Wicca

An ye harm none, do what ye will.

Samhain

By Psyche | October 24, 2000 | Leave a comment

31 October NH
30 April SH
First Full Moon in Scorpio

Most people are more familiar with Samhain than some of the other Wiccan and neo-pagan festivals because of customs associated with Hallowe’en and Bonfire Night in England.

Samhain is often seen as the old Celtic New Year, though it is not certain that this was the start of the New Year in all Celtic areas. It may seem strange that this season of death be considered the new year, for this is the time when the harvest is over, this is the season of rusty leaves, grey mists and an ever-increasing bite in the air is present. Life is fading, sleeping or dying. However, in ending cycles one can create new ones. In this time of death one becomes aware that new life will come, from under this frost bitten land. When outer life decays it is the inner strength that must become stronger to persevere.

The God is true Lord of the Underworld at this time, and the Goddess is the Wise Crone. They are both old and clothed in Mystery. This is a time of death, leading then to rebirth once more at Yule.

The Goddess is present as Crone and Wisewoman. Her time of fruits and harvest is complete. Now She offers secrets of the inner realm, of wisdom and magickal power. Within Her glimmers the light of the Maiden, for She is also seen as Lady of Life-in-Death, as Mother too, for she carries the Sun God in the secrecy of Her womb.

The God, having been cut down with the corn of Lammas and Mabon, is making the final journey into darkness and is with present as Lord of the Underworld.

The veil between this world and the spirit world is thin at this time, and it is traditional to ask the beloved dead to be with us – but they are asked, never commanded or summoned.

The God’s descent is honoured by identifying with the way life is retreating, and by allowing what must die in our lives to do so. The Crone is honoured by seeking Her wisdom.

It is a time of coming to terms with death, not only the death of the body, but the death of other things that have ceased over the year, such as relationships, jobs, hobbies, material wealth.

Samhain takes place during Scorpio, which is ruled by the element water. Water transforms and changes, and during Samhain it is a good time to meditate and wash away the pains and sorrows that have taken place during the course of the year.

The theme of this festival is ‘descent’ – descent into our own Underworld, our inner minds – facing our fears, discovering latent talents.


Witchcraft versus Wicca

By Psyche | October 21, 2000 | Leave a comment

Witchcraft is, literally, the ‘craft of the witch’. Which is the skill of being able to work magick; especially magick utilizing personal power in conjunction with the energies within stones, herbs, colours, and other natural objects. While this may have spiritual overtones, witchcraft, by this definition is not a religion. However, some followers of Wicca incorrectly use this word to denote their religion.

A witch was anciently, a European practitioner of the remnants of pre-Christian folk magick, particularly that relating to herbs, healing, wells, rivers and stones (ie: One who practices witchcraft).

Later, this term’s meaning was deliberately altered to denote demented, dangerous, supernatural beings who practiced destructive magick and who threatened Christianity. This change was a political, monetary and sexist move on the part of organized religion, not a change in the practice of witches. This later, erroneous meaning is still accepted by many non-witches today.

Some members of Wicca to describe themselves also use this word to describe what they are. However, witchcraft can be practiced by people of any faith. One can be a Wiccan witch, a Jewish witch, a Christian witch, a Muslim witch, etc.

Wicca is a contemporary Pagan religion with spiritual roots in Shamanism and the earliest expressions of reverence of nature.

Among Wicca’s major motifs are: reverence of the Goddess and the God; reincarnation; magick; ritual observance of the Full Moon; astronomical and agricultural phenomena; spheroid temples, created with personal power, in which rituals occur.

Not all witches are Wiccan, and not all Wiccans are witches, as witchcraft by itself is not a religion, and not all Wiccans practice magick.


Craft-names

By Psyche | June 6, 2000 | Leave a comment

There have been a number of questions about acquiring a Craft-name, or, as it is also commonly called a ‘Wiccan name’.

There are three basic kinds of Craft-names. There is the one one uses publicly; at public gatherings; online; etc. Then there is the Craft-name your coven gives you, which is traditionally kept secret and used only among coven members. The third is the most sacred. It is the name that is only known to yourself and the Goddess and the God. It is your true name and it is the name you would use in private, personal rituals. Not all people chose to have all three, some use one or two, or even none but your given name. It’s a matter of personal preference.

The public name you choose can be anything you like that comes to your fancy. Often people incorporate the elements into their name. Trees, flowers, herbs and other plants are also quite common; as are totem animals.

The same type of thing might be used for a coven Craft-name, but it is kept private, and usually only used inside the coven circle. In some covens the High Priestess will give an initiate a Craft-name upon first degree initiation, and a new one for their second degree, and yet a third one for their third degree; as a way to mark their progress in the understanding of the Divine and magick. In some Traditions and/or covens the High Priestess will allow the initiate to choose the name, in others the initiate may choose the name, and have it approved by the High Priestess, and yet in others the High Priestess chooses, and the initiate has no say.

The private name you use only in communion with the Goddess and the God is the most sacred of names as it is the name the Goddess and the God give you. Sometimes it is revealed in a dream, other times it may come while you are awake, or perhaps during meditation, etc.

I hope this sheds a bit of light onto understanding Craft-names.


The Wheel of the Year: The Story of the Seasons

By Psyche | October 24, 1998 | Leave a comment

Like many things to do with Wicca, this is fluid. There are overlaps and paradoxes. Each individual Wiccan, or coven can and should evolve his or her own picture from feelings and responses.

In Wiccan Traditions that are primarily Goddess-orientated the cycle may be celebrated in terms of the changing face of the Earth Mother alone (and some Wiccan Traditions do not have eight Sabbats). The calendar below, however, illustrates what those who think in terms of both the Goddess and the God.

The dates on the right side are the Northern Hemisphere dates, and those in itallics are for the Southern Hemisphere.

31 October – Samhain – 30 April

The end of October, the God is true Lord of the Underworld. The Goddess is the Wise Crone. They are both old and clothed in mystery. This is a time of death, leading to re-birth once more at Yule.

Winter Solstice – Yule – Summer Solstice

The God is born as the son of the Goddess. She also can be seen as re-birthing Herself – bright baby, magickal Maiden.

2 February – Imbolc – 31 July

The start of February, the Goddess is both Mother and Maiden. She has recently given birth and is fruitful and creative. She is also burgeoning along with the snowdrops and ewes’ milk. She is Maiden. The God is both young and growing.

Spring Equinox – Ostara – Autumn Equinox

The God and Goddess are both youthful and vibrant with the excitement of Their potential.

30 April – Beltane – 31 October

The Start of May, the God and the Goddess, having come to maturity, mate and celebrate Their love in joy.

Summer Solstice – Litha – Winter Solstice

The Goddess is mature and glowing. The God changes. Slowly he begins to turn His face towards the realm of quiet and shadows. The Goddess is serene and fruitful mother of the glory of nature.

31 July – Lammas – 2 February

The Goddess as Earth Mother presides over the first harvests. In a sense the God now dies, cut down with the corn. In another sense He is re-born in all the provisions made from the harvest.

Autumn Equinox – Mabon – Spring Equinox

The Goddess is still gentle Mother Earth. This is really the second of the ‘harvest’ celebrations. The God is a shadowy presence.


Sacred North

By Psyche | October 24, 1998 | Leave a comment

Certain directions have always been considered more sacred than others. The altar is placed in the North in Wiccan Traditions, or in the centre, facing North.

In Wicca, North is traditionally considered the home of the Gods, and therefore the most sacred direction. It is a reflection of the influence on Wicca by our European ancestors.

The Pole Star in the North was considered especially sacred in the mythology of the German and Norse peoples. North was also the direction of the Spiral Castle of the Celtic Goddess Arianrhod, Caer Arianhrod, where the heros of the Celts dwelt after death.

North is the direction through which the Sun passes at night at which the Moon’s influence is strongest in relation to the Sun. The North, therefore, represents the deepest part of the unconscious mind.

The difference int he altar orientation of the Wiccan religion between the Christian religion relfects their Dionysian and Apollonian teachings; the religion of the night versus the religion of the day; of unconscious versus conscious.

Regardless of whether one uses the North or the South (those in the Southern hemisphere will often have their altar in the South as at midnight the South Pole Star and the Sun aligns in the South), having the altar on the North/South axis is signifigant in that it aligns the circle with the Earth’s magnetic currents. Traditionally, this is important in both magick and another important human act: sleeping. In the Northern hemisphere, in order to align the electro-magnetic field of the body with that of the Earth, one must sleep with their head in the North and the feet at the South.

Mediums often sit with their backs to the North when giving clairvoyance; much in the same way a Wiccan priestess will stand with her back to the North when invoking the power of the Goddess into her.


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