Dear reader, welcome back! I have been hard at work, writing down ideas for my Gazette. As I said in my last newsletter, I have been thinking of taking the W.G. to new places, make it a bit different. It is after all, a Gazette written specially for those that have a spiritual hankering in their souls. A thirst for something more of what we ‘see’ or ‘perceive’ in this dimension where we reside. It is not necessary for my readers to be Witches, but it is necessary to have an open mind. A natural curiosity, questioning the imposed and outdated system other human beings have imposed on us, the rest of humanity. The format changes, the purpose does not. I strive to fill your mind with knowledge, create questions and above all to help you find a place, a niche, where your soul feels content and free. With that in mind, I introduce my subject of the week:
DE-BUNKING THE COTTAGE WITCH MYTH:
How many times have I read and then rolled my eyes in frustration, about witches of ‘old’, how they used to live in these ‘lovely’ cottages, with herbs hanging from rafters, with a cauldron bubbling, while the witch stood near by with a huge book of incantations, recipes and spells? Many times dear reader! But what a disservice this does to us, modern witches, or any spiritual practitioner. Really, by now there should be more books about the reality of the medieval times and before for witches. I know that scholarly authors have written about history, medicine, living conditions etc, of times gone by. What we also need, is a serious study of how witchcraft, magic, and alchemy was really used back then. Without the religious touch, in a very detached manner. So that we understand better the root of what we practice.
But without a huge tome of the history of humanity, we can still use our common sense and logic and apply it to our history. Back in the lets say, 11th century, many people were illiterate. The privilege of education was for only a few. The rich, the clergy and the merchants (and not all merchants were by the way, fully educated). Due to the spiritual awakening at the end of the 11th century and the beginning of the 12th century, many women became nuns and many men monks. During the middle ages until the 13th century women of means, were sent to monasteries to be educated. This was due to invasions having destroyed state schools. Not all students were rich, and some were given special scholarships if deemed worthy, to study at monasteries. The conditions for women that had no money, were bad. The crusades made matters worse, leaving many women (wives, daughters) destitute. The only means left to many was to be involved in the monastic life. This denies the quaint belief that at this time in history, many witches were practicing their craft. Or that there were ‘covens’ of witches getting together for a Full Moon ritual in a middle of a forest. Life was hard, survival a most.
What there was though, for the majority of people living in those times, a need for medicine, to heal the sick. As many could not afford the services for a physician of the times when they became ill, their first call would have been to local people. Known as healers, for their common sense knowledge of herbs and plants. Nature was the school of any natural healer. To survive, whether in a tribe or village the local healer would set about learning their natural habitat and through trial and error learn what was bad or good for healing ailments. Many common healers were women. It was women who attended pregnant women, sick children and who nurtured the beginning and ending of life. These healers came from different backgrounds. In Rome for example,they were slaves, ex-slaves or wise women. Historians call this thriving and influential tradition “popular” or folk medicine.
While it is nice to believe that there was a time, in which witches existed in such a way, the kindly cottage witch healing one and all, it does a disservice to the reality of our roots. I am not saying that magic was not used back then, after all witchcraft has been around for many centuries. What I am saying, is that it was not romanticized as many articles and even books lead many to believe. Back then, with ignorance abounding most everywhere, fear of the church coming down on people for not following a “godly” life and in general, a lack of intellectual sophistication, it makes sense to me, now looking back through time, that people who knew how to manipulate energies and use herbs and plants for anything other than just healing, were pretty cunning about survival and kept that knowledge hidden.
We live in enlightened times, we see new technology often, our lives have become easier in the mechanics of it, if not in the spiritual. And yet, I see many with outmoded ideas of what a witch was and is to this day. As witches, we have an obligation to ourselves to learn as much of our craft as it is possible and to those that will follow our footsteps. Since there is no definite way to find out exactly how it all started where witchcraft is concerned, it is best to live our belief in the now. We can re-shape our history with accounts of what it really is to be a witch. We are after all, human beings, living a spiritual experience. We have the power to leave behind a better story for those that will follow.
Until I write again,
Copyright© 2015-Witche’s Gazette-Magickal Newsletter
First Publication: 2014
A Flower Power House Publication.
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