This article was first published on The Alchemist’s Kitchen.
Since the dawn of time, Wise People have been sought out for their council. For their innate ability to anticipate the rise of many, sometimes contradictory, probabilities in our reality, their command in the understanding and use of plants and sacred herbs for curative purposes, or their strong connection and uncanny interpretation of nature with its ever changing wisdom, among many other things.
One thing is certain… there is no ultimate concept of the Witch without the shadow of Witch Hunt following closely behind. But what exactly was being hunted if we’re being honest? Every culture and almost every religion has a God or Goddess who was deeply adept at the practice of Magic. The word itself is derived from the Persian Magus, which referred to the Priestly Caste in Sumerian times. It was the Goddess Inanna who presided over the ways of Magic in those days. Most commonly associated with the Planet Venus, Inanna naturally ruled the areas of life associated with love, beauty, sex, desire, art, and home, but also political power, combat, and war.
The Goddess in Ancient Egypt
Like her Egyptian counterpart, Isis, Inanna’s cunning gained her dominion over several aspects of Sumerian life. Being awarded, albeit regretfully, the MEs, or social mores by Wisdom God, Enki, and also appropriating Eanna, the Sky Temple, from the God An; truly earning herself her title as Queen of Heaven.
In Egypt, it was Isis who realized that in the face of the wrathful Sun God Ra, the whole Nile would be annihilated by drought, and without some sort of intervention, their entire civilization would be lost. To weaken Ra, Isis spoke magic into a Viper and spelled it to bite the God. Because Ra was a God, only someone possessing an equal degree of Initiation could heal him. Enter Moon Goddess, Isis, who’d orchestrated the entire scene. In order to heal Ra, Isis would have to use his secret name. Ra resisted. But she held to her Word. The Ancients know that words are imbued with power. The same words spoken to spell the viper could be used to create its anti-venom. So there’s a clue.
Ra finally conceded, and when he gave Isis his secret name not only did she heal his ailments, but she also absorbed his power. Thereby making Isis the Goddess of the Sun and Moon in equal measure. But Isis wasn’t alone in her command of High Magic, this Goddess is most often depicted in close proximity with Thoth, Egyptian Priest-Scribe and God of Magic, Wisdom, Writing and the Moon… So there’s another clue.
Goddesses in Greek and Norse Mythology
Let us also not forget the Greek Goddess Circe (later Ceres- Goddess of Agriculture in the Roman Pantheon), a High Wizard who wielded a magic wand and was feared and renowned for her spell craft, potions, temper, deep magic, and knowledge over plants. We aren’t exactly sure if Circe used her knowledge of potions for healing with the same fervor as punishment or humiliation, but given the opportunity to find out, it’s safe to say I’d pass.
And then there is Freyja and Brigid, Norse High Goddess and Valkyrie, and the most famous of the Celtic Triple Goddesses, respectively. Freyja is only one part of a magical coupling, her husband, the Norse God Odin, famously sacrificed his eye to gain psychic vision. As a Smith, Poetess, and Healer, Brigid reigned over aspects of life associated with wellbeing: creation of instruments used to manifest safety, exercise of the mind in concert with beauty, and mastery of physical health through various channels.
Each of these Witches, Gods, Goddesses, and Wise People, have three things in common: their understanding of Plants and the Administering of Plants whether practically, Alchemically, or Scientifically, their command over the Word in magical workings as in life, and their mediation of the Lunar and Solar Principles.
Even in Avalon, the mystical Arthur only rose to the throne under the cannon; the Land and the King are ONE. The Land being the plants and the cycles of nature, the emotional intelligence and intuition, the Feminine Principle, and the Queen. The King, being thought, execution, stability, understanding, the mediation of science and reasoning, and the Masculine Principle. The wisdom of the one is all but lost without the other.
The Witch Hunt & the Disappearance of the Goddess
Introduce the Witch Hunt. The rise of organized religions brought on the recession of Magic. Unless passed on directly through the familial lines, Orders of Priests and Priestesses that once offered of their Rites publicly became hidden, only passing the Sacred Teachings of the Ancient Ones to Initiates in hushed voices while protected by the walls of their secret temples.
Under the pressure of Inquisition families turned on each other, neighbors accused neighbors, and the of Godfathering –quite literally- of morality left countries, villages, and people who once relied upon one another and a more natural order, questioning their Truth. As such, the medicine people who were once revered for their hard won skill with healing, divination, and mid-wivery were suddenly treated as threats and heretics to a proper God who was just and orderly.
Religions also introduced another interesting dynamic, the disappearance of the Goddess. Reducing the role of the Goddess from its sacred texts in most cases, excluding her almost completely in some. And within this obfuscation, the Rites of the Goddess, her Wisdom, her Medicine, was relegated to shadow. We know the story all too well: the toxic Patriarch in his and her many names- motioned to eclipse the feminine aspect of divinity from His story. Failing to integrate the most basic principle: The King and The Land ARE ONE.
For thousands of years, the unbalanced Patriarchy sought to hunt and persecute the Witch and suppress the Goddess, despite- and possibly because of- the fact, that it was within them all along. And this energy as, old as time itself, is a fearsome thing to behold, much less wield.
The Masculine and Feminine Principle
Each human being is comprised of the masculine and feminine principle. This is why the study of plants is fundamental to every magical teaching; cultivation is one thing, administration is another. Both hands work in harmony in order to create a medicine and not a poison.
With the rise of the feminine, ancestral memory reawakens… a return to ancient ways, cyclical nature, and elemental wisdom. This is a genderless providence. The Witch, who is but a fragment of the Goddess, is within us all with her unshakeable wisdom and connection to the Earth. The great Eternal Teacher of mystery and of matter, whose not to be feared or hunted, but studied, cared for, and cultivated like the land, to bear good fruit, nurturance and wisdom enough to feed, heal, and elevate all people.