La Branca della Cori de Lupa (Wolfheart Tradition)
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Posted: August 11th. 2013
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The Wolfheart Tradition
La Branca della Cori de Lupa: An Italian-American Branch of Modern Traditional Witchcraft
Draw near, o Muse, and allow the right words to flow,
That Truth be upheld in all Her Beauty.
With this declaration of identity,
Let perfect peace be maintained
In service to the Gods and Spirits of Old.
An Opening Dedication
With sincere gratitude, and in recognition of our roots, we dedicate our Work: to the Goddesses and Gods who have adopted us as Their own, to all of the Elders of the Craft (and especially those who have had a personal influence on our evolution) , and to those who inherit the daunting task of keeping the sacred flame alive.
We also express gratitude and blessing: to our mistakes and trials, which continue to teach us; to our vision and our triumphs, which inspire us; and to our friends and loved ones, who encourage us.
A Statement of Identity:
The Wolfheart current is a modern recension of the Traditionalist Craft. As such, we are an oath bound, contacted, initiatory lineage. We are firmly balanced between the bonds of family and our role as an initiatory Priesthood of our Deities. Stress is placed upon serving the Gods by serving Humanity, serving Humanity by serving one's Self, and serving one's Self by serving the Gods.
We define Traditional Witchcraft as Cultic Sorcery. Sorcery is the manipulation of Nature’s finer forces. This results directly from a votive relationship with the Divine Patrons of the Art and other Spirit Allies. We claim the title The Old Religion for this praxis because it predates and underlies all other religious impulses, however named. In another sense, it is a continuum linking past, present, and future. A Witch exists in this continuum. They draw upon the deepest of roots to defy presumption and uphold All in Perfect Peace (i.e. what the Egyptians would call Maat) .
Despite the fact that no true Witch in the Middle Ages would have self-identified as a Witch, we claim the title NOW. Our thought is that people will invariably call us such anyways, so it is our right to define the term. It is also a LOT simpler to use one label, in lieu of a rather long winded “We are a Priest/ess, a Healer, a Diviner, a Magical Worker, a Warrior for Justice, et al”.
We work primarily within an Italian-Continental framework, and concentrate upon extant / surviving lore from Calabria, Sicily, and Sardinia. The Orphic Mysteries, Neopythagorean philosophy, and the Hermetic synthesis of the Italian Reinassance also inform our current. Lastly, as we were birthed upon American soil, we claim identity as a modern Italian-American tradition of the Craft.
We are recognized as an established line within the greater body of the Society of Diana (NJ) . We also maintain links with the Stars of Elysium tradition of Classical Polytheism.
Membership into Wolfheart is ‘a privilege, not a right’. We still follow the old laws of screening and so the process can take some time. We cling to this for several reasons: a measure of security, a preference for quality over quantity of initiates, and to insure that we are the right spiritual tribe for a given seeker.
Lineage is traced through from student to teacher up to the founding coven, Cani di Artimi. The Mater or Pater Familiaris serves as head of the extended family or tribe. Their role is to ‘hold the virtue’ and maintain right relationships with our Deities for the lineage as a whole.
Individual covens are headed by a Priestess or Priest, who is assisted by an appointed Officer. These hold and maintain the virtue in the works of their coven families within the clan or tribe.
While centered on a coven structure, we also welcome solitary practice as a viable means of carrying on our tradition. Much of our training and work is done on a one-to-one basis, and we tend to favor a teacher-apprentice model.
We do NOT have a system of degrees per se, though there are levels of involvement and learning involved. After reaching a mutual agreement to enter a teacher-student relationship, the postulant is accepted as a Neophyte. In time, a qualified Neophyte is welcomed into our Line via ritual adoption by their Teacher. Lastly, the Priestess or Priest may be raised as a Lineage-Bearer. This effectively gives them full autonomy to act within the confines of our path, though all retain strong filial ties to those they trained under and/or train.
Nota Bene: These titles and roles are seen as a necessary evil. Such officers do NOT rule the proverbial roost in any context, except when it comes to matters of ritual and/or those pertaining to the Tradition’s integrity. It is our most fervent belief that, in truth, ALL are equal before the Gods.
Because of the Nature of our Path’s Work, only the barest sense of our philosophy and ethos can be expressed here. However, we will attempt to be as comprehensive as possible. This attempt is made with the hope that it will allow the judicious reader an appreciation of what defines us AND what connects us.
Our core pantheon is rooted in a Greek and Italian cultural matrix. Our chief Deities are the Goddess Diana and Her brother-consort Apollo. However, each initiate is encouraged to develop relations with Deities in addition to these especial sponsors of our Craft.
We revere our Dead, and seek to uphold Peace with the Spirits of Nature. We hold to the archaic belief that a Witch’s power is rooted in the Underworld.
We venerate and work with the Angels. Contrary to popular belief that they are A) a possession of the Abrahamic faiths or B) New Age drivel, the angelic art hails from ancient Chaldea. Every Quabbalistic angel finds a precedent there amongst the ministering spirits of the Great Gods.
Lastly, we acknowledge in the cult of Saints a survival of the ancient cult of Heroes and the Dignified Dead. Doing so is part of maintaining and drawing upon our cultural roots, as well as finding precedent in the rich magical traditions of the Mediterranean. And, as already stated, we posit that the Craft (as underlying foundation i.e. ‘The Old Religion’ exists as a continuum.
Our ethical code is very simple, encompassed in three phrases: Honor, Respect for All, and Personal Responsibility. Though simple, they are bonds, holding our entire Craft together. Loyalty, honesty, and integrity are obvious manifestations of this ethos. Much as the Feri tradition’s tenet, we are similar to the Japanese ideal of bushido.
While most of us recognize some sort of cosmic law analogous to Eastern karma, we find ourselves more in agreeance with ancient concepts of Fate. Fate can be defined as the momentum of choice. In other words, for every choice we make and (in) action we take, there is a consequence. If one threatens our loved ones, we will stop at nothing to insure that justice is served. In this, we agree with the ethos that ‘to allow evil an unhampered existence causes greater evil to occur, and those who allow this are just as guilty as perpetrators of the original wrongdoing.’
Collectively and individually, members of the Wolf Heart lineage pledge to keep the Great Work central in their lives. At times, given human nature and frailty, misunderstandings naturally arise. We strive ever to carry ourselves in a manner befitting a Priesthood, an Order, and a Tribe. Doing so preserves our luck in the weavings of destiny.
It is one of our most emphatic codes to not be involved in anyone else’s drama, save when provable (and illegal) acts are being committed or ¨C more rarely ¨C when we are asked to mediate between sides mutually seeking peace. Beyond that, we ¨C collectively and individually ¨C take an adamant stance of neutrality with regards to the greater Pagan and Occult subcultures.
We maintain a noted focus on Family, both of blood and of spirit. Our tradition’s current is defined by an analogous feel to being a member of a tribe or clan.
We faithfully preserve our lore and traditions while being adaptable and open to present needs, research, and current events. We are naturally syncretic, slowly evolving and growing, as opposed to an all-inclusive eclecticism.
We value secrecy (or, more accurately, discretion) in Craft practice, primarily out of preference for preserving the beauty and integrity of what defines our ‘Family’ as Family.
Like most pre-Christian cultures, we believe in reincarnation. We find resonance with the belief that one is reborn (generally) within one’s family, or within a group of kindred souls. We identify the Summerland of modern Theosophy with the Garden of the Great Mother (i.e. Dilmun per the Sumerian exegesis) . Drawing on Greek roots, we identify this Garden of the Gods as being one and the same with Elysium. (Elysium was only accessible to initiates of the Mystery Cults AND those who died a Hero's Death) .
In general, we believe most spend time between corporeal existences in the House of Hades (i.e. the general Underworld) . Those who are vile excuses of humanity and willfully/knowingly sow evil are doomed to Tartaros where they cease to exist. Tartaros, the deep core of the Underworld, is NOT a place of perpetual punishment. It is the great womb of Gaea, and those who are imprisoned there are gradually 'un-made' into basic energy for newer and better things.
Unlike some Eastern (and Eastern influenced) paths, we do NOT believe that everyone reincarnates to learn a series of lessons per se. Rather, we believe that we all reincarnate because the flesh is pleasurable. While spiritual comforts exist in the other realms, there is something purely hedonistic about drinking coffee, eating dark chocolate, and making love to one’s Beloved, in the here and now.
However, we posit that those who consciously use each life lived to learn, grow, and evolve, are Initiates of the Highest Order. They travel what has become known as the Way of Return, and "in time" they will take their place amongst the Goddesses and Gods.
The ‘religious’ (devotional and celebratory) aspects of our path are equal to our initiatory and magical work. Indeed, we agree with the sentiment (more popular in the 1970s) that the Craft of the Wise hails from (or is inspired by) a time when religion, magic, and the arts were all one and the same.
We place emphasis on a dynamic equilibrium between academic research and intuitive experimentation. We anchor our magic and our faith in our lives and hearts. In truth, that is where all arose from originally.
Precise details of our ritual and magical lore are not for public consumption. However, we acknowledge influence from and much in common with aspects of Hellenismos and Religio Romana, Afro-diasporic traditions and Kemetic Orthodoxy, Traditional Witchcraft, and the Wica.
We place emphasis upon the cycles of the Moon, owing to our allegiance to Diana as the Craft-Mother. Of the Eight Festivals popular through the modern Revived Craft, we hold six in common. These are (per our terminology) : Hallowmas, Winter Solstice, Vernal Equinox, Roodmas, Summer Solstice, and Autumn Equinox. Our seasonal mythos focuses upon the Eternal Return, coupled with the ideals of Mystery Teachings peculiar to our Path. The two remaining Cross-Quarters are certainly acknowledged, though their observance is much more rustic and informal than the rest.
In addition to the Festivals already noted, we incorporate the revival of ancient god-feasts for the Deities important to us. We also keep the traditional memorials to the various Heroes and Saints who embody our ideals. We place much emphasis on song and dance, on the fine arts, on sacramental arts of cooking, and on ‘continuing to perfect the Rites.’
Magically, our praxis includes both folk magic and a revived Hellenistic system of ceremonial magic (drawn from the Greek Magical Papyri and the Corpus Hermeticum) . Like most offshoots of modern Traditional Witchcraft, we hold magic to be part and parcel of our lives. As such, we do not differentiate between ’magical ethics’ vs. ‘real-world ethics.’
We encourage a sampling of the following books to gain a feel for our path's core:
(Listings in alphabetical order)
* Etheric Anatomy by Victory and Cora Anderson
* The Witching Way of the Hollow Hill by Robin Artisson
*Classical Living by Frances Bernstein, PHD
* Roman and European Mythologies by Yves Bonefry
* The Witches' Book of the Dead by Christian Day
* Forests of the Heart by Charles deLint
*The Training and Work of the Initiate by Dion Fortune
* The Night Battles by Carlo Ginzburg
* Magic in the Ancient World by Franz Graf
* Light From the Shadows by Gwynn
* Gods of the Greeks by C Kerenyi
* In the Dark Places of Wisdom by Peter Kingsley
* The Complete Art of Witchcraft by Sybil Leek
* Aradia, or the Gospel of Witches by CG Leland
* Etruscan Roman Remains by CG Leland
* How To Prevent Psychic Blackmail by Leo Martello
* Witchcraft: the Old Religion by Leo Martello
* The Ancient Mysteries (ed. By Marvin Meyers)
* Deed Without A Name by Lee Morgan
* Tubelo’s Green Fire by Shani Oates
* Mysteries of Demeter by Jennifer Reif
* ABC of Witchcraft by Doreen Valiente
Our Pater Familiaris, Jonathan Sousa, has also penned two books of relevance to our Path. These books are:
*Classical Polytheism: A Journey With the Stars of Elysium
*Witch Heart: Essays in Traditional Craft Philosophy
As a *very important aside*, we heartily recommend (and require) ‘Psychic Self Defense’ by Dion Fortune to anyone and everyone.
May all who have read this be inspired, O Muse, upon their Paths. Whether joined to our own treading or not, may they all find and know perfect peace profound.
Copyright: (c) 2015 to Rev. Jonathan Sousa
Location: Fall River, Massachusetts
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