Monday, February 8, 2010

Wicca Was Inspired by Chivalry

You may ask, why should chivalry be a part of Wicca? If you go back to the roots of Wicca, you’ll find that chivalry was one of the things that inspired Wicca in the first place.
In 1900 an American (though born in Canada), Ernest Thompson Seton, attempted to deal with issues of juvenile delinquency by creating an organization that woodcraft and civilized values based on his knowledge of First Nations peoples. “Seton’s Indians” rapidly became popular, and in 1912 resulted in the publishing of his book The Book of Woodcraft and Indian Lore. This was one of the principal influences leading to Robert Baden-Powell founding the Boy Scouts movement. In fact, Baden-Powell originally gave leadership of the North American part of his organization to Seton. Seton ultimately resigned from Baden-Powell’s organization in 1915. Where Baden-Powell’s views were jingoistic and militaristic, Seton’s were not and this ultimately led to differences between them. In 1916 Ernest Westlake, was a naturalist, anthropologist and traveller of Quaker upbringing, founded the Order of Woodcraft Chivalry in the United Kingdom, making Seton its honorary Grand Chieftain. 1909 Westlake had forsaken Quakerism for the "old gods" of Paganism, inspired by authors such as Edward Carpenter, Nietzsche, Havelock Ellis, Jane Ellen Harrison, Tylor and Frazer. Westlake’s Order of Woodland Chivalry avoided the military overtones of Scouting, instead focusing on the virtues of kindness, fellowship, animal conservation and woodcraft. Westlake saw women as incarnations of God, revered the Jack-in-the-Green, which he considered to be the English equivalent of Dionysus, and held that the "Trinity of Woodcraft" consisted of Pan, Artemis and Dionysus.
So it is not surprising that the Order of Woodcraft Chivalry, unlike Scouting, accepted many of the premises of modern Neopaganism. Nature was described as the Mistress and Mother, God as Creator and All-Father and Christ as a teacher rather than as God incarnate. The greatest ceremony of the Order of Woodcraft Chivalry was lighting the campfire: At their first folkmoot ceremony at Lammas 1921, held on an estate at Sandy Balls on the northern edge of the New Forest, the sacred fire was lit by four people dressed in colors of the elements of each quarter, bringing greetings from the elemental powers in succession from north round to west.
The Order of Woodcraft Chivalry in turn inspired other organizations such as the Young Soldiers/Handmaidens of Pan, founded by music hall actress Audrey Auckland in Middle Wallop in Hampshire in the 1940s. Boys in this organization were initiated as “Warriors of Pan”, swearing an oath to care for the land. Indeed, scholars such as Ronald Hutton have the Order of Woodcraft Chivalry provided the basis for George Pickingill’s New Forest coven, from which the modern religion of Wicca grew.
Incidentally, the Order of Woodcraft Chivalry, though small, has survived: In the 1990s Martin Westlake, son of Aubrey and grandson of Ernest, allowed the Order to celebrate its anniversary at Sandy Balls estate.

In Her Service, Kerr
(Photo: Members of the Order of Scathach at the Armoring Ritual at the Vancouver Pagan Pride celebrations, September 2009)

Friday, February 5, 2010

We're Incorporated

The Order of Scathach is now a registered society in British Columbia. We're excited!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Janus's "Potions" Class

Here's some photos of the recent "Potions" class that Janus taught at the Surrey Motherhouse a couple of weeks ago.
BB Kerr