In the most recent issue of Pagan Dawn (the Pagan Federation’s rather fantastic glossy magazine) there is an article by Pete Nash entitled “Initiation in Wicca”. Mr Nash begins by stating “The Craft and indeed the entire contemporary Pagan tradition is in a constant state of evolution… This is not necessarily to be decried; progress is a good thing…” However he then goes on to bemoan the solitary eclectic witch, and picks out those who consider themselves Hedgewitches in particular: “They are likely to be found in the kitchen rather than in a magic circle, brewing healing teas.”
It appears from the article that Mr Nash considers that formal initiation into Wicca “and certain other Pagan pathways” to be infinitely superior, and that “Greater diversity, particularly within Wicca has led to indiscipline” and “is unlikely to return to the higher standards of training than (sic) thirty years ago”. Apparently his preferred Paganism is unsuited to “Many people, particularly parents or those in full time employment (who) may not have the time to go through gruelling programmes of psychic and magical training.”
The inference that Hedgewitchery, and indeed Kitchenwitchery are half-arsed not-really-difficult and not-proper Witchcraft is, in my not very humble opinion, bloody insulting. Yes, Mr Nash, I AM a parent, and I don’t have time to attend training sessions, thirteen Esbats, eight Sabbats and spout beautifully written but learnt-by-rote invocations, evocations, rituals and rites. That doesn’t mean I’m not working. That doesn’t mean that my Witchcraft isn’t bloody hard. My Witchcraft is blood, and tears; it’s involved walking the edge of madness and sometimes slipping over. I’ve sacrificed my time, my blood, my comfort, my sleep, my dreams. I’ve been torn apart and put back together. I’ve developed my very own rituals, my very own connections with the deities and spirits that have called me. I’ve been rejected by deities that I loved, and called by some I was terrified of. I’ve discovered strengths I didn’t know I had, and been tormented by weaknesses when I failed to understand a lesson I needed to learn.
And yes, I brew teas, make potions, powders, charms. I’ve learnt correspondences; and changed some through practice and experimentation. I’ve been tested and failed. I’ve been tested and passed with flying colours. I’ve had to walk a path maintaining my family responsibilities whilst attempting to attend to my duties to my deities and my Craft. I don’t have a HPS to go to for help when things go wrong (on at least one occasion HORRIBLY); I HAVE to sort it out by myself.
Certainly not all initiated Wiccans “of a certain age” think the same way as Mr Nash. I’m very lucky to know a few wonderful pagans who are initiated into Wicca, and not ONE of them has ever belittled my path. I appreciate this is just one man’s opinion, and I’m sure that there are more than a few witches who bristled when reading Mr Nash’s article. Will they respond to the magazine? Will I? Probably not. We’ll be too busy spilling blood, sweat and tears “brewing our healing teas.”