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Title: Green Witch Path
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(Date Posted:01/08/2009 07:25 AM)
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Path of the Green Witch

Traditionally, many paths of Witchcraft are named by their color; red, white, grey, and so forth. Many of these disciplines have changed their names as Witchcraft has gained global unity, but it is Green Witchcraft which has kept its color name from country to country.

To be a Witch means that you worship the Earth as a mother, and to be a Green Witch means that you heal the children of the Earth by bringing them back in communication Her. The disciplines of the Green Witch are many; she listens, watches, learns, heals and, most of all, she teaches.

The Green Witch Listens

An old story tells, Raven created the world and it was he who created the gods. He scooped them from the earth, filled their veins with ocean blood and their lungs with mountain winds. Raven gave them the spirits of the stars, so that, like him, they would never die.

Then Raven went on creating. He made our world as the gods whispered their counsel to him. Raven made rivers, mountains, trees, and all manner of beings. As Raven created, his brother the Destroyer, mangled his creations. "Create speed," counseled the gods. Raven made a perfect animal with long running legs, keen vision, and absolute agility and named it Deer. Destroyer could not bear the thought of perfection and so gave Deer the quality of Fear. Raven cursed as his perfect animal bolted into the woods at the sound of leaves rustling. So, he tried again. "Create strength," counseled the gods and Raven created an animal with burly shoulders, strong jaws and claws that push aside the earth, and he named it Badger. But Destroyer gave Badger the quality of Anger. Raven cursed as his creation swung around to bite him. "Vision," counseled the gods. Raven again created the perfect animal with wide knowing eyes, night vision, and the ability to see in all directions and named it Owl. Destroyer gave the creation Day Blindness. Raven cursed as the animal flew into a tree to sleep until sundown. Finally, Raven was ready to create humans.

"Imagination," counseled the gods. "These animals," spoke Raven, "are special to me because of their ability to create in a way that can be both beautiful and dangerous. You must be willing to help me if Destroyer interferes." The gods nodded in understanding. So Raven created the humans with long, flexible fingers, quick minds, and a need to communicate. Destroyer gave the creation Weakness. Raven called upon the gods. "My creature will sicken and go mad destroying everything in their path. We must help them or all my other creatures will be in danger." The gods conferred and did a very wise thing. They broke off pieces of their wise star spirits and scattered these pieces across the earth. From these pieces rose plants of every variety. Trees, shrubs, flowers, mosses grew in profusion. "All that will challenge Raven's children, the humans, whether disease, madness, or wounds can be healed by these plants," said the gods. "How will they know which plants will heal which sickness?" asked Raven. "When they call upon us, we shall teach them the language of their plant cousins," they replied.

The Green Witch Watches

Healers throughout the world have been seeking the language of their plant cousins for centuries. Sometimes our animal brothers and sisters teach us their secrets, as in the case of the herb Eyebright. The story goes that an herbalist had a young bird family nesting in her tree. The spring was a difficult one with excessive rain for the season, and sickness took its toll on the young birds. The herbalist noticed that the fledglings had crusted eyes. She shook her head; the birds' singing had given her such joy every morning, "what a shame," she thought "that they won't survive." But the next morning, the herbalist noticed that the mother bird had brought a plant back to her nest instead of the normal grub. "Was she rebuilding her nest?" wondered the woman. She observed the mother bird holding the plant sprig in her beak and wiping the eyes of her fledglings every day until the chicks eyes had cleared. After some investigation, the herbalist discovered the herb in use was Euphrasia rostkoviana, Eyebright. Eyebright produces tiny white flowers with yellow spots and red veins that reminds me of nothing so much as a blood shot eye. This plant is still used as an eye tonic for strains and infections. People suffering from allergies use it to relieve irritated eyes due to hay fever and sinus infections.

The Green Witch Learns

Many healers study the physical nature of plants for clues to their properties. The spotted lung pattern on plants like Lugwort (Pulmonaria officinalis) led ancient herbalists to try treating bronchitis and other lung and throat ailments with this plant with good success. The stomach-shaped pods of Senna (Senna alexandrina) lead herbalists to discover the shrub's usefulness for treating the digestive tract.

Even colors speak to those prepared to listen. For years, Coptis species was used as a detoxifier to cleanse the body system. The inner bark of Coptis is yellow, the color normally associated with the liver and with bile. The liver holds and attempts to filter the body's toxins. When the liver is asked to filter more toxins than its capacity, it ends up as a great storage tank for the unfiltered poison. In the 1930's, overharvesting of Coptis species made it endangered and a new detoxifier had to found. Attention was turned to another plant with a yellow inner root bark, Goldenseal, (Hydrastis canadensis.) This plant became the second most popular herb in American apothecaries for the following 50 years. Now goldenseal has become overharvested like Coptis before it, and the new substitute for Goldenseal is another yellow inner barked herb, Oregon Grape (Berberis vulgaris). The need for flushing the toxins from our systems has brought the toxin "scarcity" into our mother's body to be healed as well. Oregon Grape is being monitored by environmentalists, and organic farmers are planting Coptis and Goldenseal to reduce the need for wild harvesting of these plants.

The Green Witch Heals

Sometimes the land speaks to the herbalist. St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) came from the semi-dry soils of Turkey and spread throughout Europe and central China as it followed the advance of farm land turned barren by overuse. The wounded land was its nesting place, and the herbalist watched St. John's Wort's sunny yellow flowers line roadsides and other places too rough and ruined for other plants. This is a "bandage" plant, a plant that heals the body of the land as it heals our wounded bodies. The Greeks revered its healing properties and hung it over portraits of the dead, hoping that whatever ills the deceased had suffered would be healed and not passed on to the living. This represents a tradition of using a tool of physical healing to facilitate healing of different levels; many times the healer uses the herb to heal several different levels at once. This is called Deep Healing and it is an important aspect of Green healing.

The Green Witch Teaches

The day after a neighborhood friend had his big birthday party, I was in the kitchen getting an easy Saturday lunch together when I noticed three little heads bobbing under the dining room window. I stepped into the dining room to see what the children were "up to." As the window was open, I could hear as well as see them clearly; my eldest daughter (age 7) was rustling around in one of the herb patches under the window under the close scrutiny of my youngest child and the birthday boy (who was holding his stomach.)

Since my children are still quite young, I don't grow any toxic plants, so I wasn't concerned for their safety — just curious. My daughter held out a handful of freshly picked leaves for the boys to see. "You should chew on these," she said confidently, "This is peppermint. Mom makes us drink the tea when our tummies hurt too. It tastes pretty good if you don't chew it too much." I leaned quietly against the door frame blessing the sacred hoop that showed me this moment.

The previous week, I had experienced a terrible day. My plans were dampened by the misunderstanding of another; I was heart sick. I wandered over to the herb patch in the back of the house to check on a new chamomile patch, when a motion caught my eye. A large raven was sitting in the hawthorn tree. When I saw him I thought "Ah, the Hawthorn berry is good medicine for people with heart conditions. It is also given to people grieving of a broken heart. Raven must be pointing out that this is the healing I should seek." But of instead eating the ripe hawthorn berries as I expected, the raven was picking at the beads of the medicine bag I had hung in the tree branches. He caught hold of the sinew stitching with his beak and pulled. The sinew snapped back and he lost his footing and fell backwards, flapping his wings wildly to keep upright. An avalanche of berries fell and rolled towards my feet, which I hopped over as I laughed. Meanwhile, Raven had escaped in an indignant huff to the confines of the nearby cedar tree. His squawks of irritation soon turned to what sounded like laughter, laughter at himself and laughter at me. Raven had given me a merry heart and just when I needed it. I thanked him and heaved a handful of ripe seed heads under the cedar tree as an offering.

The Green Witch Lives

To live the life of the Green Witch is to live with many different levels of understanding at once. I call this path Green Living. It means that what we see is a window to all worlds and that when we are asked to help lift life back into balance, we do so. It means that we heal with the knowledge that all beings are Raven's children and deserve love and respect. Green Living means learning the sacred language of the beings around us, a language without words — the language of life.

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From: USA

RE:Green Witch Path
(Date Posted:01/08/2009 07:25 AM)

Never were words more true!~
"The practitioner of Green Magic lives a magical life in which nothing is taken for granted. She is connected to Nature, aware and appreciative of its sacred rhythms and portents. She observes the rising and setting of the Sun, the phases of the Moon, and the movements of the planets and constellations. She pays attention to the taste of the air, the smell of the Earth, the waving of wildflowers, and the behavior of birds and animals. She celebrates the changing of the season.
Talking to plants, letting the trees know you appreciate the beauty of their turning leaves, greeting birds and butterflies (and bugs), and speaking to the clouds are part of the practice of Green Magic--you are extending your awareness into your surroundings. Do not be surprised if things you never noticed before start to catch your attention, because once you start extending your awareness, the indwelling animal and plant spirits around you will respond."
from Ann Moura's book, "Green Magic"
"The Green Witch is a natural witch, a hereditary witch, a kitchen witch, a cottage witch, a hedge witch, and generally, a solitary with. This witch does not fear nature and the woods, but finds both comforting and homey. The Green Witch has  a sense of belonging and connection with the earth and the universe."
-Ann Moura, Green Witchcraft II
The Green Witches list is open to all Witches, Wiccans and friends who work or would like to work extensively with herbs for magical and/or medicinal purposes. This is a high volume list with many recipes exchanged for lotions, potions, brews, charms, spells and magical crafts. We discuss any topics related to herbs, such as healing, the Wise Woman Tradition, gardening, creating/growing a magical garden to using herbs as simples, sachets, amulets, incenses or scented oils in practical and effective ways of magic. Join us as we walk the path of the Green Witch. To subscribe to Green Witches, click the link below which will take you to Yahoo Groups to sign up.

What is a Green Witch?
*Green Witches are allied with the green growth of the Earth.
*A Green Witch's heart is as green as the heart of the Earth.
*A Green Witch weaves the ways of the green nations with the ways of humans.
*A Green Witch understands everyday magic.
*A Green Witch creates green magic: heals with common plants, simple ritual and compassionate care.
*The ways of the Green Witch are individual and water like; each personal stream joining the one ocean of love.

A Green Witch is a woman of power,
whose religion is her life,
whose life is her art,
and whose art is the wise use of the green.
~Susun Weed~

A blossoming Green Witch am I,
With plant wisdom and magic to share.
A child of the flowers am I,
With blossoms budding from my hair.
A friend of the Fairies am I,
A crown of leaves and flowers I wear.
A daughter of the Earth am I,
Walking Her ways with feet ever bare.
A sister of the waters am I,
Flowing wild and free without a care.
At one with the blowing winds am I,
Singing softly through the midnight air.
A keeper of the fire am I,
Let me kindle your passions if you dare.
Connected in Spirit with You am I,
Fused together as one in prayer.
Copyright © 1992 Oceanna de la Mare
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RE:Green Witch Path
(Date Posted:01/08/2009 07:26 AM)

The Path of the Green Witch (And How She Relates To The Burning Times)

By Rev Lisa Smith

Copyright 2001

All Rights Reserved

Over the centuries, in practically all villages, almost all over the world there has always been a “wise woman”, “cunning woman” or “cunning man”. However, it is the wise woman we most often think of and it is the wise woman who was most often the herbalist, the mid-wife, the healer, the magic maker, the bringer of health as well as death, the trusted one with life and death. In her time, she was highly regarded but little paid. Since she often relied on the generosity and gratitude of her clients, the village herbalist was often the wisest but poorest of the village. She was highly sought after in times of crisis, but little understood by outsiders. She was often the most targeted person during “The Burning Times”. In our own time of modern Paganism we have come to regard the wise woman as the Green Witch, who is still attuned to the old ways of the village wise woman.

In an article in Sagewoman magazine, author Suzan Stone Sierralaupe describes the Green Witch this way:

 “Traditionally, many paths of Witchcraft are named by their color:  red, white, grey, and so forth. Many of these disciplines have changed their names as Witchcraft has gained global unity, but it is Green Witchcraft which has kept its color name from country to country.

"To be a Witch means that you worship the Earth as a Mother, and to be a Green Witch means that you heal the children of the Earth by bringing them back in communication with Her. The disciplines of the Green Witch are many; she listens, watches, learns, heals and, most of all, she teaches…”

”…To live the life of the Green Witch is to live with many different levels of understanding at once. I call this path Green Living. It means that what we see is a window to all worlds and that when we are asked to help lift life back into balance, we do so….”

”… Green Living means learning the sacred language of the beings around us, a language without words — the language of Life.”

Green Witches are called green primarily due to their affiliation and sensitivity to plants, and their intuitive, as well as hard won, knowledge of the healing powers of herbs. Many Green Witches have an acute knowledge, sensitivity and intuition with plants and their spirits.

It is not uncommon for a Green Witch to speak to plants and have them speak back to her. Most who follow the green path are also well versed in folkways, old wives tales, superstitions, as well as basic charms and some of the trappings of modern witchcraft. For the Green Witch it is unnecessary to know the patterns of those who came before to know what feels right. Because the Green Witch sees that she or he is connected to the Divine as One, he or she does not tend to look to detailed instructions for his or her approach to the Divine and therefore, knows that the appropriateness of ritual and timing come from within. The Green Witch “performs only those rituals that appeal to the individual point of focus, being as elaborate or as plain as the mood dictates. With many people who practice a natural Witchcraft, there is a sense of cheerful anarchy, along with profound belonging, for the Witch is not a steward of the earth, the Witch is the earth.” (Moura, Ann.1996)

By being a part of the earth, Green Witches see themselves as both pantheistic and animistic. To the Green Witch all objects in nature have spirit and the Green Witch knows that there are many spirits and forms of deity all around. Although many modern followers of the green path will come together for rituals as need and desire dictate, Green Witches are typically thought of as solitary in nature. Tools of the trade for the green level witch are not flashy, they are most often common items normally found in nature. Tools can include sticks, rocks, feathers, herbs, flowers, nuts, whatever calls to the practitioner as being appropriate will suffice. “Green”, for those who practice on this path, simply refers to the natural, the elements that can be found in “herbal, natural, traditional or family traditional Witchcraft, it has great flexibility and variety…The key to the Green facet of Witchcraft is to be attuned to nature and the natural forces surrounding you.” (Moura, Ann, 1996).

Green festivals tend to center around the equinoxes and solstices, as well as Samhain. Mabon and Litha are often not as widely celebrated among Green Witches since they are relatively modern observances. Most Green Witches are, among other things, skilled in herbalism, herb lore and natural healing, counseling, folk traditions and often embrace fairies and small other creatures of nature.

In early times those who were skilled in the art of healing learned from their cradle. Future healers learned by watching, helping and asking questions. Traditions such as these were passed down through the generations like many other skills. Much of our traditional knowledge and wisdom has been eradicated by religious and political fervor. Many, if not all of those accused of witchcraft in Europe did not belong to covens or have High Priests or Priestesses leading them. Scotland is the only country to have any such claims of “witches” working together in groups (Green, Marian, 1991).

In New England she was called “goodwife”, in Virginia they called her “granny” (Rago, Linda, 1995). Speculatively speaking, since little was recorded, in early times the village wise woman was most often the midwife, the layer out of the dead, the healer of the sick. She had the power to bring forth life, heal those who became ill and to eventually send life on its farewell journey. The wise woman’s skills would have been shared by what has been called the “cunning man”. He most likely held veterinary skills rather than child birthing skills, but was also most likely  well versed in the powers of plants like his female counterpart (Green, Marian, 1991). Herbs have held an important place in healing as well as religious ceremonies since ancient times. “Green herbs guided them through birth, life and death:” (Rago, Linda 1995). Because of these skills and what seemed like “power”, and because the healers held knowledge of both healing, life giving herbs as well as those that bring death and sickness, the healer was above all else, feared as well (Green, Marian, 1991). Although monks and nuns in Northern Europe had attended herb gardens themselves and held knowledge side by side with the wise women for many centuries, attempts were made to Christianize plant knowledge and uses. Eventually the Church, “made a zealous effort to obliterate these ancient doctrines that honored the spirit of the earth. Later, the changes wrought by the 18th century mechanistic, view of the world, closely followed by the Industrial Revolution, caused these herbal traditions to be all but lost.” (Rago, Linda, 1995).

During the Middle Ages the Church was not only envious of this knowledge, but also saw it as an affront to God, since only God and those ordained in His name should have these skills and powers. However, the common folk would trust the village healer, to whom they had trusted themselves for centuries, than go to the monks or the nuns (Green, Marian, 1991).

In Europe, toward the end of the Middle Ages, was a time of tremendous upheaval, economically, scientifically, politically and in the religious arena.  Overcrowded villages and cities, crop failures, war, sickness and unsanitary conditions only heightened the anxiety which was felt at the time. Generally, during this time it was primarily the women and quite often the village healers who comforted and attended to the sick, offered up advice and counseling as well as worked in the dealings of the old folkways, superstitions and charms, in keeping with the traditions of the countryside where she worked most prevalently (Soule, Deb, 1995). As is well known by many, both on and off the pagan path, the book Malleus Maleficarum was published in 1484 by two Dominican priests. The book was used as a “how-to guide” for the trying, torturing and execution “witches”. Many jobs were created and much money was exchanged for the express purpose of the disposing of these “witches” and eradicating other heretics. Many have speculated, but it is not known how many men, women and children were tortured and killed for these “crimes”. The witch hunts, or “Women’s Holocaust” as some have called it, gradually ended with the advent of scientific advances, and the Industrial Revolution, but not before almost completely wiping out a tradition, a gender, and many centuries of learning and wisdom (Soule, Deb, 1995). It is speculative at best as to whether or not the majority of those who were accused were what we think of as witches today or if they even practiced any form of Paganism. Perhaps these women and men were in touch with ancient folkways that were never completely subverted by the Church, folkways that survive to an extent today. One thing we do know is the healers who were executed during this time took with them countless centuries of healing knowledge.

There are many theories about why the herbalist/wise woman was targeted during the Burning Times and why women healers in general were treated with such disdain. The most popular theory is simply misogynist. Many unsuccessful physicians of the time “blame all sickness which they are unable to cure or which they have treated wrongly, on witchery.” (Brooke, Elizabeth, 1997).

By the sixteenth century an “exclusively male medical profession was trying to establish a monopoly. What could have been more irritating than to have competition from barely literate women, who seemed to have a “natural gift for healing?” (Brooke, Elisabeth, 1997).

A very early example of this thinking is the case of Jacoba Felice. She was brought to the courts in Paris in 1322 and was charged with illegally practicing medicine. It was said Ms. Felice “visited the sick folk, laboring under severe illness in Paris and the suburbs, examining their urine, touching, feeling and holding their pulses, body and limbs” (Brooke, Elisabeth, 1997). 

Jacoba was a famous practitioner and she brought forth many of her former patients to testify on her behalf. In her testimony, she is quoted as saying:

“It is better and more seemly that a wise woman learned in the art should visit the sick woman and inquire into the secrets of her nature and her hidden parts, than a man should do so, of whom it is not lawful to see and to seek out the aforesaid parts, not to feel with his hands, the breasts, belly and feet of women. And a woman before now would allow herself to die, rather than reveal the secrets of her infirmities to a man.” (Brooke, Elisabeth, 1997).

Despite overwhelming evidence in her favor Ms. Felice was found guilty and excommunicated. The court records state: “Her plea that she cured many sick persons whom the aforesaid masters could not cure, ought not to stand and is frivolous, since it is certain that a man approved in the aforesaid art could cure the sick better than any woman.” (Brooke, Elisabeth, 1997).

The beginning of the 15th century marks the beginning of the Church’s battle and propaganda against the wise woman (Rago, Linda, 1995). Stories abound about women healers and their subsequent mistreatment or execution. In another case, Margaret Jones of Charleston, Massachusetts, was a “cunning woman who also performed midwifery and had a reputation for being able to foretell the future. She was tried and executed on June 15, 1648.” (Brooke, Elisabeth, 1997).

At around this same time in Scotland, minister William Perkins is quoted as saying about women healers, “[the] good witch was more a monster than the bad.” He claimed that the “blessing witch” (she who healed), although she did no actual harm and did “much good”, was to be censured because “he [sic] hath renounced God…and hath bound himself by other laws to the service of the enemies of God and his church, death is his portion.” (Brooke, Elisabeth, 1997). 

Often the accusers were not above using the “witch’s” services and skills. Alison Peirson of Byrehill Scotland was a renowned and skillful healer in her village. Because his sickness did not respond to the cures and medicines of orthodox medicine of the time, the Archbishop of St. Andrews called for her. Many believed the Archbishop’s illnesses were more “psychosomatic” than anything else. Ms. Peirson, however, cured him. ”Not only did the clergyman refuse to pay her bill, but he had her arrested and executed for witchcraft.” (Brooke, Elisabeth, 1997).

One last example is Gilly Duncan, a young servant girl of Edinburgh. Miss Duncan had a reputation as a healer. It is said people traveled from near and far to consult with her and to be healed by her. Miss Duncan’s master, David Seaton, after hearing of her reputation and skills, thought her to be of the devil and evil. He applied torture to her with the thumbscrews and jerking her head with a rope until she “confessed” that she was a witch, he then handed her over to the authorities who tortured her more. Upon her “confession” with the authorities she revealed “accomplices” who became known as the “Witches of North Berwick” and were hanged in 1592 (Brooke, Elizabeth, 1997).

The Protestant church was even sterner in dealing with women healers than the Catholic. After the Reformation the numbers of women accused of witchcraft rose significantly. Not only is this a testament of how difficult the times were and the act of scapegoating being used extensively, it also speaks to the stern position the Protestants had towards women and women healers. There is no evidence to suggest that any of these women and men practiced any form of paganism or what is considered witchcraft by modern standards, but as country people they would have known the folk ways, the old traditions and the “old wives tales”. Because they had the power to harm or heal through herbs and old charms, herb lore and spells, many considered village healers witches. Orthodox medicine of the time, much like that of today, often caused more harm than good. Chemicals and elements such as mercury would disfigure the patient if it didn’t kill him or her first. Most people feared the orthodox doctor’s medicines and would rely on the village healer for gently and effectively healing the sick, bringing in new life and laying out the dead. The emerging medical establishment as well as the Church felt threatened by this knowledge and the loyalty of the common people to them. The village wise woman or cunning man was honored yet feared for their knowledge, a knowledge that was often essential to life and death.

Through this heritage of the wise woman we gain the Green Witch of today. Green witches of our time can hearken back to the times of the village wise woman in their acute sense of healing, their intuitive and learned knowledge of plants, their feeling of unity with the earth, and their attraction to the simpler spells, charms and rituals. Green witchcraft is flexible and can be overlaid with elements of other more dramatic or complicated systems of witchcraft. Most who are drawn to the green path however, prefer a simpler more rustic style to their religion and their life. Green witches typically cultivate some sort of garden as well, be it an elaborate or simple pot garden. Herb lore, superstitions, and knowledge of herbal healing are part and parcel to the modern as well as older green path. Knowledge of the green path is still handed down. Some of this knowledge is still shared through families, albeit fragmentary and often overlain with Christian themes. Still others have a keen sense of where their path lies and must seek it out themselves through books, trial and error as well as from willing teachers and hands on experience. The green path is rich in history but flexible in its traditions. “The verbal lore of the wisewoman teaches us how to love and revere the earth, how to respond to her magic and return in some measure the blessing and healing that we receive from her….Many will instinctively feel the truth of this, having loved the scents of the wholesome brown soil and felt the life and mystery, even the beating heart, in stones and rocks and precious jewels” (Nahmad,Claire,1994). The wise woman has made an indelible mark on our history through out cultures and time and will continue to do so in her more modern form of the Green Witch.

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