The History of Witchcraft: Part 4

As Christianity became a part of this nation, there is much evidence to show where the Christians of the time, and the pagans lived peacefully together.

In theology, the differences between early Christians, Gnostics (members — often Christian — of dualistic sects of the 2nd century C.E.), and pagan Hermetists were slight. In the large Gnostic library discovered at Naj'Hammadi, in upper Egypt, in 1945, Hermetic writings were found side by side with Christian Gnostic texts. The doctrine of the soul taught in Gnostic communities was almost identical to that taught in the mysteries: the soul emanated from the Father, fell into the body, and had to return to its former home.

It was not until later in Rome that things took a change for the worse. Which moves us on to Greece.

The doctrinal similarity is exemplified in the case of the pagan writer and philosopher Synesius. When the people of Cyrene wanted the most able man of the city to be their bishop, they chose Synesius, a pagan. He was able to accept the election without sacrificing his intellectual honesty. In his pagan period, he wrote hymns that follow the fire theology of the Chaldean Oracles. Later he wrote hymns to Christ. The doctrine is almost identical.

To attempt to demonstrate this let's go to some basic tenets and beliefs of the two religions:

Christian Beliefs: The 10 Commandments

1. You shall have no other gods before me.
To the Christian, this means there will be no other God. Yet, in the bible, the phrase is plural. I does not state that you will not have another god, it says that you will have no other gods before the Christian God.

In the case of the later, it could be interpreted to mean that whereas other gods can be recognized, as a Christian, this person should place YHVH ahead of all gods recognizing him/her as the supreme being of all.

2. You shall not worship idols
Actually, what it says in the New International Version is "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to thousands who love me and keep my commandments.

3. You shall not take the name of the lord in vain.
This one is pretty self explanatory. When a person is calling on the lord he/she is asking the lord for guidance or action. Thus, the phrase "God damn it!" can be translated into a person asking the lord to condemn whatever "it" is to hell. The phrase "To damn" means to condemn to hell. In modern society, several phrases such as the following are common usage:
"Oh God!", "God forbid!", "God damn it!", "God have mercy!"

Each of these is asking God to perform some act upon or for the speaker with the exception of "Oh God!" which is asking for Gods attention.

4. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.
Depending on which religion you are looking at (i.e. Jewish, from which the 10 commandments come; or Christianity, which adapted them for their use as well.) the Sabbath is either Saturday or Sunday. You may also take a look at the various mythological pantheons to correlate which is the first and last days of the week (i.e. Sun — Sunday — Genesis 1:3 "And God said, "Let there be light,' and there was light”, Moon — Monday. Genesis 1:14 "And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so. 16 God made two great lights — the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.") Thus the Sun was created first. With the day of the Sun being the first in the week, then Saturday would be the 7th or Sabbath.

5. Honor thy mother and thy father.
This is another that is fairly self explanatory. It is any parent's right after spending the time to raise you to expect that you respect them.

6. You shall not murder.
This does not say "You shall not murder — except in my name." It says You shall not murder. Period. Out of the 10 commandments, I have found that over the course of history, this one has been the most ignored. As we look as the spread of Christianity from around 300 C.E. forward, we find that as politics moved into the church and those in charge of man's "souls" were given more control that this one commandment sort of went out the window.

We see such things as the Crusades, the inquisition, and the dominating fear that was placed into the Christian "psyche" that one should destroy that which is not like you.

Even though we here stories about the "witch trials", and the "witch burnings" etc. There were actually very few "Witches" tried or burned. Most of these poor souls were that of Protestant beliefs (Against the Catholic Church) yet still maintained that they were Christians. But more on this later.

7. You shall not commit adultery.
You can look up the meaning in the dictionary, and this one becomes pretty self-evident. What it comes down to is that no person who has ever been divorced can marry again, and you don't have sex with someone that you are not married to.

8. You shall not steal.
Again, enough said. However don't go looking at Constantine to be obeying this one! The Pagan temples were looted to make his coinage.

9. You shall not give false witness against thy neighbor
Again, during the times of the inquisition, this also went out the window. Such tools as torture were used to pull confessions from these poor people who then signed statements that the inquisitors had written up saying that they freely signed this document. Of course the inquisitors stated that this person was not tortured, but it was his clever wit that had extracted this confession.

It was also during this time that persons, refusing to take responsibility for their own actions or accept that nature does in fact create strange circumstances (i.e. drought, flood, etc.) and the resulting illness and bug infestations. Very often, as the Witch-craze developed stronger, the one neighbor would accuse another of Witchcraft and destroying the fields or making their child sick, or whatever.

10.You shall not covet your neighbor.
On the surface, this one is pretty self explanatory. Don't crave your neighbor's possessions. Yes, I can relate this back to the inquisitional times as well since most of the accused's property reverted back to the Catholic church at this time there were several accused and convicted of Witchcraft simply because they would not sell their property to the church. However how does this effect persons today? How far do we carry the "Thou shalt not covet —"? This can be even so much as a want, however is it a sin to want a toy like your neighbor has? If so we're all in trouble. How many of us "want" that Porsche that we see driving down the road? Or how about that beautiful house that we just drove past? Do we carry this commandment to this extreme? If so I pity the person that can live by it for what that would say is "Thou shalt not dream."

Wiccan Beliefs

Since the religion of Wicca (or Witchcraft) is so diverse in it's beliefs, I have included several documents here that encompass the majority of the traditions involved. Again, this is simply a basis not the be all and end all.

Wiccan Rede
Bide ye wiccan laws you must,
in perfect love and perfect trust
Live ye must and let to live,
fairly take and fairly give
For the circle thrice about
to keep unwelcome spirits out
To bind ye spell well every time,
let the spell be spake in rhyme
Soft of eye and light of touch,
speak ye little, listen much
Deosil go by the waxing moon,
chanting out ye baleful tune
When ye Lady's moon is new,
kiss ye hand to her times two
When ye moon rides at her peak,
then ye heart's desire seek
Heed the north winds mighty gale,
lock the door and trim the sail
When the wind comes from the south,
love will kiss thee on the mouth
When the wind blows from the east,
expect the new and set the feast.
Nine woods in the cauldron go,
burn them fast and burn them slow
Elder be ye Lady's tree,
burn it not or cursed ye'll be
When the wheel begins to turn,
soon ye Beltane fires will burn
When the wheel hath turned a Yule
light the log the Horned One rules
Heed ye flower, bush and tree,
by the Lady blessed be
Where the rippling waters go,
cast a stone, the truth ye'll know
When ye have and hold a need,
harken not to others greed
With a fool no season spend,
or be counted as his friend
Merry meet and merry part,
bright the cheeks and warm the heart.
Mind ye threefold law ye should
three times bad and three times good
When misfortune is enow,
wear the star upon thy brow
True in love my ye ever be,
lest thy love be false to thee
These eight words the Wiccan rede fulfill;
An harm ye none, do what ye will.

One of the Pagan Oaths recognized nationally here in the U.S.

A Pledge to Pagan Spirituality

  • I am a Pagan and I dedicate Myself to channeling the Spiritual Energy of my Inner Self to help and to heal myself and others.
  • I know that I am a part of the Whole of Nature. May I grow in understanding of the Unity of all Nature. May I always walk in Balance.
  • May I always be mindful of the diversity of Nature as well as its Unity and may I always be tolerant of those whose race, appearance, sex, sexual preference, culture, and other ways differ from my own.
  • May I use the Force (psychic power) wisely and never use it for aggression nor for malevolent purposes. May I never direct it to curtail the free will of another.
  • May I always be mindful that I create my own reality and that I have the power within me to create positively in my life.
  • May I always act in honorable ways: being honest with myself and others, keeping my word whenever I have given it, fulfilling all responsibilities and commitments I have taken on to the best of my ability.
  • May I always remember that whatever is sent out always returns magnified to the sender. May the Forces of Karma move swiftly to remind me of these spiritual commitments when I have begin to falter from them, and may I use this Karmic feedback to help myself grow and be more attuned to my Inner Pagan Spirit.
  • May I always remain strong and committed to my Spiritual ideals in the face of adversity and negativity. May the Force of my Inner Spirit ground out all malevolence directed my way and transform it into positively. May my Inner Light shine so strongly that malevolent forces can not even approach my sphere of existence.
  • May I always grow in Inner Wisdom and Understanding. May I see every problem that I face as an opportunity to develop myself spiritually in solving it.
  • May I always act out of Love to all other beings on this Planet — to other humans, to plants, to animals, to minerals, to elementals, to spirits, and to other entities.
  • May I always be mindful that the Goddess and God in all their forms dwell within me and that this divinity is reflected through my own Inner Self, my Pagan Spirit.
  • May I always channel Love and Light from my being. May my Inner Spirit, rather than my ego self, guide all my thoughts, feelings, and actions.

So Mote It Be

In the Wiccan Rede above, and scattered in the oath, we find words such as Perfect Love and Perfect Trust. What are these strange words and what do they mean?

Before one can analyze the meaning behind the phrase "Perfect Love and Perfect Trust", one must first define the words. For this purpose, I will use the Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language 1982 edition. Perfect: adj. [L. per-, through + facere, do] 1. complete in all respects; flawless 2. excellent, as in skill or quality 3. completely accurate 4. sheer; utter [a perfect fool] 5. Gram. expressing a state or action completed at the time of speaking — vt. 1. to complete 2. to make perfect or nearly perfect — n. 1. the perfect tense 2. a verb form in this tense — perfectly adv — perfectness n.

Love: n. [<OE. lufu] 1. strong affection or liking of someone or something. 2. a passionate affection for one of the opposite sex. 3. The object of such affection, sweetheart.

Trust: n. [ON, traust] 1. a) firm belief in the honesty, reliability, etc. of another; faith b) the one trusted 2. confident expectation, hope, etc. 3. responsibility resulting from confidence placed in one. 4. Care, custody 5. something entrusted to one.

Using these definitions, we come up with "Flawless strong affection and flawless faith.

Is this possible? Those that follow the religion of Wicca often give excuses for this just being words. When this is the case, they are not obeying their faith, thus they are not following perfect love and perfect trust. But to the rest the answer is a resounding yes. This does not ask that you "like" a person. It asks that you see the divine light and love within individual whether you like them or not. Can this be done, yes. As to the perfect trust we can always trust a fox to be a fox right. Therefore, when we are entering circle, we can honestly answer perfect trust even if it is on shaky ground. We may have faith that this person will act like any other human.

It with these beliefs and doctrines that I state that not only was the doctrine, or teaching almost identical, but the vocabulary was extensively the same.

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