Friday, December 15, 2017

About my Craft: Hermeticism, Hedgewitchery and Shadow Work

Created as a handout to explain my craft to our Novices during our Paths class, I ended up copying this for my table at KC Pagan Pride Day because it was so comprehensive.  Aside from Nontheism, the following elements are essential to my Craft and define me as a witch.  This is how I rationalize what magic is, what it's used for and why I choose to follow the path of the witch rather than another practice or belief system.  I don't often talk about these aspects on my blog as Witchy Words scratches the surface of my practice, but I will attempt to be more open about them in the upcoming year.  Enjoy!

The Human Element of Witchcraft

While some may come to witchcraft to reconnect with nature, my Craft revolves around humans: Community, friends, covenmates, ancestors and the self.   Emphasizing my relationships with spirits both living and dead, the focus of my practice is to connect, challenge, improve and grow, broadening my horizons and expanding my knowledge and experiences.  Human research and condition is of extreme importance to my beliefs.  I go to great lengths to ensure my Craft is a fair balance of historical philosophy and modern science.  Social politics and justice also play a keen role.  I believe that the life we are living this instant is of utmost importance – more than any past life or entity.  In that, my version of witchcraft focuses on improving myself, bettering the world around me and assisting others on their path.

Hermeticism: A Philosophy that Equates Religion and Science

Claiming Prisca theologia, a theory that states that a single true theology exists as the basis of all religions, Hermeticism explains why you, the reader, and I may have different beliefs yet we both can be right.  It also emphasizes the connection between religion and science.  In the philosophy, there are three planes of existence: Mental, Physical and Subconscious.  Because the Physical and Subconscious planes are perceived through our Mental lens, we are able to manipulate that Mental lens and thus manipulate those planes.  This explains why we're bound by the natural laws of the world, why science and magic do not conflict and how magic actually works.

What Does Hermeticism have to do with Nontheism?

Hermetic philosophy stems from an entity called Hermes Trismegistus, sometimes thought of a combination between the Greek god Hermes and the Egyptian god Thoth.  But if it’s a philosophy passed by a god, why would a nontheist be interested in it? Hermetic principles combine science and magic.  They create an equal playing field for all religion as much of the philosophy can be found at the root of most religions.  Whether the wisdom was supposedly passed from a god, by a prophet or through intelligent and spiritually aligned individuals operating under the same name makes little difference to me.  The philosophy taught is intrinsic to religion and magic alike. 

Hedgewitchery: It’s About Spirits, not Gardening

The Hedge refers to the veil, the border between this world and the Other, the next, the Summerlands, the spirit world.  When a witch is said to be “Riding the Hedge,” this means that they often spend their time in liminal space – a space that is neither here nor there but somewhere in between the living and the dead.  While Hedgewitches may invest in herbal work, it is usually to assist in their journey to and back through the veil.  Hedgewitches may participate in herbal use to induce hallucinogenic and trance-like states in order to assist spirits, either calling them back from the Other as a powerful healer or acting as a psychopomp and crossing the spirit to the Other side.  Spirits are of great concern to my practice because they often, though not always, were once human.

Further Reading: Memory and Ancestor Altar

Shadow Work: Becoming Your Most Authentic Self

Shadow work is the process of destroying your Ego and consciously accepting the whole of the Self. This includes the Shadow: The subconscious part of us. The Shadow is neither good nor bad but rather the parts of ourselves we have been unwilling to acknowledge. By recognizing and embracing the whole of our Self, we remove roadblocks on our way to spiritual maturity. Witches who struggle with Shadow Work may engage in a form of projection by which they blame others for aspects they dislike about themselves subconsciously.  Once you recognize the Shadow, both in yourself and others, blame and guilt become unnecessary parts of your Craft.  Shadow Work allows you to empathize, resist, change, grow, uplift and remove.

Other Important Parts of my Craft

Domestic Familiars: An pacted animal who bonds, communicates and travels with you on the astral plane or across the Hedge.
Further Reading: Familiars 101 Article List

The Wheel of the Year: The Equinox, Solstices and their Cross-Quarters, the Wheel of the Year mirrors the human cycle of life.
Further Reading: Sabbat Altars Article List

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you too pointed out hedgecraft is not about herbs alone. It is about hedge riding. That is the main focus of hedgecraft and while herbs are still a large part of any witch's practice, hedgewichery focuses on sooooo much more. It is also not a solitary Wiccan, as the term has somehow grown to mean over the past couple of decades.

    Thank you for sharing your path. I follow a very similar one, minus the familiars. My kitties are just kitties, who are currently chasing each other around the house. I picked up a kitten this week and my older cat is still adjusting. He clearly likes the kitten, but is not very happy with me at this time. Lol!