Nehallenic Wicca - The Path of the Ways|
Posted: April 24th. 2004
Times Viewed: 7,559
Walking the path of the Great Mother can take a seeker on many a colorful and exciting adventure. Just who the Great Mother is remains a matter of personal direction, as She has as many names as there are stars in the galaxy. Those of us who find the Great Mother in the goddess Nehallenia discover that the destination of our travels is not as important as the journey itself. This is the essential idea of Wicca of the Ways, a tradition more commonly known as Nehallenic Wicca. While named for and centered around a goddess, Nehallenic Wicca is a tradition open to everyone that reveres all forms of life in any gender. I am the "coordinator," if you will, of Nehallenic Wicca in North America, and as such I welcome you to explore this tradition.
"To the goddess Nehallenia, on account of goods duly kept safe, Marcus Secundinius Silvanus, trader in pottery with Britain, fulfilled his vow willingly and deservedly." This is an inscription left by a Roman merchant at the shrine of the traveler's goddess Nehallenia. The imprint is still visible at Domburg, the Netherlands. Evidence shows that Nehallenia (or Nehalennia - spelling varies) was an important goddess in Northern Europe, one that even the relocated Romans adopted. The Nehallenic Tradition of Wicca is not at all ancient, but it does draw on old sources and folklore.
In the 1970's, a group of people in Philadelphia, PA of Breton, continental Celtic, Dutch, German, and Norse descent came together to compare their Pagan heritages. The result was the discovery that they all had a great deal in common philosophically. They also all shared a common goddess of seafarers and journeys, Nehallenia. This group stuck together more or less through the years.
Finally, in 1985, a priestess named Raven Standingstone established the Nehallenic Tradition. Aldsvider Loar Nevez became the first Nehallenic "lodge" or coven. Aldsvider Loar Nevez was the center of this tradition that weaves these cultures together. On the Fall Equinox of 2003, the lodge was reincorporated as the Temple of the Ways.
Until the completion of the Nehallenic website in 2003, information on Nehallenic Wicca did not exist outside of the Nehallenic lodges. Knowledge was passed from person to person within a lodge or to a Dedicant. But these are not the days for secrecy. These are the days to share so that seekers might better find their paths. After all it is not so much where we have been but where we are going that matters.
The core beliefs of the Nehallenic Way are codified in a document called the Law of the Hound, which will be summarized here. Dogs were associated with the goddess and so have been brought into the modern tradition. The principle guiding tenet in Nehallenic Wicca is to never act to do harm to any living thing. Spirit is given precedence over magic. Our main reason for being as humans is to celebrate the universe. We are teachers of our way, of other Wiccan traditions, and of other areas of knowledge. We are ambassadors of the Wiccan Way to the rest of the world. We are activists for causes that better humanity and our earth. Exchanging use of our arts for payment in money is forbidden. An oath once made is forever binding. Never criticize the paths of others, as to do so is to reflect badly upon one's own path. Be cautioned against excessive pride. The three greatest teachers of the Nehallenic Way are yourself, your life, and the universe. Embrace the qualities of strength, courage, daring, leadership, justice, exploration, creativity, tenacity, purity, living, cunning, family and loyalty. This is a solid overview of Nehallenic belief.
The Nehallenic pantheon is unique to the Nehallenic tradition. At its top, of course, is the goddess Nehallenia, who is a representation of universal power and totality. Nehallenia is said to have taken Cernunnos or Herne the Hunter as a consort. The goddess is further brought into a form easily recognized by human beings in the couple of Alaric and Dagmar. The cycle of their relationship and their connection to natural cycles is the basis for the Nehallenic Days of Power, which will be explored later. A Nehallenic Wiccan sometimes selects one or a few of the following for their own personal devotion.
The deities are believed to live in Nan-ton-cin, a great city said to exist in the clouds that float above the North Sea.
- AIRMID - Maiden Goddess of Love
- MAOLMIN - Mother Goddess
- NEWAG - Crone Goddess
- HIDUAE - Goddess of Civic Service, Civilization, and Cities
- AMBORIX - Warrior God
- COR - God of Justice
- MATUG - God of Fathers
- BANUI - God of the Light Half of the Year
- BAYERN - God of the Dark Half of the Year
- ORGETORIX - Messenger God to Humanity
- VERGNUGEN - Goddess of the Life Cycle
- SENNILO - God of Courage and Daring
- EPEDORIX - God of Wisdom
- GUTUATER - God of Peace
- DAUBA - Goddess of Flora and Fauna
Nehallenic Wicca uses the traditional Celtic names for the Days of Power. First the Nehallenia/Dagmar color is given followed by the Cernunnos/Alaric color. On Yule, the night of the shortest day, Dagmar gives birth to the God Alaric, a star in the darkness promising future light. The colors are purple and white. On Imbolc, Dagmar thinks of the life that has been birthed from her womb and how she has helped to bring back the light. The colors are blue and purple. Spring and Ostara come, and the promise made at Yule begins to prove true throughout the world. Over the winter Alaric has grown into a young man. The colors are white and green. Ripe with the new life and blossoming of nature at Beltane, Dagmar and Alaric indulge in a Great Rite to celebrate. The colors are red and yellow. On Litha, the day of the shortest night all of totality celebrates, knowing that now the darkness will slowly return. The colors are green and red. The first harvest from this year's bounty, Lammas, is gathered. Dagmar is first aware that she is carrying Alaric's child. The colors are yellow and orange. Dagmar and Alaric notice that Mabon is the final triumph of the light before everything slips into darkness. The colors are silver and gold. Finally on Samhain, Alaric has passed into the darkness and Dagmar weeps. However, she keeps alive the hope that they will be together again in some form. The colors are black and black.
Lunar phases are also observed, with rites performed at both the Full Moon and the New Moon. We also take societal holidays and birthdays into consideration.
Nehallenic Wicca is practiced in lodges, which are much like covens or circles. The language of Nehallenic Wicca is English. It is an initiatory path, but we believe that an individual can also be initiated on their own by the powers of the universe. Self- dedication and self-initiation are perfectly valid. In lodge practice, a seeker may become a Dedicant when they have decided they wish to explore the path. There is the traditional year and a day between levels and the levels are Dedicant, First Degree, Second Degree, and Third Degree. A High Priestess or High Priest may be a charismatic leader of any Degree, but only those holding a Third Degree may be considered lodge Elders. Solitary practice is recognized as a legitimate path of the Nehallenic Tradition. A Nehallenic lodge shall optimally have five filled offices of regular service. The High Priestess and High Priest work together to conduct the rites. The High Priestess is assisted by the Maiden and the High Priest is assisted by the Knight. The Scribe keeps the records of lodge meetings and activities and is responsible for maintaining the lodge's Book of Shadows.
Maybe your interest has been piqued. If so, I suggest the following resources for further exploration. I would first mention the Temple of the Ways at http://www.electricapocalypse.com/wicca which is the official website for the tradition. It is also my creation and much of this article has come from documents available at the site.
A further introduction to the goddess can be found at http://www.livius.org/ne-nn/nehalennia/nehalennia.html, and http://members.lycos.nl/filazeeland/nehalenn.html offers photographs of Nehallenic altars.
Many other sites in Dutch are available.
A little off-topic but worth the detour is the book Priestess of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley and Diana Paxson. The main character has chosen the Briton Elen of the Ways as her patroness, and when she later is introduced to Nehallenia, she wonders if perhaps they are one in the same.
The Nehallenic tradition is not one of the larger traditions in Wicca, but its adherents are among some of the most socially active to be found. While we are firmly traditional in our Degree system and learning process, we are at the same time open to newcomers seeking to learn.
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