Friday, February 4, 2011
The Old Ways of Europe
The Twentieth Century has drawn to close and with it’s demise ends the era of religious domination over the human psyche. The power of Judeo Christian ideology wanes. With it’s waning comes the return of the old ways which were suppressed. There is an upsurge in academic and spiritual interest of the old ways. People are reacquainting themselves with the old ways.
The origin of the word witch comes from the Indo-European word Witcce or Wicce which meant wizard or sorcerer. These people were Shamanistic and could trance out into other worlds. These were people who could bend reality.
It must be surmised that Indo Europeans Tribes coming from the Don River and moved west brought with them the concept of the Queen Goddess and the horned God. Their religious idea and those of ancient Europe merged.
The Catholic Church tried to convert the entire continent of Europe by doing a top down conversion strategy. The clergy sought to convert the kings, warlord and soldiers, but the populace remained true to the old ways and the practices became underground.
The 1488 Papal Bull stigmatized the old religion and associated it’s practice with Satan worship. The followers of the old ways were branded as anti-social and deviants. Practitioners of the old ways wee deemed as a threat to the church. The punishments at first were rather mild . Such punishments included fines, mild imprisonment and maybe floggings.
In the 17th Century things began to get worse. The Puritan ideology held sway over Britain and Europe. The Puritan ideology dampened expressions of joy and stressed hard work. This ethic suited the Puritans well as they started to become landowner they used their ideology to subjugate the populace. The joyous ways of the old religion were a threat to them both ideologically and economically. The penalties for following the old religion became more severe and culminated with burning and hanging. The Old Ways were driven further underground.
Those who are interested in the Old Ways are blessed with a multitude of material that is now available. Dr. Margaret Murray explored the feminine side of the old religion. Gerald Gardner publicized an altered view of the craft while Robert Cochrane revealed the craft but obscured it with many other trappings.
The Shaman of the old ways strives to bring the different world closer together back to their primordial state where man and animal were able to communicate. The worlds were also closer together and men could communicate with spirit being as the spiritual worlds were much closer.
Thinking of the old ways a certain image comes to mind. The witch and her broom. She exits out her hut she sings a hymn and dances a bit. She smears an ointment on herself that enable her spirit to leave her body. It is said that such women could turn themselves into owls or cats even. Hares are also associated with witches and were also associated with the wild hunt. Such women were said to be in league with the witch Goddess SDiana or Herodias.
The Broom handle they flew on contained some significant mystical meanings. The broom handle was made of ash and signified air. This enabled the witch to reach the realms of Aesir. Willow withies bound the brush of the broom and it’s symbolism was of water which had to be crossed if she was to reach the realm of death and wisdom. Birch twigs signified the White Lady which was a return to innocence and purity so sought after.
In Siberia the Shamans rode out on a wooden hobby horse that was smeared with horse blood. This enabled them to travel to different realms, The legend seems to have spread to other parts of Europe like Scottland and Scandinavia. In these countries the witches would ride on different kinds of sticks but they would be referred to as some kind of horse.
The Broomstick was always symbolic. The Churchmen who devised to malign the old religion sought to make into something of physical levitation. The broom was a mystical tool to enter the realms of Herodias and taste the deep mysteries of her cauldron.
As far back as the 10th century Frankish clerics told tales of women flying with Herodia or Diana. Such tales are noted in the book "Romance of the Rose" with regards to women flying with the witch goddess. In Northern Europe it is Hulda who leads these ferocious hordes from the time of Samhain to Yule. Frau Hulda/ Freya is the Earth mistress the one controlling life and death.
Dame Hela is referred to by a German herbalist. Dame Hela taught him all that he knew about herbs. He would travel to the Mountain of Venus 4 times a year. To learn this knowledge. Dame Hela is beautiful to look at from the front but looks like rotted wood from the back. At this mountain of Venus is a gateway to the other world called Hurselburgh.
The Tale of Tanhauser tell of a knight or Troubador who travels to Hurselburgh. There he meets Elfflame the Faerie Queen who teacher him mysticism and gives him inspiration.
The Earth Mother the one who controls life and death is associated with snow. In Siberia the clan mother makes snow. Freya who is associated with mother goose has snowflakes coming from her outfit. When the Shamans had their mystical flight they were often associated with the goose.
In the 15th century Agnes Gerhard admitted to using an ointment that would help her fly through the sky like a goose. The ointment was made of lard, eggs and hallucinogenic herbs. The Styrian witches would gather the appropriate herb that corresponded to the day of the proper heathen god. This would help to empower the salve.
An important persons wife was arrested based on the fact that she flew to Unterberg. She flew to Venus Hill with Herodias and in the Mountain she cavort with wodwives and mountain dwarves.
Animals such as cats and hares ae associated with Freya as they often accompany her when she hunts. They have the ability to communicate with otherworldy being such as elves. The cult o Freya and the Seidre still managed to survive long after Christianity became the dominant religion. A correspondance to her in the British Isles is with the Faerie Queen Elf Flame.
Auld Hornie or the Dark Horned God is mentioned in The Trial of Aberdeen witches. They met the old horned god when he was in the form of a stag. THe archetypal horned God is the deity of fertility,death and exctasy. The Horned God is called Vindona and Guy ap Nudd.
The horne God is the Master of the hunt at the winters beginning and he is often times accompanied by stags, hounds, ravens and snow geese. The horned god has the name of aud scrat which has a meaning of woodose or wood daemon.
The God of the Hunt, Woden in Germanic Lore, comes from the Indo European word Watanos. Watano translated to our language means the "furious one" THe furious one would grant Shamans their excstatic vision. THis would enable the Shaman to prophecy. Tutursel the owl would announce the coming of Woden.
When Woden hunted in the wood he would always take the same paths. These were called Ghost paths and people avoided them at all costs lest they be driven insane or taken away. Even houses were built in a way so as not too interfer with the wild hunt. Legend always has Woden accomplanied by Black hell hounds and stags and it occurred ussually at Imbolc or Candlemass. It is said that even the dogs sometimes had horns. To this day seeing black hound signifies death.
In traditional British witchcraft A forked Ash Staff represented the Horned God and was ussually placed in the North to act as a guardian of the portal to the other world. Sometimes it was given antler and a linen robe.
The horned God would escort the dead to the uncderworld. THere is a Siberian God who did much the same and would chain people to a tree. Tungas or Siberain Shamans wore antler horns. The aspect of death cannot de denied.
During the Sabbats the witches would ride broomsticks, pitchforks animals etc and fly to dance with the God and Goddess. It was a time when animal spirits and humam spirits could commune The Sabbats were a sort of twilight time and served as gateways into another realm of consiousness Out in the field they would dance.
In Italy the striga would ask to be taken away to the benevento tree. They were commanded by the Goddess to "Domina Ludi" Mistress of the game. toplay Benevento.
An anecdote of a witches trial in 1669 after theri annointed journey they called upon the horned god three times. " Antessor come carry us to Blockola" The word Antessor comes from the word "Ansar" meaning divinity. In their supposed activities the witches flew to Black Peak and frolicked with the horned one.
In Saga THorenstein the hero flew to the underworld on a gandr or staff and stole jewlry from the kings of the underworld. This is very similiar to the Shamanic joureny wehre in the traveller travels to the underworld and comes back with jewels and wisdom.
During the Sabbats light is sought from the darkeness. In the Esoteric lore the underworld is reverse of everything here. Hecne during the celebrations prayers will be said backward and the witches dance widdershins.
While i communion with the Goddess on Venus mountain the Goddess teaches her followers magic and wisdom. There is also coupling with the deities. THe horned god is reperesent ed bu a skull and phallus. During the procession the Dark Horned God will be represented by taper candles that emit blue smoke. Sometimes the taper was placed on the middle part of the horned god's head. A sacred wine is drunk which supposedly consisted of wine and crows blood. Drinking it gave te drinker magical powers. Ceridewens coffin was associated with this and it was the cauldron that broght rebirtha dn it fermented wisdom. It was heated by sacred Seid fire which associated with Freya.
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