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 Wicca 101 lesson 1

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Morwen
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Join date : 2014-05-18
Age : 38
Location : Virginia

PostSubject: Wicca 101 lesson 1   Sun May 25, 2014 1:32 am

Lesson 1
What is Wicca?

“Wicca encompasses your whole worldview and way of life, and is always there in the way you look at and interact with the world.

Wicca is an experiential spiritual system of magick and ceremony that works with the divine as both Goddess and God, and emphasises growth through balance and discipline. This balance, be it of light and dark, feminine and masculine, or active and passive, acts as a dynamic tension to create harmony and enable the individual to progress in their development through understanding their relationship with themselves and the world around them.

The celebration of the Goddess and God is at the heart of Wicca. The patron Goddess of Wicca is usually associated with the Moon, although she is also often seen as having stellar, terrestrial and chthonian forms. The patron God of Wicca is usually associated with forests, plants and animals; he is also sometimes seen as having solar and chthonian forms.”

[Extract from CIRCLE OF FIRE by Sorita D'Este & David Rankine]

Wicca can also be described as a nature focused spirituality, which draws on the beliefs and practices of pre-christian cultures, blended with ceremonial magick, witchcraft, Gnosticism, Thelema and Hermetics.

The terms “Wicca” and “Witchcraft” are often used interchangeably, but it is important to note from the beginning of your journey that there are some differences. Keeping these differences in mind will help prevent misunderstandings and will help you focus your learning and practice in a direction which suits you best, rather than wasting time and energy arguing definitions! It is correct to say that all Wiccans are Witches, but important to keep in mind that not all Witches are Wiccans.

Wicca was first made “public” by a man called Gerald Gardner back in the 1950′s and has since grown and evolved. There are many debates about where the practices originated from (if you want to learn more about the history of Wicca, we recommend you read “Triumph of the Moon” by Prof. Ronald Hutton) but although it is important to have a firm grasp of the history of the tradition, it is also important to always keep in mind that as with all magickal traditions, it is the experience and understanding which comes through practice which is the most important aspect.

For many years Wicca was viewed as an initiatory tradition. That is, that in order to learn and experience the tradition fully, it was necessary to find a coven who are both willing and able to accept you as a trainee, work with them, receive initiation and then continue working with them for a few years until such time that you decide you wish to start your own coven.

In some respects not much has changed. It is still true that to fully understand and experience the tradition initiation into the tradition and work with a coven will be of great help. However, now that so much has been written about the tradition (books and websites) it is possible to gain a good understanding of both the spirituality and practices of Wicca. It is even possible to experience some of the mystical aspects.

Learning by yourself is however not an easy path, as you will need to read through dozens of books, spend a great deal of time and energy experimenting to find the methods which work best for you and learn to discriminate between the books which offer good information and those which have been written with a “fast buck” in mind. The latter often seems to be written by people with little understanding and experience of the tradition themselves. (Someone who learns the traditional way, by receiving initiation into a coven and then learning and practising, will typically take a minimum of 5 years to reach the point at which they are qualified to start teaching!)

Ultimately, to be a “Wiccan” you need to have a both an understanding of the tradition, experience of the spiritual and practical aspects of the tradition, and first hand experience of the mysticism inherent in the tradition. Wicca combines magick and mysticism with spirituality. In addition you will also need to actually be practising the tradition through celebration of the seasonal “Wheel of the Year” Sabbats, Moon Ceremonies (Esbats) and through applying the principles, ethics and spiritual life to your every day life.

It is not as easy as it sounds, nor does it suit everyone!

Wiccan ritual is not the same as every other tradition in the modern Pagan movement. It follows a set pattern, in which sacred space is created in the form of a magick circle, the Guardians of the Four Elemental Realms are invoked, the Goddess and God are invoked, celebrations and magickal workings are performed, cakes and wine are blessed and which ends when the circle is opened at the end. Many modern pagan traditions have taken their ideas from the Wiccan tradition and follow roughly the same structure, although they may apply different symbolism and ideals to each stage.

Witches may sometimes have the same spiritual beliefs as Wiccans, they may even share some of the same practices. However the term Witchcraft is applied in different ways in different cultures and can for this reason mean a variety of things. Witchcraft is a term which can be used to describe magick which draws primarily on the energies of Earth, for this reason Witchcraft is sometimes referred to as “Low Magick” rather than the “High Magick” of Magickians who more often draw energies from the stars and planets. Of course, yet again, there are overlap and Witches may sometimes also work with planetary and stellar energies, and Magickians may sometimes draw energy from the Earth. Witches tend to focus less on “ceremony” than Magickians, where as Wicca takes a bit from both worlds.

Witches are not all spiritual, although all Witches will have a belief in a higher power of some type. Witches do not all believe in or venerate a Goddess or God. Witches may have Christian, Muslim, Hindu or any number of other religions (even if those religions object to witchcraft!), for this reason it is a good idea to clarify the term when you are using it, this can be done, for example, by saying you are a “Pagan Witch”. The term “Witch” is considered by many to be a misappropriation of the term. It was used in the past to describe mythical haglike creatures who ate babies and could fly through the air, it was used to describe those who practiced negative magickal practices – or who were perceived to do so. For the purposes of this website the term is used to mean someone who practices Modern Western Witchcraft, within the context of modern Neo-Paganism.

So in summary: Wiccans follow a specific set of beliefs, and a specific way of performing ceremonies – although there is flexibility, it is certainly not the same as everyone who practice witchcraft or magick. For this reason, Wiccans may all be Witches, but not all Witches are Wiccan, nor are all who practice Magick Witches or Wiccans!


Exercise 1
a. Spend some time in a place where you will not be disturbed. Think about your own beliefs in regards to deity (God / Goddess), Nature, Life, Death and what happens to the soul after Death. Make some notes in your notebook. At a later stage we will return to these notes and re-examine them.

b. Write a short definition of the Wiccan tradition – based both on the information provided in Lesson 1 and other books / websites you have read. Write a list of questions for yourself in regards to points which you are unclear on and return to them as you progress through the lessons to see if you are able to answer all of them by the end of this short course.
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