this section is quite long, so read through carefully
Witchcraft is NOT wicca but any wiccan who wishes to study these
pages is more than welcome..
These pages are not intended for beginners nor as a 'Complete Guide to...'. They are for those who already know at least the basics, and wish to persue a mystical path. In order to explain aspects of this mysticism it is necessary to discuss the basics of Traditional Witchcraft but again this is not a tutorial in it, either.
There are some fine websites devoted to traditional witchcraft, Irish Traditional Witchcraft Club webpage, and The Mysteries which are suitable for both beginners and more experienced practitioners.
The ideas shown hereafter are taken from that strain of Witchcraft practised by a few Families in Ireland . The witchcraft of Traditional Families is similar to but not identical to 'Traditional Witchcraft'. Each Family has its own traditions and rituals, but there are some things common to all. For example we measure all things in relation to the homeland. All astronomical and magical associations, if followed at all, are relevent only in so far as they relate to the position of the Homeland.
Many people have highly individual ideas about what "witch" means. In the context of Irish hereditaries practices, it is traditionally believed that the ability to heal, to charm, and to divine are passed in the blood and some families are more prone than others. There are others then born outside these families who are "naturals", born with these abilities. This phenomenon is the basis for what is now called Irish Traditional Witchcraft. In fact few of my predecessors, until around 1870, would have used the term "witch" about themselves, sharing as they did the common perception of Witches, and being largely Catholic, although with very un-orthadox views mixed in....in this they were little different from the rest of the poulation who combined an active superstition and folklore tradition with ostensibly fervent catholicism.
The Irish language has words such as Draíocht/Draoí which are now used to denote magic and both witch and druid; even the term Cailleach which means Hag and has very specific connatations has been pressed into service to mean witch.. although there are problems associated with using the english word "Witch" to denote what we do, believe and are, it is the nearest in meaning available to us. Therefore most of our number use the term "witch" and "Traditional Witch" to mean this tradition, and also any similar tradition, that can reasonably claim descent, not from modern wicca but from older roots; including cunning or wise men/women and the horse whisperers, or bonesetters sects. It also applies in our usage to individuals not born into such a tradition but who are serious students of one, and who are committed to the honest and unflinching study of Occultism.
We apply Wicca, obviously to those practicing wicca: Traditional Wiccan applies to those practising formal Gardnerian or Alexandrian Wicca, or those who call themselves trad witches but are in reality wiccan. These are labels and like any labels, have their advantages and disadvantages - but they are useful for the purposes of debate and discussion. The alternative is a mire of terms all used for different (sometimes inimical) paths.
In the Nineteenth century, the general upsurge in interest in the supernatural among the Anglo-ascendency led to their taking over and re-evaluating Irish and Celtic culture and as they in general dispised the actual people this culture represented (i.e. us peasants )They rewrote, reinterpreted, redefined and manipulated this folklore and hisory to suit themselves and their view of both pagan Ireland, and its supernatural inheritance. (NB: in this they were no worse than the establishment anywhere.!)
In response, and as the Catholic middle-class emerged as a force in Ireland once more, the improvements in education saw the new generation of practitioners lift the tradition from rural and localised practices to a more theoretical and selfconscious tradition, and in particular great emphasis was placed on preserving this tradition from the stylized rituals and reconstructionism of the Wicca movement and its more Masionic predecessors.
It places great emphasis on Irish celtic culture and history, and also a knowledge of pre-celtic Ireland: the accurate history of Ireland is of interest, not the romanticised or convenient. Many of the pracitioners in modern times have been Pagan, in the commonly used modern sense of that word. Many others have been catholic or agnostic. I myself like paganism, and in common with every other member of my community am a POLYTHEIST. There is no one God and Goddess partnership, rather many deities who are embodied in the landscape of Ireland. In its purest sense, Irish traditions preclude monotheism:
More important however is the sense one should retain that Irish practises are not a religion. They are exercises, spells, occult workings, supernatural powers, anything you want but this is NOT a religion.
What then *IS* Irish Traditional Witchcraft? It is above all else the practical aplication and use of magic. It utilises herbs, energy, symbols, talismans, texts, spells and superstitions all to this end. It does not require that one be either good or bad, pagan or christian. The Imramma of Celtic sagas is the central spiritual tool of the tradition, and it is designed (by addition and substraction over many many generations, according to taste, and experience) to enable one to explore the concept of soul-journeys, also astral projection, with exercises and meditations. The point is to know oneself, to expand one's power and also to access the ancestors, deities, energies or collective consciousness, for answers to questions and problems
Geographically Ireland is the Homeland; in spiritual matters the Homeland is less a physical space and more a landscape of the soul. One should acknowledge the gods of one's time and place, as well as one's ancestral gods. This usually means that wherever you are in the world you acknowlede the local gods, and you also turn back to Ireland and her Gods as the ancestral gods.
Having said this there are more and more people interested in these ancient traditions who have no Irish connections, and for them they can either adopt the Homeland of Ireland, as their spiritual home or apply the same techniques in these pages to theie real wncestral homes.
Where To Start?
The best way
to use this website is to read through it from beginning
to end, especially using the Map and Clans page, which
explains various terms and has a sample 'map' of the
Mysticism of Irish Occult Practitioners
centre of Traditional Family Witchcraft is a system of
mysticism and belief that is the heart and soul of this
type of witchcraft. The Path shown here in these pages is
the one followed in my own family for many many
generations, by a lineage stretching back to the kings or
We are not Wiccan
We do not have what wiccans call a Book of Shadows but rather, something more nearly resembling the original type of Grimoire. In truth the Irish Leabhair Obair, or Leabhair Oibre is quite literally workbook of herbs, receipes, potions, astronomical observations, divination etc added to over the ages by each generation. "Grimoire" is an acceptable term for it, and was often used by educated practitioners who recieved their catholic education abroad.
It is rarely used to write down real magical workings. They are kept elsewhere.
In terms of practical work, we do not stand much on ceremony; we don't cast circles, or call quarters, or have rituals - rather we cast spells, makes potions, infuse workings with energy and will. We are the Martini Witches, anytime anyplace anywhere!
I am the Raven and the servant of the Raven. Mine is an ancient tradition that has been taught through many generations and has taken many of my family on a journey of self discovery and growth. There is power in the Raven but power is not why you should seek her. There is knowledge in the Raven but intuition is her greatest gift. There are many ways and many paths, some leading us through the mountainous forest and some across the great plains of the midlands. As you travel you are called upon to overcome challanges, meet and learn both from inhabitants of these places, and other wayfarers. There are dangers, rewards, duties (Geas)and ultimately, knowledge, to be found.If you would like to walk a way with me, you too may find that the great journey of the celts is the path for you.
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