Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Wicca’

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.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

I belong to website called “Vampirefreaks.com” It’s a forum website, and I belong to many of the forums on different topics. I am a member of a Wiccan forum, a corset forum, a survivalist forum, and an atheist forum. I’m also staff in most of them. The topics inside the forums are often circular, but eventually we get things that either make us laugh, or we get very annoyed. The later happened in my Wicca forum. I thought I’d share. (I’m AmarisGrey, by the way.)

BloodyKittens:
but I’ve never thought of an athetist wiccan

AmarisGrey:
Wiccans can’t be atheists, dear.

JonothanLowe:
Actually, there’s no law stating a Wiccan *has* to believe in a deity.I’ve met a woman who practiced the wiccan ways of life, however she was Jewish.  As a matter of fact, she’s one of the most powerful psychics i’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Just because she’s Jewish doesn’t mean she’s not Wiccan. She practices the wiccan ways of life more closely than most spiritually devout wiccans that I know. She’s just as much Wiccan inside as I am, she just worships the “one true god”…though as far as practicing her craft, she follows the teachings of Bast.

I know it’s a bit confusing, however people like her exist. Society doesn’t know how to grasp the concept of believing in different parts of religions, because not all religions are actually religious. Wicca for example does practice (depending on your path) worshipping other Gods and Goddesses….however you don’t necessarily have to have that part of Wicca in order to be Wiccan. There’s also the lifestyle teachings and laws….”An ye harm none do what ye will”, being close to nature, loving everyone and everything even if at times not everyone deserves it. Believeing in the good in people despite how many times you may have been hurt by others…believing that nobody is ever born inherantly evil

AmarisGrey:
Actually, there’s no law stating a Wiccan *has* to believe in a deity.

Yes, there is. In most books about the founding and practice of Wicca, including the one written by the father of Wicca, Gerald Gardner (The Gardnerian Book of Shadows), it states very clearly that the mother Goddess and father God must be acknowledged to some extent as a part of the religion. This belief, as well as the “harm none” guideline and the three-fold-law, is really the core of Wicca; the basic essence of the religion. Wicca is a duotheistic and/or pantheistic religion. There is no such thing as atheistic Wicca.

I’ve met a woman who practiced the wiccan ways of life, however she was Jewish. As a matter of fact, she’s one of the most powerful psychics i’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.

If the woman you met was Jewish, that would mean that she followed the one Jewish god, observed Jewish holy days, and went to temple for celebrations. If she recognized a female deity in addition to her one God (namely Bast) or observed the Wiccan holidays, then she is not Jewish. You can’t be Jewish if you believe in more than one God; there is no exception to this rule. The Torah is pretty firm about that. She may hold some pagan philosophies, but it still doesn’t change the fact that she is Jewish. Also, the fact that she was psychic means exactly that and nothing more. Every religion has people that are psychics or “prophets”, including Judiasm and Christianity. Being psychic doesn’t automatically make a person a Wiccan.

Just because she’s Jewish doesn’t mean she’s not Wiccan. She practices the wiccan ways of life more closely than most spiritually devout wiccans that I know. She’s just as much Wiccan inside as I am, she just worships the “one true god”…though as far as practicing her craft, she follows the teachings of Bast.

These things are pretty clear cut. There can be Jews or Christians that practice magic, but that ultimately means that they are Jewish witches or Christian witches. You can’t superimpose two religions over each other. There are only two laws in Wicca that must be followed by every Wiccan: harm none, and honor the Goddess and God. If you don’t follow these two guidelines, you are not Wiccan. Pure and simple. A person of the Jewish faith that practices magic is a Jewish witch, not a Jewish Wiccan.

I know it’s a bit confusing, however people like her exist. Society doesn’t know how to grasp the concept of believing in different parts of religions, because not all religions are actually religious.

Taking things from different religions and mashing them together doesn’t make it a religion, nor does it even remotely relate to the several religions you pulled from in order to create these collection of beliefs. It becomes a new belief system, completely seperate from the ones from which you took.

Wicca for example does practice (depending on your path) worshipping other Gods and Goddesses….however you don’t necessarily have to have that part of Wicca in order to be Wiccan. There’s also the lifestyle teachings and laws….”An ye harm none do what ye will”, being close to nature, loving everyone and everything even if at times not everyone deserves it. Believeing in the good in people despite how many times you may have been hurt by others…believing that nobody is ever born inherantly evil

It’s true that Wiccans can believe in many Gods or Goddesses, but they either believe that the deities are all facets of the two deities, or they worship their own patron deity in addition to the Mother Goddess and Father God. But there are alway at least two deities involved.

I do want to make the fact clear that I’m not a militant atheist. I don’t look down on people that believe in gods or are religious. People should be allowed to worship who or what they want and believe whatever comforts them most as long as it’s not hurting anyone. But you can’t pick and choose what you want to believe and give it a label that is both incorrect or nonaplicable. If you are actively studying and following bits and pieces of several religions at once and put them into action, it ultimately means that, while you may be happy with the combination of aspects of different religious practices, you really don’t belong to any of them, and can’t claim that you do.

BloodyKittens:
I don’t think not practicing a religion the same way as the majority means you can’t proclaim yourself as apart of it.

AmarisGrey:
Yeah, it kinda does, dear. Religions have very clear cut rules that have to be followed in order to claim that as your personal religion. Saying that you are an atheist Wiccan is the same as claiming you’re a Christian that doesn’t believe in the existance of Jesus Christ. There is no such thing. Rules and outlines exist in religions in order to define the religion and the beliefs thereof. If what you believe falls outside of these lines, then you do not belong to that religion. It’s just that simple. You can’t take pieces of two religions, mash them together, and call it a mixture of both, because what you’ve created no longer resembles either faith. It’s a completely new belief system, unlike anything in the previous two religions you picked from.

I think the conclusion people get from this arguement is that you can’t believe everything you want to believe; that’s not true and not what I’m saying. You can believe in the “One true God”, dress in traditional Quaker garb, follow the Wiccan Holy days, and practice magic. But you can’t give that belief a label that belongs to something else and doesn’t suit it. You’re not a “Quaker Wiccan.” You are a person who is follows both pagan and loosely-based Quaker philosophies. That’s all.

BloodyKittens:
What I’m saying is religion is personal and if that’s how a person feels they can belong to more than one religion.It may not work for you but you can’t say that it can’t be that way for someone else.

AmarisGrey:
Religion isn’t personal; belief is. The difference is that belief has no rules or limitations, but religion does. And, yes I can say that it can’t be, because thats what the rules of the religion are. No one can change the rules of a religion to suit their own desires without turning it into something else. If that were true, Catholicism would be the only branch of Christianity, but it’s not. I will say it again: You cannot say you are Wiccan if you are an atheist. That’s not just according to me, be clear on that. That’s according to the law of Wicca. You also can’t belong to a monotheistic religion if you believe in more than one god. That’s not going to change.

ShadowBlade:
the downside is the stricter and more numerous the rules the harder it is for anyone in it to follow all the rules without breaking one of them, however picking and choosing the rules you follow does not change the religion that is giving the rules, you can’t try and take one set of rules and mix them with another religions set and say your both it just does not work, at most you can be one religion with a small influence of another, but in many cases it just makes you bad at being a part of your chosen religion.

AmarisGrey:
Well, that’s the thing, too: Wicca doesn’t have strict rules. Just Honor the Goddess and God and harm none. You don’t have observe the holy days or follow any of the traditions. You just have to believe in a Mother Goddess and a Father God. It’s not Wicca that restricts the usage of other beliefs, it the other beliefs themselves that are the limitations. Christianity, Judaism, and Muslims all believe in scriptures that say there is only one God. Taoists, Confucionists, and Buddhists are atheists, and do not believe in any gods. Hindus have thousands upon thousands of deities, but their karmetic principles clash with the three-fold law and the rule of “Harm None”, and, more often than not, most Hindus are against the practice of magic. Religions put up barriers like this for that reason, because they do not want people to intersect religions.

Belief and religion are not the same thing. You can believe whatever you want, but you can’t put it under the same roof as religion.

ShadowBlade:
exactly that was the point I was going for I know that Wicca has only two rules and that all other religions have rules which prevent them from mixing with any other religion, a persons beliefs can be what they want but that it is not the same as religion, but mixing certain beliefs that are strongly related to certain religions, i.e. magic, may not mix well with religions such as Christianity or Catholicism which quite often make their views on magic or anything related to witchcraft rather clear

AmarisGrey:
Exactly.

Read Full Post »

In a previous post, I wrote a blog about my studies of the new age, neo-pagan religion Wicca, as I plan to do on various religions (including Christianity), and certain customs within it. Now that the basics have been covered, I feel the need to address some of the things that inspire, puzzle, and down-right aggravate me about the belief system and it’s practices. I’d like to point out before I begin that this is my own personal opinion based on vigorous research I have conducted for the past several years and will continue to conduct in the future. If you believe my information is incorrect, have a constructive but opposing opinion, or would like me to elaborate on a particular passage, please do not hesitate to message me. If you are offended by anything that is said here, I only have this to say: Freedom of speech is a sumbitch, innit?

First, I’d like to address the origins of the faith. Wicca was created in the early nineteen fifties, though the exact year is often speculated about, and even though Gerald Gardner is credited as the father of Wicca, Gerald Gardner, Doreen Valiente, and Aleister Crowley all had equal roles in it’s development. They each took several bits of information, ritual, and symbolism from many different sources, but there is no getting around the fact that is it based in large part on ancient Celtic Druidry. The holidays, the dieties, and the bulk of the rituals were adapted from, what Gardner and the others believed, was ancient druidic practices.

The problems with this concept is: A) Druids did not keep records. Other than the Tree Ogham, Druids purposefully did not have a sophisticated method of writing. Many druids even took vows of silence. There are no completely acurrate books about their workings, nor are there any oral accounts that were taken down, as non-druids were never present for their rituals. The only thing we know for sure about the Druids is that they did much of their practice in secret and a lot of it is still undiscovered. Druid Reconstructionists (which is an entirely different belief system from Wicca altogether, though outwardly seem similar) do the best they can to recreate the religion with the available material, but there isn’t very much at all, and any materials about druidic practices were written from an outsiders point of view.

Which leads me to point b): Gerald Gardner was never a Druid Reconstructionist. Neither was Aleister Crowley or Doreen Valiente, nor were the authors of any of the sparse materials available for public perusal. While it’s true that the people of the Druidic era in Ireland (though they were not Druids, as “Druid” was the name of the priesthood) followed much the same belief system, the rituals, magical practices, and codes were not available for public access. In addition, Druidry was a lineage oral tradition, meaning the rituals were handed down inside the Druidic order to ensure the secrets did not become availabe to the public. It was believed that the secrecy is what made the rituals sacred. So the problem here is that Gardner created a religion based on very little information, meaning he had to guess at much of it. Comforting, eh?

Now that we have covered history, we move on to the core principles of Wicca. First and foremost is the creed “Harm None”. Which, obviously, is a version of pacifism and a watered-down form of Buddhist karma. The unfortunate problem with this is there is no such thing as absolute pacifism. The definition of pacifism is to reject violence in all its forms from thoughts, actions, and emotions. Anyone with siblings or annoying in-laws knows that rejecting violent thoughts and emotions is nearly impossible. Also, you’re not going to stand idly by if some random idiot starts hitting you, your spouse, or your child in the middle of the street. The only way to totally embrace pacifism is to completely seperate oneself from humanity and live a completely holistic vegan existence, which is difficult to do. And there is no way to prove that a person is completely passive because you cannot read their thoughts.

   The three-fold law states that any action you do, whether positive or negative, will come back to you times three. Meaning, if you are generous, life will be three times as generous to you in return. If you are mean or greedy, life will be three times as mean and greedy towards you. Basically, is Buddhist karma watered way down. There are two forms of karma: buddhist karma and hindu karma. Say, one day, you’re walking down the street and you see a man about to be run over by a bus, and you push him out of the way at the last second. Now, say that man whose life you saved goes on to intentionally kill six people. Acccording to buddhist karma, you did a great thing by saving that man’s life and will be rewarded for it. Your responsibility ended when his life was spared, and the six people he murdered are none of your concern. In hindu karma, the lives of those six people are on your conscience, because if you had not saved the man in the street, those six people would not have been killed, or at least not by him. Their deaths are your fault and you will be punished for it as though you commited the murders yourself.

The problem I have with karma is that it doesn’t seem to exist. Rich greedy yuppies continue to get richer, while poor families across America, who would give the shirt off their backs to a complete stranger who needs it, continue to get poorer. Say a person is on the police force for forty years, saving people and putting criminals behind bars, making the streets safer for children, a model police officer that people look up to, and just before he can collect his retirement and pension, is fired for some bogus minor offense. It happens all across America, to all types of people. Good people who do good things who get screwed by the upper-one-percent. Certainly doesn’t look like karma to me. If karma existed, it wouldn’t exist for only one type of person or religion; it would exist for everyone. But it doesn’t.

Last but not least, Wicca’s main practice for most of it’s members is the practice of magic and witchcraft. I have nothing against the practice of witchcraft in and of itself. I’ve performed my share of rituals over the course of my adult life. The problem I have is that Wicca has the unfortunate position of being the number one magic-practicing religion in most english-speaking countries, which means it attracts a lot of people who are only looking at the magic part of it, and not the religious part of it. Most often, people who “join” Wicca are angry teenagers who want to be “different” to rebel against their parents, and they want to cast spells on people who annoy them. The biggest draw is the concept people get about magic by looking at the media. In the media, people who practice magic solve every single problem they come into contact with by doing a spell. That image is highly seductive to an impressionable mind.  The reality, however, as most rational and seasoned magical-practitioner will tell you, is that magic is to be used as a means of last resort. It’s never something your mind should jump right to, because it takes a lot of responsibility. Something you do could effect you and the people around you negatively, and I’m talking physically, not karmetically.  Magic is responsibility.

Some things just have to happen, and no amount of magic will fix that. People have to get sick so their immune systems can get stronger. People have to die. It has to rain. Sometimes break-ups happen. Sometimes people need jobs more than you. You can’t mess with peoples emotions or free will. You can’t alter physics to suit your own personal desires. Right is still right, and wrong is still wrong. Magic doesn’t change that. People need to think about magic before trying it. If they are willing to compromise morality, responsibility, intellegence and common sense to use it, maybe they shouldn’t be practicing it in the first place.

Wicca has some good points, but it’s got downsides too. As always, I would encourage people to do research before making a judgement. Don’t assume I or anyone else knows everything about the subject, take it all in and make your own conclusions.

Read Full Post »

When was Wicca created and by whom?

Wicca was officially recognized as a religion in the early 1950s, but was practiced for several years before that by a number of people, and was created by a man named Gerald Brosseau Gardner. An unofficial contributor to Wicca’s birth was a women named Doreen Valiente, and Aleister Crowley was also a beneficial source in the creation of this faith system. Both Gardner, Crowley, and Valiente published books on the subject of witchcraft and Wicca. Wicca was formed as a sort of “spin-off,” if you will, of Druidry, a celtic religion that existed more than a thousand years ago. Many of the Wiccan holidays, and indeed, many Christian holidays, actually originated as Druidic holy days and were observed by the majority in the gaelic lands.

What does the word “Wicca” mean?

The word wicce was Anglo-Saxon in origin, and meant “to bend” and evolved into the Middle English wicche, or from masculine Old English wicca, meaning “sorceror”, or the feminine wicce, meaning “witch.” In some circles, Wicce is used for women and Wicca is used for men. It is where the word “witch” comes from. It is also the origin of the word “wicked.” Many Christians claim that this is proof that the religion is evil, but considering it was Christians who developed the english language, it’s easy to see how they might be biased.

Can people be born Wiccans?

Nobody is born a religion. Your religious preferences are decisions you make only when you are old enough to understand the implications. Just like people aren’t born Christian or Muslim, or Jewish, or Buddhist, or Hindu. You can be born into a family who is Wiccan, but you can’t make that decision until you are old enough to make your own choices, and no one can make that choice for you, either. Neither parents nor peers nor any authority figure can make this decision other than you, and do not let them. It’s in the constitution.

Is there a such thing as a hereditary witch?

No, not in a literal sense. The term “hereditary witch” is designated to people who are born into families of Wiccans or other Pagan faiths who regularly practice magic, but it implies that only certain people who are born with the capabilities can be witches, when the fact is, anyone can use magic. It is not limited to people who come from a magical lineage. 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. Just because some of your ancestors did magic, doesn’t make you more special or more powerful. It just means you might know a little more than some other people, in which case, you’d be better off to educate those who do not know as much as you than to try and convince them you’re more powerful than they are.

What is a pagan?

“Pagan” was originally a term to describe peasants. The word literally means “country-dweller.” Now, however, the word is associated with any religion that is not Judeo-Christian or Muslim. Basically, if you are not Jewish, Muslim, or Christian, you are a pagan. Athiests and Nihilists are the only other “faiths” that do not fall into the Pagan category, because they have little to no belief system at all, unless they are spiritual Athiests, which is a horse of a different color.

What’s the difference between “Wiccans” and “witches?”

A Wiccan is a person who has acknowledged and accepted the Wiccan religion as their personal belief system. They fully understand the path and faith that they have adopted and do not falter in that. A witch is any person who uses magic. Witchcraft is not a religion. A Wiccan is a witch, but a witch isn’t necessarily Wiccan.

What does Occult mean?

The literal meaning is “hidden.” Basically, the word describes anything that must be kept hidden from others, or something others do not understand.

Should I tell the people closest to me that I have or will become a Wiccan? Won’t they hate me for it?

This is a tough question. There is a good possibility that when you “come out of the broom closet,” so to speak, about your religion to people they will not take it well, but I think you should probably tell the people closest to you. It’s always hard to picture them when you think about telling them. You’re always afraid they will reject you because of it. This is one of the toughest parts of being Wiccan. One, you’re not sure how they’ll react, and two, you’re scared that they will shun you for your decision. However, if a person hates you for this decision, then they were not good for you as it was. If they love you, they should love all aspects of you, and that includes your religion.
There is one of two things you can do:
1.) Practice in secret until you leave home, then, once you are well-established outside of your parents place, you can tell them or continue to keep it under your hat.
2.) Be honest and be open about your choice with your parents. Try to educate them about the religion. Give them books to read, the best of which would be “The Truth about Witchcraft Today” written by Scott Cunningham.

I am involved with/married to a person who belongs to another faith and does not like the fact that I am a Wiccan and/or a witch. What should I do?

Try to explain it to them. Often times, people are unhappy about it because they don’t fully understand it, but if this is a consistant problem, you may need to consider leaving. I realize this is a horrible thought, but if you significant other disapproves of your religion, it means that they believe your religion to be inferior to theirs and he or she doesn’t see you as their equal. For a person to love you, they must love all aspects of you, which includes your religion. They don’t have to agree with it, but they have to respect your choices. Constantly making snide remarks about it or fighting over it is not respect.

What’s a Handfasting?

It is technically what you would call a “trial” pagan or gypsy wedding that is not strictly legal, but you and your “spouse” would act as a married couple to see if you could adapt to married life. It lasts one year and one day, at the end of which, you can get legally “remarried”, or part ways amicably. It’s normally a custom to promise not to make any large financial decisions or have children within that timeframe unless you decide to stay together after the year and a day trial. Though nowadays, Wiccans refer to any marraige within the belief as a Handfasting as well.

What’s “Coming of Age” mean?

It’s basically the age at which a child can formally be initiated into the Wiccan religion or into a coven, or the age a child can decide what religion they would prefer to practice. There is a lot of debate about what the age is or should be, but general consensus seems to be thirteen for a boy, for a girl, it’s when they start menstrating for the first time.

What’s a Wiccaning?

Much like a Christening, it introduces an infant into the Wiccan faith, though it doesn’t make them Wiccan. They can only decide what religion they are when they come of age.

What is the Wiccan Rede?

It’s basically a poem written as a guideline of sorts to Wiccans. Here’s how it goes:

Bide within the Laws ye must, In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust.
Let you Live and let to live, Fairly take and fairly give.
Tread the Circle thrice about To keep unwanted spirits out.
To bind the spell every time Let the spell be spake in rhyme.

Soft of eye and light of touch, Speak ye little, listen much.
Honor the Old Ones in Deed and Name.
Let love and light be our guides again.
Deosil go by the waxing moon, Chanting out the joyful tune.
Widdershins go by the waning moon, Chanting out the baneful rune.

When the Lady’s moon is new, Kiss the hand to her times two.
When the moon rides at her peak, Then your heart’s desire seek.
Heed the North wind’s mighty gale, Lock the door and drop the sail.
When the wind comes from the South, Love will kiss thee on the mouth.

When the wind blows from the West, departed souls will find no rest.
When the wind blows from the East, Expect the new and set the feast.
Nine woods in the cauldron go, Burn them fast and burn them slow.
Birch Wood in the Fire goes to represent what the Lady knows

Oak in the Forest towers with might in the fires it brings the God’s insight
Rowan is the Tree of power, causing life and magic to flower.
Willows at the waterside stand to help us to the Summerland
Hawthorne is burned to purify and to catch a fairy’s eye

Hazel, the tree of wisdom and learning, aid the strength of the bright fires burning
White are the flowers of the apple tree that brings fruits of fertility
Grapes grow upon the vine giving us both joy and wine
Fir does mark the evergreen to represent immortality seen

Elder is the Lady’s Tree, burn it not or cursed you’ll be
four times the Major Sabbats Mark, in the light and in the dark
As the old year starts to wane the new begins, it’s now Samhain
When the time for Imbulk shows watch for flowers through the snow

When the Wheels begin to turn, soon the beltaine fires burn
As the wheel turns to Lammas night, power is brought to a magic rite.
Four times the Minor Sabbats fall, use the sun to mark them all
When the wheel turns to Yule, light the log, the horned one rules

In the spring, when night equals day, Time for Ostara to come our way
When the sun has reached it’s height, it’s timefor oak and holly to fight
Harvesting comes to one and all when the autumn equinox fall
Heed ye Flower, Bush and Tree, By the Lady, blessed you’ll be.

Where the rippling waters go, Cast a stone and truth you’ll know.
When ye have and hold a need, Hearken not to others’ greed.
With a fool no season spend, Lest ye be counted as his friend.
Merry meet and merry part, Bright the cheeks and warm the heart.

Mind the Threefold Law you should, Three times bad and three times good.
When misfortune is enow, Wear the blue star on thy brow.
Be true in love, this must you do, lest your love be false to you
Eight words the Rede fulfill: An it harm none, do what thou wilt.

There are several variations, but it’s all comes back to the last eight words: An it harm none, Do what thou wilt.

Do Wiccans have to be vegetarian?

No. Many Wiccans feel that in order to serve the Goddess they must not eat animals, but this is really up to personal preference. There are some traditions that do not allow animal consumption, but if you do not belong to those traditions or you are a solitary witch, then it’s really up to you.

Is it spelled “magic” or “magick?” What’s the difference?

There isn’t one. Not really, anyway. “Magic” is how the word has been spelled for hundreds of years. With the birth of Wicca, however, Aleister Crowley began spelling it “Magick” with a k, to differentiate between stage illusionism and real magic. However, the fact of the matter is, it doesn’t make a bit of difference how you spell it, with or without the k, because it doesn’t lose it’s meaning. Words are just words. Magic loses none of its meaning if the words aren’t historically and etymologically accurate.

What’s skyclad mean? Do I have to do it?

To perform rituals skyclad means to practice them naked, and it stems from the term “clothed in only the sky.” Many denominations of Wicca believe that to practice rituals naked brings a closer connection with the God and Goddess. However, if you are uncomfortable with being naked, it is not something that is necessary. If you are in a coven that insists you practice skyclad, you should leave the coven immediately. Skyclad is a choice, and most people are understanding to people who are shy about their bodies. There are a few Covens that require it, but they are also sensitive to those of us who are self-conscious, and usually allow us to not take part in skyclad rituals. Children are, of course, not required to do this and are rarely present.

Is lightning an element? What about smoke, or ice?

No, none of those things are elements. The only elements are earth, air, fire, and water, and to most Wiccans, spirit. I’ll break it down for you: Earth grows food and trees, which provide our oxygen. We need food and oxygen to survive. Wind pollinates the flowers and trees, and the air carries our oxygen, again, which we need to survive. (Are we seeing the pattern yet? No? Alright, let’s keep it going.) Fire creates energy and warmth. We need energy and warmth to survive. (Seeing it yet?) Our bodies absolutely need water in order to survive. Survival is the reason that earth, air, fire, and water are elements.

Now, the reason lightning, smoke and ice are not elements is because they are merely derived from other elements, and are not necessary for our survival. It is argued in the pagan community that the soul, or spirit, is an element as well, for without one, we are not truly alive, but this is up to personal reflection and speculation.

Do all Wiccans believe in karma and reincarnation?

Most, but not all. However, all Wiccans believe in the three-fold law, which is one of the basic rules of Wicca, and is very much like karma.

What is the Threefold Law?

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.

What kind of jobs do Wiccans have?

A Wiccan can have any job they like, and it is not limited to herbal shops and book stores. I know a Wiccan banker, a police officer (you rock, Andy!), an accountant, an IT consultant, a computer programmer, a writer, a restaurant owner, a few who are in the military, and a bus driver. The wonderful thing of it is, according to the law, no one can be denied a job because of what religion they are. You could apply at a Christian bookstore and they could not refuse you based on your religion. Isn’t that great?

What’s a Fluffy Bunny?

A “Fluffy Bunny” is a person who says that they are Wiccan but know very, very little about it. They often take most of their “knowledge” from TV and movies. They are usually very easy to spot.

Where do Wiccans go after they die?

Wiccans believe in a place called “the Summerland”, which is like the Wiccan version of Heaven in most respects.

Do all Wiccans cast spells?

Actually, no. Quite a few Wiccans do not feel the need to practice spellcraft in order to properly worship the God and Goddess.

How do I convert?

You don’t need a ceremony to anounce that you are Wiccan. There really isn’t a religious protocol toward converting to Wicca, unless you want to enter a specific tradition or coven. All you need to do is honor the God and Goddess, perhaps perform a ritual binding yourself to your patron deities called a dedication, and/or learning as much as you can about Wicca, then put it to practice. The only time you’ll need to do a ritual as an initiate is when you are joining a coven, as stated before. All you really need to do is yell, (maybe, when you’re alone, to no one in particular, maybe in the middle of a big, crowded park,) “I am Wiccan!”

However, calling oneself a Wiccan does not a Wiccan make. There is a lot of hard work involved during your conversion. There are things you need to know, most of which are illustrated in this book, and I am proud to contribute to your knowledge, but do not misunderstand; learning is only the first step. The next is the responsibility that comes with that knowledge. Learn well, and apply it knowledgibly and respectfully, and you are a Wiccan.

Are Covens and Churches the same thing?

In essence, yes. The word “church” is dated to before 12th century, derived from the Middle English “chirche,” and from Old English “cirice,” and means “a building for a public divine worship.” The term is not singular to Christianity, meaning that any house of worship can be refered to as a church. Pagan churches are also sometimes refered to as Groves and Covensteads.

How do I start a Coven?

Well, in order to start a Coven you need, at the very least, a third-level 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.

Do Wiccans try to convert other people, like some other religions do?

Not generally. It’s up to people to decide for themselves what their religion will be, but Wiccans do not got out and willfully try to convert others. To do so would be to suggest that the person your trying to convert does not have beliefs or views as important as your own. It is the right of every individual to choose their own way in life, and as Wiccans, we fully support an individual’s choice. Manipulating another into believing your views is in clear violation of the Wiccan law. The most we will ever do is guide a person who is interested in the path and helping them find their way in it.

I really want to learn more about this religion, but I’m not sure I want to convert. What do I do first?

The best thing about learning is that you don’t ever have to apply it to life, but learning it anyway is a good idea. The first thing you need to do if you are unsure about this religion, or if you already love the religion and want to learn all about it, is one and the same: read. Read, read, read. I know that isn’t the answer you want. People who are interested in magic want to start at it right away, but the unfortunate reality is, you can’t just pick up a candle, chant a few words, and call it magic. It actually takes a great deal of study, learning, and practice.

It also, and I’m sure you’re very unhappy to realize, takes time. To use magic, you must be responsible for the actions your magic may cause. This is refered to as the Threefold Law. I’ll explain that later. The best advice for anyone starting out is to read as many books that are available. The unfortunate problem with this is that there is a lot of reading matter out there that isn’t, well, credible. Some writers will print absolute crap because they know that people who don’t know much about the subject yet will buy it and believe it. At the end of this book you will find a list of books and authors that are, not only widely accredited by many people as being very valuable, but I, personally, have read them and can vouch for their accuracy.

What are the different Wiccan traditions?

The Different Wiccan traditions are as follows:

Alexandrian Wicca:

This tradition was founded in England by Alexander Saunders, a former pupil of Gerald Gardner. It differs from Gardnerian Wicca in that it incorporates a lot of Judeo-Christian imagery in it’s rituals and practices, but like Gardnerian, his Covens only work rituals skyclad, and most of it’s work is done in secret. Saunders, a self-styled “king” of Wicca, broke away from Gardner shortly after the birth of Wicca and has a following of nearly 500,000. Some time back, a tradition known as “Algard,” a blend of Alexandrian and Gardnerian, attempted to be recognized, but the two traditions are so similar already, and it did not differ from either Gardnerian or Alexandrian enough to be declared a valid tradition. The Alexandrian tradtion, just like Gardnerian, is practiced in every english speaking country across the world.

American Wicca:

This tradition, founded by a woman named Jessica Bell (also know as Queen Sheba) was another created by a person who has labeled themself Wiccan royalty. Bell often called herself a Witch Queen. The practice within the tradition, refered to as “The American Order of the Brotherhood of Wicca,” is virtually identical to Gardnerian, except Covens work robed. They prefer couples in their priesthood; husband and wives are encouraged. Wicca was not introduced in American until the late seventies, early eighties, and the birth of American Wicca followed soon after.

The Church of Y Tylwyth Teg:

This welsh/irish tradition was founded by Bill Wheeler in 1967, and it’s members are refered to as the “Gentle People.” It’s practices include teaching about the balance of nature, folklore, and mythology, and is recognized by the government as a non-profit religious organization in the state of Georgia in 1977. The Church has a close inner circle of students who correspond to an outer circle of students across the United States. Their Main Church is still located in Marietta, Georgia.

Circle Wicca:

Jim Alan and Selena Fox created Circle Wicca in 1974, and it is argued that this tradition the most active for Wiccan tolerance than any other tradition. Their headquarters publishes an annual almanac called the Circle Guide to Pagan Resource, as well as a quarterly magazine called Circle Network News. It also sponsors many seminars, concerts, and workshops both at their base of operations as well as around the country, and at least a few times a year they also hold a special program for pagan clergy, and host the National Pagan Spirit Gathering every year on the Summer Solstice.

Circle is also recognized as a Legal Wiccan Church by State and Government. It is a well-organized and dedicated tradition, with ways that are more like American Indian Shamanism that tradtional western-European Wiccan practices.

Deboran Witchdom

This tradition, created by Claudia Haldane, has a very fairytale-like feel to it, as it is modeled after the story of Robin Hood. Coven leaders are refered to, not as Priest and Priestess, but as Robin and Marian, and their seconds-in-command called the Maiden and the Green Man. They do not have a degree system like that of a regular coven, but instead, they have “Apprentices, Sealed and Sworn, and Elders.” It has been in practice since right around 1979, and is still a relatively obscure branch of Wicca. As far as rituals, Sabbats are open to guests, but Esbuts are private to members.

Dianic Feminist Wicca

Started by Ann Forfreedom, a common misconception is that this tradition is limited to women and that only lesbians practice it. It actually is not a seperatist tradition and does have both male and female practitioners. There are, however, all women covens. It is more common for a Priestess to lead a Coven alone than for a coven to be lead by a Priest or by pairs. Dianics center their beliefs only on the Goddess in worship. Rituals are done both robed and skyclad.

Eclectic Wicca

Eclectic Wicca is not technically a tradition as it is taken up mainly by solitary practitioners. Eclectic allows you to take bits and pieces from different traditions to create your own, unique path. The difficulty with this, however, is that some believe they can do anything and still call it Wicca. which is, of course, not true. Eclectic Wiccans generally do not join covens, nor practice with other people. Very few are ever ordained. Most worship either large numbers of Gods or one patron deity. They generally do not observe moon rituals, but do celebrate Sabbats and family rituals, such as Wiccanings. Eclectic also rarely do spells or rituals skyclad. Often many will not refer to themselves as Wiccans, though they follow Wiccan philosophies.

Frosts’ Wicca

One of many Welsh traditions, it was founded by Gavin and Yvonne Frost in the early 1970s. It presents itself as the “Church and School of Wicca.” It takes on students through correspondence. The Frosts published a book titled the Witches Bible that dismayed many, as the first edition of this book made no mention of the Goddess whatsoever. A later revision of the book did reference the Goddess, but many who were interested in this tradition turned away after reading the first rendition of the book, which depicted pedophilia, sexual exploitation and abuse of pubescent children during initiations rites in graphic detail, which has further damaged Wicca’s reputation and concreted many people’s beliefs that Wiccans are evil.

Gardnerian Wicca

This was the first tradtion ever introduced to the world, and as such, many mistakenly believe it to be the only valid one. Gerald Gardner launched this tradition only a few years after the second World War, and was for many years accused of inventing Wicca out of imagination and of having Aleister Crowley write all his rituals and taking the credit himself. There are several contributors to the birth of Wicca, but Gardner is, indeed, the father of it. Jane and Steve Farrar capture the story well in their books, which will be listed at the back of this one.

This tradition, like most Wiccan traditions, places the Goddess above the God, and hold the female divinity with more reverence than that of the male. It’s degree system does not allow for self-initiation, meaning, to belong to this tradition, you must belong to a Coven. The rituals are skyclad and aim to have the same number of males and females in their covens, preferably married couples, therefore, it is less practiced by homosexuals. Gardnerian is the most common practice, perhaps second only to Eclectic Wicca. This tradition is extremely secretive, and most of it’s practitioners are sworn to secrecy about the work and rituals.

Georgian Wicca

George E Patterson founded the Georgiansin 1970 and, after being chartered by the Universal Life Church in 1972, became the Church of Wicca of Bakersfield. In 1980, it became the Georgian Church. Though eclectic in nature, they still take much of their practices from Gardnerian, and encourage their members to write rituals themselves and learn from a variety of sources.

Northern Way

Otherwise known as Asatru, it was created in 1980 and incorporated into a church in 1982, and though often counted as one, it is not a Wiccan tradition. It is strictly Norse, not Teutonic. They follow Norse gods, and are recreationists of the old Norse way. They do not call to the elements, but they do cast circles. It is not limited to family groups, however, and any person can join. It is not an initiatory tradition, and works strictly clothed. They observe the four Solar Fire Festivals, as well as any old Norse holidays, but do not observe Sabbats.

Pecti-Wita

This Scottish Solitary tradition was taught by it’s founder, Aidan Breac, personally. The tradition closely follows the movements of the sun and moon, and the balance between the Goddess and God, with special emphasis on divination. It is hard to gather information as the founder of the Tradition only took few pupils and, at the time of his death, was not seeking further students.

Seax-Wica

This tradition was created by a very popular author by the name of Raymond Buckland in 1973, and is heavily influenced by Saxon Paganism. It is not a recreation of the Saxon practices, however. This is the only tradition that is completely open to the publisc, with all of it’s rituals published for anyone to see. It works both skyclad or robed, and it is up to the practitioner to choose. This tradition can be practiced both in a Covens or solitary. It closely resembles Gardnerian in most way, however.

Kemetic Wicca

Kemetic Wiccans strictly worship Egyptian Gods and Goddesses. Most of their rituals are taken from ancient egyptian magic, however, most of them still follow the Sabbats and major Wiccan Ceremonies, such as wiccanings and handfastings. This denominations is still relatively new and have not been approved by the government, so they are still classified Eclectic.

Do I have to believe in a God to be Wiccan?

Yes. Wiccan guidelines requires that you believe in at least two deities in order to be Wiccan, the Mother Goddess and the Father God. Wicca is a duotheistic religion as outlined by Gerald Gardner when he wrote the procedures for this religion, meaning that a higher power must be acknowledged, and even if you do not designate a name for said higher power, there must be one. Being an atheist just doesn’t work within the confines of this faith.

Who do I worship?

That all depends, too. You can worship as many Gods and Goddesses as you please; there are quite a few of them in this world, as long as you acknowledge the Goddess and God. Or you can only worship the Goddess and God, if you prefer. Wicca is a duothiestic religion, meaning that you must have at least two patron deities in order to be a Wiccan, one male and one female. Wicca can be a polytheistic religion, meaning that you can believe in more than one god and goddess. In this case, you can choose whatever name you see fit to call the many facets of the Goddess and God.

Can familiars only be cats and frogs? Isn’t a familiar just a pet?

A person’s familiar can be any animal with which you feel a profound connection, and 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? Also, your familiar does not always have to be limited to one animal.

What’s the difference between a pentacle and a pentagram? Aren’t they both Satanic symbols?

A Pentacle is a five pointed star surrounded by a circle. Facing upward, The star represents the five elements; earth, air, fire, water, and the fifth, often not recognized, element, spirit, and the circle surrounding it represents how each element is connected. Facing downward, it represents the earth. A Pentagram is a five pointed star without a circle. Facing upward, it symbolizes the mother Goddess, downward, the father God. Even though those are the meanings we, as Wiccans, have given them, they have had many meanings and uses over the centuries.

Now, it is true that Satanists use the inverted pentagram as their personal and religious symbol, so you may not want to use it as your own in an effort to distance yourself from the stigma. Not to say there is anything wrong with Satanism; their religion has just as much meaning and validity as your own, and there is nothing wrong in their beliefs, though it does differ greatly from your own, but Wiccans already have enough negativity to deal with. However, wearing either symbol does not make you a Witch. The only thing you absolutely need to be a witch is knowledge, everything else is less meaningful than your own brain.

I love wearing my pentacle, but every time someone sees it, they make fun of me. I want to wear a symbol of my faith, but I don’t want to wear one that will get me in trouble or make people dislike me. Is there any other symbol associated with Wicca that I can wear that won’t get people so uptight?

There are several symbols identified with Wicca and paganism to choose from. I, myself, have chosen the Witches’ Charm, which is like a pentacle, except it has four points instead of five. You can use a triskele, or a triqueta, or a spiral. Or you can find a symbol that is special and specific to you to wear. Do some research to find one that fits your personality.

I was at school one day and my teacher told me to take off my pentacle. I said no, and they sent me to the principle’s office, started calling me a satan-worshipper, and they called my parents. They even tried to suspend me. They got really mad about it at work too, and fired me. Isn’t that against the law?

Absolutely. People cannot tell you to take off your religious symbol, nor can they fire or suspend you for it. That is religous descrimination and it is illegal. It would be the same thing as if you asked them to remove their cross. Next time it happens, get a lawyer.

Do I need an altar? What do I have to have on it?

An altar is a personal sacred space for religious worship that lies outside of a coven. For many solitary practitioners, it is their only means of worship. You don’t really need one, but having one will help you center yourself during spell work or worship, and what goes on it is entirely up to you. However, a good list of things to keep on it are things that you use often, such as your Book of Shadows, an athame (a small double edged black handled knife used magically for directing energy), a boline (A small white handled knife used practically for cutting things) a surplus of candles in every color (especially white, as white is an all-purpose color and can be used in every kind of spell), a pen and spare bits of paper, and a fire-safe container, perferably flame-retardant hard plastic, something that doesn’t get very hot. If you have to keep your religion a secret, a “quickie” altar would probably be best. Basically all you need for this is a flat surface, a length of cloth, and a few of the items listed above. The idea is that you can set it up and take it down quickly. Remember to keep it in a safe place where people won’t stumble across it.

What is a “Book of Shadows?” Do I need one? Why is it called that?

You don’t absolutely need one, but it’s a really great thing to have. A Book of Shadows it just a compendium of everything you learn as a Wiccan. It is also your own personal Holy book. In it, you record spells, chants, dates and times, useful information on things like herbology, astronomy and astrology, divination, holy days, and anything else you think will be useful. Many people say that it is refered to as a “Book of Shadows” or “BoS” because, when people would practice magic many years ago, they had to keep it secret, or, to use the term, “in the shadows.” Thus, Book of Shadows. There has been some debate as to whether or not this is true, but that’s the general concensus shared by most Wiccans.

Now, a more proper name for a Book of Shadows is Grimiore (or Grimorum), which is a french term that means “book of lessons.” It seems there are less questions when you call it a Grimiore rather than a Book of Shadows.

Someone told me I had to make all of my tools and robes myself. I certainly hope this isn’t true, because I can’t sew, metal-work, or carve wood.

No, not at all. Things that you make yourself do tend to have more power than things made by others, because object you create are personal to you. Things made by other people tend to be kind of bland, because it is not made to fit your personal style and form. However, you can use tools from any source.

There are some things about Wicca that I don’t really like, like divination. I don’t feel a connection with it. Do I have to practice or study it as a Wiccan?

Divination is something that some Wiccans practice, and while it’s encouraged that you study all aspects of the craft, it’s not a necessary thing to study. Being a Wiccan doesn’t mean you have to study runes, or herbology, or any other subject for which you don’t really have a flare. However, there are many different types of divination to choose from. Take time to explore them all. There are things that you do need to study, however, like the Goddess and God, the Sabbats, how to be responsible with your magic, and other such things.

I heard that you have to study a year and a day before you can formally refer to yourself as a Wiccan and perform spells. Is this true?

It depends on what tradition of Wicca you follow. Gardnerian and Alexandrian traditions are the two that are very strict about this rule, and many covens operate the same way, but in most other traditions, it really doesn’t matter how long you study as long as you are careful and mindful of your spells, and you’ve acquired enough information to perform them properly.

Where can I find good spells?

The very best spells, the most powerful ones, are the ones you write yourself. However, there is a veritable library of spellbooks on the market today.

Is black magic and white magic so different?

There is no such thing as black or white magic. Magic is neutral, innocent; it has no color. The way it is used is entirely up to the practitioner. It is the fault of the person who casts the spell if someone is harmed, but not the spell itself. Magic cannot be blamed if something goes awry. It seems the only colors anyone ever talks about when it comes to magic is black or white, and all other colors are completely ignored. Positivity cannot automatically be attributed to magic, and neither can negativity on it be blamed.

Witches are supposed to be all female, right? Aren’t male witches supposed to be called “Wizards” or “Warlocks?”

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 meaning or connection with 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 populas only puts up with it because the majority of the people who confuse the word have no idea how bad it really is. Educate people about it. It really needs to be acknowledged.

Do witches believe in Satan?

No. Most Satanists don’t even believe in Satan. Satan is a Judeo-Christian and Muslim concept that was created when the Jews of Egypt absorbed Set, the evil God of the Underworld who judges the Dead, from the myths of their Egyptian enslavers. Satan has no place in most pagan practices because Wiccans do not believe in a single source of evil. They believe that evil is a concept created by sentient beings, as “evil” doesn’t exist in nature, and often is a personal choice.

I know someone who says she is a Christian Wiccan. Is this even possible?

Well, first, it’s against the law (as in legal law) to claim two religions at once, so that blows that idea out of the water from the get-go. Here’s the problem: To be a Christian, you must accept two things; Christ and the Bible. There are several passages in the Bible that condemn witchcraft and sorcery. The best example and most well-known is Exodus 22:18: “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” Well, it’s widely known in the pagan community that the translation for that passage is wrong. The original word for witch was “poisoner”, so it should actually read “thou shalt not suffer a poisoner to live.” However, even thought that passage is incorrect, there are several other passages that are along the same lines, and they are not incorrectly translated. For instance:

Leviticus 20:27:A man or a woman who is a medium or who has familiar spirits, shall surely be put to death; they shall stone them with stones. Their blood shall be upon them.”

Deuteronomy 18:10-14: “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls upon the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your god drives them out from before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God. For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the Lord your God has not appointed as such for you.”

Jeremiah 27:9: “Therefore do not listen to your prophets, your diviners, your dreamers, your soothsayers, or your sorcerers, who speak to you, saying ‘you shall not follow the king of Babylon’.”

Revelations 22:15: “But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters and whoever loves and practices a lie.”

Numbers 23:23: “For there is no sorcery against Jacob, nor is there any divination in Israel.”

Galations 5:19-21: ” Now the works of the flesh are evident, and they are adultery, fornication, uncleanliness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissentions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like, of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in the past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Ezekiel 13:18: “And say, ‘thus says the Lord God: “Woe to the women who sew magic charms on their sleeves and make veils for the heads of people of every height to hunt souls! Will you hunt the souls of my people, and keep yourselves alive?'”

1 Samuel 15:23: For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry, because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king.”

There are more passages, but to list them would take up quite a bit of space. The point is, to be Wiccan, you would have to ignore these passages, but to do so would mean that there are some parts of the bible you do not take seriously. To reject one part of the bible is to reject it all. Ask any priest. Also, to reject the bible is to reject Christ. Says so right in the Bible.

Now, let’s ignore that whole schpeel, and look at it from both a practical and political point of view. As a Wiccan, there are a lot of things that one is more tolerant of than a Christian would be. There are many political views that are incredibly different between the two faiths, which include gay rights, sexual liberties, war, abortion, suicide, marriage, and quite a few other things. There are things that Christians are vehemently opposed to of which Wiccans are much more accepting and supportive. One example is homosexuality. Wiccans believe that being gay is just as natural as being a heterosexual, and that it is not something you choose to be. In fact, there are a great deal of books dedicated to gay witchcraft.

Let’s examine this from a spiritual point of view. In order to be Christian, you obviously must believe in Christ, but simply believing in Christ doesn’t make you a Christian. Hell, I believe Christ existed, and I’m an Athiest. There is no reason why you can’t believe in Christ while being a Wiccan, and vice versa. You can believe in Christ, throw away the Bible, and live as a happy Wiccan, but that ultimately means you are not Christian. You can be a Wiccan with Christian philosophies, or a Christian with pagan philosophies, but you cannot be both. End of story.

What if someone askes whether I am a good witch or a bad witch?

That’s like asking someone if they are a good person or a bad person. There is no good or bad when it comes to being a witch, just like there is no such thing as black or white magic. Witches have both a good and bad side, and no one, not even witches, Christians, or any other group of people, are good or bad all the time.

What makes other people think Wiccans worship Satan? A negative entity is never mentioned by Wiccans, so why are they so adamant that we believe in one? What do I say when someone calls me a Satan-worshipper?

It 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. In the Christian bible, 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.

Read Full Post »

There are quite a few myths propagated by the pagan community about the various witch hunts throughout history. Many believe that the witch hunts were covers for a larger scheme of genocide, while some simply doubt the very existence of such actions. There is a lot of truth in the myth, but not as much as some would have you believe. To begin, there are the Salem witch trails of 1692. Contrary to popular belief, which that hundreds of men, women, and children were captured, tortured, and executed, only twenty people died during the Salem witch trials (nineteen hanged, one pressed under stones), most of them were men, and none of the ones executed were actually involved in witchcraft.

During the Middle Ages, the Christian view of witchcraft was that it wasn’t real. People might think they were witches, but they were either lying, fooling themselves and others, or the Devil had possessed them. Most authorities thought that witchcraft could do no serious harm because it didn’t exist. It took many years, various arguments of theologians, a number of inquisitor’s manuals, and a series of papal bulls (written letters by the Pope of judgment and command) to contradict that traditional Christian idea, and identify witchcraft as heresy and blasphemous. Eventually in1484, Pope Innocent VIII, in his bull Summis desiderantes, allowed the Inquisition to pursue “witches”.

Surprisingly, the Protestant reformers often agreed with Rome, that witches were a clear and present danger. All four of the major western Christian “churches” (Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Calvinist, Anglican) persecuted witches to some degree or another. (Eastern Christian, or Orthodox Churches, carried out almost no witch hunting). Many witch hunters, particularly the authors of the Malleus Maleficarum, held that women were far more susceptible to temptation by the Devil, and based this theory on the temptation of Eve in Eden, thus women more frequently became witches. Some witch hunts did almost exclusively target women, in percentages as high as 95% of the victims. Nonetheless, men were often accused of being witches, and executed for it.

Europe suffered many intense hunts, such as provinces in France and Germany; others experienced several moderate persecutions, such as England or Hungary; others held comparatively few trials, such as Spain or the Dutch Netherlands. None of the hunts were constant over the years 1400 to 1800, but came in concentrated periods, especially intense between 1550 and 1650. Historians are still trying to explain the reasons for this great variety in witch hunting. Important factors could have been the power of the central government, the independence of local authorities, tensions created by war, failing economies or famine, and uncertainties about religious conformity.

The number 9 to 10 million often cited is grossly exaggerated; no respectable historian supports them anymore. Modern figures concerning the number of executed witches are based on a much closer examination of the surviving historical records, combined with reasonable guesswork and statistical analysis for those areas and periods lacking clear sources. The hunts were anything but constant, systematic or frequent. Even the much lower figure of under 50,000 dead would have meant over a hundred thousand put on trial. Then, considering all the personnel involved in the justice system as court officials and witnesses, friends and family members, and those who even felt the “fear” caused by the hunts, millions of people’s lives changed, usually for the worse, because of the witch hunts.

The idea of a “witch hunt” is not limited to witches, though. People against witches were also against jews, muslims, lepers, or any group of people the Church disliked. These hunts included those people. Very few people that were involved in these hunts had any tie to magic or witchcraft that historians are aware, meaning that the trials had nothing to do with actual witchcraft, and everything to do with religious fanaticism. So, for a witch to claim that the “Burning Times” were a turning point in the history of witches is silly, because is was a dark time in human history. Being a witch has nothing to do with it.

(I am in no way judging witches, as I am one myself. Don’t jump my case for “persecuting” you.)

Read Full Post »