The Wiccan RedeBide the Wiccan Laws we must In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust. Live and let live, Fairly take and fairly give. Cast the Circle thrice about To keep the evil spirits out. To bind the spell every time Let the spell be spake in rhyme. Soft of eye and light of touch, Speak little, listen much. Deosil go by the waxing moon, Chanting out the Witches' Rune. Widdershins go by the waning moon, Chanting out the baneful rune. 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 North wind's mighty gale, Lock the door and drop the sail. When the wind comes from the South, Love will kiss thee on the mouth. When the wind blows from the West, Departed souls will have no rest. When the wind blows from the East, Expect the new and set the feast. Nine woods in the cauldron go, Burn them fast and burn them slow. Elder be the Lady's tree, Burn it not or cursed you'll be. When the Wheel begins to turn, Let the Beltane fires burn. When the Wheel has turned to Yule, Light the log and the Horned One rules. Heed ye Flower, Bush and Tree, By the Lady, blessed be. Where the rippling waters go, Cast a stone and truth you'll know. When ye have a true need, Hearken not to others' greed. With a fool no season spend, Lest ye be counted as his friend. Merry meet and merry part, Bright the cheeks and warm the heart. Mind the Threefold Law you should, Three times bad and three times good. When misfortune is enow, Wear the blue star on thy brow. True in Love ever be, Lest thy lover's false to thee. Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill: An ye harm none, do what ye will.
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May 16, 2005 5:16 AM
The Witches CreedHear now the words of the witches, The secrets we hid in the night, When dark was our destiny's pathway, That now we bring forth into light, Mysterious water and fire, The earth and the wide-ranging air, By hidden quintessence we know them, And will and keep silent and dare, The birth and rebirth of all nature, The passing of winter and spring, we share with the life universal, Rejoice in the magical ring, Four times in the year the Great Sabbat, Returns and the witches are seen, At Lammas and Candlemas dancing, On May Eve and old Hallowe'en, When day-time and night-time are equal, When the sun is at greatest and least, The four Lesser Sabbats are summoned, Again witches gather in feast, Thirteen silver moons in a year are, Thirteen is the coven's array, Thirteen times as Esbat make merry, For each golden year and a day, The power was passed down the ages, Each time between woman and man, Each century into the other, Ere time and the ages began, When drawn in the magical circle, By sword or athame or power, Its compass between the two worlds lies, In land of the shades for that hour, This world has no right then to know it, And world of beyond will tell naught, The oldest of Gods are invoked here, The Great Work of Magick is wrought, For two are the mystical pillars, That stand at the gate of the shrine, And two are the powers of nature, The forms and the forces divine, The dark and the light in succession, The opposites each unto each, Shows forth as a God and a Goddess, Of this did our ancestors teach, By night he's the wild wind's rider, The Horns'd One, the Lord of the Shades, By day he's the King of the Woodland, The dweller in green forrest glades, She is youthful or old as she pleases, She sails the torn clouds in her barque, The bright silver lady of midnight, The crone who weaves spells in the dark, The master and mistress of magic, They dwell in the deeps of the mind, Immortal and ever-renewing, With power to free or to bind, So drink the good wine to the old Gods, And dance and make love in their praise, Til Elephame's fair land shall receive us, In peace at the end of our days, And do what you will be the challenge, So be it in love that harms none, For this is the only commandment, By magic of old, be it done, Eight words the Witches' Creed fullfill
The Witches RuneDarksome night and shining moon, Hearken to the Witches Rune. East and South, West and North, Hear me now I call ye forth. By all powers land and sea, Be obedient onto me. Wand and Pentacle, Cup and Sword, Hearken ye all unto my word. Cord and Censor, Totem and Knife, Awaken ye all into life. By all powers of the Witches Blade, Come ye now as the charge is made. Queen of Heaven, Queen of Hell, Send your aid unto my spell. Horned Hunter of the night, Work my will by Magick Rite. By all powers land and sea, As I will so mote it be. By all powers moon and sun, As I say, it shall be done.
Why Some Wiccans Dislike ChristiansWe live in a largely christian time (as have most people in history) yet most people will notice that Wiccans have a general disliking for Christians or other monothiestic religions. Of course, I speak here of only a portion of Wiccans. Generally a rebelious-teenager Wiccan is going to be more inclined to express disliking towards Christians, than say a more expierenced Wiccan. "Fluffy Bunnies" usually show a hate towards Christians also. But Why?
In my personal opinion, Christian Rebeliousness and Fluffy-Bunny Wiccans are the cause of these problems.. Most teenagers go through a phase in which they try as hard as they can to disrupt the peace, or break the rules. Of course, in this day and age, where 'Witchcraft' is thrown around in the media (Charmed, Practical Magick, and The Craft), it is often targeted by Christians, or by the Church as being evil, or a threat to mankind. Further more, it states in the bible that witches shouldnt be spared their life, because in doing so one could be threatening their own. SO (yes i was getting somewhere), children brought up in a Christian home are likely to choose Wicca, Witchcraft, Paganism, or Satanism as a way to rebel against their parents. With the growing number of fluffy-bunny Wiccans around these days, these rebelious teenagers learn concepts like Christians-Make-Us-Out-To-Be-Evil, and Christians-Forced-Their-Beliefs-On-Our-Kind. And dont forget the If-You-Are-A-Witch-Your-Ancestors-Were-Killed-In-The-Witch-Trials-....-By-Christians. So what choice do these growing Wiccans have but to come to hate Christians?
Authors who incorporate Christians in their writings do not help this situation either. Many Wiccan/Pagan authors choose to write a history of 'our kind' in their books, including the spread of Christianity and the Burning Times¹. Ravenwolf is a classic example of one of these authors:"Burning Times: You will hear this often. It is in reference to a historical time from about 1000 CE through the 17th century when it is said that over nine million people were tortured and burned by church and public officials on the assumption that they were the Christian version of Witches...Historians indicated that the majority of people tortured and murdered were women and children." (page 19 Teen Witch)"
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cont.... May 16, 2005 5:18 AM
Left: What are those evil christians doing to my poor inocent ancestors who only practiced "white magic" and never for "personal gain"?It is fact that people were killed during this time, but not even half of Ravenwolf's guess were subject to the licking flame of the stake. An educated estimate suggests that around 40 thousand to 100 thousand women, children and men were persecuted on supposed witchcraft. But what a fantastic over exageration, and for what purpose? To make Christians out to be the bad guy.
Most Wiccans were born Christians. And from this Christian birth and up-bringing, I am sure that many important life skills were learnt. Christianity is different from Wicca in that it is an organised religion (as opposed to a self interpretation) and that it is a monotheistic religion. Yet many laws apply to both Christianity and Wicca. The law of return (Law of 3, Karma... etc) is a common thought shared by Wiccans and Christians alike. The concept of an after-life (be it Heaven or re-incarnation) is another one. "Do onto others as you would have them do onto you", is the same as "if it harms none, do what you will".
Personally I do not understand the constant bickering between these two religions. Both share common beliefs, both believe in an almighty force (mono/polytheism has nothing to do with it), both have their strange reblious teenagers, both have their conflicting beliefs. Its all very strange, I hope that the Wiccans of the age to come recognise the faults of the past and rectify the problem.
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One Point of View May 16, 2005 5:19 AM
The Difference Between Wicca and WitchcraftThis topic is very complicated. Many people believe that Wicca and Witchcraft are the same thing. But from my point of view they have many differences, although both can be crossed with the other to create a way of life. Let's start with Wicca.
Wicca is a new religion based on beliefs record some thousands of years ago. The concept of Gods and Goddesses traces back through histroy right back to the Egyptians and Greek (possibly before). Wicca is generally described as a nature religion. Wiccan beliefs and ideas are religious and are used to help in worship. Most Wiccans are Witches, ALL 'modern' Wiccans are Witches..
Witchcraft is an old concept, modernized. Witchcraft was used to treat sick people back in the Stone Age. Witchcraft is the belief that herbs have properties to heal and bring good luck. Witchcraft is the belief that within a stone or crystal lies some magical property. Witchcraft is in no way a religion, it is a practice that can be used in conjuction with most religions. Witchcraft is the use of magic for gain, weather it be for personal gain, or for the gain of others.. Most witches do not use 'black magic' and only a portion of Witches are Wiccan.
The difference between the two is that Wicca is a religion and Witchcraft is a practice. A person can be a witch but not be a Wiccan, however, to be a Wiccan, is usually to be classed as a Witch. Witchcraft uses magic for gain, Wicca uses Diety Concepts for religious beliefs
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May 16, 2005 5:22 AM
Burning TimesThe following article is a point of view you may not have heard when discussing the famous Burning Times otherwise known as the 'Witch Trials'.
We are of course talking about the time from around the 15th to the 17th century. By this time, the Church had become experienced in the act of execution against criminals and/or heretics. Many people died in this era, and it was a very sad time for women and young children of the Middle Ages.
Fiona Horne (in her book "Life's a Witch"[for southern hemisphere witches] or 'Witchin'" [for northern hemisphere witches]) sums things up very well when she states, "It is sometimes said that millions were tortured and killed after witchcraft charges but... historians believe this figure to be far too high". Silver Ravenwolf's estimate (her estimate is as good as any primary school child) is shown in a book of hers where she states that 9 million people where tortured and killed, mostly women and children. However, most historians will agree on a more realistic figure of 40 thousand to 100 thousand. Several sources suggest that it is a Wiccan's over-exaggeration that causes people to believe 9 million or more people were killed (Sources such as: Wicca: for the rest of us, and Why Wiccans Suck).
Most Wiccan websites will display some banner such as 'Never Again The Burning Times". What these website do not realise, is that the Burning Times were an attack on the threat of having woman gaining more power, and potential enemies. During the Middle Ages, women were gaining more power among the men, and therefore women were a threat to the manly dominance over everything that occured. Also, up until that time, and for a while to follow, a womans place was to either have children and raise them, or cook for her family.
There is no evidence that Christians were trying to wipe out Pagans. No mention of a religion called Paganism was mentioned. Pagan comes from the word Paganus (latin) which means country dweller or peasant. When the christians started their convertings among the people of the world, the country dwellers (or 'pagans') were not available to attend church or sometimes refused to listen to their new preachings. Hence, the word Pagan came to mean someone who is defiant of christian teachings, and this was what christians claimed to be eradicating, not the religion. Of course, the Christians could not have been trying to wipe out Wiccans or Wicca, simply because the religion was established yet, and the thought process was not invented at that particular time.
It must be noted that, yes, many women, men and children admitted to being witches, wizards, warlocks, magicians and the like, but this is not to say they were telling the truth. Hypothetically speaking, if you were dragged from your house into public and be made to kneel in the dirt street while the people scream curses at you while throwing fruit at you until you admitted to witchcraft, how would you feel? What about if the dislocated your arms and legs, stretched your body, whipped you, cut you, or poked you with red hot pokers?
Middle Ages version of a 'Witch' was not just a person who was old, a whore, or used herbs in day to day living. Any person who had any mark on their body could be tried for being a Witch, these marks are called "The Devils Mark" or "Witches Mark". Usually these were moles, burns, scars, strange birthmarks, outward bellybuttons, red or blue bruises, lumps near eyelids, (armpits or other body cavities) warts, tumours, protuberances, & discolouration. It is obvious that the people killed in the middle ages on account of witchcraft were not really witches, but people (usually women) who were at the wrong place at the wrong time, and messed with the wrong people.
To those who dwell on the death of their ancestors "The Witches from The Burning Times", likening yourself to the witches of the Middle Ages is basically calling yourself a devil worshipper, because thats what these alledged witches admitted to, is it not?
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May 16, 2005 5:24 AM
Black magic, White magic
This topic is subject to heated debate in most Wiccan or Witchcraft forums, chatrooms, meetings etc. The separation of magic into two classes, black and white (evil and good) is not viewed as a very Wiccan thought. Though with hidden influences like Charmed, Practical Magick and The Craft its no wonder the words 'black magic' and 'white magic' are on the lips of every new Witch or Wiccan.
The origins of the belief in separation of magic, in my opinion, comes from Christianity. This is not a bad thing, in fact it does make things a lot easier to explain them as evil or good. The simply fact is that with magic, it cannot be split into evil or good, black or white. Magic is not the one at fault for the label of black or white.
It is only the intentions with which magic is being used, that determine whether the effects will be black (of a darker nature) or white (good, for the better of oneself or others).
It is often said that people who practice black magic do their magic in cemetaries, dress in black, use black candles, large knives, surround themselves in skulls and eat babies. The only reason why any of this hocus pocus would work in a darker way is that the mind of the witch is darkened by his/her surroundings. Its rare to see a happy person surrounded by skulls dressed in 18th century black surrounded by similar candles.
This is also the case with witchcraft. Red, Yellow, Blue, White, Pink candles, they are just a way of putting a witch's mind onto the task at hand. They provide a certain aura for the witch to work with, they do not directly enhance or change the spells intent themselves.
There's a scary trend within the Pagan community. More and more, Wicca is being defined, as a whole, as "fluffy bunny". Writers may admit that there are a minority of serious Wiccans, but they're finding the fluffies so overwhelming that they're admitting defeat in attempting to take us seriously.
And honestly, I keep finding myself agreeing with them.
Don't immediately dismiss the critics as closed-minded either. People seem to think that open-mindedness equates to blind acceptance. Open-minded people are still allowed opinions. One can approach a subject with an open mind, consider the evidence, and still declare you an idiot.
Now, for those of you a little confused:
We, as Wiccans, are not followers of an Old Religion, or even an Olde Religion.
We are not "Goddess worshipers". But others find this very important.
The Christian Church has better things to do than persecute us, and always has. Continuing to propagate this myth is nothing short of a persecution against Christianity.
Our purpose is not to promote feminism nor reclaim any supposed power that was once stolen from us.
Nature is comprised of more than love and goodness.
The word "magic" has 5 letters in it. There's no "k" at the end, "j" in the middle or any other letter that some feel compelled to throw into the word. )one point of view. To others it's important to show the difference.
Wicca in no way dictates that you must dress like a goth. Dressing like a goth is fine, but don't attribute it to your religion.
Being tolerant of other religions does not mean they're all your religion. Blind absorption of other religions' traditions and pantheons is not only silly but insulting.
We are not Devil Worshipers!
If you don't understand these statements, please continue reading. At least consider what is written here, be willing to reevaluate your own beliefs, and make an informed choice.
Thought of the moment:
We will not be taken seriously until the "Dungeons and Dragons," crunchy-granola, white-light-fuzzy-bunny, weirdo thing is dropped by those who are already out! We will all be victimized until pagans stop conducting themselves in public in ways that may be considered odd or anti-social. ... There were enough NON-pagans martyred for social and political reasons during the burning times that we need ZERO pagan martyrs today. Today we need strength.
The God and Goddess represent the balance of the universe, the world as a whole, no one part complete without the other. They are not, however, dichotomies - they are not opposites. They can both represent all things - both life and death, for example. They are a unit, more than they are two singulars, better thought of as "God and Goddess" instead of "God" and "Goddess".
Good and evil are generally not addressed at all, as they are human constructs: humanity hardly needs a supernatural force tempting it to evil - it creates far too much on its own. Our actions are our own responsibility.
Many Wiccans simply worship the God and Goddess. I, however, find them more conceptual than literal. Many authors, I suspect, speak of the God and Goddess to sum up the vast array of entities revered by various Wiccans and do not mean to present them as actual entities.
"The God and Goddess are the embodiment of love and goodness and want only what's best for us." A special subspecies of Bunny has been developed for those that espouse this view: "white-lighters". To the best of my knowledge, this term originated on the TV show Charmed. If that's the case, it would be the only positive thing that show has so far contributed to society.
As embodiments of the universe, the God and Goddess dwell everywhere and are within everything. This means that while they are many beautiful and bountiful things, they are also the raging storm, the thundering earth, and the sweeping fire. They are joyous birth and wasting disease, because all are part of the natural cycle of life.
We are very insistent in that we acknowledge no evil deity. In the interest of balance, how then can we possibly have a deity of goodness? The concept of an ever-benevolent supreme power is a Christian concept, and is in fact not found in historical pagan societies.
"I believe in a God and a Goddess, But I only worship the Goddess because Christianity has so overemphasized the God." The Wiccan God and the Christian God are very separate concepts. Speaking of the two as one in the same is absurd and insulting to both sides. The Wiccan God is one-half of a greater whole. Christians view their God as the supreme entity in itself. Christians have not decided to ignore the Goddess out of spite. She does not exist in their world view. One cannot spite what does not exist. Therefore, forming your religious views and practices based upon those of another religion makes no sense, and in this case leads us to do what we accuse Christianity of doing - rebuking one aspect of the whole, even though we acknowledge their existence. That is spite.
Many people identify more with one than the other, God or Goddess. There's nothing wrong in that. But both aspects should be at least some part of your life. I've spent most of my Wiccan life leaning heavily toward one side or the other, and it leaves me very one-sided.
"Balance does not consist of two (or very rarely at least), a two legged table will fall over. Balance consist of three or more. The Goddess ultimately contains all within an [sic] what can be more holistic and balanced that that?" 1 I would think the answer to this is obvious.Wicca is not a table.
Goddess worshippers There are some other reasons given for worshipping only the Goddess. However, these people nowadays generally do not identify themselves as Wiccan, despite the stereotype.
Faces of the God and Goddess Some Wiccans simply call their deities God and Goddess. Others invoke specific aspects from mythology. Some honor pantheons while others dedicate themselves to only a few. This is because the Divine can take upon itself infinite aspects and faces.
Deities are not names to be plucked from a book. They are entities to relate to and form a relationship with. More is not always better! Seek out those attuned to you - not just those that represent what you might want today. Learn of them and the ancient rituals associated with them, if possible. Gods are not things to be taken up and discarded on a whim.
One follower of Asatru said the following:
Norse followers are not pacificists. "We are peace-loving, but there are times when you have to draw blood," he says. "You don't go looking for conflict, but you don't back down. That's not what Wicca believes. It's more fuzzy-bunny, light, light stuff. We're hard-core warrior." 2
And I find this opinion again and again. We may not be "hard-core warrior", but the fuzzy-bunny image has got to go. My patron goddess is the Morrigan, a triplicity of war goddesses. We are not "fuzzy-bunny, light, light stuff."
The Law of Return Also known as the "Threefold Law" or the "Rule of Three"
There are many variations of the phrasing of the Threefold Law, but it generally goes something like:
Ever Mind The Rule Of Three Three Times Your Acts Return To Thee This Lesson Well, Thou Must Learn Thou Only Gets What Thee Dost Earn1
When you take a resource, even with good intentions, there will be repercussions. The petty Credo, a piece of work that I do not believe is required reading for Wiccans but is interesting to investigate at the least. Or, for an even more extreme version:
Ensure that your actions are honorable, for all that you do shall return to you, threefold, good or bane.
People attempt to pass this phrasing off as a moral code, which it is not. The Threefold Law is a statement of belief in the ways of the universe. It does not teach us what is "bad" or "good", only that we shall receive three times whatever we give. The only reason it offers for being good is to receive reward and to escape punishment. That is not morality.
The world does not work as simply as these phrases make it sound. If it did we'd all be donating to charity like mad and reaping the rewards by the handful. The idea of things returning threefold is unnatural. According to the Law of Ecology (from biology class - as Wiccans we should be taking lessons from nature):
Everything is connected to everything else
Everything must go somewhere
Nature knows best
There is no such thing as a free lunch
But it is true that harm tends to beget harm, and it is true that one good turns deserves another: people remember a person's charity and are more likely to aid them in return. Hence, why I prefer to use the term "Law of Return" over "Threefold Law".
Let's also remember one of Newton's laws as another lesson from nature: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. "Opposite" does not mean that you receive bad for every good. It means what gets put out comes back. For instance, if you push upon a wall, the wall is actually pushing back with an equal amount of force - if it did not, it would fall over. That's straight from physics class.
However, what counts as "equal" is not always obvious, especially when dealing with magic, which is what the Law of Return largely addresses. You are invoking the gods for a favor. Therefore, there is a sort of "tax" involved, and this tax is dependent upon the nature of the magic being worked. "Good" should really be thought of as "in harmony with nature", while "bane" is not evil, but instead working contrary to natural law. The more baneful a request, the more resistant the world will be to your intended change. For instance, a ritual asking for a healthy mother gives birth to a healthy child is fairly straightforward, while one asking for a cocaine-addicted mother to give birth to a healthy child is going to take considerably greater effort, even though the desired result (a healthy child) is the same.
"The Threefold Rule follows the old laws of karma" First of all, there is nothing in the rule of karma involving threes. Second, karma is "the force generated by a person's actions, believed in Hinduism and Buddhism to determine his/her destiny in the next existence."3 Karma determines what happens in your next life, not next week.
And if you ever claim that the Threefold Rule is both karmic and Celtic, I swear I will personally kick your ass on general principle.
13 Principals of Belief by The Council of American WitchesThe following was drawn up in 1974 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As we have no central authority, this "Council" does not speak for all Wiccans. Its thirteen principals have, however, been adopted by a great many Wiccans since 1974 as representative of their beliefs.
We practice rites to attune ourselves with the natural rhythm of life forces marked by the phases of the Moon and the seasonal quarters and cross-quarters.
We recognize that our intelligence gives us a unique responsibility toward our environment. We seek to live in harmony with Nature, in ecological balance offering fulfillment to life and consciousness within an evolutionary concept.
We ackowledge a depth of power far greater than is apparent to the average person. Because it is far greater than ordinary, it is sometimes called "supernatural," but we see it as lying within that which is naturally potential to all.
We conceive of the Creative Power in the Universe as manifesting through polarity - as masculine and feminine - and that this same creative Power lives in all people, and functions through the interaction of the masculine and feminine. We value neither above the other, knowing each to be supportive of the other. We value sexuality as pleasure, as the symbol and embodiment of Life, and as one of the sources of energies used in magickal practice and religious worship.
We recognize both outer worlds and inner, or psychological worlds - sometimes known as the Spiritual World, the Collective Unconscious, the Inner Planes, etc. - and we see in the interaction of these two dimensions the basis for paranormal phenomena and magickal exercises. We neglect neither dimension for the other, seeing both as necessary for our fulfillment.
We do not recognize any authoritarian hierarchy, but do honor those who teach, respect those who share their greater knowledge and wisdom, and ackowledge those who have courageously given of themselves in leadership.
We see religion, magick, and wisdom-in-living as being united in the way one views the world and lives within it - a world view and philosophy of life, which we identify as Witchcraft or the Wiccan Way.
Calling oneself "Witch" does not make a Witch - but neither does heredity itself, or the collecting of titles, degrees, and initiations. A Witch seeks to control the forces within him/herself that make life possible in order to live wisely and well, without harm to others, and in harmony with Nature.
We ackowledge that it is the affirmation and fulfillment of life, in a continuation of evolution and development of consciousness, that gives meaning to the Universe we know, and to our personal role within it.
Our only animosity toward Christianity, or toward any other religion or philosophy-of-life, is to the extent that its institutions have claimed to be " the only true right and only way" and have sought to deny freedom to others and to supress other ways of religious practices and belief.
As American Witches, we are not threatened by debates on the history of the Craft, the origins of various terms, the legitimacy of various aspects of different traditions. We are concerned with our present, and our future.
We do not accept the concept of "absolute evil" nor do we worship any entity known as "Satan" or "the Devil" as defined by Christian Tradition. We do not seek power through the suffering of others, nor do we accept the concept that personal benefits can only be derived by denial to another.
We work within Nature for that which is contributory to our health and well-being.
The Five Points of Wiccan Belief as laid out by Universal Eclectic Wicca
This specific form, the "Five Point of Wiccan Belief", is particular to UEW. However, the points contained within are issues held in belief by nearly anyone calling themself Wiccan, even if they phrase them differently.
The Wiccan Rede - An it harm none, do as ye will
The Law of Return - Also known as the Threefold Law
The Ethic of Self-Responsibility - We, and only we, are responsible for our own actions.
The Ethic of Constant Improvement - The desire to improve the world around us, guided in part by the Law of Return.
The Ethic of Attunement - Divinity is within us and around us, and becoming in-tune with this power is a major facet of Wicca.
Myth and History What's real, what isn't, and why it DOES matter.
History is a valued commodity within Western culture. Ideas which have "withstood the test of time" gain credibility on that merit alone. In this environment, a new religion feels particularly vulnerable, and the instinctive reaction is to find some history. The problem is, a great amount of information that Wiccans pass off as "history" has no credible basis in fact, and that makes us look amateurish at best, or even an outright sham.
Wiccans have become much more sensitive in the last ten years to the reality of history. Nevertheless, many others still circulate a grossly erroneous recollections of events, often because they simply read the same information elsewhere and take it at face value.
The general claims proceed as follows:
The general claims proceed as follows:
Origins - Traced back 25,000 years ago, or further.
Matriarchal Societies - When the Goddess was supreme.
The Old Religion - a single all-encompassing belief system incorporating the beliefs of all the pagan people of Europe, and perhaps more.
The Power of Pagan Women - Within these pagan cultures, women were held in high regard, wielding religious, magical and political power.
The Christian Church - Christianity was manipulated, developed or even invented as a tool of men as a means of subjugating these women.
The Survival of Paganism - Through a series of clever deceptions, Old Religion followers continued to practice their arts long after Christianity had seized Europe.
The Burning Times - The apex of the Church's persecutions, in which tales of demonic involvement were invented to turn the people against the women they feared and the last defiant followers of the Old Religion.
Don't take my word on these. Research the subjects if you find my words unlikely, but be aware of your sources. Solid historical scholarship is based on historical documents, while Wiccan historians tend to most quote other Wiccans.
I recently came across one of the more well-presented and well-thought-out websites on Wicca I've found to date. The author, however, claimed that "witchcraft" was a Celtic term meaning "wise, good people". There are several versions of this oft-used claim, but I've never seen any evidence of its truth. I honestly hoped this person might be able to explain it to me. I emailed her with my question. She answered as follows:
my information is correct. im not dumb and if you dont like my information i dont know what to tell you. ive researched everything ive put on that site and if i knew or felt it was the wrong information, i would not put it up. wicca is my religion and i take it very seriously. i would never put false information on a website that teaches who we are.
Well, that's a wee bit defensive isn't it? I wrote her back trying to re-explain my situation, since I clearly had offended her. I had no intention of challenging her. I was seeking information. She didn't reply. She never answered my question either.
Please , please, PLEASE check your facts before publishing them. Any serious historical work can point to legitimate sources as validation. Citing someone else's book or webpage on Wicca is NOT enough. Find out where that author got his information. Most often it's a case of one Wiccan citing another citing another without ever presenting actual facts. In a social setting, this sort of information distribution would be called gossip, and is about as reliable.
Origins Also known as the "We were here first" theory
The late Dr. Margaret Murray traced back and saw Witchcraft's origins in Palaeolithic [sic] times: 25,000 years ago. She saw it as a more or less unbroken line through the present, and as a fully organized religion throughout western Europe for centuries before Christianity.1
Unfortunately, the late Dr. Margaret Murray also didn't know what she was talking about. While her theories were once respected, they were completely dismissed decades ago based, among other things, on her complete lack of supporting evidence. (See more on Murray's unlikely theories).
There is simply no way for a religion to survive 25,000 years (Starhawk puts the number at 35,000 in Spiral Dance). Our knowledge of them comes from a few cave paintings and a handful of crudely crafted artifacts. Whatever their religion was, we cannot possibly know what it was beyond the absolute vaguest of terms. And whatever rituals they may have practiced, they were certainly nothing akin to what is practiced today.
"Wicca is the world's oldest religion / Wicca is older than Christianity" What, are only old religions valid? That sort of thinking invalidates the entire point of religious questing. Every religion had to be a new religion at one point.
Don't tell me age doesn't matter to you. If it didn't matter, you wouldn't bring it up.We're supposed to be tolerant of all other religions.This ill-informed one-upmanship is embarrassing.
Wicca is approximately 60 years old. We have adopted certain aspects of older religions - we even invoke some of their gods - but we are not followers of those religions.Judaism and Christianity share an entire Old Testament, not to mention a supreme being, but they're not the same religion either.
1Buckland, Raymond. Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft, page 1. Llewellyn Publications, copyright 1975.
Much of the nonsense you might hear uttered about the history of Wicca started with an anthropologist named Margaret Murray. She was published in the 1920s, as were some lesser known supporters. You will see her name in the bibliographies of many, many books on Wicca. I generally take mention of her as a reason NOT to purchase a book. What the Wiccan books that cite her generally fail to mention, however, is that she and her theories were thoroughly discredited several decades ago due to a painful and unprofessional lack of evidence.
Was she a sham? Murray never claimed to be Wiccan or Pagan or a follower of the Old Religion, so she had nothing to gain from deception. She probably honestly thought she was promoting historical truth.
What did she teach? She believed, in short, that there was an ancient Old Religion in Europe far predating Christianity and that it secretly survived for centuries despite the Church's attempt to destroy it, culminating in the great witch-hunts, or Burning Times.
One of Murray's theories was that this secret pagan cult practiced voluntary human sacrifice. Every nine years a believer had to die. She puts forward several such victims, including King William Rufus (William II) of England, Saint Thomas Becket, and Saint Joan of Arc. Yes, note the "Saint" in two of those names.
Rufus was a bore of a man and detested by nearly everyone during his life, so much so that his body was quickly secured and buried before anyone could defile it. He died on a hunting excursion, when a friend "accidentally" shot him with an arrow. Ironically, historians tend to think it really was an accident. Murray suggests that this friend was in fact a fellow pagan carrying out Rufus's wishes: they had already willingly separated from the rest of a hunting party and were therefore alone.
Similarly Becket's murderers were in fact fellow pagans, according to Murray, flying straight into the face of all accepted history of the saint. Becket was a personal friend of King Henry II, and Henry arranged for him to become archbishop of Canterbury, as the politics between Church and State were not at their healthiest at the time. But Becket had a change of heart. Perhaps it was simply a bit of a power trip for him, or perhaps he did indeed experience a religious reverie. Regardless, Becket began opposing the King much as his predecessor had, until one night, while drunk, Henry famously uttered, "Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?" Four knights took this to be an order, rode hard to Canterbury, and murdered Becket in his own cathedral. Henry was profoundly wracked by guilt, was censured by the Church, and submitted to a whipping by Church officers in penance.
The only odd fact of this whole story is that Becket had warning of the knights' arrival, and when his subordinates attempted to spirit him away, he refused. But instead of accepting this final act as submission to God's will, Murray spins this fantastical and quite illogical tale of secret religions and pagan sacrifice.
Joan of Arc's story is the most bizarre of Murray's fables. Instead of having her fellow pagans slaughter her, she allowed herself to be captured and burned at the stake at the hands of the Christian Church. What religious purpose can possibly be served at the hands of a non-believer? And if this rather sophomoric religion that Murray depicts merely needed a death, then did she not simply fall upon her sword, poison herself, even throw herself from a high wall? Instead she was tortured, humiliated and possibly raped before suffering one of the most horrific and painful methods of execution possible.
To make such claims without a shred of evidence is just plain irresponsible. To take two great heroes of someone else's religion and claim they were in fact pagans is outright insulting. And even if this crazy religion did actually exist, why on earth would modern Wiccans want to be associated with it? I've never seen a Wiccan claim Joan or Becket as among our ranks, but the idea that we would associate ourselves at all with Murray's nonsense is depressing.
Deborah - "Queen Bee", a ruler of Israel in the matriarchal period...The Bible called her a "prophetess" and "judge" to disguise the fact that she was one of the governing matriarchs of a former age.1
War - A primary patriarchal contribution to culture, almost entirely absent from the matriarchal societies of the Neolithic and early Bronze Ages.2
Villages grew into the first towns and cities. The Goddess was painted on the plastered walls of shrines, giving birth to the Divine child - her consort, son, and seed...Mathematics, astronomy, poetry, music, medicine, and the understanding of the working of the human mind developed side by side with the lore of the deeper mysteries.
But later, cultures developed that devoted themselves to the arts of war. Wave after wave of Indo-European invasions swept over Europe from the Bronze Age on. Warrior Gods drove the Goddess peoples out from the fertile lowlands and fine temples...The mythological cycle of Goddess and Consort, Mother and Divine child, which had held sway for 30 thousand years, was changed to conform to the values of the conquering patriarchies.3
In short, women equal good, men equal bad.
Besides the implied sexism, the theory is just bad history. There is no historical evidence of a matriarchal civilization having ever existed anywhere. There have been, and still are, matrilineal societies, in which inheritance and/or genealogy is traced through the female line. But this in no way implies a superiority or even an equality of the feminine gender in these societies.
Something else to consider: if these matriarchies were so great, stable and powerful, how did the marauding men manage to so easily take over?
I repeat: there is no such thing as a matriarchal civilization.
There was also never a time when the Goddess reigned supreme, to the best of our knowledge. Stating as fact the details of Neolithic and Paleolithic religions is irresponsible, due to the extreme lack of evidence on which to base such theories.
The existence of Paleolithic Venuses is no more evidence of a goddess-centered culture than the pictures and bones of bears proves a divine bear-centered Paleolithic culture.4
One small step down the from matriarchal society theories are those stating that in pagan societies men were the official kings but it was their wives who actually held the true power. Barbara G. Walker's The Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets is over a thousand pages of attempting to cram every legendary woman into this role and every man into a sacrificial king, ruling only at the whim of his wife. It's really painful reading.
First off, if having to hide behind the facade of your husband is what you call equality, you've got issues. Second, this sort of clandestine arrangement as an official and permanent fixture of a society is implausible. Yes, it happened (and still happens), but on a case-by-case basis. It is an arrangement that might be momentarily accepted, but certainly isn't going to be promoted by a society as a whole as an institution.
1 Walker, Barbara G. The Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, page 217. HarperCollins Publishers, copyright 1983 2 ibid. page 1058. HarperCollins Publishers, copyright 1983 3 Starhawk. Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess, page 18. HarperCollins Publishers, copyright 1979 4http://www.grymwurld.com/Grymlorde/Revisionism.html (site no longer online)
The Venus of Willendorf crica 25,000 B.C.E. Palm-sized, limestone figure found in what is now Austria
hello I agree with some of the info that you posted but the 3 fold law is a very serious thing and so is karma and what most don't get it the fact that its very much real and thats why I'm very careful about what I do in the way of magic and that I've found that alot of thing as far as paths and practices are they are alot older than christanity and christanity adopted alot of things from other paths to during the witch trials and they hurt alot of people in the process and they constantly pursecute those whom do not believe the same as them and as far as wiccans they have some good points but like all paths there are the times whenthey ritually abuse people too and I think that alot of the info on here is really good to know Thanks Mary
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When ye choose the path of the solitaire, To be one with Earth, Fire, Sea, and Air. An oath ye take to initiate Thyself into thy truest state. No longer be of flesh and bone, See thyself as Spirit's own. Whatever path of faith ye take, Learn it well, for thine own sake. In thy Craft be dilligent, Lest thy knowledge be quickly spent. Learn to seek and seek to learn, An elder's wisdom never spurn. For though ye choose to walk alone, Heed the knowledge ye are shown. The laws ye choose which to abide, Let them be thy daily guide. Always heed the law of three, For what ye send shall return to thee. What ye conjure here, ye should know Manifests above, as it does below. As for the law, 'An it harm none,' Let thy soul decide what must be done. Protect thyself and thy kin, Lest any harm should come to them. Be mindful of what's right and just, To live in perfect love and trust. Find balance in thy life and deeds, Look within to fulfill thy needs. 'Tis not a path for the faint of heart, So heed this wisdom I now impart. To thine own self be always true, In all ye say and all ye do. Still thy tongue from words of wrath, Do not slight another's path. For when all is said and done, We each are but a part of One. Keep this knowledge in thy heart, From its wisdom never part. This I say, So mote it be, Merry Part and Blessed Be.
Thanks for posting all this great info !! I myself practice Green Wiccan and i keep it to my self . I live in a town that would be very upset and mad if they knew . Plus my daughter inlaw would never let me see are grand children again. It is good to fine others like me thank you for being here Love Hazel
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Thanks for sharing all this great info .....I, myself, am not Wiccan....this is something I read on http://hecatescauldron.org/ and I thought it had a lot of good info as well...
Witchcraft or Wicca?
What is the difference between Witchcraft and Wicca, or, should it be Witchcraft vs. Wicca vs. Paganism? Most Witches are Pagans, but, all Pagans are not Witches. And most importantly, not all Witches are Wiccans. In other words, a Witch who practices Witchcraft does not necessarily mean that she believes in the religion of Wicca. A Wiccan involved in the religious practices of Wicca does not necessary practice Witchcraft and which makes them not a Witch. And some Wiccan Pagans feel that no magick should be practiced at all, as Wicca is a religion and not magick. As Scott Cunningham wrote in one of his books "Witchcraft: the craft of the Witch–magick, especially magick utilizing personal power in conjunction with the energies within stones, herbs, colors and other natural objects. While this may have spiritual overtones, Witchcraft, using this definition, isn’t a religion. It is just that some followers of Wicca use this word to denote their religion." So, according to Scott Cunningham simply being a Wiccan does not necessarily mean that you are a Witch. I have seen in many websites that they state "Wicca comes from the root word "wicce" which means to bend or shape." This is absolutely and positively incorrect. I have also seen some websites state that Witchcraft is "the craft of the wise." This is also incorrect. Wicca is a male term for a person practicing his craft whereas Wicce is a term used for a female practicing her Craft
But where does the word Witchcraft come from? Actually, no one really knows, except that it is a Christian word. The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that Witchcraft comes from the Old English word Wiccecraeft (also spelled wiccecraefte, wicchecrafte, wichecraft as well as wesch-craft and wicche craft) and that it literally means the Craft in the sense of art or skill of a practicing Pagan. The truth of the matter is perhaps the witch is a descendant of the ancient Goddess who embodied both birth and death, nurturing and destruction. Like Hecate and Diana, the Witch is associated with the Moon and lunar power. Like Aphrodite and Venus, she can make love potions. Each attribute of a Witch, once belonged to a Goddess. All over the ancient world, Goddesses were worshipped. These Goddesses represented womanhood distilled to its ultimate essence. But when religions' decay and Gods are replaced, there is a consistent dynamic: the gods of the old religion inevitably become the evil of the new and that is what happened to the Goddess and which spilled over into the bodies of all women and were called Witches...as someone to fear, hate and to destroy. Since the Goddess of birth is also the Goddess of death, women are accused of bringing death into the world as well as life. This is why the Witch is depicted both as young, beautiful and bedecked with flowers, and as a frightening crone covered with cobwebs. She represents all the cycles of life, and if she is terrifying, it is because the cycles of life terrify. The rejection of females' bloody cycles, mewling infants, and cthonic vendettas reasserts itself in many cultures. Woman is made the scapegoat for mortality itself, for nature is red in tooth and claw, for the mutability that is human fate. Then she is punished, as if she were responsible for all nature's capriciousness, as if she were Mother Nature incarnate--which, of course, is partially true! So, what is a Witche's heritage? Her great, great, great, great, great ancestress is Ishtar, Hecate, Isis, Diana. Her father is man. Her midwife, his fears. Her torturer, his fears. Her executioners, his fears. Her malignant power, his fears. Her healing power, her own. So if the word Witch is a God of Abraham word and in a derogatory meaning, why call oneself a Witch? Why....because of the more than 6 million women who were tortured and killed because of the word Witch.
Witches of yesteryear did not go around calling themselves Witches. People did. Just as Jesus did not go around calling himself a Christian. People did. More likely than not, the villagers went to a wise woman who attended to the birthing, attended to the sick and was even consulted in matters such as love and monetary matters as well as discreetly providing some villagers with potions and spell kits, but she did not necessarily call herself a Witch, because in the earliest days of "witchcraft", practitioners were actually the village healers, teachers, story tellers, and midwives. It remained this way until the late 1400s when the Inquisition swept through Europe and by some estimates, as many as 9 million "witches" were executed, most of them women and children. They talk about the Holocaust and what the Germans did to the Jews. What about what the Christians did to those Pagan women and children in the name of Witchcraft.
The word "Wicca" is a male gender term while "Wicce" is the female gender. I have read that Gerald Gardner chose the word "Wicca," as he wanted to stay away from the bad undertones of the word Witchcraft. Now, this is very hard to believe for instead of Gardner trying to show the rest of the World what Wicca was truly about, his exploits in his introducing Wicca to the media almost sent the religion back behind closed doors. When one thinks of a Witch, they think of a woman, and they see her with her broom or bending over some cauldron. Even Halloween cards which has a Witch plastered on its front is that of a woman. There have been many fairytale stories of Witches and all of them are of women. One of the museums in Salem, Massachusetts has a manikin Witch flying on a broom, and it is a woman. When one thinks of a man performing magickal practices, he is thought of as a Wizard and/or magician. Rarely is a women depicted as a magician. Rarely is a Witch depicted as a man, and I do believe that that is why Gerald Gardner strayed away from the word Witch and its association with women and instead chose the word Wicca which is a male term. A man who so cleverly created the religion of Wicca could not have been so easily misunderstood in his spelling of the word and that is what some claimed happened. They call the pagan religion a Goddess religion, yet Gardner named it Wicca. In his book "The Meaning of Witchcraft", Gardner says "it may be because Witchcraft is a Moon Cult" yet he names this "Moon Cult," which the Moon is associated with the Goddess, Wicca..a male term. Doreen Valiente, High Priestess along side Gerald Gardner and author of "Rebirth of Witchcraft" and other books, did not like using the word Wicca for that very reason, as do many other female pagans.
There are many different practices of the religion known as Paganism and Wicca sits under that umbrella, just as you have Lutherans, Methodists, etc., sitting under the umbrella of Christianity. Wicca actively worships both the Goddess and her Consort and claim to follow the old religion. They see the Goddess triple in nature and the God Her child and lover who dies in order for us to live. Whereas many Pagans/Witches and Dianics, (while they recognize the existence of Her Consort), only actively worship the Goddess and actually do follow one of the oldest religions, as the Goddess religion is one of the oldest religions. Traditions of Wicca claim that to honor either the Goddess or Her Consort more than the other would be an imbalance and an injustice. However, simply honoring both equally does not make one in balance, because each of us carry more energies of the male or female in us and it is generally the male energy that we all carry too much of. In this modern technology world we live in today and using all that fire energy we need to rush around in our daily lives, we cannot help but carry too much male energy whether male or female.
More and more Pagans and/or Witches feel that Wicca, Druidism, and Strega are too male oriented for their liking. In fact, most feel that Strega is actually Wicca with the name Strega attached to it. Strega practices the 8 sabbats and below you will see that there is no one religion who practiced all 8 sabbats..only the man-made new religion known as Wicca.
In the Wiccan path, the celebrations of the Sabbats, She is supposed to be honored equally with Her Consort. However, with the Wiccan Sabbats and the Wheel of the Year, it seems as if things are centered more around the Sun God and his Wheel of the Year..Lord of the Dance.. He is born at Yule and then his growth is followed in the seasonal year. However, it is the Goddess who creates the seasonal year. Wiccan covens tend to put more emphasis on Sabbats whereas Goddess followers and Witches put more emphasis on Moon rituals. Many Pagans feel the Sabbats are just celebrations without any formal circle, as it was in yesteryear times.
The solstices and equinoxes are about the Sun and are what Gardner called the Lessor Sabbats while the Sabbats of Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas and Samhain are more about vegetation and Mother Earth and are called the Greater Sabbats and which are the true Celtic Sabbats. No where in any one tradition did pagans celebrate the 8 Sabbats, yet the Wiccan tradition follows the 8 Sabbats. Gardner pulled from the different traditions to form the 8 Sabbats. It also must be noted that no where can it be found that any pagan tradition celebrated the Spring Equinox. Gardner pulled the Spring Equinox in to keep the Sabbats more balanced and to have a celebration every six weeks. In fact, in his book "The Meaning of Witchcraft" he says "The four great Sabbats are Candlemas, May Eve, Lammas and Samhain; the equinoxes and solstices are celebrated also." It almost as if he put the equinoxes and solstices as an afterthought..why..because, once again, no one pagan path celebrated the 8 Sabbats.
In the Wiccan tradition, they believe that She would be nothing without the Sun, or She needs the Sun to keep Her balance, when it is She who created the moon, the earth, the sun and the stars. Pagans see the Goddess as much more than just the sexual union with Her Consort, just as we, as woman, are much more than just a mate for our husbands. She stands alone in Her own power, just as we, as women, stand alone in our own power, and that is what Goddess followers are honoring and worshiping which is Her inner strength, Her power, Her nurturing aspect and Her magick of life giver. She is the blade of grass, the gentle breeze upon our faces; She is the birds chirping and the bees upon the flowers. She is the earth that you walk on and the food in which you eat. She creates the seasonal changes, as She moves to and from the sun. The sun moves very little, while She dances the dance of life, for She is life itself. She is the moon with all its mysteries; She is the earth full of bounty.
Wicca feels that there must be a balance, but when one thinks about pagans of yesteryear, pagans were less concerned about balance and more concerned with survival. Pagans prayed to the Gods for a fruitful and successful harvest and had celebrations when their crops were successful.. There were no rituals at Sabbats...., no casting circles, no calling in the Watchtowers. They were farmers working the land and living off of it from the fruits of their labor. Life was hard and they worked from day break to sun set with no time in between for Sabbat rituals. Many Witches of today realizes this and therefore only celebrate the Sabbat by honoring the day.
Yesteryears' pagans, and most Witches today, realize that Nature is not about balance for where is the balance of floods, draughts, tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, wind storms, severe and destructive lightening storms, or excessive heat and or cold. In August, the Greeks prayed to the Goddess Hecate to not send Her destructive storms. Nature is beautiful, yet it can be harsh and cruel. Pagans lived in a world not of dreams but a world of reality wherein the very livelihood depended upon successful crops which could be destroyed by weather or by blight, diseases, insects, etc. There is beauty of the land and beauty of Her creatures, yet one predator can be another one's prey for the only balance in Nature is life and death. Paganism is a Nature religion and, while Wicca believes there is balance in Nature, most Witches know there is no balance in Nature and must learn to live with Nature with all Her ups and downs just as life has its ups and downs. The Goddess religion is about living in harmony with all Her creatures and respecting Her body....the land, something of which many do not do.
Besides a desire to get into touch with the Earth, another motivator of those who become Witches is a belief in the beauty, power, and holiness of womankind. The Pagan religion is a celebration of the feminine principle. Wiccans see it as a celebration of the wheel of the year of the Sun God and the sexual union between Lord and Lady.
Many Wiccans perform ritual skyclad. Many Pagans wish not to participate in ritual nudity. Not because they are ashamed of anything, but feel that it is not necessary. Nudity in ritual stems from Leland's Aradia, Gospel of the Witches wherein in the "Charge" it says "and ye shall go naked in your own right." It was never proven that the material Leland said to have received from a gypsy who claimed to be a witch and in which he created Aradia, Gospel of the Witches in 1890 was authentic. Leland was a writer whom published over seventy-three books. Most of those books were not on Witchcraft. No artifacts can be found, no written material other than what Leland wrote of a Goddess originating from Tuscany in the form of Aradia. In fact, there are no mythology books on any Goddess known as Aradia or of Diana giving birth to Aradia or even having a brother named Lucifer, unlike her cousin, Artemis, in the Greek Mythology whose brother was Apollo. I have a feeling that Leland's material is no more authentic than Gardner's Wicca which has been proven that Gardner's Book of Shadows of Laws, rituals and initiations came from various sources including Key of Solomon, The Golden Dawn, and Free Masonry, to name a few, and not from some ancient tradition to which he claimed he was initiated into. Gardner was initiated into ceremonial magick traditions but not Paganism and certainly not Witchcraft.
Unlike Wiccans, most Witches and/or Pagans also prefer not to honor the practices of the Great Rite, symbolic or otherwise, feeling that the sexual union between the Goddess and Her Consort is only one facet of who and what the Goddess truly is. Many Wiccan traditions put much emphasis on the Great Rite in its symbolic form in each of their Sabbat rituals by performing the athame to chalice in all their ceremonies. Many Pagans feel that only at Beltane would that be appropriate. As some may know, Aleister Crowley helped Gardner shape and form Wicca. He has been billed as the greatest magician of the 20th century but it is questionable whether he ever actually performed any feat of magick. In 1920, Crowley rented a villa and converted it into a sanctuary where he could explore all the nuances of sexual magick. According to one story in a London paper, life at Crowley’s sanctuary focused on "unspeakable orgies, impossible of description." Many Pagans feel that Crowley is another reason why so much emphasis is put on nudity and the Great Rite in the Wiccan tradition and many Witches and/or Pagans do not wish to have have any association with the infamous Aleister Crowley.
Wiccans put much emphasis on swords and athames wherein many Witches prefer using the wand or staff in their casting a circle. The sword is definitely a masculine trait. Some Witches even prefer using the sickle, as it is the symbol of the Crone--of harvesting and death. In hunter-gatherer societies, women were responsible for gathering and harvesting plant material. When cultivation began as a result of Demeter’s gift of wheat, it was the women who were instrumental in the harvest. Hence, the sickle is an appropriate (and ancient) women’s tool. I really do not believe that your average pagan woman of yesteryear had a sword hanging on her wall and if and when she drew a magickal circle on the ground, more likely than not, she used a branch from a tree and did not tote some sword through the woods. And she probably did not use a knife/athame to cast her circle either. The sword is purely a masculine invention, as it was used in wars to kill. Before there was a God and it was just the Goddess, there were no wars. That did not come until the Solar Gods came into play bringing with them war, chaos, rape, deceit, jealousy, and even eating of their own children.
More and more Witches are preferring to follow the Moon more so than the Sun and its Sabbat rituals. Many of today's Witches prefer performing Moon rituals and simply celebrating the Sabbats as pagans of yesteryear did. They feel no necessity of calling in the Sun God during Moon rituals for in Moon rituals it is in honor of the Goddess only. Yes, there are some Moon Gods but they did not appear until after the warring Gods came into play and took power away from the Goddess and given to the God from Zeus giving birth to Athena, depriving her of a mother to Gods being associated with the Moon. Women are on the Moon's cycle, bleeding every 28 to 29 days, not men. Women have more water in their bodies then men and therefore feel the Moon more. The Sabbats deal with Her interaction as Mother Earth with the Sun God. However, as Moon Goddess, She stands alone free and strong, independent of no influences of the Sun, and many Witches honor Her and only Her at Dark and Full Moons, not being caught up in the "balance." The Moon, after all is our closest neighbor. The moon influences ocean tides and blood tides. The Moon is intimately connected to the ancient worship of the Goddess. In Gardner's Book, "The Meaning of Witchcraft", he writes "but apart from these great Sabbats, minor meetings called Esbats are held." In other words, he is putting less emphasis on his own words "Witchcraft is a Moon cult!" If Witchcraft is a Moon Cult, why minor meetings during Esbats/Full Moons? In Wicca, much importance is placed on the Sun God and his wheel of the year. However, science knows that if it were not for the Moon, we would not be for it is the Moon who keeps the Earth from spinning out into space. It is the Moon who keeps the seasonal changes consistent for if it were not for the Moon, one day it would be cold and the next could be like a hot summer day. So, it is the Moon and the Moon alone who keeps things in balance and the earth spinning on her right course year, after year, after year. Therefore, it is the feminine Moon and the Moon alone who should be honored each month.
Regarding initiation, when it is a female wishing to be initiated into the Craft, according to the Wiccan tradition, a male has to initiate a female. There has been much controversy on this subject, as many Pagans and Wiccans feel that a female should do the initiating on all occasions, as it is the Goddess who is doing the initiating in the first place.
There are many women today refusing to call themselves Wiccans because of its male terminology. Once again, Wicce is a female term and Wicca a male term, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.. Women, throughout the ages, have fought for women's rights, fought for the freedom to vote, fought for their own freedom from man, fought for our rights from brutality of some men, fought for equal pay, fought for even the right to smoke out in public and even had to fight to wear pants. Yet, some of today's women have stepped backwards in calling themselves a male term of Wiccan and following a Goddess religion named after a male. All wise Witches know that words have power; names have power, if not, Witches, Pagans and Wiccans would not be choosing magickal names which represents their very soul. Some Witches and/or Pagans following the Dianic path call themselves "Dianic Wiccans," which is a contradiction in itself, as the Dianic path is centered solely around the Goddess in the Sabbats and in Moon rituals. It is a very female oriented religion, yet they call themselves Wiccans, which is a male term. If "Witchcraft is a Moon Cult", by Gardner's own words, why call it Wicca, when Wicca is a male term and paganism is a Goddess religion. That is why many Witches refuse to call the Goddess religion by a male name of Wicca. Many Pagans and/or Witches put more emphasis on Moon rituals and celebrate the Sabbats and not the other way around. Most of all, many Witches and/or Pagans do not wish to follow yet another man-made religion which is what Wicca is. Witchcraft is not a religion but a practice of one's Craft..... I do not care how many Wiccan practitioners protest that Witchcraft is a religion. It simply is not so..
You also see many groups calling themselves "Traditional Witchcraft." If their tradition is religious in nature, then it is not necessarily Traditional Witchcraft, as the old "traditional" Witchcraft was not a religion but one practicing solely the arts of magick and not a religion. They performed no rituals in either performing magick or for the Sabbats. Following a "tradition" and "Traditional Witchcraft" are two separate things. One can always tells when someone is claiming they are "Traditional Witches" or practicing Traditional Witchcraft, and they are not, simply by observing if they practice the 8 Sabbats, or they practice any religion at all. Traditional Witches have no claim, nor do they want to, on Wicca. Most Trad Witches have no connection with a Deity nor a religion. Instead, Trad Witches, as with all Witches, delve in the healing arts, divination and of magick with no interlacing of any kind of a religion and/or performing any kind of ritual. They know of no Book of Shadows nor Witche's Tools of the Craft and no "And Ye Harm None." These are ceremonial magician followings and one in which Gardner pulled into Wicca. The 8 Sabbats are clearly a Wiccan practice. However, and unfortunately, some disagree with this statement, but then again, they really do need to do some serious research on the matter.
I have received many emails informing me that because they choose not to walk the balance religion known as Wicca and do not worship the Goddess and her consort like Wicca does that they are told they are not a Witch. They are told this by Wiccans. What is disturbing about this is that it sounds all too familiar in the Christian Religion wherein Christians tell other Christians that they will not go to Heaven simply because they have not been saved, i.e., born again. There are Christians who disagree with other Christian paths and will put other Christian followings down. The Goddess Religion/Paganism is supposed to be a religion with no dogma, yet Wiccan members are doing just that as many Wiccans frown upon other Pagans who walk a different life than Wicca. What these accusers do not realize is that Witchcraft has nothing to do with a religion, has nothing to do with following a Goddess and God or simply the Goddess. Witchcraft is the practicing of one's Craft and not the practicing of a religion. What these people also do not realize is that no one has the right to tell another person that they are not a Witch. In order for this to stop, Pagans need to stand up for what they believe in and not be bullied by another simply because they wish to worship differently. Nature is not about balance for She does what She pleases. If an initiated Wiccan told another person who was a self-initiated Wiccan that they were not Wiccan because Wicca is an initiatory religion and one must be initiated into the religion known as Wicca by another initiated Wiccan, then they would be right. Since it has been discovered that Gerald Gardner made the entire religion known as Wicca up, including initiation, then the only way to be truly a Wiccan is to be initiated by a Wiccan and not self-initiation. Gardner's intent was to form something similar as in The Golden Dawn, Free Masonry, the following of King Solomon, all of which are/were secret societies which one has to be initiated into to be a member and sworn to secrecy. Wicca can be compared to the High Priests/High Priestesses of Egypt wherein members of the temple must be initiated. The practices of Egypt did not allow the common folk to step foot into the temples. Besides the High Priestess and High Priestess, Handmaidens, and initiated members, the Pharoah was the only one allowed into the temple for it was believed he was God. The "common" people worshipped on their own and worshipped how they wished to worship and whom they wished to worship at any given time and not necessarily both a Goddess and God.
If Paganism with all its paths is to survive and be recognized, everyone must respect how another Pagan wishes to worship the nature religion and the turning of the wheel of life.