‘Kicking Over The Cauldron’ is not irreverence; it’s an act of getting rid of the dross that often obscures genuine Old Craft teaching with modern-day propaganda. In Traditional Witchcraft for Urban Living we observed that an old-time witch might not have had the enquiring mind or educational opportunities of her 21st century counterparts, but she would have had the advantage of absorbing teaching passed on within an oral tradition that had persisted for hundreds of years. In Traditional Witchcraft & the Pagan Revival we trace those Old Craft roots back to the beginning.
The kernel of a traditional witch’s faith, however, is a belief in a definite association of force (or energy) within special localities, and the notion of natural universal energy influencing cause and effect. The term ‘animism’ was first coined in the early 18th century by Georg Ernst Stahl to describe his philosophy of a world soul; the word anima, meaning ‘breath’, which in Latin came to have the secondary sense of ‘soul’ = breath of life. The belief embraces the notion that spirits [or natural energy] inhabit everything in Nature – every hill, tree and stream, every breeze and cloud, every stone and pool has its own ‘spirit’.
It was Andy Lloyd Book Reviews that first put the Traditional Witchcraft series into its proper perspective: “The series provides varied information about what it means to be a practising witch in modern times. In places, it feels like a guide, or self-help book. But there is much more to it than that. What strikes me is the amount of science running through the book. To understand nature is to live as a part of nature, and ultimately to become one with its changing patterns and cycles, to synchronise one’s own psychic or magical energy with natural tidal forces and the elements. So a witch, like no other religious practitioner that I’m aware of, must study her environment carefully, and attune her life to it … The learning is multi-disciplinary, and feels almost as if one was studying a textbook written by a poet … it has that sense of quiet wonder about it, supported by education, knowledge and, above all, wisdom.”
Throughout the series there is the continuous theme of how important the Ancestors are within Old Craft, and anyone wishing to follow this Tradition must understand who they are, and how they influence both the magic and belief of the traditional witch. For this reason the historical view of Traditional Witchcraft and the Pagan Revival was left until the fifth book because it’s not until we’ve been studying traditional Craft for a while that we start to notice both the differences and the similarities between the various pagan disciplines. We want to know where our own beliefs come from; to trace these antecedents; and to understand why some of our ways are often diametrically opposed to those of other traditions we read about – and why. That is the reason for this fifth book in the series being written as a magical anthropology; simply to make sense of some of the things we’ve noticed but never fully understood.
Some claim there is nothing new contained within the books, or that there are no great revelations in the text, ignoring the fact that Old Craft learning is about forty percent information and sixty percent intuition; but it’s also about realising when intuition is telling us that we don’t have all the information. There are books claiming to reveal the ‘secrets’ of traditional Craft – but intuition should tell us that if the secrets can be revealed in the reading of just one book, then the author cannot have that much to tell. The real secret is that there are no secrets, only a system of revelation that eventually leads us to a series of enlightening experiences, and guides or teachers, to further our progress along the Path to the Mysteries.
Because of its occult (i.e. ‘hidden’) nature, traditional British Old Craft methods really do differ from county to county, so the opportunity of being in the company of genuine witches, meant that late-night magical discussions were all part of the invaluable exchange of information that old Crafters enjoy when meeting with those of their own kind and calibre. It was usually well past midnight when the cauldron would be kicked over; the dross discarded and the rare elixir of Knowledge at the bottom savoured and shared.
Mélusine Draco originally trained in the magical arts of traditional British Old Craft with Bob and Mériém Clay-Egerton. She has been a magical and spiritual instructor for over 20 years, and author of numerous popular books on witchcraft and magic. Her highly individualistic teaching methods and writing draw on ancient sources, supported by academic texts and current archaeological findings. www.covenofthescales.com
Traditional Witchcraft & the Pagan Revival by Melusine Draco is published by Moon books ISBN: 978-1-78279-156-0 UK£11.99/US$19.95