The Wiccan Path is one of initiatory experience. Each step taken upon this path leads towards greater understanding of your own Divine nature, which in turn brings a greater understanding of the natural world and the Divinity that exists around you. By definition, initiation is an act that sets in motion some course of events. In the case of a spiritual pursuit, initiation opens the seeker to embracing their spiritual nature as a support and foundation to their mundane nature. The spiritual path of a Wiccan (Witch) is one filled with the beauty of the natural world and the mystery of the world within each of us. The path leads to the subtle realms of the astral – the far reaches of the cosmos – and the shadows that lay hidden and buried within each of us. We practice the Craft of the Wise, which in ancient times was the gifts of the healers and the seers whose ability to see far and wide and enter so completely into alliance with the physical natural world was depended upon to ensure viable crops, healthy livestock, fertility and a sustainable life for those in whom the wise lived. In ancient times the knowledge was carefully passed in the style of oral tradition, the mysteries given ear to ear hand to hand. Although many of those traditions, rituals and wise ways are lost to the modern practitioner of Wicca, many of the core principles remain, having evolved just as we as a people have evolved, become modernized and have at our fingertips ways of communicating large volumes of information. The information provided in this course of study barely scratches the surface of what is a uniquely complex and diverse spiritual path and that to a large degree can only superficially claim its heritage in the ancient practices of which we truly know so little. Wicca is rooted in the experiential, and is a way of life that is not limited by lack of sacred space, tools or financial resources. From the Wiccan perspective, all of the natural world is sacred space and the greatest tool of working is our physical nature holding the pure essence of each individual’s Divine spirit that is priceless in
Ritual and Celebration
Wiccans use ancient and modern ceremonies, rituals and shamanic practices to attune themselves to the natural rhythms of nature, the world, and the universe as a way to commune with this divine force. In particular, the lives and daily activities of the ancient peoples were very much dependent upon and intertwined with the position of the sun and the agricultural cycles that were dependent upon movement throughout the year. The Witch’s Wheel of the Year is a reflection of those needs. The calling forth of the Light of the newly birthed Sun at the time of the Winter Solstice ensured that there would be a new cycle of planting, sowing and reaping the much needed harvest for continued life.
The Sabbats (Solar Celebrations) of the Wiccan year are eight in number. Four correspond to the astronomical transitions of the equinoxes and the solstices. These are the Vernal (Ostara) and Autumnal Equinoxes (Mabon) and the Winter (Yule) and Summer (Litha) Solstices. The other Four, or cross quarter days are those that mark the time between the equinoxes and solstices. These were the dates of celebration of the progression through the changing of the seasons and the preparations for the times of transit from one season to the next. These are Samhain (the Witch’s New Year) – Imbolc (February 1) – Beltaine (May 1st) and Lammas (August 1st).
There are many overlays that are associated with these Sabbats, the most prominent being the cycle of the God and Goddess as they move through the stages of birth- fertility- harvest and death. In this way, the physical world and the Divine world were mirror reflections and the offering of devotion and celebration of one ensured the continuation of the other.
The God, Lugh and The Goddess, Brighid
Depending upon one’s point of view, Wicca can be considered a monotheistic, duotheistic, polytheistic, henotheistic religion.
• Wicca is monotheistic (belief in a single deity): Some Wiccans recognize a single supreme being, sometimes called “The All” or “The One.” The Goddess and God are viewed as the female and male aspects of this single deity.
• Wicca is duotheistic (belief in two deities; a.k.a. rarely as bitheistic): Wiccans often worship a female Goddess and a male God, often called the Lady and Lord.
• Wicca is polytheistic (belief in many deities): Many Wiccans recognize the existence of many ancient Gods and Goddesses, including but certainly not limited to: Aphrodite, Artemis, Briget, Diana, Dionysius, Fergus, Hecate, Isis, Pan, Thor, etc.
• Wicca is henotheistic (belief in a single main deity among many): Many Wiccans view the many ancient deities as being aspects of the Lady and Lord, and view the latter as the male and female aspects of “The One.”
(excerpted from: http://www.religious tolerance.org)
There is no right or wrong to any of the beliefs above. The underlying principle is that of polarity and the belief that there is both the masculine and feminine Divine principle within all living beings. This approach to deity supports the belief in the immanence of the Divine. That the qualities of Deity exist within all of life, and that through acknowledgement and embracing of this inherent birthright, that Divinity may become transcendent in nature.
The Natural World
WICCA is considered a nature-based religion. The environment and those things that comprise the manifest world including animals, plants, minerals are considered sacred and part of the Divine web of interconnectedness. Many Wiccans are involved in environmental activities and feel it a natural part of their spiritual practice to recycle and live lightly on Mother Earth. The use and knowledge of herbs and their medicinal properties is often undertaken gladly as a study of practice and it is not unusual to find many Wiccans attracted to professions where healing modalities can be performed. Animals are considered companions and treated with the same care, love and respect that would be afforded another human. Human and animal rights, environmental issues and preservation of our natural resources are all a focus of those following a Wiccan Path of spirituality.
The ancients were limited to what could be seen with the naked eye or what mystical inferences could be gathered from what was overtly presented and the myths that were created as result. Structures were built in accord with the movement of the sun (Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid) that aligned with specific seasonal events and astrology had its beginnings in predicting certain outcomes and points of focus based on what could be observed in the heavens.
The scientific breakthroughs showing the similarities in or own physical constitution and that of the geology of our planet, as well as the stars and planets links us to our own stellar nature and the desire for access to weaving that universal magick of that starseed into all of our endeavors. According to scientist, Carl Sagan, the carbon, nitrogen and oxygen atoms in our bodies, as well as atoms of all other heavy elements, were created in previous generations of stars over 4.5 billion years ago.
One of the things that has not changed is that of the celebration and worship of the Moon and her energies and attributions within a Wiccan practice. The lunar tides are seen as the domain of the Goddess and the feminine energies. The planets and the magick woven with their energies extend the reach of practical magick into the realms of space and time continuum. And, the increasing awareness of our place within the vastness of the Cosmos provides a richly layered perspective for those of the Craft.
The Unseen World
Image: The Mysterious Garden
Credit: Odilon Redon (1905)
“There are more things in this world…than are imagined in all your philosophies. “
… William Shakespeare …
This quote by William Shakespeare sums up the Wiccan belief in the reality and nature of those things that are seen as well as those that are hidden (occult). Science has proven time and again that many of the things which were previously thought to be the stuff of the imagination or improbable, are now the foundations, cornerstones and daily occurrences which make up our physical world. Given enough time, sweat, energy and belief anything is possible. Wiccans work daily with the energy surrounding all things. Much of the work that is done is accomplished in a world that everyday sight cannot see with clarity and without training the mind to “suspend disbelief”. The physical realm is only one dimension that we allow ourselves access to. As a Wiccan, we learn to see the realms of Faery, the Devas (nature spirits), the ancestral spirits that guide us, the auras and subtle bodies, and the continual and changing flow of life’s energies that surround us.
The Craft of the Wise
The practice of WICCA is one that sees the interconnectedness of everything. And, because all is connected Wiccans choose to explore and are open to learning about how the universe works. Observation is key to many of those explorations. Being able to discern what is what in the mundane world develops the skill of being able to more clearly identify what is present in the astral and unseen realms. There are many things that go unnoticed in our daily routines. Walking down the same street we often ignore the small signs that nature is donning new clothes. The tiniest budding of grass (or weed) between the cement blocks heralds the start of Spring, but we rarely seek to find something so small.
This attitude of curiosity and inquiry requires the knowledge of several other disciplines to form a cohesive foundation from which to build your experience and knowledge base. The principles of basic Astrology are helpful tools to be used as a point of reference for planning rituals, finding out more about those celestial energies that were present at the time of your birth and gaining greater insight into the cycles and rhythms of the lunar tides and planetary bodies. The art of Divination is another tool that a practicing Wiccan will routinely employ. Tarot cards, runes pendulums,mirror scrying, geomancy and more are all tools to gain greater knowledge of those unseen forces and energies at work that surround us. Having this form of additional insight can stimulate more informed choices about the decisions that are made, and as always free will is the guiding hand. In more recent years the addition of the Hermetic Qabalah has proven useful to many practicing Wiccans. This proven system of analysis and connection to aspects of self and the world at large is a rich and multi-layered study that opens new vistas for experience of the natural and inner worlds.
Establishing regular energy practices is also a vital part of the Wiccan spiritual Path. Daily Meditation should be foundational part of that practice. This trains you to quiet the mind and direct the intent of focus in a variety of ways. The flexible of mind and ability to remain centered in the midst of chaotic energies is one that will serve you well as you learn the ways of disciplining the mind and body. Breath work is key to moving energy effectively and beginning with simple practices of awareness of breath goes a long way in support of energetically providing the fuel for the actions of will. Spending some time connecting with the energies of a specific Deity and offering oneself in a place of service to humanity is a key goal towards transforming how we move energetically through the world. With this goal in mind, the body is seen as a Temple of the Divine. So, great care is given to cultivating healthy and supportive practices that will be in keeping with this sense of immanence.
As stated earlier, the definition of Wicca and its practices is varied, complex, rich with meaning for each who define and because it is a path of initiation and growth will largely be influenced by how far along that path the practitioner has gone. With that in mind, I offer another Witch’s perspective.
What is Wicca? A Personal Perspective
©1998 Cecylyna Dewr
“There are probably as many definitions of Wicca (also known as “the Craft”, Witchcraft, or the Old Religion) as there are practitioners -one of the joys of this path is that there is no “one, true way”; intuition is as valuable as teaching. This then is my personal definition of what Wicca is to me.
Wicca is a religion based on experience of Deity as male and female. It is panentheistic-seeing all things as part of God/dess, and seeing the Earth Herself as a living organism of whom we are part. It is also a religion of immanence-seeing God/dess present here and now, within all things, not “out there somewhere” but part of daily life. Wiccans revere Nature in all her forms, and often are active environmentalists. Wiccans celebrate eight major holidays, the beginning and midpoint of each season. Wiccans also celebrate the phases of the moon. Each of these rituals or observances helps us attune with the ever-changing cycles of Nature.
Wicca is also a Craft. We practice magic using meditation, chants, visualization and spells to help focus our will on what we want to happen. Wiccans believe that everything we do, good or ill, comes back to us tripled, which is why we don’t hex or curse anyone. We also believe that many psychic talents are real and simply haven’t been studied enough by science to be catalogued as such.”
Next Week’s Post: In-Spired Magick