Thoughts, lessons, and theology from an eclectic witch from a varied background.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Tradition of Wicca

In my earlier post, I gave a quick overview of what Wicca is about. Now I'm going to give you a bit of background about what my Tradition is like. Some of this is going to look much like mainstream Wicca and some of it is going to look like Asatru. And then there are going to be elements that are entirely different from them. As my Tradition is part of a living religion, it evolves and changes to adapt to my needs as time passes. What I write here is something of a snapshot of how I currently practice Wicca.

I was raised in an atheist/agnostic household. My mother was a kitchen witch in the secular sense with some veneration of the Aseir thrown in. My earliest introduction to the Aseir, Vanir, and Jotnar came from the bedtime stories read to my brothers and I from a book of Scandinavian myths for children. While my parents didn't perform any rituals or habitual acts of veneration, they didn't discourage us from worship. For a time, my siblings and I swore oaths by Odin, made shrines to the Vanir, searched to find Jotuns, and got into fist fights over which deity was the best. I am fairly certain that the Aseir, Vanir, and Jotnar all got a fair amount of laughter out of the three of us.

As we grew older, my brothers moved away from worshiping the gods of our ancient ancestors. I continued in my worship but gradually became discouraged because I didn't know others who did so. My interest in religion was encouraged by my mother, my paternal grandmother, and my aunts. For a time, I went to church with my Prebyterian grandparents and uncle. I grew bored with it after a few months and left, not bothering to look back. I continued to hold the gods of my ancient ancestors in high regard, though I stopped praying to them.

In my early teens, I was initiated in to Wicca by my aunts. Suddenly, my psychic experiences made sense. My relationship with the Divine took on depth that I hadn't expected but intuitively knew was there. I pledged myself to serve as a visionary priestess of the Goddess in a small solitary ritual out on the back 40 acres of the farm. From that point on, I found myself pushed to study and research the Celts and the Norse peoples. I dabbled in soft polytheism for a while but kept returning to hard polytheism when dealing with the deities of these peoples.

The importance of honor and keeping one's word was impressed on me from an early age. I also had the importance of hospitality and guest right put before me, though not in those terms. As my education about the Celtic people expanded, I began to interact with the nature spirits about my home. I learned how to handle interactions with spiritual beings with respect and grace. I also began to engage in ancestor veneration.

Today, I acknowledge the gods of different peoples as separate and unique identities. The Goddess and God of Wicca are present in my life as well. They are their own unique identities and at times manifest wearing the appearances of other deities. This, however, does not happen as frequently as it once did. I celebrate the holy days of Wicca and keep an altar dedicated to the Wiccan gods. I give votive offerings to Loki (my patron deity) and his wife Sigyn. I leave votive offerings for the dead at times as well.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What is Witchcraft about?

If you saw my earlier post, you may recollect that I mentioned the definition of witchcraft. Witchcraft is more complex then a few parlor tricks and a couple of nifty talents in the psychic arena. In Wicca, specifically, there is a wide range of variation between the different sects (known as Traditions). There are a few basic points, however, that can be upheld as consistent through these different sects.

Wicca is a religion that is panentheistic and animistic. Where as many of the more 'mainstream' religions view the Divine as separate from the world, Wicca views the world as being suffused with the essence of the Divine and that all things living are ensouled. Frequently, Wiccans also understand the land and all within nature to be possessed of a spirit. Some will contend that locations have their own spiritual identity as well. We Wiccans revere nature and highly respect the spirits that populate our world along side us.

In addition to these spirits, we also understand the universe to be comprised of the five classical elements. We recognize these elements as being present in all things and ruled over by spiritual beings we call Elementals. The classical elements are viewed more as a spiritual matter rather then a literal one. They are understood as different states of matter and associated with various things. Each Tradition has their own unique perception of the Elementals and their respective spheres of influence.

It can be easy to confuse Elementals with deities who are associated with a given element. In classical Wicca, the religion is focused upon dualistic theism. There is a multifaceted god and goddess that are worshiped. These different deities are viewed as aspects of the god and goddess. The practice of invoking these aspects of deity is known as aspecting. Aspecting is different from possession, though it shares many traits. (This will be discussed on its own at a later date.) There are other Traditions of Wicca that are more hard polytheistic then classical Wicca. The Tradition that I am a part of is a blending of hard and soft polytheism. There is no fixed rule in Wicca that states how hard or soft one's polytheistic leanings should be.

The religious practices of mainstream Wicca (and yes, there is a mainstream branch of Wicca) are fairly consistent through the different Traditions. They are also flexible enough that they can be adapted to the needs of a given Wiccan. Religious rites take place within a ritually drawn circle. The invocation of the Elementals is made to ensure the presence of benevolent spirits and to keep away that which could be harmful or counter to the purposes of one's ritual. A blessing is said over the participants and the gods are invoked. Depending upon the purposes of the ritual, meditation, spell casting, divination, or devotional activities take place. A blessing is then said over the cakes and wine, which is then shared by the participants. Following this, the gods are thanked for their guidance and aid. Then the Elementals are thanked for their assistance. The circle is ritually dismantled and the rite is done.

The most frequently expressed moral standard for Wiccans is the Law of Three. It is unclear if this was something that Gerald Alexander or Doreen Valentine developed or if it was passed down to them by the New Grove coven. (There is inconclusive evidence as to the existence of the New Grove coven but that is a discussion for a different time.) The Law of Three is a variant of the most basic law of causality. It has been phrased many different ways and it seems that each Tradition of Wicca has their own version of it.

The variant that I adhere to is:

That which you do returns three times. The first time is the immediate consequences of your action. The second time is the social consequences of your actions. The third time is the long term consequences of your actions.

Acting against another person is very strongly frowned upon unless it is done in self defense or in aid of one who is defenseless. Magic is not to be done for some one else with out their permission unless it is the most dire of cases. (A more precise rule of conduct will be discussed later.)

Starting out at square one...

Hello. You may have come to this blog aware of witchcraft and interested in seeing what another person on that path does. You may have come to this blog by accident, looking for more information about witchcraft or how veiling is part of a pagan path. To those of you who are familiar with Wicca (a religious form of witchcraft), I know that my next few articles are going to be old news to you. You dear Readers who are not familiar with Wicca, please post your questions in the comments. I will do my best to address them in a timely fashion.

Witchcraft is defined as:
  1. the art or practices of a witch; sorcery; magic.
  2. magical influence, witchery.
Anthropologists at one point used the term witchcraft to describe people who practiced magic or have supernatural powers. Wikipedia has a fairly good article about it. I will be discussing witchcraft in the terms of Wicca and my familial Tradition. If you want more information about secular witchcraft, I will be happy to write about that as well.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


First, I would like to apologize for not posting anything in here recently. My life has been rather busy and my blogs have been left languishing. I intend to have a new post or three up by the end of the week.

I do have a second blog relating to witchcraft. Please, take a look and enjoy my more casual ramblings.