“... ‘witchcraft’ has become static and remote from its original purpose, which was to enlighten the follower spiritually”
- Robert Cochrane
When Robert Cochrane wrote about the concepts of witchcraft in his day and time in his 1964 article in Pentagram #2 with the title ‘Witchcraft Today’ his diagnostic is remarkably similar to what we find today. He writes: “it would appear the Craft has rapidly become an escape hatch for all those who wish to return to a more simple form of life and escape from the ever-increasing burden of contemporary society. In many cases the Craft has become a funk hole, in which those who have not been successful in solving various personal problems hide,”.
He continues this article with emphasizing the mystical dimension of witchcraft, the realization of truth as opposed to illusion. He assumes that any student of the Craft is ultimately seeking Truth and thus sees ‘magic’ as a by-product of the search for Truth, “it is an after-thought upon a much larger issue,”.
These ruminations lead to him questioning the purpose of the witch in our day and age and his instance that witches need to offer something valid to the world they exist in.
50 years later not much have changed except for a greater interest in ecology, which is a great thing in itself, because without our world we would not be as dramatically stressed in the anthology SerpentSongs. This crossover between witchcraft and ecology is important, but what can we say about the witch itself as a seeker of Truth?
As Cochrane wrote 50 years ago, it is often today, ‘an escape hatch’ and thus illusion is favored in place of Truth. But this is only natural because even our modern concept of truth is an illusion. Today truth is used to affirm facts, and thus we are entering the courtrooms of justice – which is not really Truth’s best friend. Veritas was the Mother of Virtue and a daughter of Saturn choosing a holy well as her white and quiet abode. This imagery in itself says that virtue is the child of truth and truth itself is elusive as it moves around in dark waters hidden from sight. Truth is about the realization of Mystery – and its integration. The integration of Truth is made possible by virtue. For Plato virtue was made possible by prudence (with its ability of using rational foresight), justice (the ability of discernment), courage (to know when to entertain a fight and when to retract) and temperance (the ability to measure ones actions).
This sounds wonderful when we read it, but when it comes to apply this in action, so many of us chose illusion and vice. We run to our escape hatches’ and hide with our suffering and unresolved issues and strike out to anyone who come to our threshold with the water and fire of truth. This might be the ways of the 21st Century man, but this is not the way of the witch, unbridled by time and moral...
For the witch there are no escape hatches or funk holes it is always about accepting the snakes and doves on the path and make sense of each step of the road until he next crossroad. It is a humbling path of no escape and those of us who have caring guides on our track will find opposition necessary for effectuating needed humility. I don’t believe in the antinomian image of the witch, I believe the witch is lawless because for the witch any normative ethic or moral directive is bound in what is effective for a society and bound in the temporal, but this is a challenge and not an enemy. The witch will find agile ways for moving around in society, yet preferring the cave of mystery. And it is exactly the rest in the cave that enabled the witch to be what he or she became to be... and by this empowered to move around silently, powerful and measured in society.
The witch will recognize truth from the mouth of children, drunkards and masters, because it will always be a call to virtue and these summoning will enable our track to be trod more effective and with a greater illumination. A witch will seek spiritual illumination constantly and will bow to no one, but Truth – because a witch possess the prudence and temperance necessary to discern and make measured and wise judgments - and upon this courage is forged. Not only this, but it was these people that enabled a succession of these profound Truths
The wonderful magical powers attributed to the witch are mere reactions of the knowledge of Self bound in Truth. The witch was, is and should always be a force defining boundaries and thresholds – and the greater the knowledge of thresholds and boundaries grows so does the wisdom for breaking them and to break through with worth and virtue in the land, age and time the witch functions.
This is what is expected from the witch in contemporary society, it is someone who has been made wise by Nature who stretches forth and marks its footprints in the world. The witch can only act in this way if she or he has been made wise by the trials and ordeals on his or her path that have constantly demanded a death of illusory egos in favor of solving personal problems and issues. Witchcraft might seem obscure, a dark light on the world, but the witch was once broken into bones, dust and memories and had to rebuild itself into a memory of past, now and whatever lies onward in the embrace of truth. The witch of truth will abhor the funk hole, reject illusion and stand strong in the confrontation of eternal Truth, if it flogs you or kisses you it does not matter, for the witch if it is fair or foul, it will always be a blessing...