Love is The Law, Love under Will,
Do What though wilt is its whole,
Harm none is its precept,
Nature is its truth,
Beauty is its manifestation,
Compassion is its consequence,
Ecstasy is its reason
A Wiccan, or follower of Wicca; is someone who follows a shamanic and ceremonial/hermetic nature-centered spirituality with the belief in an archetypal God and Goddess. The two deities are also seen as two sides of a an all en-composing divinity known as the Dryghten. The religion involves attuning with the cycles of nature, divine communion and self-work to transform the initiate into a channel and vessel for divinity. It is a mystical and magickal path that views divinity as both immanent and transcendent. Each practitioner is their own clergy as everyone is said to have a direct connection with divinity. Wicca, being a mystery tradition, involves immersive ritual set up to engage the senses inducing an altered state of consciousness. This leads to a transcendent experience which is no less than intimate union with deity.
The deities are archetypal meaning that all gods are said to be aspects or expressions of The God and all goddesses of The Goddess. The deities are also further subdivided into other archetypes such as the Maiden, Mother and Crone for the Goddess as well as the Stag, Father and Sage for the God. The God (as well as the Goddess) has other archetypes such as the Greenman whom is divided into the Holly and Oak Kings representing the dark and light halves of the year respectively.
Wiccans see the physical, mundane world as an expression of divinity. That is to say that “The mundane is a canvas which Spirit paints” and because of this, everything is considered sacred, especially creation. Just as any artistic expression illuminates upon the mind of the artist so does the mysteries of creation illuminate divinity. While one may create with a number of mediums, divinity is not impermanent and creates merely by stating, “I Am”.
The Old-English eart is to be found in “Thou Eart” - “Thou Art”. Creativity then is the very reason for our being and this is evident in the diversity of nature. We “Are” because of divinities need for creative expression and that by expressing our own creative needs we are preforming the most sacred of acts with is the sheer love of being.
Our consciousness is the creative process in motion. So creation as well as creativity is the manifest expression of inner divinity.
Wicca teaches that we, being made in that image, are co-creators capable of exerting our will on our reality. The harmony and correspondence between our inner self (Microcosm) and the universal mind in which we dwell (Macrocosm) is called Magic(k), the highest of which is experiencing the inner and outer worlds as One. This is called Theurgy- transcendent experience of the divine, union with deity. This is the Magnum Opus or “Great Work” of Wiccan practice however there is also what is known as Thaumaturgy: Practical magic(k), to cause a certain occurrence or state.
Everything, being of this universal mind, has attributes or correspondences associated with the structure of this mind or “All”. Those correspondences can be used used to work magic(k). The associations of your own mind are also important because there must be a relationship between the inner and outer in order to change the mentality of your environment.
This inner work is Alchemy, which was never about turning physical lead into gold but making the temple (body and mind) an appropriate chariot for divinity. The outer process, measured by the cycles of the seasons and the celestial bodies is Astrology. The union and harmony of the two is magic(k).
As it said, “As Above, so Below; As Within, So without” as “to perform the miracles of the one thing. And as all things were from the one, by means of the meditation of the one, thus all things were born from the one, by means of adaptation.”
That which is within is like that which is without - the forces of creation which create all things by adaption of the creative process.
The history of Wicca as the modern religion is known today shadows a man by the name of Gerald Brosseau Gardner (13-6-1884 – 12-1-1964). Gardner, known as the “Father of Modern Wicca” to many and Scire to those of The Craft; was a prominent Occultist as well as an amateur anthropologist and archaeologist, writer and weaponry expert. Gardner spent most of his life in southern and south-eastern Asia were became interested and studied in-depth, the practices of native spirituality. After he retired he returned to England where because of his studies, a local coven made themselves known to him. Gardner was Initiated by Dorothy Clutterbuck (19-1-1880 – 12-1-1951) of Newforest Coven in 1939. He would go on to establish the Bricket Wood coven and form his own tradition of The Craft that has come to bear his name, Gardnerian Wicca, which built upon the teachings of New Forest Coven with Ceremonial Magic(k), medieval grimmoires, freemasonry and the writings of Aleister Crowley, a close friend of Gardners (Gardner was also initiated into the O.T.O.). Gardner initiated many notable High Priestesses including Doreen Valiente, Lois Bourne, Patricia Crowther and Eleanor Bone. Fearing that the craft would die out Gardner published “High Magic’s Aid” under the guise of a fictional novel and after the last Witchcraft laws in England were repealed, published “Witchcraft Today” (1954) and “The Meaning of Witchcraft” (1959). The laws may have been repealed but the practitioners had learned their lesson and none were willing to come out of hiding, and Gardner believed his Coven was the last of the Old Ways. What a miracle it was then, after he had published his book that he began to receive many a letter from followers of the Old Ways both solitary and covened as they slowly came out of hiding. It was an unexpected turnout that could not have been greater, yet much of the knowledge was fragmented and many followed Gardner’s lead in reconstruction, and this was how the Old Ways gained New Life.
This left many in America seeking such a path and it was a protege of Gardner, Raymond Buckland who would be asked to bring Wicca to the “New World”. Buckland did much to establish Wicca in the US and Canada before focusing on his own Tradition of Seax Wicca. There have been many notable Wiccans and non-Wiccan Witches who have contributed greatly to the growth of The Craft - more so than I can document here. Another Wiccan of mention however is Scott Douglas Cunningham (6-27-1956 – 3-28-1993) whose deep and yet simple and straightforward spiritual practice paved (and still paves) the way for many who were/are called to follow Wicca yet find themselves in the situation of the solitary, without benefit of teacher or community. He died far to young, but made the difference of several lifetimes.
Today we have many authors and the interest in Wicca is at an all time high yet elders are sparse and learning, as hard as it is in a traditional setting asks even more of the solitary. The foundation has been laid however, and thanks to those whom have dedicated their life’s to the Old Ways the legacy is passed.
Wiccans believe in both a God and Goddess which are archetypal. An archetype being a conceptual template which is the foundation for many expressions. Therefore, all the goddess (goddess-forms) of the world are expressions of The Goddess and the same goes for The God. Wicca teaches that divinity comes to us in the form that is most comfortable and intimate to understanding. Wiccans believe the God and Goddess to be expressions of the “One” or “Dryghten”. Just as you have different sides to yourself so does the Dryghten. For example, you have both your masculine and your feminine side and among and between those two poles are various personalities that comprise your whole persona.
Wicca teaches the exploration of the self through the exploration of deity and ritual often involves taking on an aspect of deity in which the mythos is reflective of the life and lessons of the practitioner and vice versa.
Imagine you have an orange and you cut it in halves. You now have two halves, God and Goddess, and each half can be divided into slices. We can divide the God halve into Pan, Ra, Zeus and Adonai; Likewise we can the divide the Goddess halve into Hekate, Isis, Demeter and Shekinah.
That said Wiccans often have a specific God and Goddess known as their Patron and Matron deities. They can be from any culture, however some Traditions use specific ones.
Mine are Hekate and Baphomet. Other common deities include Ardadia, Arachne, Diana, Selene, Shekinah, Isis, Demeter, Brighid, Cerredwyn, Adonai, Pan, Herne, Dionysus, Cernunnos, Osirus, Odin or even Jesus.
Therefore you can say we believe in two deities, thousands of deities or even one deity and be correct in each statement.
She who is called “The Lady of The Moon”, “The Tripple Goddess” and “The Eternal Womb”; The Goddess of the Witches is she who nourishes the divine seed of creation, she is the soil and the dark depths of the mind- the creatrix. As Diana and Selene she is the silver splendor of the Moon. As Persephone and Brighid she is the young maiden. As Demeter is the great mother and as Gaia she embraces us all. As Cerredwyn she is eternal womb of rest and rebirth, and the Crone who guards the deepest of mysteries in the primordial dark. As Shekinah she is the presence and glory of God. As Isis it is she who lifts the veil of illusion. As Hekate she is all these things; Triple Goddess, key to the mysteries, illuminating upon the pathways of the soul. As Hekate Phosphorous she is the female adept who has embraced her masculine side and found equilibrium.
Her grace is reflected in the phases of the Moon as it is said to be one of her many manifestations. Know her through the great depictions of feminine divinity and nature, but above all from within.
He who is called “The Lord of Death and Resurrection” and “The Gate Keeper at the End of Time”; The God of the Witches is depicted with much vitality and potency, and the primal beastial qualities expressed as the wild stag or wise satyr (goat-man) and is thus decreed the “Horned One” who is sheer masculine force and yet ever gentle as the lover. As Cernunnos he is the projective, forceful, unbound and sexual male essence. As Pan and Herne he is the pleasure seeking faun ecstatic of the natural world. As the Greenman he is the sheer expression of Divinity flowing through our veins as well as all life and indeed life itself. As Baphomet he is the the male adept who has embraced his feminine side and found equilibrium
His stride is reflected in the course of the Sun as it is said to be one of his many manifestations. Know him through the great depictions of masculine divinity and nature, but above all from within.
The Dryghten Often translated as “Lord” being representative of “The Most High”, the Old-English Dryghten comes from the Germanic Dreiecken or Dreiekon which derived from Drei (tri) and ekon/ecken (angle). This is also the root of Drachten which became Drakon which in turn became Dragon. The Druids would sometimes refer to the Dryghen as the Druden, a plural form of Druid, as the Dryghten is the embodiment and solidarity all things as a whole- manifest or unmanifest. The term Dryght means “the people” or rather “the many” and Dryghten means the “the will/consciousness of the many as one” (and vice versa) and is often associated with the Caledfwlch (Excalibur) and thus the coven sword. The Dryghten is also represented as the Drudenfuß/Drudenfuss or Druids Footprint known today as the Pentacle (and Pentagram).
The Dryghten is both the dynamic flow and union of the divine masculine and the divine feminine sustaining and penetrating all things. It is both and yet also transcends both en-composing all things that are, have been, will be or could be; within and without. The Dryghten is the very consciousness of the creative process itself and thus it is aware of of all things created as well as the mysteries underlying creation.
It is the primordial “I Am” that wills us to have the same realization thus it is called Ancient Providence. Most Wiccans refer to the concept as “The One” or “The All”.
The Dryghten because of its overwhelming attributes is rarely invoked for to do so is to invoke all of creations inherent divinity (and then some). Because the Dryghten is rarely called it is unknown by name even amongst many Wiccans. Even those in a traditional Gardnerian setting where one is much more likely to encounter mention of the Dryghten may never let alone experience it in ritual.
Regarding Dedication and Initiation
Initiation is dual in purpose:
I. Initiation is a spiritual rebirth into the mysteries. It is not about a title, or a ceremony - those things are secondary.
II. Initiation is also a conduit for lineage. This is tradition specific other than the lineage of the mysteries themself.
For example, one must be initiated by a Gardnerian to become a Gardnerian - or an Alexanandrian to become an Alexandrian and so son. However, while a Wiccan can set the stage for and be a conduit of initiation - Initiation itself comes first and foremost from deity. It is for this reason that anybody can be initiated into the mysteries.
The simple fact of the matter is that the only way your going to know if one went through a genuine initiatory experience other than by sharing the experience- is by their knowledge, insight, devotion and wisdom. If one has not then they can do a self dedication to Wicca which is still honorable. They would be what is known as a Neophyte meaning degree 0 or null; a preparatory state during which time they would be expected to have the same seriousness and commitment toward the craft as any initiate.
Many groups will use sensory deprivation an an initiatory aid.
Wheel of The year
Our holidays include, starting from our new year of Samhain, : Samhain, Yule, Imbolc, Ostara/Eostre, Beltane, Litha/Midsummer, Lughnasadh and Mabon. These days are collectively known as the “Wheel of The Year” and individually as Sabbats. Samhain, Imboolc, Beltane and Lughnasadh are know as the Greater Sabbats and Yule, Ostara, Litha and Mabon are known as the Lesser Sabbats or cross-quarters which are the equinoxes and solstices. We also observe Esbats (full moons) which are generally for specific magic(k)al intent as need dictates in comparison with the Sabbatts which are to attune to the currents of Wiccan mythos and thus the seasons.
Sabbats are also often practiced as open-circles, either in relation to other Wiccans outside of the coven or non-Wiccans however this is not always the case. Some open-circles may only be open to Wiccans of the same tradition. These are also common dates for multiple Covens of a Grove to come together in circle.
The year, being divided into light and dark halves is ruled by The Goddess and God respectively. This plays a significant role in the theology and points to the mystery of anima and animus as The God and Goddess rule over the halve of the year whose attributes are of the opposite gender.
The transfer of power happens at Samhain (to The God) and Beltane (To the Goddess). It is mirrored ritually with the invoking of the deities by the High Priest and Priestess whom then decree the the nature of the cycle. The actual transfer is either presented by the passing of the coven sword or staff (typically Ash) which is converted into a besom for The Goddess or back to a staff for The God.
Samhain: Meaning “Summers end”; Samhain is the Celtic and Witches New Year’s Eve (and day). It is also known as “The Feast of the Dead” and “Ancestor Night”. Being the end and beginning of the new year, Samhain is an “inbeteween” of the current cycle or chapter of life and the next. Inbetweens are like a gateway or door between rooms. Because they are passages from one place or state to another they are believed to be between worlds- passageways for spirit. Due to this quality it is said that the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest this time of year. Samhain is the time for both communing with the departed and seeing those who passed away over the course of the year on their way; as such, ritual involves a “dum supper” in which one invites the departed to one last meal and farewell. This is also when the transfer of power occurs from Goddess to God.
The common folk would put candles in carved turnups called jack-o-lanturns to scare wayword spirits. This practice parallels the dressing up for the same purpose. Witches would not have needed to do this to protect themselves however many would use the folk magic(k) of the jack-o-lanturnt to designate a protected area.
Being the new year, this is a perfect time for reflection and resolutions. Samhain is generally celebrated on October, 31st - Nov, 1st but technically the exact date depends on where the solstices and equinoxes fall that year as is the case of all the major Sabbats.
Yule: From the Norse “Iul, meaning wheel; Yule is the Winter Solstice or shortest day (longest night) of the year. It represents the death and rebirth of the Horned God as reflected in the change from he waning to the waxing of the solar cycle. While Samhain represents the rebirth of the cycle itself, Yule represents the rebirth of spirit and life in the darkest hour that nurtures it. Yule is a time for finding the strength of not only inner divinity but the collective spirit of community in a time when nature itself seems barren. It is joy and feasting amongst the harshest of conditions. It was not only believed that such merryment would see them through to the rejuvenation of the Sun but also that Odin would arrive by sleigh to distribute either karmic blessings or obstacles for the next cycle of growth depending on your actions regarding the prior.
The solar cycle represents long term growth while the lunar cycle represents short term growth. When the two cycles align it is considered a very potent time for ritual work. While these times are opportune the lesson of Yule is that true power lies within and one person can make the difference.
Also, for those interested in knowing, the tradition of the Christmas tree comes from the ancient honoring of the god Attis, a pine god. I was for being close to nature during the cold months.
Imbolc: From the Gaelic Oimelc meaning “Ewes Milk” because of the lactation that occurs that time of year among live-stalk; Imolc represents the return of the Horned God (Sun) and the rejuvenation of The Goddess as maiden. Also called “The Feast of Torches” and “Candlemas”, people would light a candle in every room of the house at sunset honoring the return of the light and the lengthening of days. The holy day is also associated with the goddess Brighid/Bride. The last sheaf of the former years wheat would be kept as the seed for the following harvest. From this sheaf a doll known as a brideog or “Harvest/Sheaf Mother” (also known as a biddy) would be made. The doll, symbolic of the fertility and eventual offspring of the great masculine and feminine, would cared for and nurtured as if it were a real child.
Brighid is associated with poetry and so Imbolc is an excellent time to read or even write poetry.
Imbolc is celebrated either on February Eve/1st or (usually) February Second. Be sure to check in relation to the equinoxes and solstices the exact time is desired.
Ostara: Also called Eostre, Eaostra and Oestra amung other variants, is the Spring Equinox; light has finally caught up with darkness and day and night are equal. The God embraces The Goddess and life flourishes in great diversity. The cold harsh months have clearly ended, given way to wildlife and flowers of every scent, shape and color. This is a time to rejoice in the sheer beauty of nature as well as for conception and fertility and growth of any kind. Many are quick to catch the solar current now as it waxes towards the climax of Litha.
Rituals include the painting of eggs to promote fertility, in general or impart of a concept, ideal or physical entity. Rabbits and hares being the champions of reproduction that they are, are also present in the symbolism. The hiding and finding of eggs was/is a form of divination to indicate which things one should focus on for the coming growing season.
It is also tradition to balance an egg on end.
Beltane: Aslo spelled Bealtaine, Bhealtyainn, Bealtuinn, the Gaelic pronunciation is “b’yol-tinnuh” however most who celebrate this holy day pronounce it “Bell-tain”. Belltane is opposite of Samhain on the wheel of the year and only Samhain can hold a candle to this day in veneration. Make no mistake though that merryment and jubilation belongs foremost to Beltane. This day celebrates the Heiros Gamos, from Herios meaning holy and Gamos meaning marriage, celebrating the union of Goddess and God. For that reason this is a preferred time to perform the full Great-Rite though Ostara and Mabon are also good times being equinoxes. Like Samhain this is also a time of transferrance, this time from the God to the Goddess. The name of the holy day comes from the Celtic sun-god Bel, known as “The Bright One”. Traditionaly, two balefires would be placed and livestock would be driven inbetween to consecrate, purify and protect them. This was not just strictly for livestock however and to this day many Witches still pass through the fire upon entering the Beltane circle. It is also tradition for couples to, for fertility and good luck, to jump the balefire (singular) to the cry of “Hurriah!”, and this is related to the jumping of the broom. Lastly, is the erection of the famous maypole, a phalic symbol that is usually appropriately capped. The ritual of the maypole involves the braiding of three ribbons into one while focusing on the intent and pattern you wish to see manifest, which are then tied to the pole. You then have two groups, one going deosil (sunwise, clockwise) and the other going tuahil, also called widdershins (against the sun, counter-clockwise) weaving through one another until the ribbons are fully wrapped around the pole. The two groups are usually divided into masculine and feminine parties.
The Puritan, Phillip Stubbs had this to say of it:
Phillip Stubbs - Anatomie of Abuses 1583 Wrote:Against May, Whitsunday, or other time, olde men and wives, run gadding over-night to the woods, groves, hills and mountains, where they spend all night in pleasant pastimes; and in the morning they return, bringing with them birch and branches of trees, to deck their assemblies withal. … But the chiefest jewel they bring from thence is their May-Pole, which they have bring home with great veneration. … They have twentie or fortie yoke of oxen, every oxe having a sweet nose-gay of flowers placed on the tip of his hornes, and these oxen drawe home this May-Pole (this stinking Ydol, rather), which is covered all over with floures and hearbs, bound round about with strings, from the top to the bottome, and sometime painted with variable coulours, with two or three hundred men, women and children following it with great devotion. And this being reared up … then fall they to daunce about it, like as the heathen people did at the dedication of the Idols, wereof this is a perfect pattern, or rather the thing itself. I have heard it credibly reported (and that viva voce) by men of great gravitie and reputation, that of forty, threescore, or a hundred maides going to the wood over-night, there have scarcely the third of them returned home againe undefiled.
This is echoed in words of the Oak, the Ash and the Thorn which is pretty much thee Beltane song:
Oak, Ash and Thorn Wrote:Oh, do not tell the priest of our rite
For he would call it a sin;
But we’ve been in the woods all night
A-conjurin’ summer in!
Litha: The Summer Solstice, longest day (shortest night) of the year. The Horned God is at the climax of his power and will soon wane into old age. The Goddess is pregnant with the harvest and the seed of The Gods rebirth. Although a major holy day in times past, Litha is not celebrated is not celebrated to the extent of the other Sabbats. This is probably do to its placement during the harvest season. Litha is considered a high day of power and its celebration is of the triumph and glory of the Sun (Horned God).
Litha is to The God as the full moon is to The Goddess.
Lughnasadh: Meaning, “the commemoration of Lugh” a Celtic son-god; the Sabbat is also called Lammas, from the Anglo-Saxon “hlaef mas”, meaning “loaf mas” which is the celebration of bread after the the harvest. This sabbat is the first of three harvest festivals along with Mabon and Samhain. As Lugh dies and is later reborn through his sacrificial mating with the Goddess many attribute this day to that event however that is more appropriate to the last harvest of Samhain yet this theme is of rebirth is relevant and constant to all three of the harvest sabbats. Alternatively, it may be said that the Sacrifice of the God goes on to sustain the whole harvest season though in Wiccan circles the act of the sacrificial God is ritualized at Samhain.
Like Beltane, Lughnasadh is common for marriages in anticpation of the intimate and ever-coming dark half of the year. Many prefer to marry now instead of at Beltane in honor and recognition of that being the marriage of thy Lady and thy Lord. Others choose Beltane to honor their union as a manifestation of the Heiros Gamos.
Lughnasadh is celebrated on July, 31st - Aug, 1st but you will need to consult the equinoxes and solstices for the exact time.
Mabon: The Fall or Autumnal Equinox; darkness has caught up with light and the harvest is nearing its end. This is a time to put ones affairs in order, to plan for the winter and ask what will be needed of the next cycle. It is a time to ensure that things will be looked after once you are gone. In many ways it is more somber and of the mortal-coil than Samhain.
The basis of Wiccan afterlife is divine union. Reincarnation is a part of Wiccan belief however we do not require a statement of belief as to the details of reincarnation as we believe ones path to and in the next life is as personal and unique as the path they walked in this life. The only statements of belief regarding the details are these: We go through as many incarnations as we need to before we are ready to become one with the cycle at it’s level and that rest is permitted between incarnations. We call our afterlife the Summerland and leave it at that. However technically there are two main levels; one for rest and one for transcendent beings, neither is exclusive it’s simply a matter of readiness.
Most Wiccans don’t enforce reincarnation as a tenet believing it is more important to focus on this life than the next and that forcing a student to believe is not productive to the self-work involved. For this same reason, while Wicca is theistic you will not be “ex-communicated” if you see the deities as mere psychological constructs. Generally though, the more experienced the Wiccan, the more comfortable they will be with reincarnation- that’s just the nature of it.
Creeds, Redes and “Scripture”
Wiccans don’t have Holy books in the same way most faith-groups do. Ours has been a largely oral tradition with the exception of various credes, redes, charges and tenets. The credes and charges can be rather cryptic and poetic. Much of it can take several lifetimes to understand fully. We do however have what we call a Book of Shadows that we use to document what we know. The revelations are numerous once you understand the foundation of The Craft.
We also have dream books, grimoires and so forth that we keep.
Some Traditions follow what are called the The Ardaynes, while others have their own set of laws. It is recommended for each Witch, especially solitaries to define their own code of ethics of which to discipline themselves.
Rede of the Wiccae or The Wiccan Credo
By Lady Gwen Thompson / Adriana Porter Wrote:Bide 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 ye little, listen much.
Deosil go by waxing moon,
Chanting out the Witches’ Rune.
Widdershins go by waning moon,
Chanting out the baneful rune.
When the Lady’s moon is new,
Kiss thy 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, 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 now,
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:
As Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will
By Doreen Valiente, 1978 Witchcraft for Tomorrow Wrote:Hear 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 the 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 magickal ring.
Four times in the year the Great Sabbat Returns,
And the witches are seen,
At Lammas and Candlemas dancing,
On May Even and old Hallowe’en.
When day-time and night-time are equal,
When 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 at 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 unto the other,
Ere time and the ages began.
When drawn is the magickal 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 there,
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,
Shown forth as a God and a Goddess:
Of this did our ancestors teach.
By night he’s the wild wind’s rider,
The Horn’d One, the Lord of the Shades.
By day he’s the King of the Woodland,
The dweller in green forest glades.
She is youthful and 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 magick,
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,
Till Elphame’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 magick of old be it done!
The Charge of The Goddess by Doreen Valiente, inspired by Charles Leland’s Aradia: Gospel of the Witches Wrote:Listen now, to the words of the Great Mother,
Who was of old also called:
Artemis, Astarte, Athene, Dione, Melusine, Aphrodite,
Cerridwen, Dana, Arianrhod, Isis, Bride
And by many other names.
Whenever ye have need of any thing,
Once in the month, and better it be when the moon is full,
Then shall ye assemble in some secret place,
And adore the spirit of me, who am Queen of all witches.
There shall ye assemble,
Ye who are fain to learn all sorcery, yet have not won its deepest secrets;
To these will I teach things that are as yet unknown.
And ye shall be free from slavery;
And as a sign that ye be really free, ye shall be naked in your rites;
And ye shall dance, sing, feast, make music and love,
All in my praise.
For mine is the ecstasy of the spirit, and mine also is joy on earth;
For my law is love unto all beings.
Keep pure your highest ideal;
Strive ever towards it, let naught stop you or turn you aside;
For mine is the secret door which opens upon the land of youth,
And mine is the cup of wine of life,
And the cauldron of Cerridwen, which is the Holy Grail of immortality.
I am the gracious Goddess,
Who gives the gift of joy unto the heart of man.
Upon earth, I give the knowledge of the spirit eternal;
And beyond death, I give peace, and freedom,
And reunion with those who have gone before.
Nor do I demand sacrifice; for behold, I am the Mother of all living,
And my love is poured out upon the earth.
Hear ye the words of the Star Goddess;
She in the dust of whose feet are the hosts of heaven,
whose body encircles the universe.
I, Who am the beauty of the green earth and the white moon among the stars,
And the mystery of the waters, and desire of the heart of man.
Call unto thy soul.
Arise and come unto me;
For I am the soul of nature, who gives life to the universe.
From me all things proceed, and unto me all things must return;
And before my face, beloved of Gods and of men,
Let thine innermost divine self be enfolded in the rapture of the infinite.
Let my worship be within the heart that rejoiceth;
For behold, all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals.
And therefore let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion,
Honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you.
And thou who thinkest to seek for me,
Know thy seeking and yearning shall avail thee not
Unless thou knowest the mystery:
That if that which thou seekest thou findest not within thee,
Thou wilt never find it without thee.
For behold, I have been with thee from the beginning;
And I am that which is attained at the end of desire.
The Charge of The God by Janet and Stewart Farrar Wrote:Listen now the words of the Great Father,
Who of old was called:
Osiris, Adonis, Zeus, Thor, Pan, Cernunnos,
Herne, Lugh and by many other names:
“My Law is Harmony with all things.
Mine is the secret that opens the gates of life
And mine is the dish of salt of the Earth,
That is the body of Cernunnos,
That is the eternal circle of rebirth.
I give the knowledge of life everlasting,
And beyond death I give the promise of regeneration and renewal.
I am the sacrifice, the father of all things,
And my protection blankets the earth.”
Hear the words of the dancing God,
The music of whose laughter stirs the winds,
Whose voice calls the seasons:
“I who am the Lord of the Hunt and the Power of the Light,
Sun among the clouds and the secret of the flame,
I call upon your bodies to arise and come unto me.
For I am the flesh of the earth and all it’s beings.
Through me all things must die and with me are reborn.
Let my worship be in the body that sings,
For behold all acts of willing sacrifice are my rituals.
Let there be desire and fear, anger and weakness,
Joy and peace, awe and longing within you.
For these too are part of the mysteries found within yourself, within me,
All beginnings have endings, and all endings have beginnings.”
Patricia Crowther Wrote:In the name of Dryghtyn, the Ancient Providence
Who was from the beginning and is for eternity,
Masculine and Feminine, the Original Source of all things;
all-knowing, all-pervading, all-powerful;
In the name of the Lady of the Moon,
and the Lord of Death and Resurrection.
In the name of the Mighty Ones of the Four Quarters,
the Kings of the Elements.
Blessed be this place, and this time,
and they who are now with us.
Just as many mainstream religions have denominations or sects, Wicca has what are called traditions. The branching out of Wicca reflects its nature and while various traditions may disagree on correspondences and practices there is great respect among practitioners - these aren’t the mighty schisms that cause priest to turn on priest.
(List coming soon)
Q: Is there nudity?
A: Some Witches do perform ritual in the nude, this is known as skyclad. This, obviously, is an intimate practice and is only done among Coven-members, and is not to be expected at an open-circle. Not all Traditions (denominations) or Covens practice skyclad either. It largely depends on the group dynamic (and weather conditions if outside of course).
Q: What is Magick?
A: Magic(k) is the correspondence and harmony between microcosm and macrocosm as directed and willed by consciousness; either toward the transcendent experience of inner and outer worlds as One; or to cause a certain occurrence or state.
Q: Is this a cult?
A: Let me take this time to explain what a cult is as most people are unaware of the definition. A cult is a gathering of like-minded people regarding philosophical and/or spiritual values and/or practices but without a solid, well-defined and outreaching doctrinal or dogmatic structure. Therefore, a cult is the first step toward organized religion and as such every congregation or gathering of any religion can be accurately called a cult. That said, if by cult you mean the manipulative, brainwashing definition then No, Wicca is not a cult. Cults of this nature have, directly or through hierarchy, a central leader(s) that manages and speaks for the whole group, prescribes what is proper, what to believe and whom to associate with. Wicca has no central authority figure. Each practitioner is their own priest and priestess, responsible for their own morality and encouraged to seek out and express their spirituality. As such many Wiccans (and Pagans in general) are very knowledgeable about paths other than their own. Wiccan Covens do have authority figures known as High Priests and Priestesses and a number of associated Covens known as a Grove may be under the guidance of a mother-Coven. This however is for coordination as well as for the benefit of community and counsel from elders.
Q: Is this Occult?
A: Yes it is, however keep in mind that “Occult” merely means hidden, and is the study of the hidden/esoteric knowledge of divinity and its creative expression. There are Occultist in virtually every spiritual background- Pagan or otherwise.
Q: Is this Witchcraft?
A:While Wicca is a form of Witchcraft, not all Witches are Wiccans. As the Druids where the priests of the Celts, so was the Witch to the larger Pagan community (though folk magic(k) was common among the whole population.). Wicca is a certain religious structure of and reconstruction of the Old Religion of the Witch. The etymology of both words are related and the word Wicca was originally an alternative term for Witch.
Q: Is this Paganism?
A: Yes, however one should realize that there are several definitions to the word Pagan and each is very broad by itself. The word Pagan comes from the word Paganus, a derogatory term meaning “country-dweller” or “uncivilized” that was often used by Christians in reference to those practicing the old folk -religions. Those who were called Pagans however, turned the term into a notion of unity. For this reason and because of the nature of the targeted spirituality the word became an umbrella term used to define polytheistic nature-centered belief-systems. Another definition, however is simply anything non-Abrahamic (that is, anything outside of Christianity, Judaism and Islam) and still another is simply “country folk”. Whether you are using it as a nature-centered categorization or to simply refer to anything non-Abrahamic the following statement is true: All Wiccans are Pagan but not all Pagans are Wiccans.
Q: Aren’t Witches female and Warlocks male?
A: No, the term Witch is a genderless term. Warlock actually means “oath-breaker” and is often considered insulting. However, both Witch and Wicca from the old-English wɪttʃɑ (sounds like witta, translates Wicca) which is a masculine word. The feminine equivalent is wɪttʃe, translated as Wicce. The word means wise, as well as “to bend, or shape” a throwback to shamanic art of altering consciousness that gave birth to the vast knowledge of magick and herblore that allows a Witch to shape their environment as well as theirself.
Q: Is this Satanic?
A: No, there is no Satan or devil within Wiccan theology. The Horned God may be mistaken for the devil quite easily however because that is where the modern image of the devil comes from. The association of masuline Pagan divinity with the antagonest of modern Christian religion was done as a conversion tactic.
Q: Why do you use that Satanic symbol, the Pentacle?
A: While it is true that Satanists use the inverted pentacle, the symbol is not inherently evil. The pentacle predates Satanism and even Wicca as it stands today as well as the term itself. Wiccans generally use the pentacle “right” side up however an inverted pentacle is sometimes used for various situations and to designate degree in many traditions. An inverted pentacle is not evil, it merely means manifestation from spirit versus the spiritual path back to spirit/divinity.
Q: Is Wicca a religion?
A: There are many ways to define religion, the notable two are by origin of the word and by modern interpretation. The word religion comes from the word “religare” meaning “to bind” or “to covenant”. The modern interpretation is a structured spirituality with a well defined theology, liturgy and following. Wicca is a religion by both definitions.
Q: Is this Druidism?
A: Wicca is Druidism in that much of Wicca is Druidry and Cememonial Magic(k). However Druidism itself is considered to be culturally exclusive to Celtic heritage while Wicca has other sources as well. Druidry is the reconstruction of Celtic proper while Wicca is the reconstruction of the larger magic(k)al world.
They are sister paths and their adherents are quick to come to the others aid as well as to the aids of their Germanic cousins
Q: Do Witches perform sacrifices?
A: The only sacrifice in Wicca is self-sacrifice for the benefit of the whole. If this sacrifice be ones life it is as the sacrifice of Yeshua (Jesus). It is not to asked as each must give their blood of their own free will. Nowhere does Wicca require sacrifice of any kind and this is what The Goddess has to say concerning the matter:
The Goddess, Charge of The Goddes Wrote:Nor do I demand sacrifice; for behold, I am the Mother of all living,
And my love is poured out upon the earth.
Q: Do you have ritual orgies?
A: No, though many do practice skyclad (naked). Wicca is a religion rooted in fertility, however what we do is symbolic of the underlying forces of creation and not usually physically enacted. The Great-Rite (ritual-intercourse) however, while usually just done as a symbolic act, is at times done in full. In many Traditions the Great-rite is done to attain the third degree through the experience of the divine masculine and feminine as ancient providence (which is why the upright triangle is a third degree symbol). This is done in private and usually by couples when they are deemed ready by others of the third degree (Traditional setting). Those who Identify as both masculine and feminine do not need to forgo the external rite for internal union and may present an exception to the rule.
Q: How do you convert new Witches?
A: We do not seek conversion as upholding religious diversity is a tenet of Wicca. By the same measure, Wicca is a path that simply is not practical for everyone and Wiccans know this. It is a general belief that those who are called to be Wicaans will find their way to the craft, and many Wiccans will attest they they in fact have been called- that the old ways found them.
If you mean to ask how one becomes a Wiccan see the section regarding initiation.
Q: What about Exodus 18:22, “Thou shall not suffer a Witch to live”
A: The original passage was: “Thou shall not suffer a poisoner to live”. The word was changed from valefica (poisoner) to malefica, which meant someone whom channeled bad intent, which was associated (wrongly) with Witchcraft. Witches, throughout the ages been associated with herbal knowledge. Already being seen in the public eye as malevolent it should be no surprise that such a connection was made by the political-religious authorities of the day.
Discoverie of Witchcraft by Reginald Scot. circa 1580 Wrote:(And when good King James discovered what Reginald Scot had said in this book, James first wrote his own book, Daemonologie, a rebuttal to Scot’s. Then James ordered his men to find every copy of Scot’s book and burn them. It was too late. The Scot book was already in its third printing, widely distributed, and nine more chapters had been added.)
Chapter I - The exposition of this Hebrue word Chasaph, wherein is answered the objection conteined in Exodus 22. to wit: Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live, and of Simon Magus. Acts. 8.
(page 64) Chaspah, being a Hebrue word, is Latined Veneficium, and is in English, poisoning, or witchcraft; if you will so have it. The Hebrue sentence written in Exodus, 22. is by the 70. interpretors translated thus into Greeke, [note: no Greek font], which in Latine is,
Veneficos (sive) veneficas non retinebitis in vita,
in English, You shall not suffer anie poisoners, or (as it is translated) witches to live. The which sentence Josephus an Hebrue borne, and a man of great estimation, learning and fame, interpreteth in this wise; Let none of the children of Israel have any poison that is deadlie, or preparted to anie hurtfull use. If anie be apprehended with such stuffe, let him be put to dfeath, and suffer that which he meant to doo to them, for whom he prepared it. The Rabbins exposition agree heerewithall. Lex Cornelia differeth not from this sense, to wit, that he must suffer to death, which either maketh, selleth, or hath anie poison, to the intent to kill anie man.
This word is found in these places following: Exodus. 22, Deut. 18, 10. 2 Sam. 9, 22. Dan. 2,2. 2 Chr. 33, 6. Eay. 47, 9, 12. Malach, 3,5. Jerem. 27, 9, Mich. 5, 2. Nah. 3,4. bis. Howbeit, in all our English translations, Chaspah is translated, witchraft.