Witches vs. Magicians in Medeival Class War?

From: Uncle Chuckie
Date: Wed, 5 Jan 2000 01:17:07 EST
Subject: Re: [zee-list] Witches, Wicca, paganism and the Old Ways
To: zee-list

In a message dated 00-01-04 15:17:09 EST, you write:
I would be interested in hearing more argument against this. I would like to hear more about how modern witchcraft is not based on old practices... and I would especially like to hear sources for such arguments. :) I'm not fishing for flames here, I'm just interested in a bit more discussion since it seems to be something several of you are passionate about.
Ok, a few points on this.

Putting on my historian helmet for a moment, Wicca as a religious movement probably dates to 1948 when Gerald Gardner discovered that he could only get it up by whipping people and this cult thing gave him an excuse to do it. If one looks at their ceremonies, it is real easy to find most of the roots of them, an eclectic mix of various magickal practices with a few things stolen from the old Golden Dawn.

But witchcraft, as an expression of popular belief and practice goes back to the caves. It manifested itself in various ways and one can still find traces of it in the fields of europe and in remote areas of the southern US. Modern farmers are less likely to bother with it because they don't have time between tending machinery and playing the commodity markets.

Now, personally, I have no problem with the sort of claims to antiquity made by Wiccans even if they are nonsense. After all, the Freemasons claim to go back to some silly event around the building of Solomon's temple and that is about as likely as the Buddha really being enlightened, Jesus really being the Son of God and the Pope being infallible. My objection to Wiccans is the evangalistic fervor with which they try to impose their view of the universe on everyone else. I remember years ago having a rather heated debate with Scott Cunningham and telling him to shove his Wiccan Rede where it would do him the most good. (And considering what happened to him, the Rede wasn't the only thing shoved there!)

But there is another element to the mage/witch feud which is often overlooked and I'm glad Martin is back on the list because he's gonna love this. There was a serious class war thing between the magicians and the witches.

Now think about it. The witches were, for the most part, country folk, illiterate, with just enough magickal ability to get along and make folks nervous. The magicians, on the other hand, were literate (they had to be), had money because the tools of the trade were not cheap and were, in fact, for the most part, clergymen.

So who was it who burned the witches? The Magicians, or at least they started it. They didn't want anyone messing around with things they viewed as their province.

And it has carried on to the present day. Magick presents itself as a system of doing things centered on the operator. Wicca presents itself as a religion and thus directed away from the individual. Magicians it may be said are not fond of religions. They tend to look down on them and Wiccans genuinely fear magicians, particularly chaotes, because they represent a force that is outside of their system and control.

Now, important, this is generalization and not specific to any person. There are Wiccans who are great fun to be around (one stood up at my wedding) and there are Magicians who get along fine with Wiccans. The problems seem to come most often at random meetings when the divergent worldviews really crash into each other.

Uncle Chuckie