IDIOTS GUIDE TO WICCA AND WITCHCRAFT PDF
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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Wicca and Witchcraft, 3rd Edition: Learn to Walk the Magickal Path with the God and Goddess [Denise Zimmerman, Katherine. Free: THE COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO WICCA AND WITCHCRAFT-PDF-2 BONUS EBOOKS WITH GIN - Other Books. Wicca. Beginners Guide A Beginners Guide to Mastering Wiccan Beliefs, Rituals, and Witchcraft Witchcraft Magic and Science Ritual and Spell Work Tools.
This celebration is to ask the Mother Goddess to restore fertility to the animals, and to the women. This celebration is for the celebration of life, and bringing forth what was dead, and bringing it back to life. Beltane: Celebrated on the first of May in the northern 19 hemisphere, and the first of November in the southern hemisphere, it is the celebration of the full flowering of spring.
It is during this time, that the Wiccans prepare to lay out their gardens, and are wishing for prosperity from the Mother Goddess. This is the time where it is most important to please the Goddess, as you want to be bountiful, and if you have offended her, she may avenge her honor on your harvest. Litha: In the northern hemisphere this is celebrated on the twentyfirst of June, and on the twenty-first of December in the southern.
This is the summer solstice, and it is the celebration of hard work. During this celebration, you ask the horned god to give you the strength to do your duties throughout the summer, and males ask him for virility throughout the year. Lammas: No this has nothing to do with a furry, spitting, horselike animal.
It has to do with the first fruits of the year. Celebrated on the first of August up north, and the first of February down south, it is when you thank the Mother Goddess for giving you a successful crop that year, and if you have properly thanked her, she may give you an even better harvest.
Modron: Celebrated on the twenty-first of September in the north, and the twenty-first of March in the south, this is the celebration of the autumnal equinox. This is when you harvest your crops and thank the Mother Goddess, and the Horned God for their help in your prosperity.
It is during this time that you take a portion of your crop and burn an offering for the Gods who helped you. Samhain: This is also known as Halloween, and is celebrated on the thirty-first of October in the north and the thirtieth of April in the south.
This is the celebration of the veil between life and death. It is also when the veil is at its flimsiest. Many Wiccans take advantage of this to speak with dead loved ones, however, some are known to do so irresponsibly which can cause problems.
This celebration is for the Horned God. It is celebrated on the twenty-second of December north and twenty-first of June south. These are the eight Sabbats, and as you can probably see, the only one that doesn't have to do with the turn of the seasons is Samhain. Samhain is also known as the most dangerous of all of the rituals. Some covens do not celebrate it, for fear the power may corrupt its members.
However, to truly unlock your Wiccan power, it is best to celebrate all of the Sabbats rather than just the turn of the season ones. Make sure that you cast a circle, and close the circle when you are thanking the Gods, or talking with the dead. This is essential because you can cause some serious issues when you do not cast a circle, because then anyone can answer your call, including a demon. This is generally how most Wiccans get pulled into black magic. They didn't cast a circle when doing a spell or celebration and a demon answered, enslaving the person to their will.
Esbats Some spells and rituals have to be done during a cycle of the moon. These cycles are called esbats. If you do not make sure that you do the spell during the right esbat, then you will either get faulty results or no results. Don't be impatient, because that is how bad things start to unravel. Esbats also have to do with when the tide comes in, and fertility cycles.
You want to follow these well, so you know when the moon waxes and wanes. These things will have an effect on your spells, so keep that in mind. The Elements This is an important part of the Wiccan religion.
The elements are there to use when you cast a circle, and each element is to be well respected. Some Wiccans only use the four elements, however, there are actually five. These elements are what give us life, and sustain us as we take each breath. These elements are the wind beneath us, the ground we walk on, the heat that keeps us warm, the water we drink, the spirit inside of us. You always call the elements in a circle starting north. Then you move clockwise to each other element before moving into the center and calling your final element.
Once you have cast your circle, the elements will create a circle of protection around you, and you will be able to cast your spell. It is imperative that you do not leave your circle. Air Air is the first element that you should call to your circle while you are facing north. This element is the wind that moves around you, and it is what you breathe.
To call this element, use this chant You fill our lungs violent yet gentle I welcome you air If you have a different summoning chant for air, feel free to use it.
This is just the one that I have found to work best. Fire After summoning air, turn to the right, and summon fire. This is the element 22 that gives us heat, and what we use to make our food to eat. This is an important element to the circle just like any other. When you are summoning fire, use this chant. Our hearths are warm as we are with desire you sustain our lives Again, if you have a different chant, feel free to use it.
Water Water is an important element as well. It is what we drink, and it is what makes up most of our body. This is the element that we rely on the most to sustain us, and give us life. It is in the south, opposite of air, because they are equally balanced. To summon the water element, use this chant You fill the bodies of your sons and daughters keeping us whole I welcome you water!
This is a good chant, but if you have a better one, you know the drill. Earth Balancing out fire, this is the element that you feel beneath your feet. This is what we are born from, and what our bodies will return to when we die.
Spirit The fifth and final element. This is the element that gives us the will to do things. It is our literal beings because it is what we are reduced to when we die. To call this element, and thus complete your circle, step into the center and cast your last element with this chant You give us will we never want to lose it All we have when we die I welcome you spirit!
I have tried several different chants, and this seems to be the only one that works for me. If you do happen to find a different one, definitely use it, because it may give you a stronger bond with the element.
Those are the elements that you have to work with. They are important, and they protect and serve you. Be sure to thank each one of them as you close your circle. Other Beliefs of This Religion 24 Aside from the main beliefs that everyone seems to know about, there are smaller, lesser known beliefs that are a part of the Wiccan religion as well.
Not every coven follows these, but a large majority do. Reincarnation This is one of the most controversial beliefs of the Wiccan religion. There is a belief that once you die, you are reborn into a new body. This belief itself is not really disputed, it is how you are reincarnated that is what causes the disputes. There many ideas surrounding this belief that it literally splits covens, and causes people to fly solo.
One of the beliefs is that if you lived a good life, then once you die, that is it it is over. You don't have to redo it, and you no longer have to suffer. Some say if you are not reincarnated, once you die, that is it. Others say that once you die if you are not being reincarnated, you get to go to the Isle of Souls. This sounds ominous, and it hasn't been called this for a long time, but it is basically a heaven for your spirit. There is no pain, there is no suffering, and you are content to spend eternity there.
Another belief is that if you lived a good life, you get reincarnated, rather than the souls that were not as pure as yours. This is highly disputed, because a lot of people say that if you die when you were good, then why should you be punished to live this life over again. There is yet another belief that is everyone is reincarnated, just at different times, and no one directly dies.
This belief involves limbo.
Limbo is where your soul goes while it awaits reincarnation. A lot of religions refer to Limbo as a bridge between life and eternal death. If you are in limbo it is said that you did not live a pure enough life to be immediately reincarnated, but you also did not live a bad enough life to be sentenced to eternal death. However, if you stay good while awaiting your time to be reincarnated, you will enter the world once more. Many reincarnated spirits do not know that they are reincarnated, except when they are young, they may have some flashbacks from their previous lives.
This is why little kids sometimes know things out of nowhere. In Wiccan beliefs, there is no other explanation for them knowing other than reincarnation.
Many Wiccans do believe that there is an afterlife. This is where you spend your time when you have died, and you do not need to be reincarnated. The Wiccan afterlife is not described like Christian afterlife. There is no paradise per se. And there are no streets of gold.
It is a place for your spirit goes to rest, and relax for all eternity. Also, you can choose to be reincarnated if you find the rest phase too boring. No other religion has the belief that after you move on to the heaven stage you can move back to life. However, the Wiccan belief is that energy never stops moving, and since your spirit is pure energy, it makes sense that it would not want to stay complacent for all eternity.
Animism Animism is the belief that everything has a spirit. That everything is living, even if it is an inanimate object. This applies the most to plants, the earth, and the elements.
This belief is that you must respect all things because they feel just as we do. This is based on the belief that you should always respect the earth. This 26 includes the trees, and the grass, and plants. Many Wiccans believe that if you touch a tree, and summon Earth, you can feel the trees feelings as if were your own. The earth as an element really does feel.
That is why Mother Goddess is often also called Mother Earth. To experience this feeling, go out to an area with a clearing, and lay down. Try to get as much of your skin touching the earth as possible by taking off your shoes and socks, and if it is warm enough wear a tank top. Let your hair fan out around you if it is long, removing it from the back of your neck. Lay as flat as you possibly can, and focus on slowing your breathing till it is at the rate of a sleeping person. These facts are of such profound import that they require italics.
It may be that there's an absolutely perfect book on hairstyling of which I, amateur that I am, have never heard. It may be that the book on combs has been, unknown to me, utterly discredited by a newer, more authoritative Comb Encyclopedia. The vast field of publishing, and the wide range of topics I offer, creates a pretty big risk that somewhere, somehow, an important work that relates to our discussion may have slipped past me.
I can only ask my readers to be forgiving. Remember that I recommend these books as starting points for a serious investigation. No one gets to be really smart on a subject by reading one or two books. Use these recommendations as a platform from which to launch a deeper study. In topics you enjoy and find interesting, use the bibliographies found in these books to expand your reading and broaden your knowledge.
Those books, in turn, will have bibliographies. And before you know it, your bookcase will be as messy and overcrowded—and as dusty—as mine.
I also offer homework assignments to give you a jumping-off point for your own study of the various topics in The Study of Witchcraft. Pick one or a few to get your feet wet in each chapter's topic area. If you're working in a study group, homework assignments are a way of staying focused and sharing what you've learned. Its antecedents prior to the s are the subject of much scholarly debate, with which we need not concern ourselves here.
Central to this debate is the role that Gerald Gardner played in the transmission, or invention, of the tradition. For our purposes here, when I refer to Gardner's creation or origination of modern Wicca, please note that I refer only to the transformation that changed the face of Wicca and do not intend to contribute to a debate best left to experts.
But something was brewing—the cultural phenomena of the s and s. During these decades of sweeping social and cultural change, Wicca, which had previously been almost exclusively traditional and Gardnerian see chapter 3 , collided with hippies, activists, and self-actualizers. Occult consciousness, alternative spirituality, and personal freedom, all essential to Wicca, were also all part of the counterculture movement. The attraction between the old tradition and the new consciousness was inevitable.
An unforeseen side effect of this cultural collision, however, was that demand for all things Wiccan soon outstripped the ability of Wicca as it was to meet it. Traditional Wicca is designed to grow through one-on-one training in small covens. The parameters of such a group are: A maximum of thirteen members, including a High Priestess and High Priest; Three degrees of initiation, with a year and a day between degrees; Only second and third degree initiates can start their own covens.
Now, if you think about how small it all started in this very big country one or two groups in New York, one or two in California and if you think about the size and enthusiasm of the counter-culture that arose in the s and s, you can see that something had to give. It was this combination of cultural and social conditions that created the first big change in Wicca—the emergence of self-created traditions. But freethinking hippies weren't all that interested in their grandmothers.
People began proudly proclaiming that they had invented their traditions, which, much to the surprise of some, they discovered were very effective! Newly invented rituals turned out to have power and spiritual depth.
Who would have guessed? The Church of All Worlds was the first openly invented neo-pagan denomination, but many others—Wiccan and otherwise— have followed happily in their footsteps. So this is the transformation that took place in s. In the s, another wave of interest in Wicca washed up in the form of the emergent second-wave feminist movement, with its interest in female empowerment, goddesses, and self-directed spiritual growth.
Once again, demand outstripped supply. Even fewer feminists were interested in seeking a traditional path, which reminded many of the patriarchal churches and synagogues they wanted to leave behind. They felt more empowered by self-created ritual, by consensus and sharing rather than authority and leadership.
High priestesses were as irrelevant to them as priests. Wicca had always been a nature religion, but it was from politics that it learned to be really green or Green. I first started practicing witchcraft in I will do likewise here to remain true to the time we are discussing.
The enormous change that occurred over the next twenty years is something I saw with my own eyes. Wiccans practicing during that period were very much aware of the significant changes underway. Sometimes it was glorious; sometimes it felt as if the rug were being pulled out from under us. One of the most important changes was the festival movement. I don't know and I don't know if anyone knows what the first outdoor Pagan festival actually was. There are, of course, a number of early contenders for the honor.
Many who were there mention Pan Pagan as the first. The first organized modern Pagan festival, however, was Gnosticon—an indoor, convention-style event sponsored by Llewellyn Publications in Sometime thereafter, someone figured out that it would be easier and cheaper to hold this type of event outdoors, with participants camping rather than staying in hotel rooms although hotel events have never gone away.
I cannot begin to express the impact this change had on the Pagan and Wiccan community. Before the advent of outdoor festivals, Wicca was whatever was practiced in your circle. Unless you were in a big city, you probably never met any witches other than the ones with whom you circled.
You might download Gwydion Pendderwen's record the very first music produced by and for neo-pagans or another early Pagan recording. These early productions made a few chants and songs available to use.
Drumming didn't enter into Pagan ceremony in a big way until the early s. Then suddenly, there were public festivals where you could meet with dozens ultimately hundreds of other Pagans. You could share rituals, techniques, knowledge, songs, and fun. Domineering coven leaders who previously had a stranglehold on their students were suddenly robbed of their power, which derived from them being the exclusive source of information.
The community exploded in creativity. People who'd done ritual only for their group of five were now creating and learning polished techniques that were effective for groups of fifty. These festivals also made it much easier to meet likeminded people. Instead of reaching out slowly by word of mouth, or through writing dozens of letters that's on paper, kids! At festivals, everyone was out of the broom closet at least until they packed up the car on Sunday. Groups came and met other groups. Solitaries came and connected with groups, or with other solitaries, and formed groups from those meetings.
And then something new happened: Solitaries came and found other solitaries with whom they could circle, while still remaining solitary. The festivals were responsible for the phenomenon of public sabbats. Now, in communities all over the United States, and indeed around the world, there are open or semi-open rituals eight times a year. Many solitaries attend these rituals, while remaining solitary for the rest of the year and never joining a group. The idea of being solitary-by-choice, or solitary supplemented by public ceremony, first became possible in the s through the advent of public festivals.
I mark as the high point of the festival movement. It seemed that, in that year, every festival doubled in size; those that had previously attracted around 90 people a year were flooded with attendees; those that used to have a mere fifty celebrants now had a hundred. The festivals, which had previously been attended by to people, were now squeezing in or more.
Nineteen-eighty-seven was the year that some festivals actually had to shut down, because they were no longer able to handle the demand. It was a trying, yet glorious, time—a time that changed Paganism and Wicca forever. Another very cool, very influential thing that happened in this period was the Pagan publishing boom.
In , the occult bookshelf. That was about it. You could clean out a bookstore of its Wiccan and neo-pagan material without having to download a new bookcase at home. The publishing boom of the s changed all that. It used to be that everyone had read just about everything to do with Wicca.
This isn't much of an exaggeration; there were so few books on the subject that everyone involved in the religion for more than a year or two had probably read the majority of available books, and was downloading every new one as it came out.
Obviously, it is no longer possible to download every new book on Wicca, nor is it desirable. Your time as a beginner is a joyous time, and books for beginners are wonderful. But there's only so much Wicca a soul can abide! In the s and early s, many of the books in print weren't very good. In the 21st century, a lot of them still aren't. Whether you're talking about occultism, murder mysteries, popular psychology, or science fiction, the majority of books published just aren't all that great.
But the increase in quantity in Pagan publishing has meant that, with the percentage of excellence remaining about the same, the pool of great resources has increased dramatically. In that pool are books that contradict each other, forcing readers to make choices, to interpret, and to stretch themselves. This is good.
The same trend, however, has also allowed people to excuse themselves for actually reading less. This is not so good. In , most Wiccans had read all or most of the twenty or thirty basic texts. Furthermore, they'd expanded their reading far afield, dipping into a range of subjects that could supplement the meager supply of Wiccan texts. Now, with many dozens of good books on Wicca available in mainstream stores no more hunting down occult shops , a beginner has no way of reading them all, and no need to seek beyond them.
This sounds paradoxical, but it's true. If I go to a bookstore and find three titles I want, I may well download all three. If I go to a bookstore and find fifty titles I want, I may only download one because I am overwhelmed. Today, I find fewer beginners reaching into other topic areas; there are so many books directly related to their interest that books only peripherally related to it get short shrift.
This is exactly the situation, in fact, that inspired me to write the book you're holding now. In the s, it encountered feminism and the ecology movement. In the s, we changed and grew in response to the festival movement and the publishing boom.
The most recent influences on Wicca are the Internet and the media. The former has created unprecedented access, and the latter unsurpassed familiarity.
In other words, now anyone can find out about Wicca, and just about everyone has heard of it. The Internet provides access to enormous amounts of both information and misinformation. It allows people to learn Wicca privately, often secretly. The Internet has vastly increased the mutual self-teaching of Paganism and Wicca—in other words, newcomers sharing what information they have with each other. Sometimes this creates a powerful support group that increases everyone's knowledge; sometimes it amounts to the blind leading the blind.
Many Wiccans begin online and use the Web to find in-person contacts; others are satisfied with solitary practice and find that the Internet provides all the outside contact they want or need. It seems to me that the Wiccan media wave began with the movie The Craft in Although any person knowledgeable in Wicca can readily see that the Craft portrayed in the film was not Wicca, it was the first major release to use at least some accurate terminology including the film's title and ritual styles.
The Craft was a horror movie, though, in which empowered girls were punished for using their power. Although having no pretense of accuracy, Buffy offered the world positive Wiccans who used their powers to help and protect. Many Wiccans object to the younger generation of Wiccans who first heard of the Craft through Buffy, but as long as newcomers to Wicca learn that Willow's version of witchcraft is as much a fantasy as Samantha's nose-wiggling was thirty years earlier, I see no harm in it, and plenty of potential good.
The definitive and controversial history of the rise of the ideas and practices, in England, that have influenced the formation of modern Wicca. This first scholarly approach to American Wiccan history is getting rave reviews. A more light-hearted approach than Hutton's or Clifton's, Bonewits addresses Wicca and witchcraft in America from a bird's eye view, having seen much of the history first-hand.
A newer book—pricey in the U. See references to it in chapter 7. As discussed above, modern Wicca has gone through massive changes during each decade of its existence in the United States. The result of this rapid evolution is that there are different types of Wicca active in the world today, sometimes with only glancing familiarity with one another. Thus, when people try to define Wicca, someone inevitably disagrees.
In fact, Wicca is now represented by roughly three broad streams. While there is overlap among those streams, there is also enough difference between them that it is difficult to generalize about the religion without specifying which version is being discussed. I will present them chronologically, more or less in the order they appeared over the years, to avoid any appearance of bias or priority.
Before I do that, however, let's look at what all Wiccans have in common. There are some people who say that Wicca is whatever you say it is—that, if your practice is eclectic, it defies definition. I disagree with that.
Wicca is a specific religion, even though it is an extremely open-ended one. I would say that, if you are not closely aligned with the following principles, you are perhaps Pagan, or perhaps a witch, but you are not a Wiccan as I understand it: Polarity: Wiccans may be monists, meaning they believe all gods are ultimately One.
Whatever they believe, however, they work with polarity—ritually and spiritually. However many deities a Wiccan may worship, there is always only one goddess and one god on the altar during ritual.
Immanence: The sacredness of the human being is essential to Wicca. Nature: Wiccans celebrate holidays that are attuned to the seasons and perform rituals attuned to the phases of the Moon.
They worship nature deities, almost always including Mother Earth in some form, and they recognize the sacredness of the physical, including the human body and sexuality. Magic: Not all Wiccans practice magic, but Wicca as a religion accepts that magic is real, something that people can do, and something that people are allowed or encouraged to do.
Circles and quarters: The ritual structure of Wicca can vary enormously, but a cast circle with four quarters, representing or corresponding to the four elements, is the fundamental format of Wiccan ritual. Some Wiccans add a fifth element and some do not, but air, fire, water, and earth are always present. Any other tradition going back to the s or earlier is either not recognizably Wiccan more on that shortly or not well-documented.
Gardnerianism arrived in the United States in the early s, and quickly became the model for Wiccan structure. For most of the next twenty years, whether traditions derived directly or indirectly from Gardnerianism, or arose in response or parallel to it, they all took their basic structure from the Gardnerian. What does that mean?
Well, let's look at traditional Wicca and determine some of its defining characteristics. To begin with, we see that Gardnerians always have a lineage—that is, Gardnerians are always initiated by other Gardnerians, those qualified to do so according to the rules of the tradition, and this lineage traces back to one of Gerald Gardner's original covens.
Initiated Gardnerians work in covens. Although everyone can and usually does work as a solitary at times, the basic structure of Gardnerian ritual is group work. Likewise, although some people end up working as solitaries for various reasons, the tradition assumes that group work is ideal. In Gardnerianism, there are three degrees of initiation, each with its own ceremonies, rights, and privileges.
Sometimes a second degree can start a coven. Sometimes a second-degree coven must be under the supervision of a third degree from the parent coven and sometimes not. Sometimes, only a third degree can start a coven.
Complete Idiot's Guide to Wicca and Witchcraft
The basic structure of the ritual, familiar to all Gardnerians, would be found in The Book of Shadows. Finally, and perhaps most important, Gardnerians are bound by an oath of secrecy. At initiation, each candidate swears to keep certain things secret and to reveal these secrets only to other initiates. Many—with quite a wide variety among them.
But, in general, all modern Wiccans follow the Gardnerian model in the aspects described below: Some form of lineage allows members to know how and why they are members of that tradition. Initiation ceremonies that are integral to the tradition delineate between those who are Wiccans by that trad's definition, and those who are not. Multiple degrees of initiation, usually three.
Marcus Aurelius: Meditations
Group coven work is valued and may be considered essential to Wicca. A Book of Shadows codifies some portion of the tradition's rituals and lore. Noninitiates are often referred to as Pagans rather than as Wiccans.
Other traditionalists believe it is legitimate for noninitiates, or nontraditionalists, to refer to themselves as Wiccan. This is a linguistic argument, not a theological one. The meaning of the word Wicca has evolved from meaning a specific handful of traditions to include a much broader range of practice. Some choose to adhere to the earlier meaning, finding the current one too dilute; others go with the flow.
The feminist movement accomplished more for women than equal job opportunities and the right to control their own bank accounts; it encouraged them to find a source of internal power, the very notion of which was diametrically opposed to the way women viewed themselves up until that time.
In fact, Western culture had, for hundreds of years, associated the idea of powerful, commanding women with witchcraft and evil. That's why, I think, the most interesting women in stories and movies have been villainesses. As I've said before and will doubtless say again, given a choice of being Snow White helpless, sweet, voiceless and the Wicked Queen, with the cool castle and the magic and the minions, give me my Magic Mirror now!
So, it makes sense that it was feminism that first saw witchcraft as a means to radical change. Changing consciousness was and is one of the goals of feminism and of other political movements. Radical political witchcraft sees in the practice of witchcraft or Wicca a force for inner power, freedom, and social egalitarianism. To that end, Radical Wicca uses self-created rituals, and a model of every-woman-a-Priestess and every man a Priest.
Whereas traditional Wiccans use ritual structure to ensure its workings are as powerful as possible, radical Wiccans find power in the rejection of structure. Radical Wiccans moved into the political sphere in a variety of ways, creating ritual at protests and activist events, basing political cells on coven-style structure or vice versa , and using chanting, drumming, and energy movement to create unity and peace in situations ranging from sit-ins to imprisonment.
Witches of this ilk are seen almost exclusively at left-wing events like antinuke rallies, Green protests, or environmental protection actions.
In fact, one morning not long ago, I awoke bemused to hear Starhawk's voice on my clock radio—she was here in New York for the Republican National Convention protest in Still, much of their work is rooted in older forms of Wicca. Radical witchcraft: Functions by democratic consensus, either anarchic or with rotating leadership; Emphasizes changing consciousness and changing the world; Performs freeform and spontaneous ritual to suit the moment; Believes in the self-created or self-declared witch, or that every woman is a witch; Values ritual process over ritual outcome; Blends witchcraft with politics, nature, and day-to-day life.
Starhawk's writing exemplifies radical Wicca; her first two books, The Spiral Dance and Dreaming the Dark are classics on the topic. It is a phrase I coined to describe a distinct and unique form of Wicca treated in this book. If you don't like the name, please feel free to discard it.
Scott didn't invent the idea of self-initiation, but he made it commonplace. By doing so, he engendered a form of Wicca that had boundless potential for growth. Whereas you work with an initiated Wiccan and usually undergo some training to become a traditional Wiccan, eclectic Wiccans can more or less declare themselves Wiccan without access to anyone or anything else.
Thus their number, over the course of s, quickly outstripped that of any other Wiccan group. Although most traditional Wiccans also use the Rede and accept it as part of their Craft to a greater or lesser degree, eclectics view it as definitive.
Like the Rede, this rule is familiar to traditional Wiccans, but to eclectics, it is often definitive. Perhaps these two tenets are so important to eclectics because not much else seems to be. Beyond portraying the characteristics listed on the previous page, as shared by all Wiccans, eclectic Wiccans can be virtually anything.
Ritual can be structured or unstructured, and can sometimes be omitted entirely. Rules beyond the Rede are created by each Wiccan, or not at all. The focus of the Craft is a gentle connectedness with nature, with the Lady and Lord, and with the inner voice that guides Wiccan practice. Eclectic Wicca is typically, but not necessarily, solitary. Even when eclectics practice in groups, they tend to view group workings as a supplement to a robust solitary practice.
Indeed, perhaps no one is ever objective; I surely am not with regard to the Craft. I love the traditionalism that has informed my life for over a quarter century.
But I've also seen and learned wonderful things from other paths. I've seen dozens and dozens of paths within Paganism which, of course, includes Wicca. Sometimes these paths behave badly and often behave well. I've seen different paths used to enhance life, as well as to restrict it unnecessarily.
So I offer, with a loving heart, what I see as the best and worst features of traditional, radical, and eclectic Wicca see Table 1, p. It also treats a tradition's elders with honor. Structured ritual: This imparts confidence to the participants; in a word, they know what they're doing. It also engenders thoughtfulness. Traditional Wiccans are taught that each part of ritual and each rule is there for a reason, so they tend to look for the reasons within ritual.
Traditional rituals tend to have an overarching logic; the whole thing holds together. TABLE 1 The Worst and the Best Characteristics of Wiccan Paths Secrecy and oaths: These, along with the difficulty getting into a traditional group, create a bonding and intimacy that can be incredibly powerful, profoundly enhancing coven work.
Rules: These often provide a fallback position. In their best light, rules help you know what to do when you are conflicted or unsure.
Scarcity: Traditional groups are often hard to find and hard to join. But seeking them out is a process that shapes the seeker. To be blunt, they can become dull.
Hierarchy can backfire: It can go to the heads of the leaders and create excessive diffidence in their followers. Shaping the seeker is great, but having no place to go stinks. Such groups often do deep, important work on an individual's inner self or subconscious mind. The ritualized self-help or mutual assistance that is often a part of such groups has a meaningful, positive impact on the lives of participants. Spiritual and social identity: Radical Wicca teaches that our identity as spiritual individuals and as citizens of the world are inextricably linked, and this is an important lesson.
It teaches witches to reach beyond themselves and their personal, sometimes selfish, interests to see how their witchcraft can help change the world.
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Wicca and Witchcraft - Higher Intellect
Consensus: The consensus process used by many radical groups is a powerful tool that teaches patience, listening, and compassion. Giving every member a voice can be lifealtering for the quiet and shy who have never made their voices heard. It can also be humbling, in a useful way, for those who are used to being heard all the time. Rotating leadership: This exposes group members to a wide variety of leadership styles and allows them to experience approaches they might never have tried.
It can be maddening to have a two-hour meeting prior to each ritual just to decide how that ritual will be performed. The desire to just do it can be compelling. Rotating leadership: Likewise, this can mean that people who aren't very good at doing ritual get handed the task. This may be empowering for them psychologically, but doesn't make for moving ceremony or powerful magic. As at a small child's dance recital, you can be proud of someone doing her best while being bored out of your mind by the dance or witchcraft itself.
Rigidity: Radical Wicca can also be rigid and strident, in the manner of any politically oriented group. Radical witches can shut their ears to those who do not share their political agenda, and may exclude less-political Wiccan seekers. There's no lock on the entry gate; you just walk in. Traditional Wiccans may complain about the lack of training, and radical witches may bemoan the lack of commitment, but there is an undeniable beauty in the open-armed embrace of eclectic Wicca, with its vision of the Goddess gathering all her children in.
Solitary work: Because of this open door, eclecticism is the style of Wicca most accessible to the solitary. It has thus allowed Wicca to grow faster than group-based work.
Borrowed rituals: Eclectic Wicca also borrows from every place and everything that doesn't run fast enough to get away. This is an ancient custom of folk magicians, who have always borrowed spells, charms, ideas, and gods from whatever culture or concept was current. If you have ever wondered why there are so many old spells that use Bible verses or the name of Jesus Christ, this is exactly the reason—cunning folk have never been interested in reshaping the world, only in using the world to do their magical work.
When eclectics borrow a ritual here, a god-name there, and a magical tool from yet another source, they are behaving, well, eclectically, and in keeping with an ancient and powerful folkway. Simplicity: Eclectic Wicca has a laudable simplicity: if it works, do it.
Eclectics thus have enormous freedom. Unbound by tradition, consensus, process, or structure, they have the power to create a Wicca in the image of their own dreams. They can be intensely creative in both elaborate and subtle ways. Mediocrity: Eclectic Wicca that has neither a training system nor a requirement of deep inner and outer work can encourage mediocrity. When eclectics read that all you need do to become a Wiccan is to declare yourself one, some interpret this to mean that they need not challenge themselves, and that there isn't really any more to learn.
Know-nothing Paganism has created a situation in which people who have been Wiccan for only three months feel qualified to teach Wiccans who are only a few weeks newer. Wisdom comes in many forms. From radical witches: to listen to everyone, not just leaders, and to empower everyone, giving each a voice. From eclectics: to value creativity and simplicity, and that the gods are available to all.
From traditionalists: that those with more experience and skill should be honored, and that having a shared ritual structure that is already a given can be empowering. From eclectics: that gentleness is as important as activism, and that Wicca is not just for those of one political stripe.
From traditional Wiccans: that long-term study and practice is necessary to perfect one's Craft. From radical witches: that magic and change are as important as worship. Not to feel too distressed if my generalizations seem harsh. They are just generalizations after all, and the world has as many exceptions as case studies.
Witchcraft for Tomorrow by Doreen Valiente. A classic text of inventing ritual in a traditional context. Valiente was one of the Craft's great priestesses and poets. The Spiral Dance by Starhawk. Dreaming the Dark by Starhawk.
These two texts are the backbone of radical witchcraft. The single most important book for the solitary eclectic. There are traditions that refer to themselves as British Traditional Wiccans or Wicca , which includes a specific list of traditions. BTWs meet all or most of the criteria I delineate, and more as well. Loosely, Wicca is a religion defined by the basic characteristics listed in the previous chapter. Witchcraft, on the other hand, is a magical practice that includes folk charms, spells, and other arts.
Eclectics and radical witches may not consider witchcraft a part of their practice, and a radical witch might not consider Wicca a part of hers, but traditional Wiccans invariably consider themselves both Wiccans and witches.
WICCA Although by the time you pick up this book, you will probably already have learned the basics of Wicca, let's quickly review them. Who Wiccans Worship: Wiccans primarily worship the Lord and Lady, as well as other individual gods and goddesses from many cultures. The Eight Sabbats: Wiccans have eight holidays, known as sabbats, spaced evenly around the year at the solstices, equinoxes, and mid-points between.
Lunar Work: Wiccans work with lunar energies. Wiccans hold rites known as esbats on the Full Moon, and know that certain things are better done during particular moon phases. Magic and Spellcraft: Wiccans use magic. The casting of spells is frequently a part of Wiccan ritual, and involves raising and sending power to a specific target.
When I was trained as a young traditional Wiccan, I was expected to make an extensive study of topics that ranged far beyond Wicca and witchcraft. I received instruction in some areas, but for the most part, I was handed a book list and sent off to study on my own. At that time serious students of witchcraft were expected to learn about history, medieval witchcraft, Western occultism, psychology, and more. Yes, we studied Wicca itself in depth: I have offered some of that study in my book The Elements of Ritual, in which circle casting is analyzed in detail.
We studied far more than that, however.
Students of Wicca also explored such diverse topics as the theories of Carl Jung, the history of the Golden Dawn, the Kabbalah, and tool-making. Part I of this book has given you an overview of basic Wiccan concepts. Each chapter briefly touches upon a specific area of study and discusses why it is valuable to advanced Wiccans, then discusses its special value for traditional Wiccans, eclectics, and radical witches. Since I can't cover every possible topic, I include a list of additional areas of interest in the final chapter.
A classic introduction to Wicca, one of the first that I read. Few books introduce spellcraft in a how-to manner, so this is invaluable. As mentioned above, I put circle-casting under a microscope. Every step of Wiccan ritual is thoroughly explored.
A superb introduction by one of the Craft's great ladies. Book of Shadows by Phyllis Curot. A first-person introduction to Wicca that is part diary, part instruction. Watch out for Vivianne Crowley; she has a few very different books with very similar titles.
There are, of course, Reconstructionist Pagans, who base as much as possible of their modern practice on that of the ancients. Pagans and Wiccans both worship ancient goddesses and gods, we revive ancient customs, and we tend to be very interested in ancient folkways.
The study of ancient Paganism is, however, a field that has changed radically over the past few decades. Moreoever, what is studied, and the conclusions being drawn, are radically different from place to place, person to person, and group to group.
These books gave an empowering vision of goddess worship among our ancestors, and created an almost idyllic model of what Pagan society may have been, and might yet become. The problem is that these theories have been soundly and solidly disproved. This work isn't simply a debunking of matriarchal theory, although Eller's examination of the flaws of that theory or those theories is essential reading.
What makes Eller's work particularly important is that she is a feminist, and her work cannot be dismissed as simply patriarchal prejudice—the fate of many critical examinations of matriarchal models.
Personally, I found her book easier to read for exactly that reason; it did not present a smart antifeminist in opposition to smart feminists; it presented a smart feminist debating theory with other smart feminists. This removed the political acrimony from the controversy and allowed me to look at the material dispassionately. It was eye-opening. How do we decide that something is an altar, or a temple, or a throne? How do we decide that a female statue is a goddess, rather than a priestess, or a mother, or a politician?
She traces a path from inference to extrapolation to belief, and shows how theoretical suggestions can become overblown and romanticized. Eller is also concerned with how belief in matriarchal prehistory affects the feminist movement.
She asks some probing questions, and, although I often disagree with her conclusions, I find myself applauding the fact that she asked. One question worth asking is: Does historical goddess worship necessarily empower women? To answer that question, I think we need to look at the female-centric veneration with the most extensive documentation and literary history—that of the Virgin Mary.
The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory is one of the strongest recommendations in this book. It has the potential to change completely the way Wiccans look at Pagan history—which is to say, the way we look at ourselves and our relationship with the world.
And religions grounded in fantasy have been known to cause a great deal of harm. We must shape ourselves, rather, through history; looking to the past is one way of looking to the future.
By gaining greater wisdom about where we've been, we gain greater wisdom about where we're going. They did more than create a Utopian vision of goddess worship. They, in fact, created a false impression of unity and consistency among different historical strains of Paganism. The history of Paganism is easy to study, after all, if you believe that ancient goddess worship was universal and that all different types of goddess worship flow from the same source.
Goddess worship, being the same everywhere, covered a host of topics in a few volumes. Without that theory, history became the chore that historians always knew it was and amateur enthusiasts had now to discover. I cannot really recommend any single work. And American history is both more localized and of shorter duration than that of Paganism.
The majority of Wiccan historical interest focuses on Europe, where the Classical Greek and Roman cultures and the Minoan culture are all of great interest to feminist witches.It teaches witches to reach beyond themselves and their personal, sometimes selfish, interests to see how their witchcraft can help change the world. However, it is Other Occult Systems Wiccans are not against other occult systems, as some of them are good as well.
This passage is familiar! Sabbats Sabbats are the celebrations throughout the year that Wiccans celebrate. This is one of the best perks of being a part of a circle. From radical witches: that magic and change are as important as worship. You don't have to redo it, and you no longer have to suffer.