The Wicca Book of Days for Saturday, September 12th

Forest Dragon

The Wicca Book of Days for Saturday, September 12th

Book of Shadows

 

In Wiccan terminology, “Book of Shadows: may have two meanings. Firstly, it may refer to the handbook of Wiccan practices and lore, first published in 1959, that was compiled by the founder of Gardnerian Wicca, Gerald Gardner (1884 -1964). And, secondly it may describe a personal notebook kep by any Wiccan (into which he or she may first have hand-copied information from the coven’s collective Book of Shadows), in which the details of rituals, spells and other magickal workings and observances are detailed and recored. A personal Boook of Shadows should never be ready by anyone other than its owner.

Buy a Book

If you do not own one or have filled the pages of your existing Book of Shadows, why not seek out an appropriate blank book today? Its appearance is a matter of preference, but it should be sturdy enough to hold an wealth of words and symbols.

 

—The Wicca Book of Days

Selena Eilidh-Ash

 

Basic Principles and Concepts of Wicca

Basic Principles and Concepts of Wicca

By , About.com

Introduction:

There’s an old saying that if you ask any ten Wiccans about their religion, you’ll get at least fifteen different answers. That’s not far from the truth, because with nearly half a million Americans practicing Wicca today, there are dozens — perhaps even hundreds — of different Wiccan groups out there. There is no one governing body over Wicca, nor is there a “Bible” that lays down a universal set of guidelines. While specifics vary from one tradition to the next, there are actually a few ideals and beliefs common to nearly all modern Wiccan groups.

Do keep in mind that this article is primarily focused on Wiccan traditions, rather than on the principles of non-Wiccan Pagan belief systems. Not all Pagans are Wiccans, and not all Pagan traditions have the same set of principles as the core beliefs of modern Wicca.

Origins of Wicca:

Wicca as a religion was introduced by Gerald Gardner in the 1950s. Gardner’s tradition was oathbound, initiatory, and secret. However, after a few years splinter groups began forming, and new traditions were formed. Today, many Wiccan groups owe their basic foundation to the principles laid out by Gardner. Wicca is not an ancient religion, but Gardner did incorporate some old esoteric knowledge into his original tradition, including Eastern mysticism, Kabballah, and British legend.

Who Is a Wiccan, and How Do You Find Them?:

Wiccans come from all walks of life. They are doctors and nurses, teachers and soccer moms, writers and firefighters, waitresses and computer programmers. In other words, anyone can be Wiccan, and people become Wiccan for many reasons. In fact, there are nearly half a million Wiccans in the United States today. As to where to find them, that might take a bit of digging — as a mystery religion that doesn’t proselytize or actively recruit, it can sometimes be difficult to find a group in your area. Never fear, though — the Wiccans are out there, and if you ask around enough, you’ll bump into one eventually.

Calling Upon the Divine:

Wicca acknowledges the polarity of the Divine, which means that both the male and female deities are often honored. A Wiccan may honor simply a non-specific god and goddess, or they may choose to worship specific deities of their tradition, whether it be Isis and Osiris, Cerridwen and Herne, or Apollo and Athena. In Gardnerian Wicca, the true names of the gods are revealed only to initiated members, and are kept secret from anyone outside the tradition.

Initiation and Degree Systems:

In most Wiccan covens, there is some form of initiation and a degree system. Initiation is a symbolic rebirth, in which the initiant dedicates themselves to the gods of their tradition. Typically, only an individual who has attained the rank of Third Degree dedicant may act as a High Priest or High Priestess. Study is required before an individual may advance to the next degree level, and often this is the traditional “year and a day” period.

Someone who is not a member of a coven or formal group may choose to perform a self-dedication ritual to pledge themselves to the gods of their path.

Magic Happens:

The belief in and use of magic and spellwork is nearly universal within Wicca. This is because for most Wiccans, there’s nothing supernatural about magic at all — it’s the harnessing and redirection of natural energy to effect change in the world around us. In Wicca, magic is simply another skill set or tool. Most Wiccans do use specific tools in spellcrafting, such as an athame, wand, herbs, crystals, and candles. Magical workings are often performed within a sacred circle. The use of magic is not limited only to the priesthood — anyone can craft and perform a spell with a little bit of practice.

The Spirit World is Out There:

Because the concept of an afterlife of some sort is typical in most branches of Wicca, there is a general willingness to accept interaction with the spirit world. Seances and contact with the unknown are not uncommon among Wiccans, although not all Wiccans actively seek communication with the dead. Divination such as tarot, runes, and astrology are often used as well.

What Wicca Isn’t:

Wicca does not embrace the concepts of sin, heaven or hell, the evils of sex or nudity, confession, Satanism, animal sacrifice, or the inferiority of women. Wicca is not a fashion statement, and you do not have to dress a certain way to be a “real Wiccan.”

Basic Beliefs of Wicca:

While not exclusive to every single tradition, the following are some of the core tenets found in most Wiccan systems:

  • The Divine is present in nature, and so nature should be honored and respected. Everything from animals and plants to trees and rocks are elements of the sacred. You’ll find that many practicing Wiccans are passionate about the environment.
  • The idea of karma and an afterlife is a valid one. What we do in this lifetime will be revisited upon us in the next. Part of this idea of a cosmic payback system is echoed in the Law of Threefold Return.
  • Our ancestors should be spoken of with honor. Because it’s not considered out of the ordinary to commune with the spirit world, many Wiccans feel that their ancestors are watching over them at all times.
  • The Divine has polarity — both male and female. In most paths of Wicca, both a god and goddess are honored.
  • The Divine is present in all of us. We are all sacred beings, and interaction with the gods is not limited just to the priesthood or a select group of individuals.
  • Holidays are based on the turning of the earth and the cycle of the seasons. In Wicca, eight major Sabbats are celebrated, as well as monthly Esbats.
  • Everyone is responsible for their own actions. Personal responsiblity is the key. Whether magical or mundane, one must be willing to accept the consquences — either good or bad — of their behaviour.
  • Harm none, or something like it. While there are a few different interpretation of what actually constitutes harm, most Wiccans follow the concept that no harm should intentionally be done to another individual.
  • Respect the beliefs of others. There’s no Recruiting Club in Wicca, and the Wiccans are not out to preach at you, convert you, or prosetylize. Wiccan groups recognize that each individual must find their spiritual path on their own, without coercion. While a Wiccan may honor different gods than you do, they will always respect your right to believe differently.

 

Let’s Talk Witch – Back to the Basics, Your Book of Shadows

Celtic & British Isles Graphics

Let’s Talk Witch – Back to the Basics, Your Book of Shadows

 

A Book Of Shadows

If you practice magick mainly alone, your Book of Shadows will be among your most valued tools. There are Books of Shadows of all kinds, from dark leatherbound volumes with pentagrams engraved in gold leaf on the front to equally effected ones scribbled in old school notebooks.

Many magickal practitioners have a large book of unlined paper in which they record spells they have created themselves, any particularly beautiful chants they write or speak and personal associations for different herbs, flowers and crystals. They may also record the names of those who need healing and the dates when healing was sent.

Other sections describe seasonal celebrations, wisdom received during full-moon meditation and other times of power. Some practitioners will create lists of protective angels and pre-Christian deities whose qualities form a focus for different strengths and qualities.

It can be incredibly useful to have to hand details of a particular incense mix created when you threw lots of ingredients into your mortar and it smelled fabulous.

There may be a chant you created one morning at a sacred site high on the moorlands when the sky was blue and you had the place almost to yourself (if you don’t count the children and the dog).

Even if you do buy a leather bound book, as your Book of Shadows, keep a notebook for your enroute scribbles (in a waterproof bag with a waterproof pen for days when the sky is not so blue).

Keep a back-up of any charts or lists you develop on computer and a back-up CD in case you ever lose your book–for the contents are more precious even than the book itself.

Make time at least weekly to update it and express your insights, while you are waiting for a candle or incense to burn through at the end of the spell. As such a time you will find that you are especially open to prophetic abilities, and the most down-to-earth among us may write beautiful chants when inspired by a particular ritual or spell.

Keep your Book of Shadows safe and only share its insight with those who will respect your tradition. One day it will become a heirloom of great spiritual worth.

The name “Book of Shadows” is also given to the formal handwritten reference book that is held by the High Priestess of a coven. Gerald Gardner, who founded the Gardnerian tradition, believed that the Book of Shadows, or grimoire, should be hand-copied from teacher to student, and some covens still adhere to this practice.

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Gardnerian Traditional Witchcraft –B.14. Skyclad (1953)

Gardnerian Traditional Witchcraft –B.14. Skyclad (1953)

B.14. Skyclad (1953)
It is important to work naked from the start, so it becometh as second nature, and no thought of “I have no clothes” shall ever intrude and take your attention from the work.  Also, your skin being so accustomed to unconfinement, when power is given off the flow is more easy and regular.  Also, when dancing you are free and unconfined. . . .
And the greatest of all, the touch of the body of your beloved thrills your inmost soul, and so your body gives out its utmost power; and then it is most important of all that there is not the slightest thing to divert the attention, for then the mind must seize and mold the power generated, and redirect it to the desired end with all the force and frenzy of the imagination.
It has been said that no real knowledge may be gained our way, that our practices are such that they can only lead to lust; but this is not really so.  Our aim is to gain the inner sight, and we do it the most natural and easy way.  Our opponents’ aim is ever to prevent man and woman from loving, thinking that everything that helps or even permits them to love is wicked and vile.  To us it is natural, and if it aids the Great Work it is good.
‘Tis true that a couple burning with a frenzy for knowledge may go straight to their goal, but the average couple have not this fire.  We show them the way, our system of props and aids (i.e., magic ritual).  A couple working with nothing but lust will never attain in any case; but a couple who love each other dearly should already be sleeping together, and the first frenzy of love will have passed, and their souls will already be in sympathy.  If the first time or two they do stay a while to worship Aphrodite, ’tis only a day or two lost, and the intense pleasure they obtain only leads them again to the mysteries of Hermes, their souls more attuned to the great search.  Once they have pierced the veil they will not look back.
This rite may be used as the greatest of magics if it be done with both partners firmly fixing their minds on the object and not thinking of sex at all.  That is, you must so firmly fix your mind on your object that sex and all else are naught.  You inflame your will to such an extent that you may create a strain on the astral such that events happen.

 

Gardnerian Traditional Witchcraft – B.7. The Eightfold Way. (1953)

Gardnerian Traditional Witchcraft – B.7.  The Eightfold Way. (1953)

B.7.  The Eightfold Way. (1953)
Eightfold Path or Ways to the Centre.

1 Meditation or Concentration.  This in practice means forming a mental image of what is desired, and forcing yourself to see that it is fulfilled, with the fierce belief and knowledge that it can and will be fulfilled, and that you will go on willing till you force it to be fulfilled.  Called for short, “Intent”
2 Trance, projection of the Astral.
3 Rites, Chants, Spells, Runes, Charms, etc.
4 Incense, Drugs, Wine, etc., whatever is used to release the Spirit.  (Note. One must be very careful about this.  Incense is usually harmless, but you must be careful.  If it has bad aftereffects, reduce the amount used, or the duration of the time it is inhaled.  Drugs are very dangerous if taken to excess, but it must be remembered that there are drugs that are absolutely harmless, though people talk of them with bated breath, but Hemp is especially dangerous, because it unlocks the inner eye swiftly and easily, so one is tempted to use it more and more.  If it is used at all, it must be with the strictest precautions, to see that the person who uses it has no control over the supply.  This should be doled out by some responsible person, and the supply strictly limited.)
5 The Dance, and kindred practices.
6 Blood control (the Cords), Breath Control, and kindred practices.
7 The Scourge.
8 The Great Rite.

These are all the ways.  You may combine many of them into the one experiment, the more the better.

The Five Essentials:

1. The most important is “Intention”: you must know that you can and will succeed; it is essential in every operation.
2. Preparation. (You must be properly prepared according to the rules of the Art; otherwise you will never succeed.)
3. The Circle must be properly formed and purified.
4. You all must be properly purified, several times if necessary, and this purification should be repeated several times during the rite.
5. You must have properly consecrated tools.

These five essentials and Eight Paths or Ways cannot all be combined in one rite.  Meditation and dancing do not combine well, but forming the mental image and the dance may be well combined with Chants.  Spells, etc., combined with scourging and No. 6, followed by No. 8, form a splendid combination.  Meditation, following scourging, combined with Nos. 3 and 4 and 5, are also very Good. For short cuts concentration, Nos. 5, 6, 7, and 8 are excellent.

Gardnerian Traditional Witchcraft – B.6. Of the Ordeal of the Art Magical (1953)

Gardnerian Traditional Witchcraft – B.6. Of the Ordeal of the Art Magical (1953)

B.6. Of the Ordeal of the Art Magical (1953)
Learn of the spirit that goeth with burdens that have not honour, for ’tis the spirit that stoopeth the shoulders and not the weight.  Armour is heavy, yet it is a proud burden and a man standeth upright in it.  Limiting and constraining any of the senses serves to increase the concentration of another.  Shutting the eyes aids the hearing.  So the binding of the initiate’s hands increases the mental perception, while the scourge increaseth the inner vision.  So the initiate goeth through it proudly, like a princess, knowing it but serves to increase her glory.
But this can only be done by the aid of another intelligence and in a circle, to prevent the power thus generated being lost.  Priests attempt to do the same with their scourgings and mortifications of the flesh.  But lacking the aid of bonds and their attention being distracted by their scourging themselves and what little power they do produce being dissipated, as they do not usually work within a circle, it is little wonder that they oft fail.  Monks and hermits do better, as they are apt to work in tiny cells and coves, which in some way act as circles.  The Knights of the Temple, who used mutually to scourge each other in an octagon, did better still; but they apparently did not know the virtue of bonds and did evil, man to man.
But perhaps some did know?  What of the Church’s charge that they wore girdles or cords?

Gardnerian Traditional Witchcraft – B.5. The Warning (1953)

Gardnerian Traditional Witchcraft – B.5. The Warning (1953)

B.5. The Warning (1953)
Keep this book in your own hand of write.  Let brothers and Sisters copy what they will, but never let this book out of your hands, and never keep the writings of another, for if it be found in their hand of write, they may well be taken and tortured.  Each should guard his own writings and destroy them whenever danger threatens. Learn as much as you may by heart, and when the danger is past, rewrite your book.  For this reason, if any die, destroy their book if they have not been able to, for, if it be found, ’tis clear proof against them.  “Ye may not be a Witch alone”;  so all their friends be in danger of the torture.  So destroy everything not necessary.
If your book be found on you, ’tis clear proof against you.  You may be tortured.  Keep all thought of the cult from your mind.  Say you had bad dreams, that a Devil caused you to write this without your knowledge. Think to yourself,  “I Know Nothing.  I Remember nothing. I have forgotten all.”  Drive this into your mind. If the torture be too great to bear, say, “I will confess.  I cannot bear this torment.  What do you want me to say?  Tell me and I will say it.”  If they try to make you talk of the brotherhood, do not, but if they try to make you speak of impossibilities, such as flying through the air, consorting with the Devis, sacrificing children, or eating men’s flesh, say, “I had an evil dream.  I was not myself.  I was crazed.”
Not all Magistrates are bad.  If there be an excuse, they may show you mercy.  If you have confessed aught, deny it afterwards.  Say you babbled under the torture; you knew not what you did or said.  If you be condemned, fear not.  The Brotherhood is powerful.  They may help you to escape if you are steadfast.  If you betray aught, there is no hope for you, in this life, or in that which is to come. But, ’tis sure, that if steadfast you go to the pyre, drugs will reach you.  You will feel naught, and you go but to Death and what lies beyond, the ecstasy of the Goddess.
The same with the working Tools.  Let them be as ordinary things that anyone may have in their homes.  The Pentacles shall be of wax that they may be melted or broken at once.  Have no sword unless your rank allows you one.  Have no names or signs on anything.  Write them on in ink before consecrating them and wash it off at once when finished.
Never boast, never threaten, never say you wish ill to anyone.  If any speak of the craft, say, “Speak not to me of such, it frightens me, ’tis evil luck to speak of it.”

Gardnerian Traditional Witchcraft – B.4. The Priestess and the Sword (1953)

Gardnerian Traditional Witchcraft – B.4. The Priestess and the Sword (1953)

B.4. The Priestess and the Sword (1953)
It is said, “When a woman takes the main part in worship of the Male God, she must be girt with a sword.”
Note.  This hath been explained as meaning that a man should be Magus representing the God, but if no one of sufficient rank and knowledge be present, a woman armed as a man may take his place.  The sheath should be worn in a belt.  She should carry the sword in hand, but if she has to use her hands, she should sheath the sword.  Any other woman in the circle while this worship is performed shall be sword in hand.  Those outside the circle only have the athame.
A woman may impersonate either the God or the Goddess, but a man may only impersonate the God.

Gardnerian Traditional Witchcraft – A.5. Cakes and Wine (1949)

Gardnerian Traditional Witchcraft – A.5. Cakes and Wine (1949)

A.5. Cakes and Wine (1949)
Magus kneels, fills Cup, offers to Witch [she is seated on the altar, holding her athame; Priest kneels before her, holding up the cup].
Witch, holding Athame between palms, places point in cup.
Magus: “As the Athame is the Male, so the Cup is the female; so, conjoined, they bring blessedness.”
Witch lays aside Athame, takes Cup in both hands, drinks and gives drink.
Magus Holds Paten to Witch, who blesses with Athame, then eats and gives to Eat.
It is said that in olden days ale or mead was often used instead of wine.  It is said that spirits or anything can be used so long as it has life.

A.5. Cakes and Wine (1949)
Magus kneels, fills Cup, offers to Witch [she is seated on the altar, holding her athame; Priest kneels before her, holding up the cup].
Witch, holding Athame between palms, places point in cup.
Magus: “As the Athame is the Male, so the Cup is the female; so, conjoined, they bring blessedness.”
Witch lays aside Athame, takes Cup in both hands, drinks and gives drink.
Magus Holds Paten to Witch, who blesses with Athame, then eats and gives to Eat.
It is said that in olden days ale or mead was often used instead of wine.  It is said that spirits or anything can be used so long as it has life.

Gardnerian Traditional Witchcraft – A.2. Drawing Down the Moon (1949)

Gardnerian Traditional Witchcraft – A.2. Drawing Down the Moon (1949)

A.2. Drawing Down the Moon (1949)
High Priestess stands in front of Altar, assumes Goddess position (arms crossed).
Magus, kneeling in front of her, draws pentacle on her body with Phallus-headed Wand, invokes, “I Invoke and beseech Thee, O mighty Mother of all life and fertility.  By seed and root, by stem and bud, by leaf and flower and fruit, by Life and Love, do I invoke Thee to descend into the body of thy servant and High Priestess [name].”
The Moon having been drawn down, i.e., link established, Magus and other men give Fivefold Kiss:
(kissing feet) “Blessed be thy feet, that have brought thee in these ways”;
(kissing knees) “Blessed be thy knees, that shall kneel at the sacred altar”;
(kissing womb) “Blessed be thy womb, without which we would not be”;
(kissing breasts) “Blessed be thy breasts, formed in beauty and in strength”;
(kissing lips) “Blessed be thy lips, that shall speak the sacred names.”
Women all bow.

If there be an initiation, then at this time the Magus and the High Priestess in Goddess position (Arms Crossed) says the Charge while the Initiate stands outside the circle.

No, I haven’t left yet, I’m sorry, lol!

I have a collection of old documents some have been seen on the net, others’ haven’t. Most of the documents have been moved over to disc. I had a moment to catch my breath and drug some of the discs out last night. I ran across one that I am getting ready to put on here. It is about Gerald Gardner and a collection of writings that were written down by one of his followers. There was never an official Book of Shadows for the Gardnerian Traditional Witchcraft. So you can imagine any piece of writing that was contributed to Gardner was considered very sacred.

Some of the writing Gardner contributed to an ancient clandestine witch cult, which he claimed to have been initiated into. However, modern researchers have concluded that it was composed by Gardner. The text shows influences from English and Celtic Folk-lore, the Enochian system of John Dee, Thelema, the Golden Dawn, Stregaria, Tantric Yoga, the KJV Bible and even Kipling.

I know some revere Gardner as being the father of Wicca, the traditional Witch. I am thinking it so I might as well say it. How do you become the father of Wicca and then proclaim yourself to be a Witch at the same time? Curious. No matter how you feel about the man, love him or hate him. It is very seldom that you have the opportunity to look into someone’s thoughts and beliefs.. I think these few pages will give you an idea of how Gardner thought.

There is a lot of material on this site. But there is no cold, hard information from those who played an important part in our history. That is going to change. When I run across such information from now on, I am going to place it on the site. I know the Elders have probably already read the material. But we have several generations of new witches coming up. They need to know. If we don’t show the info to them and tell them, then who will.

The Changing Role of Men in Wicca

The Changing Role of Men in Wicca

Author:   Morgan Ravenwood   

It is unfortunate but too often true that male Wiccans find themselves relegated to a passive, almost non-existent role in Wicca and many other Pagan traditions, thereby depriving their female counterparts of some potentially useful interaction, observations and teachings.

While many Wiccan women would defend this stance by pointing out that the Abrahamic faiths are male-centered and that they came to Paganism to avoid being forced to submit to male authority, they fail to realize that any faith that places emphasis on one gender over another is simply out of balance and deprives its members of both spiritual satisfaction and education.

We Wiccans must remember that it was a man, Gerald Gardiner, who originally gave birth and identity to the faith we practice today. However, he didn’t do so all by himself—he a lot of help and encouragement from women such as Doreen Valiente. Perhaps that is why the Gardnerian tradition has always promoted gender equality. Since then there have been some notable male Pagans such as Stuart Farrar, Oberon Zell, Isaac Bonewits, and more recently, Kerr Cuhulain and Christopher Penczak (who has written a great deal about gay Wiccans, whose numbers continue to grow) whose knowledge and experience have benefited us all.

A quick overview of some of the major Wiccan traditions certainly doesn’t inspire a man to want to join most of them unless he is willing to play a subordinate—and submissive- –role. While ones such as the various Druid groups and the Alexandrian and Gardnerian traditions seem to be more welcoming to the male practitioner, others such as the Dianic and Avalonian traditions are strictly matrifocal with no male participation at all. There are endless lists of Wiccan female-only groups on the web as opposed to barely a handful for men. All of this amounts to the same kind of sexism practiced by the mainstream religions, and is just as counter-productive.

We are all familiar with the concept of the Triple Goddess, which is of course worshiped by male and female Wiccans alike. While most female Wiccans relate the phases of the Goddess to our own lives, how do we apply this to the God, and in so doing, contemplate how this concept can be applied to men?

In my long years of study and correspondence with other practitioners, I have learned quite a bit from some very wise male Pagans. I recently asked some of them their opinions on this, and actually got some pretty similar answers, though one male friend said, “I hadn’t really ever thought about it!”

I can’t help but feeling that that is a very great shame indeed.

Equal gender identification really isn’t that difficult when you think about it. When we see the young Goddess as the Maiden, we could see her male counterpart as the Youth/Warrior/Student. As She reaches Her Mother stage, Her consort matures into the Father/Warrior/Hunter.

Opinions vary on when a woman has aged sufficiently to regard herself (and be regarded by others) as a “Crone, ” but on the other side of the coin, we again have her consort becoming an Elder/Sage/Grandfather. Though male Wiccans revere and venerate the Goddess in these various incarnations, might they not feel a little more comfortable if the God was given equal consideration?

Those female Wiccans who may belong to covens who worship the Goddess to the exclusion of the God might feel a little more in balance also.

When we look at the history of Paganism we find a large number of male deities such as Cernunnos, Dagda, Lugh, Cuchulainn, Pan, Osiris, Zeus, Apollo, and so many more. In ritual, particularly when petitioning for a special purpose, it is wise to aim such petitions towards a deity who may have certain characteristics particular to the object of the petition.

Male Wiccans especially may have certain issues that they feel more comfortable sharing with a male deity as opposed to a female one. That doesn’t mean, however, that they would (or should) eliminate worship of the Goddess in Her many forms—on the contrary, the male Wiccans of my acquaintance are very devoted to Her.

As in everything, balance and moderation are the keys.

We need look no further than our own Wheel of the Year to understand how important the God is to our religion. From Yule, when we celebrate the birth of the God, to Samhain, when He dies and prepares to be born yet again at Yule, our Sabbats are ironically centered on the God, with the Goddess both assisting and participating in a supporting (but no less important) role.

Consequently, it seems illogical and counter-productive to relegate the God along with male practitioners to a minor role in other Wiccan rites. While I am certainly not advocating the dissolution of all female-only covens, I DO encourage them to give some serious consideration to allowing serious male practitioners to participate in their rites. This would present many opportunities for fellowship and the sharing of knowledge, which would surely outweigh any perceived disadvantages.

The Religioustolerance.org website contains Edain McCoy’s description of the worship of Wiccan deities thusly: “We worship a deity that is both male and female, a mother Goddess and father God, who together created all that is, was, or will be. We respect life, cherish the free will of sentient beings, and accept the sacredness of all creation.” And yet, the same article also says, “Wiccans celebrate the sexual polarity of nature.

For example, the fertilizing rain is one manifestation of the male principle; the nurturing earth symbolizes the female. Females are respected as equal (and sometimes at a slightly higher rank) to males. A priestess is often the most senior person among covens — a local group of Wiccans. They aim for a female-male balance in most of their covens (local groups), although men are typically in the minority.”

The last sentence really reinforces the imbalance that exists in Wiccan practice and brings up a salient point: perhaps if more men chose to become involved in Wicca, it would drive up the numbers of Wiccan adherents and consequently make us more of a force to be reckoned with. The days of “broom closet” Wicca are coming to a close and we are already seeing the benefits such as the V.A. approval of the pentacle on the headstones of Wiccan veterans.

However, we must keep in mind that in order for more men to become interested in Wicca, they must be allowed equal consideration and status.

It’s a concept whose time has come.

Oathbound

Oathbound

By , About.com

Definition: In modern Wicca and Paganism, when something is oathbound, it simply means that it is information which may not be revealed to people who have not been initiated into a particular tradition. What information is oathbound will vary from one tradition to the next. In Gardnerian Wicca, nearly everything is oathbound — which is why if you see someone sharing information about the practices of a Gardnerian coven, you should be suspicious; they’re either passing along information that is not Gardnerian, or they’re someone who has broken their oath of secrecy. In other traditions, some practices are oathbound but others are not. Typically, the more emphasis a tradition places on initiations and lineage, the more information will be considered oathbound. Wicca, in its original form, was considered a “mystery religion,” so there are some pieces of knowledge which are never meant to be shared with outsiders.

Examples:

When Willow was asked by a reporter about the practices of her coven, she was unable to reveal the information, because it was oathbound material.

Gardnerian Wicca

Gardnerian Wicca

By Patti Wigington, About.com

Origins of the Gardnerian Path:

Gerald Gardner launched Wicca shortly after the end of World War II, and went public with his coven following the repeal of England’s Witchcraft Laws in the early 1950s. There is a good deal of debate within the Wiccan community about whether the Gardnerian path is the only “true” Wiccan tradition, but the point remains that it was certainly the first. Gardnerian covens require initiation, and work on a degree system. Much of their information is initiatory and oathbound, which means it can never be shared with those outside the coven.

The Book of Shadows:

The Gardnerian Book of Shadows was created by Gerald Gardner with some assistance and editing from Doreen Valiente, and drew heavily on works by Charles Leland, Aleister Crowley, and SJ MacGregor Mathers. Within a Gardnerian group, each member copies the coven BOS and then adds to it with their own information. Gardnerians self-identify by way of their lineage, which is always traced back to Gardner himself and those he initiated.

Gardnerian Wicca in the Public Eye:

Gardner was an educated folklorist and occultist, and claimed to have been initiated himself into a coven of New Forest witches by a woman named Dorothy Clutterbuck. When England repealed the last of its witchcraft laws in 1951, Gardner went public with his coven, much to the consternation of many other witches in England. His active courting of publicity led to a rift between him and Valiente, who had been one of his High Priestesses. Gardner formed a series of covens throughout England prior to his death in 1964.

Gardner’s Work Comes to America:

In 1963, Gardner initiated Raymond Buckland, who then flew back to his home in the United States and formed the first Gardnerian coven in America. Gardnerian Wiccans in America trace their lineage to Gardner through Buckland.

Because Gardnerian Wicca is a mystery tradition, its members do not generally advertise or actively recruit new members. In addition, public information about their specific practices and rituals is very difficult to find.

Once a Witch, Always a Witch

Once a Witch, Always a Witch

Author:   RuneWolf   

I’ve heard it said “Once a Witch, always a Witch, ” meaning that if we were a Witch in a previous life, we are more or less destined to be a Witch in this one. I don’t know if that’s specifically true in my case, but it might explain some things in the story of my journey to the Craft.

As with many of my generation (and other generations, of course!), my first introduction to the concept of a Witch was the infamous Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz. Oddly enough, when most of my friends and relatives were rooting for Dorothy and her crew, I was on the side of the Witch. After all, she wasn’t that horrid to me – Margaret Hamilton looked better in green and black than she did in plain black-and-white, and she had a better personality than many of my friends’ mothers! And most importantly, all she wanted were her late sister’s shoes. More than anything, it was the matter of the Witch of the East’s death and the dispute over the slippers that really set my young mind in turmoil. Why shouldn’t the Witch be mad at Dorothy? The little brat had killed her sister and stolen her slippers. Wasn’t that wrong? It seemed perfectly logical to me that the Witch should be irate. Even after my parents and friend tried to “explain” things to me, I still had my doubts.

Then came Bewitched. I don’t think I missed an episode in the first run. Aside from the madcap comedy, I was attracted by the underlying story of Samantha – a Witch just trying to live an everyday life. Little did I know that that admittedly exaggerated and fictionalized story line would become my own life story decades later! But despite the enthusiasm I had for the show, I also realized intuitively that Witchcraft was much more that waving your hands, reciting rhymes and twitching your nose. On some level, I knew that although they might have some things right, they were still way off the mark.

So much for the media influence on my childhood – what about religion and spirituality? My parents are devout Methodists in their own right, and raised us as such. That is to say, they believed that your religion (synonymous, to them, with spirituality) was something that you lived and breathed every day, not just in the confines of the church or congregation. To the point, in fact, where going to church became less and less of a priority for my parents as their children matured. Eventually, we would all drift away from the “fold” to find our own ways. There came a time when my parents no longer insisted that I accompany them to church. This was about the time I “came of age” and began to search for my own independence. I stopped going to church, not because I was particularly anti-Christianity, but because I found no spiritual fulfillment in our church. It was the early ’70s, and the church was heavily involved in “political” issues – the War in Viet Nam, women’s rights, racial equality and so on. All very worthy endeavors – but to me, they were just newspaper headlines, and did not address the yearning that was beginning to awaken within me. So I left the church but not in anger, and I bear it no particular animosity to this day. I know many people for whom it has become a spiritual anchor, a source of strength and beauty in their lives, and who can decry that?

Thus began my journey, though I didn’t think of it as such at the time. Over the next few years, into my early 20s, I would develop my own understanding of the Divine that, oddly enough, would dovetail very neatly with the Paganism that I would encounter years later. Principally, I came to see that Deity was immanent in the world, not separate from it, and that Deity could as easily be Her as Him. In fact, I clearly remember one of the most insightful moments of my young life, when I saw the bumper sticker that read “God Is Coming, And Boy Is She Pissed!” – and I thought “Of course! Why shouldn’t God be female? He/She/Them/It can be anything They want!”

Interestingly, during this period, I was heavily involved in school theatre, and played the Rev. Hale in The Crucible, and John the Witch-Boy in Dark of the Moon. It was the latter experience that really fueled my nascent interest in Witchcraft as a viable and living Tradition, as well as a mystical Path, and would stay with me through the dark and tumultuous years that were to come. It was also through Dark of the Moon that I made a connection with my Appalachian roots, and the long, deep tradition of Witchcraft that runs through the hollows.

Unfortunately, shortly after my graduation from high school, my life ran aground on the shoals of alcoholism, and remained marooned there for the next decade and a half. That’s not to say that I didn’t try to find my way, but spirituality and addiction are mutually exclusive. As much as I sought, and read and tried to practice, I never could make any headway. Duh! Zen meditation doesn’t really work if you’re getting up every five minutes to get a cold beer.

I ran the gamut from Taoism to Zen to Shinto to Western Occultism and even into Satanism, and nothing seemed to “work.” Eventually, I just gave up and drifted, empty and in pain.

When I’d had enough of that, I finally got sober. It’s interesting that it was through the gateway of AA, a spiritual program with decidedly Christian origins, that I finally came to the Craft. For years, I had assumed that the concept of Deity I had evolved in my late teens was somehow “wrong” because it wasn’t like “everyone else’s.” Then I got into AA, and one of the first things I really heard was “God as we understand Him.” That went through me like a lightening bolt, and suddenly everything that I used to think I believed in was supported, validated and encouraged. Suddenly, I was back on the Path, back to my journey of discovery.

It would take another two years, involve a side-journey through the realms of shamanism, and finally an introduction to the Internet, but at last I came “home” to the Craft. Even that was a near thing – my Teacher and I met on the Internet, began a correspondence that became a friendship and eventually led to my Dedication and Initiation. But how easily we could have missed each other! Surely the Gods were working that day to make sure we got together.

Since then, my journey has continued through many trials, including lapses in my sobriety. And I am even more convinced than ever that my sobriety must come first, for without it, I am totally cut off from the Gods. But when I am sober, and in tune with my Deities, my life is sweet beyond any ability of mine to describe. Not always easy, mind you – not always gentle. But always sweet, even if there is a little tartness or bitterness to set off the sweetness.

I began as a lone wanderer, became a Wiccan Priest, and now find myself something of a wanderer again. I must confess I am more at home in the role of Solitary – what some call a Hedge Witch – than I am as part of a coven or even less formal group. The Tradition into which I am Initiated is descended from Gardnerian Wicca, but would surely be considered Eclectic by hard-core Traditionalists. And I am a bit eclectic even for my Tradition!

And so it goes. Each day, I find a new aspect to my Craft. Some of them fit into my practice of Wicca, some fit into my practice of hedgecraft. I’ve come to realize lately that when I thing of myself as Wiccan, I think in terms of the religion and the group. When I think of myself as a Witch, I think in terms of my individual spiritual life and practice. There is, to me, a wildness and freedom about being a Witch that doesn’t always fit well into even the most liberal of Wiccan frameworks. And yet I derive strength and awen – a Druid term – from each.

This is my tale. These are my thoughts and opinions. May they be of amusement or use to someone out there.