Alexandrian Wicca

Alexandrian Wicca

By , About.com Guide

Origins of Alexandrian Wicca:

Formed by Alex Sanders and his wife Maxine, Alexandrian Wicca is very similar to the Gardnerian tradition. Although Sanders claimed to have been initiated into witchcraft in the early 1930s, he was also a member of a Gardnerian coven before breaking off to start his own tradition in the 1960s. Alexandrian Wicca is a blend of ceremonial magic with heavy Gardnerian influences and a dose of Hermetic Kabbalah mixed in.

Alexandrian Wicca focuses on the polarity between the genders, and rites and ceremonies often dedicate equal time to the God and the Goddess. While Alexandrian ritual tool use and the names of the deities differ from Gardnerian tradition, Maxine Sanders has been famously quoted as saying, “If it works, use it.” Alexandrian covens do a good deal of work with ceremonial magic, and they meet during new moons, full moons, and for the eight Wiccan Sabbats.

Influences from Gardner:

Similar to the Gardnerian tradition, Alexandrian covens initiate members into a degree system. Some begin training at a neophyte level, and then advance to First Degree. In other covens, a new initiate is automatically given the title of First Degree. According to Ronald Hutton, in his book Triumph of the Moon, many of the differences between Gardnerian Wicca and Alexandrian Wicca have blurred over the past few decades. It is not uncommon to find someone who is degreed in both systems, or to find a coven of one tradition that accepts a member degreed in the other system.

Wiccan Fundamentalism

Wiccan Fundamentalism

by Ben Gruagach
http://www.WitchGrotto.com
This article may be reproduced for non-commercial purposes, providing that this original copyright notice stays in place at all times.

Religious fundamentalism is characterized by literal belief in specific spiritual claims, often about a particular religion’s history, regardless of any available evidence. A particular dogma is promoted as the One True and Only Way and anything that deviates is considered heretical.

The Roman Catholic church has an office within its organization called the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. In previous times this office had another name: the Holy Office of the Inquisition. Despite the name change the office’s role has remained the same. It is responsible for keeping doctrinal discipline and confronting and eliminating deviations in doctrinal thought. It’s all about maintaining the authority of the Vatican and the Pope and ensuring that all Roman Catholics are following the same religion and respecting the established hierarchy.

Wicca is a religion based on autonomy. It draws its basis from Pagan religions of the past but primarily from lore about witches and witchcraft. Most today consider Wicca to trace back directly or indirectly to a single man, Gerald Gardner, who promoted the religion starting in the 1940s or early 1950s in Britain. Gardner described Wicca as based on covens with each coven being autonomous. If there was dissent within a coven the rules as Gardner presented them allowed for the dissenting parties to separate and form new covens. This way of dealing with conflict resulted in encouraging diversity within Wicca and reinforced the idea that there was no central authority which would dictate that one coven was wrong and another right on matters of philosophy or practice.

Gardner also insisted that there were other Wiccans out there that he did not know about who had been practicing before he was initiated. He did this partially to promote the debatable claim that he was merely passing on an intact ancient religion. One consequence of this is that it left the door open for others to come forward and claim they were witches or Wiccans too from a common mythical ancestry and Gardner could not really insist they were wrong. Even if these other Wiccans practiced things differently, Gardner’s “old laws” clearly made it acceptable for variety in the way covens and practitioners did things. He might not have intended to do so but Gardner’s decisions regarding how to handle things in his own group had set the stage for Wicca to become much more than just his own teachings in his own groups.

The result of all this was that Gardner essentially gave away the right to exclusive ownership over the label Wicca for his groups and those directly descended from them. He might not have anticipated this possibility but in any case it is what happened. Many groups, sometimes with conflicting philosophies and ways of doing things, have come forward under the banner of Wicca. New groups have been created and old ones have splintered into other quite distinct groups. Autonomy was there so of course it was exercised!

Not everyone has been happy about this. Some of Gardner’s direct spiritual descendants have argued that only they and a few select groups that they approve of should have the right to call themselves Wiccan. However the autonomous structure had already been set up and no one group has the authority to dictate to the rest of the community. Wicca did not have a central authority structure in the past and it does not have one now. It is highly unlikely at this point that a central authority could be established which the majority of Wiccans would respect.

There have been attempts to seize power and establish a central Wiccan authority but these have all failed. One example is when Alex Sanders proclaimed himself the King of the Witches but it was quickly pointed out, particularly by Gardnerian Wiccans, that he did not have any authority outside of Alexandrian Wiccan covens. Another example is when in 1974 at the Witchmeet gathering in Minnesota, Lady Sheba (a.k.a. Jessie Wicker Bell) declared herself the leader of American witches and demanded that everyone hand over their Books of Shadows to her so that she could combine their contents and then establish a single authoritative Book of Shadows which all American witches would be expected to follow. She was laughed at and needless to say was not successful in establishing the central authority she sought.

It was at that same 1974 Witchmeet where we had probably the closest thing to a central Wiccan authority created in the declaration of the Principles of Wiccan Belief. This set of thirteen principles attempted to outline in a very general way the basic foundation of Wiccan philosophy. The concept of autonomy of both groups and individuals is clear in the document. It also specified that lineage or membership in specific groups was not a requirement in order to be Wiccan. Many Wiccans, both as groups and individually, consider the Principles to be the foundation of their spiritual path. However, true to the autonomy inherent in Wicca, there are some Wiccans who do not consider the Principles to be part of their individual or group philosophy.

Some are not satisfied with how things are in the Wiccan community and actively work to establish a central authority with their own particular outlook of course identified as the One True and Only Way. They are not satisfied with the fact that the autonomy they personally enjoy in Wicca also means that other Wiccans are free to follow their own different paths. These are the Wiccan fundamentalists who see variety as heresy. As far as they are concerned, if you’re not practicing things the way they personally do, and don’t believe things exactly the way they personally do, then you must be wrong and should either correct your ways or else stop calling yourself a Wiccan.

Perhaps these attitudes are carried over from previous religious education where the idea of One True Way was key, such as in many varieties of monotheism, particularly the evangelical and literalist varieties. Often the Wiccan manifestation of the One True Way idea comes through as a literal and absolute belief in the truth of a particular teacher’s work. Most often the teacher elevated to the status of never-to-be-questioned guru is Gerald Gardner since he was the one who began the Wiccan movement in the middle of the twentieth century. In the mind of many Wiccan fundamentalists, if Gardner taught it then it must be absolutely true!

Unfortunately for the literalists Gardner has turned out to be a mere human being just like the rest of us. Some things he got right and some things he got wrong. The history of Wicca that Gardner presented, especially the part that explains what came before Gardner was initiated, has proven to be largely speculation with very little evidence to support many of its major claims. Historians aren’t completely ignorant of what happened prior to the 1950s in England. We have enough evidence to know that Gardner’s historical claims were not completely accurate nor were they completely supported by the evidence.

A religion’s value does not depend on the literal truth of its historical claims. Many millions of people find Christianity to be meaningful despite the fact its history is not absolutely settled. Buddhists seem to still find their religion to be valuable despite the questions regarding the provable history of the religion’s founders. Wicca too is a precious treasure for those who practice it even if they don’t believe one hundred percent of the historical claims made by Gardner.

Some religions do consider blind obedience to authority to be a virtue the faithful are expected to cultivate in themselves. Wicca though cherishes autonomy and this is in direct conflict with blind obedience. Wiccans who value blind obedience are welcome to make that a part of their religious practice but they are out of line in expecting others to abide by their dictates. Wicca does not have an Office of the Holy Inquisition and many Wiccans will actively fight against the establishment of such. And that is to be expected.

Wiccans who play the fundamentalist mind-game of proclaiming that those who do not agree with them are not “true Wiccans” deserve the same reaction that Lady Sheba got back in 1974 when she declared herself Witch Queen of America – they should be laughed at and then ignored. Wicca is not a One True Way religion and never has been. Those who would make it over into one are in for a long hard struggle that they will likely never win. Is it really worth it for them? After all, if they wanted a One True Way religion there are plenty of those out there for them to join. Wicca is for those of us who are free-thinkers, rebels, nature-worshippers, who laugh and love and dance in the name of our Gods and Goddesses in spite of what the stiff-shirt self-declared authorities around us tell us is right and proper. Others can try to co-opt our religion and turn it into yet another fossilized dogma of right and wrong to be blindly followed on pain of excommunication or threats of torment in other lives. The witch’s cat is already out of the bag and has been for some time now, and we’re all enjoying the nighttime revels and the daytime ignoring of arbitrary conventions too much to just follow what someone else tells us is the One True Way.

References

Bonewits, Isaac. “Witchcraft: A Concise Guide.” (Earth Religions Press, 2001.)

Heselton, Philip. “Gerald Gardner and the Cauldron of Inspiration.” (Capall Bann Publishing, 2003.)

Hutton, Ronald. “The Triumph of the Moon.” (Oxford University Press, 1999.)

Lamond, Frederic. “Fifty Years of Wicca.” (Green Magic, 2004.)

Valiente, Doreen. “The Rebirth of Witchcraft.” (Phoenix Publishing, 1989.)

Wiccan Fundamentalism

Wiccan Fundamentalism

by Ben Gruagach

This article may be reproduced for non-commercial purposes, providing that this original copyright notice stays in place at all times.

Religious fundamentalism is characterized by literal belief in specific spiritual claims, often about a particular religion’s history, regardless of any available evidence. A particular dogma is promoted as the One True and Only Way and anything that deviates is considered heretical.

The Roman Catholic church has an office within its organization called the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. In previous times this office had another name: the Holy Office of the Inquisition. Despite the name change the office’s role has remained the same. It is responsible for keeping doctrinal discipline and confronting and eliminating deviations in doctrinal thought. It’s all about maintaining the authority of the Vatican and the Pope and ensuring that all Roman Catholics are following the same religion and respecting the established hierarchy.

Wicca is a religion based on autonomy. It draws its basis from Pagan religions of the past but primarily from lore about witches and witchcraft. Most today consider Wicca to trace back directly or indirectly to a single man, Gerald Gardner, who promoted the religion starting in the 1940s or early 1950s in Britain. Gardner described Wicca as based on covens with each coven being autonomous. If there was dissent within a coven the rules as Gardner presented them allowed for the dissenting parties to separate and form new covens. This way of dealing with conflict resulted in encouraging diversity within Wicca and reinforced the idea that there was no central authority which would dictate that one coven was wrong and another right on matters of philosophy or practice.

Gardner also insisted that there were other Wiccans out there that he did not know about who had been practicing before he was initiated. He did this partially to promote the debatable claim that he was merely passing on an intact ancient religion. One consequence of this is that it left the door open for others to come forward and claim they were witches or Wiccans too from a common mythical ancestry and Gardner could not really insist they were wrong. Even if these other Wiccans practiced things differently, Gardner’s “old laws” clearly made it acceptable for variety in the way covens and practitioners did things. He might not have intended to do so but Gardner’s decisions regarding how to handle things in his own group had set the stage for Wicca to become much more than just his own teachings in his own groups.

The result of all this was that Gardner essentially gave away the right to exclusive ownership over the label Wicca for his groups and those directly descended from them. He might not have anticipated this possibility but in any case it is what happened. Many groups, sometimes with conflicting philosophies and ways of doing things, have come forward under the banner of Wicca. New groups have been created and old ones have splintered into other quite distinct groups. Autonomy was there so of course it was exercised!

Not everyone has been happy about this. Some of Gardner’s direct spiritual descendants have argued that only they and a few select groups that they approve of should have the right to call themselves Wiccan. However the autonomous structure had already been set up and no one group has the authority to dictate to the rest of the community. Wicca did not have a central authority structure in the past and it does not have one now. It is highly unlikely at this point that a central authority could be established which the majority of Wiccans would respect.

There have been attempts to seize power and establish a central Wiccan authority but these have all failed. One example is when Alex Sanders proclaimed himself the King of the Witches but it was quickly pointed out, particularly by Gardnerian Wiccans, that he did not have any authority outside of Alexandrian Wiccan covens. Another example is when in 1974 at the Witchmeet gathering in Minnesota, Lady Sheba (a.k.a. Jessie Wicker Bell) declared herself the leader of American witches and demanded that everyone hand over their Books of Shadows to her so that she could combine their contents and then establish a single authoritative Book of Shadows which all American witches would be expected to follow. She was laughed at and needless to say was not successful in establishing the central authority she sought.

It was at that same 1974 Witchmeet where we had probably the closest thing to a central Wiccan authority created in the declaration of the Principles of Wiccan Belief. This set of thirteen principles attempted to outline in a very general way the basic foundation of Wiccan philosophy. The concept of autonomy of both groups and individuals is clear in the document. It also specified that lineage or membership in specific groups was not a requirement in order to be Wiccan. Many Wiccans, both as groups and individually, consider the Principles to be the foundation of their spiritual path. However, true to the autonomy inherent in Wicca, there are some Wiccans who do not consider the Principles to be part of their individual or group philosophy.

Some are not satisfied with how things are in the Wiccan community and actively work to establish a central authority with their own particular outlook of course identified as the One True and Only Way. They are not satisfied with the fact that the autonomy they personally enjoy in Wicca also means that other Wiccans are free to follow their own different paths. These are the Wiccan fundamentalists who see variety as heresy. As far as they are concerned, if you’re not practicing things the way they personally do, and don’t believe things exactly the way they personally do, then you must be wrong and should either correct your ways or else stop calling yourself a Wiccan.

Perhaps these attitudes are carried over from previous religious education where the idea of One True Way was key, such as in many varieties of monotheism, particularly the evangelical and literalist varieties. Often the Wiccan manifestation of the One True Way idea comes through as a literal and absolute belief in the truth of a particular teacher’s work. Most often the teacher elevated to the status of never-to-be-questioned guru is Gerald Gardner since he was the one who began the Wiccan movement in the middle of the twentieth century. In the mind of many Wiccan fundamentalists, if Gardner taught it then it must be absolutely true!

Unfortunately for the literalists Gardner has turned out to be a mere human being just like the rest of us. Some things he got right and some things he got wrong. The history of Wicca that Gardner presented, especially the part that explains what came before Gardner was initiated, has proven to be largely speculation with very little evidence to support many of its major claims. Historians aren’t completely ignorant of what happened prior to the 1950s in England. We have enough evidence to know that Gardner’s historical claims were not completely accurate nor were they completely supported by the evidence.

A religion’s value does not depend on the literal truth of its historical claims. Many millions of people find Christianity to be meaningful despite the fact its history is not absolutely settled. Buddhists seem to still find their religion to be valuable despite the questions regarding the provable history of the religion’s founders. Wicca too is a precious treasure for those who practice it even if they don’t believe one hundred percent of the historical claims made by Gardner.

Some religions do consider blind obedience to authority to be a virtue the faithful are expected to cultivate in themselves. Wicca though cherishes autonomy and this is in direct conflict with blind obedience. Wiccans who value blind obedience are welcome to make that a part of their religious practice but they are out of line in expecting others to abide by their dictates. Wicca does not have an Office of the Holy Inquisition and many Wiccans will actively fight against the establishment of such. And that is to be expected.

Wiccans who play the fundamentalist mind-game of proclaiming that those who do not agree with them are not “true Wiccans” deserve the same reaction that Lady Sheba got back in 1974 when she declared herself Witch Queen of America – they should be laughed at and then ignored. Wicca is not a One True Way religion and never has been. Those who would make it over into one are in for a long hard struggle that they will likely never win. Is it really worth it for them? After all, if they wanted a One True Way religion there are plenty of those out there for them to join. Wicca is for those of us who are free-thinkers, rebels, nature-worshippers, who laugh and love and dance in the name of our Gods and Goddesses in spite of what the stiff-shirt self-declared authorities around us tell us is right and proper. Others can try to co-opt our religion and turn it into yet another fossilized dogma of right and wrong to be blindly followed on pain of excommunication or threats of torment in other lives. The witch’s cat is already out of the bag and has been for some time now, and we’re all enjoying the nighttime revels and the daytime ignoring of arbitrary conventions too much to just follow what someone else tells us is the One True Way.

References

Bonewits, Isaac. “Witchcraft: A Concise Guide.” (Earth Religions Press, 2001.)

Heselton, Philip. “Gerald Gardner and the Cauldron of Inspiration.” (Capall Bann Publishing, 2003.)

Hutton, Ronald. “The Triumph of the Moon.” (Oxford University Press, 1999.)

Lamond, Frederic. “Fifty Years of Wicca.” (Green Magic, 2004.)

Valiente, Doreen. “The Rebirth of Witchcraft.” (Phoenix Publishing, 1989.)

Put The Book Down!

Put The Book Down!

Author: Siantia

I quarrel about the meaning of the term ‘Wicca’ or ‘Pagan’. I argue over the rules and structures of the various ‘Wiccan paths’. I label myself with the correct label for my position in the craft and demand others do the same. I adhere to set structures and rituals and judge those that do not. I look to occult figures to gather my instructions on how to worship my Goddess and God. I rely on another human being to give me permission to have a spiritual identity. Does this sound like you? If you have ticked any of the ‘boxes’ above then I urge you to read this article. But I’m warning you – there are no labels here for you. No man/woman to tell you the rules of your religion and no words given to you to describe what you are.

How many books on Wicca/Witchcraft/Paganism and any others of a similar nature do you own?

How many of these books have rituals for you to follow, incantations for you to recite and sabbats for you to adhere to?

How many people do you know that say you MUST be in a coven, or you MUST do that or you HAVE TO think this way?

How often, when engaging in a Wiccan/Magickal discussion or argument have you opened your most prestigious Wiccan book to read the answer and then quoted it and sat back happily knowing you must have won the argument because you used the words of an occult icon?

Quarrels about rules and words feature so strongly in Wicca/Witchcraft, everyone has their own opinion and everyone seems to have their biography of Gerald Gardner or Alex Sanders at the ready to use if the argument gets tough. But I ask you – where is your Goddess and God when you are debating this and arguing about that and proclaiming you know more than this person about that subject?

How many times do you put your book down, step away from the laws of your coven, stop listening to the ‘more experienced’ Witch and look inside your heart to talk to your Mother and Father? What do you think they would tell you about all these rules, paths and words?

“Quarrelling about words only serves to ruin those who listen to them” is one of my favorite quotes, and one I read often when I find myself almost getting involved in an argument. There is no piece of information so grand that you need to quarrel and argue over it. There is no right so right that has not come directly from The Goddess and God. I urge people to put their books down and to talk to the source that can give them all the knowledge they’re looking for. It starts by looking inside yourself and not at your favorite author; once you have looked inside yourself you find the Goddess and the God were there all along.

When you next meet someone that refers to him/herself using certain labels, or when you next are involved in a conversation about the rules of a Wiccan ritual ask the goddess and the god to show you the truth of these man-made creations. Listen and feel what you receive. What do you think your Goddess and God would say to the people arguing over the exact meaning of the term Wiccan? What do you think they would say to the couple trying to win the argument about the importance of initiation? Do you think our loving Mother and Father would see the relevance or importance of any of this?

When you feel afraid that something you are doing is not correct, who are you afraid of? The person who wrote the book you are following? The high priestess of the coven you have just joined? Or the judgmental ‘experienced’ witches you socialize with? Out of all the people you are afraid will judge you if you are not adhering to the label you have been given (or have given yourself) do you think any of them have the authority or power to say anything? Do you believe a man or a woman has more knowledge about The Goddess and The God than the Goddess and The God themselves? And do you believe that anyone but yourself can find the right answer to your problems?

Put the book down, and while you’re at it socialize with less rigid people. We are our own masters, because all of us are children of our Mother and Father. No matter what words you read in books, no matter what ‘high’ priest/ess tells you – no being knows more than The Goddess and God. It is to them you should talk, not to ‘man’.

Religion can be a beautiful life choice that makes your incarnation more colorful and interesting; a way of life that inspires you and makes you feel fulfilled as a human experiencing the Earth, knowing deep inside that it is a creation of man and that simple love of your creators will always triumph. Is this you? Or have you become so consumed with your chosen label, so consumed with the words and their meanings that you have forgotten the simplicity of the universe? What is it they say we have here? Ah yes – free will.

Perhaps you feel your religion and structure, fine details and correct interpretation of words are still important to you? Perhaps you feel that the Goddess and God are with you on that, and they wouldn’t like you to throw away labels and boxes? Then, debate away. Open your forum and join with everyone else that wants words to be important. Words have power after all!

I will go and sit beside the Goddess and The God and we shall watch you in your hall of right and wrong. When you are ready…put the book down, and see what the Goddess and God has to discuss with you.

Merry Meet to all the masters of themselves.


Footnotes:
*This article is intended for thought provoking and not direct insult. The opinions expressed are my own and so of course are not being imposed or ordered onto anyone else. Live and let live after all.

Put The Book Down!

Put The Book Down!

Author: Siantia
I quarrel about the meaning of the term ‘Wicca’ or ‘Pagan’. I argue over the rules and structures of the various ‘Wiccan paths’. I label myself with the correct label for my position in the craft and demand others do the same. I adhere to set structures and rituals and judge those that do not. I look to occult figures to gather my instructions on how to worship my Goddess and God. I rely on another human being to give me permission to have a spiritual identity. Does this sound like you? If you have ticked any of the ‘boxes’ above then I urge you to read this article. But I’m warning you – there are no labels here for you. No man/woman to tell you the rules of your religion and no words given to you to describe what you are.

How many books on Wicca/Witchcraft/Paganism and any others of a similar nature do you own?

How many of these books have rituals for you to follow, incantations for you to recite and sabbats for you to adhere to?

How many people do you know that say you MUST be in a coven, or you MUST do that or you HAVE TO think this way?

How often, when engaging in a Wiccan/Magickal discussion or argument have you opened your most prestigious Wiccan book to read the answer and then quoted it and sat back happily knowing you must have won the argument because you used the words of an occult icon?

Quarrels about rules and words feature so strongly in Wicca/Witchcraft, everyone has their own opinion and everyone seems to have their biography of Gerald Gardner or Alex Sanders at the ready to use if the argument gets tough. But I ask you – where is your Goddess and God when you are debating this and arguing about that and proclaiming you know more than this person about that subject?

How many times do you put your book down, step away from the laws of your coven, stop listening to the ‘more experienced’ Witch and look inside your heart to talk to your Mother and Father? What do you think they would tell you about all these rules, paths and words?

“Quarrelling about words only serves to ruin those who listen to them” is one of my favorite quotes, and one I read often when I find myself almost getting involved in an argument. There is no piece of information so grand that you need to quarrel and argue over it. There is no right so right that has not come directly from The Goddess and God. I urge people to put their books down and to talk to the source that can give them all the knowledge they’re looking for. It starts by looking inside yourself and not at your favorite author; once you have looked inside yourself you find the Goddess and the God were there all along.

When you next meet someone that refers to him/herself using certain labels, or when you next are involved in a conversation about the rules of a Wiccan ritual ask the goddess and the god to show you the truth of these man-made creations. Listen and feel what you receive. What do you think your Goddess and God would say to the people arguing over the exact meaning of the term Wiccan? What do you think they would say to the couple trying to win the argument about the importance of initiation? Do you think our loving Mother and Father would see the relevance or importance of any of this?

When you feel afraid that something you are doing is not correct, who are you afraid of? The person who wrote the book you are following? The high priestess of the coven you have just joined? Or the judgmental ‘experienced’ witches you socialize with? Out of all the people you are afraid will judge you if you are not adhering to the label you have been given (or have given yourself) do you think any of them have the authority or power to say anything? Do you believe a man or a woman has more knowledge about The Goddess and The God than the Goddess and The God themselves? And do you believe that anyone but yourself can find the right answer to your problems?

Put the book down, and while you’re at it socialize with less rigid people. We are our own masters, because all of us are children of our Mother and Father. No matter what words you read in books, no matter what ‘high’ priest/ess tells you – no being knows more than The Goddess and God. It is to them you should talk, not to ‘man’.

Religion can be a beautiful life choice that makes your incarnation more colorful and interesting; a way of life that inspires you and makes you feel fulfilled as a human experiencing the Earth, knowing deep inside that it is a creation of man and that simple love of your creators will always triumph. Is this you? Or have you become so consumed with your chosen label, so consumed with the words and their meanings that you have forgotten the simplicity of the universe? What is it they say we have here? Ah yes – free will.

Perhaps you feel your religion and structure, fine details and correct interpretation of words are still important to you? Perhaps you feel that the Goddess and God are with you on that, and they wouldn’t like you to throw away labels and boxes? Then, debate away. Open your forum and join with everyone else that wants words to be important. Words have power after all!

I will go and sit beside the Goddess and The God and we shall watch you in your hall of right and wrong. When you are ready…put the book down, and see what the Goddess and God has to discuss with you.

Merry Meet to all the masters of themselves.


Footnotes:
*This article is intended for thought provoking and not direct insult. The opinions expressed are my own and so of course are not being imposed or ordered onto anyone else. Live and let live after all.

Youth or Truth – Will History Repeat Itself in Wiccan Witchcraft?

Youth or Truth – Will History Repeat Itself in Wiccan Witchcraft?

Author: Roninwolf

Several observations I have made about the religion of Wicca-witchcraft-paganism-neo-paganism or what-you-will have caused me deep distress and I fear for the viability of a path I wish to continue walking upon. Questions have come to me in reading works of the elders that I cannot put aside and I believe must be answered now or in the furtherance of the future.

The first is that Wiccan witchcraft has no mechanism for theocracy. In the tenets of a faith-that-is-many faiths in a faith among all faiths, there is crime and no punishment.

In the few common words of our faith “an it harm none, do what thou wilt, ” there is “harm” which is the acknowledgement of one of the two truths of the human condition — analogous to the building of a prison (along with the building of a cemetery) — yet there is nothing written which says what societal punishment harm shall yield.

Phrases such as “separation of church and state” and “the laws of God are higher than the laws of man” come into my recollection and I wonder why we have no punishments save banishment. Surely theft is a crime we acknowledge as a people, why then is it not mentioned by name? It does fit under the category of harm, and as such is a violation of out tenet “an it harm none”, but nowhere is it written so plainly as “thou shalt not steal” as it is written in the cannons of Christian, Jewish, Islamic and many other religions.

Is it sufficient to say, “harm none” and let it be the whole of the law? Aren’t we simply passing the buck, so to speak, to the state? And if that is so, what state: A state that demands remunerations and fines or a state that demands the hand of the perpetrator?

This and other questions occurred to me when I heard a certain Republican congressman talking about the fact that new and small businesses do not need to concern themselves with retirement benefits. I am concerned that the youth of our faith (or youth of our “organized faith” for those who believe their faith to be pre-historic) may blind us to reality.

Near the subject of crime and punishment, there is also the subject of heresy. To any monotheist’s query, we would flatly reply that we have no heresy, that all paths are equal, valid (for lack of a better term) and right.

Yet, when Christianity was less than a century old, it had no heresy either. Then Titus sacked the second temple of Jerusalem, the cult of Mary (J.C.’s mother) lost power in the city and the cult of Paul grew and flourished. Judeo-Islamism too, had no heresy before the schism between Isaac and Ishmael. I do not know the specifics, but Islam had no heresy before there was a falling out between the descendants of Muhammad. Monothiest-versus-polythiest aside, I believe the same “heretical” schism may befall witchcraft.

Already we have seen something like heresy when Alex Sanders began his own coven using the rituals of Gerald Gardner. Is it the inevitable fate of faith to split and if so, how long will it be before the followers of, for example, Gardner, call the followers of Silver Ravenwolf or Christopher Penzak heretics?

Yes, we believe that all Gods are one God and all Goddesses are one Goddess, but is the strength of our faith in the universality of our pan-fraternal/sororal kinship strong enough to supercede a dissention of faith? I wonder.

Again, I ask these questions because I have asked them of myself and I cannot find answers that do not assuage my fears. It is my hope that these questions are answered before circumstances demand that we answer them hastily.

All faiths, in some manner or another, must answer to one another: That is, what do “we” think of “them”? That question has taken many forms and has been the subject of many debates; such as “are all paths valid”. In the same way that English recognition of the United States in 1783 gave credence to the existence of a new country, one faith’s acknowledgement of another gives tacit approval of that faith.

An example of that is that Christians, Jews, Muslims and Hindus all consider the others to be “people of the book”; this suggests collusion if not camaraderie between them (despite infighting also between them). What do we say of the follower’s of Heaven’s Gate or the Moonies? We call them cults (in the derisive sense). But what does that say about our tenet “all paths are valid”?

I have been wondering on this subject and believe that no one law can encompass the outlook of our faith on other faiths. Certain paths of Christianity and Islam call us evil agents of the devil. Still others say because their path is right, our must be wrong. Albeit, a certain “sticks and stones” maxim comes to my mind, words other people use to describe us become valid as we all inhabit the same planet.

I thought for a time that the law “all paths are valid that do not contradict the law that all paths are valid, ” but this seems unusable to me. Must we then interview (as it were) each faith and draw our battle-lines in ink? Would we not then be the same as all other faiths?

Even though our faith does not require that others believe as we do in order for it to be valid to us, our inalienable rights as citizens of the world should require us stand up and declare that we are valid and here are our reasons.

The question that faces me is: Whether our faith of non-denominationalism and non-judgementalism allows us to even declare, as a faith, what is right and wrong?

The final question I posit is this: Can we not answer these questions because we are right (and potentially original in the history of religion) or because we are young and cannot look beyond the next ten generations? Civilization and state collapse: are we transplantable or are we flash-in-the-pan?

We know we are a different faith, but are we different because we are unlike any other faith in our acceptance of other paths or are we simply children who cannot accept the positions held by millennia-old religions?

Note: Inasmuch as I write this to flesh out my own thoughts, I write this to invite others to correct me if I have erred.