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  • Writer's pictureCasey Giovinco

The Witch As Werewolf

We all have an animal within us. For us, in Gala Witchcraft, this truth is attested to within the Precepts of Cosmic Order, which were laid out for us by our spiritual ancestor, Tarostar. According to Precept XXIV, which he mentions in his book Sacred Pentagraph, "It is a Law of Mind that there is a Wolf in Man. Human nature must be tamed to serve rather than allowed to rule."

Basically, this means that we must all deal with our natural impulses. Whether we're talking about a preoccupation with sex, a gluttonous approach to food, or just struggling with a desire to avoid normal adult responsibilities in favor of some other variety of pleasure-seeking, we all have base urges that must be overcome in order to progress spiritually. Though that appears very stoic at first glance, Wicca is not an ascetic religion. It does not ask witches to give up all earthly pleasures in favor of rewards after life. Instead, it merely asks witches to lead balanced lives. To do this, we must acknowledge the proper time and place for everything. When it comes to sex that means we can't staunchly or Puritanically deny its pleasures, but we also can't become obsessed by those pleasures and descend into hedonism either. Food must be taken in the right proportions at the right time without over-indulgence or extreme denials. There is a time for fasting, but there are also times to celebrate with a feast. As for "adulting," it has to be done. Bills have to be paid, responsibilities must be met, and we all have to step up to do what's best for the greater good, but that doesn't mean that we become so dogmatic or anal retentive that we fail to enjoy the fruits of our labor. We really are meant to work to live, not live to work. That balance is delicate, but it is so essential.

What's important if witches wish to evolve spiritually is that we not act impulsively without thought, that the Higher Self be the one in charge of our actions. However, there is a paradox here. In order for the Higher Self to take the lead and help us balance our lives appropriately without interference, the wolf in each of us (our animal nature) must be allowed off the leash from time to time. That way, it doesn't turn rabid and cause chaos in our lives. In Gala Witchcraft, we do indulge this "animal self" periodically throughout the year so that it doesn't overrun the rest of our lives, and we do this in a very special way.


The Wolf In Man

For Gala witches, this indulgence happens within our public Spring and Autumn Rites when we Bury the Carnival and reap what we have sown all year long during The Winnowing. At both of these times, Gala witches embrace the archetype of the werewolf, which may sound rather fantastical or silly at first, but it is actually an ancient magical practice associated with the Male Mysteries in several different cultures.

A far cry from the Hollywood hype, the werewolf as it is associated with male witches does not happen through a bodily manifestation upon the physical plane. Instead, this is a version of astral projection or lucid dreaming where the witch shifts his subtle body into the shape of a wolf and hunts, romps, or energetically protects the community upon the more subtle realms.

In fact, this practice is not exclusive to Gala witches. It has been around since time immemorial. Some sources say that the first werewolf was originally cited in the Epic of Gilgamesh from ancient Mesopotamia. (That is a wonderful piece of Gay mythology, by the way. If you haven't read it, you might want to take a look at it.) There were priests in ancient Rome who were said to be able to shift into wolf form as well. (This is actually one of the mysteries behind Romulus and Remus and the She-Wolf.) We all know about the Berserker warriors of the ancient Norse culture who fought in the form of a bear upon the battlefield, but few people know that there were also wolf warriors among their number.

These practices didn't stop with our ancestors in the ancient world, either. In fact, they continued quite far into modern times. As late as 16th and 17th centuries, there was an Italian visionary tradition called the Benandanti who claimed to travel out of their bodies while asleep and protect the crops. They often did this in the shape of wolves. At the same period in history, male witches were also being charged as werewolves for their own nightly astral travels in other parts of the world. In Bedburg in 1589, a German farmer named Peter Stubbe confessed to making a pact with the devil in order to be able to turn into a werewolf. In 17th century Estonia, 13 men were accused of being witches as well as werewolves.

The point is this: once you get past the Hollywood version of the werewolf and you accept that it's an advanced magical practice associated with astral projection and/or lucid dreaming, the idea of witches shifting into wolves (or werewolves) isn't as far-fetched as it first sounds.

If you would like to experience this ancient practice for yourself, download Burying the Carnival and all the other ritual documents from our website. Then try it out for yourself. If you struggle to produce the desired results during your celebrations, contact us about taking Uncrossing Your Roads. We'd love to connect with you.

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Casey Giovinco is a public witch, Chief Elder of Gala Witchcraft, and the CEO of Gala's federally-recognized church.

 

Casey has worked tirelessly to empower Gay male witches to reclaim their history and restore their rightful place as magical workers. 

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