We are the power in everyone We are the dance of the moon and the sun We are the hope that will never hide We are the turning of the tide
The single most important difference between Wicca and the major (patriarchal) religions is the Goddess. The Goddess is a complex entity representing all that is female, nurturing, loving. But she is also the creatrix and sustainer of life, in short the planet Earth itself, often called Mother Earth. You must put aside any concept of a God you may already have when you think of the Goddess. She is not a female equivalent of the Christian God. The Gods of the Patriarchal religions Christianity, Judaism and Islam are like ghosts that follow you around, determining whether you have sinned too much to go to heaven. This is because the Gods of the major religions are super-natural i.e. above nature. These religions tend to put humanity above nature also. The Goddess of the Pagans is Nature and likewise humankind is part of Nature.
Wiccans also have a God that we call 'the Horned God'. This is because down the millennia the God has been the symbol of the hunt, closely associated with deer and later with farming animals such as goats. He has nothing to do with the Christian Devil and represents all that is male - protecting, providing and, of course, fertilising the female.
Besides the God and Goddess Wiccans work with four elements, Earth, Air, Fire and Water. Associated with these are the four quarters, North, East, South and West. The Guardians of the quarters are the spirits of the elements, for example the Guardian of the North is the spirit of the Earth. Again you must put aside any conventional notions of what a spirit is for these four characters and also, of course, the 4 elements have nothing to do with the periodic table!
An over-riding principle of Wicca and most Paganism is the equality of male and female. The God and Goddess are equal and Men and Women are equal. Note, however, not merely equal but equal and opposite just as the north and south poles of a magnet are equal but opposite. This is the principle of polarity.
So who are the Priests of this religion? Well for a start there are both Priests and Priestesses as becomes a religion where male and female are equal. Moreover every Wiccan is his or her own Priest/ess. In order to become a Priest or Priestess an initiation is necessary, just as it was in the old religious cults and mystery schools and even Christians initiate newcomers by submerging them in water. Initiate merely means begin and some traditions have second and third initiations as the Witch progresses and learns more and finally becomes a High Priest or High Priestess. Our own system theoretically has four degrees separating 5 phases of development. If you go beyond this module you enter the first phase or Air phase. When you are ready you can take the first degree initiation. Some traditions make you wait a year and a day for this. Then comes the Earth phase and so on. Although there are various opinions on this matter I take it that you are a Witch as soon as you decide to take the path that leads from here. After the first initiation or self dedication then you are a priest or priestess of the Goddess and God.
The tools of the Wiccan vary a little. Some use a wand, some use a ritual knife called an 'athame' (pronounced "atharmay"). Usually, also, there is an altar. It can be quite small and could be just a shelf in a corner. On the altar you might find candles, incense, maybe statuettes of the Goddess and God, the wand and/or athame and a pentagram. To create sacred space Wiccans 'cast' a circle using the wand or athame. The circle is marked by stones or candles at the four 'quarters', North, East, South, West.
The symbol of the Wiccans is the Pentacle which is the five-pointed star design called a pentagram enclosed in a circle. The pentacle is the symbol of truth and even the Christians used it for a century or two until it was replaced by the cross, the symbol of suffering. The pentacle may be worn as a pendant or ring and also adorns most altars. Satanists also use a pentacle but hang theirs upside-down and glad we are there is some way of telling us apart. Note that Satan is a concept invented by the Christians and is not a part of Paganism or any other non-Christian religion except Islam. Wiccans have no concept of sin and no Satan. So there is no fiery hell to worry about either. A simple sense of good and bad are enough to guide their ways. Satanism is a rebellion against Christianity and what they consider to be weakness or stupidity. Understand that sin and evil are not the same thing. A sin can be defined by your church, evil is defined by common justice.
"Wicca is thousands of years old"
Wicca is the tail end of a long process of development of Pagan thinking which is called the 'Western Mystery Tradition'. Nothing in Wicca can be placed accurately in any era and indeed most of Wicca is quite new. This is as it should be; Wicca is a modern belief system in tune with the people and needs of today's society. However there is a thread which goes back 1000's of years and appears to have no beginning. Always bear in mind, though, when someone says "In the old days it was done like this or that" you must ask "Who?" and "When?". Modern Wicca draws on whichever culture between 40 and 4000 years old that suits our purpose. It is not an exact science and there is no absolute measure, no scriptures and no laws.
Christianity's purge was so successful that the old religion was virtually extinct by the 1900s but in 1921 an English historian, Margaret Murray discovered that Witchcraft had indeed been a genuine religion and published a book, 'Witchcraft in Western Europe'. In the late 1930s a British ex colonial customs officer called Gerald Gardner began dabbling in the Occult and in the 1940s made contact with the notorious occultist Aleister Crowley. Crowley made him European head of the surviving 'O.T.O.' - Order Temporis Orientalis - but this collapsed. Some time around 1947 Gardner wrote out a grimoire called 'Ye bok of ye art magickal' (which is presently in Toronto). The source material for this manuscript is unknown but he added to it considerably over the next few years. Much of what he added came from Aleister Crowley (example) and other sources and he added and inserted all sorts of extra features familiar to modern Wiccans. His inputs were various: apart from Crowley we can see elements of Shakti Hinduism which Gardner might have learned about in his travels as a colonial administrator, elements of freemasonry (Gardner was a freemason) also woodcraft and classical influences. Between 1947 and 1952 therefore Gardner created Wicca in a frenzie of creativity. Recent research (by Professor Ronald Hutton) indicates there was no coven before that, no 'old Dorothy' as such and other rumours about the origins of Wicca have been shot down. So if we know the roots of Wicca are not genuine then why do we bother? Because of what Wicca is *today*, not what it was then. A great many people have searched for the real roots - the Western Mystery Tradition and gradually they have been found - in history, archeology and myth. Gardner's badly fitting jigsaw puzzle is being gradually straightened out and better pieces found.
In 1951 the laws against Witchcraft in Britain were repealed and Gardner published a milestone book on the subject, 'Witchcraft Today'. His coven was up and running, and Wicca was off the ground. His early initiates such as Doreen Valiente have all been instrumental in propagating the religion and especially Alex Sanders who plundered Gardner's rituals as his own and publicised Witchcraft in sensational fashion but was initiating new recruits in volume.
Since that time Wicca has grown in popularity. Today there are probably around a million Wiccans in the USA, around 10,000 in Britain (as against one million practicing Christians) and many more across Europe. Meanwhile the true followers of the old religion continued in parallel as it were. The old religion was frequently practised alongside Christianity as not going to church could cost you your job. Traditions were handed down in families and these were the so-called 'fam-trads' though 99% of so-called fam-trads these days are as fictitious as old Gerald's coven. (A genuine old tradition is described in 'Secrets of East Anglian Magic' by Nigel Pennick, pub. Hale.)
Wicca is a mystery religion and Wiccans are the Priesthood of what is known as the western mystery tradition. Therefore Wiccans study the 'mysteries', those secrets of humanity largely lost from today's society. Some have been rediscovered by such people as the great psychologist Carl Jung, others may be read in the great myths of Arthur, the Holy Grail and Parcival, Celtic, and Greek and Roman myths too.
One of the things Wicca is about is the balance and interaction between male and female. Whereas the two major patriarchal religions are concerned with Good and Evil as opposites, Wicca is concerned with the opposites of male and female, as in this simple diagram:
Good | female ----+---- male | EvilTo the Wiccan, good and evil are but opposite sides of the same coin. Of course we prefer good to evil but the contention between the two is not the primary focus of our religion. The balance of male and female is the primary focus. For this reason there is alot of sexual symbolism in Wicca, and the ultimate celebration of the God and Goddess is the Great Rite, which celebrates union of God and Goddess. This may be celebrated by actual union of Priest and Priestess. This is a sacred and reverent act of worship and not an excuse for a fuck in spite of what detractors may say. For those who do it (and it is entirely optional), it is the most beautiful and spiritual sacrament possible yet the patriarchal religions regard it as sinful. Clearly this is one aspect than can never be reconciled with the patriarchal religions. Wiccans on the other hand regard the concept of Hell and Satan as a tool for frightening their subjects into submission, a kind of terrorism, and thus regard that concept as evil in itself. This too cannot be reconciled, however there is still alot of scope for mutual respect among religions and, above all, tolerance.
Whilst the festivals are sun based Wiccans may also celebrate thirteen Esbats, or full moons. They are not as rigorously observed as the solar festivals but are important for successful working of magic and certain rituals. Wiccans have no fixed temples in which to worship but instead make a circle around all the celebrants (or the celebrants themselves form a circle) in a room or in a clearing or on a beach - anywhere private. The space within the circle is a sacred space, known as 'between the worlds'.
Modern Witches try to learn the historical skills of their medieval predecessors- herbalism, magic and so on, known generally as 'the craft'. Herbal healing is becoming widely accepted now that the chemicals in the various herbs are better understood. Often conventional medicine is a 'sledge-hammer to crack a nut'.
A major aim of the Witch is self development. Above some ancient temples were the words "Know Thyself" and so it is with the modern Witch. Wiccans find much in common with the discoveries of the psychologist Carl Jung and seek to integrate the personality and become 'whole'. This is equated with the search for the Holy Grail, a pre-Christian concept which, in simple terms means finding the true self.
As you can see Witches can be male or female. They often work solo, sometimes called 'hedge Witches'. Some prefer groups which may be organised as 'study groups' or (less often these days) covens. A coven was probably always a seminary or working group of Priests and Priestesses. Traditionally covens have a maximum size of 13 people but study or ritual groups can be any size. Often also Witches work in partnerships of male and female. As such they can still be part of a group or might work only with each other. Covens may be less popular because secrecy is no longer necessary to preserve the religion. Those who practise branches of Wicca traceable to Gerald Gardner are in the minority because their very secrecy prevents the spread of their ideas. Gardnerians regard themselves as superior to other Wiccans because of unbroken 'lineage' traceable back to Gardner and (they think) long before. Whether lineage is important or not is debatable. Alexander Sanders was refused entry to Gardner's covens so produced his own version virtually identical with Gardner's and was responsible to a much greater extent for the rapid growth of Wicca.
Incidentally the magical number 13 comes probably from the fact that there are 13 moons in a year. The number is significant in all sorts of situations for example one judge and 12 jurors, Jesus and 12 disciples.
Social workers have powers to remove children without sufficient evidence under laws designed to protect children from potential danger while investigations continue. Clearly such laws are open to abuse by social workers with fanatical religious ideas. And the prejudice exists in many places. A friend of mine was told recently in a divorce case that she would lose custody if she did not give up Wicca. That is why many Wiccan parents are scared to death of admitting their beliefs publicly.
It is also generally agreed within Wicca that there is no place for chidren 'in circle'. This is not because anything evil takes place though I have heard it said many times "You must be ashamed of what you do or children would be admitted". It is simply that Wicca is the Pagan Priest/Priestesshood and members should be mature adults, just as you would not expect to find children in a Christian seminary, or for a better analogy a Christian mystery school (where they study the Book of Revelations and so on).
|The course is free but treat it as if you were paying; don't waste it. You are given only the first, elementary part of the course(Air phase). When you complete this course you can decide if you wish to dedicate yourself to the path in which case you can do a self dedication, examples of which are given in the course. You can then apply for the second part (Earth phase) after completing a test which I will set you.
To apply just include these 5 bits of information:
(if not obvious)
|Brief Wicca background i.e. how long interested, what books you have read.|
In other words there are 5 main sources for this course:
Not hard to answer... I make naked the word In small space I have foregathered The cattle of cognisance The stream of science The totality of teaching The captivation of kingdoms The legacy of legend