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What is Wicca?

Education
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Athena Druid57

Wicca is a religion. Wicca is a way of understanding and interacting with Deity and the Universe. It is a life-affirming path of growth and expansion.

Wicca is not primarily about magic, though it does use it. Wicca is about your place in the Universe and your evolution as a spiritual being. Wicca is about moving forward on your personal spiritual journey and about learning, growing, and becoming the most you can be.

Wicca is based on reverence for Nature and Her cycles, respect for the Earth and all Her creatures. Wicca reveres the natural forces of the Universe and sees them reflected in the world around us, and in every person and thing.

Wicca has great reverence for Deity, Who for us has both a Mother and a Father aspect. Wiccans approach Deity through many names and forms, both masculine and feminine, drawn from all over the world and from every age. We often compare Deity to a diamond with many facets; each name or image for Deity is like one facet on the diamond. Each facet may be considered separately and all are beautiful in themselves, but all are aspects of the single stone.

Wicca believes that Deity comes to each person in the way that is best understood by that person, and that this is different for different people. Wicca believes that the relationship between a person and Deity is highly individual, personal, and subjective. Not everyone will have the same understanding of Deity, because not everyone is in the same place, or able to understand from the same level or perspective. Because of this no one has a right to judge another persons relationship with Deity, because each person is different.

This is why we respect all the names and forms that have been used to honor Deity through the centuries -Deity needs them all in order to come to all people in the way they can best understand.

The most common way for Wiccans to approach Deity is in the form of the TRIPLE GODDESS, Whose three forms are Maiden, Mother, and Crone, and whose symbol is the Moon. Her consort is THE GOD, Who rules the cycles of the solar year and is called among other things Lord of the Dance. His symbol is the Sun. They are viewed as POLARITIES, opposing but complimentary powers, like the Eastern concept of Yin and Yang.

Wicca has a very strong moral base. By “moral” we mean treating each other in an honorable and loving manner. Wicca has only one law which all traditions agree on: DO AS YE WILL, BUT HARM YE NONE. In other words how you dress and who you sleep with is not our business -those issues are not what we mean by “morality.” But a moral person doesn’t hurt other people, and this is the criteria for all moral action; “Am I harming anyone?” If you are, you are acting wrongly.

Wicca is a Pagan, or Native, religion. The word Pagan means “country dweller” and reflects the fact that Pagans follow indigenous, native religions rather than the Book religions. Pagan religions are built up over millennia as a result of people’s observations and experiences. They are living, growing religions that can and do change when change is needed. Pagan religions revere the natural forces and cycles of life, and it is from observation and interaction with these that their beliefs developed.

Wicca is wholly unrelated to the Book religions; Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Satanism. The Book religions have a totally separate origin from the Pagan religions, and a very different history.

So let’s consider just what Witchcraft & Paganism are! Over the centuries the Christians have used the word “pagan” in the same way that Jews use the word “gentile”; to mean everybody else. This is highly misleading because only a tiny minority of non-Christians are actually Pagans. A Pagan is a follower of one of the many nature and fertility religions, which exist or have existed worldwide. Witches worship the same One God as everybody else. However they tend to subdivide this one Godhead into a number of specific Gods and Goddesses, each showing a different face or aspect of the One God. This is for easy reference and convenience, after all God is a huge concept for the frail human mind to comprehend. Pagans seek God by attuning to the elements of creation- Nature. Witchcraft is one of the Pagan religions. Often the terms Wiccan and Witch and interchangeable but technically Wicca refers to the “practice” of a witchcraft based belief system, usually with ritual components.

The followers of Wicca, both male and female, are “witches”. Note, the word warlock does not mean a male witch but rather an “oath breaker”. The actual origin of this word is from Christianity and was meant as an insult to a nonbeliever.

BEGINNINGS

So how did Paganism begin? Of course nobody knows for certain but the answer clearly lies in our far distant past. Just imagine early men and women, starting to become consciously aware of themselves and their environment. Imagine them looking up at the night sky and feeling awe. Imagine them realizing that the herds they hunted moved in seasonal cycles and reasoning that these very seasons were the givers and takers of all that was good. It must have been a short jump for them to start praying to the Earth Mother and the Sky Father.

If you are interested in the details of human evolution there are many good books available on the subject. For our purposes let’s just take the briefest look. Everybody has heard of the Neanderthals. They are a now extinct subspecies of human beings that lived roughly from one million to about ten thousand years ago. They are not our ancestors but rather our cousins. About one million years ago we had a common ancestor. No fossil records have been found to tell us precisely what this early human looked like. We know what Homo Erectus and Homo Habalis were like, but they were several million years earlier.

So to get a rough idea of what our ancestors were like we need to look at our cousin Homo Sapiens Neanderthalus. We tend to think of them as short, muscular, dim witted, ape like people. This may or may not be true. The Scientists’ own prejudices probably colored their interpretation of the evidence. One thing we know for certain is that Neanderthals had much larger brains that we do. As their body weight was not proportionally greater we should conclude that they were MORE intelligent than we are. But of course it all depends on your definition of “intelligence”.

We know their brains were a different shape than ours, all at the back with hardly any frontal lobe. So we must deduce that their intelligence, although great, was geared in different directions. If you want to read up on this in more detail there are lots of books available on brain design, frontal lobes, the cerebral cortex etc.

The point I want you to grasp now is that they (and probably our own ancestors too) had very powerful primitive brains. Now it has been suggested by those who have studied the subject that they would have been incapable of performing many of the tasks that modern people take for granted such as mental arithmetic and abstract thought. If you were a “dim witted Neanderthal” and you were presented with a technological marvel (such as a cart with wheels being drawn by oxen) you would call it “magic”.

I am going to speculate that they could do things with their larger brains that we would call “magic” today! And they would have taken such things for granted. A very interesting book that explores this idea in a fictional way is Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel (Hodder & Stoughton – 1980).

Great! Fantastic for them! But so what? They are all dead and we don’t have their large brains. True, but there is still one thing in our favor. Although our brains are smaller they have not lost all of the primitive architecture. The new, modern configuration has not replaced the Old Magical Brain, but has been ADDED TO IT! We still retain a remnant of that magical brain, the cerebellum, and it can be reactivated. One researcher who has done a lot of work on this is Stan Gooch. Modern New Age thought tends to convey the idea that we humans started as primitive animals and are gradually evolving into gods. However it may be closer to the truth to say that as we have become more “intelligent” we have become less godlike. We have lost most of our animal instinct, our intuitive faculties. In many ways animals seem more like gods than we do. Maybe this was the original meaning of the old “Garden of Eden” myth.

But we can have the best of both worlds. We are intelligent and well educated. We know how to operate all kinds of hi tech equipment such as computers. And we can also learn to use a much older, yet even more powerful machine, our magical, spiritual old brains.

This course will teach you how to gradually reawaken this primitive and very powerful part of your brain. We will do this through ritual, through meditation, through seasonal celebrations, through dancing and drumming, and in a multitude of other ways.

There are a lot of rubbish books on the market at the moment claiming to teach people how to perform magic without all the “silly old mumbo jumbo”. The problem with this approach is that most students need to learn the mumbo jumbo; all the wand waving stuff; at least in the beginning. For most aspiring occultists it is absolutely essential for success. Magic is performed by the Old Brain and the mumbo jumbo is a trick we use to gain access to it.

When an experienced occultist wants to get something done, he or she just sees the thing complete and finished in his mind, and it is so. When you write a letter you just get out a piece of plain paper and start writing, but when you were a child you had to learn to write using specially ruled paper to teach you the proportions of the letters. It was the same for the Witch or Occultist. In the beginning he had to learn all the mumbo jumbo just as you will learn it in this course. In this course we are not going to cut any corners. We are going to teach you properly, so that you can enjoy real results and be able to not only do your own rituals and spells but also write them.

During the next few weeks and months you will learn to perform the rituals with all the wands, ritual swords, incense, colored candles; in fact the whole paraphernalia that is necessary to persuade the Old Brain to do its magic for you. After a (long?) while you will progress to the second stage of your training and learn to do all the above entirely in your own head. Some time later some of you will, through much practice, move on to stage three, just see the thing done and it is. Some students progress to this stage easily and naturally, while others will never reach that stage in this lifetime. It really doesn’t matter. You will start to see changes occurring in your life from the time you perform your very first Craft Ritual. Just let yourself progress at your own pace and through this primitive power you really can have everything you want in life. Some students ask “isn’t this primitive power dangerous? Isn’t that why more modern religions call it evil?”

NO! It is no more evil or dangerous than electricity. If handled without proper training it can be very dangerous!

Through this course you will receive the proper training. When you have mastered these lessons you will no more wish to live without the power than you would wish to live without electricity.

DIFFERENT PATHS

There are many different types of Pagan living around the world. In the Southern hemisphere Indigenous Australians, Indigenous South Americans, and a handful of African tribes still follow their old traditions. In the Northern hemisphere Native Americans continue to follow their traditional Shamanistic religion while other countries such as Russia also have a strong pagan tradition. There has also been much interest in the way of the shaman by modern western peoples worldwide.

There is currently a strong revival of the Druid tradition. The Druids were originally the priesthood of the Celtic peoples. They follow the same seasonal ritual calendar that we do and know much of Earth & Natural Magic. Trees are their special interest.

The other main Pagan tradition practiced in modern society is WICCA. Wicca has also been called Witchcraft and the Old Religion. Wicca is a shortened form of the Old English Wiccacraft. Its roots go back further than anybody knows, but probably grew out of Druidism two or three thousand years ago. Wicca is the Anglo-Saxon word for witch. Another possibility is that Wicca and Druidism existed side by side for a very long time. As both were oral rather than written traditions it is impossible to know for certain. Also as the two traditions have such similar beliefs the divisions may be quite arbitrary.

Wicca is an integral part of the Western Pagan Tradition. Over the centuries it has spread all around Europe, Australia and America as well as many other parts of the globe.

Both Wicca & Druidism were heavily persecuted by the Romans as they marched northward through Europe. The Druids were treated extremely harshly; in fact no Druid was permitted to live! As a result their tradition was almost totally wiped out.

Witches on the other hand fared somewhat better. They were driven underground but never completely destroyed. Covens have always existed, worshiping the old gods and goddesses in secret. It is true that modern Wicca is also the result of a revival movement, and that much of what we know or believe of our past comes from non-traditional sources. But we have always had a thin thread of continuity from earlier times.

Just as Wicca is one of many forms of Paganism, so there are different paths within Wicca. Groups that can trace a direct, unbroken line back to ancient times are known as “Traditional” or “Hereditary”. Traditional groups still tend to be extremely secretive and do not usually recognize other Wiccan paths.

MODERN WITCHCRAFT

Back in the 1950’s one man who claimed to have studied in a Traditional coven went public, writing two very open *fictional* books (Modern Witchcraft, Rider, London, 1954 and Witchcraft Today, Rider, London, 1957). He later published his Book of Shadows in collaboration with Doreen Valiente. His name was Gerald Gardner and covens that follow the revivalist movement he started call themselves “Gardnerian”.

In the 1960’s Alex Saunders and his wife Maxine broke away from their Gardnerian coven surrounded by much controversy and bad feeling. The result of this split was the Alexandrian tradition, with its more elaborate forms of ritual. Some of the other paths include Algard, Celtic, Dianic (also known as Feminist), Frost Wicca, Hasidic, Seax Wicca and Web of Life Wicca. There are other forms too, mostly in the United States where all religious groups can register as a “church” and receive tax advantages. This has led to much more openness than here in Australia.

The form of Witchcraft taught in this course is predominately Traditional Wicca, and is based on the southern hemisphere, but can be adapted easily to Northern Hemisphere. My ways of teaching Wicca grew from the handed down teachings of an elder of Old Traditional Wicca. As far as possible I teach the Old Ways. One big difference is in the attitude to the sexes. Some other paths put the female principle above the male. We treat them both as entirely equal in all ways. Different of course, but equal. This also means the God is equal to the Goddess.

Wicca is a path for both individualists, and groups. Basically we are free thinkers. In Wicca and in Paganism generally THERE IS NO DOGMA! We do not believe that our way is the only way. Reality is too complex to be confined in a straitjacket of simplistic rules and dogma. All paths lead to the center. There are as many forms of Witchcraft as there are Witches and the various groupings are fairly arbitrary. We each know from experience that our path works. And we know from other witches that their paths work too! Wicca is a reconstruction of the Nature worship of tribal Europe, strongly influenced by the living Nature worship traditions of tribal peoples in other parts of the world. The works of such early twentieth century writers as Margaret Murray, Robert Graves and Gerald B. Gardner began the renewal of interest in the Old Religion.

After the repeal of the anti-Witchcraft laws in Britain in 1951, Gardner publicly declared himself a Witch and began to gather a group of students and worshipers. In 1962, two of his students, Raymond and Rosemary Buckland (religious names: Lady Rowen and Robat), immigrated to the United States and began teaching Gardnerian Witchcraft there. At the same time, other groups of people came interested through reading books by Gardner and others.

Many covens were spontaneously formed, using rituals created from a combination of research and individual inspiration. These self-created covens are today regarded as just as valid as those who can trace a “lineage” of teaching back to England. In 1975, a very diverse group of covens who wanted to secure protections and benefits of church status formed Covenant of the Goddess (CoG), which is incorporated in the state of California and recognized by the Internal Revenue Service. CoG does not represent all, or even a majority of Wiccans. A coven or an individual need not be affiliated with CoG in order to validly practice the religion. But CoG is the largest single public Wiccan organization, and it is cross-Traditional ( i.e. non-denominational).

BASIC BELIEFS

Wiccans worship the sacred as immanent in Nature, often personified as Mother Earth and Father Sky. As polytheists, they may use many other names for Deity. Individuals will often choose Goddesses or Gods from any of the world’s pantheons whose stories are particularly inspiring and use those Deities as a focus for personal devotions. Similarly, covens will use particular Deity names as a group focus, and these are often held secret by the groups.

Most Wiccan groups also practice magic, by which they mean the direction and use of “psychic energy,” those natural but invisible forces which surround all living things. Some members spell the word with a K, “magic,” to distinguish it from stage magic i.e. sleight of hand entertainments.

 

Wiccans employ such means as dance, chant, creative visualization and hypnosis to focus and direct psychic energy for the purpose of healing, protecting and aiding members in various endeavors. Such assistance is also extended to non-members upon request.

Many, but not all, Wiccans believe in reincarnation. Some take this as a literal description of what happens to people when they die. For others, it is a symbolic model that helps them deal with the cycles and changes within this life. Neither Reincarnation nor any other literal belief can be used as a test of an individual’s validity as a member of the Old Religion.

Most groups have a handwritten collection of rituals and lore, known as a Book of Shadows. Part of the religious education of a new member will be to hand copy this book for him or herself. Over the years, as inspiration provides, new material will be added. Normally, access to these books is limited to initiated members of the religion.

LIVING WICCA

As with any spiritual system, Witchcraft is understood through the knowledge of its parts. Only then can a full and rich spiritual harmony exist. The spirituality of this path is contained within its three foundational parts. With these three characteristics of a Witch’s belief system, the universe unfolds and new knowledge nourishes our daily lives. Use these three manifestations with love in your heart and you will find your life is enriched beyond comprehension.

TABLE OF LIMITLESS POTENTIAL

MAGIC: Opportunity for limitless potential

FAITH – Awareness of limitless potential

WORSHIP – Expression of limitless potential

Worship is the mover and shaker of the group. Worship is the expression through ritual, meditation, communication, dance, love, prayer, and all those things that end up “expressing your deepest beliefs.”

 

You should worship your faith daily. It should be so much a part of you for without it, you are merely a shell, existing on oxygen only. There is no need that you do circles constantly or ritual all the time, but rather to the daily use of the Craft that opens your heart to the experience of the moment. For example, being nice to people, because everyone is a child of the Goddess, or, while driving, learn not to be so warlike while driving – so aggressive. A simple smile to someone you do not know or a polite hello is another form of spirituality and being connected with the Goddess and her children. Allowing people to live their own way without judgment. Judgment is a real problem for a lot of people.

As a devoted and practicing Witch, you use worship to enhance your heartfelt concentration motives and end results. You can feel joy in your heart when you know you are doing all that you can do.

Faith can give you strength, hope, love, responsibility, and joy. These are big pluses in any spiritual growth. The Table of Limitless Potential gives you a sense of really contributing. It forces you to look at life with a smile. If you see each “down time” as an opportunity to learn, then that time will seem less severe. You should try to find something to laugh about daily.

Witchcraft facilities inner growth. Aside from the many things that a novice witch experiences, aside from the Lunar and Solar dances, apart from the herbs and stones of the Mother, and apart from the rich symbolism in ritual and spell, apart from all these things, the Witch must sort out her or his life’s evolvement, need to accept the lessons as they are experienced. We are here for a purpose and that purpose is to learn as much as possible and to find the Harmony of the Goddess/God. If that education requires that we throw out some preconceived thoughts and notions, then so be it. All people will question “humanness” at some point. Witchcraft is a path of questioning. Not all information is available to everyone at once. We cannot just read it in a book or learn it by research alone. Much can be learned this way and should be, but we can only know if something is right for us after we have physically and emotionally absorbed a great deal of information. We expend time and effort reading to get the full understanding. So in Witchcraft, we need to research and learn what we can. The trick is that after we have done our study, we must allow ourselves some time for reflection and absorption. Get to know yourself.

Remember you are responsible for SELF. If you are unhappy about something, change it. Go within to see what is important to you, and what motives you to feel this way.

WALKING THE PATH

There are really no words to express the joy and peace of Witchcraft. We are practitioners of a religion far older than any of the organized faiths better known today. The Goddess/God has been a focus of celebration and life for tens of thousands of years. We recognize the joy of living and the cycles of our lives through the mysteries of She who gave us life. We take pleasure in the Esbats of the Lunar pulse. Talk to the Mother daily, as you would your own earthly Mother. We walk the path seeking knowledge through the light and love of the Lady/Lord. It fills us with joy to know that many other Witches are working together and along toward a more peaceful world – a world of harmony, where children are loved, life is precious, and joy is the order of the day.

The Mother/Father is within all of us, therefore we’re intimately connected. Witches are reflections of the love of the Goddess and with Her help, we will span the distances of time and space to meet once more in Her arms.

In taking these lessons you must understand that you are not just learning some interesting things about magic and witchcraft, you are undertaking a spiritual journey. If you apply the things you are taught and persevere in your studies, it will change you on the deepest levels of your being; you will learn about parts of yourself that you may never have known existed (your Higher Self, your Astral body, your Chakras and your aura, to name only a few), master psychic skills you’ve only read about or seen in movies (clairvoyance, divination, psychometry and many more) and, learn how to use magic to take control of your very Destiny. You will develop strengths you do not now know that you have, and you will in time face your deepest fears; and vanquish them.

Wicca is a path of transformation and growth that will challenge you and lead you to a renewed and enriched existence.

Wicca is about learning to make your own choices, and the Wiccan pathways exist to provide a framework in which to learn and grow. Wicca seeks to open your thinking, not to limit it.

To be a Wiccan is to honor Nature and all that is in Her. To acknowledge the life in all things, and be in harmony with it.

To be a Wiccan is to work with the seen and the unseen. To learn the magical secrets of stones, of plants, and animals – to speak to the faeries and the spirits and to hear their replies.

To be a Wiccan is to use every tool available to grow, to learn, to become the best that you can be. To use magic, meditation, and ritual to overcome all limitations, all fears, all imperfections, and to move always in harmony with Deity, always to the good, always in accordance with your highest self.

This is what it is to be a Wiccan.

If knowing these things you still want to be a Wiccan, then these lessons will help you make a good beginning.

Attune with Nature’ s cycles.

Attune with the Moon’ s cycles.

Attune with the Sun.

Attune to themselves.

Examine and change themselves.

Live harmoniously with nature, our home planet, and the universe.

Fulfill their Karma.

Find the Godhead alive within themselves.

THE WICCAN REDE

Bide within the Law you must, in perfect Love and perfect Trust. Live you must and let to live, fairly take and fairly give.

For tread the Circle thrice about to keep unwelcome spirits out. To bind the spell well every time, let the spell be said in rhyme.

Light of eye and soft of touch speak you little, listen much. Honor the Old Ones in deed and name let love and light be our guides again.

Deosil go by the waxing moon, sing and dance the joyful rune. Tuathail go by the waning moon, chanting out the baneful tune.

When the Lady’s moon is new, kiss the hand to Her times two. When the moon rides at Her peak then your heart’s desire seek.

Heed the South winds mighty gale, lock the door and trim the sail. When the Wind blows from the West, nurture your heart and your nest.

When the wind comes North to south, love will kiss you on the mouth. When the wind whispers from the East, all hearts will find rest and peace.

Nine woods in the Cauldron go, burn them fast and burn them slow. Birch in the fire goes to represent what the Lady knows.

Oak in the forest towers with might, in the fire it brings the God’s insight. Rowan is a tree of power causing life and magic to flower.

Willows at the waterside stand ready to help us to the Summerland. Hawthorn is burned to purify and to draw faerie to your eye.

Hazel-the tree of wisdom and learning adds its strength to the bright fire burning. White are the flowers of Apple tree that brings us fruits of fertility.

Grapes grow upon the vine giving us both joy and wine. Fir does mark the evergreen to represent immortality seen.

Elder is the Lady’s tree burn it not or cursed you’ll be. Four times the Major Sabbats mark in the light and in the dark.

As the old year starts to wane, it’s now Samhain. When the time for Imbolc shows watch for flowers through the snows.

When the wheel begins to turn soon the Beltane fires will burn. As the wheel turns to Lamma night power is brought to magic rite.

Four times the Minor Sabbats fall use the Sun to mark them all. When the wheel has turned to Yule light the log the Horned One rules.

In the spring, when night equals daytime for Ostara to come our way. When the Sun has reached its height time for Oak and Holly to fight.

Harvesting comes to one and all when the Autumn Equinox does fall. Heed the flower, bush, and tree by the Lady blessed you’ll be.

Where the rippling waters go cast a stone, the truth you’ll know. When you have and hold a need, hearken not to others greed.

With a fool no season spend or be counted as his friend. Merry Meet and Merry Part bright the cheeks and warm the heart.

Mind the Three-fold Laws you should three times bad and three times good. When misfortune is enow wear the star upon your brow.

Be true in love this you must do unless your love is false to you.

These Eight words the Rede fulfill:

“An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will”

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