Jul 06, Cynthia Jeub rated it it was ok While this book was helpful for me, it was only because I am at a point where I can read with some skepticism. For example, she mentioned Yahweh several times as a name to be invoked alongside clear adversaries of the Abrahamic monotheistic deity, like Baal and Ishtar. Because it is written as an exhaustive reference book, it While this book was helpful for me, it was only because I am at a point where I can read with some skepticism. Because it is written as an exhaustive reference book, it should have been more cross-referenced than it was.
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What a powerful word it is. It attracts, it repels, it frightens, it fascinates. It offers hope to those who do not know where else to turn. All Wiccans are witches, but not all witches are Wiccan. Wicca is a religion, a distinct spiritual path. There are many, many ways to be a witch. I am a Wiccan priestess, so this book is about the Wiccan way. I practice Wicca as seems right and natural to me; I do not follow any particular Wiccan tradition.
I am an eclectic, which means I honor and work with gods and goddesses from different cultures and pantheons. I believe we each have the responsibility of determining a personal path within the faith, an individual path that is right for us. The emphasis on personal responsibility is one of the things that drew me to this religion in the first place. If you ask ten witches the same question, you may get ten different answers.
Some traditions prescribe that things be done in certain ways, but I say that you should trust yourself. If something feels right to you, it is right. If something works for you, that is the right way to do it. This began what continues to be a groundswell of people converting to Wicca.
Debate currently rages over whether Wicca is a new religion, or the oldest of all religions. Some say that Wicca has been practiced continuously in Europe at least since the Ice Age. They cite paleolithic carvings of female figures, such as the Venus of Willen-dorf, as evidence of Goddess worship having been the origin of all religions. No, say others, Wicca is a neo-pagan faith, a 20th century construct. Wicca is actually both, I think, and see no point in debating the issue at all. Modern witches follow in the tradition of our earliest ancestors and are the shamans and healers of the 21st century.
We are priests and priestesses of the Great Goddess; we practice the ancient art of sacred magic in the modern world. Certainly witchcraft has changed over the millennia, but we still have much in common with the neolithic practitioner crouched before a fire, crushing herbs for a healing brew. Methods and tools may be different, but the intent is the same: to help and to heal, to honor the Mother in all that we do.
Witchcraft has adapted when necessary—we are only just emerging from the siege mentality that the Burning Times imposed upon us. We are in the process of learning how to live openly as witches again. Witchcraft has also evolved—we no longer slay the sacred king each year to ensure the tribe survives and flourishes.
There are no more burnt sacrifices in Wicca, no shedding of animal or human blood to make spells work. Every Wiccan is a priest or priestess of the Goddess as well as a witch. We serve her in whatever ways we are able to serve, according to our talents, abilities, and personal circumstances. Each Wiccan determines his or her own code of personal conduct and behavior according to the Rede, so you will find Wiccans who are pacifists as well as Wiccans who are professional soldiers, some who are omnivorous and others who are vegans.
Wicca is an Earth religion—an accepting, open-minded faith that celebrates diversity and considers us all to be children of the same Mother. Gender, age, race, sexual orientation, physical status, family background, or ethnic heritage are not important in Wicca. We are male and female, old and young, gay and straight, healthy and disabled, and of all colors. There are no reliable statistics on this, but it seems to me that there are about the same number of male and female Wiccans.
We collect no dues, have no central organization, no governing body, no supreme leader, no great high priestess who speaks for the Goddess. Our temples are gardens and forests, libraries and beaches, mountains and bookstores.
Wicca consists simply of its witches and their collective beliefs and practices. It is a voluntary association of individuals who share one faith, but practice it in myriad ways. No one is born Wiccan-not even our children, for we expect them to choose their own spiritual paths when they are old enough to make such choices. There is nothing like a dress code, but many witches wear a pentacle.
We have no dietary restrictions, but many witches are vegetarians. Wicca is an organic religion, one that is evolving and emerging as a worldwide faith.
It is growing rapidly, although we neither seek converts or proselytize. This is not a faith that knocks on your door. It is one to which you make your own way. Wicca is a way of life, a belief system that reflects itself in the ways we interact with the world around us.
Personal integrity and respect for Mother Nature are important parts of the Wiccan way. The second step is to establish an ethical system in which to use her gift of magic. I am often asked how someone can get involved in the occult without being seduced by its dark side. The answer is that you must have an ethical belief system, one with which you keep faith. What you heard was the call of the Goddess. She is always there, always with us, always calling, but only some of us can hear her.
Those who can are witches, her priests and priestesses. To be a witch, you have to find your way to the Goddess and establish a relationship with her. There are many ways to do this: studying mythology, spending time with the Moon or the sea, meditating, planting a garden, keeping bees, nurturing a child, taking long walks in the woods, and so forth.
She is everywhere; all you have to do is look for her. When you find her, invite her into your life. Offer yourself to her service. Step back and watch the magic begin to flow through you and around you. The Goddess is the universe itself, not something separate from or superior to it. Creation is the business of the universe, which destroys only to re-create.
We personify this as the Great Mother. She is self-created and self-renewing. We share atoms with her, are one small part of the godhead, but we are just one product of her great creative nature. Her variety is infinite, as evinced by snowflakes and fingerprints. She is the yin and yang of being, composed of both female goddess and male god energy.
We also recognize old gods like Pan, Osiris, Tammuz, Jove, Quetzalcoatl, Cernunnos, Mithras, and worship them if we feel moved to do so. Witches are pagans. We worship many gods and goddesses, but recognize all of them as aspects of the Great Goddess.
Some witches worship both a lord and a lady, while others worship only the Goddess. For me, Thoth is the lord and Isis is the lady, but choosing what deities to serve, honor, or work with is something each witch decides for herself or himself.
This book is full of information about magic, how to cast spells and create them. Witches use magic to improve their lives, but they also use it in service of the Goddess, as Part I of this book will explain. This is the Wiccan Rede, the law that we choose to live by: And it harm none, do what you will. Several slightly different versions of it have made the rounds, including one that modified the law to say, "Ever mind the Law of Three, lest in self-defense it be.
The late Lady Gwen Thompson, high priestess of a Welsh tradition, wrote an article in Green Egg in , saying this version of the Rede had been handed down to her by Adriana Porter, her grandmother, who was over 90 years old when she died in Cast the Circle thrice about to keep all evil spirits out.
To bind the spell every time, let the spell be spake in rhyme. When the wind comes from the South, love will kiss thee on the mouth. When the wind blows from the East, expect the new and set the feast. When the Wheel begins to turn-let the Beltane fires burn. With the fool no season spend or be counted as his friend. When misfortune is enow, wear the blue star on thy brow. Some have studied Wicca in groves, study groups, or learning circles.
Others grew up in Wiccan families, then chose Wicca for their own path. Many came to Wicca in the traditional way, through formal initiation into a coven that followed a specific tradition. Wiccan traditions include the following. This is a formal, hierarchal path with skyclad worship and degrees of initiation.
Covens have no more than thirteen members and are led by a high priestess with a high priest. Gardnerians believe it takes a witch to make a witch, and tend to disapprove of the newer "do-it-yourself" Wiccans.
Alexandrian and Gardnerian Wicca are sometimes referred to as Classical Wicca. British Trad Wicca: This is a formal, structured tradition that mixes Celtic deities and spirituality with Gardenarian-type Wicca.
Dianic Wicca: Named for the goddess Diana, this is a goddess-centered tradition that excludes gods and does not require initiations. Although Dianic Wicca is sometimes thought of as a feminist or lesbian path, there are also male Dianic witches. Faery Wicca: This is an Irish tradition that centers on green witchcraft and faery magic. Teutonic Wicca: A Nordic tradition witchcraft, this incorporates deities, symbolism, and practices from Norse and Germanic cultures.
Family Traditions: These are the practices and traditions, usually secret, of families who have been witches for generations.
The Wicca Handbook