Witches in Cornwall

The kind of ongoing debate in European-religion-based pagan circles goes something like this “We are a part of a long, unbroken chain stretching back to pre-Christian times, the latest in a line of persecuted people who practice the old ways.  We are Witches like they were Witches”  “But Gerald Gardner made your religion up fifty years ago.”  “That is true, but still, we are a part of a long, unbroken line.”  “That doesn’t even make any sense.”  “Plus, it’s bullshit to equate ‘witch’ with ‘Wiccan’.”  “Okay, well, we are trying to accurately reconstruct the beliefs and rituals of our ancestors, so can we say ‘broken line’?”  “Thirty million women killed in the Burning Times!”  “Oh god, no they weren’t.”  “Well, I am from a long line of witches but we’re all oathbound and secret so I can’t tell you anything about it.”  “I need a drink.”

And so on.

But there comes a point on most folks’ spiritual journeys when they come to accept that there is no long, unbroken line of belief from pre-Christian times through now.  Or even an unbroken line of practice.

And then you read stuff like this and are reminded again that we really often don’t know shit about shit.  It’s a little story about a woman who finds a ritual spot in her yard that has been used for spell-casting on and off for, oh, 8,500 years, with documented activity as recent as the 1950s.

One thought on “Witches in Cornwall

  1. I’ve actually met one person who was initiated by Gerald Gardner and was present on some occasions where stuff was quite obviously made up out of thin air to match whatever Gardner happened to want at the time. That makes the whole “unbroken thread” a lot harder to swallow… If you’re interested in that part of history, Fred Lamont’s book “Fifty years of Wicca” might be an interesting read.

    The high priestess in the coven where I started out was working on her doctor’s thesis on religious history at the time; unfortunately she died from cancer before it was finished. It was great fun watching her verbally lacerate anyone doing the “unbroken lineage from the matriarchal golden age” thing. She was a stickler for not accepting anything as historical unless there was some sort of evidence for it. I miss her dearly.

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