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Thou Shalt Not Suffer a Witch to Live:

an Enquiry into Biblical Mistranslation

"THOU SHALT NOT SUFFER A WITCH TO LIVE." This interpretation of Exodus 22:18 provided encouragement to the witchhunters of the Renaissance, and justified their putting to death those they had identified as witches. Tens of thousands of unfortunates who, in some way or other, had earned for themselves the title "witch" had little hope of mercy when faced with the seemingly unambiguous nature of this command.

Even today, some Christian Fundamentalist zealots invoke the same passage when denouncing what they see as the Satanically-inspired success of the Neo-Pagan Craft. Not surprisingly, modern Witches throw the verse back at them as proof of the extreme and intransigent hatred that monotheists have had, and will always have, for people like themselves.

The problem of Exodus 22:18 is, however, much more complex and interesting. For one thing, the associations of the word "witch" have, as we know, changed over the centuries. To modern Neo-Pagans it has come to mean something like benign, Goddess-worshipping, magic-using healer. But the word acquired this meaning only within the last few decades, and was obviously not the one King James's translators attached to it in 1611. It is absurd to suggest, as some naive Neo-Pagan writers have, that the passage was intended to be understood as "Thou shalt not suffer a benign, Goddess-worshipping, magic-using healer to live."

The use of the word "witch" in this verse is a translation: it is presented -- rightly or wrongly -- as the English-language equivalent of a term from another language, another culture, and another time. What did the term mean in its original context, and what shifts in meaning through both language evolution and successive translations have led to its being understood (or misunderstood) as it is today? In this article I will attempt a concise overview of the linguistic development of Exodus 22:18 through several Scriptural traditions, from its origins in a specific Near Eastern situation to current attempts at applying it in non-Western settings.

In its original Hebrew text the verse reads: M'khashephah lo tichayyah. Literally this means: "May a m'khashephah not live" or "You will not keep a m'khashephah in life." M'khashephah is the feminine form (although it also has a collective meaning) of a term which can also be used in the masculine m'khasheph). It means someone who practices k'shaphim, a magic characterized by spell-working that aggressively makes changes in the environment.

K'shaphim appears to be derived from a Semitic root K-Sh-P meaning "to cut off" (it may or may not be related to the Akkadian kashshapu and its feminine kashshaptu, terms used in Babylonian culture to denote certain magic-users). Its most important trait is the application of psychic power through directed use of specific words and sounds (i.e. spell-casting), but in a completely private manner, hidden from the rest of the community.

Although it could, in theory, be applied to beneficial as well as harmful ends, the practice of k'shaphim was usually thought of in terms of its destructive possibilities (i.e., the power to cut off life and prosperity), since this was what inspired the most anxiety in society at large: a m' khasheph or m'khashephah could cause illness or barrenness, or even kill, without leaving any traces that would connect them to these actions. The only way to guard against their power was to discover them and neutralize them(which, more often than not, meant killing them).

Paranoia about spell-casters was not confined to ancient Israel, but has been a common trait of rural societies around the globe, including cultures untouched by Biblical monotheism. There is a large body of anthropological literature describing the fear that African and Asian peasants have of secret practitioners of baneful magic, and the often very cruel means that are used to hunt them down. The attitude of the ancient Israelites towards the m'khashephah is, in this regard, completely unremarkable.

It is interesting to note that, although later usage of the term indicates that k'shaphim could be practiced by people of either sex, Exodus 22:18 (if the -ah suffix is indeed intended as feminine) only mentions the female practitioner. Before we rush to put the blame for this on the misogyny of patriarchal monotheists, we should recognize that this attitude, too, is widely attested in the ancient world. We find many instances, in a great variety of cultures, of women being attributed a greater natural aptitude to shape and direct psychic power -- accompanied, of course, by the fear that they will put that talent to a destructive use. For example, in the famous early Irish poem called the Deer s Cry, attributed to Saint Patrick, the speaker asks to be protected against (among a list of other magical dangers) briochta ban or "women's spells"; and lest we assume that this is Christian-inspired misogyny, an inscription on a bronze tablet from first century Gaul uses almost the same term, proving that the concept was well known to pre-Christian Celts. The theory that such beliefs are rooted in patriarchy and a fear of women's rebellion is not unfounded; but the presence of such beliefs in ancient Israel is not a Judaic innovation.

The injunction against the m'khashephah in Exodus appears in the course of a long enumeration of social transgressions and their appropriate punishments. These include instances of kidnapping and assault; bodily harm caused to humans by domestic animals; and the accidental destruction of property. Apart from a reminder not to worship foreign gods (a reference to the first commandment), and a prohibition of bestiality that properly belongs to the purity code in Leviticus, all the concepts discussed involve threats to social balance and cohesion, and are developments of the principles contained in the Ten Commandments. The activity of the m'khashephah is a violation of the sixth commandment, and possibly of the tenth (since it might include destruction of cattle or crops). She is condemned here not simply because she uses magic, but because her magic jeopardizes people's lives and property, and thus imperils society as a whole. It is seen as an act of violence, and is classified with other such acts.

This is not to imply, of course, that all non-destructive uses of magic were permitted in early Hebrew society. Other magical traditions, common to many Near Eastern cultures, are singled out for prohibition in the Torah, but they are interpreted as violations of the cult due to Yahweh, and do not involve the kind of disruption caused by the m'khashephah. The practitioners of these other types of magic were seen as threats not to society in general, but to the specific identity of Israel.

A good example is the character popularly known as the "Witch of Endor ", who appears in I Samuel 28:7-25. The King James translators never, in fact, refer to her as a witch (a term they reserve for m'khashephah), but as a woman that hath a familiar spirit , which is intended as the equivalent of the Hebrew esheth ba'alath 'ov. In the story she is a medium or necromancer, and King Saul consults her (breaking his own laws) to gain contact with the spirit of the recently dead prophet Samuel.

The term 'ov is generally used in Hebrew literature to denote illicit contacts with the dead. Its origin is obscure; the word also means a kind of jug. Perhaps such a vessel was a necessary part of the ritual, a container for the familiar spirit with which one contacted the Otherworld, rather like the calabashes used to house oracular spirits in many African traditions. However, no such object appears in the story. The translators of King James evidently thought the term meant the oracular spirit itself, and they had support for this in some other Biblical passages -- for instance, Isaiah 29:4, in the prophet's threat to the city of Ariel: "v'shaphalt me'eretz t'daberi ume'aphar tishshach imratech v'hayah k'ov me'eretz qolech ume'aphar imratech t'tzaphtzeph" ("and having been brought low you will speak out of the ground and your speech will be lowly out of the dust, and your voice will be like that of an 'ov out of the ground, and your speech will whisper out of the dust"), where the 'ov is clearly a twittering ghost from Sheol.

Apart from these meanings, the term could also be an independent derivation from an old Semitic root '-W-B which seems to have meant something like empty or hollow. It would then refer to the emptying of one's consciousness that characterizes mediumistic trance, which fits the description of the esheth ba'alath-'ov's practice. She sees the dead as 'elohim ("gods", i.e., luminous apparitions) rising up out of the ground (the abode of the dead is in the depths of the earth). They are at first visible only to her, and she must describe them to those who have come to consult her. It is evident that such consultations with dead ancestors were normal rituals in ancient Israel until they were outlawed by the Yahwist reformation.

No effort is made in the story to portray the esheth ba'alath-'ov as a disreputable or antisocial person. On the contrary, she comes across as a virtuous and generous woman, who goes out of her way to help Saul after he collapses from the effect of the ghostly Samuel's words. Her magic is receptive and manifested only in rituals done for other people, unlike the aggressive magic of the m'khashephah, which is practiced in solitary secrecy and serves her own ends. 'Ov is unlawful not because it is socially disruptive or because it offends what we would now call morality , but because it inappropriately mixes categories, putting the living in a polluting contact with the dead, breaking the taboo that the cult of Yahweh has placed on all concern for the dead and the Underworld.

When she is first contacted by the emissaries of Saul, the 'esheth ba'alath-'ov says that a decree from the king has banished not only practitioners of 'ov (whom she refers to in the feminine, 'ovoth, implying that it was principally a female activity) but people to whom she gives the masculine name yid'onim, which literally means "knowers" (the King James text has "wizards"). Was a yid'oni someone who, from personal experience, knew about the spirit world and the arcane patterns that lie beneath the appearances of our everyday life, and could use that knowledge to serve his fellows when they were faced with problems that resisted mundane solutions? Early uses of the term -- as well as cross-cultural comparisons -- make it seem likely that it had no negative connotations until the Yahwist reformation brought the yid'oni's methods (consultation with spirits that were not perceived to be under the direct authority of Yahweh) into question, and made his practices illegal.

Deuteronomy 18:10-11 proclaims the ban against both the yid'oni and the sho'el 'ov ( consulter of 'ov ), and also lists the names of a number of other types of magical practitioners about whom one would like to know more: the qosem q'samim (according to King James, "one who useth divination" -- literally, one who casts lots, perhaps using a system similar to geomancy or the I Ching); the m'onen ("observer of times", probably a reader of omens in the natural environment); the m'nachesh ("enchanter"; some scholars have derived this from nachash, snake , and have interpreted it as one who divines from the behavior of an oracular serpent -- a practice widely known in ancient times); the chover chavar ("charmer" -- literally binder of bonds, i.e., one who can suppress the flow of energy by the magical tying of knots); the m'khasheph ("witch", listed here again because of the ritual transgression implied by such practices); and the doresh 'el hametim, ("necromancer"; one who asks the dead , apparently by a method different from that of the sho'el 'ov).

In later Hebrew usage most of these terms came together under the single meaning "magician", but at the time of the establishment of the Mosaic code they were obviously quite specific and separate in what they designated. The fact that they were all declared to be to evah (what the King James Bible translates as "abomination") probably helped to blur the distinctions between them.

It is important to note at this point that in modern speech we have given the word "abomination" a moral meaning -- shaped in part by its presence in the King James text, and the moralistic interpretation that has been put on it by countless preachers -- which did not originally apply to the term to'evah. The Greek of the Septuagint renders it bdelygma, "pollution", which is closer to its basic meaning: the inappropriate coming together of dissimilar categories of things that should always be kept apart, and whose combination should inspire revulsion. Apart from the obvious mundane applications of this (avoidance of what is classified as dirt , for instance), we find in most traditional cultures a concept of pollution in a spiritual or magical sense, the belief that contact with certain categories of things or people can strongly affect the inner power of a person and his/her ability to influence the world. With this in mind, we should realize that when we discuss the origins of Judaic monotheism we must not project onto that ancient period our modern way of thinking about politics, society and economics -- as so many writers, unfortunately, do.

The Israelites, like all other ancient peoples, believed in the power of magic. The Yahwist reformation was itself a supremely magical act, recognizable as such to all of Israel's neighbors. Faced with threats from powerful foreign enemies, the ruling classes of the Israelites came to feel that the best way to augment the strength of their nation magically was to focus ever more exclusively on the worship of Yahweh, the god uniquely associated with the identity of Israel, and to combat the influence of religious practices shared by other nations, since the magical effect of such practices would be to dilute Israel's specificity, and therefore lower its resistance to foreign pressure. Accordingly, all activities or objects that were related to non-Yahwist concepts were experienced as pollution, a stain on the vitality of the Israelite spirit.

This avoidance could extend to very broad categories of experience. We have already noted, for instance, the strong aversion in the Mosaic code for anything having to do with death -- manifesting, on one level, as an obsessive fear of contact with corpses, but also including the spirits of the dead and their Underworld realm within the same taboo category. This is because Yahweh was originally a sky god, and in Near Eastern religion the sky gods -- rulers of weather, but also of social organization -- were completely cut off from the gods of the Underworld, rulers of birth and death. Mixing the two categories would have been polluting even in pre-Judaic contexts. Thus after the Yahwist reformation Yahweh was de facto a god of the living, not of the dead, and any ritual contact with the gods of the Underworld, regardless of the form it took, was a pollution that diverted energy from him and threatened the power within him -- and the power within Israel, which was the same thing.

Most of the magical practitioners listed in Deuteronomy 18:10-11 relied on forces that were associated with the rulers of the Underworld. They were thus condemned not because they used magic but because they used the wrong magic. One should stress, again, that the use of taboo to protect exclusive categories from pollution is a common phenomenon that has nothing to do with monotheism. A familiar example can be found in Hinduism, where the ethos of each caste in society is carefully guarded from pollution by other castes. Another good example is the complex taboo system that protected Polynesian aristocrats from pollution by commoners (and vice versa). In this, as in many other aspects of their culture that have been claimed as unique, the early Israelites were quite unexceptional. Even monotheism, which many suppose to be an exclusively Judaic invention, was developing simultaneously in many parts of the world in Biblical times.

The conquest of the kingdom of Israel by Assyrian armies in 722 B.C.E. and, finally, the capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon in 587 forced the Israelites into much closer contact with their neighbors and completely transformed the face of Judaism. Gradually, through cross-fertilization with the emerging monotheisms of other cultures, the unique god of Israel merged with the concept of God. Adherence to the Mosaic code continued, but it was often interpreted in new ways that involved more universal ethical concepts.

After 332, most of the Near East came under Greek domination, and Greek became the common language of the region, especially in cities. Jewish communities established in urban centers outside Palestine often used Greek as their only language, jeopardizing their ability to understand the scriptures that codified their religion. This led, c. 200 B.C.E., to a team of seventy translators (known ever after as the Septuagint) producing a Greek version of the Hebrew Bible for use by the Hellenized Jews of the diaspora. As might be expected, the great cultural differences between pre-Conquest Israel and the urban Hellenistic world made for some difficulties in translation; and the Septuagint's treatment of Exodus 22:18 offers a good example of this.

Fear of hidden spell-casters tends to be a rural phenomenon: it was not a major concern of Hellenistic city dwellers. There was thus no obvious equivalent to the m'khashephah in the translators environment. One figure in Hellenistic society did, however, have a similar aura of secret knowledge and double-edged power: the pharmakos or herbalist. The science of pharmakeia (whence our "pharmacy") was perceived to be extremely complex and beyond the comprehension of ordinary people, so that one who had mastered its secrets was thought to have access to a power that was almost magical. Herbs could heal, but they could also be used as poison, sometimes leaving no more trace than a spell would. Pharmakoi in their city shops were usually consulted for healing, yet there was always the suspicion that they secretly gave assistance in committing murders. Although pharmakoi could be of either sex, many of them were women, since it was one of the few occupations open to single women at that time. Like their patroness Hekate, they seemed to defy the authority structures on which society was based, wielding a power far beyond their station. The Septuagint thus rendered Exodus 22:18 as: Pharmakous ou peripoiesete -- literally, "You will not keep herbalists." (The suffix -ah, although it usually denotes a feminine singular noun, can also, as we have mentioned, be understood as a collective: "all those who practice k'shaphim"; this is the reading the translators preferred.)

Interestingly -- and perhaps because wholesale persecution of pharmakoi in mixed urban communities was not possible -- the Greek translation somewhat softens the Hebrew original. Although the primitive meaning of peripoiein is "to keep alive", its more common idiomatic meaning is to keep for someone's use. Thus the verse could be understood as "You will not give herbalists a livelihood", i.e., you will not seek out their services.

However, even if the condemnation was less severe, the pharmakoi and their world were, even apart from the shady reputation they already had in society at large, identified with something sinful, against the will of God. They were linked to the other magic-users in Deuteronomy 18:10-11, for whom the Septuagint found fascinating Greek equivalents. The sho'el 'ov, for instance, was felt to correspond to an engastrimythos, literally one who talks in the belly i.e., a ventriloquist, a medium who speaks in strange voices when possessed by spirits. Also mentioned are the kledonizomenos (observer of omens), the oionizomenos (observer of birds, augur), the epaeidon (user of incantations to fascinate and bind someone) and the teratoskopos (interpreter of "monsters" or unusual happenings; this translates yid'oni in Deuteronomy, although elsewhere yid'oni is appropriately gnostes, "knower"). The idea was growing that magic, even beyond the polluting properties it had in the traditional Yahwist sense of contamination, was harmful, although the theological reasons for this were not yet completely formulated. Commentators attempted to prove that pharmakeia and k'shaphim were the same thing (some even claiming that the "cutting off" etymology referred to the shredding of medicinal plants!).

When the Roman Empire acquired the Hellenistic world, Christianity spread an awareness of the Hebrew scriptures through its urban network. Although Christians were theoretically freed from the strictures of the Mosaic code, they felt the Torah was the starting point of their tradition, and encouraged study of it. The Greek-speaking East continued to use the Septuagint text, but for the Latin West St. Jerome provided a translation at the beginning of the fifth century.

Jerome's work, despite its errors, is an impressive achievement: instead of relying solely on the Septuagint, he taught himself Hebrew and went back to the original texts. Thus in translating Exodus 22:18 he avoided the pharmakos concept and rendered m'khashephah as maleficus, literally "evil-doer" -- but, in common speech, a user of maleficia: destructive spells, baneful magic. The entire verse reads: Maleficos non patieris vivere ("You will not suffer practitioners of baneful magic to live" -- like the Septuagint, Jerome understands m'khashephah as a collective, not a feminine, noun). Jerome -- who seems to have been rather a nasty man -- puts the harshest interpretation possible on the ambiguous Hebrew text.

Jerome's Latin Vulgate was the text in which most people in the West read the Bible during the Middle Ages. It provided the base for the Church's unifying authority within society, expressed in the balanced structure of the feudal system. By the thirteenth century, however, the revival of cities and increasing cultural pluralism began to upset that balance, bringing about a series of political crises and a general sense of anxiety, which naturally led to a demand for scapegoats.

During the eleventh and twelfth centuries a strong Manichaean influence on Western culture sensitized people to the concept of personalized Evil, and turned Satan -- who until then had played a relatively minor role in Judaism and Christianity -- into a dominant figure in the Christian imagination. Eventually Satan was thought to be orchestrating a vast conspiracy of human agents working secretly to erode the bases of Christian society. By the end of the Middle Ages catastrophes like the Black Death and the collapse of feudalism with its attendant wars reinforced belief in Satanic conspiracy, and encouraged persecution of those suspected of belonging to it.

There had always been a fear of secret spell-casters in rural communities; now a believable rationale was found for their existence and purpose: they were agents of Satan, given special powers by him to harm their neighbors. A mythology grew up describing the activities of these secret Satanists in lurid detail, and as the paranoia reached its height, an outbreak of accusations around the German town of Mainz in 1484, the Church, in the person of Pope Innocent VIII, gave this mythology its official approval.

The Biblical statement about malefici, as it was phrased by Jerome, justified putting suspected spell-casters to death: during the late Renaissance tens of thousands were executed in various parts of Europe on this accusation alone. Although, as many scholars have pointed out, there were economic and social reasons for the pattern taken by the accusations, the paranoia was quite real. While a few of those swept up in these hunts were (as Carlo Ginzburg's researches have shown) practitioners of genuinely Pagan magical traditions (which they invariably believed to be Christian), it is important to realize that they were condemned not so much because of those practices as in spite of them: the inquisitors dismissed them as an alibi covering up real Satanic involvement.

As the Bible was translated into the major European vernaculars during the Renaissance, versions of Exodus 22:18 reflected, not surprisingly, whatever terms had been in local use to designate malefici during the trials. It is interesting to note that, despite the precedents of both the Septuagint and the Vulgate, almost all of the translations interpreted m'khashephah as a feminine singular rather than as a collective, thus reinforcing the sense that most spell-casters were women. Some of the terms used were completely negative in origin, like the Italian strega, which comes from Greek strix, "vampire" -- a being that flies around at night sucking blood or life energy from people (in Latin strix came to mean "owl", but its original meaning remained well known throughout late antiquity).

Terms in most languages, however, accurately reflected the ambiguous meaning of m'khashephah, pointing up the continuity and universality of peasant beliefs about spell-casters. The French sorcier/sorciere, for instance, comes from the Latin sors, "fate", which led to sort, "spell", the magical imposition of a destiny on someone. The English "witch" is derived from a root meaning "to bend", implying the ability to bend the course of events to one's advantage (or to someone else s disadvantage). Some terms, like the German Hexe and Swedish haxa, are obscure in origin, although they are certainly related to the English "hag", and some linguists have suggested that they are derived from a word meaning "heath", the world outside human culture, stressing the secrecy and separateness of such activities (the Spanish brujo/bruja, obscure in origin but probably Celtic, may have a similar etymology). The common Russian word for "witch", vyed ma, simply means "knower", so the Bible translators used the more sinister and archaic term vorozhe, which is related to the Hungarian varazs, and more specifically associated with baneful magic. Czech has czarodejnice, maker of spells.

A problem arose with the Celtic languages, which did not make clear distinctions between benign and harmful uses of magic, but tended to see them as varieties of a single, morally neutral concept. For Exodus 22:18 the Welsh Bible came up with hudoles, "female weaver of illusion" -- from hud, a term that originally denoted the charms of fascination but now means "magic" in both positive and negative aspects. Irish, unfortunately, found nothing better than bandraoi "druidess" -- draoi (from an Old Celtic construction meaning "true-seer") having come to mean "magician" in all senses. Scots Gaelic used ban-fhiosaiche, "seeress, wisewoman" (the esheth ba'aloth-'ov in I Samuel was called bean aig a bheil leannan-sith, "a woman who has a fairy lover"!). Manx avoids the problem altogether by borrowing the English word "witch" as buitch.

We can thus see that, apart from the confusion in the Celtic realm, the translators of the Bible into modern tongues took some pains to convey the original meaning of the word m'khashephah. This did not mean, of course, that the English word "witch" (or the equivalent terms in other European languages) retained that specialized meaning. Although scholars knew the difference, the fusion of the concepts behind the words m'khashephah and pharmakos, begun in the Septuagint, continued in popular culture, until the bubbling cauldron of the pharmakos became, in the minds of most people, a normal appendage of the malignant, spell-casting "witch". Since the idea that all magic was illicit had now found its theological justification -- substituting Satan for the Semitic gods of the Underworld -- the herbalist's quasi-magical knowledge could be attributed to Satanic influence, and (usually if she was unpopular for other reasons) she became a legitimate target for witch-hunters.

In the last three centuries missionary efforts have spread Christianity far beyond Europe, necessitating the translation of the Bible into the languages of non-Western cultures. As we have seen, most cultures around the globe make a distinction between magic users who do harm (like the m'khashephah) and those whose activities are potentially beneficial to the community (like the yid'oni). To translate Exodus 22:18 accurately, missionaries needed to know local terms for baneful magic, not just magic in general. By way of illustration, I will draw on a very few examples from Bible translations well known to me. The Maori Bible has wahine makutu, "woman who does baneful magic" -- makutu was " illegitimate" magic, done in secret to harm people. The Hawaiian Bible uses the much less appropriate term kupua, which denotes persons or objects having magical power in themselves, and often capable of shifting into other shapes (the translator may have been thinking of European traditions associating women with shape-shifting). Malay gives orang ahii sihir perempuan, "female adept of baneful magic", correctly distinguishing this from pawang, the general term for magician. The Malagasy text, less correctly, has vehivavy manana ody, "woman possessing magical charms," where ody means talismans or potions imbued with magical power, normally used to heal rather than harm, although the ability to harm is recognized: the translator has obviously drawn on the pharmakos interpretation.

All these translations were made in the past century by people with scholarly credentials and high standards. Recent, over-hasty translations by Evangelicals eager to convert tribes in remote parts of Africa and South America can be much sloppier, often translating "witch" by terms that refer to magic users in general, or even to practitioners of native religions. For example, the Bible in Warao (a language of the Orinoco delta in Venezuela) renders "witch" as wisiratu, which actually means a native priest and story teller.

I hope this brief excursion into the world of Biblical texts will help convince modern Witches that the negative meaning of the word witch in popular usage is not the result of a recent Christian conspiracy but the product of a very ancient tradition of distinguishing between practitioners of harmful and useful magic, expressed in Hebrew by the contrast between the terms m'khasheph and yid'oni. The word "witch" has always been flavored by an association with baneful magic; the true equivalents of yid'oni in English tradition would be (as the King James translators knew) "wizard" and "wisewoman".

In many cultures, "good" magicians are called by words that make some reference to knowledge, as is well exemplified by Celtic terminology: Irish fear feasa and Welsh dyn hysbys (both "man of knowledge"), Scots Gaelic fiosaiche (seer, knower), and the older Welsh gwiddon, which is usually translated as "witch" but really means "person of knowledge". It would be useful, when we deal with cultures that have continuous magical traditions, to identify such terminology and associate ourselves with it, rather than describing ourselves by a term translated as "witch" in the anthropological sense.

One should note, in parting, that most recent English translations of the Bible, in deference to modern Witches, have replaced the word "witch" by "sorceress" in Exodus 22:18. A question, however, remains: do modern Witches feel comfortable with the distinction between the m'khashephah and yid'oni concepts, and all that it implies? That, of course, is a question no single writer can answer.

by Alexei Kondratiev


Alexei Kondratiev is the author of The Apple Branch: a Path to Celtic Ritual (Cork, Ireland: The Collins Press, 1998). The American edition of The Apple Branch was published by Citadel Press in 2003. Alexei also contributed a major essay on Brigit to Devoted to You: Honoring Deity in Wiccan Practice, edited by Judy Harrow (NY: Citadel, 2003)

Alexei died on May 28, 2010. His obituary is here.

This article was originally published in Enchante #18 (1994) pp. 11-15.
updated: July, 2000; © 1994, 2000, by Alexei Kondratiev
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