Few times in my life have I been able to say that I sat in conversation for two hours and didn’t say a word.
The other day I had the opportunity to listen to a man that made me look at religion in an entirely different light. A religion that people do not talk about. One that is all around you but you would never even know.
I was initially quite hesitant to write about any form of religion out of fear that I would be inaccurate or offensive. After putting up a fight, I realized that some forms of religion would always be offensive to some people, because there is no right or wrong. There is only belief.
Before being lectured on Wicca, I admittedly, and not proudly so, had the same ignorant idea about what it is that Wiccans “do.”
Although I cannot possibly summarize the experience I had regarding this topic, I can do my best to oust the misconceptions that plague the Wiccan philosophies.
Wicca falls under a category of religion called “Paganism” which is an umbrella term for a religion that is not Christianity, Islam, or Judaism. Paganism is nature or earth-based. According to paganfacts.com, not all Pagans are Wiccan, but all Wiccans are Pagan.
Wicca was revived as a religion about 100 years ago, but is still kept a secret primarily because other religions are less tolerable of those who do not follow them or believe in the same ideas.
There is surprisingly more Pagans in Wilkes-Barre than one would think.
However they are not be so open about it as Catholicism or any other “acceptable” practice of faith. They are in hiding. Many claim to be something that they are not simply because they are afraid to have dead animals placed at their doorsteps and graffiti on their property. They are afraid of persecution.
There is not one “type” of Wicca. Most Wiccans are eclectic, meaning their beliefs are drawn from many sources. The word “Wicca” is derived from the word “Witchcraft.”
Because the word “witchcraft” has such negative connotations in Western culture, most people would rather not openly identify as a witch.
The man I talked to was a witch. That being said, it is important to note that not all Wiccans are witches. Witches are part of a tradition, and were born into it rather than “choosing” to follow a certain path.
The man explained the difference between a witch and a warlock. The word witch is not explicitly feminine as we are often led to believe. Both men and women are witches. A warlock is actually a liar or a traitor rather than the male form of a witch.
The word “Wicca” means wise, and has nothing to do with the devil. There is no satanic or demon worship. In fact there is no association with evil at all.
The basic moral code of Wicca is “An it harm none, do as ye will.” The fundamental principles are based on respect and harmony with each other, with nature, and with the universe.
Instead of banishing those who do not believe and burning their enemies, Wiccans prefer not to mosey into the affairs of other religions.
Unlike many more “popular” faiths, Wicca is not so much concerned with what anyone else believes in, and does not try to convert others to do as they do.
They do not claim to have all the answers, as the divine is unknowable.
Another notion in Wiccan faith is spirit worship over the monotheistic “god” figure.
While most religions have already distinguished God as a male figure, there is this extremely valid argument that if we are the children of God, or created by God, then wouldn’t that make God a female? As a scientifically proven fact that only females can produce, wouldn’t it make sense that if a god created the universe, then God would be a she?
For this reason, Wiccans believe that females come first. “God” is dualistic female and male. The female Triple Goddess (maiden, mother and crone) is connected to the moon, stars and sea, while the male horned God is connected to the sun and the forests. More recently (1960s and 70s,) the goddess has been seen as imperative because she conceived all.
Wiccans do not have a sacred text, as texts are often considered to be the word of a deity through a prophet.
There are no “messengers.”
They instead keep their own Book of Shadows, which is more of a journal or personal workbook.
The most distinctive symbol for Wiccan is the pentacle- or five pointed star within a circle. Again it is often mistaken for a satanic symbol, which is the upside-down five-pointed star. Each point stands for the four elements and directions, plus the spirit.
By now you are wondering “well don’t Wiccans do magic?” There is not short answer for this. Wiccans are not required to do magick, as they spell it, but some do. Witches tend to do more magick than Wiccans. It is hard to explain magick to society because we are conditioned to believe that it is fake- merely a theatrical element if anything.
The magick that witches practice is focused on energy, and the movement and direction of it. They sometimes do rituals at night, but again, not for any reason associated with evil. The timing of said rituals dates back to earlier times when the setting of the sun was considered to be the start of a new day. Christians call it “prayer,” witches call it “spellwork.” It is similar, except with the aid of “spirit guides, familiars or other elements energies,” according to wiccan.com.
At first I thought that by putting this article into the Halloween edition of the newspaper, I would be dismissing it as fictional and commercialized.
Upon further research, I found that “Halloween” is actually the Pagan New Year. The day is formally called Samhain Lore, and is celebrated on Oct 31 and November 1. It is a day where Wiccans celebrate the cycle of nature, ancestors, and the light that will eventually come from the darkness. Many commercialized symbols truly do come from this holiday. The symbols of Samhain are gourds, apples, black cats and Jack-O-Lanterns. The colors of Samhain are black and orange, white, silver, and gold.
In a follow-the-leader society, we often turn our heads from ideas that may seem “silly” because they are not what we were taught. What may seem serious to you may be silly to someone else. Hating someone for not believing in your religion is like hating someone because their favorite pizza isn’t the same as yours. You eat your pizza and I’ll eat mine.
We were always told that Halloween is for dressing up, trick-or-treating and scaring people. Never would we be educated on any other belief that maybe Halloween wasn’t just invented for costumes and candy.
Blessed Samhain, everyone.