Full Moon Magick

Gothic fantasy

Full Moon Magick

Definition:

The full moon is the point at which we can see an entire side of the moon. For magical purposes, most Wiccans and Pagans consider the full moon to include the day before and the day after a full moon, for a total of three days. If your tradition requires you to follow the phases of the moon for your magical workings, this is a good time to do rituals focused on personal growth and spiritual development.

Some examples would include:
Spells related to increasing your intuitive awareness
Healing magic
Rituals that connect you closely with deity, such as Drawing Down the Moon
Any magic related to developing your magical skills

For many Wiccans and Pagans, this is also a time to celebrate with an Esbat ritual.

Examples:

Willow and her coven celebrated the full moon with a ritual to hone their intuitive abilities.
 

Source

Author
Patti Wigington, Paganism/Wicca Expert
Article published on & owned by About.com

Let’s Talk Witch – Should You Have A Written Book of Shadows or Keep One On Your Computer?


Veteran's Day Comments
Should You Have A Written Book of Shadows or Keep One On Your Computer?

 

In these modern times, it’s often more practical to keep information in an electronic format. Many modern Wiccans possess a spiritual journal in two formats. They type and store some of the work on a computer, and write out the rest. Perhaps you’ve heard others insist that you must keep your book “in your own hand of write,” and this has made you feel conflicted about keeping a computerized version of your spells and rituals.

There are several advantages to maintaining your book of shadows on a computer:

• Your material will be easy to find.

• It will be easy to read.

• It is easy to run off a copy of the text for use in ritual itself without having to handle your entire spiritual journal.

• You can keep a backup copy somewhere else, such as a safe-deposit box, in case of disaster. There are also drawbacks to having your spiritual journal on your computer:

• A computer file is cold, and has less personality or character than a handwritten book.

• You run the risk of accidentally erasing the file or having it corrupted by disk failure.

• A virus can destroy your entire machine if you are not properly protected.

• At times it can be inconvenient to print out the necessary pages.

The advantages to writing your book of shadows out by hand are numerous. Writing things out by hand is an excellent method by which we memorize material. A handwritten book of shadows possesses charm and character, and can be much more conducive to creating an atmosphere appropriate to ritual. It’s also deeply personal. Drawbacks include that handwriting can be hard to read by candlelight or moonlight, and if for some reason you lose your book, you’ve lost everything.

Ultimately, your spiritual journal is exactly what you make it. It is a blend of your choices, your personal style, and your practice. Many eclectic Wiccans use a combination of the computer and handwritten forms. Any spiritual record files on your computer should be backed up on CD or disc and stored in another location, just in case. You could choose to type up the text of a ritual or any information you’ve researched, print it out, and put it into your physical book of shadows for ease of reference, where it will provide a nice contrast to handwritten information.

 

 

Solitary Wicca For Life: Complete Guide to Mastering the Craft on Your Own

Arin Murphy-Hiscock

 

Wicca, Witchcraft or Paganism? What’s the Difference?

Wicca, Witchcraft or Paganism?

What’s the Difference, Anyway?

By , About.com

 

Wicca is a tradition of Witchcraft that was brought to the public by Gerald Gardner in the 1950s. There is a great deal of debate among the Pagan community about whether or not Wicca is truly the same form of Witchcraft that the ancients practiced. Regardless, many people use the terms Wicca and Witchcraft interchangeably. Paganism is an umbrella term used to apply to a number of different earth-based faiths. Wicca falls under that heading, although not all Pagans are Wiccan.

So, in a nutshell, here’s what’s going on. All Wiccans are witches, but not all witches are Wiccans. All Wiccans are Pagans, but not all Pagans are Wiccans. Finally, some witches are Pagans, but some are not.

If you’re reading this page, chances are you’re either a Wiccan or Pagan, or you’re someone who’s interested in learning more about the modern Pagan movement. You may be a parent who’s curious about what your child is reading, or you might be someone who is unsatisfied with the spiritual path you’re on right now. Perhaps you’re seeking something more than what you’ve had in the past. You might be someone who’s practiced Wicca or Paganism for years, and who just wants to learn more.

For many people, the embracing of an earth-based spirituality is a feeling of “coming home”. Often, people say that when they first discovered Wicca, they felt like they finally fit in. For others, it’s a journey TO something new, rather than running away from something else.

Paganism is an Umbrella Term

Please bear in mind that there are dozens of different traditions that fall under the umbrella title of “Paganism”. While one group may have a certain practice, not everyone will follow the same criteria. Statements made on this site referring to Wiccans and Pagans generally refer to MOST Wiccans and Pagans, with the acknowledgement that not all practices are identical.

Not All Pagans are Wiccans

There are many Witches who are not Wiccans. Some are Pagans, but some consider themselves something else entirely.

Just to make sure everyone’s on the same page, let’s clear up one thing right off the bat: not all Pagans are Wiccans. The term “Pagan” (derived from the Latin paganus, which translates roughly to “hick from the sticks”) was originally used to describe people who lived in rural areas. As time progressed and Christianity spread, those same country folk were often the last holdouts clinging to their old religions. Thus, “Pagan” came to mean people who didn’t worship the god of Abraham.

In the 1950s, Gerald Gardner brought Wicca to the public, and many contemporary Pagans embraced the practice. Although Wicca itself was founded by Gardner, he based it upon old traditions. However, a lot of Witches and Pagans were perfectly happy to continue practicing their own spiritual path without converting to Wicca.

Therefore, “Pagan” is an umbrella term that includes many different spiritual belief systems – Wicca is just one of many.

Think of it this way:

Christian > Lutheran or Methodist or Jehovah’s Witness

Pagan > Wiccan or Asatru or Dianic or Eclectic Witchcraft

As if that wasn’t confusing enough, not all people who practice witchcraft are Wiccans, or even Pagans. There are a few witches who embrace the Christian god as well as a Wiccan goddess – the Christian Witch movement is alive and well! There are also people out there who practice Jewish mysticism, or “Jewitchery”, and atheist witches who practice magic but do not follow a deity.

What About Magic?

There are a number of people who consider themselves Witches, but who are not necessarily Wiccan or even Pagan. Typically, these are people who use the term “eclectic Witch” or to apply to themselves. In many cases, Witchcraft is seen as a skill set in addition to or instead of a religious system. A Witch may practice magic in a manner completely separate from their spirituality; in other words, one does not have to interact with the Divine to be a Witch.

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.

 

Do Wiccans and Pagans Believe in God?

Do Wiccans and Pagans Believe in God?

By

Question: Do Wiccans and Pagans Believe in God?

I’m interested in Wicca, but my mom says Wiccans and Pagans don’t believe in God. I feel weird not believing in a universal force of some sort. What’s the deal here?

Answer: The deal is that most Wiccans and Pagans see “god” as more of a job title than a proper name. They don’t worship the Christian god, but that doesn’t mean they don’t accept the existence of deity. Various Wiccan and Pagan traditions honor different gods. Some see all deities as one, and may refer to The God or The Goddess. Others may worship specific gods or goddesses – Cernunnos, Brighid, Isis, Apollo, etc. – from their own tradition. Because there are so many different forms of Pagan belief, there are nearly as many gods and goddesses to believe in.

Many Pagans, including but not limited to Wiccans, are willing to accept the presence of the Divine in all things. Because Wicca and Paganism place a good deal of emphasis on the idea that experiencing the divine is something for everyone, not just select members of the clergy, it’s possible for a Wiccan or Pagan to find something sacred within the mundane. For example, the whisper of wind through the trees or the roar of the ocean can both be considered divine. Not only that, many Pagans feel that the divine lives within each of us. It’s rare to find a Pagan or Wiccan who sees the gods as judgmental or punishing. Instead, most view the gods as beings that are meant to be walked beside, hand in hand, and honored.

Another aspect of this that’s important to keep in mind is that not everyone who is a Pagan happens to be Wiccan. There are many other paths of Paganism, many of which are polytheistic. Some Pagan paths are based on a concept that all gods are one. There are also some Pagans who follow an earth- or nature-based belief system outside of the concept of deity completely.

 

Source:

About.com

 

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.

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.

Wiccans Who Never Experience Magic

Wiccans Who Never Experience Magic


BellaOnline’s Wicca Editor

Though it seems like a contradiction, many Wiccans do not experience obvious magic or other mystical states. Understandably, no one wants to admit to being too mundane, earth-bound, or any other label that implies that we are not real Wiccans who walk around in continuous mystical state. So should we just work harder to force the magic? Give up? Or accept our inferior lot in life?

One of the most appealing things about Wicca is its emphasis on each Wiccan’s personal connection with magic and deity. Wiccans are expected to communicate directly with their patron gods and goddesses. Most religions expect you to interact with the divine through an ecclesiastical authority such as church, minister, or priest. Others emphasize the need for metaphysical intervention such as with saints, lwa, or ancestor spirits. But Wicca is built on an acceptance of personal mysticism. This includes the possibility that Wiccans may experience extensive psychic phenomena such as seeing ghosts, having visions, divining the future, accessing past lives, and casting spells with immediate and obvious results.

So what happens if you are a Wiccan who has never had a mystical experience? The gods have never spoken to you – not even a few cryptic lines in a dream. You try divination and are successful only fifty percent of the time. You have never glimpsed an aura or a ghost. When you attempt to practice witchcraft, the results from your spells are so open to interpretation that you feel you are fooling yourself. You might feel frustration, guilt, shame, and even desperation.

Meanwhile, your envy may intensify as you encounter other Wiccans who seem to live with one foot in a supernatural realm. Some claim to have such a close connection to their patron god that they are spouses or lovers. Others see portents and currents of psychic energy everywhere. Many speak of extensive exploration of past lives, or long meaningful conversations with spirit guides. Are these Wiccans faking it for competitive reasons? Are they completely deluded? Or is all this magical stuff really happening? And why isn’t it happening to Wiccans like you and me?

Believe me, I can relate to these questions. I have been studying Wicca and paganism for years – reading the right books, meditating, and observing the sabbats. However, I have never had a profound mystical experience. The gods have never spoken to me though I have always been drawn to Odin All-Father (or Wotan, as we Anglo-Saxons call him), and was even born on his day (Wednesday). When I hear about other Wiccans having a close connection with the gods, I sometimes I wonder if I am feeling the same way as most of the Carmelite nuns did, plodding along with their bookkeeping and chicken raising while living in the shadow of the great Spanish mystic Saint Teresa of Avila.

I wish I could offer reassurance that you and I will have a dramatic supernatural break-through someday, if we work hard enough. But I don’t know for sure. Opening up to the otherworldly realms is not something that we can force. For most of us, it might have to happen naturally in a state of pure relaxation. This means that we should probably let ourselves forget about it while concentrating on learning as much as we can about the Wiccan path. Meanwhile, our subconscious will be free to open to the mystical realms. Maybe the gods intend some of us to walk our Wiccan path, feeling alone amidst self-doubt, and we will never communicate directly with them. Maybe they know that we can develop the strongest and deepest faith of all Wiccans because we are not getting rewarded with obvious feedback from our efforts. Therefore, our faith has to be strong enough to guide us.

Try not to compare your own Wiccan path to anyone else’s or you may come to the false conclusion that you are doing something wrong, or even that you are not intuitive, psychic, or spiritual enough to be Wiccan. There are many ways to be Wiccan, and not every path is the path that gets the most publicity – the magical mystery tour. Your intuition guided you to Wicca for a reason. Until you feel in your heart that it is not right for you, you should practice Wicca with an open heart and an inquiring mind to find out not what marvels Wicca can show you, but how you can refine yourself through Wicca in order to help bring light to the world.

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Wiccans Practicing Witchcraft

Wiccans Practicing Witchcraft

Ro Longstreet
BellaOnline’s Wicca Editor

You can walk a Wiccan spiritual path without practicing witchcraft. Wicca is a religion centered upon the natural world that involves worship of God and Goddess. It also requires that you live by certain tenets such as the Wiccan Rede (“An harm it none, do what ye will”).

Meanwhile, witchcraft is a set of learnable methods by which you can influence the flow of energy that surrounds you and permeates the universe. As with skills such as growing herbs or meditating, witchcraft can add a deeper layer to your spiritual life, but you do not have to practice witchcraft to worship the God and Goddess in a Wiccan way. Many Wiccans are interested in witchcraft, some are good at it, and others have no interest whatsoever in picking it up.

Within the broad scope of Wicca, witchcraft is only a small part. If you live your life as a Wiccan without practicing witchcraft, you will still have plenty to keep you occupied. You can focus on ritual rather than spellwork. Daily rituals can include morning and evening prayers to God and Goddess, blessing food and drink, and making everyday choices to live in harmony with the earth.

You can observe ceremonies known as esbats to mark the phases of the moon, and sabbats for the passing of the seasons. Milestones in your life such as marriage, birthdays, birth of a child, passage into adulthood, self-dedication to your spiritual path and more can be celebrated with Wiccan ritual.

Much of Wiccan ritual is similar to witchcraft with a focus on altar, tools, candles, herbs, and other accessories. The difference is that you would not be raising, focusing, and directing energy, as in spellwork. Rather, your ceremony communicates devotion to God and Goddess. If you were to compare an act of witchcraft to a religious ritual, the two would feel very different. Casting a spell involves a rising tension and release whereas a ceremony is more a gentle outpouring of gratitude.

If you did want to practice witchcraft as part of your Wiccan spiritual path, it can deepen your understanding of the natural world that surrounds you. This is similar to how growing your own herbs can put you in touch with the agricultural cycles of life. If you learn to cast spells, it will teach you about the ebb and flow of the energy that fills the universe – and your own place within the tide pool of that vast ocean.

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Ten Factoids You Need to Know About Paganism and Wicca

Ten Factoids You Need to Know About Paganism and Wicca

By , About.com

There’s a lot of information out there on Wicca and Paganism, in books, on the Internet, and through local groups. But how much of it is accurate? How do you learn to separate the wheat from the chaff? The fact is, there are several basic things you should understand about Wicca and Paganism before you make the decision to join a new spiritual path. Let’s eliminate some of the misconceptions and talk about actual facts… it will make your spiritual journey all the more valuable if you understand these issues from the begining.

1. Yes, Even Wicca Has Rules

Sure, a lot of people think that just because there’s no Grand High Wiccan and Pagan Council that there must be all kinds of magical carnage going on. Truth is, there are some fairly standard guidelines followed by a number of different Pagan traditions. While they vary from one group to the next, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of the concepts. Learn more about the rules of magic before you continue your studies.

2. Not All Witches are Pagans are Wiccans

There are dozens of Pagan traditions, and as many different versions of Wicca. Not all are the same, and just because someone is a witch or Pagan doesn’t necessarily mean they practice Wicca. Learn about the differences in paths found among the umbrella term “Paganism.”

3. Wicca is a Religion, Not a Fashion Statement

Contrary to what many popular movies might have you believe, you don’t have to be a teenage goth princess to be Wiccan. In fact, you don’t “have to be” anything at all. Wiccans come from all walks of life — they are parents and teens, lawyers, nurses, firefighters, waitresses, teachers and writers. Pagans come from all different walks of life, all socio-economic groups, and all sorts of racial backgrounds. There’s no Pagan Dress Code that says you have to toss away your polo shirt or khakis in favor of capes and an all-black wardrobe. On the other hand, if you prefer the goth look, go for it… just remember that goth and Wiccan are not synonymous.

4. Religious Freedom Applies to Wiccans and Pagans Too

Believe it or not, as a Wiccan or Pagan you have the same rights as people of any other religion. Despite the fact that some members of other faiths might disapprove of the existence of Wicca and Paganism, the fact is that if you live in the United States, you’re entitled to protection just like anyone else. It’s against the law for anyone to discriminate against you because you practice an earth-based faith. Learn about your rights as a Pagan or Wiccan parent, as an employee, and even as a member of the United States military.

5. It’s Okay to Be Out of the Broom Closet… or Not

Countless numbers of Pagans and Wiccans have made the choice to “come out of the broom closet”… in other words, they’ve stopped hiding their spiritual path from others. For many people, this is a huge decision. You may feel that it’s not in your best interest to make your religious beliefs known, and that’s okay too. If you feel you could be in danger if you reveal that you are Wiccan, or that it might put a strain on family relations, going public might be something you should postpone. Get all the pros and cons on coming out of the broom closet.

6. Wiccans and Pagans Are Not Satanists

Ask any Pagan or Wiccan about the cornerstone of their faith, and they’ll probably tell you it’s a reverence for their ancestors, a belief in the sacredness of nature, a willingness to embrace the Divine within ourselves, or an acceptance of polarity between the male and female. It may be a combination of those principles. It will not have anything to do with the Satan, Old Scratch, Beelzebub, or any of the other names attributed to the Christian devil. Pagans and Wiccans aren’t devil worshippers, Satanists, or Diabolists. Learn more about how Pagans and Wiccans feel about such an entity.

7. Join a Coven, or Practice Solitary?

Many Wiccans and Pagans choose to join a coven or study group because it allows them the chance to learn from like-minded people. It’s an opportunity to share ideas and get new perspectives on any number of things. However, for some folks it’s just more practical or desirable to remain as a solitary practitioner.

8. Parents and Teens

Nothing will set a teenager at odds with a parent quite like coming into the house wearing a giant pentacle, toting a candle, and yelling, “I’m a witch now, leave me alone!” Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. Parents, you may have some concerns about Wicca and Paganism… and teens, you probably aren’t sure how to talk to mom and dad about your newfound interest. Rest easy, though. With a little bit of good communication, both parents and teenagers should be able to find a happy medium.

9. You Don’t Need a Lot of Fancy Tools

Many people think they need to stock up on hundreds of dollars worth of incense, herbs, wands and candles before they can even begin to practice Wicca or Paganism. That’s simply not the case. While a few basic magical tools3 are nice to have, the key element of most traditions are the beliefs, not the tangible, physical items. If you’d like to gather a very basic “starter kit” of tools, there are several which are common to nearly every tradition.

10. You Can Write Your Own Spells and Rituals

Despite a commonly held (and generally Internet-based) belief, anyone can write a spell. The trick is to recognize what the key elements are to successful spellcrafting — intent or goal, components, and putting it into practice are all key. Don’t let anyone tell you that beginners can’t write a spell. Just like any other skill set, it will take some practice, but with a little work you can become a perfectly effective spellworker.

Wicca, Witchcraft or Paganism?

Wicca, Witchcraft or Paganism?

What’s the Difference, Anyway?

By , About.com

If you’re reading this page, chances are you’re either a Wiccan or Pagan, or you’re someone who’s interested in learning more about the modern Pagan movement. You may be a parent who’s curious about what your child is reading, or you might be someone who is unsatisfied with the spiritual path you’re on right now. Perhaps you’re seeking something more than what you’ve had in the past. You might be someone who’s practiced Wicca or Paganism for years, and who just wants to learn more.

For many people, the embracing of an earth-based spirituality is a feeling of “coming home”. Often, people say that when they first discovered Wicca, they felt like they finally fit in. For others, it’s a journey TO something new, rather than running away from something else.

Paganism is an Umbrella Term

Please bear in mind that there are dozens of different traditions that fall under the umbrella title of “Paganism”. While one group may have a certain practice, not everyone will follow the same criteria. Statements made on this site referring to Wiccans and Pagans generally refer to MOST Wiccans and Pagans, with the acknowledgement that not all practices are identical.

Not All Pagans are Wiccans

There are many Witches who are not Wiccans. Some are Pagans, but some consider themselves something else entirely.

Just to make sure everyone’s on the same page, let’s clear up one thing right off the bat: not all Pagans are Wiccans. The term “Pagan” (derived from the Latin paganus, which translates roughly to “hick from the sticks”) was originally used to describe people who lived in rural areas. As time progressed and Christianity spread, those same country folk were often the last holdouts clinging to their old religions. Thus, “Pagan” came to mean people who didn’t worship the god of Abraham.

In the 1950s, Gerald Gardner brought Wicca to the public, and many contemporary Pagans embraced the practice. Although Wicca itself was founded by Gardner, he based it upon old traditions. However, a lot of Witches and Pagans were perfectly happy to continue practicing their own spiritual path without converting to Wicca.

Therefore, “Pagan” is an umbrella term that includes many different spiritual belief systems – Wicca is just one of many.

Think of it this way:

Christian >  Lutheran or Methodist or Jehovah’s Witness

Pagan >  Wiccan or Asatru or Dianic or Eclectic Witchcraft

As if that wasn’t confusing enough, not all people who practice witchcraft are Wiccans, or even Pagans. There are a few witches who embrace the Christian god as well as a Wiccan goddess – the Christian Witch movement is alive and well! There are also people out there who practice Jewish mysticism, or “Jewitchery”, and atheist witches who practice magic but do not follow a deity.

What About Magic?

There are a number of people who consider themselves Witches, but who are not necessarily Wiccan or even Pagan. Typically, these are people who use the term “eclectic Witch” to apply to themselves. In many cases, Witchcraft is seen as a skill set in addition to or instead of a religious. A Witch may practice magic in a manner completely separate from their spirituality; in other words, one does not have to interact with the Divine to be a Witch.

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.

Walking in a Wiccan Wonderland

Walking in a Wiccan Wonderland

Author:   Janice Van Cleve   

The market is full of all kinds of books on Wicca. They speak of Sabbats and spells, recipes and charms, and a few even go so far as to address correspondences and history. Yet rarely do they really investigate the deeper religion and mindset of Wicca. It is important, therefore, to touch if ever so briefly, on some basic concepts that underpin walking in a Wiccan Wonderland.

The human species, by its inherent nature, seems to have a proclivity for creating religions. There is something about consciousness that wants to connect to the realm of the spirit. Some say that our consciousness remembers a prior existence in a spiritual realm. Others say that our essence is spirit and our consciousness yearns to be freed from its temporary attachment to a material body. Still others say that our consciousness is aware of a spiritual plane beyond the material and that it seeks connection to it. Whatever is the impulse for creating religions, they generally fall into two groups: the supernatural and the natural.

Supernatural religions reach beyond the natural world and fabricate nonsense (literally not of the senses) , which cannot be reached by either sensory or rational means. Supernatural religions are faith based religions because the doctrines they propose often fly in the face of what our senses and reason tell us. The only way one can follow a supernatural religion is by making a leap of faith to believe in things that cannot be proven by natural means. Supernatural religions often propose a deity and a moral code of behavior. They often attempt to encompass the whole universe to answer questions such as creation, the meaning of life, and life after death and base their beliefs on a sacred scripture.

Natural religions, on the other hand, remain solidly rooted in the natural world and they are informed completely by the senses and by mental analysis. Natural religions are experience based because they depend on individual and group experiences. For this reason they are often lacking in doctrines, rigid moral codes, and answers to ineffable questions. Practices and concepts that are similar or held in common are most often based upon mutual agreement rather than upon strict hierarchical demands by some authority.

Natural religions by and large tolerate diversity because they see diversity all around them in nature and they understand that each person’s experience of nature is different. Supernatural religions, on the other hand, generally do not tolerate diversity because faith in one belief is by definition “one size fits all”. It is for this reason that supernatural religions are driven to proselytize or persecute while natural religions live and let live.

The caveat should be made here that assigning specific religions totally to either the supernatural or the natural category from their beginnings to the present day would be stretching the point. Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Pagans, and a host of other religions and philosophies have displayed aspects of both categories through history, sometimes even simultaneously. However, as a generalization, understanding these two groupings is a helpful heuristic is finding the Wiccan Wonderland.

Wicca is a branch of Western European Paganism, which is a natural religion. The word “Wicca” is an Anglo-Saxon word meaning wisdom. Wiccans or witches (both come from the same root) are the wise ones. They study and explore and experience nature to develop their knowledge. They may specialize in herb lore, astrology, spells, counseling, science, philosophy, or any other branch of knowledge. That is why Wicca is sometimes called “The Craft.” It is a learned body of knowledge and skills.

Wiccans do not “believe” in their religion. They work at it and learn it until they know it. The more obscure questions of creation, the meaning of life, etc., are well outside the Wiccan experience and they are generally content to leave them there and not to offer any hypotheses about them.

One part, therefore, of walking in a Wiccan Wonderland is the constant thirst for knowledge. For this reason Wiccans are not called “the chosen people”, “the elect”, or “the saved”. Rather they are called “seekers” because they continue to seek for knowledge and to perfect their skills. Some find satisfaction in accumulating this knowledge for its own sake or in teaching it; but for many Wiccans, the purpose of knowledge and skills is to use them.

Knowledge helps us make informed choices. Living by choice is a significant part of walking in a Wiccan Wonderland. It is amazing how many things over which we really have a choice once we think about it.

For example: Nobody makes us happy or makes us sad. These reactions are how we choose to respond to a situation. Likewise we don’t have to go to this meeting or that party, eat up all our food, or send a card for a birthday or buy a gift. We can choose not to do these things. All the social rules of etiquette and manners, as well as ethics and morals, are culturally learned behaviors. A Wiccan’s only guide, besides her own experience, is the Wiccan Law, which is variously expressed as “And ye harm none, do what ye will.”

This does not, to be sure, give Wiccans free license to run riot. Choice bears consequences. We are free to choose not to go in to the office, but the boss is then empowered by our choice to fire us. We are free to drive over the speed limit, but the officer is then empowered by our choice to pull us over. We learn from our mistakes and add the knowledge gained to our experience. Of course we don’t have to reinvent the wheel by learning everything from personal experience. More often than not, we choose to go along with laws, manners, and other culturally learned behaviors because these are usually the result of the learned experience of others or they make rational sense.

As children parents and peers, pastors and professors condition us, to follow a whole laundry list of rules. Later as we grow up and are exposed to a broader set of experiences, we begin to question some of the things we were taught and we begin to make up our own minds. When we decide that something we were taught is not true or no longer serves us, we intentionally get rid of it.

Conversely, when we figure out something new that does seem to serve us, we intentionally adopt it. By the same token, when a Wiccan finds a practical application of Wicca in her life that suits her needs, she dumps old mindsets and habits that get in the way and adopts the new application.

One of the basic new applications made by Wiccans is the rearrangement of time. Time is an artificial construct. Hours, days, and months are completely arbitrary. The natural structure of time is the seasons. So another part of walking in a Wiccan Wonderland is structuring our lives around the seasonal calendar.

This is a tough one because schools, jobs, and modern social institutions are formed around measuring time by clocks and Gregorian calendars. But let’s think about it. The most holy Christian holiday is Easter but Roman and Orthodox Catholics celebrate it on two different days. The Jews have Yom Kippur, Hanukkah, Passover and a whole host of other holidays that the mainstream does not. Professions have their own calendars, too.

Politicians follow three seasons of the year – legislating, blaming, and fund raising. Accountants have four seasons, which correspond to their quarterly reports. If all these people can rearrange time according to their needs, certainly Wiccans can organize their time around the eight Sabbats of the year.

If a Wiccan seriously applies the eight Sabbats to her daily life, she goes a long way toward walking in a Wiccan Wonderland. The eight Sabbats occur in the natural world. We feel the quickening of spring at Candlemas and we see the daffodils at Spring Equinox. We know the warming of Beltane in our hearts and all around us. We experience the long light of Summer Solstice, the late summer flowers at Lammas, and the falling leaves at Autumn Equinox. At Samhain we feel the nip and chill of winter and at Winter Solstice we rest in quiet peace – to the degree we can escape the commercial madness artificially created by the American material culture around us.

The natural seasons reflect the accomplishment of our wills – our intentions. We set our intentions each year at Candlemas. Through the year, we grow in our enjoyment of life, our appreciation of new sensations, filling our seeking with new knowledge, and intentionally pursuing our goals. Then in autumn we take stock, fulfill our debts, forgive our injuries, and look back in satisfaction at what we accomplished even if we did not complete all the grand plans we made.

Then at Samhain we release it all. We die. We surrender to the inevitable ending of all things. We close the book. We put away the score sheet. That tally is done. We empty ourselves and become completely free. In winter we lie in quiet and peace, carrying no baggage from the past nor imposing any requirements on the future. We don’t have to. We know – as opposed to having faith – we know as Wiccans that we will be reborn and that new possibilities and opportunities await us when Candlemas comes round again. We know that we will grow in the Craft from new knowledge and new skills.

Christians speak of new life, new zest, and new possibilities when they are “born again” – and they only get born again once! We Pagans get to do it every year!

Wiccans bring home this cycle of the year with daily prayer. Daily prayer is key to walking in a Wiccan Wonderland. We begin by grounding and centering ourselves in alignment with the four elementals – Air, Fire, Water, and Earth – and their corresponding directions – East, South, West, and North. This in itself is a powerful renewing and rewarding practice. It is a statement that we are here and we know where we are. It is a statement that we intentionally take a position in the spiritual realm and in that position we claim access to the forces of spirit that operate there.

After grounding and centering, it is useful to express first gratitude for the blessings and accomplishments appropriate to that direction. For example, I am a writer. I thank the East for any writing I accomplished the day before, for ideas that popped into my head, for emails that I wrote, letters to the editor or to legislatures that I sent. In the South, I express gratitude for the instances in which I showed courage, where I stood my ground, or for journeys I made safely. In the West, I am thankful for friends and relationships, for a date the night before, and for nice things people have said to me. In the North, I am thankful for healing of the various aches and pains that my aging body seems to acquire in increasing frequency, for money that has come to me, and for the material things that provide me comfort and enjoyment. Many of these thank you’s are for things I asked for in prayers the day before. After thanking, I ask for things I want this day. Asking – receiving – thanking is a daily loop that helps me remain conscious of the spirit realm while I am working in this material realm. This daily loop also replicates in a micro way the macro pattern of the seasons.

In conclusion, walking in a Wiccan Wonderland can be summarized as living intentionally, full in the knowledge of who we are, of what we want, of what we’re doing, and of what is happening around us. Walking in a Wiccan Wonderland is making conscious choices and taking full responsibility for them. It is a land of ever renewing seasons – ever knowing, ever growing, ever changing, ever lasting.

Blessed Be!

The Origin of Magick

The Origin of Magick

Author:   Crick   

Have you ever wondered about the origins of magick?
By magick I am not referring to the stage tricks employed by various entertainers for our amusement, but rather the energy which numerous cultures and belief systems have tapped into in order to manifest their various objectives.

This universal gift is known by many different names depending on which culture/belief system one looks at. It may be known simply as magick, prayers, miracles, life force, juju, karma and so forth.
For the purpose of this article it will be referred to as energy.

Have you ever wondered if such energy was a latent presence here on earth prior to the arrival of humankind? Residing here as an ancient primordial force, which was patiently waiting for sentient beings to discover its presence and purpose.

And if it was here prior to the arrival of human beings, did it serve an active purpose in the shaping of life and/or the creation of events that allowed for said life to begin? Was this primordial energy an essence that was introduced by Deity by way of a direct involvement with what we know as life? Or was it a side effect that formed as a result of actions taken by Deity during the course of said activities?

Or perhaps it is a development that manifested itself with the advent of humans? Could it be that the life force that we know as spirit introduced this energy into the life process in order to provide us with opportunities to expand our spiritual awareness and/or connection with alternate realms?

And if this is the case, why do you suppose that such a tool for growth and/or communication is so under utilized?

I say this because in society today, folks tend to become less connected with the world around them and more absorbed with the part of the self that is influenced by the individual ego.

And if this is a tool for growth and communication, why is it that those folks who actually use this energy for this purpose are spurned and looked upon with suspicion and in many cases with outright disdain by others in society? Witchcraft in essence, embodies the concepts and principals in the use of such energy.

And yet the word “witch” brings out and runs the gauntlet of emotions and perceptions of humanity as a whole. And depending on which side of the fence one stands, a witch is either an evil and vile creature or a person who is in touch with and resonates with the universal energies of which magick is a major part of.

Where does this fear of the unknown come from?

Was the ego installed into our souls as a balance to such a powerful tool? Has the balance shifted too far to one side of our souls?

As humans we readily employ magick in our various endeavors, but do we really understand its origins and what exactly is that we are using as a tool? Could the ego be a safety mechanism that has been allowed for whatever reasons, to exceed its purpose?

In some cultures, magick known as prayers is used as a means of communication with Deity. Does magick have but one specific intended use? And if so, are all other uses of such energy but an abuse of its original intended use?

Within these same cultures, when an event that is normally beyond the capacity of mere mortals, occurs, it is called a miracle.

Are these so called miracles really but a form of the same energy that others would call magick? Can we as humans in fact manifest these miracles by employing this energy? Or should such manifestations be the sole province of deity?

And while we are on the subject, does this energy have a shelf life?

Does it become stronger with use, opening even more avenues of discovery and power as one venture along the path, or does it weaken from non-use and/or the cultural disbelief in such a power?

Or is it simply a neutral tool offered by the powers to be, with many different attachments waiting to be realized by humanity.

Regardless of what name we call this energy or by what concept we use to identify with it, this gift has surpassed all boundaries of cultural, religious and societal beliefs. It is found in all aspects and fiber of this existence that we call life. It is a dominant force, often in a passive way, in basically everything that we do as humans. As such we may most likely only achieve but a peripheral understanding of such a complicated and diverse force.

Perhaps one day when we become as one with deity, a more comprehensive understanding of such a gift will be made known to us. But until such a revelation is proffered by the powers that be, we should always strive to understand as much as we are able to in order to effectively use such energy in a way that is both constructive and meaningful to our personal lives and not only our personal lives but to those around us as well.

As members of a diverse community, we have a responsibility to contribute to the health and well being of our community. Because of the diversity of society, there will always be divergent views as to what this energy is or in how it is to be used. But at the end of the day, how we use such energy is still an individual decision.

There are certain pagans, in particular Wiccans, who believe that whatever energy is sent out will return to the originator threefold.
As a traditional witch, I personally am not so sure that such a transfer is so cut and dry, but in general such a concept is a good yardstick or learning curve to adhere to.

I personally do not consider myself a master for I do not believe in such a being outside of deity. Rather I am a student of life with lots of questions. For without such questions there are no answers.
And quite frankly I don’t have answers to many of the questions that I have asked here. What few answers I may have are based upon my personal life experiences.

As pagans we are each individual and thus should answer such questions as they pertain to each person in regards to ones own beliefs and practices…

How To Honor the Ancestors at Samhain

How To Honor the Ancestors at Samhain

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Many Wiccans and Pagans choose Samhain as a night to honor their ancestors.

For many modern Pagans and Wiccans, there has been a resurgence of interest in our family histories. We want to know where we came from and whose blood runs through our veins. Although ancestor worship has traditionally been found more in Africa and Asia, many Pagans with European heritage are beginning to feel the call of their ancestry. This rite can be performed either by itself, or on the third night of Samhain, following the End of Harvest celebration and the Honoring of the Animals.

Here’s How:

  1. First, decorate your altar table — you may have already gotten it set up during the End of Harvest rite or for the Ritual for Animals. Decorate your altar with family photos and heirlooms. If you have a family tree chart, place that on there as well. Add postcards, flags, and other symbols of the country your ancestors came from. If you’re lucky enough to live near where your family members are buried, make a grave rubbing and add that as well. In this case, a cluttered altar is perfectly acceptable — after all, each of us is a blend of many different people and cultures.
  2. Have a meal standing by to eat with the ritual. Include lots of dark bread, apples, fall vegetables, and a jug of cider or wine. Set your dinner table, with a place for each family member, and one extra plate for the ancestors. You may want to bake some Soul Cakes.

    If your family has household guardians, include statues or masks of them on your altar. Finally, if a relative has died this year, place a candle for them on the altar. Light candles for other relatives, and as you do so, say the person’s name aloud. It’s a good idea to use tealights for this, particularly if you have a lot of relatives to honor.

     

  3. Once all the candles have been lit, the entire family should circle the altar. The oldest adult present leads the ritual. Say:

    This is the night when the gateway between our world and the spirit world is thinnest. Tonight is a night to call out those who came before us. Tonight we honor our ancestors. Spirits of our ancestors, we call to you, and we welcome you to join us for this night. We know you watch over us always, protecting us and guiding us, and tonight we thank you. We invite you to join us and share our meal.

  4. The oldest family member then serves everyone else a helping of whatever dishes have been prepared, except for the wine or cider. A serving of each food goes on the ancestors’ plate before the other family members recieve it. During the meal, share stories of ancestors who are no longer among the living — this is the time to remember Grandpa’s war stories he told you as a child, tell about  when Aunt Millie used salt instead of sugar in the cake, or reminisce about summers spent at the family homestead in the mountains.
  5. When everyone has finished eating, clear away all the dishes, except for the ancestors’ plate. Pour the cider or wine in a cup, and pass it around the circle (it should end at the ancestor’s place). As each person recieves the cup, they recite their genealogy, like so:

    I am Susan, daughter of Joyce, the daughter of Malcolm, son of Jonathan…

    and so forth. Feel free to add in place names if you like, but be sure to include at least one generation that is deceased. For younger family members, you may wish to have them only recite back to their grandparents, just because otherwise they can get confused.

  6. Go back as many generations as you can, or (in the case of people who have done a lot of genealogy research) as many as you can remember. You may be able to trace your family back to William the Conqueror, but that doesn’t mean you have it memorized. After each person recites their ancestry, they drink from the cider cup and pass it to the next person.
  7. A quick note here — many people are adopted. If you are one them, you are fortunate enough to be able to choose whether you wish to honor your adoptive family, your biological family, or a combination of the two. If you don’t know the names of your birth parents or their ancestry, there’s nothing wrong with saying, “Daughter of a family unknown.” It’s entirely up to you. The spirits of your ancestors know who you are, even if you don’t know them yet.
  8. After the cup has made its way around the table, place it in front of the ancestors’ plate. This time, a younger person in the family takes over, saying:

    This is the cup of remembrance. We remember all of you. You are dead but never forgotten, and you live on within us. 

    Take some time to meditate on the value of family, how fortunate we are to be able to know the connections of kin and clan, and the value of heritage. If your family has a tradition of music or folktales, share those as a way to wrap up the ritual. Otherwise, allow the candles to burn out on their own. Leave the plate and cup on the altar overnight.

Tips:

  1. If you didn’t do a separate ritual for animals, you can add photos and candles for deceased pets to your family altar.
  2. If you like, you may wish to follow this ritual with a Seance.

What You Need

  • Items to represent your family members
  • A meal to eat
  • A cup of cider or wine to drink
  • Candles