The WildWood Tradition of Witchcraft
Article ID: 13929
Age Group: Adult
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Posted: May 2nd. 2010
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Witchcraft, as Witches of the WildWood, live it, is a shamanic, eco-conscious and magickal spirituality. It can also be described as an ecstasy-driven, earth-based mystery tradition. Ecstasy-driven because we seek altered states of consciousness to experience the ‘Other’ realities. Through this one’s identity is absorbed into and becomes synonymous with the All that is Nature. Earth-based because this biosphere is our point of origin - the common denominator: our foundation as home. By attuning to the natural rhythms and cycles we come to wholeness as children of the Great Mother. Pagans also honour and revere the Body as Spirit and thus all is Spiritual – the philosophy or precept of Divine Immanence (or the Mater/Matter/Mother Principle) . Mystery tradition because as Witches we walk between the worlds and we know how true and powerful the Mystery is that makes it possible for us to do so. Mystery is intrinsic, underlying providence and is said by some to be a/the Goddess. The beauty and rhythm, which is synchronicity and Magick, is sometimes called the Wyrd in the WildWood.
The original group Coven of the WildWood was co-founded by four young men – Artu, Eilan, Anaseidr and Jafar – in early 2006 on Samhain eve in South-East Queensland, Australia. It began as an effort to create and foster a safe, non-judgmental space to celebrate the Craft and the Pagan Mysteries, as well as the spirited nature of youth. The Coven of the WildWood, until mid-late 2006, was also geared towards a generic Wiccan-diasporic style of celebration and magick that honoured a nameless God and Goddess. The WildWood Tradition began to emerge as a distinct form of Witchcraft through the continued interaction (trance possession, oracular seership, divination, dreams, etc.) of the inner court of the Mother Coven and the divinities that came to be known as the Sacred Four (see below) . The WildWood itself (the heartland of our Witches) has also deeply informed and oriented our Tradition; though it is impossible to separate the Witches, the Sacred Four, the Mythos and the WildWood; they are all unto each other.
The WildWood Tradition is now (in 2011) celebrated by four covens worldwide and several Wanderers (‘Solitary’ WildWood Witches) . Each branched (hived) coven was founded through the geographical movement of three initiates from the Brisbane-based Coven of the WildWood. Currently, the four covens are:
Coven of the WildWood (Mother Coven) – Brisbane, QLD, Australia
Anthesterion Circle (first to branch) – Oxfordshire, UK
OakSun Grove (second to branch) – Gold Coast/Northern Rivers, Australia
Spinifex Grove (third to branch) – Mt Isa, QLD, Australia
Organization of Groups/Wanderers
Covens are organised into inner and outer courts. The inner court comprises of Dedicants and the Priesthood (Initiates) . The outer court consists of Aspirants, Children of the WildWood (WildKin) and anyone at all who attends coven open circles (outer-court members) . A Wanderer may have been trained either by a coven or a WildWood initiate who is also a Wanderer – a Wanderer is dedicated into the Fellowship of the WildWood rather than the Inner Court of any particular coven. A brief description of each ‘state of being’ follows:
Initiated Priest/ess - An initiated Witch of the inner court. A Priest/ess is devoted to the mysteries of the Sacred Four and the WildWood and serves his/her community as such. Generally-speaking (although this is highly personalised) initiation occurs after a year and a day of dedication; six months of which is committed to intensive weekly Priest/ess-training. A Priest/ess who branches to form a new coven is called an Antheon Priest/ess.
Dedicant - A dedicated Witch of the inner court. A Dedicant is empowered to co-ordinate and facilitate WildWood rites. Dedication occurs after a period of aspiration (including training in the lore, rites, philosophy and techniques of the Craft) .
Aspirant - An affirmed member of the outer court and one who aspires to dedication into the inner court. Aspiration occurs after an individual officially decides the WildWood is for him/her.
Wanderer – An individual, who chooses by circumstance or inclination, to pursue a non-coven aligned path through the WildWood; what other traditions identify as a ‘solitary’. The WildWood Tradition resonates with the term ‘Wanderer’ as it is akin to our philosophies and paradigms. We find it hard to consider any Witch (or any being for that matter) truly solitary, as we are all interwoven into the Body of the Goddess – the Vast and Spiralling Web of the Weaver. We all have community (shared unity) , whether or not that may be a distinctively human one or not. A Wanderer is a dedicated or initiated Witch of the WildWood Tradition and may, at times, choose to visit with other WildWood groups.
Child of the WildWood (WildKin) - A member of the outer court who is perceived by the inner court to be an integral part of the coven’s group-soul. A ritual is performed to formally identify an individual as such.
Outer-Court Member - Anyone who attends a WildWood open circle is considered a member of the outer court. When new people are present a short welcoming ceremony is performed.
The WildWood Tradition generally proscribes to the notion that Witches aren’t so much concerned with ‘beliefs’ as they are with experience. Beliefs are considered personal and as such could not and would not be dictated by the Tradition. As such (and ironically) , we are thereby stating our prime belief that Witchcraft is experiential and that one cannot be initiated into the Mysteries until the self has become (realised) the All-Self. This is the definition and the methodology of ecstasy – the shamanic truth – in which we align with the deep and eternal wisdom that all is One and we are each expressions of that Oneness (or Eternal Zero) which many modern Pagans would call the Goddess or the Great Mystery (and by many other names) .
In terms of the Divine, WildWood Witches could be defined as polytheists, pantheists, animists, archetypists, panentheists and monists simultaneously. The general trend within WildWood groups however, is to approach and regard the Gods as beings unto themselves, as this is often how they present themselves (unless they wish to emphasise the Oneness of Things) . We celebrate this paradox as All is One – One is All. The divinities especially sacred to the WildWood Tradition are the Sacred Four:
The Weaver is the midnight lady who spins the silver thread of Wyrd through the Web of Life. She is our sovereign mother and the grandmother of space and time. Her gifts are knowledge of one’s fate and wisdom itself.
The Green Man is the face of the Weaver’s mystery. He is the green blood of Nature and the stalker of shadows. The Green Man is the Old One of the Earth whose bones is its skeleton. His gifts are connection to Nature and insights derived thereof.
The Crescent-Crowned Goddess is a lunar and stellar being who governs the psychic tides and thus all Witchcraft. She is also the Goddess of dreaming and a walker between the worlds. The moon is her symbol and her gifts are the Sight, intuition and the ability to move between worlds.
The Stag-Horned/Wolf-Cloaked God is one of the old tribal deities and governs the realms of death and rebirth through sacrifice. He is the Lord of the Dance of Life and a friend to all wild things. He brings us to ecstatic states of liberation from ego and mundane constraints. His gifts to us are ecstasy and true intimacy with the wild things of Nature.
Of course the Sacred Four are beyond words and descriptions and thus the above is just a glimpse of their significance to the WildWood. Also important within the WildWood are our five totemic guardians of the Elements:
Horned Owl – Air
Cunning Fox – Fire
King Stag – Water
Mother Bear and Cub - Earth
The WildWood Tradition derives its namesake from our devotion to the WildWood, which we know as an astral realm, as the green, raw pockets of pure Nature that still exist on this planet and the primal spirit of the Witch.
WildWood Witches also consider Witchcraft to be a European mystery-tradition that, if discovered or studied in any other part of the world, would be called shamanism.
The WildWood Tradition marks the eight sabbats/festivals of the NeoPagan Wheel of the Year and the 26 esbats (both new and full moons) with ritual and celebration.
In the WildWood the Wheel of the Year has a distinct Aegean/Mediterranean flavour and is punctuated by the Descent and Ascent of the Crescent-Crowned Goddess (at the Autumn and Spring Equinoxes, respectively) and the birth, growth, triumph, sacrifice, decline, death, decay and rebirth of the Stag-Horned God (through and with the wisdom of his Wolf-Cloaked Brother) . The Weaver and the Green Man watch over the Mythos as the Elders of Time and Space. We call these the Veil Mysteries and the Tree Brothers – Holly and Oak.
The new moon esbats are times in which the inner court of each coven share private ritual and discuss the issues of the coven. The full moon esbats are given to magick and celebration in honour of the fullness of the Crescent-Crowned Goddess.
Standards of Conduct (Ethics)
The WildWood Tradition does not consider itself Wiccan and has no lineage-connection to any British-Traditional Witchcraft coven. Therefore, WildWood Witches do not necessarily subscribe to the Wiccan Rede as given – “An ye harm none, do what ye will”. Despite this, Witches of the WildWood consider this to be good advice.
Ethics are taught both within the aspirant and the priest/ess training cycles, and are approached on an individual-basis. Ethics are considered extensions or embodiments of the core values of each Witch, of what the Witch holds as personally and irrevocably sacred. WildWood seeks to emphasise the self-determined nature of all beings (including Witches) . Discipline and self-responsibility are also actively encouraged. One definition of discipline we resonate with was gifted to us by one of our own priestesses (Laura Moverin) – “Discipline is the pattern that arises from the soul when it reflects on the Divinity in the world.”
Ultimately, the teaching that total freedom equals total responsibility is embraced and celebrated as contextual to Ethics.
Role of the Priesthood
The Priesthood of WildWood consists of all Dedicants who have committed themselves to formal WildWood priest/ess training and who at the culmination of this training are initiated. There is a ritual of initiation that all WildWood priest/esses have experienced, however the true initiation is what is important, and this may or may not occur at the ceremony. Generally, the ceremony is perceived to help facilitate this personal gnosis and experience for each Witch.
With a significant focus on training and teaching within the WildWood, the Priesthood/Initiates of each group commit a great deal of time and energy assisting with these endeavours. Each priest/ess is autonomous, however, and because of the lack of hierarchy, once again the onus is on the individual to self-determine his/her respective devotion and service to self, community and cosmos.
Ways of Worship
We celebrate in sacred space, however this is defined. This generally includes the casting of a Circle, the honouring of the indigenous spirits and elders of the land, the welcoming in of the Elemental forces including Spirit (and our associated totemic guardians) and acknowledgement of the Celtic (and shamanic) Land, Sky and Sea or Middleword, Upperworld and Underworld. The WildWood Call may be recited also and this aids in aligning and attuning the group or individual to the WildWood itself (found within and without) . Our rituals usually (if not always) include meditation, trance and drawing down (trance possession) , mythic drama, the ecstatic raising and releasing of power (through dance, song, rhythm and beat) , the blessing of offerings and feasting.
A Note on Drawing Down the Gods
Those of the WildWood are taught the art of trance possession, known more broadly in the NeoPagan community as drawing down the Gods or aspecting (as in the Reclaiming Tradition) . However, in many cases we experience drawing down as ‘authentic possession’ (generally speaking) and invite the deities to 'ride' us, to borrow a Voudoun term. In most cases the drawing down is consciously facilitated or initiated by the Witch who performs the vessel-work, however it can also happen spontaneously. In our Tradition aspirants are taught the drawing down method given to us by our Lady of the Moon (the Crescent-Crowned Goddess . We call this the 3x3 method, as this is how it was given to us.
WildWood Witches consider drawing down to be a sacred act of holy communion. We are able to bring through the Gods so that they may freely share their love, truth and wisdom with and among us. We consider this a serious magickal venture, however, it is also a part of the very fabric of our ritual and our ways, therefore we maintain strong, devoted relationships with our Deities.
Reading and Other References
As the WildWood Tradition of Witchcraft is an emerging Pagan Craft tradition it is always and constantly evolving and flourishing. We take the stance of the majority of British Traditional groups in that we will not compromise or undermine the integrity of our lore and ways by negating what is already a part of (or vital to) our Tradition, but we are always open to evolution and renewal.
For further information and inspiration the works of the following elders and authors are significant:
Location: Brisbane, Queensland
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