The History of Witchcraft: Part 7

We have looked briefly at the similarities of the philosophies and vocabularies, but is that all that they had in common? Let's look at symbologies.

For many years, the cross has been the symbol representing the death of the Christian Christ. It has represented that through his death, man could be reborn into God's grace. Thus, we have the philosophy of life in death being connected to the cross. Is this the only time where this symbol was recognized as such? Let's go back to Egypt and find out.

An upright piece of wood, tied to a horizontal beam indicated the height of the flood waters on the Nile. This beam formed a cross. If the waters failed to rise during the season of planting, it meant a poor harvest for these people. Thus the cross was revered as a symbol of life and regeneration.

The Ankh represents the genitals of both sexes. The cross itself is a primitive form of the phallus, and the loop that of the womb. Again, we continue the symbol of the cross as the giver of life.

Yes even prior to this time was the cross a symbol of the phallus or fertility. This is not the only thing that the phallus has symbolized over the many centuries within and without the pagan world. It has also been used as a symbol of strength.

Within the Bible, we find several references to the horn also as a symbol of strength.

2 Samuel 22:3 — He is my shield, and the horn of my salvation.

Luke 1:69 — And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us.

Psalm 18:2 — He is my shield and the horn of my salvation.

The move from horn to helmet is followed up also in the bible as follows:
Isaiah 59:17 — For he put an helmet of salvation upon his head.

Ephesians 6:17 — Take the helmet of salvation.

Thessalonians 5:8 — putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.

In Roman days a warrior would were horns on his helmet. If he came back defeated, he was said to have been dehorned. There are several references where a soldier who lost his helmet on the field was killed for this offense because it meant dishonor for him to loose his horn.

Shakespeare had much knowledge of the use of horns as a symbol of protection and victory as is evident in his works As You Like It (IV,2) and in Measure for Measure (II,4:16) when he writes: "Let's write good angel on the devil’s horne; tis not the devil’s crest."

Even in modern days, the Catholic Church uses this symbol when setting the mitre upon the head of a newly consecrated bishop. The words used at such a time are: "We set on the head of this Bishop, O Lord, Thy champion, the helmet of defense and of salvation, that with comely face and with his head armed with the horns of either Testament he may appear terrible to the gainsayers of the truth, and may become their vigorous assailant, through the abundant gift of Thy grace, who didst make the face of Thy servant Moses to shine after familiar converse with Thee, and didst adorn it with the resplendent horns of Thy brightness and Thy truth and commandedst the mitre to be set on the head of Aaron, Thy high priest, Etc." (Copies in Latin and translated can be found in The Order Consecration of a Bishop Elect with the imprimatur of H. Card. Vaughn, p. 14, Burns and Oates, 1893.)

If we are looking at protections and the like, we must look at the use of stones and crystals within our lives. Yes, even in the Christian bible, the powers and uses of stones is mentioned. Exodus 28:15-21 — "Fashion a breast piece for making decisions — the work of a skilled craftsman. Make it like the ephod: of gold, and of blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and of finely twisted linen. It is to be square — a span (9 inches) wide — and folded double. Then mount four rows of precious stones on it. In the first row there shall be a ruby, a topaz and a beryl; in the second row a turquoise, a sapphire (or lapis lazuli) and an emerald; in the third row a jacinth, an agate and an amethyst; in the fourth row a chrysolite, an onyx and a jasper. Mount them in gold filigree settings. There are to be twelve stones, one for each of the names of the sons of Israel, each engraved like a seal with the name of one of the twelve tribes."

Exodus 28:9-14 — Take two onyx stones and engrave on the names of the sons of Israel in the order of their birth — six names on one stone and the remaining six on the other. Engrave the names of the sons of Israel on the two stones the way a gem cutter engraves a seal. Then mount the stones in gold filigree settings and fasten them on the shoulder pieces of the ephod as memorial stones for the sons of Israel. Aaron is to bear the names on his shoulders as a memorial before the Lord. Make gold filigree settings and two braided chains of pure gold, like a rope, and attach the chains to the settings.

Though it does not say as much, we might take the engraving as a form of runes, again creating a similarity between the craft and religions of old.

From man's search for protection, we come to the telling by the stars. Astrology, and the use of stars as protectors of man.

The lore behind the star of David is an interesting tale. The easy interpretation is that of Zionism. The more research you do on this though, you will find that once again, depending on the cultures you look at, it's interpretation changes. The six-pointed star formed by the superimposing of one triangle on another. The symbol is a combination of the male (apex upwards) and female (apex downwards) triangles; it is said, in cabalistic writings, to comprise the signs of the four elements and the four letters of the Tetragrammaton, and thus it came to be the symbol for God. Since the Biblical commandment puts a taboo on the use of the Name of God and on the depiction of God, the symbol was inscribed as the graphic representation of God in synagogues and wherever the Name was appropriate. In alchemy, the star of David combined the symbols for fire and water; hence, it meant distillation. Until recently, therefore, it appeared on shops selling brandy. The star of David is the symbol of Zionism and appears on the flag of Israel. As Solomon's seal, the hexagram possessed power to control demons of all kinds. The stopper on the bottle containing the bottle imp or jinni was stamped with the seal of Solomon. In the Nsibidi script of West Africa, a native form of writing, the symbol means ardent love; the universality of the male-female content of the sign is here apparent.

Astrology also has interesting roots. Though the word itself is made up of the Greek words meaning "star logic" (astra — star, Logos — logic), the actual origin is yet to be determined. We read in the Epic of Creation of Sumer — Akkad, or Early Babylon (ca 2200-1900 B.C.E.) that: "The Star — Jupiter who brings prophecies to all is my Lord. My Lord be at peace. The Star — Mercury allows rain to fall. The Star — Saturn, the star of Law and Justice."

The telling of fortunes by the stars underwent an avid growth spurt during the times of the Roman Empire, and though with minor qualms with the Christian church, it co-existed peacefully until the time of Constantine when all "pagan" activities were outlawed. Though outlawed within the Roman Empire, Astrology continued to thrive within the Middle East.

I realize that I said that I would touch on the inquisition and such, however, I think that it is common knowledge the document used to persecute those involved was written by the Friars within the Catholic Church at the time. The document, The Malleus Maleficarum, was a document designed to bring about fear within the Christian community, and more power to the church. What is not widely realized is that the majority of the persons that were either burned, drowned, or hung were not witches, but Protestants within the Christian church. (The ones that were Protesting the Catholic church.)

I realize that, at this time, this is a rather sketchy document. I hope in the near future to be able to take the time to develop more of the depth that I would like to put into bring up our roots. I hope to include in the expanded edition the times of burning, modern witchcraft, more symbols, and famous persons in the craft.

We've changed, but then as a good friend has told me on more than one occasion: "When we cease to change, we cease to grow. When we cease to grow, life ends."

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