All the old time practitioners of the Craft insofar as Western Europe and the British Isles are concerned, were also practitioners of Natural Medicine. Wherever the Craft is found it is always concerned with ministering to the health needs of the people. All medicine until very recent times, has been Natural Medicine. Witches are also always concerned with the great values of natural law found in Music, Dance, Natural Agriculture and Astrology.
Under the pall of the Inquisition,
when a mere accusation of witchcraft was tantamount to execution it became
necessary for survival to destroy or hide anything which might even
suggest a connection with the Craft. The medicine men and women were left with a few options. They could quit, go
underground or get out. Many were identified, tortured and burned, but as
Wise Men are Wise, most of them were not. The majority of those executed
were not Craft practioners. Nevertheless, the formal disintegration of
Wisdom reduced the number of practitioners drastically and the remainder went
underground and entirely invisible. The lay witches, who were left to
themselves, practiced their Craft in the secrecy of their family groups.
The removal of the professional teachers resulted in less and less concern
with medicine and the scholarly aspects of the Craft and more attention to
the magical elements of it.
Meanwhile, a variety of Christian sects, including the Puritans, fled to the new world for safety from persecution. Similarly, many of the Medicine Men and Women also fled the old country. These Natural Medicine Doctors and scholars came to the colonies also, but they were no more acceptable to the sectarian colonists than they were to the Church from which they had fled. Hence they were forced to seek isolation even in the New World. They passed through the colonies and sought refuge in the mountains of Appalachia -- thence to the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and eventually over into the Ozarks of Arkansas and Missouri.
In the mountains the Men and Women of the old Ways found the isolation and protection which afforded them the freedom to live their Craft without hindrance. Their Elizabethan language patterns, their dances -- later called "square dancing," their music, medicine, and culture survived relatively unchanged into the 20th century. When the American culture first began to take real notice of the people, in modern times it labeled them as backwards for they had chosen to let the mainstream of American culture pass them by. However, among these secretive and private people there has been preserved a pure strain of the Ancient Wisdom which has only now begun to emerge from them into the wider channels of American culture.
In the 1950's a British civil servant and sometime anthropologist Gerald B. Gardener, began to study the Celtic Witches of England and their Craft. He is said to have joined one of these covens and to later have been expelled for having revealed some of their secrets in his writings. He later created an entire liturgy based on their teachings, combined with gleanings from the Roman Rites of Diana. His rites have a certain beauty and contain overt sexual practices. The Gardnerians practice their rites nude (sky clad) in contrast to the "Robed Ones" of our tradition.
Since the emergence of Alex Sanders, there have been literally hundreds
of so-called traditions which have come forward: Faerie, Dianic, Welsh,
Strega and eclectic to name just a few. Most are new, some are
"restorations" and some perhaps authentic. Secrecy is a traditional necessity in the pursuit of Wisdom
but many of the modern restoration groups spurn secrecy and proclaim that
modern enlightenment obviates the need for it. We tend to disagree and
find secrecy and sacredness to be synonymous. In recent times
the term "Druid" has been appropriated by groups who have sought to revive
Druidism as a restoration cult. To us the term "Druid" is used only as a reminder of our Celtic heritage.
The DCW uses the elements of mental magic to attain our personal goals of health, wealth and Wisdom. In addition we place great emphasis on personal health in the life style of the individual and upon natural medicine. Despite the modern medical monopoly they heal many "incurable" diseases for members of their own groups and teach the harmony of natural living in cooperation with nature.