Paganism is a spiritual way of life which has its roots in the ancient nature religions of the world. It is principally rooted in the old religions of Europe, though some adherents also find great worth in the indigenous beliefs of other countries. Such belief in the sacredness of all things can be found world-wide. Pagans see this as their heritage, and retain the beliefs and values of their ancestors in forms adapted to suit modern life. We celebrate the sanctity of Nature, revering the Divine in all things; the vast, unknowable spirit that runs through the universe, both seen and unseen.
Pagans honor the Divine in all its aspects, whether male or female, as parts of the sacred whole. Every man and woman is, to a Pagan, a beautiful and unique being. Children are loved and honored and there is a strong sense of community. The woods and open spaces of the land, home to wild animals and birds, are cherished. Paganism stresses personal spiritual experience, and Pagans often find that experience through their relationship with the natural world that they love. We seek spiritual union with Divinity by attuning with the tides of Nature and by exploring our inner selves, seeing each reflected in the other. We believe that we should meet the Divine face to face, within our own experience, rather than through an intermediary. Although some paths do have leaders and teachers, these people act as facilitators, using their own wisdom and experience to help guide those in their care towards discovering their own sense and interpretation of the Divine. Our rites help us harmonize with the natural cycles, and so they are often held at the turning points of the seasons, at the phases of the moon and sun, and at times of transition in our lives.
There is a great variety of traditions within the broad spectrum of Paganism. This reflects the range of our spiritual experience, for we believe that everyone is unique, and so everyone’s spirituality must be equally unique. Some Pagans follow multiple Gods and Goddesses, their names familiar to all from the pages of European folklore and mythology: others focus on a single Life Force of no specific gender; yet others devote themselves to a cosmic couple – Goddess and God, or Lord and Lady. We celebrate our diversity for we believe that each person should find their spirituality according to the dictates of the quiet, inner voice of their own soul. For this reason we respect all sincere religions. From other faiths and from society generally, we ask only tolerance.
In these days of environmental concern and Eco-awareness, Pagans are often at the forefront of Green awareness. Pagans of all paths respect the rights of every living soul, whether human, animal, plant or rock. We are ever mindful of the actions of cause and effect, whether by thought or deed, upon the creatures of the Earth. We encourage free thought, creative imagination and practical human resourcefulness, believing these to be fundamental to our spending our lives in harmony with the rhythms of the natural world. We rejoice that some of our personal beliefs should now be shared by so many other people. These beliefs are the heritage of all people from our distant and common ancestors – they are equally the concern of all our descendants.
- Pagan Federation
Wiccan / Witch – Contrary to what those who choose to persecute or lie about us wish to believe, Wicca is a very peaceful, harmonious and balanced way of life which promotes oneness with the divine and all which exists.
Wicca is a deep appreciation and awe in watching the sunrise or sunset, the forest in the light of a glowing moon, a meadow enchanted by the first light of day. It is the morning dew on the petals of a beautiful flower, the gentle caress of a warm summer breeze upon your skin, or the warmth of the summer sun on your face. Wicca is the fall of colorful autumn leaves, and the softness of winter snow. It is light, and shadow and all that lies in between. It is the song of the birds and other creatures of the wild. It is being in the presence of Mother Earths nature and being humbled in reverence. When we are in the temple of the Lord and Lady, we are not prone to the arrogance of human technology as they touch our souls. To be a Witch is to be a healer, a teacher, a seeker, a giver, and a protector of all things. If this path is yours, may you walk it with honor, light and integrity.
Wicca is a belief system and way of life based upon the reconstruction of Pre-Christian traditions originating in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. While much of the information of how our ancestors lived, worshiped and believed has been lost due to the efforts of the medieval church to wipe our existence from history, we try to reconstruct those beliefs to the best of our ability with the information that is available.
Thanks to archaeological discoveries, we now have basis to believe that the origins of our belief system can be traced even further back to the Paleolithic peoples who worshipped a Hunter God and a Fertility Goddess. With the discovery of these cave paintings, estimated to be around 30,000 years old, depicting a man with the head of a stag, and a pregnant woman standing in a circle with eleven other people, it can reasonably be assumed that Witchcraft is one of the oldest belief systems known in the world toady. These archetypes are clearly recognized by Wiccan as our view of the Goddess and God aspect of the supreme creative force and predate Christianity by roughly 28,000 years making it a mere toddler in the spectrum of time as we know it.
Witchcraft in ancient history was known as “The Craft of the Wise” because most who followed the path were in tune with the forces of nature, had a knowledge of Herbs and medicines, gave council and were valuable parts of the village and community as Shamanic healers and leaders. They understood that mankind is not superior to nature, the earth and its creatures but instead we are simply one of the many parts, both seen and unseen that combine to make the whole. As Chief Seattle said; “We do not own the earth, we are part of it.” These wise people understood that what we take or use, we must return in kind to maintain balance and equilibrium. Clearly, modern man with all his applied learning and technology has forgotten this. Subsequently, we currently face ecological disaster and eventual extinction because of our hunger for power and a few pieces of gold.
For the past several hundred years, the image of the Witch has been mistakenly associated with evil, heathenism, and unrighteousness. In my humble opinion, these misconceptions have their origin in a couple of different places.
To begin, the medieval church of the 15th through 18th centuries created these myths to convert the followers of the old nature based religions to the churches way of thinking. By making the Witch into a diabolical character and turning the old religious deities into devils and demons, the missionaries were able to attach fear to these beliefs which aided in the conversion process. Secondly, as medical science began to surface, the men who were engaged in these initial studies had a very poor understanding of female physiology, especially in the area of a women’s monthly cycles. The unknowns in this area played very well with the early churches agenda lending credence to the Witch Hunters claims and authority. The fledgling medical professions also stood to benefit greatly from this because it took the power of the women healers away giving it to the male physicians transferring the respect and power to them.
Unfortunately these misinformed fears and superstitions have carried forward through the centuries and remain to this day. This is why many who follow these nature oriented beliefs have adopted the name of Wicca over its true name of Witchcraft to escape the persecution, harassment and misinformation associated with the name of Witchcraft and Witch not to mention the bad publicity the press and Hollywood has given us simply to generate a profit.
What Witchcraft is:
Witchcraft is a spiritual system that fosters the free thought and will of the individual, encourages learning and an understanding of the earth and nature thereby affirming the divinity in all living things. Most importantly however, it teaches responsibility. We accept responsibility for our actions and deeds as clearly a result of the choices we make. We do not blame an exterior entity or being for our shortcomings, weaknesses or mistakes. If we mess up or do something that brings harm to another, we have no one but ourselves to blame and we must face the consequences resulting from those actions.
We acknowledge the cycles of nature, the lunar phases and the seasons to celebrate our spirituality and to worship the divine. It is a belief system that allows the Witch to work with, not in supplication to deities with the intent of living in harmony and achieving balance with all things.
The spells that we do involve healing, love, harmony, wisdom and creativity. The potions that we stir might be a headache remedy, a cold tonic, or an herbal flea bath for our pets. We strive to gain knowledge of and use the natural remedies placed on this earth by the divine for our benefit instead of using synthetic drugs unless absolutely necessary.
Wiccan believe that the spirit of the One, Goddess and God exist in all things. In the trees, rain, flowers, the sea, in each other and all of natures creatures. This means that we must treat “all things” of the Earth as aspects of the divine. We attempt to honor and respect life in all its many manifestations both seen and unseen.
Wiccan learn from and revere the gift of nature from divine creation by celebrating the cycles of the sun, moon and seasons. We search within ourselves for the cycles that correspond to those of the natural world and try to live in harmony with the movement of this universal energy. Our teachers are the trees, rivers, lakes, meadows, mountains and animals as well as others who have walked this path before us. This belief creates a reverence and respect for the environment, and all life upon the Earth.
We also revere the spirits of the elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water which combine to manifest all creation. From these four elements we obtain insight to the rhythms of nature and understand they are also the rhythms of our own lives.
Because Witches have been persecuted for so many centuries, we believe in religious freedom first! We do not look at our path as the only way to achieve spirituality, but as one path among many to the same end. We are not a missionary religion out to convert new members to think the same as we do. We are willing to share our experience and knowledge with those who seek our wisdom and perspective however. We believe that anyone who is meant for this path will find it through their own search as the Goddess speaks to each of us in her time and way. Wiccan practice tolerance and acceptance toward all other religions as long as those faiths do not persecute others.
What Witchcraft is not:
Witchcraft or Wicca is not a cult. We do not proclaim ourselves to be spokespersons for the divine or try to get others to follow us as their leaders.
We do not worship Satan or consort with Demons. Satan is a Christian manifestation. It goes against all our beliefs – a paranoid creation of supreme evil and eternal damnation of hell for those who chose not to believe….
We do not sacrifice animals or humans because that would violate our basic tenant of “Harm None.”
We have no need to steal or control the life force of another to achieve mystical or supernatural powers. We draw our energy from within, our personal relationship with the divine and nature.
We do not use the forces of nature or the universe to hex or cast spells on others. Again, “Harm None” is the whole of the law.
Witches have a very strict belief in the Law of Three which states that whatever we send out into our world shall return to us three fold either good or bane. With this in mind, a “True Witch” would hesitate in doing magic to harm or manipulate another because that boomerang we throw will eventually come back to us much larger and harder then when we threw it.
This is not to say that Witches are perfect, we are human too just like everyone else and make mistakes and errors in judgment. Just as there are parents who love and nurture their children, there are parents who abuse their children. As there are many who devote their lives to giving and helping mankind, likewise there are those who devote their lives to taking advantage of and using people for their own gain. Unfortunately the same flaws in human nature applies to witches too.
Most of us continually strive to consider all potential outcomes of our thoughts and actions pausing to seriously consider the consequences before undertaking a ritual, spell or rite that could go astray. It is when we follow the path with the love of the Goddess in our hearts and adhere to the basic tenant of the Reed that our works are beneficial and we achieve harmony and balance with all things.
- Celtic Connection
Those who follow witchcraft are not the only ones who find the moon special. The mystery of it’s great powers have been connected to the tides, the growth and abundance of crops, and even connected to human emotions.
For those who practice witchcraft of any kind, the moon has a strong and influential role in religious practice and belief. The moon is a symbol of the Goddess, lunar magic, and of spell casting. Most witches believe that under the light of the moon is when magical work should be done to be most effective. The power of the Goddess is present at this time, and it is the time of the day that she rules.
It is also believed by many who practice witchcraft that the appropriate time to cast spells, do ritual work, and hold specific ceremonies or rites are all dictated by the phases of the moon. The calendar of the moon with its new/dark, waxing, full, and waning phases creates the magical calendar for every month of worship.
Each phase of the moon is believed to have specific energies and symbolism associated with that time of the month in witchcraft. Casting spells and doing other magical work in harmony with these times gives a powerful extra kick to the spell work and is believed to make the spell more powerful.
It is also believed that casting spells under the incorrect time of the moon will not only complicate being able to effectively cast the intent of the spell, but it will most often cause the opposite of the intent of the spell to be the outcome. In witchcraft that can be a serious issue.
There are four phases of the moon recognized by the magical community:
Dark MoonThe sky is dark and the stars are the only lights we see during this phase. Many traditions do not recognize this time as a phase to worship, and they do no magical work during this time. Those who do choose to worship this time focus their energy on divination, psychic awareness, and dream exploration.
New MoonThe first sliver of the moon reappears in the sky on the first night of this new cycle. Those traditions that do not recognize the Dark Moon see this time as the phase to focus their energy on divination, psychic awareness, and dream exploration. Those who do worship the Dark Moon focus their energies on new adventures, beginnings, love, romance, and health at this time.
Waxing MoonWhen that sliver reappears in the sky and begins to grow larger for us to see, the waxing phase is upon us. Many Trads urge members to begin their ritual prayers for the new cycle during this time. It is seen as a period of growth and the beginning of something new, and rituals reflect these themes.
Full MoonWith the full orb illuminating the world with its silver light, the power of the full moon can be seen as well as felt. This is the time when the magick of the moon is at it’s most powerful, and any spell cast under it’s power has a great chance of being successful. Covens traditionally meet on the first night of the full moon to hold an Esbat rite – a celebration of the moon and the Goddess. Any other rituals and rites a specific coven chooses to hold are traditionally performed during this time too. Those who doubt what phase is the most correct to cast a specific spell under should always cast under this phase to be accurate.
Waning MoonThe light of the night becomes less and less until there is none for a period of nights. The weakening is the time of the waning moon. In magickcal work to cast spells of banishment or to get rid of something. For those traditions who do not worship the New or Dark Moon this phase lasts until the Waxing Moon appears in the sky again.