The Pagan Burning Times
In 1486 CE a phenomenon began in which religious folks turned on spiritual folks who relied upon folk magic and herbal knowledge in order to serve their communities. These caring folks were known as Cunning folks or witches. They were often Elders and/or the wise folks of their individual villages.
This was the beginning of the infamous doctrine known as the Malleus Maleficarum, a malignant doctrine that was inspired by a Papal Bull written and issued in 1484 CE.
It was a doctrine written by two Catholic monks; Sprenger and Kramer, who in turn forged the signatures of each member of the College of Cologne which served as the papal censor bureau at the time. As history shows, not one member of that prestigious institution objected to such a blatant misdirection of power.
This period of time is known to Neo pagan folks as the infamous Burning Times. This horrible example of fear and hypocrisy extended itself over several centuries. How many folks were abused and/or murdered is anybody’s guess. However the blatant hatred and inhumane treatment by one human being towards another is well documented.
Material possessions were stolen outright from the victims of such actions, many of whom were not even pagans. Many folks were tortured and murdered by way of burning, hangings, drowning, mob violence and so forth.
The driving force behind such despicable acts by brothers and sisters against brothers and sisters was fueled by insecurity, ego, and outright fear.
The last law against witchcraft in the so called civilized world was abolished in England in 1948 CE.
Circa 1952 a gentleman by the name of Gardner started a religion which he referred to as Wicca. This religion was allegedly based upon the teachings he was said to have received from a Traditional witch named Dorothy Clutterbucks.
And so the Neo pagan movement began.
At first it was said that the Craft was not for everyone, that only a few would find such a path. And yet with the advent of the Internet, Neo paganism is expanding at a rapid rate. In most cases it is by members of a formal major religion, and in many cases it is former Christians who have become disenchanted with their former teachings and are seeking something more.
And this is all and good, provided such seeking results in an upward movement in spiritual values and not just a parallel movement, where one is simply changing venues but not progressing in their spiritual growth.
Because of my experiences over the long years, I feel compelled to enter a disclaimer here; I am NOT making a judgment here, each person has to decide for themselves what their goals are and where they are with those goals.
So often Neo pagans will point to the Burning Times and mouth the words “Never Again”.
And yet as Neo paganism expands we repeat a facsimile of the Burning Times by having pagans attacking pagans.
I personally cannot count the number of times that a “Witch War” has erupted over something as foolish and insignificant as someone disagreeing with someone else.
There are certain Wicca’s who state that no one is a true witch unless they have been initiated by someone in lineage to Gardner who himself was allegedly taught by a Traditional witch. Is this an oxymoron based upon ego and arrogance?
In my personal opinion, witchcraft was not created by any single human being, but rather by the awareness that there is something greater then ourselves. And by taking this awareness and following it to wherever it leads one in life.
There are those Neo pagans who turn their noses up at Solitaires. I personally serve as a member of a coven, and yet I have the utmost respect for those folks that choose to seek their spirituality as individuals. Paganism in general does not require the approval of a select segment of society.
To say otherwise is an oxymoron to the pagan concept that each person is an individual who in turn is responsible for their own actions in life. For the most part, pagans do not have a middleman to blame when they come up short in their actions and/or reactions to others. The buck stops with each individual person.
And yet the attacks on each other by our fellow brothers and sisters seem to persist wherever one looks within the pagan community.
And if one really wants to create a Burning Times facsimile, try using the word “Elder” within the pagan community.
This single word creates so much animosity and sanctimonious comments that one can well envision themselves as being tied to a stake with the flames of verbal acrimony whipping all about.
This is a seething and painful fire which is lit by fellow pagans.
In all reality no community is a perfect setting.
But when a community continues to devour its own it is inevitably doomed to failure.
And so at the end of the day we as pagans need to decide if we are able to actually create a pagan community as such and what tenets will define such a community. There is no need nor is it realistic to create one massive coven or what have you.
Why can’t we as folks who follow a magickal path find the wherewithal to coexist with our divergent beliefs without all of the hypocrisy?
Can’t the pagan community just be euphuism for folks who engage in the concepts of individuality and spiritualism which is enhanced by magickal practices?
In short can we move past the egotism and stop being hypocrites in general?
Can we move past the pagan inspired Burning Times, where pagans are attacking fellow pagans?
My final disclaimer is that this treatise is based upon my personal views and experiences over the last 25 years or so. This is neither based upon, nor directed at any individual person or group but is a general assessment from one single point of view…