help me become a proper witch

Discussion in 'Pagan' started by ulanda, Apr 25, 2005.

  1. bgruagach

    bgruagach eclectic Wiccan

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    Hi Bandit.

    Thanks for that interesting link! I'm Canadian so it was nice to see a famous Canadian (Pauline Johnson) like that pop up on the web.

    It illustrates the point that witchcraft itself is a practice that can be part of any religious or cultural setting. There tends to be a lot of confusion about that -- some authors write about witchcraft as if were a distinct religion and not a practice that can be part of any religion (or even practiced separate from religion.) The trick is to figure out how or if one can practice witchcraft within whatever religious setting you are following. Some religions, like Christianity, have specific prohibitions in them against witchcraft while others, such as Wicca, embrace witchcraft as a core part of the religion.

    I guess I'm just saying that to be a "proper witch" it all depends on what you mean by "proper" (i.e. whether you are accepted or not in a specific religious group depends on that religion's rules) and whether you intend "witch" to mean a specific type of witch such as a Wiccan.
     
  2. Chalice

    Chalice I am the Grail

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    I haven't read the rest of the posts, but I have read up on Wicca a bit and find it very interesting. Perhaps my thoughts will help you. For one thing, the word "wicca" is Old English and means "to bend or change in accordance to will". From the outset this means that you yourself should be able to cause outward things to bend or change in accordance with your own will. But I think that this definition goes much deeper. In actuality, for me anyway, this is a description of ANY religious path. When you yourself choose to allow your inner spirit to bend or change in conformity with divine will, then you have chosen the path which is called "wicca" in Old English. Wicca is a word that describes the path of the religious, the path of the one choosing to be set apart to listen to the all-spirit, the spirit of ages. In this regard, I personally think that any person choosing to follow any spiritual path and allow that spirit to lead him or her takes a path toward "wicca" - a path toward "bending or changing in order to conform to divine will". When this occurs, then that spirit can work through you, and you begin to be a vessle that can access the divine will, have that will projected through you, and from that spirit inside you, changes will not only occur in your own life, but in things around you: you become a vessle to pour out that spirit around you, thus affecting change. You become spiritual and therefore enabled to bend your world.

    Therefore, for me, wicca is not a specific religion per-say, although it can be. Wicca is "the religious path" inside any religion, including, but not limited to any of the pre-christian pagan European religions.

    Wiccans use spell crafting and prayer crafting to affect change in their own lives and in their own world. Is this so different from other faiths? The only real difference is the lingo used from one faith to the next. People of eastern religions meditate, western monotheists pray, and western pagans perform spells. Are there any similarities? I believe there are. Meditation teaches people to focus on the important and disregard the unimportant inside their minds. This is the loosest form of spiritual connection, yet it is very powerful. Prayer comes next, when people focus on specific requests and ask the divine to make change, help, comfort, and assist. In both these systems, specifics may or may not be listed, and often times there is no real "game plan" on the part of the requestor. Spell crafting and casting takes prayer one step further, because when crafting a spell, one must make a decision about what the actual need is, and what must be changed. One must write that request out so that all aspects of the need are covered as well as the changes necessary to correct things, and then represent what is needed with concrete objects that have symbolic value to the request, and may or may not have spiritual power attributed to them. Think of spell crafting and casting in the same way you might make a presentation to a CEO of a large company - you must present the problem and it's solution in a well thought out format that is short yet all-inclusive, and you must bring a working model of your solution before that CEO. Because you have already done all the preliminary "work", the solution is much easier to execute by the CEO because mistakes in your plan can be quickly pinpointed by the CEO and it can be carried out that much faster in the spirit realm. To me, spell crafting and casting is a more intricate way of assessing problems and their solutions, so that you can work in "partnership" with the divine, and because you are very specific with what you need and how you want to solve it, you yourself streamline that request, and it gets answered that much faster. Because it is called "spell crafting" or "spell casting" does not mean that it is specifically owned by that religion. ANY religion can choose to identify a problem, think through the best solution and then present that idea to their perception of the divine realm.

    Religion, on the other hand, divides WHO one contacts in the divine realm. As you may have noticed, most, if not all religions, appear to have some miraculous or magical figure who can do "all", can contact the divine better and so forth. In this way Wicca is a religion, and has a pantheon of beings that can be contacted - each being doing their own divine job, each being having charge over some earthly realm. Monotheism streamlines this by giving one divine being charge over all earthly and heavenly things, however the "things" are still the same because human beings, no matter what their faith, still have the same basic needs and desires. Moses was the first to streamline the many deities into one deity, and he may have partially done this for political reasons, i.e. everything Egypt did, he wanted no part of. Hence the 10 plagues may have been, on one level, political statements against Egypts many deities, as well as all the physical attributes of the country, such as land, water, air, health, food, drink, weather, and so forth. This assessment does in no way do away with the divine intervention, but adds to it. Combining many deities into one streamlines religion in the same way as combining the butcher and the kobbler, and the baker, who all have separate shops into a "walmart" type setting. It makes life easier on a religious level, and instead of going to many different deities for answers, you now can go to one - you don't have to remember who does what, or how to approach them. The ancient greeks faced this "problem", and cults developed under the main pantheon because no one group could carry out rituals all year for more than one deity since there were so many. Monotheism solved this problem by declaring that there was only one being who had a set of rituals and could answer all requests. The rituals remained intricate however. Christianity erased the intricate rituals, instead requiring memorials to the two most sought after magical desires of the era: resurrection of the body, and resurrection or renewal of the world. Magicians and sorcerers could do many things, but to bring back the dead in health was something that could not be executed easily, and the promise of doing this on a mass scale, and the actual sighting of this through Christ was the biggest magical event of that era, and possibly all eras. The promise of a renewed and healthy earth is the other promise Christ brings, and this appears to be one of the hopes of the pagan community as well. It has been taught that Christ answered, through his many miracles, most of the things that the pagan world in his era sought. He was accused of witchcraft and sorcery, and being in league with the devil by his own religious leadership for bringing about the very things that pagans and wiccans strive to do: heal others, negate "bad energy" (called demons by his culture), and cause physical and spiritual changes all around, including levitation, aportation and deportation, healings, clairvoyance, psychic abilities and so forth. Just read the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the Bible) and you will see that Jesus was able to do the things that many pagan communities consider magical. But the term changes to "miraculous" in Christian lingo. Other religions also report events that are magickal/miraculous under their "most important" person, who ever that is for them. In this way the term Magick and Miracle must be compared - I personally think that they both mean the exact same thing, and that religious groups are divided on no more than linguistics.

    The other thing that strikes me odd is how most of the pagan and world religions have the same stories/histories/myths: Every group out there seems to have a "Christ-like" figure, whether it be man or woman, there is someone who does what Christ does. Does this make Christ a sort of "poster-child" for the miraculous/magical? For example, Odin is crucified on a tree, and his spirit goes into the land of the dead to rescue the runes, the "holy word" - the language of the All-Father to the world. Many who comment on this story find it is uncannily related to Christ's crucifixion, though the story surely pre-dates Christ. Balder is another Christ-type figure, pure and good, he is prophecied to meet with death, and though protected from death by many around him, Loki the trickster, locates his one vulnerable spot, and uses the one object, mistletoe to bring about his innocent death. In this case Balder equates with Christ while Loki equates with the Christian idea of Satan. Ragnarok, the Teutonic end of the world is similar to the Christian Armageddon, where the world ends and the "gods" die. It is interesting to not that in Hebrew the word "god" with a small g referrs to human beings who are "rulers, magistrages, governors, priests, and kings" - we are all gods. The gods of antiquity, were no doubt Noah and his family, for Noah has a heritage of the "Sons of God" (Heavenly beings) in his ancestry, making him and his sons men or "renown, heroes of old" (see Genesis Chapters 5,6,7,8). Noah was human, but had an angelic parentage through his mother whose geanology is not mentioned - but Noah's is, and included in that story is the mention of the "Sons of God" whose children became the men of renoun, the heroes of old - i.e. noah. Once settled on Ararat, the family lived out of the ark, which was also their temple. This scene was a mountain top surrounde by water, an island, and may be the history that became the memory of Atlantis, and Avalon. Later, when the water receded, these "gods" were remembered to reside on a mountain top, and this is displayed in Greek mythology, Teutonic mythology and possibly many other myths, including some Asian myths. Right after this world-known story (many religions of that era retained the flood story, not just Judaism and Christianity), the Tower of Babel story occurs, where the languages of man are divided, and shortly thereafter, "during the time of Peleg" the land is divided, and the supercontinent of Pangea divides into the continents we now know. This explains how so many cultures revere the same "types" of deities, yet they all have very different names - they all revered the family of Noah, who had miraculous powers, but when the language changed, so did the names of their "dieties". Noah claims to have his powers, not only from his gene pool, but because he walked with the divine - the "All-Father". Christians recognize that this being is the pre-existant Christ, because when Christ compares with Jehovah in the Christian scriptures, they do the same types of miracles. This religion teaches that Christ was the "first born of creation", and held his position, completed his crucifixion, and his other 'tasks' "from the foundation of the world". If this is true - if Christ really was born physically prior to all other creation, and really did do everything, including his crucifixion at the foundation of the world, it would explain why so many "pagan" myths have the same stories as Christianity does, only prior to the Christian era. For me this ties paganism and Christianity together because Christ made a visitation upon all people, and taught and did the same things for them all, so that everyone might recognize him when he made his final first century sacrifice, and eventually comes back. Many european cultures practiced ritual human sacrifice - why. Did they see this before? Did they recognize that one person had to cover up sin in some way, or appease the divine in some way? This is an echo of the Christian message as well. There are to many similarities for me to ignore the connections.

    Christ himself said that "to him that believes will I give power to do greater things than I did while on this earth." For me, this is the Key to magick, miracles, and wicca - to bend or change in accordance with will- if you make the divine connection through Christ, you will not only bend or change in accordance with divine will, you will be used as a vessel to bring change around you externally - you will be endowed with that power.

    Have I tried this? Yes I have. My spells and my prayers work. They work well for me. I just use the elements of complete faith in my deity (who happens to be Christ), and I pre-design (craft), and bring forth (cast) my prayers and spells. I heavily rely on faith that they will work, and they do. Most wiccan sights encourage you to do a spell and then believe that it will happen. This is faith; belief. I believe that we all have the power to believe and contact the divine in a specific and systematic way, and then watch the results. As the definition of Wicca explains, we can all bend or change in conformity with (divine) will, and when we do, we will know what to will a change in here on earth, and will be used by the divine to make that change. It does not really matter "what" religion you are, the "All", the Highest power, the First being, the Primal energy, that force will connect with you and allow you to change your world. From this standpoint, you do not need a special ritual, you need a personal connection with the divine being. When you connect personally, only then can you bring about "change in conformity with will" and this, in my opinion, is "wicca" in it's purest form.
     
  3. bgruagach

    bgruagach eclectic Wiccan

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    Thanks for the very interesting post, Chalice, and welcome to Comparative-Religion!

    There are a few things that I'd like to point out regarding your thought-provoking addition to this discussion.

    1. The definition and etymology of the word "Wicca."

    I'm afraid your definition of Wicca is not exactly a mainstream one, but is rather a combination of Aleister Crowley's popular definition of magick ("the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with the will") and one of the etymological roots of the word Wicca, "to bend or twist." The Old English word Wicca is actually the masculine term for a male witch, with the feminine term being Wicce (which is pronounced just like our modern "witch.") In Old English, they also had the term Wiccian which meant to cast a spell. You can read up on the etymology of the word Wicca here and also here. Please note that none of the etymologies listed say that the word Wicca means "to bend or change in accordance to will."

    2. Wicca as a religion

    Since the first half of the 20th century the word Wicca has been reintroduced specifically to refer to a particular religion originally promoted by Gerald Gardner that is based on witchcraft. It's also important to note that not all witches are Wiccans, and there is a lot of debate among scholars about whether any witches prior to Gardner were in fact Wiccans (meaning people who considered witchcraft to be their religion) rather than people who practiced folk magick, or people who followed Pagan spiritual paths who were misclassified by others as being witches. Prior to Gardner, the words wicca and wicce, when they were used at all, were merely synonyms for witch.

    Witchcraft itself is not a religion but can be practiced within the context of any religion or no religion. Some religions (such as Christianity) do have specific prohibitions against their faithful practicing witchcraft, but this does not mean there have never been Christian witches. We have plenty of evidence that there have always been Christian witches around, as well as witches or at least people who would be classified as witches in many other circumstances, within most if not all cultures.

    3. Monotheism, Polytheism, etc.

    Within Wicca there is a whole range of ideas about the Divine that are followed -- it all depends on the specific denomination, coven, or individual we are speaking with. Some denominations don't dictate one theory for their members, while others do have a specific philosophy that they promote. Some are indeed monotheists, some are what we sometimes call "soft polytheists", and others are "hard polytheists." "Soft polytheists" often describe the Divine by paraphrasing Dion Fortune (who wasn't a Wiccan, by the way): "All gods are One God, and all goddesses are One Goddess" and the God and Goddess are two halves of an Ultimate Source. "Hard polytheists" do not believe that deities are manifestations of a larger supreme deity but are in fact distinct individuals -- i.e. Hermes is definitely not Thoth in their mind.

    Another element to Wiccan theology that tends to differentiate us from Christian, Jewish, and Muslim theology is the idea of the Divine being immanent rather than exclusively transcendant. Christians tend to teach that God is "in heaven" and God's creation is separate from God. Wiccans, who often believe in an immanent as well as transcendant Divine, believe that the Divine is not divorced from the physical realm but exists as much in the physical as It does in the nonphysical (in Heaven, etc.) To Wiccans, honouring only the transcendant part of the Divine is like only showing honour to the Divine's right ear -- there's the left ear too, the eyes, the face, the head, the rest of the body too! To us all of the Divine (including the Divine's manifestations in everything that exists) is worthy of respect and due worship.

    4. Which came first -- Christ or the Pagan Parallels

    First off: does it really matter? The Divine speaks to humans through many different forms (at least that's how I see it as a Wiccan) so does it really matter if the Christian system originated the ideas, even the Christ figure, for it to be valid for those who are called to be Christians? Does it matter if a person is moved by pre-Christian mythology and chooses to base their spiritual path on that instead?

    There are a number of books that have explored the Pagan parallels of the Christ story. Canadian scholar Tom Harpur's popular book The Pagan Christ is a recent one. This website gives a good summary as well with sources cited if you want to research the topic more.

    Personally I think that it's fairest to say that for an idea to have originated somewhere, it has to have come first in the historical timeline. That means that many of the claims made about Christ did not originate with Christianity or even with Judaism, since these same ideas and claims appeared previously in a variety of Pagan religions in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe where Christianity later evolved.

    I'm not hung up on claims being literally true though, or who had what first. If something is meaningful for a person who is called to follow that faith, it's enough justification for me.

    5. Meditation, Prayer, and Spellcasting

    A very loose explanation of the three does tend to put them as you described:
    meditation: goalless
    prayer: goal, but not overly directed
    spellwork: goal, with a lot more direction

    That is just a very loose explanation though -- in reality, all three of those blend together more than we might suspect. For instance, there are different forms of meditation which have different goals and ways of doing things that could easily fall into the three categories given above, yet they are all meditation. Some meditate in order to seek a state of blankness. Some meditate however to achieve a one-pointed focus (which is different from the blankness of other forms of meditation.) And yet other forms of meditation involve exploring ideas, or even playing out internal interactive movies (this is often called "guided meditation" or "pathworking.") They are all forms of meditation.

    Prayer too takes a wide range of forms. Praying to connect with the Divine. Praying to ask the Divine for a favour. Praying using a specific ritual pattern, such as reciting a rosary, for particular goals. Yet they are all prayer.

    Spellworking... I'm sure we could work out examples where spells are very free-form, more structured yet pretty open, or very precise and directed.

    6. Magickal philosophies, universality of myth, etc.

    There is no doubt that some magickal philosophies are based on the idea that the spellcaster is acting as a vessel to manifest whatever Divine energy your particular cultural system believes in. It's also true that there are other magickal philosophies that explain magick by different principles. Which one is true? Does it matter? Use the philosophy or system that makes the most sense to you. Worrying about which one is "correct" is, in my opinion, a bit of a waste of time.

    It's also a bit presumtuous for us to assume that our own mythological ideas or philosophies or systems are somehow universal, that they are present in all human societies through all of time. For instance, it's often claimed that the flood myth (particularly the Noah story as related by Christians) is universally confirmed because there are flood stories in many cultures. This is faulty logic though . If we allow that sort of logic to stand it would mean I could create a religion today, base it on carefully selected bits and pieces of things that are drawn from provable history, and then start telling people my religion is in fact ancient and has always been in existence. Who could say I wasn't correct if that same faulty logic is allowed to stand?

    By all means I think we should examine the mythology and claims of our particular spiritual paths, draw what meaning we can from them in order to enrich our lives and our relationship with the Divine. But let's be careful to avoid assigning too much importance to something as it is nothing more than an ego game which I think detracts from our real work and our real relationship with the Divine.
     
  4. WicceDiva

    WicceDiva Solitary Practioner

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    I am new here, but I saw this and just wanted to answer as best as i can.

    1) Sure, some do. But it is not a requirement by any means. While Wiccans do put a lot of faith into the sensuality inherit within themselves... it is not so widely done. And the idea of huge "Witch Orgies" is just silly. Also, it seems like a lot of people get confused... as there are a good number of covens that prefer to work "sky-clad" or naked. This by no means is a sexual thing... it is more of being bathed in moonlight and so forth.

    2) As a solitary practioner, and like all others who choose that path, yes we self initiate. Though the typical waiting time is a year, some choose to wait longer and study more. I waited two.

    3) I think what u are referring to is called a "sigil".. and yes many many witches still do this. It USED to be more for anonymity (sp?) as those times people got burned for much less, but really it is more of a very personal name that Witches use as thier magickal nome de plumme, and there is a very specific way most go about this. I am still working on mine actually.

    I know I must be rambling by now. But honestly it is nice to find a place where I can talk about this freely and I appreciate that.
     
  5. bgruagach

    bgruagach eclectic Wiccan

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    Just a comment: a sigil is a symbol that is magickally charged and acts as an amulet or talisman. It's usually drawn on paper but can be engraved on something, or sculpted in wax or clay or metal. A pseudonym that a witch, Wiccan, Pagan, or magickian adopts for their magickal work is a pseudonym or magickal name or, in the case of Wiccans, is sometimes called a Craft name.

    A witch or magickian might devise a personal sigil or symbol that they use as a magickal signature, but this is not a common practice. A sigil though is not the same thing as a magickal name.

    There are articles that explain sigils and their use in magick at this website and this website along with others if you do a web search.
     
  6. WicceDiva

    WicceDiva Solitary Practioner

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    I stand ( or in this case sit ) corrected. I knew that... i just did not seem to remember that while running off at the fingers. lol.
     
  7. Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine

    Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine Junior Moderator, Intro Moderator

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    A question for bgruagach:

    Could a sigil be a tatoo or something of that ilk, or does it have to exist "separate" from the caster/user?

    Sorry about the stupid question here. :eek: *heads straight for the mope corner, :kitty: in tow*

    Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine
     
  8. WicceDiva

    WicceDiva Solitary Practioner

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    I have known Wiccans to tattoo thier Sigil on thier bodies. But it's supposed to be a secret symbol as far as I know.
     
  9. bgruagach

    bgruagach eclectic Wiccan

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    I am certain that some magickians have tattooed specific sigils on their bodies.

    And I do not think that keeping a sigil secret is anything special to sigils -- but rather something more general about spells that many witches and magickians observe. The idea is that you keep your spellwork secret to help conserve and preserve the power of the working. But sigils themselves don't really have any special requirement that they be kept secret.

    There is a lot more information about sigils and related topics at this website for anyone who is interested in exploring the topic further. Austin Osmon Spare's work with sigils in particular is worth noting as it is the basis for a lot of what people do today with sigils.
     
  10. Child of a New Day

    Child of a New Day New Member

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    I was just reading this thread and this is the first time I ever heard of Sigil. I know you guys must think I am just the fluffiest:p. Any way I was looking through a "Book of Shadows" I made when I was 14. I just found out about Wicca at the time. Never opened a Circle nada. So anyway it is this silly thing but I kept it. In the beggining of the book I drew this symbol. It consist of an M for mother then what looks like a Triquetra connecting through the M and a name in calligraphy sorrounding it that I now use as my craft name. It sounds kind of wierd but it looks really cool expecially since at the time I did not even know what a Triquetra meant and I never even heard of a sigil.
     
  11. bgruagach

    bgruagach eclectic Wiccan

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    No need to feel embarassed about not being aware of specific terms. There are lots of specialized terms that are used within different communities. And as you read more (as you get deeper into whatever particular community you are researching) you'll probably discover too that many of the terms are debatable.

    That's one of the things about language -- it has a tendency to evolve as people use it.
     

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