your place here. Read just the headlines
under The Principles of Wiccan Belief: Philosophy &
Practice. You’ll find that it all sounds very sweet and
New-Agey. Again, she isn’t wrong in her beliefs, just different.
Now read some of the headlines and the text that
follows it. I can’t say that I agree with all 50 of the principals
because I’ve never read them all. The ones I have read, when the
smaller explanations are included, I find are quite valid.
The problem is, people are basically lazy. It
didn’t used to be this way, but in our society of instant anything and
disposable everything, we’ve gotten used to the idea of convenience.
We even have on-line degrees where you don’t have
Witchcraft isn’t instant, and it isn’t easy. I
admit to being jaded. When someone tells me they’re Wiccan, I
immediately think ‘Fluffy’.
I’ve met far too many people claiming to be
Wiccan, who just don’t get it. That is why I call what I do,
Witchcraft. It’s just that. A Craft.
Wicca, in my opinion has become Witchcraft Lite.
All the affirmations of Old School Witchcraft, with a third of the
If that offends you, show me I’m wrong. I’m
I think those who have worked hard to learn their
Craft should be offended by those who just play at it. Is this elitism?
Witchcraft isn’t one size fits all, it’s
individual to everyone who practices it. Those who do the work become
good at it, and have every right to be proud of their accomplishments.
To claim what hasn’t been duly earned by hard work
cheapens the prize.
This doesn’t mean that I think you can’t be an
extraordinary Witch if you don’t belong to a Coven, or haven’t learned
from a teacher.
I know many very good Witches who have studied
only with books, and one extraordinary Witch who has never picked up a
book in her life. Everything she does is based on her own intuition,
and what feels right to her.
What sets them apart is that in every case, they
have done the work to perfect what works for them.
This is not a dissertation on the one and only way
to become a Witch, it’s about working on your Craft, and being the best
Witch you can. It's about Old School Witchcraft.
You already know the motions and the ritual, now
work on becoming better. Know your spells work, don’t think they will.
Study herbs, or tarot, or astrology. Find what interests you and persue
it with a passion.
A Kitchen Witch is as much a Witch as the Priest
who studies for years, as long as she’s good at what she does.
Don’t play at Witchcraft, live it!
Perhaps someday you’ll hold a ritual where someone
you respect tells you, “That’s
the type of ritual I want to do when I grow up”.
from Old School Witchcraft
If you like this site...