The greatest threat to traditional British Old Craft is the internet. Simply because on-line witchcraft is trivialised out of all proportion in order to make it accessible to all and sundry without the need for serious study and application. Increasingly, we find that the ‘witchiness’ of an individual is often gauged by the number of memberships and friends they can accrue on Facebook with no account taken of the antecedents or background of the posters. There is also a growing number of those who profess to be interested in discovering more about Old Craft, only to keep their studies in a state of limbo after the first few lessons, so that they can claim an association without the need to seriously apply themselves.
Our foundation course is merely a guide to all the different aspects of Craft that a would-be witch should be familiar with but without the expectation that they should excel at every subject. The real teaching comes from the questions and answers raised in each lesson and the discussions that develop from there. For example, one of our founders held a doctorate in geology, which influenced a considerable amount of our knowledge of the Earth and the components that had a direct bearing on the magical and archaeological influences of our beliefs.
The other had received an extensive military training and looked upon the knife as a weapon rather than just a piece of ceremonial equipment. This level of instruction was aimed at giving a clear understanding of the different types of knives and the magical symbolism represented by them. This would, in the long run, influence his student’s choice in the construction and design of their own personal knife and the symbolism behind that choice. There were those, of course, who dismissed all this information simply because they didn’t see why they needed to learn about the differences,, or because they shied away from accepting the knife as anything other than a ritual tool.
His response was merely to point out that if they weren’t willing to learn about the knife they wished to carry, then they weren’t fit to carry one at all. He was a stickler for detail and expected his students to know precisely what they were doing and why they were doing it. Unlike many tutors - the result was more information than you could possibly assimilate, including an in-depth discourse on which grade of piano wire made the best garrote! Instruction in the use of purpose-built and improvised garrotes is included in the training of many elite military units and special-forces.
A serious intent to study the Elder Faith means that it becomes an integral part of our lives and that means 24/7, often to the detriment of all else. And, when any alleged discussion about Old Craft finds its way onto the internet, we find that it is derided as being out-dated, elitist, patriarchal and smug by those with no practical, first-hand knowledge of our ways. Neither do these vitriolic outbursts reflect that we have no interest in what these folk do, nor how they do it – all we ask is that they show us the same respect and refrain from commenting on things they don’t understand. Nevertheless, we have experienced plenty of bogus applications from those who, while claiming to be adepts and initiates from other paths and traditions, still wish to learn our ways.
A lack of seriousness can also be reflected in the approach of those who complete our foundation course and then hang around on the periphery of the Circle, sometimes for years, making no input whatsoever. They take the attitude that the course is finished – as far as we are concerned, their learning has only just begun. Now is the time to cement our relationship within the Sacred Order that maintains the harmony of life, the Universe and the Ancestors. And, if we do not take these unseen (Ancestral) powers seriously, we can find ourselves up against the workings of certain forces; often being interpreted as the effects of offenses against the Sacred Order, committed either deliberately or unintentionally – no matter what they say on the internet!
James Rigel - Magister CoS