Category Archives: tradition

Attention “trad craft”

You’re “trad” isn’t any older then Wicca. “Trad Craft” is not ancient. It is as much an invention of the early 20th century as Gardnerian Wicca.
Only the Golden Dawn, and the OTO and related traditions are relatively new, although, they are older then Gardnerian and “Trad Craft” having started in the late 19th century.
The Grimoires, the 3 books of Occult Philosophy by Cornelius Agrippa, The books of Astrological magic and thought written by various authors, the Picatrix, and other classics of Hermetic Philosophy, are older then “Trad Craft” The PGM is older then “Trad Craft.” The roots of Hermeticism in Mediterranean Antiquity are older then “Trad Craft.” The Vedas, various Sutras, Mahabharata is older then “Trad Craft.” The Chaldean Oracles are older the “Trad Craft.” Actual Folk Magic of actual specific cultures from around Europe, and in the United States is older then “Trad Craft” and some of them are living traditions that are practiced to this day.

But, None of this matters, In my day to day life, and interactions with spiritual workers of all types, I rarely if ever need to mention it, because I don’t need the the claims of “antiquity” or “Tradition” or “Old” to feel good about my spiritual practice. I’m fine with it being modern, because it works for me. But I also like to be informed about whatever everyone else is doing, has done, and is thinking about doing, because it keeps me from thinking I’ve invented the wheel, when everyone around me is already driving cars.

Stop thinking you’ve invented the wheel “trad craft.” We’re all driving in cars, while you’re excited that you can roll something along.

E is for Empowerment

First some ideas

I like the concept of Empowerment. While it has a more social and political and cultural implications in the west, I also like it’s understanding in the terms that come from Vajrayana. I also found empowerment plays it’s role in modern American neo paganism, both in a social context and in an esoteric way. What I find is that one seems to fuel other, in it’s searching and it’s steps of slowly gaining it.

Of course, esoteric Empowerment has a different name, that is probably much better known, and much shorter. Initiation. Initiation is something that seems to be absent from a lot of contemporary spiritual practice, although it is making a come back. Some people gain it from traditions. P re-exisiting orders, Lineage, passed down from the founder. People seek in it various ways. Other methods of initiation are personal and unique. From the spirits themselves, you can be initiated, by Gods, by Angels, by the Fae, many beings. Some initiations are specific to the spirit giving it. Others might be deep, and require time and many challenges. The major initiation in modern western esoteric orders is the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. Nothing could be more personal, even though the practice of it well documented and worked on by many. I think this practice also shows how Initiation is also an empowerment. It is just access to special club, or the specific rituals, but it is the power, the current of that tradition, those spirits. From the power gained from the initiation, they may be able to move mountains, metaphorically speaking. They have been empowered and so they acted with that power to change things to make them better.

In the USA, Empowerment’s twin streams very much run side by side. In the beginning of alternative spirituality movement it attracted a people of a variety of different groups. This dates back to the late 19th century. While there was plenty of men who were involved in alternative spirituality and occultism, there are also quite a few very famous women. Madame Blavatsky is a key figure that comes to mind. At a time when women had few rights and were very much limited, she worked to create a movement, a movement that continues on to this day, and has influenced much of Western occultism and alternative spirituality. Her books are still published and sold today. She very much demonstrates a power, being empowered through her spiritual aspirations she did more then many other women of her day.

With the second occult flowering in the USA in the 60’s, which brought with it the spread of Wicca, it then also picked up more of the cultural empowerment. Many minorities found the idea of Wicca, witchcraft and alternative spirituality as means to find their own empowerment, to pursue their goals of empowering themselves socially, culturally, and politically. Some minorities have always had their spiritual means of getting one up on the Man. The role of conjure doctors and spiritual workers in African American communities was often not only spiritual, but also physical, as they cared for clients physical needs with their knowledge, helping them when they were sick, not only from being hoodooed but also from colds, illnesses and injuries. The same for Appalachian folk magic, and Pennsylvania pow-wow practitioners. The Mexican curandera or curandero would be consulted for herbal knowledge for sickness just as much spiritual ailments. While not all of them are minorities, in a sense, they are often limited to specific communities, and often derided by outsiders for their “backwards superstitions” by others.

Among the gay civil rights movement, there were quite a few people and groups that embraced alternative spirituality to gain empowerment both spiritually and also to help them in their fight to gain temporal empowerment. One figure was Eddy Buczynski, the founder of quite a few American witchcraft traditions including the Minoan Brotherhood. At a time when gay men were standing up and going out, he created one of the first spiritual traditions for gay men. A magical practitioner and gay man who was also a major activist was Leo Martello, who founded a Witchcraft Anti Defamation League and Alternative Religions Education Network, who was also very active with Gay liberation during the time of Stonewall. Another significant figure was Arthur Scott Evans, writer of “Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture” in which he asserted that the Witch mania of Europe also targeted people who may have been accused of engaging in homosexual acts. All of these people in some way found the empowerment of alternative spirituality and practices, which gave them the force and power to pursue empowerment in the physical world.

As I watch and read the events of the day, and the responses of people, and the responses of the wide neo pagan community in the USA, I feel I notice how spiritual empowerment helps to give fuel to the physical empowerment that people pursue. There is great inequality still existing in the world. Women, people of color, GLBT people and others. Yet I am aware of many of these minorities finding power for themselves, what some might call “power within” to work to make changes, to empower others like them, and work to create a planet where we can all live together, with justice, with liberty, with equality and maybe as a global family.


Traditions: Hyberborean Go­­­­ēs, Mediterranean Galdrmadhr, Runic Conjureman

I find myself working in three traditions of magic and spirituality, which seem to have a unique relationship as the come together, and then separate. The main traditions I work from are Mediterranean focused Wiccan Tradition, the many disparate elements of Northern European magic, and Southern US conjure. I really enjoy all three, and when I am working away at setting lights, calling to the Anemoi, or singing galdr, and sometimes all three, it’s really wonderful, but at the same time, it’s a lot of hard work.

The Wiccan tradition of which I am iniated is known as the Minoan Brotherhood. It was founded in the early 70’s in New York City, by a gay man. At that time, Wicca was rather homophobic, but yet it seems, many gay men were strongly attracted to it, and sought it out, some choosing to conceal their proclivities from covens, or being told that they had to act “in accordance with nature” and play a heterosexual role. The founder of the Minoan brotherhood had enough of this, and established this tradition, to create a space for men who wished to engage in Wicca/Witchcraft and also honor their sexual identities and Love. If you want to know more, google it (We are all modern and all) and that pretty much sums up what I can tell people, due to oaths of secrecy. Suffice to say, I read a lot about Ancient Greek gods, myths, and bronze age Mediterranean cultures, and it helps to inform my magical practice. I think defixiones are great and should really be brought back to.

When I first began my studies into magic and the occult, I began with the Runes, the alphabet of Northern Europe and Scandinavian cultures, which has been given various esoteric and magical attributes, both in myth, but also in modern times and scholars. One of my goals is to have one of the largest book collection dedicated to the esoteric subject, and I honestly think I may have achieved that goal, as most people seem to only have a few books. I can sign galdr, make bindrunes and taufr (runic talismans) and one of my spirit allies and teachers is most definitely old one-eyed Odhinn, who seems fond of Stella Artois. Magic, meditation, divination all seem to flow with from the runes for me, and I have found ways to integrate them into a lot of what I do.

The final tradition is Southern US folk magic, also called Hoodoo, Conjure, Rootwork, Witchcraft – which developed in the mixing pot of the United States, with a good strong dose of African magic and spirituality, mixed with European and Native American currents, and as time progressed a little bit of Asian got mixed in two, (just a little, very small amount, and most in the early twentieth century). I first learned about Conjure online, when I found Lucky Mojo in college. and it’s websites, and put a spark into my mind that I has not cooled down yet. A decade later, I found Lucky Mojo again, and became a student, then graduate of Catherine yronwode’s Hoodoo and Rootwork course, which was really educational, and continues to be so. It also connected me with other people who also practice Conjure, from folk whose family goes back to the Southern US, and family practices Conjure, to new people who are keen in learning what is a very uniquely US style, but which has become an almost universal style from the way magic became popular in the US. Considering how much of contemporary books about methods of spell casting and steeped in Hoodoo methods and traditions, it makes perfect sense that so many people are drawn to it.
Of course, it leaves me wondering and my head spinning when I get caught in the seeming fray between traditionalists and innovators within all these traditions. Using secrets of the Psalms in wiccan circles, while drawing runes on petitions for mojo bags, and working with Greek gods to aid my setting of lights, it just about makes my head go “boom!” But then I spend enough time working to get familiar with everything on their own terms, then I end up seeing the places where they can overlap. Yet I can see where I am doing my own thing, and yet also where I am following tradition. Yet, it also comes to the boundary where you realize, there is no tradition, no set way of doing some things because what exists now, didn’t exist back then, even if it was only 100 years ago. That is when the gift and genius and being worker of wonders comes in.