This article by PCV Committee member Luca was originally published in our old newsletter, Spokes of the Wheel (volume 2 issue 5, Yule 2015). Photo by Kylie Moroney photography.
“Deep beneath the shade and power Of this tree we call our tower Day is fleeting, shadows fall Across this path our feet touch all”
-Charge of the WildWood
T o this I must confess, Wildwood witchcraft is a rather recent current of witchcraft. It came into being late 2006 through four young men when a “call out” was sent by one of the founders of Wild-wood seeking like minded individuals who might be interested in exploring pagan faith together and delving into the mysteries that witchcraft holds. A covenant was formed between these four but soon other witches from the surrounding area began to congregate and celebrate the moon and sun under the banner of “WildWood”.
The earlier members of Wildwood began to recognise this strand of witchcraft as its own beast. This was noted when one of the founding members branched out and carried the seed of Wildwood him to form his coven in England. At that time something affectionately nicknamed the “yewj” (the usual setup) became fully formed. The “yewj” being what had used to be a somewhat basic neopagan framework but had rather organically grown and evolved as had its participants.
Wildwood has since expanded, branched out and thrown its seeds to every possible passing wind with our witches now based in Australia, the Netherlands, America, England and even a witch or two in Japan.
Through its enigmatic beginnings Wildwood has thus become a definition of eclecticism, having drawn inspiration, vision and learning from Greco-Roman mystery traditions, English folk-lore, published Wiccan material, indigenous European shamanic practices and paradigms, Italian witchcraft, Luciferian and heretical witchcraft, historical witchcraft trials, the Reclaiming tradition of witchcraft and Celtic druidism. A few of the many authors who’ve had an influence on the members of Wildwood and our practice are Doreen Valiente, Dion Fortune, Starhawk, Robert Cochrane and Charles Godfrey Leland.
I remember hearing a member of our community succinctly describe Wildwood as a “Earth based, ecstasy driven, mysterytradition”. To pull it out of a romanticised and poetic context and put it into layman’s terms it can be broken down into three parts.
Firstly, “earth based” refers to our belief that the land itself is inherently sacred, that nature in all its guises and masks is the honest face of God Herself and that the earth itself is worthy of our protection and adoration, both practically and magically.
Secondly, “ecstasy driven” refers to the sorcerous practices and skills employed within our tradition, fetch-flight, possession and oracular seership not being seen as taboo (although we often pride ourselves as taboo breakers) but accepted and explored.
Thirdly, “mystery tradition” eludes to our tradition’s framework as well as our relationship with greater mystery; the otherworld being seen as the heartland of the witch. The framework of Wildwood can be broken down into an inner and outer court, inner being comprised of Dedicants and the Priesthood and the outer court being filled with Aspirants.
One thing that separates us from other mystery traditions is our actual lack of hierarchy, Priest/esses not having authority over Dedicants and Dedicants not having authority over Aspirants. The journey from Aspirant to Dedicant to Priest/ess being viewed largely as a journey inwards and into mystery, with certain names and mysteries being withheld from aspirants on the basis that without a context, these mysteries would mean nothing.
Our tradition, though young and fresh, makes brave strides forward, misstepping at times though always picking ourselves back up and dusting off with as much grace and tact as a bunch of cackling witches can do. We accept people from all gender expressions, sexualities, capabilities, races and walks of life and we never charge for the education, training and initiation of Wildwood witchcraft.
As a member of the Wildwood tradition of witchcraft and a rather recent resident of Melbourne, I look forward to being more present and active within the Victorian Pagan community.
By Shaz Lizzy
The Pagan Collective of Victoria’s public Lughnassadh ritual will be hosted by Silver Birch Grove ADF on the fifth of February, 2017, and is open to all Pagan and likeminded folk. Below is a re-post of a very informative article about the Grove, which is just one of the many active and friendly Pagan groups open to the public here in Victoria. 🙂
Silver Birch Grove is a member Grove of ADF. The full name of our organization is Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid fellowship, Inc. The first part, pronounced arn REEokht fane, is modern Irish for “Our Own Druidism” (or “Druidry” or “Magic”) and that’s what we are — an independent tradition (denomination) of Neopagan Druidism. Since many people have trouble pronouncing and spelling our Irish name, we usually just say “ADF.”
ADF is working to combine in-depth scholarship with the inspiration of artistry and spiritual practice to create a powerful modern Paganism. We’re researching and interpreting sound modern scholarship (rather than romantic fantasies) about the ancient Indo-European Pagans — the Celts, Norse, Slavs, Balts, Greeks, Romans, Persians, Vedics, and others. Upon these cultural foundations we are working to build a religion that these ancient people would appreciate and understand yet one which has depth and power for modern people. We’re developing genuine skills in composition and presentation in the musical, dramatic, graphic, textile and other arts. We’re bringing together people trained in ritual, psychic skills and applied mythology to bring the remnants of the old ways to life. We’re creating a non-sexist, non-racist, organic, flexible and publicly available religion to practice as a way of life and to hand on to future generations.
Silver Birch ADF is a Melbourne based congregation of Neopagan Druids serving the greater Melbourne Area. Silver Birch Grove primarily focuses on the Celtic hearth cultures. We are a growing group of friends who enjoy studying the mythology, archaeology, and anthropology of the Indo-European cultures. We also honour our Ancestors and the Deities associated with these cultures by celebrating the high days in public rituals. Our religion is a way of life. As such we believe in following the 9 virtues of Wisdom, Piety, Vision, Courage, Integrity, Perseverance, Hospitality, Moderation, and Fertility. We also meet for study, hiking, arts/crafts, culture, meditations, blessings, and community works.
We are working together to research and revive the practices of the Old Ones in a way that makes sense for the modern world. We are striving to create a spiritual environment for the community where each member can grow spiritually, artistically, and intellectually, where we all achieve greater communion with Mother Earth, the Nature Spirits, our Ancestors, and our Deities. We hope to continue to grow and serve the community both spiritually and materially through rituals, workshops, and public works. Membership is open to all who wish to honour the cycles of Nature, and revere the Ancestors and Deities. Any Druidic ritual has as a primary intention the re-weaving of the links between human-kind, the natural world, and the God/desses and Spirits who support both. For thousands of years human culture lived in more or less intimate communion with the unseen worlds. Over the centuries of European culture these ties have been weakened, until our modern materialism is endangering the very air and water that sustains our life. We work to reconnect with the powers of Land, Sea and Sky, honouring the spirit that is in them as well as their physical realities. As with any religious path we also seek blessings for ourselves, our families and communities. We open our hearts to the flow of divine blessing that comes from our God/desses. We seek also to awaken that same divine spark in our own souls, so that we can bless the world in return.
At Beltaine 2015, the folk of Silver Birch Grove and the Warrior women and friends gathered to celebrate in a public setting. We were excited to be given the opportunity to run our ritual at Mt Franklin. We were also delighted to have our Vice Arch Druid in attendance and all the way from America.
We offered a ritual that follows our core order. The ritual that we offered is similar to what we would have held at our home nemeton in inner Melbourne, just with more people! Our ritual began with a spiral danced led by Linda and then Dale talked about the lands and the people of the land. We Began with the purpose of the ritual by Ang, then Shaz announced our intent to honour gods, goddesses, ancestors and spirits of place. Maree honoured the earth Mother, Callum made our offering to the out dwellers and Andrea honoured our Bardic deities, Julie honoured the nature spirits, Curtis the ancestors, Dean the gods and goddesses and Ang the deity of the occasion, Danu. Shaz then proceeded to the praise offering and Drum took the omen for the blessing using Ogham, which was: ur- Heather/ Mistletoe, healing by looking inside. Phagos- Beech, old knowledge and old writing, oir- spindle, sudden de-light after a long process. So the story tells us that through the old knowledge and writ-ings we will be able to look inside ourselves to gain healing. Shaz then received the blessing of the gods and spirits through the waters of life. Deb and Rowan asperged all in the circle and at the close of the ritual we asked all to join us for a shared meal. What a great weekend. Thanks to all those who participated, organised and came from far away.
So, now with our sights firmly fixed on the summer days to come, the earth is again green as we have been promised. Warmed by the power of the Sun and the Waters’ cool strength, shoot has become bud and the promise of abundance to come is visible all over the land. It is now that the Nature Spirits truly come alive, and as we honour them, we also give thanks to the Kindreds that guide us, and to our Ancestors who walk with us. Now we rejoice in the warmth after the cold winter and welcome the spring.
If you would like to know more about ADF please visit ADF.org
For more information about Silver Birch Grove ADF visit our Facebook group.
(Some material from ADF.org)
This article originally appeared in our old newsletter, Spokes of the Wheel (volume 2 issue 7, Spring 2015). Photo: ADF Archdruid Drum at the 2015 Mount Franklin Pagan Gathering. Supplied by Kylie Moroney Photography.