Dual Faith Observance and Traditional Witchcraft

“To return to witches however, although there are obvious similarities with some of the modern magical practices carried out by Wiccans, most of the methods and techniques used by the old-time witches bear little resemblance to those used by today’s neo-pagan witches. Often the cunning folk practised dual faith observance and the charms, amulets, prayers and incantations they used invoked Jesus, the Virgin Mary, the Trinity and the company of saints. Psalms were used for magical purposes as spells and they still are in some modern traditional witchcraft circles. With the coming of the new faith of Christianity and the suppression of the ancient pagan religions, objects such as crucifixes, saints’ medallions, the host and holy water were widely used by folk magicians because they were believed to possess ‘virtue’ or magical energy and inherent healing power.

Christian symbolism was used in folk magic rituals involving psychic protection, counter-magic snd healing. Many of the old pagan charms were Christianised and some of the saints took on the earlier attributes of Pagan gods and goddesses. Sacred springs previously dedicated to goddesses for
instance were re-dedicated either to the Virgin Mary or to female saints such as Winefrede or Bride.

Healing charms replaced the names of pagan deities such as Woden, Loki and Thor with those of God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost. Many of the grimoires used by witches and the practitioners of folk magic also inevitably contained Judeo-Christian symbolism.

Some modern traditional witches still follow dual faith observance using the psalms for magical purposes, working with the company of saints and employing Christian imagery, symbolism and liturgy, often in a heretical and subversive way. The neo-Pagan witch speaks of ways that harm none, while the modern traditional witch – in common with the witches and cunning folk of the past – can both cure and curse as the need arises. Here the magic, while Christian, is undoubtedly authentic
rather than a romantic revival. Similar practices can be found in Vodou, Hoodoo, Santeria, Macumba, Ju-ju and Obeah in the Americas and in Africa. A Catholic model of the universe, including heaven, purgatory and the underworld, influenced Congolese acceptance and use of Catholicism in their magical practices, such as Palo Mayombe. It is just as useful in Western necromancy.”
– from the Testament of Cyprian the Mage by Jake Stratton-Kent

The Testament of Cyprian the Mage review by Frater Acher

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