Monday, May 12, 2014

Publishing Update

How time flies when you’re enjoying yourself!  The last post was at Samhain and I don’t know where the months have gone, although it does mean that I’ve finished the first draft of Traditional Witchcraft and the Path to the Mysteries – a complex book as its title suggests.  I was also invited by Michael Howard (of The Cauldron fame) to contribute to the American Three Hands Press ‘Witchcraft Anthology’ due for publication in June (2014).


Advance Word Concerning Hands of Apostasy

A Witchcraft Anthology from Three Hands Press

Due out Midsummer, 2014

In 2008 I approached Michael Howard, editor of the British witchcraft and folklore journal The Cauldron, about co-editing and producing a witchcraft anthology for Three Hands Press. Given the quiet but potent renaissance that traditional and hereditary witchcraft underwent in the 1990s, we both felt that such a publication was long overdue.  At the time, much written about traditional witchcraft was of poor quality, either crudely derivative of a few often-repeated sources, factually inaccurate, or simply plagiaristic.  Though this situation persists, readership on this subject has grown increasingly sophisticated and discerning, and a few new voices have emerged from the collective hedge to articulate important and original perspectives on the Craft.

Aside from considerations of quality content, high-caliber writing and creative synthesis, we agreed that a crucial aspect of the work should be the unique voice of the actual practitioners, speaking directly to experience of the magical Art itself. Though still obscure to most, the variety and idiosyncrasy of old witchcraft lines is remarkable. The witches of Cornwall, with their corpora of folk charms and blessings, are one such phenotype. The Pickingill Craft as described by E.W. Liddell, remains despite its controversy one of the most unique and potent streams of Old Craft, as does Robert Cochrane’s Clan of Tubal Cain. The Manx Old Order covines, with their intense connection to angelic magic and the dark faery lore of Ellan Vannin (the Isle of Man), are another such clan, as is the Skull and Bones tradition of Pennsylvania with its ominous and rustic spirit-patrons. The Old Craft lineages of the Cultus Sabbati, with the medieval Witches' Sabbath as an important organizing principle, are yet another distinctive tradition.

Though these forms of the Old Craft are known through their exterior writings, there are other such groups who are content to remain out of the public eye, practicing their Art and training their own generation of adepts. All of these traditions share a common feature of extreme selectivity when it comes to prospective members, and the willingness to reject those proven unfit for the work. This unpopular and confrontational stance has often led to thorny relations between groups, but it has also engendered a sanctuary-like environment where creative magical collaboration can unfold according to the design of each tradition.

Of equal import to our endeavor was the emerging work of academics who have deemed traditional witchcraft worthy of study as a form of Western esotericism. In a sense this has become possible due to a new generation of researchers who have considered occult practice and exegesis from fresh and daring perspectives. I have long been an advocate of good relations between witchcraft practitioners and academia; Old Craft traditions need not fear, nor avoid, the work of good and principled scholars. But another important aspect of this shift in the winds is that, at a crucial moment in time, the Craft itself became self-aware, and in doing so fostered stronger creative and intellectual traditions within its own circles.

Thus was forged Hands of Apostasy: Essays on Witchcraft and Folk Magic, a forthcoming anthology featuring 18 writers on witchcraft topics as varied as the Devil, plant magic, necromancy, the Romantic movement, and the powers of moon and tide. Representing widely varying witchcraft traditions and perspectives, the book is a sound testament to the Craft’s diversity and strength. With Apostasy I have had the privilege to serve as a co-editor with Michael Howard, whose work over the years with The Cauldron has been an immensely valuable resource to the at-large community of practitioners.

We are also honored to have worked with the many individual authors whose vision and commitment let the project cohere with a singular radiance. In the realm of the imagic, we have also been fortunate to feature the art of Timo Ketola, whose original images grace the work and make a new and evocative contribution to the field of witchcraft imagery. The same can be said of typographer Joseph Uccello, my good collaborator in book design. And, lest we forget them, the spirits and ancestors gathered anew to witness this particularly auspicious concentration of minds, hearts, and spirits.

In all, I am confident that Hands of Apostasy will stand as a significant achievement for perpetuity, both for those who are new to the study of traditional witchcraft, and experienced Crafters alike. As a brazen vessel topped up with potent simples and brewed to consummation, so is the virtue of our book.

Daniel A. Schulke

Director, Three Hands Press