PRACTICING WICCA AND WITCHCRAFT TODAY

PRACTICING WICCA AND WITCHCRAFT TODAY

 

Starting something new can be frightening; this applies also to a new religion.  You will be taught the basic tenants, but in the long run, it will be up  to you to make of it what you want.

There are many different witches, each with their own set of rituals.  Some witches prefer to work alone, other like working within a coven.  Once again  this is a person choice.  Let no one force you into joining anything with which you are not comfortable.

Let me give you an idea of the various forms of the craft that are available to you.

Gardnerian Wicca:  Started in 1950’s by Gerald Gardner.  Groups tend to work skyclad.  Covens use a degree system.  Individuals are initiated by the  coven.

Alaxandrian Wicca:  Started in the 1960’s in England.  In many aspects they are like the Gardnerian Wicca.

Georgian Wicca:  Founded by George Patterson in the 1970’s.  They are known as the Georgian Church and draw their rituals from the Alaxandrian and  Gardnerian crafts.  Members also write their own ritual.

Algard Wicca:  Founded in 1972.  Mary Nesnick combined Alexandrian and Gardnerian Wicca to form the Algard tradition.  They are very close to the  Gardnerian tradition.

Seax-Wica: Founded in 1962 by Raymond Buckland a protégé of Gardner.  He moved to the U. S. A. and in 1973 started his own tradition based on Saxon  traditions.  Hence Seax-Wica.

Feri Tradition: Victor Anderson is credited to bringing this tradition to America in the late 1960’s.  Feri teacher tend to add something of  themselves to the religion as they teach.  They can be solitary or work in small groups.

Dianic Tradition: This religion focus strongly on the Goddess with little or no interact on the God.  This is a feminist movement of the craft.  The  covens are women only.

British Traditional: There are a number of different British Traditions that are based on the Pre Christian traditions of Old England.

Celtic Wicca:  The tradition looks to the Celtic and druidic deities, with an emphasis on magickal and healing properties.

Northern Way or Asatru.  This tradition is based on the Old Norse gods.

Pictish Witches:  This is a solitary Scottish Tradition that is based on nature.

Strega Witches:  This tradition is from Italy.

You will notice that this list is long, but not complete.  Many witches are drawn to the “way” because of their background.  This need not be  so.  Follow the one that calls to you.

What type of a witch are you?

Solitary:  Practices the craft alone and does not work with a group or coven.  By the Gardnerian and Alexandrian way solitary witches    are not witches.  In order to be considered a witch you must work with a coven.

Eclectic:  These witches pick chose and mix various traditions.  They have no set path.

Hereditary:  These are the practitioners who have been taught the craft from their relative.  The craft was passed, unbroken, from    generation to generation.

So, now, do you want to be a solitary witch or work with a coven?  Let me give you a few Pros and Cons to consider.

PRO

If you join a coven you will receive lots of support.  There are people available with the same beliefs to talk to.  You will also get some structure.    You can work your way up from dedicant to High Priest(s).

CON

Just by the fact that there is structure in a coven may discourage some people.  The coven decides on the where, when at time of the Sabbats and    meetings.  If you break the laws of the coven (dishonor) you will be asked to leave.   The cons of a coven are not unlike those that relate to any group    activity.

PRO

OK, so you will go solo and be a solitary.  This means that you can learn at your own pace.  You can follow your own schedule for Sabbats, within    reason.  You attire is strictly up to you.  Some solitaries will join with a know coven to celebrate Sabbats.  You can design your own rituals.

CON

The major downside is that you are on are on your own.  Help and guidance from knowledgeable witches are not going to be readily available.  The    solitary had no linage to look back on for guidance.  Solitary witches are looked down on by name of the coven witches.  What do you know – a class    structure L

So what type of training do you want?  You can find metaphysical shops and seek help from them.  You can use the local library or book shop.  If you    have internet access there is a wealth of information available for you.

You may want to join a coven.  This decision must be made carefully.  Some covens are basically nothing more than social groups.  Others are based on    the D & D games.  Be selective, just as they will want to interview you, you should reciprocate in kind.

NOTE:  Witches do not try to convert people.

Once you have decided upon a coven go to a few open Sabbats and meetings, if permitted.  If you can not attend an open Sabbat write the coven off.  With    the exception of two Sabbats, all others can be open.

Sit down with the Priestess / Priest and see what the coven will want of you.  The will also ask what you can bring to the coven.  Remember, a coven    becomes your family away from home.  The coven should NEVER supercede your home life.  You family will always come first.

Once you are in total agreement – both ways you can apply to become a dedicant.  During this time you will be kept under the eye of the Priestess and    Priest.  Your initial training will last for a year and a day.  After that time, if upon the agreement of all, you can become an initiate.  From that point    on you will go through the three degrees of initiation.  Each degree will take a minimum of a year and a day to complete.

Being a member of a coven is a commitment.  You will be expected to attend coven functions.  Covens usually meet to celebrate the 8 Sabbats – holidays    of the God and 13 Esbats – holidays of the Goddess.  Members of the coven are given a part to perform during the rituals.  Not showing up for ritual is a    major NO-NO.  If you do not make it you can ruin the ritual.

You may also be asked to help the coven.  Many covens take on community work to help the community.

Many covens plan outing and fun events for their members…

One thing to remember no matter what path you choose; When the Student is ready, the Teacher Will Appear.

Things to Remember

There are possibly hundreds, possibly thousand different types of witches.

You need not join a coven to be a witch.

If any witch asks you to do something that is immoral, illegal or makes you uncomfortable, DO NOT DO IT.

You will find your teacher when the time is right.

WHAT IS WICCA?

WHAT IS WICCA?
An Introduction to ‘The Old Religion’ of Europe and its Modern Revival
By Amber K, High Priestess

This leaflet may be reproduced and distributed exactly as is, without further
permission from the author, provided it is offered free of charge. Changes in
the text, however, must be approved in advance by the author. Thank you!

WICCA (sometimes called Wicce, The Craft, or The Old Religion by its
practitioners) is an ancient religion of love for life and nature.

In prehistoric times, people respected the great forces of Nature and
celebrated the cycles of the seasons and the moon. They saw divinity in the sun
and moon, in the Earth Herself, and in all life. The creative energies of the
universe were personified: feminine and masculine principles became Goddesses
and Gods. These were not semi-abstract, superhuman figures set apart from
nature: they were embodied in earth and sky, women and men, and even plants and
animals.

This viewpoint is still central to present-day Wicca. To most Wiccans,
everything in Nature — and all Goddesses and Gods — are true aspects of
Diety. The aspects most often celebrated in the Craft, however, are the triple
Goddess of the Moon (Who is Maiden, Mother and Crone) and the Horned God of the
wilds. These have many names in various cultures.

Wicca had its organized beginnings in Paleolithic times, co-existed with
other Pagan (‘country’) religions in Europe, and had a profound influence on
early Christianity. But in the medieval period, tremendous persecution was
directed against the Nature religions by the Roman Church. Over a span of 300
years, millions of women and many children were hanged, drowned or burned as
accused ‘Witches’. The Church indicted them for black magic and Satan worship,
though in fact these were never a part of the Old Religion.

The Wiccan faith went underground, to be practiced in small, secret groups
called ‘covens’. For the most part, it had stayed hidden until very recent
times. Now scholars such as Margaret Murray and Gerald Gardner have shed some
light on the origins of the Craft, and new attitudes of relgious freedom have
allowed covens in some areas to risk becoming more open.

How do Wiccan folk practice their faith today? There is no central
authority or doctrine, and individual covens vary a great deal. But most meet
to celebrate on nights of the Full Moon, and at eight great festivals or
Sabbats throughout the year.

Though some practice alone or with only their families, many Wiccans are
organized into covnes pf three to thirteen members. Some are led by a High
Priestess or Priest, many by a Priestess/Priest team; others rotate or share
leadership. Some covens are highly structured and hierarchical, while others
may be informal and egalitarian. Often extensive training is required before
initiation, and coven membeship is considered an important commitment.

There are many branches or ‘traditions’ of Wicca in the United States and
elsewhere, such as Gardnerian, Alexandrian, Welsh Traditional, Dianic, Faery,
Seax-Wica and others. All adhere to a code of ethics. None engage in the
disreputable practices of some modern ‘cults’, such as isolating and
brainwashing impressionable, lonely young people. genuine Wiccans welcome
sisters and brothers, but not disciples, followers or victims.

Coven meetings include ritual, celebration and magick (the ‘k’ is to
distinguish it from stage illusions). Wiccan magick is not at all like the
instant ‘special effects’ of cartoon shows or fantsy novels, nor medieval
demonolgy; it operates in harmony with natural laws and is usually less
spectacular — though effective. Various techniques are used to heal people and
animals, seek guidance, or improve members’ lives in specific ways. Positive
goals are sought: cursing and ‘evil spells’ are repugnant to practitioners of
the Old Religion.

Wiccans tend to be strong supporters of environmental protection, equal
rights, global peace and relgious freedom, and sometimes magick is used toward
such goals.

Wiccan beliefs don not include such Judeo-Christian concepts as original
sin, vicarious atonement, divine judgement or bodily resurrection. Craft folk
believe in a beneficient universe, the laws of karma and reincarnation, and
divinity inherent in every human being and all of Nature. Yet laughter and
pleasure are part of their spiritual tradition, and they enjoy singing,
dancing, feasting, and love.

Wiccans tend to be individualists, and have no central holy book, prophet
or church authority. They draw inspiration and insight from Nature, tradition,
the arts, literature, science, and personal experience. Each pracititoner keeps
a book or journal in which s/he records magickal ‘recipes’, dreams,
invocations, songs, poetry and so on.

To most in the Craft, every relgion has its own valuable prespective on the
nature of Diety and humanity’s relationship to it: there is no One True Faith.
Rather, religious diversuty is necessary in a world of diverse societies and
individuals. Because of this belief, Wiccan groups do not actively recruit or
proselytize: ther is an assumption that people who can benefit from the Wiccan
way will ‘find their way home’ when the time is right.

Despite the lack of evangelistic zeal, many covens are quite willing to
talk with interested people, and even make efforts to inform their communities
about the beliefs and practices of Wicca. One source of contacts is The
Covenant of the Goddess, P.O. Box 1226, Berkeley, CA 94704. Also, the floowing
books may be of interest: (Ask your librarian.)

Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler
The Spiral Dance by Starhawk
Positive Magic by Marion Weinstein
What Witches Do by Stewart Farrar
Witchcraft for Tomorrow by Doreen Valiente

Later Developments In Wicca

Wicca has developed in several directions and institutional structures from the time it was brought to wider attention by Gerald Gardner. Gardnerian Wicca was an initiatory mystery religion, admission to which was at least in theory limited to those who were initiated into a pre-existing coven. The Book of Shadows, the grimoire that contained the Gardnerian rituals, was a secret that could only be obtained from a coven of proper lineage. Some Wiccans such as Raymond Buckland, then a Gardnerian, continued to maintain this stance well into the 1970s. Further degrees of initiation were required before members could found their own covens. Interest outstripped the ability of the mostly British-based covens to train and propagate members; the beliefs of the religion spread faster by the printed word or word of mouth than the initiatory system was prepared to handle.

Other traditions appeared. Some claimed roots as ancient as Gardner’s version, and were organised along similar lines. Others were syncretistic, importing aspects of Kabbalah or ceremonial magic. In 1971 “Lady Sheba” published a version of the Gardnerian Book of Shadows, dispelling what little secrecy remained as to the contents of Gardner’s rituals. Increasing awareness of Gardner’s literary sources and the actual early history of the movement made creativity seem as valuable as Gardnerian tradition.

Another significant development was creation by feminists of Dianic Wicca or feminist Dianic Witchcraft, a specifically feminist faith that discarded Gardnerian-style hierarchy as irrelevant; many Dianic Wiccans taught that witchcraft was every woman’s right and heritage to claim. This heritage might be characterized by the quote of Monique Wittig “But remember. Make an effort to remember. Or, failing that, invent.” This tradition was particularly open to solitary witches, and created rituals for self-initiation to allow people to identify with and join the religion without first contacting an existing coven. This contrasts with the Gardnerian belief that only a witch of opposite gender could initiate another witch.

The publications of Raymond Buckland illustrate these changes. During the early 1970s, in books such as Witchcraft – Ancient and Modern and Witchcraft From the Inside, Buckland maintained the Gardnerian position that only initiates into a Gardnerian or other traditional coven were truly Wiccans.

However, in 1974, Buckland broke with the Gardnerians and founded Seax-Wica, revealing its teachings and rituals in the book The Tree: The Complete Book of Saxon Witchcraft. This “tradition” made no claims to direct descent from ancient Saxons; all its ritual was contained in the book, which allowed for self-initiation. In 1986 Buckland published Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft, a workbook that sought to train readers in magical and ritual techniques as well as instructing them in Wiccan teachings and rituals.

Beliefs and practice Of Wicca

Beliefs and practice Of Wicca

Its is commonly understood that Wiccans worship two deities, the Goddess and the God sometimes known as the Horned God. Some traditions such as the Dianic Wiccans mainly worship the Goddess; the God plays either no role, or a diminished role, in Dianism. Many Gardnerian Wiccans do not claim to be duotheistic, but rather, may practice some form of polytheism, often with particular reference to the Celtic pantheons; they may also be animists, pantheists, agnostics or indeed any of the other spectacular range of possibilities.

Wiccans celebrate eight main holidays (or Sabbats): four cross-quarter days called Samhain, Beltane (or Beltaine), Imbolc (also called Imbolg, Oimelc, or Candlemas) and Lammas (or Lughnasadh), as well as the solstices, Litha and Yule, and equinoxes, Ostara (or Eostar or Eostre) and Mabon (see Wheel of the Year). They also hold Esbats, which are rituals held at the full and new moon.

Generally, the names are of ancient Germanic or Celtic holidays held around the same time, although two do not have any historical precedent. Ritual observations may include mixtures of those holidays as well as others celebrated at the same time in other cultures; there are several ways to celebrate the holidays.

Some Wiccans join groups called covens, though others work alone and are called “solitaries”. Some solitaries do, however, attend “gatherings” and other community events, but reserve their spiritual practices (Sabbats, Esbats, spell-casting, worship, magical work, etc.) for when they are alone. Some Wiccans work with a community without being part of a coven.Many beliefs hold that the ideal number of members for a coven is thirteen. When a coven grows beyond their ideal number of members, they often split into multiple covens, yet remain together as a group. A grouping of multiple covens is known as a grove.Wiccans weddings can be called “bondings”, “joinings”, or “eclipses” but are most commonly called “handfastings”.

Some Wiccans observe an ancient Celtic practice of a trial marriage for a year and a day, which some Traditions hold should be contracted on Lammas (Lughnasadh), although this is far from universal. When someone is being initiated into a coven, it is also traditional to study with the coven for a year and a day before their actual initiation into to the religion, and some Solitary Wicca choose to study for a year and a day before dedicating themselves to the religion.

A much sensationalized aspect of Wicca, particularly in Gardnerian Wicca, is that some Wiccans practice skyclad (naked). Though many Wiccans do this, many others do not. Some Wiccans wear a pure cotton robe, to symbolise bodily purity, and a cord, to symbolise interdependence and which is often used during rituals.

Others wear normal clothes or whatever they think is appropriate. Robes and even Renaissance-Faire-type clothing are not uncommon.In usual rites the Wiccans assemble inside a magic circle, which is drawn out in a ritual manner followed by a cleansing and then blessing of the space. Prayers to the God and Goddess are said, and spells are sometimes worked. Traditionally, the circle is followed by a meal. Before entering the circle, some Traditions fast for the day, and have a thorough wash.

Many Wiccans use a special set of altar tools in their rituals; these can include a broom (besom), cauldron, Chalice (goblet), wand, Book of Shadows, altar cloth, athame (personal knife), altar knife, boline, candles, and/or incense. Representations of the God/Goddess are often also used, which may be direct, representative, or abstract. The tools themselves are just that–tools, and have no innate powers of their own, though they are usually dedicated or charged with a particular purpose, and used only in that context. It is considered rude to touch another’s tools without permission.

There are different thoughts in Wicca regarding the Elements. Some hold to the earlier Greek conception of the classical elements (air, fire, water, earth), while others recognize five elements: earth, air, water, fire, and spirit (akasha). It has been claimed that the points of the frequently worn pentagram symbol, the five pointed star, symbolise five elements.

The pentacle (a pentagram (five-pointed star) inside of a circle) is most often shown with its point facing upward. Alexandrian Wicca believe that the upper point represents spirit, and the four remaining points symbolise earth, air, fire, and water. This symbolism has slowly worked itself into other traditions such as Solitary Wicca and Seax-Wica, but most Gardnarian Wicca will deny that the points of the pentagram or pentacle actually represent anything at all.

Some people believe that the top point of the pentacle was chosen to represent the spirit as it is often recognized as being more important than the four elements. When, in Satanism for example, the pentacle is usually inverted, the point representing spirit faces downward, and it is often taken that this symbolises that it is less important than physical things.

Another much less common view on the symbolism of the pentacle is that the upright pentacle is a protective charm which protects its wearer through passive energies, such as good will or pleasing emotions, and that the inverted pentacle protects its wearer using aggressive energies, such as curses or angry emotions.

In either case, these are the elements of nature that symbolize different places, emotions, objects, and natural energies and forces. For instance, crystals and stones are objects of the element earth, and seashells are objects of the water element. Each of the four cardinal elements, air, fire, water and earth, are commonly assigned a direction and a color. The following list is not true for all traditions, or branches of Wicca:

  • Air: east, yellow
  • Fire: south, red
  • Water: west, blue
  • Earth: north, green

Elemental, directional correspondences, and colors may vary between traditions. It is common in the southern hemisphere, for instance, to associate the element fire with north (the direction of the equator) and earth with south (the direction of the nearest polar area.) Some Wiccan groups also modify the religious calendar to reflect local seasonal changes; for instance, in Australia Samhain might be celebrated on April 30th, and Beltane on October 31st to reflect the southern hemisphere’s autumn and spring seasons.

Practicing Wicca and Witchcraft Today

Practicing Wicca and Witchcraft Today

 

Starting something new can be frightening; this applies also to a new religion. You will be taught the basic tenants, but in the long run, it will be up to you to make of it what you want.

There are many different witches, each with their own set of rituals. Some witches prefer to work alone, other like working within a coven. Once again this is a person choice. Let no one force you into joining anything with which you are not comfortable.

Let me give you an idea of the various forms of the craft that are available to you.

Gardnerian Wicca: Started in 1950’s by Gerald Gardner. Groups tend to work skyclad. Covens use a degree system. Individuals are initiated by the coven.

Alaxandrian Wicca: Started in the 1960’s in England. In many aspects they are like the Gardnerian Wicca.

Georgian Wicca: Founded by George Patterson in the 1970’s. They are known as the Georgian Church and draw their rituals from the Alaxandrian and Gardnerian crafts. Members also write their own ritual.

Algard Wicca: Founded in 1972. Mary Nesnick combined Alexandrian and Gardnerian Wicca to form the Algard tradition. They are very close to the Gardnerian tradition.

Seax-Wica: Founded in 1962 by Raymond Buckland a protégé of Gardner. He moved to the U. S. A. and in 1973 started his own tradition based on Saxon traditions. Hence Seax-Wica.

Feri Tradition: Victor Anderson is credited to bringing this tradition to America in the late 1960’s. Feri teacher tend to add something of themselves to the religion as they teach. They can be solitary or work in small groups.

Dianic Tradition: This religion focus strongly on the Goddess with little or no interact on the God. This is a feminist movement of the craft. The covens are women only.

British Traditional: There are a number of different British Traditions that are based on the Pre Christian traditions of Old England.

Celtic Wicca: The tradition looks to the Celtic and druidic deities, with an emphasis on magickal and healing properties.

Northern Way or Asatru. This tradition is based on the Old Norse gods.

Pictish Witches: This is a solitary Scottish Tradition that is based on nature.

Strega Witches: This tradition is from Italy.

You will notice that this list is long, but not complete. Many witches are drawn to the “way” because of their background. This need not be so. Follow the one that calls to you.

Wicca

Wicca

 
Wicca is a Neopagan religion that can be found in many English-speaking countries. Originally founded by the British civil servant Gerald Gardner, probably in the 1940s, although it was first openly revealed in 1954. Since its founding, various related Wiccan traditions have evolved, the original being Gardnerian Wicca, which is the name of the tradition that follows the specific beliefs and practices established by Gerald Gardner.repeatedly in his published work of 1954. The spelling “Wicca” is now used almost exclusively, (Seax-Wica being the only major use of the four-letter spelling).

In Old English, wicca meant necromancer or male witch. Some contend that the term wicca is related to Old English witan, meaning wise man or counselor, but this is widely rejected by language scholars as false etymology. Nonetheless, Wicca is often called the “Craft of the wise” as a result of this misconception.It appears that the word may be untraceable beyond the Old English period. Derivation from the Indo-European roots ‘wic’ or ‘weik’ is seemingly incorrect by phonological understanding.Though sometimes used interchangeably, “Wicca” and “Witchcraft” are not the same thing. The confusion comes, understandably, because both practitioners of Wicca and practitioners of witchcraft are often called witches. In addition, not all practitioners of Wicca are witches, and not all witches are practitioners of Wicca.

Wicca refers to the religion. This can be a reference to both the initiatory tradition, where initiates are assigned a degree and generally work in covens, and to Solitary Wicca, where practitioners self-dedicate themselves to the tradition and generally practice on their own. Both Initiates and Solitary Wiccans worship the Goddess, with most also choosing to worship the God, and both celebrate the Sabbats and Esbats.

Witchcraft, or as it is sometimes called “The Craft?, on the other hand, requires no belief in specific gods or goddesses and is not a specific spiritual path. Thus, there are Witches who practise a variety of religions besides Pagan ones, such as Judaism and Christianity. It is considered to be a learned skill, referring to the casting of spells and the practice of magic or magick (the use of the “k” is to ‘in order to distinguish the Science of the Magi from all its counterfeits’ (or perhaps just to make it sound better), and was coined as a spelling by Aleister Crowley). To add to the confusion the term witchcraft in popular older usage, or in a modern historical or anthropological context, means the use of black or evil magic, not something Wicca encourages at all.

SOLITARY WITCHES

  SOLITARY WITCHES

 Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft  – Ray Buckland

In the majority of Witchcraft traditions there is no way that an ‘individual’
can operate – membership in a coven is mandatory. Most traditions have a system
of degrees of advancement not unlike those found is Freemasonry and other secret
societies. With such a system it is necessary for a Witch to advance, within the
coven, to a particular degree before being able to even cast a Circle. In order
to initiate others it is necessary to attain the highest degree. As a First
Degree Witch they can join with the rest of the coven in worship and in the
working of magick but can do nothing alone.

Such a system is all very well, and those involved seem quite content with it.
But it seems to me that an important point is being overlooked. Back in the ‘old
days’ of the Craft, there were many Witches who lived at a far distance from any
village or even from any other people at all. Yet these ‘were’ still Witches.
They still worshiped the old gods and still worked their own magick. That, I
feel, was as it should have been…and as it still should be. There are one or two
traditions, today, that do subscribe more directly to the old ways. In the Seax-
Wica, for example, there is not the dependence on the coven situation; there is
the reality of the Witch alone.

The main point here is that you should not be ‘excluded’ from the Wicca for such
a reason. Just because you don’t live anywhere near a coven; just because you
don’t know of anyone else with similar interests; just because you are an
individualist who doesn’t care to join with others… these are no reasons why you
should not be a Witch. So lets look at Solitary Wicca.

What are the main differences between a coven Witch and being a Solitary?

1. With a covener, the rituals are performed by a group of people; several 
   (principally the Priest and/or Priestess) playing the parts.
   As a Solitary, you do everything yourself.

2. The Coven meets in a large (usually nine ft. diameter) circle.
   The Solitary has a small “compact” circle.

3. The Coven use a “full complement” of tools, depending on the tradition.
   The Solitary uses only what s/he feels s/he needs.

4. Coven meetings must, to an extent, be held when most convenient for the
   majority.
   The Solitary can hold a ritual whenever s/he feels like it.

5. A Coven draws on all its members to build a Cone of Power.
   A Solitary has only her/his own power to draw on.

6. A Coven has a wide variety of knowledge and specialties.
   A Solitary has only her/his own knowledge and specialty.

7. A Coven is usually fairly set in its ways.
   A Solitary can change with her/his moods.

8. A Coven ritual can become almost a ‘production’ or pageant.
   A Solitary ritual can be the barest minimum of words and actions.

9. A Coven must attune itself as one.
   A Solitary IS one.

There are many other differences, of course, but these are enough to illustrate
the point that there are both advantages and disadvantages to being a Solitary.
Generally speaking, there is much more flexibility to being a Solitary, but
there is also a more limited store of knowledge and magickal power on which to
draw. Let me elaborate on the above points.

1. As a Solitary, you do everything yourself.

You can write your own rituals, just for you. But you can also adopt and adapt
coven ones. As an example of what can be done, here are some of the rituals from
this book (Erecting the Temple; Esbat; Cakes and Ale; Clearing the Temple),
suitably modified. You can do the same sort of thing with most of the others.
Compare these with the originals as you go.

ERECTING THE TEMPLE

Wiccan rings the bell three times, facing east. She then takes the Altar Candle
and lights the East Candle from it, saying:

“Here do I bring light and air in at the East, to illuminate my temple and bring
it the breath of life.”

She moves around to the south to light that candle.

“Here do I bring light and fire in at the South, to illuminate my temple and
bring it warmth.”

To the west:

“Here do I bring light and water in at the West, to illuminate my temple and
wash it clean.”

To the north:

“Here do I bring light and earth in at the North, to illuminate my temple and
build it in strength.”

She moves on round to the east and then back to the altar. Replacing the Altar
Candle, she takes up her athame and goes again to the east. With point of athame
down, she traces the Circle, directing her power into it. Returning to the
altar, she rings the bell three times then places the point of her athame into
the Salt, saying:

“As Salt is Life, let it purify me in all ways I may use it. Let it cleanse my
body and spirit as I dedicate myself in this rite, to the glory of the God and
the Goddess.”

She drops three portions of Salt into the Water, saying:

“Let the Sacred Salt drive out any impurities in the Water, that I may use it
throughout these rites.”

She takes up the Salted Water and, starting and finishing at the east, walks
around sprinkling the Circle. She then goes around again with the thurible,
censing the Circle.

Back at the altar, she drops a pinch of salt into the oil and stirs it with her
finger. She then anoints herself with it, saying:

“I consecrate myself in the names of the God and of the Goddess, bidding them
welcome to this, my Temple.”

The Witch now moves to the east and, with her athame, draws an invoking
pentagram.

“All hail to the element of Air, Watchtower of the East. May it stand in
strength, ever watching over this Circle.”

She kisses the blade of the athame, then moves to the south, where she draws an
invoking pentagram.

“All hail to the element of Fire; Watchtower of the South. May it stand in
strength ever watching over my Circle.”

She kisses the blade and moves to the west and draws an invoking pentagram.

“All hail to the element of Water, Watchtower of the West. May it stand in
strength, ever watching over my Circle.”

She kisses the blade and moves to the north, where she draws an invoking
pentagram.

“All hail to the element of Earth, Watchtower of the North. May it stand in
strength, ever watching over my Circle.”

Kissing the blade, she returns to the altar, where she raises her athame high.

“All hail the four Quarters and all hail the Gods! I bid the Lord and Lady
welcome and invite that they join with me, witnessing these rites I hold in
their honor. All hail!”

She takes the goblet and pours a little wine onto the ground (or into the
libation dish), then drinks, saying the names of the gods.

“Now is the Temple erected. So Mote It Be!”

ESBAT

Witch: “Once more do I come to show my joy of life and re-affirm my feelings for
the gods. The Lord and the Lady have been good to me. It is meet that I give
thanks for all that I have. They know that I have needs and they listen to me
when I call upon them. So do I thank the God and the Goddess for those favors
they have bestowed upon me.”

Then, in her own way, she gives her thanks and/or requests help. She then rings
the bell three times and says:

“An it harm none, do what thou wilt. Thus runs the Wiccan Rede. Whatever I
desire; whatever I would ask of the gods; whatever I would do; I must be assured
that it will harm no one – not even myself. And as I give, so shall it return
threefold. I give of myself – my life; my love – and it will be thrice rewarded.
But should I send forth harm, then that too will return thrice over.”

Here the Witch may sing a favorite song or chant, or play an instrument.

Witch: “Beauty and Strength are in the Lord and the Lady both. Patience and
Love; Wisdom and Knowledge.”

(If the Esbat is taking place at either the Full or the New Moon, then the
appropriate segment is inserted at this point. Otherwise go directly into the
Cakes and Ale ceremony.”

CAKES AND ALE

Witch: “Now is it time for me to give thanks to the gods for that which sustains
me. May I ever be aware of all that I owe to the gods.”

She takes the goblet in her left hand and her athame in her right and slowly
lowers the point of the knife into the wine, saying:

“In like fashion may male join with female, for the happiness of both. Let the
fruits of union promote life. Let all be fruitful and let wealth be spread
throughout all lands.”

She lays down the athame and drinks from the goblet. Replacing it on the altar,
she then touches the cake with the point of the athame, saying:

“This food is the blessing of the gods to my body. I partake of it freely. Let
me remember always to see to it that aught that I have I share with those who
have nothing.”

She eats the cake, pausing to say:

“As I enjoy these gifts of the gods, let me remember that without the gods I
would have nothing. So Mote It Be!”

CLEARING THE TEMPLE

Witch: “As I came into my Temple in love and friendship, let me leave it the
same way. Let me spread the love outward to all; sharing it with those I meet.”

She raises her athame high, in salute, and says:

“Lord and Lady, my thanks to you for sharing this time with me. My thanks for
watching over me; guarding and guiding my in all things. Love is the Law and
Love is the Bond. Merry did I come here and Merry do I part, to merry come
again. The Temple is now cleared. So Mote It Be!”

She kisses the blade of her athame.

2. The Solitary has a small, “compact” Circle.

There is no need for the large, coven-size Circle when you are working alone.
One just large enough for you and the altar is all you need…probably five feet
in diameter would be sufficient. When ‘Erecting the Temple’, you would still
walk all around this Circle to ‘draw’ it with your athame, and to sprinkle and
cense it, but for addressing the four Quarters you need only turn and face the
directions from your place behind the altar. When working magick, it is easier
to build up power in a smaller Circle and it is generally a “cozier” feeling.

3. The Solitary uses only what s/he feel s/he needs.

You probably won’t need as many tools as a coven uses. You may decide to use no
more than you athame and censer. It is up to you; you have only yourself to
please. Don’t forget that you don’t HAVE to follow all the rituals exactly.

Examine as many traditions as you are able. See what tools they use and ‘why’
(it seems some groups use some items without really knowing why they do!), then
decide on which ones you need. You will find traditions that use broomsticks,
ankhs, wands, tridents, etc. You may even decide to add something that no one
else uses – the Pecti-Wita, for example (a Solitary tradition, as it happens)
use a ritual Staff which is not found elsewhere. Don’t add something just for
the sake of having it, or just to be different. Use something because you need
to use it, because you feel more comfortable with that particular tool then with
another or then without it at all.

4. The Solitary can hold a ritual whenever s/he feels like it.

A coven meets for the Sabbats and Esbats. The dates for the Esbats are fixed at
the most convenient times for the majority of members. As a Solitary, you can
have an Esbat whenever you feel like it. You can have Esbats three or four days
in a row, or go from New Moon to Full Moon without one at all. It’s up to you
and how you feel. If there is a sudden emergency – perhaps a healing that needs
to be done – you can get into it right away. You don’t have to desperately try
to contact others before you can get to work.

5. A Solitary has only her/his own power to draw on.

When working magick, a coven generates a lot of power. Working together, the
total power of the whole far exceeds the sum of the parts. The Solitary can do
no more then use the power s/he has. This is a fact and should be accepted. It
is one of the few drawbacks to being a Solitary. But this does not mean that
‘nothing’ can be done! Far from it. Many Solitaries do a great deal of excellent
work, drawing only on their own resources. A good parallel night be seen in
boat-racing or sculling, where you have teams of eight oarsmen, four, two or
single rowers. All propel their craft equally well. The only difference is the
greater speeds attained by the boats with the increased numbers of oarsmen.

6. A Solitary has only her/his own knowledge and specialty.

In a coven there is an accumulation of talents. One Witch might specialize in
healing, another in astrology, one in Herbalism, another in tarot reading. Once
might be an excellent tool-maker, another a great calligraphist; one a winemaker
and/or seamstress and another a psychic and psychometrist.

As stated, the Solitary has only her/his own knowledge available. This, then, is
another disadvantage but again, one that must be accepted. There is certainly no
reason why, as a Solitary, you should not be in touch with others (Wiccans and
non-Wiccans) who are astrologers, tarot readers, herbalists, etc. and to call
upon them for help and advice when needed. It is just that you don’t have them
readily to hand there in the Circle with you, available at all times.

7. A Solitary can change with her/his moods.

A Gardnerian coven rigidly follows the Gardnerian rites. A Welsh-Kelic coven
rigidly follows the Welsh-Keltic rites. A Dianic coven rigidly follows the
Dianic rites. This all goes without saying. Even an eclectic coven will
generally settle into rites, from whatever sources, with which it feels
comfortable and will stay with them. But the Solitary is free (freer even than
most eclectics, if only by virtue of having only her/himself to please) to do
whatever s/he likes… to experiment, to change, to adopt and adapt. S/he can do
elaborate, ceremonial rites on day and simple, plain, ingenuous rites the next.
S/he can do Gardnerian oriented rituals one time, Welsh-Kelic the next and
Dianic the next. There is tremendous freedom for the Solitary, which I urge you
to enjoy to the utmost. Experiment. Try different types and styles of rituals.
Find those that are exactly right for you.

8. A Solitary ritual can be the barest minimum of words and actions.

This follows on from (7) above. You can enjoy a true economy of ritual if you so
desire. Let me give you an example:

Erecting The Temple (Alternate)

The Witch lights the four Circle Candles from the Altar Candle and, with the
athame, “draws” the Circle, directing power into it. She then sits, or kneels,
before the altar and proceeds with a meditation on the elements:

(This should be familiarized – not necessarily word for word – so that it can be
followed through without effort)

“You are sitting in the middle of a field. There is lush green grass all about
you, with a generous scattering of bright yellow buttercups. Some distance
behind you, and continuing way off to your left, a wooded rail fence, with other
fields beyond it, stretches off to another distant fence, beyond which are more
fields leading to the foothills of the mountains which you can see in the far
distance.
A very light breeze ruffles the top of the grass and you can feel the
wind’s gentleness as it brushes your face. Crickets chirrup in the grass and,
from the trees beyond the hedgerow, you can hear the occasional song of a bird,
You feel contented, you feel at peace.
A swallow swoops down and soars low across the field not twenty feet in
front of you. He wings up and away over the trees towards the distant mountains.
A grasshopper lands on your knee, then almost immediately is gone again.
You get to your feet and stroll leisurely through the grass, parallel to
the hedgerow. Your feet are bare and the grass lightly tickles them as you move
along. You walk over to your right till you are close beside the hedge, then
advance along it. Reaching out your hand as you walk, you gently brush the
leaves; just catching them with your fingertips as you move along. There is a
slight rise in the ground ahead of you and off to the left. You leave the
hedgerow and move lightly up the hillock to stand where you can gaze about you
at all the beauty that surrounds you.
Seemingly coming all the way from the distant mountains, the breeze you
felt earlier is now more steady and you feel it on your face and arms. It gently
ruffles the tops of the grass and causes buttercups to nod their golden heads.
You stand on the hillock with your legs spread wide and slowly raise up your
arms towards the sky. As you raise them, you breathe in deeply. You hold the
breath for a moment, then gradually release it, bringing your arms back down to
shoulder level. As you release the breath you sing out the sound “Ah”……”A-a-a-a-
a-a-a-h!”
A second time the wind returns, this time blowing strongly; bending the
grass and stirring the hedgerow off to your side. It blows back your hair and
feels warm against your cheeks. For the third time you raise your arms to the
sky and cry out to the air. “A-a-a-a-a-a-a=h!” And for the third time the air
replies by sending the strong, rushing wind across the fields, bending the grass
before it and swirling up and around your body; tugging your hair back from your
face and fluttering the robes that you wear.
As the wind dies you allow your arms to fall to you sides and stand, with
head bowed, in the warmth of the sun. Breathing regularly, but deeply, you feel
the strength of the sun as it shines down upon you from out of the cloudless
blue sky. Slowly you life your face, with eyes closed, and bask in the radiance
that encompasses you. You breathe in deeply, sensing the cleansing and
purifying. AS you breathe, you feel the vitality building within you, fed by
those timeless flames.
You bring your hands up, together, to your chest, cupping them as though
holding the very orb of the sun. You continue raising them, up to your face then
on up high above your head. With palms open and upward, you spread your arms and
reach up, absorbing the sun’s rays into your body, this time through your hands
and down through your arms. Feel the energies rippling down through your body,
down through your legs, all the way to your toes. Feel the fire within you. Feel
the fire.
Now you lower your arms and, turning back towards the hedgerow, you leave
the hillock and continue on along the side of the field. As you walk you become
aware of a new sound – the sound of a running stream a tinkling of the waters
rushing over and around pebbles and small stones reaches your ears and draws you
forward. You reach the end of the hedgerow and see a small wood set back behind
it. From out between the trees runs the stream, bubbling and bustling on its way
to it knows not where. It curves out and around, to rush off and disappear from
view on the far side of the hedgerow you followed.
You drop down to your knees and reach forward a hand to feel the water. It
is cold, yet not so cold as to turn you away. The rushing water murmurs protest
at the new obstacle and bubbles around and between your fingers, eager to be on
its way. You smile and slip the other hand in beside the first. You wriggle your
fingers and rejoice in the invigorating coolness of the water. You splash your
face and feel the cold droplets trickle down your neck. It is refreshing and
energizing. You cup your hands and raise a human grail of divine essence from
the stream you bend and plunge your face into it, to celebrate a catharsis of
the flesh of the spirit. The water refreshes, cleanses and purifies. It is a
gift; a freely given pleasure. You sigh a long sigh of contentment.
Rising to your feet again, you move on along the edge of the trees until
you reach the corner of a large, ploughed field that opens out to the left. The
soil is newly turned and the scent of it heavy in the air. You walk out towards
the center of the field, breathing deeply and feeling the good clean dirt of the
earth between your toes as you walk.
When you finally reach the middle of the ploughed field, you stoop down
and sweep up two handfuls of the rich, dark brown earth. It feels good; in
communicates a kinship of nature. You feel a ‘grounding and centering’ of your
body, through your feet, into the earth. It is a sense of coming home, or
reaching that which you have long sought.
You lie down on the earth, between the furrows, eyes closed and face
towards the sky. You feel the gentle breeze blowing over you and luxuriate in
the warmth of the sun. away in the distance you can just make out the tinkling
of the stream as you absorb the energies of the earth. Your spirit soars and
rejoices. And, in so doing, you have touched all of the elements.”

You can see that the “things said” and “things done” are all in the mind. You
may well feel comfortable doing all your rites in this way, though I do urge you
to ‘at least’ cast your Circle physically.

As a preliminary to the meditation above, you might want to read up on
meditations. Also, I would suggest incorporating the breathing exercises given
in most lessons, including the imagery of the white light.

For such a guided meditation, you might like to record it on tape, ahead of
time, and then play it back to yourself in the Circle.

9. The Solitary IS one.

This can be both an advantage (chiefly so, I feel) and a disadvantage. An
example of the latter: if a Witch happens to have a very short temper and has
been badly used by someone, s/he might possibly be driven by thoughts of
revenge. S/he might be tempted to overlook the Wiccan Rede, rationalizing
her/his thoughts and feelings in some way. However, unless s/he can get all of
the other coven members, including the Priest/ess to feel the same way that s/he
does, s/he can do nothing s/he might later regret. Far more likely is that the
coven would calm her/him an bring the problem into perspective. The Solitary, on
the other hand, does not have this “safety catch”. S/he must, therefore, be
constantly on guard and always carefully and closely examine the situation
before working any magick, giving special thought to the Wiccan Rede.

But on the other side of the coin, the Solitary does not have to make any
compromises in anything s/he does. The Solitary is one with her/himself and is
automatically attuned, with no disharmony or distraction.

So the Solitary Witch is indeed a reality. Don’t let anyone tell you that,
because you don’t belong to a coven and because you were not initiated by
someone (who was initiated by someone who was in turn, initiated by someone… and
so on, ad nauseum), you are not a true Witch. Tell them to read their history
(and ask them who initiated the very first Witch?). you ARE a Witch and you are
so in the fine tradition of Witchcraft. May the Gods be with you.