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WBC: Inner Temple of Witchcraft Ch1

The first chapter of The Inner Temple of Witchcraft by Christopher Penczak starts the way many beginner witchcraft books start, with some history and terminology for the word witch. I am a lover of history but there is only so much that I can take of reading the same accounts over and over. I don’t condemn the author for doing this though because as an introductory of the first book in a series on witchcraft it is always wise to have a base understanding of what it is that we are talking about. There are important questions that must be answered in starting this journey. 

-Why call yourself a witch? 

-What does that mean to you? 

-Do you call yourself a witch?

These questions put a baseline of what this terminology means to you and anyone you start a conversation with. So answering these questions is important for the rest of this discussion. The answers will vary from person to person and that’s expected and fine. If it didn’t vary from person to person I would be afraid that the individuals didn’t come to their convictions honestly. For those who have followed me for a while might know, I find something respectful about coming to one’s convictions honestly.

I draw concern on page 8 and have seen it in many publications that warlock means “deceiver” or “oath breaker”. Starting at the top of page 9 it states, “Such a title was probably associated with witchcraft by those who wanted to defame the practice.” While don’t believe this to be entirely false, I don’t think this is the entirety of the story. The term warlock while the meaning is correct, the question has to be asked who is the warlock deceiving and what oath are they breaking? This may have been that during the witch trials men were executed as warlocks. Linking this together we may have found our answer to these questions being simply the church. Since the church was on its rampage of purification, otherwise known as genocide, any type of witchcraft done by a man was seen as breaking an oath. Since women were viewed as weaker they were not seen as being able to keep an oath to the church anyway so the term wasn’t seen as fitting for women during that timeframe. 

Moving on to page 10 I sort of disagree that witchcraft is a religion. I do agree that science and art are part of witchcraft. It could be argued that if you are making your witchcraft part of a religious practice then it is part religion, but this isn’t a necessity for witchcraft. 

I can agree that witchcraft can be considered an art. If you consider art as an expression of self, as I do, then I would say that witchcraft could be considered in part a type of art. Looking further into Art we have chants, poetry, songs, etc that are commonly used during ritual. I can argue that even excluding such parts from ritual, having a minimized ritual is still a form of artwork.  

On page 11, there can be a conflict with stating that witchcraft is part of the Old Religion. The reason I say this is that traditions such as modern day Wicca is still fairly new in its construct. This doesn’t mean that it does not get parts or is rooted in older practices. It’s that it is in fact more modern than other religions. I agree with the author that spirituality is a better term for witchcraft that that of religion. 

Many of my gripes, as you will notice, can be seen as nit-picking. I do have issues with over arching generalizations or blanket statements of absolutes. I will attempt to keep my high levels of scrutiny for fear of loosing the forest through the trees. 

One of the major parts I want to point out is that not all witches are polytheistic. I spent many years of my early practice not being polytheistic. I also want to point out that there are practitioners who are atheists. If you fall into these categories don’t feel that you’re not a witch because you’re not polytheistic. Just adapt these practices to fit your personal practice. 

I want to focus on the bottom at page 11 where it speaks of energies. Masculine and feminine energies is something that I resonated with in my early practice as well as now. The author does a good job of describing the aspects of the God and Goddess as well as how the God and Goddess of Wicca can expand into pantheons. 

I think it is important to bring in the talks of Carl Jung’s work in archetypes. I’m glad that he is included in here. The work of Jung is one that cannot be ignored when talking about Gods and Goddesses. Many soft polytheists work with archetypal energies and much of the philosophies of Tarot can be linked to Jung’s work. So I am glad that he makes an appearance in the very first chapter of this book.

Going back a couple paragraphs I also want to focus on the diamond analogy that he shows. This is something that I have touched on in one of my videos and He comes back to this example on page 13. I love the poetry of the writing where he describes the Judeo-Christian traditions. The way he does this is not in a demeaning way. He states “In our diamond analogy, they are looking at the brilliance of the whole diamond, but are blinded to look at the individual facets. Or they are fascinated by one facet of the diamond, one god, and exclude all else.” He states this in such a way that rather than being demeaning, as many can be by saying, “those misguided Christians,” or anything of the sort, I think he hits the nail on the head of what might really be the issue. I think it is important to also note that this can happen to anyone. There are even some Pagans who are so staunch that there is one way to do or view something that sometimes we get in our own way of experiencing a practice that could be more fulfilling for us because we get in our own way. 

I have never really been one to be a healer, or should I phrase that I’ve never really thought of myself as a healer. I am more of a one on one counselor or advisor rather than a hands on healer. I have seen myself as the walker aspect though. I started my practice after a death in my family. Since then I have been very into the walker aspect. Communing with the dead and sitting in that space, whether it be helping them or just listening to whatever messages that they bring forth, I am there for it. 

On page 15 the author states that such practices “are practicing the same craft regardless of name, place, or time.” This is what I have been saying for years that labels are for soup cans.

What are your thoughts on this first chapter? Do you have any insights that I have missed that you would like to add? Do you agree or disagree with my insights? Share your thoughts and get the discussion going. 

Some parting questions from the author that I also pose to you are:

What is witchcraft to you?

What is a witch?

What does it mean to become a witch?

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Imbolc Blessings

During this time of the year many Pagans in the northern hemisphere are celebrating Imbolc. So I figured this would be a good time to cover what Imbolc means for not only a vast majority of Celtic focused Pagans but also many Christians out there, since in my practice I celebrate this overlap. 

I want to first start with the significance of this time of the year. This is the time that we get the first signs of the spring season. This is seen by the onset of the lambing season, the beginning of the spring sowing, and the blooming of the blackthorn. It is also almost the midpoint between Yule and Ostara. The actual midpoint would be around the fourth of February but I’m not going to quibble over a 1-2 day difference because solstices and equinoxes can differ slightly. This is why in my practice I put a more hard line date to these days. We are also seeing the lengthening of days during this time of year as well. Because of this we see the lighting of candles playing a prominent role in practices and this reflects the increasing power of the sun. 

In Christianity this time of the year is often referred to as Candlemass. I often interchange the words Imbolc and Candlemass in my practice. This celebration commemorates the presentation of Jesus at the Temple. This is a practice was done 33 days after circumcision along with a sin offering to purify the mother. Today in Christianity, candles are often brought to the local churches to be blessed for use during the rest of the year. In this practice the candles are a symbol of Christ being the light of the world. 

This is also the time when the Catholic Church celebrates St. Brigid of Kildare whose feast day is the first of February. She is argued to be the Christianized figure of the Goddess Brigid who is the Goddess of healing, poetry, and smithery. 

With that all mentioned let’s talk about the Pagan aspect. This in antiquity would be celebrated during the night of January 31st in the the day of February 1st. This could vary in the date due to the onset of the lambing season. This again would be celebrating the lengthening of days. Being a festival of hearth and home, some celebrations would include hearth fires, special foods, divinations, the lighting of candles, and purification. Holy wells were also often visited. During this visitation the visitor would walk around the well while praying for health. They would then leave offerings and get water from the well that would be used on the home, family, and fields. 

With that very brief background on what Imbolc is, what does that mean for this witch?

This is one of my favorite holidays. I celebrate on the 2nd of February because that was also my grandfather’s birthday. He died when I was around six years old and he and I were buddies. So this has also become a way to honor him since he is in my ancestral pantheon. This is also the first sabbat that I ever celebrated. Those two reasons alone have been a driving force as to why it’s one of my favorite Sabbats. 

This year I am also doing something I have never done for Imbolc. Since my practice is a blended one, I really want to bridge the gap that is often thought to be between Paganism and Christianity. My original thought was to bless my candles for ritual and spell use, but I have an ungodly amount of candles. So that idea needed to be changed since I’m in no way going to have a candle blessing marathon. There are just too many and they are all over the place so it is not really a feasible  avenue for me. So what I’m doing for my practice on this Imbolc is still going to include blessing a candle but will also include making a candle. In the last year I have started making candles. I have made these for sale in the store or for regular use around the house if I’m trying out a new scent. I have not yet made one specifically for my practice though. This candle will be made with the scent of Frankincense, Myrrh, and my favorite, Dragon’s Blood. My intention of this candle is as the illumination candle during ritual or spellwork. When this candle is first lit it starts the process of setting the sacred space and it continues to be lit until the ceremony, ritual, or spellwork is concluded. 

Following the creation of this candle I am then going to bless it by loosely using the Roman Ritual. I am taking the original verbiage of the Roman Ritual and adapting it to and for my practice. Below is a comparison of the portion of the Roman Ritual as well as the adapted blessing of candles prayer. 

In the adaptation I have used the basic structure. I have taken out the pluralization since it is just me and since I am also a Mason I have included some masonic language as well as Pagan aspects. 

From the Roman Ritual:

BLESSING OF CANDLES

P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.

All: Who made heaven and earth.

P: The Lord be with you.

All: May He also be with you.

Let us pray.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, bless + these candles at our lowly request. Endow them, Lord, by the power of the holy + cross, with a blessing from on high, you who gave them to mankind in order to dispel darkness. Let the blessing that they receive from the sign of the holy + cross be so effectual that, wherever they are lighted or placed, the princes of darkness may depart in trembling from all these places, and flee in fear, along with all their legions, and never more dare to disturb or molest those who serve you, the almighty God, who live and reign forever and ever.

All: Amen.

They are sprinkled with holy water.

My Version:

My help is in the name of the Grand Architect of the Universe

Who made heaven and earth

Lord and Lady be with me in this moment of working

Jehovah and Sophia, emanations of the Grand Architect of the Universe, bless + this candle at my request. Endow it with you Holy + presence. Bless it from on high. Dispel that which does not serve me. Let the blessing received from this Holy + Cross be so effectual that wherever it is lighted or placed, those who I do not wish to stay must depart my sacred space. 

So mote it be

Anointed with holy water. 

If you are interested in how I create my version of holy water let me know and I will share the differences from the Roman Ritual and my version of holy water. 

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This Year’s Goal List

If you have watched me on the Pagan Perspective, you are probably aware that one of my goals for this year I have set the goal to get back to making videos. You may also have heard that I got a new job in addition to being a part owner at my store. 2019 had been a crazy stressful year for me. 2020 has started out, and while still only being in the first month, it is getting to be considerably better than where I was this time last year.  

With my new job, as of August I am working full time as a manager at a storage facility I do have some luxury of time to read and at times also being able to make videos. I will be using this time to knock out some of my reading list. I am slowly ramping up these efforts so I will not become overwhelmed with the amount of items on my to-do list. I ask that you all be patient as I start up these projects. 

I am one of those people that like to constantly have projects going on with many irons in the fire. Where I fail is when I execute the plans for those projects. You can see examples of this with the many series that I have started and stopped over the course of this blog. I hope to change this in the future and once again ask for your patience as I attempt to stay on track. 

One of the projects that I am going to strive to accomplish is to make at least one video each week. This will go hand in hand with another goal of reading through Christopher Penczak’s bibliography. Since there is a large number of books in this bibliography, I may need this to go into 2021. This will go hand in hand with the video per week because I also want to start a book club on here discussing each chapter of the Temple of Witchcraft series. I may, if you all would like, continue this book club to his other works as well as to other authors. 

As part of my practice I am also attempting to get back to the basics of my practice by celebrating all the sabbats and all the esbats. I have stated in the past and still stand by my previous comments that you don’t need to have a full ritual in order to honor the season. I do miss the ceremony of ritual and would like to get back to the ceremony of ritual rather than the stripped down basics that I did out of the necessity of time and location.  

While I go back to these basics I want to strive to continue with the theme of asking the why behind what we do. Why do I walk this circle in a certain manner? Why is the wording of a ritual or spell done in a certain way? And Why is it important to my practice? Answering these questions for every aspect of my own practice is something that will only strengthen it. On the flip-side I hope you will also come along on this journey with your own practice. Asking these questions to yourself to come to your own conclusions. As always comments and questions are always welcomed. If you would like to ask a question or leave a comment you can do so below. Given the amount of spam comments that I have gotten in the past I have turned off the immediate approval on the website, but your comment will show up after it is approved as not being spam. I do read all the comments and would also like to remind everyone that on this blog close-minded comments are not tolerated. Comments will be removed not for simple disagreements but only if they are attacking or done in a manner that is not pertaining to that of a civilized conversation. 

That’s all that I have for now. Even if this is coming a little late in the first month of the year, I do wish you all a happy and productive year. Now let’s get to work. 

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Site Updates

In my usual vague fashion I recently posted about some changes that were coming into my life. I wanted to wait until I could make a video to accompany this blog post. Unfortunately the day after I wrote that post I had a cold, so filming was delayed. So while that was postponed, I have been working on some of the features on Christopaganism.com. Continue reading Site Updates