Wicca

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What is Wicca?

Wicca is a Pagan/Earth-based spirituality. It draws upon a diverse set of ancient pagan and 20th century hermetic motifs for its theological structure and ritual practice.

Wicca is a diverse religion with no central authority or figure defining it. It is divided into various lineages and denominations, referred to as traditions, each with its own organisational structure and level of centralisation. Due to its decentralized nature, there is some disagreement over what actually constitutes Wicca. Some traditions, collectively referred to as British Traditional Wicca, strictly follow the initiatory lineage of Gardner and consider the term Wicca to apply only to such lineage traditions, while other eclectic traditions do not.

Wicca is typically duotheistic, worshipping a god and goddess traditionally viewed as a mother goddess and horned god. These two deities are often viewed as facets of a greater pantheistic godhead. However, beliefs range from hard polytheism to even monotheism. Wiccan celebration follows approximately eight seasonally based festivals known as Sabbats. An unattributed statement known as the Wiccan Rede is the traditional basis of Wiccan morality. Wicca often involves the ritual practice of magic, though it is not always necessary.

English: One of the Book of Shadows owned by G...

English: One of the Book of Shadows owned by Gerald Gardner, left in his will to Doreen Valiente, and through her to John Belham-Payne. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gerald Gardner, a British Civil Servant, can be credited for bringing to light the religion of Wicca. Drawing from his own involvement in a coven, he was initiated into a surviving Witches coven by one Dorothy Clutterbuck in 1938 or 1939, assisted at times by Doreen Valiente, and the works of Margaret Murray, Robert Graves and other historians. It is composed of Western European folk traditions and Eastern philosophy and incorporates much of the ceremonial magician, the cabalist and the earth-loving pagan into its structure. It is an Initiatory, Oath bound, Mystery Path whose members are trained in Witchcraft, Priestcraft and the High magics of the Ceremonial Magician/Cabalist.

Pentagram with a circle around it

Pentagram with a circle around it (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are many different Wiccan Traditions, such as Alexandrian, British, Celtic, Caledonii, Ceremonial, Dianic, Eclectic, Hereditary, Gardnerian, Kitchen Witch, Pictish, Seax-Wica, Solitary, Strega, Teutonic, Faery Wicca, Shamanistic Wicca.

“Wicca is both a religion and a Craft. … As a religion – like any other religion – its purpose is to put the individual and the group in harmony with the divine creative principal of the Cosmos, and its manifestation at all levels. As a Craft, its purpose is to achieve practical ends by psychic means, for good, useful and healing purposes. In both aspects, the distinguishing characteristics of Wicca are its Nature- based attitude, its small group autonomy with no gulf between priesthood and ‘congregation’, and its philosophy of creative polarity at all levels, from Goddess and God to Priestess and Priest.”

Janet and Stewart Farrar, Eight Sabbats For Witches, Robert Hale, London, 1981.

Alexandrian Tradition

The Alexandrian tradition was founded by Alex Sanders in the 1960′s, who had been initiated into a Gardnerian Coven. Perhaps the most noted of Alexandrian Wiccans are Janet & Stuart Farrar.

There are differences between the two paths; some merely external, others of a very significant difference of philosophy. There are differences between the two traditions Book of Shadows and there are some parts of Gardnerian ritual that are unknown within the Alexandrian tradition. There are differences in the use of tools and their elementary correspondences and Alex included rituals of a more ceremonial nature as well as material based on the Kabbalah.

Dianic Wicca

Developed from the feminist movement during the 60′s and 70′s, they focus more on the Goddess, womens spirituality and energies, authors include Z Budapest, Marija Gimbutas and Starhawk.

Gardnerian Tradition

The Gardnerian Tradition is the basis for most of Modern Wicca. It was begun with Gerald Gardner, publishing several books about Witchcraft: 1949-High magic’s Aid, and 1954-Witchcraft Today. He borrowed appropriate work from others, most notably Aleister Crowley, Rudyard Kipling, John Dee and with his High Priestess, Doreen Valiente wrote much of the most poetic rites.

Shamanism

SHAMANISM – Shamanism is an ancient system of healing, whereby a shaman enters an altered state of consciousness allowing him to consult with guardian and helping spirits. When this takes place the shaman is able to slip through a doorway and enter otherworld dimensions, he is guided by his guardian spirit and spirit helpers, while in the spiritual dimension he draws upon enormous power and can see the cause of disease in a patient and know the cure. When the shaman helps a recently deceased person cross over this work is called psycho pomp.

The premise of shamanism is that the visible world is permeated by invisible spirits which affect the lives of the living, the shaman is able to leave his body to enter the supernatural world to gain wisdom and answers. Shamans are said to treat ailments by mending the soul, and in all forms of healing the shaman will call on their power animals and their spiritual guidance.

To heal illness at the soul level the shaman uses knowledge from the spirits of nature, spirits of animals and through ancestors, and he attends to the specific needs of a person at any given time, making each healing session entirely unique and crafted for the individual. Traditional shamans develop and use lucid dreaming techniques to enhance their work.

Shamans can astral project, and the shaman has divining abilities which he uses to ensure good hunts and prosperity for a tribe or village, the shaman communicates with the spirits on behalf of the community, including the spirits of the deceased. Elaborate seances for the benefit of a community or tribe are created to express the shaman’s mystical communion with the spirits, this provides a way to share his experience.

The non ordinary reality is as real to shamans as the ordinary reality and they function comfortably in two realities. To attain the non ordinary reality the shaman enters a deep trance state called State of Flow, while in this state he can shape shift into his spirit helpers, and fly through the air. The shaman attains this altered state by chanting, drumming, singing, using bells, music, fasting, vision quests and dancing. The shaman has mastery of energy and fire as a medium of transformation, performing many fire rituals.

Revered for his knowledge the shaman enjoys great power and prestige in the community and a belief in witchcraft and sorcery, known as brujeria in South America, is part of many shamanistic societies. The word shaman originated among the Siberian Tungus (Evenks) and means he (or she) who knows. The term yachay, in shamanistic societies denotes magic and magical forces. It is believed that a shaman must overcome life threatening sickness in order to gain the wisdom to understand sickness and heal others.

The primary role of the shaman is the healing of body and mind, and shamans throughout the world share a core belief system that they are the intermediaries between the human world and the spirit worlds. The shaman has the ability to remove negative or blocked energy within the body and can re-empower a person by removing the energy through “shamanic extraction,” thus bringing the body back into balance.

Shamans believe that part of the soul is free to leave the body, it is the axis mundi, the center of shamanic healing art, the free soul travels to retrieve ancient wisdom and power. Sometimes during trauma a soul piece may not return to a person’s body, and a shaman will intervene and perform a “soul retrieval,” returning the soul essence of the afflicted person. When the shaman helps a recently deceased person to cross over this work is called psycho pomp.

The shaman will also attend to psychological or emotional imbalance by realigning the body with the assistance of spirit guides. When the shamanistic work is done the shaman re-emerges from the otherworlds back into ordinary reality. A shaman is credited with the ability to control the weather, interpret dreams, and astral project and it is through his traversing of the worlds that he gains his knowledge.

Operating primarily within the spiritual world, shamans share the common goal of restoring balance to the human world, a shaman is able to do things in the spirit world that are impossible in ordinary reality. Different forms of shamanism are found around the world and practitioners are also known as medicine men or women, and witchdoctors. Some shamanic powers are inherited while in other instances the shaman is said to have been “called.”

Shamans are experts in herbology but will only prescribe a herbal regime after meeting with the spirit of the plant and getting its permission, they also work with gemstones and auras. The shaman’s goal is to create balance and harmony of energy and spirit. The use of totemic items such as rocks with special powers and an animating spirit is common practice among shamans. Special stones were used by shamans to manipulate the weather and with these stones they could attract rain or repel snow. In many shamanistic cultures birds are seen as messengers of the spirits and feathers are often used in ceremonies and individual healing rituals. The drum is used by shamans and the beating of the drum allows the shaman to achieve an altered state of consciousness assisting his journey between worlds.

Although most shamans are men, many women become shamans and are extremely powerful. Often those who become shamans are people with shamanistic gifts and they are chosen at a young age, trained and initiated, some shamans are involuntarily chosen by the spirits. The guardian spirit is known as a power animal, totemic animal, tutelary spirit or animal familiar. When the animal spirit connects with the shaman, it brings with it the powers of an entire species, the guardian spirit protects the shaman from untoward forces in the other dimensions, acting similarly to a guardian angel. The shaman’s guardian spirit is the source of his spiritual powers and essential to all his work.

  • Crystal Healing and Shamanic Wisdom (theconscioushipster.wordpress.com)
  • My first Shamanic Journey (themindofmaia.wordpress.com)