I found myself discussing the role of lineage in the modern Craft movement quite a bit lately. First on Irish_Witchcraft Group
and then in a private conversation with a friend from a Family Tradition. It wasn’t that the conversations started out with the intent to discuss lineage, indeed the Irish_Witchcraft conversation covered a wide range of topics before raising this one. Before I started networking and socializing on the Pagan scene in Ireland I worked completely as a solitary and never really expected nor looked for other Witches. My shyness was for a variety of reasons primarily since most of what I came across online was ridiculously funny and way off on what Ireland was about that it was completely alien to me and my needs as a practitioner living in the West of Ireland. Cromwell once said: “To Hell or to Connaught”…
Most of this has changed as I started to widen my horizons and visited other people during my first year of college. I have had the immense pleasure to meet and share in some beautiful experiences with people from Family Traditions as well as some Eclectic Pagans and ceremonialists. Suddenly the honest voices started to become clearer in the din. The reason for this bout of nostalgia is that for me its not how individuals and groups are alike but in how they differ. The why behind this question often shows the depth of expression we are capable off even if we don’t yet know it ourselves.
“I think we look for the differences in others to remind ourselves we are not alone”.
It is largely due to this philosophy that I find myself perplexed when faced with the issue of lineage. Naturally I wish to show all due respect to those who do carry on Family Traditions for increasingly so in our modern world they are being left behind. We can see this in the Pavee community in Ireland which even amongst the Irish Traveling Community is being looked upon with varying levels of distain, yet true Pavee culture is inherent in the customs and traditions therein. Family Traditions are limited to Pavee culture in Ireland and therefore also open to claim by people seeking to add weight or favour to their own voice. It is a delicate balance to straddle the pull of the cultural and sociological flows without loosing one’s voice along the way.
One of the comments that came up in both IW and on the private discussion was, “…think of all that has been lost!” The whimsical nature of this statement is certainly no crime! Indeed we should feel a loss when confronted with the passing of knowledge as its own tradition is broken beyond repair but I’m left wondering can such knowledge ever truly be lost? The gentleman who was the subject of discussion on the Group was a Mr Ben McBrady and while he may not have passed down his material to his children before his passing but nonetheless this man’s life surely amounts to something more than his magical lineage? I think the more important lesson for us is that knowledge can survive in more ways than one since the conversations, most likely over a cuppa tea, are the words remembered by those that knew him. Perhaps his words can be used to inspire the newer generations to start in exploration. A proverbial Holy Grail of sorts?
I’m not a complete anarchist as I do value my own cultural history as varied as it is that said I do have to question how much we tend to rely on the information and especially the experiences of others. I’m reminded of the tale of the young lady who when baking a cake one day was asked why she used two trays. She responded that because her Aunt and Grandmother did she did. It had always been done. When she was next at the Aunt’s place she noticed her Aunt still baking in the way she’d seen her do it and so asked her why? The Aunt had a think and couldn’t think why either. She too had seen her mother do it. So when both the Aunt and the Granddaughter were next at the Grandmother’s house they decided to find out why this extra step was always done. She looked at them puzzled at first and then realised, “Oh thats because in the old house we the one tray wasn’t big enough so we needed a second one and just got in the habit”. Seems that when keeping traditions alive sometimes the simplest answer to why might be the most honest one.
Seems to me that lineage is one thread of what makes up an individual’s path. The Voice or Expression is something which should only ever be the individuals.