Saturday, 9 July 2011

On Wicca and the Christian Heritage: Ritual, sex and magic.


Five Star Book Review;
Joanne Overend's
Wicca and the Christian Heritage: Ritual, sex and magic.

Warning, this is a very academic work steeped in a breathtaking complexity of reference and cross reference that launches the reader into an unexpected examination of the conflicts between the Christian Churches..
However, quickly (in an academic sort of way) the text becomes imbued with the intrigue and mystery of the 'episcopanes vagantes' or wandering Bishops, as in a ripping-yarn-like-account they set about creating offshoots and unauthorized new lines of religious movements and churches.

The ensuing revealed history is fascinating as it presents the developments of their heterodox churches with increasingly less attachment to either the Protestant or the Catholic churches, the former regarding the latter as practitioners in witchery via their priest-craft of mass and transubstantiation etc, the Anglican church's endeavors to assert a lineage direct from ancient Jerusalem via Joseph of Arimathea's mission to Glastonbury thus sidestepping the subsequent Papal Creed and Catholic church of Rome in favor of a more natural form of Christianity....

The author then examines in some detail the definition of Ritual and its meanings within the old Catholic tradition, the new Anglican church (with its claim to older traditions than the Catholic), the Catholic v Protestant dichotomy between Ritual as The Spiritual Experience which transforms lives v Protestant prioritization of Understanding as the primary factor of a spiritual life.
Against this background, the new Wiccan claims to be ''The'' 'Old' Religion, their founders Christian associations, that for example Crowley was brought up among Brethren, that Gardeners involvement with Spiritualist churches, the interest in The Golden Dawn and the Rosicrucians, as well as claimed descent from the even older ones of Egyptian mystery religions, sets the pathway to consider Wicca in terms of its defining aspects of ritual and practice.
Ritual is revealingly portrayed across the diversity of traditions in addition to a thoughtful, non salacious handling of the aspect of sexual control, rebellion and practice across the diverse traditions.

Specifically the comparison of the Catholic medieval condemnation of witchcraft (comprised of unorthodox and elderly single women, herbalists, Jewish and other culturally excluded people and groups) the later comparison by Protestants of Catholics themselves with this same group based on their magical rituals, and the subsequent development of Wiccans and others who practice various forms of ritual, along with the lines of inception by which the latter have come to create their new/old traditions is fascinating.

Strongly Recommended for any who wish to 'Understand' the origins of the new/old traditions of Wicca and Paganism, but not essential for those who prioritize experiential spirituality over cognitive reconciliation.

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