BASIC TECHNOLOGIES OF WITCHCRAFT
This is the outline for a collection of four semi-formal training sessions
for people interested in starting out in "The Craft" or Neopaganism. It is
intended to give enough grounding to effectively participate in ritual,
with the expectation that those that are really dedicated, skilled, and/or
interested will undertake further study.
Since this is for beginners, there are no textbooks, no required reading,
and the course only deals with such material as can be taught in four 1-1/2
to 2 hour informal sessions.
I. DAY ONE: Neopagan Traditions
The first day's material is a basic overview of Neopagan history and
tradition, intended to make people more comfortable with the subject.
A. History of The Craft
Examine two topics to show how they influence the modern witch:
how Neopagan witchcraft grew out of and borrows from the
Gardnerian Reformation, and how our Craft Law developed from a
variety of traditions and needs.
1. Origins, Ancient (?) and Modern
Fact before theory: discuss the evolution of witchcraft
from Gardner onwards, then overview the evidences that
witchcraft is a pre-Christian and (possibly) pre-historic
a. The Gardnerian Reformation
Discussion of Gerald Gardner and both the original and
modern versions of Gardnerian Witchcraft (with a quick
side-line into its off-shoot and competitor, Alexandrian
b. The Church of All Worlds and Neopaganism
History of the Church of All Worlds and its contri-
butions, including the word "neopagan" and "Green Egg",
the journal in which the framework of modern, Neopagan
witchcraft was developed from the framework of
Gardnerianism crossed with Greco/Roman and Egyptian
c. The Non-Pagan Branches of the Craft
Other types of witches: Feminist Wicca, Church of Wicca,
the Masonic Druids of England, and the Family Tradition-
d. Evidences of Stone-Age Witchcraft
Discuss some of the evidence that witchcraft carries on
a tradition with stone-age origins and a 10,000 year
history, both pro and con. Emphasize that there is no
conclusive evidence one way or the other.
2. Craft Law, Ancient and Modern
a. The Reasons for Craft Law
Discuss how the in-bred fear of of the Powers of Evil,
combined with the need to trust each other against the
Inquisition, gave birth to the concept of Craft Law.
b. The Wiccan Rede
"An it harm none, do what thou will." Stress both the
libertine and the disciplinarian interpretations of that
law. Discuss the Law of Karma, and how the Wiccan Rede
(interpreted properly) becomes more of a safety rule
than a Commandment.
c. The Rule of Secrecy
Gloss quickly over the Inquisition (everybody knows
enough), and examine some of the evidence that a "witch-
hunt" is being begun. Encourage the students to
recognize that the decision to be public or secretive
has to be made by each individual, and they have the
right to expect others to respect their privacy on this
3. Magick in Theory and Practice
Magick is the unifying force in all of the Neopagan
Traditions. To lay the groundwork for Day Two, explain the
basic theories of magick, and how they influence the design
and practice of Neopagan ritual.
a. The Basic Rules of Magick
Explain that the central theory of magick is that
reality can be altered by a sufficiently strong will,
focused by the proper ritual. For comparison and
contrast, mention Bell's Hypothesis, from quantum
physics. Discuss seriously the possibility that all
that the magician alters is his own mind and awareness
of how the world works.
b. Magick and Neopagan Ritual
Define the two classic types of ritual: religious and
magickal, or (better terms) theurgical and thauma-
turgical. Show how magick is used in both, and where
the rituals diverge.
B. The Magick Circle
Even more than the pentacle, the Magick Circle is the central
symbol of Neopagan Witchcraft. The final topic for Day One is
the purpose, symbolism, and protocols of a pagan Circle.
1. Purpose and Symbolism
a. Ceremonial Magic and Qabbalism versus the Pagan Circle
Most people get their idea of what a circle is for from
the Ceremonial magicians and kaballists, who use it for
protection from outside magick. Emphasize that the
quantum leap that Gardner made was to think of using the
circle INSTEAD to keep beneficial magick WITHIN the
ritual area until it is fully built-up, focused, and
b. The Power of the Circle: The Five Elements
Discuss how the classic Four Elements of Greek science
are the symbols for four types of power, four states of
matter, four types of personality, and so forth, showing
correspondences. Highlight the difference between
elemental power, psychic power, and divine power - and
the similarities. Explain how the elements are used
in casting the circle.
c. Ritual Tools
Discuss one-by-one the tools that a witch uses to focus
her mind - the athame, the elemental symbols (salt or a
pentacle for earth, a candle or lamp for fire, the
incense and the wand for air, the chalice for water),
the magic mirror, the sword, candles, herbs, and the use
2. Conduct within the Circle
Two final bits of information needed inside the circle: the
directions of casting and the integrity of the circle.
a. Widdershins and Deosil
Define the terms (deosil = clockwise, widdershins =
counter-clockwise). Explain that widdershins is often
mistaken for evil, but show that the difference is more
accurately raising or bannishing power. Stress that, in
order to get along, when in doubt, go deosil.
b. The Integrity of the Circle
Remind people that, since no evil magick is involved,
there is no RISK involved in leaving a circle. However,
stress that since a circle is supposed to CONTAIN energy
it should not be punctured hastily or unnecessarily.
Teach how to open and close gateways in the circle, and
when to and not to do so.