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Witchcraft vs. Religion
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Wicca: Growing Deeper Like the River
Article ID: 15187
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Sage Runepaw
Posted: September 16th. 2012
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Wicca is not dying or already dead as some may think. If you hold this thought, I ask you to read on with an open mind.
Considering how new the religion is, and that those of us who have fought for what we believe in and have seen such great progress in its growth, it is part of its life cycle to- once spread and be more widely known about (if not necessarily understood) - grow deeper.
I'm shocked that anyone would call it dying or dead- it's hardly even a hundred years old, yet I have heard some people saying such things. What seems to have happened is that great minds helped spawn it and brought important growth and ideas together. After fighting for it and discovering how broad it truly is, people who call it dead or dying may now simply perceive the stillness that it is coming to in this life stage. Like a river, it first runs fast, wild, and widens out; then as it matures, it grows deeper.
We have so much that it draws from and this brings to it the flexibility required. We don't need a centralized leader to tell us what to do. It's between us and Deity/Source itself. And for those of us who feel the need for a 'leader' - that's what our HPs, HPs, and ministers and reverends are for! We are there to help facilitate and enrich the experience if difficulties are showing up for an individual. We are here for each other! The river became new, ran wild, gathered ideas, established itself, continued, and grew broader. Now, it is growing deeper.
Wicca cannot die. It will only shift forms until and unless every last Wiccan out there forsakes his/her vows to Divinity and starts hurting people for fun. After all, the Wiccan Rede is what binds Wiccans together (not so much for witches, and no worries, problems, or accusations there. It is simply my mentors and HPS/HPs who have taught me the Rede is followed by Wiccans; not all witches follow the Rede, etc) .
If you are a HP or HPs or elder questioning if Wicca's dying or if you think it is already dead, then were you ever serious to begin with… and if you're saying those things, what happened that led you to be less serious about it now? It sounds harsh, but objectivity must be present in times where truth is sought. One cannot, in my opinion, simply take a look at Wicca as a whole, and say, “Oh, it's dying” or consider my time involved with Wicca to be a 'waste'. We are all evolving on personal levels. Wicca as a religion is no different, simply a larger thing than we are and with its own path.
Are you still validly serving Them, or are you copping out and taking an easy way to backing out? Are you stagnating in your personal practice? I mean neither insult nor disrespect to you with this article, but I will if necessary bonk someone over the head with words (with no harming intent!) until they open their eyes if they have shut them for some reason or another. And if it's a perceived lack of 'good' HP/HPs- see what your shortcomings are, see what the holes in those HP/HPs are, and heal 'em up! Our teachers must likewise be capable and up to the ability to help newcomers. I would grieve if any of my HPs or HP came to me one day and told me they thought Wicca was dead and/or dying.
During my time learning with the River Shadow Tradition, the river analogy kept coming up and it's a good one. As I already mentioned, Wicca is like a river. It starts with a few desires and thoughts of those who start its flow. Then others join the river and seek to know where it goes and in the process, change and evolve as they reach different degrees of self-understanding. There are a few rocks along the river's path but water flows and goes around, over, or erodes them away. As time progresses, that river adapts to its landscape and sees new things as new ideas form and grow. We have experienced this with Wicca as the main branches- Alexandrian, Gardnerian, British Traditional, etc- branched out into many other branches and flavors and continued to grow. The river then seems to go still and be tranquil when it reaches a certain breadth.
Look at Catholicism/Christianity for another example. Methods of doing services and 'what to do' varied wildly for the first 500 years after Jesus (one of the five in Nazareth at the time, anyways) died and that whole shebang went down. Wiccan elders who are claiming that they're disappointed with their perceived lack of growth or progress over the last few decades seem to be missing a basic point. As another person mentioned in a Witchvox article a few years back (which, if I find, I will reference in an edit to this which I'm writing) , the great influential famous figures of Wicca also sought for us all- and future witches and Wiccans- not to need any further 'greats'. They wanted us to be smarter than to rely on another up-and-coming figure and while we may be blessed with amazingly talented witches and Wiccans along the way, we already know by looking at other religions that we are not to lose our way by worshiping the figurehead rather than that figure's teachings and integrating them into our lives for our personal evolution and self-betterment!
We have such a rich, beautiful religion and we are truly blessed to have it and be a part of it. Look at how much there is to learn from a beginner's perspective. To this end, I am with a coven learning the basics all over again and I am still learning new things about that which once was new to me and then became taken for granted as ease came in with practice, seeing how others learn and integrate the teachings, how I learned, and learning new ways of doing things.
With the river, it never stagnates. You might say, well, with covens, they come and go. Yes, they do, as they are living, magickal entities just as we people are. However, that's not cause to think that if this happens continually, Wicca will die out. And if you believe in a need for a central authority after all- personally I think that would doom it! A singular authority is a singular point of existence, and let's look at all the shortcomings of past leaders in any capacity.
Bias is an individual thing and all suffer from being in a human condition and therefore unable to please everyone and be the All-Wise-Knowing-Revered-Leader. It is our- Wiccan consensus- preference that we not have a central figure, and for good reason, and if Wiccans as a whole did up and go “You know what, we actually do need this person to be in this position”- that's when I would grieve for Wicca. However, I would grieve most if every Wiccan mutually abandoned the Rede and knowingly went around harming people and the very deities and ethical guides that helped shape it and themselves. I'm sure every individual ancestor who died for religion or under religious oppression or even practiced similar to what we have today would come up from their graves and slap us upside the head for those sentiments, calling our religion of choice dead or dying.
If you hold anti-Catholic/Christian sentiments within you as a witch or Wiccan- why? You divorced yourself of that religion when you left it. It is no longer with you except in your memories and that is the only place where you might need to do some healing in order to let go of and come to harmony with it. Please don't go around saying our religion needs to supersede other religions- No! That's neither the point nor our purpose!
I was stalked by a priest who called in to my public high school trying to commit me to a mental institution for “questioning God and asking if other religions were equally valid”, and yes, it took time to get over that and heal, but I bear no anti-Christian/Catholic sentiments except some sadness that the more narrow-minded individuals who happen to believe in that religion bear us ill will and don't necessarily want to open up to tolerance of other religion, especially here in the United States, where religious freedom is held dear. Gods forbid that we choose to come out of the broom closet or stay in it in case we become like that poor kid over in the UK this past Christmas. Whether or not we do must be an individual decision.
A religion is there to help individuals interface with Divinity and provide a moral/ethical framework upon which they can evolve. Don't be disappointed in Wicca or call it doomed to die out based on your prejudices or anti-other-religions sentiments. Instead, ask how you can enrich your practice if you feel that you are growing dissatisfied with it. Wicca and witchcraft has its challenges, but if you can't handle it, what are you doing and when will you step up and work proactively with them to overcome them? What can you do, or what are you not-doing? Are you seriously calling Wicca dead or dying based off your own thoughts, opinions and/or biases?
Like the wild river that grows, seeing many cultures and beautiful things and ways of practicing, we are now in this period of stillness where our devotion and connection must grow deeper. Just because we look upon a still pond and cannot see the bottom does not mean the pond is shallow or deep. It simply continues downward rather than expanding outward. Shallow or deep is our perception- and while some may insist that it actually -is- a certain measurement to the pond's floor, we are placing our own fallible discernment upon it using a human construction (measurement methods) . Calling Wicca dead is like this. With the river analogy, the river grows deeper while continuing onward. Its journey ends with the re-union of Deity and the individual. Our line of “Thou art God/dess” already reaffirms this!
As long as we contain divinity within us and exist, and even exist beyond this world as energy, as long as we continue to uphold our personal honors, and actively live our personal promises to Deity and to ourselves to live, grow, learn, reciprocate with that around us, Wicca is alive.
Wicca is not dying. If you believe that it is, I ask now that you go before Deity and question your devotion to the religion, to the deities/Source whom you serve and represent here in this manifestation of Their will, love and lust for existence, and if your own personal practice is stagnating. This stagnation often occurs when we feel we have learned a lot and don't particularly know which direction to choose next. It challenges us to think, feel and live our practice in new ways… and not just that, but also to bring our knowledge to the newcomers.
We are the light for those who seek us and we ever must be as long as we are true to ourselves and to Deity. If not, we would be mere mockeries of ourselves and bring dishonor to our students, future seekers, and the Sacred Ones. Shadows are simply the absence of light, but there is no light without shadow. This balance is needed in order to understand.
If you are a torch looking at Wicca as a whole from the place of High Priest or High Priestess, and you say Wicca is dying, your shadows must contain things you should look at. You came to this point because of Deity and your choices to grow with it. Have you simply outgrown yourself, or are you in need of a new rebirth? Go before them and ask. Part of my challenge as a High Priest is that sporadic 'glass wall syndrome', where you feel stumped and reflect on how far you've come and where should you go from where you're at. Pick a direction and run with it! As I've told my students, “S/he who is lost has but every direction to choose from and any number of paths from that point onward to live! Now go pick one and go with it!”
My first teacher, Alder Destiny, who gifted me with my first High Priestess to teach me, Alder Lotus, said, “A candle loses nothing by lighting another flame”. We become not just candles as we grow into high priest/ess-hood, but our own torches.
Torches do not go out because they say, “I have cast enough light for others and lit several other torches, therefore I am no longer needed”, nor do they say, “The collective light has gone dim and what we have lit together is dying.” I don't personally believe Wicca will form offshoot religions. It's already as broadly varied as it can be and this article isn't about what constitutes a new religion vs. other religions' varieties still being umbrella-termed the same religion and whatnot.
With each new seeker comes a new light. Upon my Initiation night, I thought to myself, “Even if Wicca stops being practiced by every individual on the planet, and by everyone living in the realm of spirit, I will still continue onward, even if proven it was all a joke to begin with. I will continue to live and breathe, Wiccan, because it is flexible enough to allow for personal growth.” Even if it proves itself outdated or silly or even somehow holds me back in some distant point in time, I know for a fact that it helped me reach a connection and intimacy with Deity and helped everyone who sought it through me, and that it's flexible enough to keep growing and adapting within me. That's all that really matters.
We are all here on this earth, nearly adults of Deity now, and here to help each other. Calling Wicca dying or dead is counterproductive at best and a lie at worst- be it to another or to yourself. I stand with Helios* on this 'issue'. (“for 'it may be an issue, but it might not'.”)
When the river reaches stillness, its depths form. We are in the stillness where we move deeper with Deity or leave under the illusion that in its stillness, it has died. We are still traveling on our journey to the eternal ocean of Their love and spirit. Within it, we are one.
We already are.
These are my thoughts.
“It is love which created the web and it is love which is needed to heal it. Perspective is everything, but love is all there is.” ~musings from my journal entry
*Inspired by http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=uswi and c=words and id=14905
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