Thursday, November 17, 2011
The Rebirth of Witchcraft
Doreen Valiente is a household name among the practitioners of witchcraft. She was first initiated into the craft by Gerald Gardner in the New Forrest Coven. She would later rewrite almost entirely Gardner's book of Shadows taking out many of the Crowleyisms and making the speech of the craft up to date.
Valiente has worked with such greats as Gardner, Robert Cockrane and Leslie Roberts. She gives an insiders view into the rebirth and history of the craft. Up until 1952 the practive of witchcraft was illegal and the most recent trial was the trial of Helen Duncan for the crime of contacting the dead. This landmark case caused a landslide in popular opinion which lead to the repeal of the witchcraft acts. For amny years withcraft had been an underground sort of thing mostly kept alive in family traditions or very secret coven.
Valiente examine the role of such works gnerated by such author's as Charles Leland, William Frazier and their books on withccraft and the sacrificial king. Charles Lelands works bring some light onto the practive of withc craft that they worshipped the Goddess Diana and met monthly for their rite, mostly skyclad.
Interest in the occult was also simmering. Aleister Crowley made a splash in the media calling himself the great beast while Dion Fortune was famous for starting "The Society of Inner Light" Helena Blavatzky also found "THe Theosophical Society.
Incontrast to what others may think Doreen had a rather positive impression of Gerald Gardner. She believes his claim that he was indoctrinated into a working coven of witches. Gardner did meke changes by incorparating words and phrases used by Aleister Crowley and Leland. He also incorparated some elements of Masonism and he brought in several elements from Ceremonial Magic. She reports that withces used to draw their circles with wands or wooden branches rather than with athames. Witches never really had a "Book of Shadow" hereditary kinowledge of witchcraft was passed down orally as most witches back in the day could neither read nor write. Grimoires were used by Ceremonial Magicians. In Doreen Valiente's view Withccraft in it's true form is most akin to Shamanism an is very simple.
Doreen left Gardner's group over some sharp differences of opinioon over publicity. Gerald Gardner was a very flamboyant person and this lead to a lot of negative press. Doren would next work with Robert Cochrane. He was very different from Gardner. He worked robes as opposed to skyclad. He also used hallucinogens in his work and often times came close to endangering some of his followers with these hallucinogens. Cochrane has a militant attitude that was very anti Gardnerian. Valiente found many instances of dishonesty and false claims in Cochrane's claims and parted company with him as well.
Doreen Valiente continues to describe her experience with the likes of the reporter Robert Leslie. Some one judging from her description was too good hearted and nice that people drained off of him. Trends in withcraft point to an awkening of female consiusness and a shaking off of male dominated things. Her mediations tell thaat practitioner can work individually and do not need the validation of the coven. She c=encourages practitioner to learn theoru expereience and meditation as opposed to book and other riged learning style.
For those into Witch Craft this book gives and insiders view that is rarely affored. Enjoy your foray into witchdom.
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