Hares, Witches, and Andred

An insider view of my brain as I try to piece this together.

Hares

We’ll start here as the nexus of our “conspiracy board”, so to speak. In East Anglian Witches and Wizards, hares are described as connected in the folklore of the region to witches and witchcraft (i.e. eating a hare was unlucky, as hares were a common shape witches allegedly transformed into and a common shape of their familiar spirits or “imps”, and one could be eating the neighborhood wise woman or her familiar; however, hares’ severed feet were lucky and could ward off birth defects). Boudicca’s use of a hare (here described as a pet) for divination before doing battle with Roman forces was also mentioned, thereby connecting the animal with the witchy practice of predicting the future. (pp. 131-134)

There is also a folk belief (whose provenance I don’t know but which this article attributes to Robert Graves) that striking a hare causes one to become cowardly, and Boudicca may have been hoping to provoke the Romans to attack the creature and thereby be inflicted with cowardice. But it’s hard to say.

The connection between hares, Andred, and witches is summarized in “The Hare”, by Oak, which can be heard here. (Andred and the hare who is the speaker are also connected to the moon; sometimes the various features on the moon’s surface look like a rabbit or hare to certain cultures.)

Speaking of which…

The Moon

The moon has a long association with witches. There are surviving ancient attestations that Greek witches could “draw down the moon” (where the name of the modern ritual comes from). Hecate may have had lunar associations in ancient Greece (possibly) and then there is Diana. In Aradia, or The Gospel of the Witches, Diana has a daughter, Aradia, who teaches humanity witchcraft.

And the association is very strong in the modern movement. In ancient cultures lunar (and for that matter solar) deities came in all shapes and sizes, but a not insignificant chunk of modern Paganism casts “The Goddess” (either under an oathbound name or generically titled as such) as the deity of the moon and the Earth (except some flora and most fauna, as I understand it).

Before I even knew Her name, Andred had very strong lunar associations with me. It was almost like She was watching me from above. (Specifically this association was most prevalent with the waning crescent. I’m still not 100% sure why, and I probably never will be and that’s just fine.)

Witchcraft

Witchcraft is the recourse of the dispossessed,

the powerless, the hungry and the abused.

It gives heart and tongue to stones and trees.

It wears the rough skin of beasts.

It turns on a civilization that knows the

price of everything and the value of nothing.

Peter Grey, Apocalyptic Witchcraft
Other search suggestions, comparing witchcraft to rebellion.

This was originally going to be the “Andred -> Hares -> Witches” portion of the post. However, lately I have been reading a lot about horned deities and the liminal qualities they embody (both in a dedicated book about the subject, and in another book mostly about the interaction of religions in Britain at the time of Roman annexation). In my very first post I mentioned that I first encountered Andred’s name in Paul Huson’s Mastering Witchcraft, where She appears alongside Cernunnos, and they are the primary deities of Huson’s vision of witchcraft. (And on page 217, Huson states “Andred. Witch goddess name coming from the Forest of Weald in England.” I think Huson is referring to a different forest entirely, as Andred’s sacred grove is thought to be in Epping Forest, and in this case specifically the name “Andredes Weald” is a coincidence. But, as they say, coincidence is seldom “mere”.)

In Jason Mankey’s The Horned God of the Witches, he devotes a chapter to the horned god in traditional witchcraft, and points out in its own dedicated chapter that the horned god has always been the primary male deity of Wicca, and surfaces in the earliest writings. This particular horned god has a sacrifice arc wherein he is routinely killed in order to provide the fruits of the earth (in the form of grain, typically).

In one of my earliest experiences, I remember helping a wounded individual (henceforth the Wounded Man, as his identity is a mystery which has bothered me for years) off the battlefield, to be cared for by Andred. When I read about horned deities, for reasons as yet unknown, I think of him.

And there’s another possible thread, beyond “Andred -> Hares -> Witches” and whatever is happening with the horned deities as was revealed to various founders of Wicca and older names in traditional witchcraft (and any possible connection that has to the Wounded Man). There’s the idea of the fringes, the “outer rim” of acceptable society, where the familiar mingles with the weird. Britain was once the outer rim of the Roman Empire (and before that, beyond the edge of the world as they conceived of it). Witchcraft is perpetually on the fringes of accepted social practice as pertains to religion and magic. (In modern times all things magical are lumped as “woo woo” and summarily dismissed in favor of “rationality”, but during the witch trials things were not so simple. The Catholic Church had rituals which were held as socially distinct from alchemy (still accepted, as the domain of wealthy dudes with tons of free time) and herbalism (done usually by villagers, and not as socially accepted). There seemed to be some disagreement about astrology; court astrologers existed, but outside of that it appears to have come under question.) The quote and photo above are related to this idea specifically.

In a way, witchcraft is like Jughead from Riverdale. It doesn’t “fit in”, and it doesn’t want to “fit in.”

Conclusion

As fascinating as it would be to time travel back a couple thousand years and ask the Iceni themselves about their myths and theological positions, such information is actually kind of useless in the modern world with modern problems. Times change, folklore changes, and gods change. For one example, I think Andred has adopted rabbits as well as hares as symbols. And for another example, there’s a pretty solid possibility that as hares picked up associations with witchcraft (for good or ill) and the Moon, so too did She.

Something I found noteworthy about the material for this post was that it felt less like a discovery or “reveal” (so to speak) and more like a bunch of disparate pieces finally fitting together in my mind (see the photo above). Following the threads and seeing how they interconnected, and then working out what that might mean. Now, the second step is to figure out what I do with this.

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