Swain Wodening - Anglo Saxon Witchcraft (188.0 Kb)
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"What was Anglo-Saxon witchcraft?" is a very difficult question to answer. Our sources are primarily laws against the practice of witchcraft. These laws unfortuantely lump a whole lot of Heathen practices together so that it is difficult to tell whether galderes "charm speakers," seers, and leechs "healers" were counted as witches, or if these were counted as seperate types of magic users much like the difference made in Germany between the modern Hexen and Hexmeister. However when faced with many of the law codes, as well a... More >>>
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"What was Anglo-Saxon witchcraft?" is a very difficult question to answer. Our sources are primarily laws against the practice of witchcraft. These laws unfortuantely lump a whole lot of Heathen practices together so that it is difficult to tell whether galderes "charm speakers," seers, and leechs "healers" were counted as witches, or if these were counted as seperate types of magic users much like the difference made in Germany between the modern Hexen and Hexmeister. However when faced with many of the law codes, as well as words commonly used in conjunction with wicce or wicca, we begin to see a pattern somewhat confirmed by folklore about the witches or Hexen on the continent.
The following paragraphs from Aelfric's Homilies parallels many of the folktales about the witches in the Hartz Mountains: "Nu cwyth sum wiglere thaet wiccan oft secgath swa swa hit agaeth mid sothum thincge. Nu secge we to sothan thaet se ungesewenlica deofol the flyhth geond thas woruld and fela thincg gesihth geswutelath thaera wiccan hwaet heo secge mannum thaet tha beon fordone the thaene drycraeft secath".
A few modern Wiccans try to trace their magic practices back to Anglo-Saxon practices. The sad truth is however, Anglo-Saxon witchcraft and modern Wiccan practice have little to do with each other. With the exception of some kitchen witchery and other such practices, there is no evidence of an unbroken tradition of organized witchcraft from the Elder Heathen Period until now. For one thing, the ancient Anglo-Saxon witches certainly did not worship a God and Goddess, not in the sense that Wiccans do today (they worshipped gods and goddesses like Woden, Thunor, and Frige of the Germanic pantheon). Nor did they have anything like the Wiccan Rede. Modern Wiccan magic practice largely owes its orgins to Masonic ritual and the practices of High Ritual Magic groups formed in the early 20th century like the Golden Dawn with bits and pieces of kitchen witchcraft thrown in. The Old English words for witch, wicce "a female witch" or wicca "a male witch" in no way means "wise one," by the way.
Swain Wodening, born March 10, 1963, is one of the prominent figures of Anglo-Saxon Heathenry and Theodism, who has written several books about the subjects, as well as running a few major websites and networks:
From his Heathen Places page:
Swain Aeling Wodening, one of the founding members of the Miercinga Theod, started his Heathen life back in 1984 along with his brother. He learned of the AFA the year it disbanded, but in 1989 he learned of and joined the Troth. Shortly thereafter, he learned of Theodism, then solely an Anglo-Saxon phenomena, and joined the Winland Rice in 1993. He rapidly advanced to the arung of lord by writing articles and attracting new members. In 1996, after several disputes with the leadership, he left to form the Angelseaxisce Ealdriht with Winfred Hodge. The Ealdriht grew to be the largest Anglo-Saxon Heathen and Theodish organization to ever exist.
The Ealdriht eventually became the Miercinga Theod in an effort to encourage regionalism, and to return to a purer form of Theodish Belief. He led that organization until June, 2006 when he resigned to seek a deeper spirituality. His former wife Teresa Canote then took over leadership until March of 2008 when the Miercinga Theod dissolved. In June, 2007, he joined Englatheod which was founded by his brother, Eric Wodening (author of We are Our Deeds), and currently serves as its thyle. Swain has written several books and booklets and countless articles including "Hammer of the Gods: Anglo-Saxon Paganism in Modern Times," "?eodisc Geleafa "The Belief of the Tribe": A Handbook on Germanic Heathenry and Theodish Belief," and "Germanic Magic." Swain is divorced and has one son who is six.