Peregrin, over at Magic of the Ordinary, was looking through the notes of an Australian magician and pagan practitioner named Simon Goodman, who died in 1991, and left his collection of papers to Murdoch University. Among them was a paper which Peregrin supplied as a PDF to his readers — a set of notes on Traditional and Hereditary British Witchcraft, which is available here. I was interested (and continue to be interested) in such things, so I began the transcription of said PDF from merely-photocopied notes to digital text. No warranty should be implied or assumed: there is exactly ZERO guarantee that what appears here is what Simon Goodman actually wrote. If you believe traditional British witchcraft deserves its secrets, read no farther.
So far, this is up through about Page 18 in the original PDF. Once again, these are someone else’s notes that I’ve taken the time to transcribe as best I can; it would be best if someone else were to figure out how and it what form these notes in this post should take, and how to present them to a larger community… you are welcome to copy-paste parts of this entry to further that project. I am unlikely to transcribe any more at this time, so if you’d like to finish the project, go right ahead.
Notes on Hereditary and Traditional British Witchcraft
D.A.-N has been involved with an entire village which has managed to preserve its own tradition of craft working
That village is now dying and the elders have authr(ized) a limited release of material so that its arts are not lost.The teachings and ways are not to be used as they are, each must take and adapt what they learn to suit themselves. The village teachings are thus inner court. Once gone then the rest may be authorized to be published but at present it must go no further.
Notes only were allowed, no recordings of lectures.
This represents the English magical heritage
It has much joy in its worship but lacks the beauty of the Hermetic
D.A-N. has been involved with the village for about 7 years now and has family ties to them.
The theme of a dying Craft village has recently been explored in a novel, “Green Mantle” by Charles deLint.
The essence is to enjoy a fertility based religion.
AREA WITHIN THE CRAFT (?) (page 2)
Origins of early practices have been lost, only the written evidence of persecutions have survived
First researchs by Margaret Murray into a fertility cult at the beginning of the century, unfortunately this research cconcentrated on the horned god and entirely lacks a goddess figure.
Medieval witchcraft can be viewd as a resistance movement to an increasingly strong and repressive Church.
From the 14th century there was an awareness of family groups carrying on an oral tradition.
Gardner had his own theories which can be linked through Leyland’s “Aradia” Murry & contact with family groups which were probably involved with George Pickgill.
Because records were scarce, Gardner felt the need to pad out the material by invention and borrowings.
At the time of publication in the early 1950s Gardner’s visible source so even if his works seem poor today rememaber that was what it was like then.
Doreen Valiente was an early follower and most of what is now known as Gardnerian Witchcraft stems from these two.
20 years ago there was much secrecy for secrecy’s sake.
Garnerians take their peticals (??) seriously and so it was not until 60s’ that works were printed firstly by CArdell and then ALec Saunders
Strong emphasis in duality, (Gardner also keen on bondage and flagell.)
There is no central authority to protect the craft.
Buckland started a new form of Saxon Witchcraft for self initiation for those without a coven, primarily for lone workers in the U.S.
Gardnerian does not regard itself as the only true witchcraft only the first modern revival.
DEFINITIONS OF GARDNERIAN WITCHCRAFT
i.) Persons given initiation by one of the opposite sex, and that line initiation can be traced back to a Gardnerian coven. others may be witchs but not Gardnerian
ii.) Mother goddess is “prime inter pares” with a subordinate horned god consort
iii.) Circle must be opened by the priestess.
iv.) work naked because robes can create a separate false persona.
v.) use of tools
vi.) celebration of festivals
vii.) concept of degrees:
- introduced by an outer group, black ball exclude.
- 1st Degree, a key to the door:
learn basics of behavior, how to raise power, how to pass on power, lasts for 2-3 years.
- 2nd Degree is the real passing on, this initiation may not be requested.
d) 3rd Degree originally to initiate 2nd degrees and to form new covens. This has been dropped for 20 years.
Alec Saunders as showman (and failed ritual magician) but he brougt many people into the Craft.
Low opiion of Fa(????) for giving out s.much including the
Crowley was an influence on Saunders
To understand Saunders it is necessary to realise:
- Widely read but not deeply
- A showman
- A Gemini
This explains much of ((((()))))))))) hearsay in Saunders
Areas started by Saunders
a) Introduction of the Elemental Watchtowers from the G∴D∴
b) Introduction of card magic into the modern Craft
Saunders Structure of Degrees
1st Degree; Introduction
2nd Degree: Passing on of the Priesthood
3rd Degree: The Great Rite
Farmers have modified this in thier own fashion
David (ex-Alexandrian now a liberal Catholic Priest) personal pm
a) not a valid form of spiritual development, not an integration,
only a working out of couples and being a group member.
- problem of Duality, no view of the Divine in the perpetual union of Shankti & Shankta.
- Problems of Hierarchy, and lack of discipline by the High Priess
Raising Earth Power and passes on to another requires a great deal of trust in the person to whom it is given.
- Making the Craft the pracitioners (????) magical (??????)
is a mistake.
- No group is more sacred than any one inidividual
- We should not look for diversities only similarities
Alice (?) Harper Personal
The Craft has diversity. In the Sixties & early seventies was as moving apart not there is a coming together, a breakdown in Rigidity. Saunders help by his publicity and initiations.
We have far more openness now.
If nothing else the Craft have good parties.
Qabbalists have problems with the Craft because it is not a neat and tidy system, and attempts to make it so don’t work (i.e. Farmers)
Worrying tend to femist separatist (Z. Buda-pest) Dolare very rude aobut this trend.
The Craft received a strong input of humanist pyschology in the 1970s.
Ceremonial magicians have fun too, Star Trek, ritual (Spock in the East, Kirk in the South, McCoy in the West & Scotty i nthe North)
What is the Craft
Exoteric religion meets ceremonial magick
Secrecy & “closed shop” come from ceremonial magick
Passwords are keys to group minds.
Signs & signs of recognition.
D.A.-N.’s village has no signs, these are unnecessary. Everyone is a member, it is not a religion but a way of life.
- The craft offers no adequate means of spiritual growth
- The craft has an ethical system but does not offer adequate solutions for inflated egos.
- Egocentric High Priestesses are particularly prone to arise in the Craft.
- Coven leaders do not necessarily adequately explain why power is being raised with the possibilities of exploitation.
Seasonal Rites, Way of Celebration
Spring : (???????) & planting
Summer : growing
Autumn : gathering in
Winter : rest
Gardnerians used to be unwilling to alter the wisdom of the master now they are willing to question
Dick offered a new interpretation of Gardnerian Festivals
Imbolc: a dramatic search for the Goddess at the 1/4’s but the young man finds her at the centre. If you don’t find her at the center within you, you will never find her.
Lamas Procreation & homage to the Horned Lord.
No death of the Corn King
Cern / Oak and Holly Kings came from Farrers
Autumn Equinox: To Lovers of the Goddess, the light and the dark
Lord of Light goes to sleep
Sunreturn, Yule: A goddess occasion, welcome in the form of the Queen of Heaven
Celebrate the acutal return of the Sun not the calling back, therefore celebrated toward the end of December not the Solstice.
Christians have Candelmass Two celebration:
a) Purification of Our LAdy
b) Presentation of Our Lord at the Temple
Lammas is the slaying of the Kin
Old God is laid out in the grove/Grave??
New God born through leys of the Goddess
Problem of funeral rites, based on death of Vivian le Fay (////? by Fontaine)
Most emphasis is placed on cross 1/4s Fire Festivals
What is important is what works for people present, words don’t greatly matter
D.A.-N. discussed creating a link between the body and a tree, the concept of a tree friend (dryad’s again)
Marian Green (Ann Slowgrove) an Roy Bowers
Roy Bowers operated his own craft group in the early 60’s
1.) he followed his own family tradition
2) The work was very fragmented
3) No formal coven structure only an ad hoc group of friends
4) no script
5) usually employed 2 or 3 bonfires, rarely only one
6) no documentation, nall though Bill grey quotes one of his pieces as the “mask prayer” (building a face), in one of his books.
7) a broom was used to cast the circle
- every one had a staff, these were different shapes and driven into the ground to form a circle
(IMAGE HERE: Women’s staff is more of a rounded-Y shape, Men’s staff is more like a Helvetica capital-Y, all straight lines).
The older the craft the less structure
it is based upon emotion and feeling
there is the sense of a group & becoming part of something bigger
unlike High Magick work inward first then work outwards with the flow
High Magick hands out the grail
Traditionalist Magick gives something out
Traditional Magick requires a few people with whom you feel comfortable with
It is best worked with European Shamanism because works with small numbers
Draw from any material you come across.
Structure of the Village
High Lord and LAdy Local squire provide hereditary leadership. Not p.
Dancer See separate sheet
Clans: there are about 12 clans named after tree (i.e. Rowan) or Animal (otter)
You are brought up by Clan and at the invitiation into “the wood” and trans, to another
Clans cut acrsoss family ties
Clans control there totem,
means if you want a rowan tree you go to the head the Rowan Clan who will tell you which tree you use
Each clan has it own lo. Lady who act as Priest/(ess)
The dancer is one of the most important people in the Village. He is the next in line after the High Lord and Lady. He is the Teaser, the Fool from the Morrismen, a Shamanistic Figure.
The Dancer carries messages, instructions or news for which he receives a small fee.
His role is that of Director of Ceremonies, messenger, & record keeper, and Keeper of Secrets.
As the messenger he dances, he is never still.
His staff of office has deer horns and his decorated with ribbons and bell.s His ritual clothes are a tabbard and leggings of deer skin and a Robin Hood cap.
The dancer receives a Scythe (Tythe?)
Has the honour of being chased by maids on “Maid’s Day”
His time is up when he can no longer dance.
His successor has a self initiation
- i24 hours in a cave with nothing but water for Dark (days?)
- by a river at new moon when he produces a new ????? and receives the cap.
- on a high spot at full moon looking for a stone token of acceptance, receives the tabard
- At the Dark of the moon casts circle three nights running and sleeps within then receives the stuff.
When the New Dancer is initiated the old one takes his
- The village is an Agricultural ???? only, this is a hard life close to the land
- Rituals are for growing, harvesting and preserving crops & animals
- Rituals are “basic” no giggling or running away from unpl? things.
1 worked by moons rather than dates
2 feeling of rightness of seasons because people are in touch with the land
3 the spring festival is a highly thought of ceremony
4 use of special symbolic foods, biscuits embedded with seeds or nuts, griddle cakes of dark flower (sic)
5 tend to work sky clad with wood cloaks in warm weather. wood cloaks are hand woven in clan colors, dar browns blacks and greens predominated.
6 vegitable matter is turned to go back to the earth.
- fire lit and blessed. pinecones saved from autumn are used
- circle made
- chant of welcome to spring & a dance
- farming tools, seeds, hairs from animals, blessed with wine, water & salt. then taken back for use.
- blessing of the spring maid
- group turn outwards for further blessing
- flower seeds scattered to form a circles in future years
- bulbs planted and distributed to participants
- this is a ritual of blessing rather than show.
Very little information available about on early witchrafter few books
At the end of January, the young men go into the woods or find a suitable Tallow Maid. They are looking for a tree bough with arms
DRAWING: cylinder topped with … candle? cylinder criss-crossed with web or netting, objects sticking out, additional cylinder.
NOTES: red and green ribbons, Pieces of Hair entered in. Candles anywhere possible. The top would have a wreath of
The Tallow Maid is always amed. She is Tallow Maid, made of Light, going to the Goddess. Messages. ANyone with a message for someone is dead will tie it into the ribbons so that when she is burned she takes the message with her. This rite has been going on for around 400 years. The candles are always made and not bought. Smaller tallow maids are sometimes used in house for those unable to attend the main. The idea seems to have been correspondence. Calling in the light to the new Sun Cycle Once the Maid is read, long strings of red ribbon are attached to the arms, and she is to the shoulders of 3-4 men in a carrying cr & she is led off through the village * into the big wood. She is stopped by the Dancer a very …. person, second only to the High Lord and Lady. There is a question & answer session which quite certain that the right Tallow Maid is brought in.
Everybody touches the Tallow Maid on her journey, a celebration for the return of the Sun. She takes blessings and messages with her.