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New World Craft: A Bubbling Cauldron of Diversity
Article ID: 13933
Age Group: Adult
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Author: One Witchy Mom
Posted: April 25th. 2010
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Our ancestry is many and come from far off lands. Some from long ago and others more recent. If you were born, raised, educated, lived your life as well as most your ancestors lived their lives in the last 300 years in, America -- not in England, or Ireland, or Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Italy and the Mediterranean, Africa, Middle East, Egypt, Mexico, Brazil, etc.-- then you are culturally American. Like it or not. You may have a rich ethnic heritage, however you are American.
We are Americans and many of us are Pagans, Witches, Wild Crafters, and Cunning sorts. American Traditions are as deep, rich, effective, intriguing and as strong as those of any other country. Today, in your backyard, in your family tree, in your forefather's lands be they adopted are born into- right here, right now in the land of your home your have a wealth of New World Craft practices!
North American is still alive with that pioneer spirit, the same spirit that has driven people from far and near to come to American for centuries; The freedom. It is this energy that creates the innovative, the rabble-rousers, and those that know how to make do, make it work, push the envelope, with no need for dogmas. This Spirit is still alive in the fabric of America and it is ok to be proud of that! This spirit of perseverance and fluidity expresses itself quite genuinely within the frames of the American Witch.
Traditions of conjure in America go back hundreds of years. Why then, is it that near every book on your private bookshelf, in your favorite store, and even the library is about European Witchcraft? For years it was not even about all of European Craft, it was all about Northern European Craft. Today you can find information on Southern and Eastern/Slavic European traditions and cultures, but yet very little about America's own eclectic mix of magic. The New World is the land of my birth, and possible yours as well. American Witchcraft and New World Craft is a vibrant tapestry of threads, much like the variety of peoples from all over to this land called America.
Do you think it does not or did not ever exist? Maybe you think that American Craft is only for Native Americans. Well think again. New World Craft has been conjuring, crafting, bubbling, and Mojo grooving her way through the centuries right under your nose!
When I first explored the magical (Yes I choose not to adopt Crowley's spelling; it is not an error.) online community over 10 years ago, in the newness of the World Wide Web and days of dial up and rich txt only, it did not take long to see that there was little for me or those like me -- although, I was, am, and most likely will continue to be, authentically Craft and innately intuitive and I value and have a passion for learning about and experiencing the cultures and religious practices of those around the world.
It seemed to me that at that time, in the mid to late 1990's more American Witches were busy believing they had to adapt and assume systems and religions from the across the waters, from lands that they are very removed from. I can think of a total of 2 people who were exploring and writing about American Craft at that time, one is still online and the largest database for Southern Hoodoo available.
From the time I was about in the 4th grade I recall consciously working with and being aware of "The Other Side". I was suspended in the 4th grade for making tarot cards out of index cards and ‘Hello Kitty’ stickers and conducting séances in far end of the field under an old willow tree. I recall starting with two girlfriends and eventually the entire primary grades were at the séance and not the Jungle Gym, which lead to quite an uprising among the staff (I went to a military run school) . I could not make that up if I tried.
I have seen, heard, and interacted with the subtle spirits of nature and the lands I lived in (which were many different regions) . Praxis such as Psalms used to burn candles and heal and curse, rosemary and cinnamon sticks to clean the air, sweetening a situation with honey and prayers, as well as vinegars and curses to rid or send the "evil eye" were as natural as altars with Mary, skulls, ancestor beans, iconic images, and strangely pagan / catholic plaques and art work that adorn the vinegars, glass candles and bag curing on the altar for some needy neighbor or kin.
Pop NeoPagan mindset has seemingly pushed European as the most genuine. Nothing American can have value. As if that was not offensive enough, it is seemingly exclusive to Northern European Praxis.
I have recently made my way back online after a hiatus, and I am quite pleased to see that in the last several years American Witches are starting to make themselves heard. A decade ago the only resource available was Lucky Mojo; now I find social networks, websites, podcasts, and groups devoted to American Witchery!
The New World Craft is American Witchcraft. It is all those delicious traditions and customs that came to the New World with the visionaries that boarded ships, boats and centuries later airplanes, by foot, and even rafts!
New Word Magic is or can be a mix of Conjure, Hoodoo/Rootwork, Low Country Conjure and Geeche, Power Doctors/Powowing/Braucheria, New World Vodou/Voodoo magic, Kabbalistic, Hexenkraft, Maga, Fattucchiera, Stregoneria/Frattura, Brujeria and Cuanderisimo, Bruxa/ Feiteceira, Appalachian Mountain or Granny Magic, Catholic Heresy Folk Craft, English Colonial Witchcraft, Pioneer Folk Craft and Prairie Magic (a type of Midwestern version of German and Irish farming community folk craft) , Asian and more recently even Middle Eastern practices and a whole host of culturally specific terms, the earlier of these practices with heavy influences of the indigenous people of the Americas, all falling under Welcome to the New World Witchcraft!
Have you been bullied and bamboozled into what has driven a few less note worthy publishers of pagan books and what some elitist pagans would have you believe, which is that the only form of genuine witchcraft available was and is Northern European?
Have you been led to believe in Traditions (which are not your own and are reconstructions) that require rules and initiates to be worthy of the "secrets of the wise"?
Maybe your tired of the popular bull sh*t of the " Family Tradition" as it exists in some pseudo forms, mainly in reference, to selling books, services, and products. If so, then take heart! There is a world of magic, genuine family traditions (that we all have by way of customs) and ways just waiting for you to begin to explore.
Right here. Right now. Right in your own North American backyard!
Do you want something more true to your place of birth, your uniquely American culture that is a melting pot of phenomenal practices and lore without demanding a particular religion? If so, then perhaps you have found something that can awaken the Conjurer in you by way of the whispers of the Appalachian winds, moon lit seas of the North American shores, the deserts of the Southwest, the fertile earth of the Midwest prairies, and the bayous of the South, and let us not forget the urban areas of America where Craft is alive and thriving for the people!
This is yours! This is the praxis of your Lands and the people who against all odds kept them alive within the communities, customs, and subcultures of the New World. From African roots brought by Slaves to Viking, Celtic, and Welsh roots that came with the early German, Irish, and British, the roots of indigenous peoples of the Americas, the Spanish, Mexicans of the southwest and so many, many more who were intricate in building the New World, this is every American Witch's inheritance. It is a testament to the strength and non-conformists who kept these practices alive in their region over generations until they seeped into the very lore of this Land. It is time we start educating ourselves and stop thinking the grass is greener across the waters.
American Craft embodies the very spirit of America. The people of the Lands and other people from all sorts of cultures and systems came together over the last almost 400 years (even longer in the Southwest) to create a wholly unique, completely eclectic and powerful system of magic. From the adventurous Spirit of the New World voyagers to the Soulful Spiritual presence that comes from the collective strength of oppression of slaves and indigenous people, like it our not, pretty or not, it is American History and it all contributed to our American Mojo!
As Earth Based Spirituality, Americans, this is yours! Your birthright! Grab it; educate others about it. And above all be proud of your New World Craft roots!
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One Witchy Mom
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