What exactly is Traditional Witchcraft? The simple answer is witchcraft that was done historically. More practically, for modern pagans that really means either types of witchcraft that pre-date Gardnerian Wicca (often a controversial subject) or modern attempts at synthesising or reconstructing what witchcraft might have been like in the past.
A fascinating book that I’ve just finished reading is Craft of the Untamed: An Inspired Vision of Traditional Witchcraft, by Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold. It falls more into the synthesist camp rather than being a book containing the rites, spells and lore of a specific unbroken lineage of traditional witches, but it is very well researched and beautifully written.
Publisher Mandrake of Oxford says on its website:
The Craft of the Untamed sets out to present the main pillars of traditional witchcraft. Its premise is that a proper tradition is defined as a timeless unity. Outwardly the tradition bears a great diversity across different lands and spirit. Traditional witchcraft is found in various sodalities and groups across the world. Even so it is possible to discern several harmonious, shared themes. These themes are the land, the crossroads, death, night and the mountain of Venus. It is witchcraft where a human and angelic blood mingles to form a special pedigree that has shaped the archetypical image of the witch.
Traditional witchcraft is largely a peasant craft. These “black arts” are works of the earth and the black soil with all its mystery of death, growth and change. This book aims to present the craft free for needless obscuration.
Author Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold is an anthropologist, psychologist and an experienced occult practitioner who has studied many different paths of witchcraft and magic since the 1980s. In this book he puts all of this expertise together to create a manual of witchcraft drawn from a huge variety of historic and esoteric sources, including grimoire traditions, fairy lore, ancestor veneration, descriptions of the Witches’ Sabbath and the craft of cunning folk.
At the end of each chapter there are practical spells and rituals that you can perform, including A Call to the Power of the Crossroad, poppet spells for healing or for harm, magic for protection, and even a Rite for Taking Flight.
The witchcraft depicted in The Craft of the Untamed is distinctly liminal and rebellious against the norms of society. Do not read this book if you get offended by the concept of cursing or working with potentially dark and dangerous entities or forces. Traditionally, witches dealt with things that others might fear, and were at times feared themselves. That is the what this book embraces. It sets a path for those who would follow in the footsteps of the witches of old, even if that path is in part recreated with modern poetic licence.
Craft of the Untamed can be ordered via Amazon.
Links and previous related posts
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