"In Wonders We Sail, Questing for the Answers in Veil"

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Witches,Priests and Wizards

The Wizard: Wizards symbolize magical powers for good (wizards of the right-hand path) or ill (left-hand path), but can also represent the wisdom that comes with age, and the solitary, scholarly life.

The Witch: Symbolizing destruction and dark powers, the witch is usually, but not always, depicted as a woman. In the West, she is characteristically a hag on a broomstick, but in Africa she is fat from eating human flesh and red-eyed from her nocturnal pursuits.

Respected or reviled, those people privy to the inner secrets of true wisdom have always held a special place in society. The idea of witchcraft is ancient and widespread, occurring in the traditions of Europe, Africa and North America, and is thought by anthropologists to have a well-defined social purpose. Possessed by supposedly disruptive or evil spirits, the witch is in fact a scapegoat upon whom calamities and social conflicts can be blamed. With the advent of Christianity, witches were seen as the devil's instruments, and the Biblical invocation to "not permit a sorceress to live" was taken literally as late as 1692, when nineteen convicted witches were hanged in the Massachusetts Bay Colony of Salem. Witches were often characterized as seductresses or cannibals, or depicted as owls, cats and toads in the belief that they could physically transform themselves into these creatures of the night.

In contrast to the witch, the priest has usually symbolized the authorized use of inner wisdom, administering the religion practised or approved by community leaders. In ancient Egyptian and some South American cultures, the priests were also the kings, occupying their temporal position by virtue of their spiritual powers. In few cultures was the priesthood exclusively male: feminine energy was seen to be symbolic of the secret, hidden side of nature, and in most Mediterranean societies women were considered to be possessed of greater spiritual power than men. This belief was expressed through the widespread worship of female deities such as Isis and Artemis. 

Wizards have traditionally occupied a role somewhere between that of witches and priests, being capable of serving either good or evil. Essentially workers of ritual magic, in their most exalted form they were concerned with raising their consciousness toward communion with the divine, and with gaining control over the powers of nature.


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