Wicca And Witchcraft-Pagan Holiday Recipes-Magic Spells-Covens-Correspondences
Wicca is a pagan religion containing traditions of England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.
For two thousand years the image of the Witch has been associated with evil, heathenism, and blasphemy. These ideas have their origin in Christian myths created to convert members of the Old Religion to that of the new, Christianity. By making the Witch into a diabolical character of ill intent and action, the Christian missionaries were able to attach fear to a word that had once meant HEALER, WISE ONE, and SEER. These fears are present to this day. When we think of the archetypal image of the Witch, we remember the evil enchantress of childhood tales. We think of an old, wrinkled hag with a nasty wart on her nose. We think of hexes, and devils, and foul incantations chanted around a bubbling cauldron. While the modern witches have been known to stir up herbal remedies in a cauldron, we are a far cry indeed from the horrifying Wicked Witch of the West!
Witches Do Not Worship Satan. To believe in Satan, one must subscribe to the Christian mythos. Wicca does not have any belief in, nor do we worship a concept of evil incarnate. All life is perceived as a constant flow of positive and negative energies, which intertwine to create the balance of life.
Immanent Divinity. Wiccans believe that the spirit of God/dess exists in every living thing: in the trees, the rain, the flowers, the sea, and in each other. This means that we must treat our peers, and all the beings of the Earth as aspects of the Divine. Wiccans honour and respect life, in all its many and diverse expressions.
Nature. Wiccans learn from and worship nature by celebrating the cycles of the sun, and the cycles of the moon. Wiccans look inward for the cycles within that correspond to those of the natural world, and try to move in harmony with the movement of life. Teachers come in the form of trees, rivers, lakes, meadows, and mountains, as well as other humans who have walked the path before. This belief infers a reverence and respect for the environment, and all of life upon the Earth. Wiccans revere the spirits of the elements that create our world. Air, Fire, Water, and Earth combine to manifest all creation. From these four elements they gain wisdom, and understanding of how the universe unfolds. The rhythms of nature are the rhythms of our lives. Wiccans attempt to dance in step with the pulse of the Earth.
Other Faiths. Modern Witches believe in freedom first ! They do not choose to look at our path as the 'one true right way,' but as one path among many to the center. They do not convert new members to the Craft, nor do they advertise or prosteletize. They believe that anyone who is meant for this path will find it through their own search. Wiccans practice tolerance and acceptance toward all other religions, as long as those faiths do not preach or commit harm to others.
Afterlife. Most Witches believe in reincarnation of some sort, whether it be the Eastern version known as the Transmigration of Souls (the spirit incarnating one body after another in an effort to learn all the life lessons that it can), or Ancestral Incarnation (where the spirit and life lessons of the grandfather transmute to the granddaughter, and so on down the genetic line). The latter is a more traditionally Celtic approach, but both are accepted.
Sin. Wiccans do not have a specific concept of sin. There is no heaven or hell that souls will go to based on their worldly actions. Wrong-doing is governed and determined by the individual conscience. With the belief in the Law of Return, and loosely karma, one's actions will determine one's future. The individual is therefore responsible for his or her own fate, based on what he or she chooses to do internally and externally in the world.
Karma - the force generated by a person's actions held to perpetuate transmigration and in its ethical consequences to determine the nature of the person's next existence
Dharma - the basic principles of cosmic or individual existence
Samsara - The continuous cycle of life, death and rebirth
For example in a football game:
People have their place in a game, this can be equated to dharma. At the end of the game the coach sees how well, or poorly, someone has done, This is similar to karma. In the next game,the player goes through this cycle again. This is like samasara.
Ethics. Wicca has but one law of action and ethics. It is called the Wiccan Rede or the Wiccan Law, 'And ye harm none' covers almost everything that the Ten Commandments do: don't lie, don't steal, don't cheat, etc. It encourages us to strive not to harm any living thing - including ourselves - except perhaps to survive. Whether this means that you must become a vegetarian or a passivist is up to the individual. The Wiccan Law serves as a guideline to action, not a mandate. The only law that the Ten Commandments express that is not covered by the Wiccan Law is that of marriage and adultery. In Wicca, love itself is sanctified, with or without government authorization. As long as two individuals share a sincere bond of love that does not harm either party, it does not matter if they are legally joined, if they are heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or interracial.
Leadership vs. Hierarchy. There is no Arch Bishop of Wicca. There is no one person or organization that determines the practices and beliefs of Wicca as a whole. Instead, Wicca is formed of small nebulas groups and solitaries who are charged with the leadership of themselves. Wicca is a religion of clergy, not followers. Each person who seriously pursues the Craft, whether it be through study in a particular tradition, or through self-teaching and private learning, has the choice to become a priest or priestess of Wicca. Most modern traditions of Wicca offer a three year program of learning that will bring the student to the level of High Priest or Priestess. [the word High Priest/ess means servant; one who serves the God, the Goddess, the community, nature, and Life. It does not mean that a High Priestess is higher or better than anyone else. ]
Churches and Temples. Wiccans do not usually have churches created specifically for the worship of the gods. The temple is found in nature, among the creations of the divine. Wiccans meet in a circle that represents the Circle of Life, and equality. There is no head, no top, no beginning and no end. When necessary, circles take place indoors in houses, apartments, or wherever a sacred, protected space can be found. But ideally, a circle will take place in a grove beneath the stars, with the silver moon shining down from above.
Magic. Witches believe in the power of magic to create change. A prominent Wiccan author named Starhawk defines magic as 'the art of changing consciousness at will.' Aleister Crowley as the 'art and science of causing change in accordance with the Will.' And last, but not least, Moshe Idel 'drawing down of the divine effluence for the benefit of the community.' Wiccans use herbs, oils, colors, stones, crystals, and other symbolic materials to represent the change they wish to create. Wiccans believe that the individual is responsible for his or her own reality. If there is something that is not healthy, or conducive to happiness and growth, they have the power to change it. As aspects of the divine, they are each Creator and Creatress, filled with the power to manifest all that we dream of or desire.
Principles of Belief
The council of American Witches finds it necessary to define modern Witchcraft in terms of the American experience and needs.
Paganism has been around and alive since the beginning of time. Documentation of magic and witchcraft exists even in the oldest texts. Numerous cave drawings all over the world depict symbols of the gods and goddesses worshipped throughout history. Paganism is the oldest form of religion.
The devil is an anti-Pagan propaganda device invented by the Christian church. He (or, more appropriately, "it") had never existed in written literature prior to the New Testament. The Craft is a pre- Christian religion which has been around much longer than the church or its concept of satan, who was never worshipped as a deity of the Old Religion. The devil is strictly a part of the Christian belief system, not the Nature-loving earth religion of Wicca. However, we do acknowledge the light and the dark sides of things, including religions.
There are also some very special Wiccan Holidays that are celebrated throughout the year. These holidays represent the honoring of The God and The Goddess, and the cycle of Nature.
Witches have an inseparable partnership to Mother Earth and celebrate Her turns of the wheel as Sabbats and Esbats. The Wheel of the Year marks the Sun's journey across the sky, the solstices, equinoxes and the Earth's changing seasons. Each spoke of the wheel marks an important moment of progression and change in the Earth. Witches will celebrate the holiday starting the day before until the day after the sabbath date.
The Wiccan religious calendar contains 13 Full Moon celebrations and 8 Sabbats or days of power. The Sabbats are solar rituals, marking the points of the Sun’s yearly cycle, and are but half of the Wiccan ritual year. The Esbats are the Wiccan Full Moon celebrations. There are 12-13 Full Moons yearly, or one every 28 1/4 days. The Moon is a symbol of the Goddess as well as a source of energy. Thus, after the religious aspects of the Esbats, Wiccans often practice magic, tapping into the larger amounts of energy which are thought to exist at these times. Most rites are held at night. The eight Sabbats represent seasonal birth, death, and rebirth.
Witchcraft is recognized in the United States and in at least some parts of Canada as a legitimate religion. In I985, Dettmer v. Landon, the District Court of Virginia pursuant to rule 52 (a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, ruled that Witchcraft falls within a recognizable religious category and therefore is protected by the Constitution. I'm sure it is also recognized in other countries as well. Also, check out The U.S. Armed Forces Chaplain's Handbook section on Wicca.
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