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Be Aware

Posted: April 16th. 2004
Times Viewed: 4,396

Spring brings the promise of new beginnings, the promise of walking a new path. With the coming of spring we can reflect upon our faiths and ourselves. We can identify which aspects are strong and which still need some work. In the Wiccan community, let's make this the spring when understanding through education and our roles as ambassadors to other faiths become focal points in our community.

If we claim to be Wiccan we are also taking on the responsibility to represent our path in the greater world. It's been said that there are many more people wanting to start on the Wiccan path than there are Wiccans to teach them. Consequently, seekers turn to books for wisdom. Non-Wiccans also take what they may hear about Wicca whether it is backed up factually or not.

There will be some reading this who will wrinkle their noses at me and dismiss the writing herein as sour grapes. The mysteries and wisdom of Wicca/Witchcraft/Paganism have obviously sailed clear over my head, and I therefore do not belong.

That's fine. I anticipate such a reaction.

This is not intended as a poke at the W/W/P community or its practices. I have stood in the circles of traditional nature religions and walked their paths. What this represents are the ideas and inspirations that such experiences have afforded me, combined with the thoughts of friends and fellows who share a like view.

Hypothetical situation:

You've just emerged from a ritual bath, which lasted exactly eighteen and 2/3 minutes. You timed your bath so that it occurred at the optimum moment astrologically. Wiping yourself dry, you reach into the self-standing closet you had custom built and select your robe. Orienting on the nature of your ritual, you choose which robe you will wear, out of the several hanging there, by its color. You didn't have enough time or ability to make the robes yourself, so you bought them through a mail order company at $150 each. Then you don your jewelry, those amulets and such reserved for ritual.

At your altar - which is made of wood and covered with a cloth, in spite of obvious fire hazards - you light an incense consisting of nine of the finest and rarest herbs and resins available. You want the ritual to be a success, after all! You raise your jeweled, stone-bedecked wand. You light the two special candles you selected for this ritual, which will be burned down and destroyed. Your fine, two-gallon cauldron sits on the floor; your antique broom leans against the altar. Everything is perfect. You have all that any practicing Wiccan could ever want for ritual.

Yet there's something missing. Something essential. What could it possibly be?

Perhaps I'm being facetious, but this is the impression I have of standard Wicca. The above scenario describes a likely procedure that makes me very nervous. From what I have read and seen and heard, the message of Wicca is that it is a religion of gestures and prescriptions and tools. For a religion that is theoretically centered on Nature, the structure of Wiccan practice hardly seems "natural."

Various chats I have had with individuals outside the Wiccan religion have brought up similar impressions. Wicca appears to have a good idea, which is bogged down in material matters of practice. I am aware that many people are in search of a simpler, unencumbered path to the divine beyond conventional Western religious thought. I know that such a path exists in Wicca, but lies buried under accoutrements.

I am concerned, because I believe it is the paths which are not dependent upon ritual, liturgy, or tools which transcend space and time - and that is what spirituality is all about. At the heart of the flower that is Wicca is a religion which does just that. But the center of a flower is relatively bare, though it bears the seed for future generations. There is little to look at, little to grasp onto. It is much easier - and on a very basic level, more pleasurable - to ignore the core for the petals.

Yet it is possible to reach the core without destroying the petals. I contend that this simpler path can be found and followed without any major permutation of essential Wiccan philosophy. The "earth" religion which occasionally gets its head in the clouds can be brought back down to earth and still retain its beautiful essence.

Though I might sound like I am lambasting traditional Wicca, that is not my purpose. For some Wiccans, the ritual tools and other accoutrements are a serious part of their faith. I fully accept and embrace such practices when the practitioner feels it brings them closer to divinity.

Wicca wants to be one of the religions of the world - only without putting any effort into being taken seriously by other faiths and other people. It often seems to me the attitude is that the world should adapt to Wicca instead of Wicca adapting to the world. Yet we must go out to meet the world on its own terms. We must promote understanding and awareness through education. We must make the time to stop and answer questions to the best of our ability. These are the things that will ensure the future of Wicca.

In the course of my study and experience in Wicca, I have come to identify what I call the Five Basic Truths:
  • The Powers That Be see all of us as equals.
  • We must work to achieve harmony in a society inclined towards intolerance.
  • Matter, money, and size are not important.
  • Let us return to contemplating the Mysteries and to discovering new Mysteries within ourselves.
  • Above all else, turn to yourself and be patient.
This is my personal belief, of course, and I only mean it to illustrate my own philosophical origins.

I am a Wiccan priestess and teacher with specific goals, mainly to help seekers learn the path as suits them and to encourage a healthy acceptance of Wicca. Fifteen years in the Craft have taught me many things, not the least of which is that we must be vigilant. I see adult Wiccans who are derogatory towards the young and learning. This concerns me a great deal. After all, the youth are the future - they are Wicca's future. They need to be nurtured and informed, not shunned. Were we not all seekers at one time?

However, many people seem to be making a sport out of poking fun at "fluff bunnies." These would be seekers who are eager to share what knowledge they have gathered, even if it might be redundant and old hat to seasoned practitioners. Maybe they haven't come to understand when it's best to keep silence. There are many explanations for the neophyte Wiccan, but there is no excuse for mistreating the new walkers of the Wiccan path. Rather than insult new Wiccans, we should be making an effort to teach them. Many will feel that this is not their responsibility, but I believe that sharing knowledge is everyone's responsibility.

We need to fix the Wiccan community as well. There also seems to be a stream of practice in which the spirit is ignored in favor of the spells. Wicca is a religion and a spiritual path. There is a great deal more to being a practicing Wiccan than casting spells. That so many people seem to only be interested in the spells is to me contrary to what is Wiccan.

I hold that we're all ambassadors of our faith. The Wiccan community appears in a positive or negative light depending on how we individually represent it. More people stepping up to the plate for Wicca could eradicate so many popular misconceptions. Take this power and responsibility seriously.

We need more harmony among solitary, group, traditional, and eclectic branches of Wicca. None is any better than any other. In the end, we are all revering the same Powers That Be. How can we expect to get along with other groups if we allow fractures among ourselves?

Where did this sudden craze to have actual physical structures for worship begin? When I was training, I understood that the universe was my temple and that I needed no buildings to find deity. Now I hear so many High Priest/esses talking about actual temples and campuses and other physical places. What happened to "Let the stars be your canopy?"

Technically, I've worked my way through a traditional degree system, from Dedicant to Third Degree to Elder. Again, I must have been learning the wrong thing. So far as I know, titles are ephemera. We are all equals in the eyes of deity, so why create a hierarchy which might make some people feel somehow less than equal?

I think the time of working on the acceptance of Wicca in society has transformed into Wicca looking at itself in preparation for going out to be one with the beat of world religion. I challenge you to do what you can to address these issues.

Eridanah Crow


Location: , USA

Bio: Eridanah Crow is the Director of Spiral Wicca, an outreach initiative dedicated to providing information and promoting awareness for people new to Wicca and for the Pagan/Wiccan community in the greater world. She is also the North American coordinator of Nehallenic Wicca, a tradition embracing continental Celtic, Germanic, and Nordic cultures.

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