Tag Archive: History

Voodoo is the Dahomey word for spirit. It is often spelled as Vodou, or Vodoun - the typical Haitian spelling. Any spirit found in the natural world is vodou. Voodoo is a derivative of the world's oldest known religions which have existed in Africa since the beginning of human civilization - civilizations and religions estimated to be over 10,000 years old. Voodoo is a direct descendent of the religions of these ancient civilizations.

Vodou originates from the western nations of Africa, primarily from the ancient kingdom of Dahomey, which is now present day Benin. Vodou also came from the peoples of the Kongo as well as the Central African regions, including Bakongo, and the Yoruba of Nigeria.

Vodou can be considered a religion shaped more by the evolution of its practicioners than as a static dogma. Therefore, it's necessary to consider the evolvement of Vodou religion from within the framework of its history - politically and socially.

Vodou in general is a religion of tolerance. It freely borrows from other traditions to keep alive African beliefs. This is seen especially clearly in Haitian Vodou.

Haitian Vodou

Haitian Vodou is an initiatory tradition that is practiced by 90% of the population of Haiti - that is, the poor working class and the peasantry. The nation of Haiti that exists today is primarily composed of peoples whose ancestors were brought over as slaves from various African Tribes. The predominant elements of Vodou religion come from these old African religions that the slaves brought with them to Haiti, mixed with the Catholicism that the French forced upon them.

Vodou offers a system of beliefs that provides Haitians both meaning and solace - qualities that are in short supply in a country with no public schools, few working sewers, no public transportation, little industry, and no good roads. Haitian vodou is also highly eclectic: Attemping to recreate their religious culture in Haiti, African slaves expropriated a huge repertory of influences, including bits and pieces from the indigenous Taino Indians, Roman Catholicism, Freemasonry, and European mysticism.

Outlawed within slavery, Vodou needed a disguise if it were to survive oppressive ideologies from Europe. In fact many of the Lwa (worshipped spirits) are known to be of pale skin as opposed to African in their Descent.

These roots are quite evident in Haitian Vodou today. Because Vodou has had such influence on Haitian art and music, even Haitians who are NOT Vodou initiates and do not serve any particular lwa hold widespread respect for the tradition of Vodou.

Haitian art, for example, absorbs and interprets visual culture so masterfully because of its foundation in Vodou - a religion and way of life that was born and survived due to its history of accommodation and inclusion.

New Orleans Vodou - Hoodoo Voodoo

Appearing in the United States as early as the 1800s, Haitian Vodou surfaced mainly in New Orleans. Famed Vodou practitioner, Queen Marie Laveau, popularized it in the New Orleans area. But other forms of vodou existed in the United States dating back before the 1776 revolution.

Hoodoo and Voodoo are both practiced in Louisiana and have many things in common. However, there are differences between the two. Voodoo is a religion, and Hoodoo is an African-American system of folk magickal practice that has typically been handed down from generation to generation. HOODOO, though not a religion, is the folk magic of the common people in West Africa, just as it is in the diaspora today. From so-called love potions," to taking vegenace upon an enemy, Hoodoo is largely what has survived the religious persecution of the Africans enslaved in the New World.

A deep-rooted and serious religion with many rituals, spells, and practices - Voodoo takes believers into the spiritual and transcendental world. Vodou praticioners DO often experience the outcome or impact Vodou spells and ceremonies were meant to bring about. Communicating with passed loved ones, spiritual cleansings, healings and insight - For those who believe in the power, Voodoo is dominant.
For an in-depth look into the Vodou religion, check out our Vodou book, The Art of Vodou - the only comprehensive Vodou guide available online.

It has long been established that witchcraft has been a prominent function in society, from the use of healers in ancient civilizations, to the modern advancements in the pagan religions over the years.

Witchcraft was the main way of life, with people following astrological charts, ridding themselves of demons, using the earth as a restorative power for themselves and their land, and making use of magical entities to define how they should live based on the seasons they lived in. Healers of the ancient world have always called upon the powers of the gods or the earth, to provide care for those suffering, and were well respected in their communities for all the good they do.

The majority of witches believed that the earth had supernatural powers, and that everything should be done for the good of all, as nature was revered, and so was the spirit of the person who would eventually return there. There was a focus on creating equality and balance within the community, and for everything that one took out of the earth, something must be placed back within it. Magical entities thrived amongst societies who feared the unknown, but the wise ones were always there to heal the sick, and be a positive force on their lands. Both men and women held these titles, and the spirits blessed them for their care of the lands.

However, it has not always been that the label of 'witch' comes with positive thoughts.

The definition of witch is a person who uses supernatural powers and practices sorcery. However, there are terms in the dictionary that are derogatory towards those practitioners. Words such as 'hag', or 'evil', are used in conjunction with 'bewitching' and 'ugly'.

The disparaging terms stems from the 14th century, where the church and other ruling classes aimed to persecute those who helped the lower classes and prevent them from using their healing skills in the medicine profession. Witch hunts spread across the world, shaming and torturing civilians into confessing that their life choices were part of a devil worshiping pact, and that their use of magic was only intended for harm.

For over 400 years witchcraft was outlawed, and many faced imprisonment or death for not following religious rules, or for attempting to heal family and friends without paying for medicines. Men, women and children were under threat from being accused of terrible crimes, although mostly women were targeted during those times. Pagan practices were forced underground, as simple occupations such as midwifery, or female healers were also persecuted. Poorer communities were closely regarded as having higher populations of evil witches, as the threat of rebellion was always larger in these areas.

Thankfully, the persecution died out, and several apologies were given for the oppressive and violent treatment of citizens during that time. Witchcraft was no longer seen as an illegal act, and many people who practiced covertly were able to live without fear for bringing good to the lives of many.

From the mid 1900s, witches are emerging once more in a positive light, and their powers of divination are often called upon to bring love, luck and happiness to those who ask for help.

The witch has had many traits, some good, some not so good. Throughout history, there have always been stories circulating about many people being witches, or possessing supernatural powers.

The most famous witches being Morgana Le Fey and Merlin of the Arthurian stories. One evil, and one good, both were instrumental in securing Arthur's position on the throne of Camelot. Conceived at around 1100, their stories set about preserving the ancient pagan religion and entwine it into a story of oppression by the emerging Christian religions, yet successfully ingrain the two religions as being able to work together.

This harmonious viewpoint of witchraft has not been matched until late 18th Century, with witches such as Gerald Gardner, and Madame Blavatsky promoting the ancient earth religion as a way of living in harmony both within the self, and the world that is inhabited.

The story of the witch doesn't always end in tragedy, but many tales show the struggle to live a life without oppression. Whether the oppression stems from a different religious organisation, the government, or simply the surrounding neighbours, it becomes clear that historically, witchcraft was a targeted phrase used to prevent a person from having thoughts that appeared different from the norm, or attempted to explain events that others could not.

Alice Kyteler was the first woman to be accused of witchcraft and consorting with the Devil. Her case involved her seeming to murder her husbands using sorcery, and stories began to circulate of her offering sacrifices and using her powers to escape a conviction. After she fled the country, her followers were convicted of heresy and thus subjected to torture and death.

Another historical witch is Joan of Arc. Although later canonised as a Saint, she was accused of witchcraft after her visions (which she claimed came from God) enabled her to lead the French army to victory. It was these visions that perpetuated the belief that she was in league with the devil, and was burned at the stake in 1431. Again, the tragedy of Joan perpetuates the notion that when one deviates from the normal way of living, it becomes inevitable that harsh forms of social control are used, resulting in the death of an individual.

Many more stories involve a bleak outlook for the witch. The Pendle Witches of Lancashire, Mother Shipton, Elisabeth Sawyer, even the Witch of Endor (found in the bible) live in a world where they are oppressed for stating their opinions, tortured for their supposed crimes, and feared for their beliefs without opportunities to defend themselves or explain how they live as they choose to do.

Those who practice witchcraft live harmoniously with nature, preferring to live as their elders did in pre-Christian times, and use their wisdom for healing others. A witch, even in ancient times used their powers to ensure that justice was done, not to harm others.

In the later part of the 19th century, the pagan movement re-emerged, and connections to the old faith were restored as the harmonious living was no longer feared or unknown. The later witches that appeared in our history use their knowledge of nature to heal and help, and have often been accepted into society as practitioners of alternative forms of medicines and religions and are able to live without the persecution of their predecessors.
Considered a Gythia (Asatru High Priestess) among her Coven, Julia Roslyn Antle is a master of divination and dream interpretation. Her wisdom is sought-after by her peers, her colleagues as well as the public. http://www.7witches.net

Modern Day Witchcraft has its roots in the Goddess Religions, dating at least as far back as 25,000 BC during the Gravettian-Aurignacian Culture. Numerous female figurines and sculptures have been found throughout the greater part of Europe and the East, which supports the theory of a Great Mother Cult during those early years.

Naturally, many attempts have been made during the ages by various cultures and religions to destroy Goddess worship. She was married off to Gods in her various aspects in order to reduce Her standing and sometimes even executed and killed. Still Her worship prevailed.

The establishment of Witchcraft was a gradual evolution, and not a conscious action. The use of the term Witch was also broadly applied and encompassed everyone from seers to healers and everything in-between. These Witches were not necessarily Goddess worshippers either. They were found in every religion and in every culture across millennia.

Until 1021AD, witches were seen by society as the Wise Ones and highly regarded as healers. They assisted with child births, were skilled in divination and understood the medicinal qualities of plants. They offered comfort and help to those in need. Many Witches of that era were Christian, which made them even easier to accept and respect.

In 1022AD, under Pope Benedict VIII's reign, all that was set to change. The execution of the first "heretic" during 1022 heralded the start of a 753 year reign of terror, generally referred to as the Burning Times, which was to last until 1775 when the last execution of accused Witches took place; that of nine old women in Poland. Millions of people (including children!) accused of Witchcraft were killed in the most gruesome of ways during this period resulting in what is probably one of the biggest acts of genocide this world had ever seen.

The deaths of accused witches were not always at the stake. Many witches died during torture and during "provings". Looking back on the methods employed, it sends a shudder down one's spine. James I (1566-1624) of Scotland even wrote a book called Daemonologie. The purpose of this book was to explain how to identify a witch. Some of the methods employed were:

Identifying the Witch's Mark: James I held that the Witch's mark was a place on the body where a witch can experience no pain. The location of this area allegedly differed from one witch to another. Hence, every inch of the accused witch's body was pricked with needles to locate the Witch's Mark.

The Water Test: In Daemonologie, James I proposed that only real witches can float in water. He based this theory on the fact that water was a holy substance and as a result it would not take a Witch to its depth. As a result, an accused Witch's hands and feet were bound before being thrown into a lake or a river. If innocent, the accused would drown. And die. If guilty, the accused would be burnt at the stake. Either way, the accused ended up dead.
Rose Ariadne has been practicing ancient forms of Witchcraft for over 25 years. Get more info about the history of witchcraft here: http://www.askroseariadne.com/editorials/great-history-of-witchcraft.html

Halloween and All Souls Day are a mixture of both Pagan and Christian beliefs. Two thousand years ago the Celts used to make sacrifice to the dead by burning the bones of animals on large bonfires. This was thought to protect them from spirits who on October 31st, the end of the Celtic year, were said to return to Earth once more. If the person had died within the year, on this night they were thought to pass to the next world. Therefore this evening was believed to be one of great spirit activity.

Christianity gradually spread over the years and had spread into the Celtic lands by the 800s. In the seventh century Pope Boniface IV made November 1 a day more in line with the Christian faith named All Saints Day, yet October 31st was still a day of significance for many . Even later, in A.D. 1000, the church would make November 2 All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints', All Saints', and All Souls', were called Hallowmas.

Halloween today is on October 31 in line with the old pagan practices and superstitions. Even today we practice ancient traditions, often without even knowing so. For instance many people still feel that October 31st is the most spooky night of the year, keeping with the Celtic tradition that on the last day of the Celtic year the line between the worlds of the living and dead was very hazy.

Many people also put on masks ready to go out trick or treating. The idea of putting masks on at night roots from both Celtic and European ideas. Winter was a time of worry, as food supplies from the harvest were precious. People were constantly on edge and many were scared of the dark. Electricity was non existent, resulting in incredibly short days. It was thought that if you wore a mask after dark on the particularly frightful night of Halloween ghosts would not recognise you. They would instead mistake you for fellow spirits. Even today you can see people wondering the streets in a variation of masks, most probably unaware of the history behind the tradition.

People used to also leave bowls of food outside their houses to keep the ghosts happy and try to protect themselves and their homes. Many people today give sweets in fear of trick or treaters damaging their houses.

The concept of asking for sweets is likely to originate from All Soul's day where the poor would knock on people's doors and beg for food. they were often given caked known as "soul cakes", fruit and sometimes money. This tradition has now turned into the custom that we know as trick or treating.

The history and customs of the past are still with us today in many shapes and forms whether we are aware of them or not. Therefore, this Halloween take a moment to reflect upon how it was once originally celebrated.

The Chinese zodiac is a fascinating facet in the wealthy Chinese culture and it is also baffling. The two primary aspects that add an air of secrecy to the zodiac science are its mythological roots and vivacious descriptions.

The zodiac calendar in the Chinese is strikingly various from what we locate within the west. Very first of all of the two calendars are according to entirely distinct sciences as the western calendar is actually a solar calendar whereas the historical Chinese calendar is based on the lunar cycles. The Chinese calendar follows a 12 year cycle and each and every year has an animal symbol assigned to it, these are known as the zodiac symbols.

Despite the fact that the history of the Chinese zodiac goes back hundreds of years we locate that it's nonetheless a prominent part of the Chinese culture today. The locals have created a good deal of effort to keep this tradition alive more than time. The use in the zodiac symbols has grow to be a fashion trend in today's modern Chinese culture. The zodiac tradition is still very revered by the locals and types a significant portion of Chinese celebrations like the occasion in the Chinese New Year.

There is a well-known myth that describes the origin of the zodiac symbols and their role in forming the time cycle. This myth describes the manner in which each animal was utilised to symbolize a year and also the manner in which they had been arranged. It also explains the characters of every animal that are stated to become located in an individual who is born inside the year symbolized by that animal.

In truth, even so you will find a few legends which have been documented claiming to become the authentic source of how the Chinese zodiac came into becoming. One of the stories has to complete with the supreme leader of the Buddhist dharma, Buddha himself.

The legend has it that Buddha conducted a special race between all the animals of the animal kingdom. In an additional version he summoned all of the animals to a feast. Nonetheless the race went underway along with the initial twelve animals to finish acclaimed the position of becoming the official animal of the year in the order that they finished the race.

It really is fascinating to delve into a detailed description of the race. A lot of could wonder how the rat finished very first, when there were a lot of other animals that were far better than the rat when it comes to speed and size. It holds the foremost position in the zodiac calendar, but the question is about how it got there.

Properly, according to the legend the rat played it genuine intelligent and as opposed to operating the course of the race on his own little feet he rode on the ox's back who was leading the race all of the way. When the ox was just about to cross the finish line the rat produced a leap for it and claimed the top spot.

The witty rat took claimed the initial position which was acknowledged by Buddha and hence he got the honor of getting the first animal to represent the Chinese zodiac cycle.
Chinese Astrology Elements can be appreciated by anyone. In case you have not located the content you would like yet, possibly you can by visiting our summary about Traditional Chinese Astrology History.

Starhawk's New Moon Chant for Diana: "Waxing, waxing, growing, growing, Diana's power is flowing, flowing."

Growth of the pagan movement during the mid 20th Century was strongly supported by the rapidly escalating feminist movement of that time. The 1950s marked a 100 years of campaigning for women's rights and the refusal to be treated by society as second rate citizens. Women were asserting their rights and finding their voices. Some went as far as to cut men out of their lives totally.

Commune-style, female only communities emerged. These communities were creative, non-hierarchical, spontaneous, non-violent, pro-earth, and pro-woman. Spiritually, there was no compatibility with the hierarchical patriarchal mainstream religions of the world. Gardner's "Witchcraft Today" published in 1951 resulted in increasing the awareness of Witchcraft. The principle of a Goddess, whose consort is the God, appealed to most pagans as it offered respite from the patriarchy of the mainstream religions. Even so, some feminists were not willing to accept any form of masculinity in their spiritual path. For them "the Goddess grew in importance and the role of the God shrank into obscurity".

This was however NOT the birth of the Dianic Tradition in its modern sense. Unbeknown to many, and unrecognized by most, Egyptologist, folklorist and anthropologist Margaret Murray (1863-1963) should be credited with the early formation of the Dianic Tradition. Murray published "The Witch-Cult in Western Europe" in 1921. In this work, she examined the Inquisition documents and argued that Witchcraft could be traced to pre-Christian times and appeared to be the ancient religion of Western Europe. She went on to explain the evidence that Diana, the feminine Roman deity, was worshiped throughout Europe in "Dianic cults."

Murray later published "The God of the Witches" in 1933 and "The Divine King of England" in 1954, which claimed that most of British royalty had been members of the Dianic Cult. Murray died at age 100 in 1963, the same year her autobiography was released, My First Hundred Years. Murray was a close friend of Gerald Gardner.

The Dianic Tradition, as it stands today, is covered by two schools of thought. The one is called Dianic Wicca, Feminist Dianic Witchcraft, or Women's Spirituality and the other is Danaanic Wicca or "Old Dianic" Paganism. Both were seeds sown by the works of Margaret Murray.

The Dianic Witchcraft branch is believed to have been founded by a hereditary Witch called Z. Budapest. Z and three of her woman friends established the Susan B. Anthony Coven Number 1. This coven worshiped the Goddess in all her forms. Z. Budapest's Dianic Witchcraft consists of women-only covens. There is a strong lesbian presence, although the majority of the covens are open to all women.

The Danaanic branch was founded by Morgan McFarland. This branch "gives primacy to the Goddess in its theology but honors the Horned God as Her Beloved Consort." Covens can comprise of both male and female members or only of a single gender.
Rose Ariadne has been practicing ancient forms of Witchcraft for over 25 years. Get more info about the history and tradition of dianic witchcraft here:

History of Zodiac Signs

Well, its quite tough and overwhelming task to trace back the history of zodiac signs, as it seems that zodiac signs were being used by our ancestors since centuries either to predict future, weather or destinies of a person. There seems to be consensus when tic comes to the history of zodiac signs, it is strongly believe that the science of astrology and 12 zodiac signs are at least 3,000 years old.

Where these zodiac signs were originated? Well, it is also believed that the science 12 zodiac signs were originated in ancient Egypt and Babylonia, but when it comes to the advanced study of zodiac signs two countries seem to hold a dominating position i.e. India and China. Chinese astrology is also world famous and it uses animals (a 12 year cycle, each named after an animal) for the names of the years. That's because in these countries many astrologers and soothsayers known to use different animal and human signs to predict the future and destiny of people.

As far as documentary proofs are concerned, zodiac signs were known to be in use by Roman era inherited by Hellenistic astronomy from Babylonian astronomy from the Chaldean period. Evidently, earlier fortunes and destinies of highly influensive people such as kings and merchants were told by priests and astrologers so that these influensive people could take all necessary steps to safeguard their own interests and the interests of their people.

Let's see some technical information here related to these zodiac signs. These 12 zodiac signs are divided into four main groups of signs i.e. Fire, Air, Water and Earth. How they were divided has closely been associated with their earthly elements. For example, Fire signs deal with the ultimate power of fire or sun (the natural source of fire or heat). Fire signs are: Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius. Similarly, Air signs are also closely been associated with power of wind. They are: Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius. Next come Water Signs, which depict rainy season and soothing nature or moisture. They are: Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces. Finally, the Earth signs Virgo, Taurus, and Capricorn.

So, we can see from the above discussion that the earth's position with regards to the sun and other planets decides the main elements into which each astrological sign is being designated and in which each zodiac sign falls eventually.
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History of Tarot

There are many texts describing the origin of the tarot card, although no proof has been found to justify a clear case. Some say they came from gypsy origin, others say they are part of ancient Hebrew, Greek or even prehistoric imagery.  What is known is that the first cards were found in the 1400s where an Italian document describes a set of playing cards similar to the 78 deck we see today, but contained pictures of Greek gods and four different bird types.

The structures of the tarot cards were said to have been set in place to tell a story of the soul; to describe a young Christian's journey through his life with moral guidance and instruction. They have also been used as an alternative to the playing card, which originated in Europe on a large scale some 50 years prior to the Tarot card being distributed. Many texts describe the gambling uses of the Tarot, and how similar they are to other card games, although the use of Tarot was mainly restricted to the upper classes at this time.

During the Renaissance, the Tarot began to appear as a form of divination, where spiritual leaders, occultists, and even scientists used cards to draw upon the power of the spirits to answer questions they had about their life. The deck consisted of 72 cards, split into two groups: 22 court cards known as the Major Arcana, displayed images with spiritual references to both the self, and also to symbols of ancient cultures. The remaining 56 cards (the Minor Arcana) closely resemble the playing cards of the times, although often the suits are altered to include wands, cups, and pentacles amongst others.

Since the increase in the Tarot cards being used for divination, the air of mystique has tended to follow, although there are still many stories circulating about the use of playing cards as a form of fortune telling, as the Minor Arcana are very similar. In the modern day, the use of the Tarot card isn't only restricted to the upper classes. There are many decks to choose from, all of which contain different symbols relating to many paths of paganism or other spiritual cultures. The most popular Tarot card deck is the Rider-Waite, deck, brought into production in 1910, as the use of pagan symbols and the many references to the circles of life and the nature we are surrounded by have proved most useful in interpreting the images contained within the card spread, especially by newer initiates to the way of the Tarot.

However, it is usually best that the specific Tarot card deck is chosen by the user to represent how they feel about the self, and where they fit in with their surroundings, and how closely they believe that the particular deck is the best one for them, although it has been considered that bad luck may follow if a deck isn't given as a gift, but used by the purchaser. The cards themselves are laid out in various forms, or spreads, and the reader seeks to find the story hidden within the images that will help in deciding upon a course to follow, and each spread contains a personal reflection about the user.

J. Roslyn Antle
High Priestess, 7witches.com
"7 witches, help when you need it"