The Sacred Numbers

While browsing my blog states today, I noticed someone searching out why 13 and 21 were significant to witches.  This is a primarily Wiccan post, as our numerology is different than other schema and identities.

I am going to quote Gerald B. Gardner in his brief, confuddled explanation in Witchcraft Today, below:

Because three and five make eight, many things must be in eights; but eight and five make thirteen, and so thirteen is another good number; but since five eights, or three covens and a leader, make forty, forty is a good number and certain things must be forty.

Does anyone else feel like they were robbed of intelligence with that reasoning?  Either way, that is the traditional perspective.  The numbers in Gardnerian Wicca which are special are 3, 5, 8, 13 and 40.

Spiritually, the numbers can easily be assigned deeper meanings.

3 – The God, the Goddess, and Life/Child/Creation/etc.  The goddess in her triple form.

5 – Man.  The Pentacle.  The God.

8 – The Wheel of the Year – the 8 solar sabbats.(4 “height of (insert season here)”, 2 equinoxes, 2 solstices)

13 – The Wheel of the Year – the 13 lunar esbats.(full moons)

40 – I’m at a loss here.  I do like his explanation.  Three covens and a leader.

Keep in mind that within Gardnerian tradition, these numbers become exceptionally important in the initiation rites – the purification/test act of scourging is assigned to these various numbers.  I believe I mentioned the scourge in an earlier post.

I’m sure I’ll come back to the intricacies of Gardnerian Initiation Rites at some point…but as I have not slept in some time, that’s a rather large chunk of information for me to process at this moment.

Blessed Be!

Fetish, Gardner, and the Scourge

For some reason, I feel driven to write about sex – well, not sex.  Fetishes.  Fetishes are those feelings…those needs that you have, perhaps from a prepubescent age, that are sexual, but not related to a directly sexual act.  Depending on the type of fetish, it may become a lifestyle.

This post is being created because I people watch, and often, fetishes are the butt of everyone’s sexual jokes.  “I don’t do that” someone will say haughtily, when I know of an instance where someone engages in that behavior because they can’t help it.  But, those with fetishes and alternative desires are not diseased.  The engaging in the behavior is a choice.  They are not weak for having strange urges.  And that discrimination, less recognized than that against homosexuals, but no less hurtful – upsets me.

Because fetishes are of interest to me, I have accumulated a fair amount of knowledge over the years – as any exploratory teen would attest to.  Within that knowledge, I have found many ‘case studies’ of those people who, as mentioned before, had these urges from a prepubescent stage of their life, before they knew what “sex” was.  Are fetishes genetic?  Do they run through families or the father or the mother?  What spawns fetishes, if they’re not genetic, but present in prepubescent stages?  People with fetishes can’t *all* have screwed up childhoods or abuse stories.  Most don’t.

And those who have fetishes are not driven to those, and kept beyond their abilities to use their brains.  By this, I mean that, people with fetishes are intelligent!   Just because something drives them, doesn’t mean it controls them.  They can even go so far as to discuss their lifestyles with dignity and a fair amount of contemplation.

And this brings me to my next point.  The “Sacrifice” within a Gardnerian ritual involves the scourge.  You scourge the initiate as their test, and the act, itself, is very ritualized.  The act, though perhaps not intended to deal a massive amount of pain, is certainly not intended to deal pleasure.

How then, are those who follow the Gardnerian traditions expected to participate within the rituals, if they possess any sort of domination/submission, spanking, whipping, or other masochistic fetish?  For men, how are they supposed to kneel, skyclad, and receive their strokes without reacting to it as they have in the same instance, with their partner wielding a similar instrument?  How are women supposed to live out their ‘darkest’ fantasy of being whipped, while maintaining proper etiquette within the circle?

Is there something inherently wrong with becoming aroused in a circle that was not cast for sex or the Great Rite?  Is there something inherently wrong with becoming aroused during the scourging process?  How about the binding?

We value sex as pleasure, yet it has its place, too.  Should there be an alternate ritual process for those who enjoy the beating?  Or are we made – regardless of fetish – somewhere deep inside, to all get a little aroused from the scourging?  Was Gardner, from whom we receive the scourging rituals, himself a sadist or a masochist?

Does this bring into question the integrity of the rituals at hand?

I will try to tackle these questions at a better time than 2 o’clock in the morning; one by one.  Any comments?

Gerald Gardner

Well, I have to admit that I’m feeling lazy today, and I have an article in the works for later in this week. I believe that, at this particular moment, I am going to simply post an essay I wrote some time ago (4 years ago) regarding Gerald Gardner’s validity as the founder of Wicca. I am posting it merely because it provides background information. I’m not sure what point I was pushing, but as a sophomore in high school then, and a sophomore in college, now, I’m sure my opinion has changed slightly through the years and more research. I’m sure that in upcoming posts, I may rework the article to reflect that, or write a more comprehensive analysis of the issue at hand. With that said, enjoy.

“11. As American Witches, we are not threatened by debates on the history of the Craft, the origins of various terms, the legitimacy of various aspects of different traditions. We are concerned with our present, and our future. ” – The American Council Of Witches, 1974.

Contrary to popular belief, Gerald Gardner is responsible for bringing the Wiccan Religion “out of the broom closet.” Though some discredit him for the work he did in his lifetime concerning the occult, it is possible to prove that Gerald Gardner, through his writings and experiences, helped create the foundation for the religion known today as Wicca.

“To be a Witch is to draw on our archetypal roots and to draw strength from them. It means to put yourself into close consonance with some ways that are older than the human race itself.” – Ed Fitch.

In 1974, a group of Witches, called the American Council of Witches, was established in order to define modern Witchcraft (Wicca). Wicca is difficult to define, by nature, because of its vast variety of traditions and followers. There is no established hierarchy among Wiccans, and they acknowledge no absolute authority of the religion. A Witch is a priest or priestess, and therefore a Witch is able to communicate with their gods without the use of a human medium.

Wiccans worship and perform their rites alone, or in small groups called covens, in order to attune themselves to the rhythms and cycles of Nature. Covens are closely knit, sometimes closer than the families that the members come from. Most Wiccans use meditation and prayer, and a combination of both, to help them guide their along the paths they find morally right. In being knowledgeable about what Wicca is, one can then take a look at someone who is by some, considered to be the founder of Wicca, and by others, “a con man, deceitful and manipulative.” (Knowles)

Gerald Gardner was born on June 13th, 1884, in Great Crosby, Lancashire, England. When he was a young child, he experienced bouts of asthma, which caused his nurse to take him to warmer locations in the harsh winters. As he grew, this affliction left him, but the urge to travel did not. When Gerald evolved into adulthood, he took on the job of a Customs officer. In 1927, he met and married a woman named Donna. She stayed faithful to him until her death in 1960. After her death, Gerald’s bouts of asthma reappeared, probably from depression.

Although Gerald retired from his Customs job in 1936, this did not mean that he retired from everything else. Gerald’s pastime was archaeology. He was fascinated by ancient artifacts, and this led him into Witchcraft articles. Having finally made contact with the occult, in September of 1939, Gerald Gardner was initiated into the New Forest Coven. At this time, the Witchcraft Act was still in effect in England.

Unable to publish non-fiction books about Witchcraft, Gerald published a book called High Magick’s Aid in 1949, under the pen name of Scire. His coven, and their high priestess, “Old” Dorothy Clutterbuck, were wary of his penmanship, and did not want him to publish anything related to their traditions. They, as most traditional Witches are, were very secretive. The Witchcraft Act was repealed in 1951, deposing of the last laws against the occult in England. Just 3 years later, Gerald published the book Witchcraft Today, under his own name.

Doreen Valiente, a high priestess of Gardner’s until they parted ways for a time due to a disagreement, did much to improve Gardner’s status. Angered, or perhaps intrigued by people’s disbelief in “Old Dorothy”, spent a few years after Gardner’s death, proving Dorothy Clutterbuck’s existence.

Many people believe that Gardner drew on previously documented sources to create his own sets of rules and hierarchy; in essence, his own religion. This religion was then promoted through his books.

The document called the “Old Laws” is a perfect example of this. In this document, the language that was used was not uniform. The dialects came from all over Europe, from England and Scotland, and probably from other areas as well, such as France or Spain. The times that certain words were in common use span centuries, from the 16th and 17th centuries to modern usage.

Another fact which supports this belief is the similarity between parts of Gardner’s Book Of Shadows, and Aleister Crowley’s works. Aleister Crowley, an occultist and founder of Thelema, yet another religion, met with Gardner a few times, and obviously influenced his work. Sometimes, entire passages of Gardner’s works are the same as those of Aleister Crowley’s, although they are not the same religions. Doreen Valiente, one of Gardner’s high priestesses, took what Gardner had copied from Crowley and reworded it into a more poetic, smooth form. In this way, she gave Wicca some individuality. Without Gardner, this would have been impossible. Doreen is the author of the more poetic version of the Charge of the Goddess, as well as many other works found within a Gardnerian Book of Shadows. These all are based on many sources, from Charles Leland’s Aradia to some of Aleister Crowley’s works.

Dorothy Clutterbuck is a figure that was wrapped in mystery, who many considered to be a myth until Doreen Valiente proved that “Old Dorothy” existed. Dorothy was the high priestess that Gerald Gardner received his wisdom and instruction from. She ran the coven that Gerald Gardner was initiated into. This coven was one of nine covens that “Old George Pickingill” started. According to Gardner, Mr. Pickingill said that he founded nine covens in his life time, situated around England.

During Gardner’s lifetime, he also served as the “Resident Witch” of the Museum of Witchcraft, located on the Isle of Man. This was run by Cecil Williamson. Upon Gardner’s death, his possessions were given to the museum and then sold to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not organization. This angered some witches, but most weren’t aware of the change of ownership.

The work that Gardner done has soundly impacted Wicca as it is today. This can be seen with Raymond Buckland, one of Gardner’s students who moved to America. Buckland brought Gardnerian Wicca to America, and is one of Llewelyn Publishing’s authors. If one walks down the Witchcraft aisle of any book store, one is bound to see a large, dark blue book by Raymond Buckland.

But what other impacts did Gardner make? Without Gardner to spark the interest, the craft would not be recognized as a legal religion in the United States of America. In 1973, 74 Witches, with Carl Weschcke as the chairperson, formed together to officially define American Witchcraft. Carl Weshchcke is also the owner of Llewelyn Publications, the largest New Age publisher on the American market. The document created by these 74 witches is used in the US Army Chaplains. It is also recognized by the United StatesUnited States Census. Wicca retains rights as a full religion, just like Christianity or Judaism.

“11. As American Witches, we are not threatened by debates on the history of the Craft, the origins of various terms, the legitimacy of various aspects of different traditions. We are concerned with our present, and our future. ” – The American Council Of Witches, 1974.

I am a Witch. Through the research of Gerald Gardner, I have enlightened myself both about other people’s opinions of the craft, and the history concerning it. Without knowing my history, I can not know my present or my future. I have pride to know that I have looked into Gerald Gardner’s life. It is my conclusion that Gerald Gardner greatly influenced the influx of Witches and perhaps permanently changed the path of Wicca forever during his lifetime. I believe that by knowing this, I can honor his memory properly, and respect him as an ancestor.

I am not threatened by debates on how deceitful Gerald Gardner was. Gerald Gardner deserves respect as the founder of tradition Witchcraft. Some will discredit him in an attempt to place themselves on a pedestal, but the fact remains that without Gardner, Wicca or Witchcraft would not be where it is today as a religion.

Sources:

“Gerald Gardner”. <http://home.graffiti.net/seekers/gardner.html&gt;

“Why I choose to drop the Wiccan Label”. Visited 15 Dec 03. <http://www.geocities.com/notuswill/rewicca.html&gt;

Adler, Margot. Drawing Down The Moon. Canada: Beacon Publishing, 1979.

Aleister Crowley Foundation. <http://www.thelemicknights.org/acfresources.html&gt;

Apologia Report. Hawkins Interview. Visited 11 Dec 03. <http://www.gospelcom.net/apologia/mainpages/WhatsNews/Hawkins/Interview.html&gt;

Grimassi, Raven. Encyclopedia of Wicca and Witchcraft. St. Paul MN: Llewellyn Publishing, 2002.

Hautn-Mayer, Joanna. “When is a Celt not a Celt?” Gnosis Summer 1998, pp 59-65. SIRS Brockport High School Library, Brockport, NY. 23 Dec 2003. <http//sks15.sirs.com/cgi-bin/hst-article=display?ID=0000NY0048-SIZ482WA&artno=078472&type=ART&sound=yes&key=WICCA>

Knowles, George. Controverscial.com. Visited 11 Dec 03. <http://www.controverscial.com/Gerald%20Brosseau%20Gardner.htm&gt;

Lacoste, Rikki. Gerald Gardner. Visited 15 Dec 03.

Oakseer. “Gerald Gardner, Old Words and the Old Laws.“. Visited 15 Dec 03. <http://www.angelfire.com/ca/redgarters/gerald.html&gt;

Phillips, Julia. History (2) of Wicca in England. Visited 11 Dec 03. <http://wikca.tripod.com/hiswicca2.html&gt;

Phillips, Julia. History of Wicca in England. Visited 11 Dec 03. <http://www-personal.umich.edu/~sjgavula/wiccahist.html&gt;

Valiente, Doreen. The Rebirth of Witchcraft. Custer: Phoenix Publishing Inc., 1989.
Wicca Modified 29 Nov 2003. <http://en2.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wicca&gt;

Witches, American Council of. Principles of Wiccan Belief. <http://wiccanhuntress.tripod.com/13principlesofwiccanbelief.html&gt;