Ok, so the truth is that magick has never “stopped” per say, but it sure did go underground for a long time. Even still magick is slowly crawling out of the recesses of the dark caves of the collective subconscious. A lot has been lost. A lot more is being rediscovered and created every day. And while that thought gives me great hope for the future of the Old Ways as they change to fit an constantly evolving present and future, that’s not what I want to talk about today. This week in my blog I want to talk about how magick NEVER truly stopped and how I feel that makes our love of all things vintage and delightfully secondhand that much more magickal.
This week marks the first time I’ll be doing a dive into a topic that I have been wanting to tackle for a while: Witchcraft through the decades. But there is one thing that underlies all of those decades leading up to even the present: the hidden in plain sight nature of magick and witchcraft. The last time that magick was a day-to-day occurrence was before the advent of Abrahamic religions; when the almost the entire world was Pagan. Even then, there were stories of witches and black magick to explain away the bad things that happened; when cropped were blighted or a pestilence destroyed a domesticated herd. Magick as we know it today as a daily practice of mindfulness and intuitive development was the realm of the village midwife, herbalist, cunning folk, witch doctor, seer, and/or healer. They lived on the fringes of society and were often feared for their power as much as they were respected. But, there was a deep and palpable honor bestowed to these hedge walkers who kept a foot in both the physical and spirit world. It was the word “witch” that was taboo, not the actual practice that is what most “witches” utilize today.
Now that I have painted you this tidy picture of the past. (Which I know is more complicated by far than I can fit into a single paragraph.) We can start to fast foward to when all of this changed.
Within the Abrahamic traditions one fact is plainly apparent: the God of Abraham is a jealous god. No false idols were to be worshiped before him. This simple idiom (and a whole boat-load of politics that I won’t even begin to crack the surface of here) is why any and all gods other than the big G – O – D (A.K.A. Yahweh) were perceived as a threat. If your next door neighbor was an antler-toting, pot-smoking heathen it could be seen that God would reign punishment down just because of proximity to the heresy! Plus, in New Testament Christianity, followers are tasked to “Go into all the world and teach the gospel to all creation.” A perfect storm for the oppression of magick.
When Christianity began its’ mass takeover and colonization become the cool thing to do. It become of the utmost importance to squash the “Old Ways”. Those that refused to evolve and change were persecuted. Those that did often fell into one of two categories: (1) authentic conversion or, my personal favorite, (2) paganism hidden in plain sight under the guise of Christanity. Catholicism made this masquerade all the more simple by its systematic canonization of saints giving any person a plethora of what amounted to demi-gods to become avatars of the old gods without any of the Christian overlords from taking notice. (OK, I know that language seems harsh, but I am just trying to dramatically illustrated how it must have felt from the perspective of those living through it!)
When antlers and the use of herbs or drums for healing became suspect, a similar transformation took place. Instead of the usual special tools dedicated to the creation of magick and healing, people instead began to turn to what they DID have on hand which were, overwhelmingly, everyday items and objects. THIS began the long history of cauldron pots being used to brew potions, wooden spoons used as magick wands, and brooms because used to clear out stale or negative energy. And I don’t think we can be oblivious enough to assume that stopped as the decades past.
We can make guesses about what everyday objects performed what task. That’s part of what I do which I enjoy greatly. But the wonderful conclusion to all of this is that magick never goes away. Sometimes it must hide in plain sight in order to continue on living, but that it has and that it will continue to do as needed.
What everyday objects do you include in YOUR craft that you find invaluable and would be lost without?