Pagan Witchcraft as Primitive Religion

By “primitive” I mean “closer to the origin” rather than unsophisticated or anything like that. Traditions of pagan witchcraft like Wicca and Feri claim ancient origins, going back to the indigenous traditions of mostly Europe, but also Africa and the Near East and pre-dating the patriarchal pantheons of the more advanced polytheistic civilizations and modern monotheism.

The actual historicity of these traditions is pretty questionable before the 1940s, but it can be argued that the ideology of the primary deity being a mother goddess immanent in the natural world, celebrating the cycles of the sun, moon, and earth, having an animistic view of the world and practicing rituals of sympathetic magic have a basis in very primeval religious practices.

Unfortunately, pagan witchcraft seems to have lost this perspective. I don’t know if it’s because of magic in the media and people not being able to distinguish fiction from reality, but instead of pagan witchcraft being viewed as a revivial of hunter-gatherer spirituality, now it seems like it’s an excuse for obese goth ladies and mentally ill individuals to pretend that they have magic powers. I’ve found the pagan groups I’ve come into contact with are so far from what I was looking for that it makes me want to give up on paganism, but I find that there are enough good ideas in the traditional books written by people like Doreen Valiente, Starhawk, and the Farrars (though, of course they aren’t flawless) that I can have a satisfying practice on my own if not with the nuts who identify with this community.

Has else anyone found this? I feel like the genuine spirit of pagan witchcraft as a more pure, primeval human spirituality rooted in the natural world has disappeared, and it’s become more of a sci-fi/fantasy LARPing game or escapist experience.

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