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Posts Tagged ‘Magick’

A girl on one of the forum sites to which I belonged inboxed me asking if I could answer questions about Wicca, or paganism in general, for a school paper about Wicca she was putting together. She sought me out specifically because she knew I was staff in many new age/pagan forums throughout the site and thought I’d be one of the most knowledgeable about the subject, even though I am not a Wiccan myself. This is the resulting interview. (You’ll notice I frequently reference passages from some of my older posts on the subject simply because it’s good go-to reference material.)

What is it you believe in?:
I am an pagan atheist. I am not attached to a religion, but I do practice magic. However, most witches are religious and believe in a higher power; the most well-known religions that practice magic are Wicca, Santeria, and Voo-doo. Wicca was founded in early to late 1940’s by a man named Gerald Brosseau Gardner. It is based on ancient pagan teachings and rituals, but it is not, itself, even a century old. Wicca was largely influenced by Druidry, a celtic religion that existed more than a thousand years ago and was an active religion for close to 3000 years. Many of the Wiccan holidays, and many Christian holidays also, actually originated as pagan holy days and were observed by the majority in the european-gaelic lands.

Do you believe in a devil?:
No. Most Satanists don’t even believe in a devil. Very few witches believe in a devil and widely assert that a “devil” figure was invented by Judeo-Christian faiths as a way to scare people into behaving. The misconception that Witches believe in/worship Satan has a lot to do with the fact that the Wiccan God is represented by a Horned Man, often with a goat’s face and cloven hooves. According to Judeo-Christians, this image is the personification of Satan, and there is a reason behind this. Many hundreds of years ago, the image of Pan (or Bacchus), the greek god of wine, revelry, and hedonism, was taken by the Christian scholars and turned into the face of Satan to force many pagans of the age to convert. Pan was a satyr; a man with cloven hooves, the legs, horns, and ears of a goat, and a long, goat-like beard. There are even some depictions of Pan that give him a goat-like face as well. Sound familiar?

A couple thousand years before this, Satan didn’t have a true face. He was originally absorbed by the Jewish slaves from the egyptian deity Set, who was depicted as a man with the head of an unusual and unknown desert creature with with a curved snout, square ears, forked tail, and canine body. He represented necessary chaos and was the opposing power of the father god, Ra, and was the only god, with the exception of Ra, who held the title of “His Majesty”. It’s easy to see how this mythos ties in with the Christian mythos of God and Satan being rivals of similar power.

Do you believe in demons?:
No, but a large amount of pagans do, especially pagans who believe in pantheons (or a large amount of Gods, like the Norse faith Asatru or from the ancient Greeks. Many Wiccans will adopted pantheons from dead religions, like the Egyptian or the Incan, as their patron deities). They believe that “demon” is a moniker for malevolent, non-human spirits that have existed since the beginning of time. They also believe in “angels”, benevolent spirits opposing “demons”. They differ from Christian “angels” and “demons” in that they are not attached to a higher power, but exist and behave as independant entities, without instruction or direction from a greater being.

Do you have a familiar? if you do what is it and can you describe it to me?:
I do. My familiar is a Sugar-Glider named Flitwick. Sugar-Gliders are nocturnal American marsupials that originated in Australia, and is related to opossums, koalas, and platypuses.  I got him as a present from my sister-in-law. A familiar is an animal that one has a profound attachment to, and helps a witch with magical workings. The way they differ from pets is they will often aid their person by either being a look-out that guards the circle (being that if anyone or anything disturbs the circle could damage the working being done) by vocalizing or manually stopping anything from entering the circle, or they themselves will be a vehicle of magic by taking the energy to the person for which the spell was done. A witch may have many familiars in their lifetime and it’s not limited to one species of animal. Normally people choose their pets as familiars because of the connection they feel with them. You’d be more likely to feel close to your beloved old dog than you would a stray, correct?

Do you belong to a coven? if so can you tell me about it?:

I do not, but I am friends with a high priestess who leads a coven. A Coven is a gathering of witches that is lead by a priest or priestess. I know in movies like “The Craft” it was just four witch chicks doing spells to be a coven, but a coven is an actual religious order, which needs a religious leader. Just like a church. It’s not a church without a preacher, therefore, it’s not a coven without a Priest or Priestess, and you cannot be a Priest or Priestess, dispite what some might tell you, without being ordain by an actual Wiccan Priest/ess or Minister and you must also be at least eighteen years of age (in most states in the U.S. I’m not sure about European countries). Only someone who has been ordained can ordain you.

You also need a license to be a religious leader and to perform marriages, as ministers must do sometimes, which must be applied for legally. Covens can be as large as necessary, but it must have at least five members to start it (a Priest/ess and four to call the Elements). Many say that a coven can only have thirteen members, which may have been true hundreds of years ago, but that sounds a little impractical in modern times. It is possible to be a priest/ess without a coven, but to be a High Priest/ess, you must lead a church.

A group of Wiccans or pagans that practice group magic, rituals, and celebrate Holy Days without a religious leader is called a Gathering or a Circle.

Do you do magic? If so why, do you do it to help or harm?:
I do. Mostly when I can’t think of anything else to do and I’ve exhausted other methods. I’ve only ever used magic as a means to help myself or others, but I am not above using it out of anger. The biggest draw to magic is when a person will see the media portray magical practitioners as people who can solve every problem with magic, and they want to be able to do that, too. The reality, as any seasoned practitioner will tell you, is that magic is always supposed to be used as a method of last resort. It’s never a good idea to let your mind jump immediately to magical resolutions, because magic requires a lot of responsibility. It’s a decision that could change the situation not only for you, but for others as well. Before you can use magic to help solve a problem, you have to look at how the spell or working may affect you and others around you both short-term and long-term. Magic is responsibility.

In addition, Wiccans believe in the Threefold law, which is one of the basic rules of Wicca, and is very much like karma. The threefold law is basically the concept that anything you do in life will return to you three fold. If you are kind, life will be three times as kind to you. If you are a jerk, life will be three times as bad to you.

Have you ever had any type of persecution for being a witch?:
I have not, but mostly because I keep it quiet. I don’t really feel it’s anyone elses business what my beliefs are. I do know that people have avoided me after learning I was a witch, even if they thought I was a nice person. It is really sad that people let their misconceptions get in the way of friendships.

Are orgies something for your religion that you commonly practice?:
Ha! It’s amazing how many people ask this questions seriously. No, not at all. The reason people might think this is because most magical religions do not believe in discriminating against alternative sexualities. A person’s sex life is not a religious concern at all. Sex rites do occur, but VERY rarely, and it’s a very private matter that occurs between two people only. There are never any other people present during these rites. There is not now, nor have their ever been, any sort of sexually deviant behavior that take place in a coven, at a pagan church, or among the parishoners and/or priest/esses. A couple may receive a blessing from their priest or preistess, but that’s it. The priest/ess is not present during the rite. I’m not saying pagan orgies have never happened. I’m saying that they have not happened in hundreds of years. There is no modern “pagan orgies” at all. Ever. Most covens believe that, at best, it is highly inappropriate, and at worst, grounds for disbanding. There are rituals that are done skyclad (or naked) but it’s not a requirement and no sex occurs during these rituals.

Are there any type of sexual rituals you perform?:
I have never performed any sort of sex rite, no. Normally sex rites are performed by a bride and groom (or bride/bride, groom/groom) after the wedding or handfasting (trial marriage) of a couple, or a way that a couple binds themselves to each other without being married, either spiritually or legally.

Do you have anything against Christians? Do you ever spit on crosses or anything like that?:
Not at all. The only problem I’d have with Christians is that I don’t like being preached to, but otherwise, I don’t have any problems with Christians. I have a lot of Christian friends, actually. I don’t discriminate against other people’s beliefs. I firmly believe people should be allowed to believe whatever they want as long as it doesn’t hurt other people.

Do you have any type of baptism?:

Wiccans have something called a “wiccaning”, which is similar to the catholic “christening”, in that it is a ceremony in which an infant is formally introduced into Wicca. They are not Wiccans yet, however. Wiccans believe that children should not claim religions until they are old enough to understand the concept of religion, which is around puberty.

As far as adult, there are “initiations” and “dedications”. An initiation is a ceremony in which a person is inducted into a coven. A dedication is a ritual that a solitary witch (a witch who practices alone) that either ties them to a patron deity or in which they proclaim their loyalty and belief to the Wiccan religion. An intiiation must be performed by a Priest or Priestess.

Tell me about the witch’s Sabbath.:
The Sabbaths (Sabbats), or the Wheel of the Year, pertains to pagan holy days that are sort of universal, due to the fact that they coincide with harvests, moon phases, Solstices and Equinoxes, and the change of seasons.

Can you transform yourself into anything?:
Again, it’s amazing how often this question gets asked. No, I cannot. Magic cannot bend or break the laws of physics. We can’t change form, cause storms, kill, maim, or make lightbulbs shatter. That’s impossible.

Have you made any type of pact or contract to any type of spirit/devil/person or anything of that nature in order to become a witch or do any type of witchcraft?:
No. Anyone can use magic. It is not limited to people who come from a magical lineage, or make “pacts or contracts” with evil spirits. If you possess energy in your body, you are capable of magic. It’s that simple. The only people who cannot use magic are dead people.

Why did you chose Wicca?:
I didn’t actually. I contemplated it for a while, but I realized it didn’t match my beliefs. Many people chose Wicca because of it’s closeness to nature and naturalism. And because of it’s freedom. Wicca only have a few strict rules that it’s followers must observe (must believe in a Goddess AND a God, must follow the threefold law, must Harm None, etc.), but besides those, it really does give you free reign to believe and worship however you want.

Do you call yourself a witch or a warlock?:
I assume you mean am I male or female (I am female, by the by), but the terms “wizard” or “warlock” are incorrect. A male witch is still a witch. The word “wizard” was invented by authors a long, long time ago to differentiate between the sexes, for it was believed (by male-dominated societies) that women could not be as powerful as a man. Otherwise, it’s a completely made-up word, with no connection to actual magic. The etymology indicates the word means “wise man,” but among the pagan community, it isn’t acknowledged.

“Warlock,” however, is a different story. It is actually a Middle Scottish word that that means “traitor”, “betrayer”, or “oathbreaker.” To call a male witch a warlock would be the same as to call him an untrustworthy liar. It is considered by Wiccans to be a religious slur and the Wiccan male populace only puts up with it because the majority of the people who confuse the word have no idea how bad it really is.

Do also go by pagan or shaman?:
We go by pagan. “Shaman” is more of an aboriginal, native american term.

How would you describe what a witch is?:
A witch is a person who practices magic. That’s all.

Does your religion help you in day to day life?:
Religion, no. Belief, yes. Those terms aren’t interchangable. Witchcraft isn’t a religion. It’s a religious or spiritual practice, the same way baptism, confession, and/or prayer are religious practices.

How do you feel about the witch huntings and why do you think they happen?:
In most civilized countries, hunts don’t happen anymore. Many countries have laws to protect a person’s religion, if not being largely populated with pagan religions already. In Africa, the Middle-East, and parts of South America, hunts still take place. Hunts happen because of ignorance, hate, and bigotry based on prejudices that go back thousands upon thousands of years. Magic is fixed firmly in the realm of the unexplained, which makes people nervous and scared. People don’t like it when they can’t explain things, so their general reaction to it is fear and hostility. Man is an aggressive, dominant animal. So, just as a wild animal attacks a human because they are afraid of him, so too do humans attack things that make them afraid. It’s a long, tenuous, brutal cycle from which man cannot seem to break free. That is why there were hunts, and why there always will be.

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