Hello, dear new friends! I'm new here and it's my first post.
First I want to say that I've grown up hearing about Theosophy and I've been part of Eubiose (a Theosophical society from Brazil) when younger. So I tend to base my life on these teachings.
Well, but I'm completely attracted by Wicca. But at the same time I have some major questions about this religion that will make me know it's true nature.
First I want to know what is the Theosophical view about Wicca, if it's a religion that deals with White or Black magic and it's real purposes. Second, I want to know what were the real intentions of Gerald Gardner when bringing to light this religion. And there's something more that is strange: during their Great Rite, the High Priest and the High Priestess pratice the "Hieros Gamos" or sacred marriage. Folowing H. P. Blavatsky teachings she would consider it regular sex magic ( Black magic) or a pure representation of the creation?
Please, I really need these answers, I can't rest while I don't have them!
Thank you so much!
Hi, Lady Line, and welcome to Theosophy.Net.
I don't know the official view of Theosophy towards Wicca, and frankly, I wouldn't worry about it. I've been involved with "nature" religions, as it were, in the past, and have known, and still know, people in the Wicca tradition. They are among the finest folks I've ever met, both professionally and personally. They are all into "White Magic(k)," not "Black Magic(k)."
I've never known a Wicca group to actually physically perform the "Hieros Gamos" in group ceremony, except in symbolic form. It is always in light of the "representation of creation," as you put it, and not any "Black Magic(k)."
It must be remembered that HPB and the main founders of Theosophy, in spite of their advanced thinking in many areas, were essentially Victorian in their outlook on sexual matters. I don't know of any sane person who would look to them for guidance in this area in today's world.
As for Gerald Gardner, I familiar with his history. Like all founders of "movements," he's controversial, but not an "evil" person. I personally think his motives were sincere and certainly "walked his talk," and not just theorized about it. Perhaps you should do your own research on him, as there is plenty of material on him on the Web.
Those are my views. Perhaps others will share theirs.
David, I must respectfully disagree with your historical assessment of Wicca, as far as my knowledge of the situation goes. Although you do have a general drift there.
It's true, in the early days, a number of people were members of both the Theosophical Society and The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. There was an inter-action between the two groups, but the details seem to be difficult to track down. The British Occultist, Kenneth Grant, maintained that the GD was the secret inner circle of the TS. Others have said it was the Esoteric Society(ES) that was the inner circle of the TS. Perhaps both were at separate time periods.
Whatever the case, the Golden Dawn used Freemasonry and Roscrusianism as inspirations, as did the TS, but also made extensive use of old medieval grimoires, and the ceremoninal magick tradition. The TS did not.
Whether the GD "evolved" from the TS or or just had some similar interests in the beginning is a matter of interpretation. It's doubtful that any of the modern Golden Dawn Lodges have Blavatsky or any TS literature on their recommended reading list to neophytes.
The modern Wicca movement was literally started by Gerald Gardner in the 1940's. To make a complex story short, Gardner was initiated by a pre-Christian, pagan, witch cult, the "New Forest Coven," in England in 1939. There is controversy surrounding this New Forest Coven. Orthodox historians claimed that Gardner made up the coven, but subsequent research by Independent scholars showed it was real. The coven claimed to be following a paganism of ancient Western Europe. The actual origins of the coven are still debated, even by believers and practitioners of Wicca.
Gerald Gardner did add to whatever he had learned from the New Forest Coven elements of ceremonial magick, old grimoires and some ideas from the practices and theories of his personal friend, Alistair Crowley. This is probably where the notion that Wicca sprang from the Golden Dawn originated, as Crowley himself was once a member of the GD.
I was wondering what you meant by specific yoga teachings? Is it a reference to a yoga tradition in particular or to the general idea of it being similar to yoga?
Joe Fulton said:
"...and since the ES was based on specific yoga teachings it tended to be a bit thoretical and quasi-monastic. If you have access, see Vol. 12 of HPB's Collected Writings."
Thank you all for your explanations. In this regards, I found the wikipedia entry on the New Forest Coven of interest, in which there was some reference to associated individuals being theosophists.
"Meanwhile, he met a group of people within the Fellowship who claimed to have been involved in a form of Freemasonry known as Co-Masonry, who informed him that they had moved to the area where they had joined the Rosicrucian Order when their friend and fellow Co-Mason, Mabel Besant-Scott, had done so. The researcher Philip Heselton identified two of these individuals as Ernest and Susie Mason, a brother and sister couple who had in prior decades been involved in a variety of occult groups, including Co-Masonry and Theosophy, and who had recently moved to the area from Southampton.
"This group claimed to have known Gardner from a past life, and in September 1939, revealed to him that they were members of a Witches' coven, and then initiated him into Wicca in a ritual which took place in one of the homes owned by Dorothy Clutterbuck.[
The Mason family, researched by Heselton, lived in Southampton for a period of over 150 years. One of Heselton's informants described Ernie in particular and the family in general, as 'witches', adding that Ernie, who he had known for several years, had had to give up because he found the rituals too strenuous. Rosetta was a keen follower of Anthroposophy; Susie was a Co-Freemason and Theosophist, and Ernie, who claimed to have been fully aware from the moment of his birth, was an enthusiastic esotericist and taught mental exercises in the Crotona Fellowship. Their father George Miles Mason, an optician and astronomer, had built a meeting hall in Southampton which seems to have been used for the meetings of various esoteric groups, including Co-Freemasonry. ..."
So perhaps the area had a history of open mindedness where people explored or maintained such ideas.
"Gerald Gardner did add to whatever he had learned from the New Forest Coven elements of ceremonial magick, old grimoires and some ideas from the practices and theories of his personal friend, Alistair Crowley. This is probably where the notion that Wicca sprang from the Golden Dawn originated, as Crowley himself was once a member of the GD."
Hi Lady Line,
I thought I'd give a more personal response because I find it difficult to give an academic response when H.P. Blavatsky didn't appear to be promoting dogmatic attitude of theosophical orthodoxy. By academic I mean a response that say here is what she thought. Since she was enigmatic it is difficult to say what she might say were she to respond to our conversation. While she was direct she also talked about blinds and was known for her mysteriousness and sense of humor.
I don't know much about WICCA. What would you say it is more focused upon? Eastern or western history, people, traditions, and ideas? If I were to guess, which I am, I'd say western. But I don't know which direction it's gone since. Probably in several directions, depending upon the authors or groups promoting it.
In the early days of the T.S., the 1875 cycle, since it involved groups of people doing group discussions and readings there were naturally differences in taste as to what to focus upon as a group. Some early theosophists recoiled from the idea of focusing upon eastern traditions and wanted instead to focus upon the western traditions. I imagine that it must have been much more of a culture shock than it is today. So apparently distant, etc... Not like the milliseconds or seconds of delay involved in a modern phone call or internet connection. As such, the Golden Dawn, and perhaps the H.B.of L. too, were initially focused upon the western thought and traditions but later that changed.
Of the theosophists I've known, ritual is not regarded by them as the main event unless their focused upon it, in which case it is. While they may hold a sense of reverence towards such, especially if it has survived the test of time, and perhaps be involved in such, I have known few who were heavily into rituals. Though it may be due to my age for I think that rituals have waned in popularity. 75 years ago or so they appear to have been much more popular. None the less there is still an attitude of respect or at least good humor. For example, the saying of an old prayer or mantra might be more commonly appreciated because it has been preserved as valuable by generations of people. If it still resonates with individuals then the ritual will be welcomed by them. As you see, it is a very individual matter, as theosophists are famous for disagreeing on particulars, though agreeing on the basic gist or universals. It goes without saying that theosophists are just people who are aware of a certain range of ideas and who may hold appropriate attitudes towards such ideas. Of those I've met many display a careful sense of detachment, as in "all the world is a stage," though some are very critical of rituals. It goes to show that you just can't tell sometimes.
What I'm saying is that it's up to you, of which no doubt, you're already aware.
As far as myself, I question if such a ritual is just people using each other, whether it's play acting, or what. Like I said, I don't know much about it.
Since wicca didn't exist yet in Blavatsky's time (or didn't exist in the way it does today), she didn't say anything about it. However, she would consider any ritual sex (actual sex during ritual) a form of black magic. I guess that pretty much answers your question.
Personally what I miss in Wicca is that it doesn't take an ethical stance: you can go both ways with it.
I'm not a Wiccan, but I do know something about it and have known many people involved in it. These are ethical people. and as other "Earth Based Religion" folks, are peaceful and practice a nature worship orientation that precludes doing harm to the Earth or to others. It is unfortunate that the group loosely called "Satanists" get mixed up with legitimate Wiccans and Witches.
Of course, there are a few unhinged people in the Wiccan movement, as there are unhinged types in any spiritual or metaphysical movement, including Theosophy. These people most often get the publicity and are mistakenly seen as representing the vast majority of the movement.
No group sex or actual live ritual sex is practiced by any legitimate Wiccan I've ever heard of. Sex Magick of some form is acceptable, but to be practiced by couples in the privacy of their own homes.
As I mentioned earlier, Blavatsky and the other founders of Theosophy were very Victorian in their attitudes toward Sexuality. Put simply: in modern times, I don't think they are the best models to be looked to for guidance in matters of eroticism, either in our metaphysical/spiritual or personal lives.
Joe mentioned that Blavatsky introduced certain specific Yoga teachings in the ES to counter the the TS sister group, The Golden Dawn's, teachings and practices of ceremonial magick. It is interesting to note, that Aleister Crowley, who was as member of the GD, though not when HPB was alive, went to Southeast Asia to study Buddhist meditation and yoga under his old friend, Allen Bennett.
Bennett was an acknowledged Buddhist and yoga master, studying there for many years. Even Crowley's critics and detractors admit that under Bennett's tutelagem, he became somewhat of an adept himself in certain areas. Crowley then went back and was the one of the first, if not the first, to introduce certain yogic practices into Western Occult and Magick training and practice.
Bringing it back to Wicca, Gerald Gardner was a close friend of Crowley and it's well known he used some of Crowley's ideas and practices, and probably some from the Golden Dawn, in his brew that became Gardnerian Wicca.
I am concurring with Michael A. William's perspectives on Wicca. The modern expression of it does in general differ from its roots, and Wicca itself was not even popularized here in America till the 50's and 60's.
I find that many in the New Age of today will have at least a loose connection to Wicca, but I don't observe that they really understand its history or basis.
I do observe the negative aspects of [magic] being drawn upon as some means of power to give them an edge in the modern world, but unfortunately as indicated, the tendency is far greater to the darker aspects of magic. And fortunately, so very few have even a modicum of awareness of what magic is and how it works that I can usually dismiss it as eventual personal self-destruction, and a major waste of said people's lives. Where the positive application might be considered, it tends in observation to be more presentation, than fact.
Because it is, all things considered, too ignorant of the actual workings of magic, and because their connection to Nature also seems thoroughly remiss, it is dismissible as "fad" to my mind, based on the thousands of encounters I've had with these followers ... again, when I say follower, it is most generally a loose association I perceive, and not an understanding. This, too, can be a failing of the current New Age following simply in the sense that any [depth] is not a factor in the belief proclivities; hence, foundation is always questionable.
There are those, as also indicated, who embrace certain magical aspects as a way to wield power, control, and to cope. There are some whom I would say could even become dangerous if they actually knew the foundations of their craft. I use the term "craft" because that is how I observe it being used, something practiced. Almost always there is a pattern in this regard, for those who practice its means do not realize the basic human nature to [copy], this makes their efforts patterned, discoverable and identifiable ... and therefore predisposed to "playing with matches," or "running with scissors" antics.
Those that take this field serious are a concern. They are eventually drawn to use its magical attributes, including the sexual components, as a means ... to be general ... to [control]. Regardless, Wicca draws from a limited set of paints, so its pallet of potential is limited, for any end ̶ never can a complete picture be painted, appreciated, valued or even retained. And, this is my opinion. In fact, all of its attributes are inherently limited. It likely falls on its face when it delves into the psychical senses, as its baseness, and baselessness, can only draw from the lowest of nature, nature(s) and semi-consciousness/consciousness. The idiocy of [these] can only have affect, regardless, on the feeble-minded and highly superstitious (quite similar to how Voodoo, Hoodoo, Santeria started). Those victimized by associated ritual and ceremony, practice and intent, can succeed through a basic defense of [control], although almost ANY focused intent will serve their protective requirements. Most people do not realize, or recognize that the exercise of darker intents, OR forces, are [observable], recognizable and predisposes itself to [attractive] means, which therefore CAN serve to thwart said nefarious efforts.
Like most of those fields that have used [Nature] or negative intentions ceremonially, the effectiveness will be better realized in regions from Mexico down through South America, several Island nations in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, the Philippines and coastal Africa. This speaks mostly to how these practices came about, from where, and the foundation for their [means].
Those who are drawn to any potential good will lean most likely to New Age, "empowerment", "self-help," "green" and simply Nature. Again, this would be my observation. HOWEVER, the awareness and acceptance of Wicca DOES preclude even these more remote systems of belief towards superstition, and THAT is a foothold that should not be yielded; in fact, it is the ONLY means by which these practices and those other magic-based nature religions, the Voodoo, Hoodoo, Santeria already mentioned, and their variations such as Voodan and Hoodan, can have affect – this change to susceptibility essentially [evolved] in the civilized world, as there was initially a null-effect. I am deliberately withholding some information that is not necessary for general discussion. Note, though, that ALL OF THESE mentioned, and this includes Wicca, have always indicated a neutral means that can be either embraced or practiced to either extreme (this would be its duotheism ̶ much like polar opposites).
I, to conclude, do not make any [direct] connection between Wicca and Paganism.
Hierogamy, your Holy Marriage, is not exclusive to Wicca. It has similar basis an conneciton with Greek mythology (where its name is derived) Devadasi (Hinduism), Sumerian and Ancient Near East traditions, Alchemy, Tantric Buddhism, Jungian psychology. Paganism may have taken a different direction, Ten thousand years ago, give or take a few, humans first discovered that if you plant a seed in earth, food grows. If a man plants sperm in a woman's womb, an embryo grows.
Blavatsky considered the karmic aspect of empirical cycles.
For the magician, the Self and the World are the same thing. When we try to separate them we get the errors of Science and Religion. The hieros-gamos (or "divine marriage") of alchemy is none other than the marriage of the Sun (the self in the world) and the Moon (the world in the self) -- Shining and reflection, projection and introjection, Yang and Yin. HPB suggests that the Sun and Moon stand for secret planets, but conventionally the Sun stands for revelation via self-expression.
On Mercurius (Mercury) … ALCHEMY
The alchemical work has three basic stages: the nigredo, the albedo, and the rubedo. It is true that other stages corresponding to nuances of the alchemical process are mentioned in the texts but, although these would be of the utmost importance for an alchemist, they are not so critical for us. The essence of the alchemical movement is contained in the oft-quoted motto: "solve et coagula", "divide and unite." Like the three stages discussed above, these two movements are essential to the work and comprise cycles that are repeated over and over again, on increasingly subtle levels. Alchemy aimed at the resolution of material and spiritual opposites as conventionally understood. This resolution took place on different levels, corresponding to deepening levels of understanding of the true nature of the alchemical work. At a certain point a mediating term, often under the form of the alchemical Mercurius, would intervene in the process. The ultimate resolution was characterized by a mode of subtle mutual reciprocity and interpenetration in which each term of an opposition entered fully into the being of the other, simultaneously present to the other, transforming and being transformed. This union was frequently imaged as a hieros gamos, and its fruit was the Philosopher's Stone.