Our Blog is attracting a lot of interest from folk who have suddenly decided they wish to seriously study witchcraft. Not any old witchcraft, you understand, but the kind promulgated by Coven of the Scales and endorsed by Daniel Shulke in his Three Hands witchcraft anthology, Hands of Apostasy. He wrote: ‘A crucial aspect of the work should be the unique voice of the actual practitioners … and though these forms of the Old Craft are known through their exterior writings, there are other such groups who are content to remain out of the public eye, practicing their Art and training their own generation of adepts. All of these traditions share a common feature of extreme selectivity when it comes to prospective members, and the willingness to reject those proven unfit for the work. This unpopular and confrontational stance has often led to thorny relations between groups, but it has also engendered a sanctuary-like environment where creative magical collaboration can unfold according to the design of each tradition.’
These expectant applicants are searching for instant networking opportunities, obviously fantasizing that one of the CoS Elders will be so impressed with their remarkable magical versatility and intellect that they’ll be admitted to our ranks without more ado. Eager to instantly establish some kind of connection or rapport, they resort to name-dropping – authors, book titles, quotations, esoteric and magical Orders, various Eastern and Western paths and traditions, you name it, but in so doing, they inadvertently reveal just how little they know about traditional British Old Craft – the exact opposite of what they’d hoped to disguise. True, they demonstrate how remarkably well-read they are … but, unfortunately, not in the right subject!
People name-drop for a simple reason: It’s an easy way to signal their status as a member of an exclusive in-group and to look good to others by boosting their own self-esteem by claiming knowledge of well-known people/traditions/organizations. Some folk who trot out a whole battery of books-titles and quotations are more inclined to believe they are unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions). When first interacting with unknown members of CoS, they might unconsciously compare unperceived accomplishments and feel they come up short. And to counteract this, they try to bring up an association with someone or something they think the CoS person will respect.
This kind of name-dropping always reveals the same thing, which is that the applicant doesn’t feel their own accomplishments, or personal magical standing, speaks for itself, so they try to heighten their importance by associating with something/someone that’s much more impressive or interesting.
Here’s the really bad news: Name dropping is absolutely terrible for their credibility, because the CoS reader almost always sees through the act. Interjecting another individual, organization, book or quotation is distracting, and it also leaves the reader questioning why the applicant is so hesitant to talk about themselves. Worse, at that moment it’s likely their credibility will go down a few notches because if they truly belong to an in-group, they don’t need to go around boasting about membership of it. So, by associating with someone who is an insider’, they inadvertently confirm the outside status they are seeking to obscure.
There’s another risk involved in that they have no idea what that person thinks about the other person or organisation you’ve mentioned. There’s no better way to get into a very awkward situation than mentioning someone that person doesn’t know, like, or respect. Of course, sometimes people name-drop simply because they’re trying to establish magical connections they really do have in common. But even if the motivations are truly egoless, it’s impossible to control others’ perceptions - which means even innocent name-drops can be dangerous.
Instead, simply focus on talking about yourself and your hopes for the future. If you’re worried the person you’re writing to doesn’t know you’re magically competent, it’s best to draw on your own qualifications/experiences, even if it’s not Old Craft related. Instead of talking about who you know or who you’ve worked with in the past, talk about a particular subject or the area you’d be interested in developing.
The CoS Arcanum foundation course was specially structured by Bob and Meriem Clay-Egerton to give an idea of all the subjects that should be familiar to a traditional British Old Craft witch and to offer the opportunity for further discussion during each stage of the course. As one of our more senior members points out, however, ‘this is only a stepping stone - a place to find your evidence and that evidence, although subjective, should be used to alter one’s perspective of the world, preparing the mind to ask the bigger questions. The gateways of perception are opened by questions not answers’.
The whole of the CoS teaching programme is based on this system of asking questions and opening up discussion. The initial questionnaire was deliberately couched in such a way that we can extract the information we need to make a decision of whether someone is suitable as a potential student and will fit in comfortably with existing members. Traditional British Old Craft groups are usually closed orders based on the Elder Faith of the Ancestors and therefore does not talk about affiliations to God and/or Goddess; similarly our deities do not fit conveniently into tick-boxes for categorization, or align with the Western Mystery Traditions.
From our point of view, if we get the impression that the applicant hasn’t got a clue what traditional British Old Craft is about because they haven’t bother to find out for themselves, we wouldn’t be willing to admit them into our system of learning and would suggest they make an effort to understand what admittance to traditional British Old Craft actually entails by reading the articles at: https://wordpress.com/view/melusine-draco.blog
Because until anyone understands the subtle nuances between the various strands of Wicca and traditional witchcraft they may find it difficult to find an entrance to the way they seek.
Phillip Wright : Arcanum