What is ITW?
Irish Traditional Witchcraft:
Many wiccans – especially Irish wiccans – will tell you point blank that there is no such thing as “Traditional” Irish witchcraft. Or they will tell you that Wicca is traditional. Or they might say that they are not wiccan, but will proceed to talk about Covens and invoking the goddess Mainly though they will be at pains to dismiss any notion of an indigenous Irish Tradition of Witchcraft – in particular a living tradition.
This is simply because most of them have gleaned their “witchcraft” – and I use the term very loosely – from the pages of wiccan self help books. If they realise that they have replaced their own heritage with this dross they might have to do something about it. It threatens the general belief that “anyone can be a witch” but it really becomes an untenable proposition for these people when they realise that it also threatens their “Unsubstantiated Personal Gnosis” ie the fact that they attribute all kinds of imported and eclectic rubbish to Irish Pagan Gods under the Banner “It’s my interpretation” (Personal Gnosis is a posh way of saying I made it up)
But greatly as they dislike it and deride it and decry it Irish traditional Witcchraft does exist. It always has.
Points to remember about ITW
Irish Witchcraft traditions are not religious. Witchcraft is an occult art not a religion. People who think witchcraft is a religion are called “wiccans” or in some cases “satanists”. Witches can be any religion they want. It’s an art.
Sorry to labour the point but…well, it really can’t be stated enough. Witchcraft predates Wicca by just about the entire history of man’s existance. Every culture, society and tribe has had its magicians, witches, and sorcerors. Gardeners mixture of Medieval ceremonial magic, freemasonry and bad folklore/history is not witchcraft, is merely a footnote in the history of magic and witchcraft. No, witches weren’t really pagans, nor is it a mystery religion or an ancient cult of womanhood. Get a grip.
Irish witchcraft Traditions have their roots in the Filí and Druidic heritage, but also in generations of actual folk practice. Understanding and exploring the more esoteric and intellectual heritage is a must, if you want to practice a culturally rooted tradition. But it’s not the be-all-and-end-all by any means. It’s merely an interesting intellectual interest if you don’t have the ability to actually practice witchcraft.
Witches are indeed born – unless you have that latent spark within you, you are not a witch.
Don’t get het up about it! I am never going to be a concert pianist and I can’t act for toffee. Some, many in fact, will never be witches. That doesn’t mean you can’t have magic in your life, or that you can’t be pagan because you aren’t a witch *bangs head off deask* or that you can’t appreciate magic and witchcraft. It just means you will never be a witch. You either have the ability or you don’t.
If you do, you have to practice, train and hone your skill. Otherwise you’ll be a mediocre, hit and miss kind of practitioner.
You don’t have to be Irish by birth to be interested in Irish Traditions. What you must do however is respect Irish heritage, history, and culture. ITW is a culturally rooted tradition. It does not mix well with other traditions or eclectic practices. Divorce it from its roots and it becomes meaningless. It is not up for personal interpretation. It has a history and a context that is real. It is not a form of paganism. It is an occult art, rooted in ancient traditions.
But many people in recent years have come to Irish traditions from abroad, some becuase of family links and others out of nothing more than a feeling of interest in the subject. They have done as much as anyone to reinvigorate and preserve the tradition. Anyone who says that ITW is only for Irish people, or those with irish family links, is an idiot.
There are just some things that need explaining. Being “Irish” means being born in Ireland, being brought up for a substantial amount of time, during the formative period of your youth, in Ireland, or at the very least living for a long period of time in Ireland. Having a great grandaddy from Co Clare does not make you Irish. When you say to an Irish person that you are Irish, we will inevitably ask you what part of Ireland you hail from. When you say “New Jersey” or “Sydney” we think it’s very very strange. HONESTLY.
ITW is a small group of traditionaly minded people. Some from a family background: some interested parties; some just reluctant to see irish Traditions sink under the weight of wicca and new age misconceptions. ITW is a closed group, membership is strictly limited.