A bit for you...
Witchcraft, American Style:
1974 and the Chicago Witchmeet.
The Eye of the Storm
They came from all over America with the desire to codify their core beliefs and present a unified front to a changing and evolving world. It was the same year that the Weather Underground or Weathermen released their book Prairie Fire after becoming fugitives.i And on April 3rd and 4th – just a few days before the witch-meet – the weather itself struck a blow that almost feels ominous to examine prior to some of the events this essay will attempt to discuss.
Before the storm of collapse riddled the American pagan community and sent various factions off in different directions, the storms literally gathered across the midwest and east coast of the United States and left three-hundred and seven individuals quite dead, and generated six-hundred million dollars worth of damage. In a period of two days one-hundred and forty eight tornadoes were generated across America; they had been caused by a jet stream with cold air from Northern America, dry air-flow from the Southwest; and a warm, moist stream from the Gulf of Mexico.ii
And so they came in the aftermath of that first Storm, only to generate another albeit far different one. In total it has been estimated that around seventy-three pagans, Neo-Pagans, and witches of all walks of life and traditions gathered in Chicago for the arduous task of finally attempting to resolve their various conflicts and enter into an agreement a unified document which would show the world what it meant to be a pagan, neo-pagan, or witch in the late 20th century.iii That document came to be titled Principles of Wiccan Belief. The event itself eventually led to a fiasco; the very group that was founded floundered in 1975, and was disbanded in that same year. “Unbelievably,” it seems no one could quite agree what it meant to be either a witch or a Wiccan. But the implications were – and remain to this day – far-reaching.
In discussing not only witchcraft but the subject at hand it is perhaps necessary to preface the following thoughts with a few notes that may help those new to the subjects I'm about to discuss better understand both why the desire to come together was so prevalent, and also why it most likely failed. It had occurred to me some time ago that at some point a discussion of this subject should be put forth to the general populace of the occult and neo-Pagan community; not only because I have a vested interest in the flowering of American Witchcraft across the west coast and California, but also because there are actually far-reaching implications which have yet to be fully explored either by historians nor by witches and occultists themselves. As such let me state quite clearly: my personal opinion on the matter is really immaterial when compared to the subject itself. The goal of this essay is to examine the history of Witchcraft in America (and hopefully in later articles: specifically the West Coast), and offer potential points of interest for not only how it has emerged to the populace but both the reality and popular mythology which has come with it.
And now a request...
If anyone that reads this blog actually attended this witchmeet, or Silver Ravenwolf's that followed it (or were they the same?), I'd love personal descriptions of it, along with personal feelings and so forth. Even if you just tell me what the weather was like, it'd be helpful. The faster I can compile sources, contact those who were there, and then finish nabbing sources, the faster this can be completed and given to the rest of the world to see.
Feel free to email me at: dionysianatavism (at) gmail (dot) com with any relevant information or contacts you think I should get in touch with.
And once again: I'm so not even sticking me foot in the quagmire of Tradition vs. Ecclectic debates. That shit is mostly silly almost all the time. I simply what experiences, facts, and places to sort things. If I have to email Raymond Buckland, Silver Ravenwolf, or Isaac Bonewitz... then so be it.