Posted: December 1st. 1997
Times Viewed: 8,096
Wicca is often called the Old Religion, because it is based on the teachings of the old, pagan religions and the old art of witchcraft. The Wheel of the Year, our symbols (Yule log, jack-o-lanterns, the pentagram, the circle etc.) and our beliefs are all hand-me-downs from the Druids and other European pagan traditions. Wicca, in its current form, is the revival of the old beliefs in an attempt to bring people closer to the earth and subsequently closer to each other.
Because Wicca is a bona fide religion, it does adhere to certain beliefs and practices, and does embrace folklore and tradition all its own, and its practitioners do share things in common. However, it angers me whenever I hear, "Wiccans do this" or 'Wiccans do that" without adding the fact that many Wiccans may not "do that' at all. For example, I once read that "Wiccans worship skyclad', or nude. The first thing I thought was, "Oh really? I should remind myself of this the next time I don my Wiccan Robe. For I always thought I was a Wiccan, but I almost never practice skyclad"
The truth of the matter is that although Wicca is a reincarnation of an older religion (or perhaps several old religions), the truth is that Wicca is an infant religion, and therefore is enduring growing pains, and continual change. Every time a new person adorns the title of a Wiccan Witch and initiates herself into the religion of the Goddess, she carries with her new beliefs, new practices, and new ways of doing things. She brings with her a breath of fresh air, and because of it, she changes our religion. Wicca is a religion of action, not of pure belief. For example, just because you believe in the Goddess doesn"t make you a Wiccan. In order to be Wiccan, you must act on your actions. You must learn, you must teach, you must give thanks, you must integrate yourself with nature and the earth. And every new person that does these things changes what Wicca is.
Many traditionalists don't like this idea. It upsets them that any person could alter the religion of Gardener and give it a new dimension. But if they had their way, Wicca would die. Wicca would become all action and no meaning, and when this happens, religion simply becomes dogmatic and it dies. Wicca is fluid, and it is metamorphic. When we practice Wicca we are allowed to come into it and plunge our hands into it and change it from the inside. Wicca does not contain the dreaded "Look but don't touch" philosophy. Whenever we come together to worship, we may add new phrases or images that may change our minds about how we envision the Goddess, and when we do that we change our religious beliefs without completely changing religions. It is for that reason that Wicca is so accessible. As long as we continue to accept the basic tenets of Wicca, we can add to it almost anything we want. We don't have to name the Goddess Diana, we don't have to worship skyclad, we don't have to cast a circle and we don't have to believe in reincarnation. Wicca is as we are.
The reason that Wicca allows us to do this is because the Goddess is within us. Most people come to Wicca of their own free will; very few of us are actually born into it. Because of this, those of us who come to Wicca and remain here do so because something inside us was drawn to this religion: somehow, we are supposed to be Witches. We cannot ignore that calling, and we cannot push it away. So we come to Wicca and embrace it as our own, and change it to make it fit. The Goddess has chosen us to walk this path, and because she chose us, she accepts our changes to her religion. The Goddess defines what religion is (because all belongs to Her), but because the Goddess is within us, we aid that definition. We are the changers; we are the creators. When the Goddess works, she works through us. She gives us the power, and because of it, no Grand Council of Witches, regardless of their lineage, can manipulate the religion of Wicca. No one can stop Wicca from growing and changing. What the Goddess wills of us will come to pass.
The immanence of the Goddess is central to Wicca, and when I talk about "immanence of the Goddess' I am not talking about the idea of Goddess--I am not talking about Diana, or Hecate, or Isis or Inanna. I am talking about what Goddess represents--growth, fertility, creation, invention, imagination. Because this energy is an integral part of who we are, it validates us and our beliefs. I have often been asked, "Who am I to comment on the philosophies of Wicca? Who am I to write my own Full Moon Ritual? Who am I to teach another the way of the Craft?"
When I come across this person, I immediately challenge them with, "Who are you? Who are you, period?" They often fumble, confused, searching for the "right answer". They may answer, 'I am Julie. I'm an artist. I'm a woman. I'm an American." Or they may answer, "I'm no one."
Both answers are insufficient of course, though the latter is far worse. That person who answers "I am no one" is the very person who most desperately needs to comment on the philosophies of Wicca, or to write her own ritual, or to teach another the way of the Craft. The reason is because doing makes it so. When we create or give thought to what we believe, we are examining ourselves and understanding who we are. We are, after all, not much more than what we love, believe and dream. If a person answers, "I am no one", she doesn't understand her own self worth, or at least she doubts it. But if she makes herself answer the questions above, she affirms her own self worth. She becomes able to define herself.
But the main reason these answers are insufficient is because it shows that somewhere along the line they have missed the point of Wicca. When I ask them "Who are you?", I don't mean "What are your functions in the mundane world?', I mean for them to examine their place within their religion. They are children of the Goddess. They are priests and priestesses, they are witches, and most importantly, they are the Goddess. That gives them the right, that gives them the power to create ritual, to teach their Craft, to create religion.
Too many times, we Witches doubt ourselves. We say to ourselves, "I'll never get that spell to work" or we worry that we have fallen out of favor with the Goddess. We fail to understand that immanence means never having to say "I can't", because immanence grants power, and as long as we are willing to use that power, we always can. All we have to do is ask ourselves, "Who am I?" and when we answer back, "I am the Goddess", nothing can stop us.
Creating religion means accepting your self worth enough to contribute to your belief system. If you don't believe that your philosophies are worthy of sharing, then you cannot shape your religion, and it will die. Human beings, like the universe, are interactive: we take in images and impressions from our environment, and they shape who we are, yet at the same time, we constantly change our environment. This process is eternally on-going, and as long as we live, we change the world and it changes us. But if none of us adds anything new to our world, the world cannot change, and neither can we. We must be willing to share our beliefs, to change our environment, and to grow.
Creating religion does not mean opening up a blank book, writing down ten rules that all your followers must adhere to and then charge three hundred dollars for a weekend session. Creating religion does not mean inventing gods or a new set of ethics. Creating religion means turning philosophy into passion. Someone once told me that "anything you feel passionately about becomes religion." Simply going through the motions, lighting candles and dancing around the may pole is not practicing Wicca. Wicca is religion, and religion requires passion. And yet whatever we feel passionately about will change us, and in turn we will change it. Remember, that which you hold, holds you. We're all in this together, so the price might as well be worth the reward. Therefore, creating religion means turning a mundane philosophical belief system into a tangible, metamorphic lifestyle, rather than maintaining a static form. Creating religion means making your belief the whole of your life--living by what you preach, and leading by example. Creating Wicca means pairing deeply rooted and deeply loved philosophical beliefs with the magick, turning the mundane into the spiritual, and turning the mystical into material.
© 1997 by Alaine VioletMoon.
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Bio: Alaine VioletMoon is a Wiccan Witch living in Austin, Texas. Though she has been a witch most of her life, she only began practicing Wicca within the past three years. She currently practices solitaire, though she studies with other witches in the area. The above article is an excerpt from her first, unpublished Wiccan book, "Creating Wicca: The Philosophy Behind the Craft.". Alaine is a philosophic writer, folk/classical/pop singer/songwriter and works in an after school program with nine and ten year old children.
This Road I Have Traveled
by Alaine VioletMoon
I wrote this poem/thought-piece as a gift for the entire Wiccan community. I encourage you to use it, share it with others, and think about it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Spirituality is not something that you drive for. It isn't the light at the end of the tunnel that you strive toward, hoping to pass the other cars in a valiant attempt to reach your destiny first. You don't ever really "get there". The best thing we can ever hope to do is set the machine on cruise control, know where we'd like to end up, keep our eyes wide open and enjoy the eternal view. It's gorgeous out there.
This road that I have traveled is road that many others have walked before me. It is a road crossed by obstacles, ditches, other roads and many other distractions. This road that I have traveled has seen many a great things, the least of which has been my humble desire to know my Goddess, my Spirit. Yet I trod ever onward, for my destination is Unity, Love.
I used to fear all the things that Wicca offers us: independence, self worth, responsibility, knowledge. I used to fear knowing myself, afraid that the things I would see would be rotten--or worse, superficial. I was afraid to take my life into my hands, to hold onto it, to make it something worth having. But when I finally gave my fears away, I let Wicca embrace me, for it was then that I realized how beautiful the Goddess is, and how much I look like her.
Yet, so do you.
This is the road I have chosen. It is not for everyone. It is not for those of us who don't want to challenge the system, who don't want to take control of their lives, who don't understand how they, simple they, could be the Goddess manifest. When we're taught all our lives that we are nothing, we learn to believe it. We cannot all come to terms with what we really are. Some of us may just be nothing. But I don't really think so. They might be fragments of something great, scraps of the eternal moon, a shadow of a spiritual flame. But Nothing? No; even a reflection has worth. Even the Devil can be an angel in disguise.
This is the road I have chosen. I have lived a thousand years and died a hundred deaths, and I have faced my demons both large and small, real and imaginary. I have learned my name and earned my face and this is what I have to show for it. Strength, integrity, intelligence. The Goddess knows me and I know her. We walk together, and everytime I call on her, she responds. She has been with me since the beginning.
I am Witch. I am Witch, I am Faerie, I am Glory, I am Goddess. I am the Moon, the Sun, the Ancient, the Child. This is my world, this is my time.
This is the Road I have traveled.
© 1997, Alaine VioletMoon
If you have a webpage of your own, I encourage you to use this poem on your own page. (But please site me as the author). Let it be a beacon and a calling for our fellows on this Road. Blessed Be.
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