Is Wicca Dead?

Author: Helio

It seems like an odd thing to me, and I’m sure to many others, that some would claim that Wicca is dead or dying. But I have heard this from at least a few members of the Craft. Strange to think of Wicca, the fastest growing of the rapidly growing Neopagan religions, as being doomed to die in the near future. I have received different opinions for ‘why Wicca is dying’ and ‘what the fate of Wicca will be’.

More than a few Wiccan elders who have expressed this sentiment to me are just simply disheartened by what they view as a lack of progress made in and for Wicca over the past few decades. These elders, I think, believed that there would be a great unity in the Craft and that Wicca and Neopaganism would make great social progress. Many of these Wiccan elders have also seen the rise and fall of covens and friendships between witches. And so if asked the fate of Wicca, they would respond that there would be no future for Wicca. Neopaganism in general will fail as a religious movement.

I have heard from other Wiccans that Wicca is dying do to a lack of central authority. And this I have heard from Witches who are not members of any tradition! I’ve found that some of those I’ve heard this from have backgrounds in Catholicism, so perhaps they are used to the idea of the papacy as a central authority. But the whole reason why many come to the Craft is I>because of the lack of central authority. The Craft teaches self-reliance. I think some of my fellow Crafters have forgotten this.

I have also heard that Wicca has become too public. ‘No one wants to stay in the broom closet anymore like a good witch should’. Oh My! I think those who hold this sentiment may still be holding on to past life feelings of persecution. But if this is an age of religious tolerance, and Judeo-Christian beliefs are no longer supposed to operate in the secular domain, then we have no reason to hide or fear being burned at the stake. Wicca needs to be open if we are to show the world that we are not dangerous.

There are also those who see the rapid rise of solitary witchcraft and the collapse of covens as evidence of Wicca’s impending doom. I have never felt that it ‘takes a Witch to make a Witch’ but certainly there are some who could use a bit more experience before they declare themselves a Witch. I know there are plenty of solitaries who don’t really know the Craft as much as they should and that they may sometimes suffer from hubris, but it is the right of every Wiccan to explore the Craft personally and without a coven. I think covens are great, but for some people a coven just doesn’t work, and I feel there are some who use the coven structure to make themselves feel more important and powerful. We all know there is no place for tyrants in a coven structure.

Now unlike the belief that Wicca will die and cease to exist, I have found those who believe Wicca is dying but that it will develop into a new religion, or religions. I somewhat share this sentiment, but I don’t think Wiccan witchcraft will just cease to be. And if Wicca is to become something else then it is not dying, it is evolving. All religious movements evolve. There are many who would point out that modern Wicca is ‘not the Wicca of sixty years ago’, and this is because of a natural evolution in the religion.

I feel that part of the reason for this whole ‘Wicca is dead’ thing seems to be that Wicca and Neopaganism have failed in the last sixty years to supersede western society’s Judeo-Christian dominance. I know that there are many screaming at me after reading that last line. ‘The point of Wicca isn’t to supersede Christianity! All faiths lead to the same source!’ But I have not yet met the Crafter who didn’t hold some level of anti-Christian sentiment. I’ve found that much of the ‘Wicca has failed’ belief comes from those Wiccans who experienced the great social and spiritual revolutions of the late sixties and seventies. At the time it must have seemed like Neopaganism would become a powerful social force by the turn of the millennium. Its failure to become so has soured the movement for some.

It may not seem like it for many, but Wicca’s ability to suddenly go from a few dozen followers to thousands (or millions) of followers in only half a century is an amazing achievement. It is a direct parallel of early Christianity’s rise from a few dozen believers in 30 C.E. to hundreds or thousands by 150 C.E. Wicca has perhaps grown twice as fast in half the time thanks to television, the Internet, and especially, modern printing and publishing. Most new religious movements do not rise out of the underground in their first hundred years.

Is Wicca dead? Has Wicca failed in some way?

No one ever said being a Witch is easy. Some of my elders may find me youthfully naïve, but in the six years that I have been in the Craft, I have found a vast, vibrant, though mostly underground, community that is ever growing and evolving to meet the needs of its followers.

I can definitely say Wicca is very far from taking its last breaths.

Dianic Wicca

Dianic Wicca

*The Dianic Craft includes two distinct branches:

*1. One branch, founded in Texas by Morgan McFarland and Mark Roberts, gives primacy to the Goddess in its thealogy, but honors the Horned God as Her Beloved Consort. Covens are mixed, including both womyn and men. This branch is sometimes called ‘Old Dianic’, and there are still covens of this tradition, especially in Texas. Other covens, similar in thealogy but not directly descended from the McFarland/ Roberts line, are sprinkled around the country.

 

*2. The other branch, sometimes called Feminist Dianic Witchcraft, focus exclusively on the Goddess and consists of womyn-only covens and groups. These tend to be loosely structured and non-hierarchical, using consensus- decision- making and simple, creative, experimental ritual. They are politically feminist groups, usually very supportive, personal and emotionally intimate. There is a strong lesbian presence in the movement, though most covens are open to womyn of all orientations. The major network is Re-Formed Congregation of the Goddess, which publishes “Of a Like Mind” newspaper and sponsors conferences on Dianic Craft. [* Amber K]

 

Basic Philosophy of Wicca

Wicca, or Witchcraft, is an earth religion — a re-linking (re-ligion) with the life-force of nature, both on this planet and in the stars and space beyond. In city apartments, in suburban backyards, in country glades, groups of women and men meet on the new and full moons (Esbats) and at festival times (Sabbats) to raise energy and put themselves in tune with these natural forces. They honor the old Goddesses and Gods, including the Triple Goddess of the waxing, full, and waning moon, and the Horned God of the sun and animal life, as visualizations of immanent nature.

Our religion is not a series of precepts or beliefs, rather we believe that we each have within ourselves the capacity to reach out and experience the mystery — that feeling of ineffable oneness with all Life. Those who wish to experience this transcendence must work, and create, and participate in their individual religious lives. For this reason, our congregations, called covens, are small groups which give room for each individual to contribute to the efforts of the group by self-knowledge and creative experimentation within the agreed-upon group structure or tradition.

Not all practisioners are in Covens, Some prefer to follow a Solitary path, sometimes refered to as Solitry Wicca. Most who practice solitary Wicca follow more of an Eclectic path, There are some who still follow the same traits as covens.

There are many traditions or sects within the Craft. Different groups take their inspiration from the pre-Christian religions of certain ethnic groups (e.g. Celtic, Greek, Norse, Finno-Ugric); in the liturgical works of some modern Witch poet or scholar (e.g. Gerald Gardner, Z Budapest, Alex Saunders, Starhawk); or by seeking within themselves for inspiration and direction. Many feminists have turned to Wicca and the role of priestess for healing and strength after the patriarchal oppression and lack of voice for women in the major world religions.

There are many paths to spiritual growth. Wicca is a participatory revelation, a celebratory action leading to greater understand of oneself and the universe. We believe there is much to learn by studying our past, through myth, through ritual drama, through poetry and music, through love and through living in harmony with the Earth.

What is Progressive Witchcraft?

What is Progressive Witchcraft?

By Terminus

“We do not see our ‘trainees’ as empty vessels, waiting to be filled up, but as individuals with a wealth of experience and ideas which they can contribute to the craft. (Rainbird, 1993)

The use of the term progressive arose from a discussion between Ariadne Rainbird and Tam Campbell in London in the late 1980s (*3) They were discussing the evolution of Wicca, and the fact that it had moved on over the decades, beyond the labels of “Gardnerian” or “Alexandrian”. They clearly stated that the term was being used to describe a trend, not a tradition, and that any coven that was eclectic in its approach and not limiting itself to the Book of Shadows was being progressive.

In 1991 Ariadne Rainbird formed a network for covens who subscribed to a more eclectic view of Wiccan practice, called the Progressive Wiccan network (*1). This network included covens in Wales, England, Germany and Canada. 1991 also saw the first Grand Sabbat, at Lughnasadh, with around 30 witches from six different covens meeting up to camp out in the wilds of South Wales and celebrate together. This tradition was to continue for some years, developing into an annual weekly gathering in Cornwall for members of different covens to work together.

In 1992 David Rankine became the editor of the magazine Dragon’s Brew, which became the magazine of the Progressive Wiccan movement. Dragon’s Brew was created by Chris Breen in 1990, originally as the house magazine for the Silver Wheel Coven (*1).

To quote from the magazine (1992):

“Progressive Wicca is a movement which spans the traditions and emphasises networking, closeness to nature, personal growth and co-operative development. Personal experience of other paths is welcomed and integrated into covens, and we do not slavishly follow a Book of Shadows, as we see Wicca as an ever growing religion and the Book of Shadows changes and grows with each new Witch.” (*1)

Contact details for a number of covens were given in the back of each issue of the magazine. The editorial stance of the magazine was actively supportive of environmental protection, detailing protests, distributing leaflets and supporting organisations like Dragon (eco-magick environmental network) and Friends of the Earth Cymru in their actions. Campaigns like the ones to save Oxleas Wood and Twyford Down were covered, as well as events in other parts of the world, like proposed wolf culling in Canada, tiger conservation in India, and anti-nuclear testing by the French in the Pacific. (*1)

Dragon’s Brew ran quarterly until 1997, with a circulation of several hundred copies, and covered a wide range of subjects, from chakras and kundalini to Enochian magick and running effective open rituals. Different pantheons were also explored, including the Welsh, Greek, Sumerian and Egyptian. A number of prominent academics also contributed to the magazine, which received articles from distinguished figures such as Professor Ronald Hutton and the Egyptologist Terry DuQuesne. (*1)

By 1994 Progressive Witchcraft was widely known throughout Europe. David Rankine gave a number of talks at events like the Talking Stick Meet the Groups conference in 1994, and at various University Pagan Societies. The growth of the movement was acknowledged by Michael Jordan, who gave it a sizeable entry in his 1996 book Witches: An Encyclopaedia of Paganism and Magic. (*3)

To avoid some disharmony caused by the term “Progressive” in the Wiccan community the term was changed from “Progressive Wicca” to Progressive Witchcraft in 1993, as was demonstrated by the cover of Dragon’s Brew (*1). In combination with this Ariadne Rainbird and David Rankine set up the Progressive Witchcraft Foundation, to deal with enquiries about Progressive Witchcraft, and also ran workshops under the banner of Silver Wheel with other coven members on a variety of related subjects.

In 1994 Ariadne Rainbird and David Rankine started running correspondence courses on natural magick based on much of the (non-oathbound) Progressive Witchcraft material. This material was to form the basis for their book Magick Without Peers: A Course in Progressive Witchcraft for the Solitary Practitioner, published by Capall Bann in 1997. (*2)

Reference Material

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(*1) Dragon’s Brew, a Magazine of Magick, Paganism & Progressive Witchcraft, (1992 -1997)

(*2) Magick Without Peers, A Course in Progressive Witchcraft. Capall Bann 1997

(*3) Witches, An Encyclopaedia of Paganism and Magic; Michael Jordon, 1996

Patchwork of Magic, Julia Day, Capall Bann, 1995

(*4) Talking Stick Magical Directory, 1993

This article was written by Terminus, 2000 and provided for free distribution.

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Witchcraft 101: Magick and Intent

Instruction in WitchCraft varies from person to person, and individual to individual. I’ve yet to see any one path follow exactly the same course, so these lessons being presented here are simply a wide spot in the road, only guaranteed to clear a view to other vistas and help you on your way.

Lesson one covered the basics of what WitchCraft is and what it is not. In it, we covered the experiences and motivations of being a witch. However, I did not place a challenge before you like the one I plan to do here.

True, I asked you to consider the WHY of being a Witch, especially in your own case, but now I’m going to cover a section of the Craft that covers your personal power, and how you can use it for personal gain and to acknowledge the real and very potent forces that comprise Magick itself.

No… I am not going to discuss the art of casting spells with all manner of strange oils, brews, unusual objects, or even the occasional magickal object that is used to cast power. Instead, we are going to talk about the most powerful weapon in the Witch’s inventory.

This weapon beats out the entire lot of objects and forces that one associates with WitchCraft and Magick in general.

This force is INTENT.

Intent is the power of focusing on a desire, goal, or wish, with the express purpose of bringing that desire about. Intent plays to forces beyond and in the mundane that see to it that what you want, you will indeed get.

Mind you, this is no simple matter. The subject is fraught with difficulties and all manner of traps that can hang you up and cause all sorts of problems, should you misconstrue or mis-use the power.

Yes… this “intent” is power itself. With it, people have leveled civiliziations, and they have created art, gardens, and pleasant lives. It all depends on the motivation behind the person,.

Intent is expressed through NEED. Need is expressed through forceful emotion and powerful desires, and through these components of Magick, one can direct and influence events through the simple use of force of mind. True, magicakl props like wands, capes, and certain helpful herbs and materials do help things along, but the old saying that “The Witch IS the Magick” is quite true.

You are the Magick!

How does this principle work then?

After 14 years in the Craft, I really can only make a supposition, but mine is an informed supposition, because of my years in science and around scientists and very talented metaphysicians.

Our universe is a manifestation of quantum forces that are influenced by the fact that we are here to observe events. What this means is that without observers, for all intensive purposes, the universe might exist, but it’s purpose cannot be appreciated or find useful expression.

In scientific experiments, it has been found that the intent or concentration of a person on light beams (in a highly controlled and measured laboratory) affected the behavior of the beams. Strange effects like this prove that intent and thought itself have powerful and practically unlimited power to influence events.

Einstein called some of these forces “Spooky action at a distance”. He was referring to the behavior of photons of light that could never have communicated with one another, but somehow could affect each other in spite of huge distances and great efforts expended to prove that the experiments where wrong!

In real English, what I am telling you is that this universe of ours is one weird place, and that our minds and passions can exert influence over time, space, and matter.

Thus, Magick is the power of the mind to influence the course of events.

So much is made of visualization and projection of the mind in magickal rites, but little is said as to the underlying mechanisms that drive Magick. While my somewhat brief explanation does not clearly define the exact nature of the mechanism, it does make it clear that Magick IS indeed influencing physical systems, and that the mind itself has quantum properties that allow us the luxury of bending the universe to our needs, if one has sufficient intent and force of will.

Thus, we move into the area of ethics.

Yes, you can wish for and project for anything, but the question is tied to one nagging little issue; NEED.

Need is tied to what you really need in your heart of hearts, and what can legitimately be requested or asked for. It has little to do with the fact that I would love to materialize a broom with flying capabilities, like a Nimbus 2000.

Need is tied to things like deciding to get a degree and then projecting to the universe for help in getting there. I did so in my late bid in life to get my BSIT and lo and behold, my company suddenly volunteered to pay for the entire cost of my education.

Of course, I had done projection work, and my passion to change my life was a big part of this sudden desire to move the forces of the world to propel me in a new direction.

There is one little snag in all of this. And you who have known me well for many years on this web know that I sometimes disappear now and again. I can honestly say that my experience of Magick is that for every gain and change of direction, I have had to drop something else, in order to propel the ship of my life in that direction.

Thus, I dropped a lot of personal things to make the education happen. For me, Coven life and other key aspects of my world have had to take a back-seat to my development of my mind and growth.

To get something, you have to give. This is true in economics, and is sure as hell is true in Magick. If you hear someone telling you different, they haven’t cone to realize this great truth yet.

Again: To get something your heart desires, you MUST give up something else, in order to propel forward. What that something is cannot be easily stated, but you will need to carefully consider where it is you intend to sail your Magick, and what you are prepared to give to get there.

In my case, I gave up time and companionship for a short time, but the return has been well worth the short expenditure.

So… some of you are now realizing that Magick is really just transformation of time, energy, and intent. All of it guided to an end goal that is dictated by the principle of giving up or discharging something else.

Giving up something in your life, to get ahead is natural, positive, and even fun. All of us have areas of our lives that can stand for us to get rid of one area that holds us back. Using this gift of release, we can channel the benefits of this giving towards other goals, and in our personal Magick and power.

In smaller workings, where visualization is needed for a healing, or to alter the outcome of a dispute, or to wish for some windfall in your life, you can give of your time, or even of your heart, and thus you pay the toll for the Magick you exert.

 

IAmAWitch.com

A to Z – A Wiccan Glossary

A to Z – A Wiccan Glossary

 
AKASHA: the spiritual ether (or Aether); the omnipresent fifth occult element which embraces the other four-earth, air, fire, and water; and from which they stem. This is the realm of “pattern” or causality, from which the realm the normally thought of “five senses manifests. Some define it is the “other” of the “two worlds” that the witch or magician walks between.

ARADIA: Daughter of the Goddess Diana, and a name for the Goddess used by Italian Witches or Strega, commonly used in many Wiccan traditions today.

ASPECTING: Any advanced magickal activity in which a practitioner manifests a particular aspect of the Goddess or God, in thought, feelings, behavior, appearance, etc.; Often as a direct result of a “Drawing Down”. Often a minor variation of this phenomena occurs with the selection of a “Magical Name”, of Craft Name.

ASPECTS: Forms, facets, or personas of Deity: for example, Brighid, Iseult,Eos, and Kore are all aspects of the Maiden, and the Maiden is an aspect of the Goddess

ATHAME: black handled, double edged dagger. Principally used to cast and dissolve the circle, for which purposes it is interchangeable with the magic sword. A tool of the “Element” of Fire in the Georgian Tradition and some others.

BELTANE: May Eve festival. One of the Ancient Celtic “Fire Festivals.” on this night, the cattle were driven between two bonfires to protect them from disease. Couples wishing for fertility would ” jump the fires” on Beltane night. Also the traditional Sabbath where the rule of the “Wheel of the Year” is returned to the Goddess. This Festival also marks the transition point of the threefold Goddess energies from those of Maiden to Mother.

BOOK OF SHADOWS: Traditionally hand copied book of rituals, recipes, training techniques, guidelines, and other materials deemed important to a Witch or a coven. Each tradition has it’s own standard version of the Book and each Witch’s book will be different as he or she adds to it with time from many different sources. Only another Witch can see your book of shadows. Also, traditionally, it may never leave your hands or possession until death, when it should be destroyed, or (in some traditions) returned to the coven to be disposed of.

BURNING TIMES: a term used by some Witches for the period of persecution in the Middle Ages and later. It is in fact a misnomer in some places, as Witches were only burned in Scotland, and on the continent of Europe. In England and the U.S., they were hanged.

CANDLEMAS: Festival held on Feb. 1. One of the 4 Celtic “Fire Festivals. Commemorates the changing of the Goddess from the Crone to the Maiden. Celebrates the first signs of Spring. Also called “Imbolc” (the old Celtic name). This is the seasonal change where the first signs of spring and the return of the sun are noted, i.e. the first sprouting of leaves, the sprouting of the Crocus flowers etc. In other words, it is the festival commemorating the successful passing of winter and the beginning of the agricultural year.This Festival also marks the transition point of the threefold Goddess energies from those of Crone to Maiden.

CARDINAL POINTS: North, South, East, and West, marked in the Georgian Tradition by candles of green, red, yellow, and blue, respectively. The Circle is drawn to connect these four points.

CHALICE: one of the tools of the Witch. Placed on the altar to represent the element of Water.

CHARGE OF THE GODDESS: The Traditional words of the Goddess to her followers, or “hidden children”. Normally declaimed by the HPS at every coven Circle.

CIRCLE: the area in which the magickal worship and spells takes place. Can also be used to designate a particular group of Witches or Pagans such as “Silver Acorn Circle”.

CONE OF POWER: power raised in the circle by the Witches assembled, and sent out into the world to work magick, is usually visualized as being retained and built in the form of a “cone” prior to release.

COVEN: an organized group of Witches, led by a High priestess and/or a High Priest who meet regularly for worship and fellowship. The traditional membership is 13, but in fact most covens number considerably less. 3 is the minimum in the Georgian Tradition. In Middle English, “Covin” a group of confederates; In Old French “Covine” a band or group with a single purpose; Latin “Com”-together, “Venire”-to come or move.

COVENSTEAD: regular meeting place for a coven. Usually the home of the High Priestess or High Priest.

COWAN: a non-Witch. Formerly used in a very derogatory manner. Still used in Masonic Ritual to indicate the non initiate and/or pretender to “real craft”. Not often used today among most Witches.

COYOTE ENERGY: trickster energies. Named for the American Indian Trickster, Coyote, who tricks man into learning what he needs to learn. Applies to one who constantly jokes and clowns. Also applies to the concept of “Holy Fool” in many traditions.

CROSS QUARTER DAYS: The modern name for the Celtic Fire Festivals of Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane, and Lammas.

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Abracadabra- A word from the Jewish mystical tradition of Qabala. Its root is the name of the Gnostic deity Abraxas, meaning “hurt me not”. It is said to possess magickal powers, especially of protection from illness.

Adept- An individual who through serious study and accomplishments is highly prficient in a praticluar magickal way.

Aeromancy- Divination by the stars.

Aisling– Ireland: Dream or Vision. In the many Irish tales having this title, the person who dreams sees a speir-bhean or vision-woman from the Otherworlds, pronounced “ash-leen”.

Aka- The cord between the astral body and the physical body, most likely this concept is derived from the biblical reference to a “silver cord” connected the body and the soul

Akashic Records- Edward Cayce’s concept which states that somewhere there is a universal hall of data about past lives, magic, healing, and spirituality. It does not exist on the physical plane but rather on a more psychic level. Some believe it can be accessed on the astral plane, others feel it can only be accessed through a visualization journey in the mind.

Alba– The Isle of Skye; Scotland

Alchemist- One who practices alchemy.

Alchemy- A form of high magick which stems from the middle ages noted by the attempts of alchemists to make lead turn into gold.

Alexandrian Tradition– A form of Garderian Wiccan practice developed by Alex and Maxine Sanders in Britain in the 1960s.

Alignment- Synchronization of mental and spiritual vibrations with a god, goddess, or astronomical body. Often the complete balance and centering of the chakras is called an alignment.

Altar- A small working area and shrine many pagans maintain, where they perform most of their ritual and spell work.

Amulet- An object charged with personal energies through ritual or meditation often used to ward off a certain force or person.

Aradia-
The Italian goddess Diana’s daughter, said to be the origin of all witches. The book “Aradia, Gospel of the Witches” was written by Leland about Aradia and the practice of witchcraft

Arcana
– The two halves of the tarot deck.The major arcana consists of 22 cards showing dominant occurrences in our lives.The minor arcana consists of 56 suit cards (commonly called the lesser arcana) that assists the major arcana cards,or shows smaller influences in our lives.

Archetype- Symbolic imagery seen in visions, dreams, meditation, and mind quests. Used to interpret the meaning of the vision thereby betting understanding and communicating with the subconscious.

Arthurian Tradition- A Welsh tradition of paganism based on the lore of King Arthur (the “Once and Future King”), Merlin the Magician, and Guinevere.

Asatru- Modern worship of the old Norse gods.

Aspecting- An advanced magical practice which is seen most commonly in a coven as opposed to solitary. The practitioner attempts to manifest an aspect of the Goddess or the God. This is seen in the pagan ritual of Drawing Down the Moon as well as in other pagan religions such as Vodou, where the priest often allows the deity to speak through his or her body.

Asperger- A bundle of fresh herbs either carrying dew or dowsed with spring water, used to sprinkle the water during ritual purification.

Astral– Another dimension of reality.

Astral Plane- A plane parallel to the physical world, traveled through by the astral body during projection.

Astral Projection/Travel
– The proccess of separating your astral body from your physical body to accomplish travel in the astral.

Astrology- The practice of revealing the future by interpreting the arrangement of stars and planets in relation to astrological theory and the zodiac.

Athame– A Wiccan ritual knife. Generally double edged with a black handle, but not always. This knife is seldom used for physical cutting, if at all, and need not be sharp. It is *never* used to draw blood and Wicca do not draw blood or use blood in ritual. Its primary use is as an energy directing device, much like the wand, though with different common uses. compare: Boline, Wand

Attune- To bring different psyches into harmony.

Augury- Divination based on “signs” or omens.
Aura- An energy field which surrounds living beings. An aura is most often visible only to those born with the skill to see it, or those who developed this ability. A visible aura contains various colors and tells about the spiritual and emotional persona of the plant, human, or creature surrounded by it. However, an aura can also be felt, heard, or sensed through other means.

DEOSIL: clockwise, or sunwise. Traditional direction for working “building” magick.

DRAWING DOWN THE MOON: Ritual invocation of the spirit of the Goddess into the body of the High Priestess by the High Priest.

DIVINATION: magical method of exploration or inquiry into a situation via such methods as Tarot cards, runestones, I-Ching, etc.

ELEMENTS: Earth, air, fire, and water, plus spirit, which includes them all. These are regarded as realms or categories of nature (both material and non-material) and are not to be confused with the physicists table of elements, which the modern witch, of course, accepts.

ESBAT: weekly or biweekly meeting of a coven. Traditionally held either on the full moon or the new moon.

FAMILIARS: Either a Witch’s pet animal which has been trained to be a magickal helper, or an artificially created “elemental” which performs the same functions as the animal friend.

FIVEFOLD KISS, FIVEFOLD SALUTE: The Witches’ ritual salute, with kisses; (1) on each foot, (2) on each knee, (3) above the pubic hair, (4) on each breast, and (5) on the lips-really 8 kisses in all. It is only used within the Circle, but the words that go with it are the origin of “Blessed Be.”

GARDNERIANS: Tradition of Witchcraft descended from the teachings of Gerald Gardner

GNOMES: an “entity” or “elemental” that dwells in the plane of Earth or is associated with the EARTH Element.

GREAT RITE: The rite which is the main feature of the third degree initiation, and which is also laid down for certain festivals. It is sexual in nature, but may be `actual’ (and private to the couples concerned) or symbolic, as the participants wish.

HALLOWS: name used by some traditions for Samhain, or Halloween

HANDFASTING: Wiccan equivalent of a wedding. It can be made legal if the Priestess and/or Priest are registered as clergy with the local authorities, or it may only be considered binding within the coven.

HIGH PRIEST/ESS: Technically speaking, a Witch who has received the 3rd. degree initiation. More usually, the male and female leaders of a coven.
IMBOLC: Celtic name for Candlemas.
INVOCATION: The ritual “calling-in” of an entity (or energies) higher than human, either for communication with the caller through a medium or by visible manifestation or else to enter into a human body as in the Drawing Down the Moon. In some traditions, a Prayer

LAMMAS: August 1st. Witch Festival. The Old Celtic name for this festival is Lughnassadh. It is the Festival of the First Fruits, and is the first of the 3 harvests. This festival also marks the change of the Threefold Goddess energies from that of Mother to Crone.

PENTACLE: a disc shaped talisman; in particular, the metal disc which represents the earth element among the witch’s working tools.

PENTAGRAM: The five-pointed star. With a single point uppermost, it represents the human being. Inverted, with two points uppermost, it can have Satanist associations; but not necessarily. Some traditions of Wicca use the inverted pentagram to signify an initiate of the second degree.

QUARTERS: The North, East, South, and West parts of a magickal circle or other ritual area. (See also “Watchtowers”)

REDE: rule or law

SABBAT: one of the Eight festivals or high holy days of Wicca.

SALAMANDER: an entity that dwells in the realm of Fire.

SAMHAIN: The festival of remembrance for the dead, held on the eve of Nov. 1st. It is the last of the three harvests. This festival also marks the transition of rulership of the “Wheel of the Year from that of the Goddess to that of the God.

SCRYING: divination, usually using such methods as crystal gazing, or divination via incense smoke, or water as opposed to tarot or other manipulative means.

SPELL: a prayer, or verbal direction of magickal energies toward the accomplishment of some goal.
SUMMONER: The male officer of the coven who corresponds to the Maiden. He is the assistant High Priest

SYLPH: an “entity” or “elemental” that dwells in the plane of Air or is associated with the AIR Element.

TRADITIONS: any of the various “sects” of Wicca such as Gardnerian, Alexandrian, Georgian, Seax, etc.

UNDINE: an “entity” or “elemental” that dwells in the plane of Water or is associated with the WATER Element.

WAND: A rod or staff that is prepared so that it may be used for magickal or psychic purposes, usually to project some form of power

WARLOCK: a term coined in the Burning Times . It was used to denote a traitor to the Craft, or one who had betrayed the followers of the Old Religion. It’s origin is Scottish. Because of the negative connotations, it is not used by most Wiccans today.

WATCH TOWERS: Originally from the Enochian branch of Ceremonial Magick, now incorporated into many “Traditions” of Wicca, these are the four elemental “directions” or “quarters” (corresponding to the appropriate points on the compass) called to protect the Circle during its establishment. Each of them have a correspondence between the compass point, an element, and (varying amongst different traditions) color associated with them.

WICCA: the name most modern day Witches use for the Craft. It comes from the Anglo-Saxon word Wicce, meaning to bend or to shape. This is the root word from which we get wicker.

WIDDERSHINS: counter clock wise. Used for “tearing down” OR BANISHING magick.

WHITE HANDLED KNIFE: the working knife of a Witch. It is used to carve candles, and for fashioning the other tools. Traditionally, it can only be used in a circle.

The Witch’s Craft Name

CRAFT NAME

It is the custom in witchcraft to adopt a new name upon initiation. This reflects one’s new identity as a witch.

You may only disclose your craft name to other members of the coven. Certain covens have strict rules about disclosing craft names to outsiders.

The main reason for secrecy around craft names is is because of the power of names. It is believed that knowing the craft name of a witch gives a magical power over that person.

Many spells involve writing a persons name upon a piece of paper or object. Craft names tend to be individualistic in nature and may reflect heritage or aspirations.

You select a craft name through meditation, study or divination. Some are given craft names by the high priestess. Witches may also change their craft name as they advance in the levels.

PENTACLE AND PENTAGRAM

PENTACLE AND PENTAGRAM

The pentacle is probably the most important symbol in witchcraft. It is a five pointed star with a single point facing upright. A written or drawn pentacle is a pentagram.

In rituals and magic the pentacle is a round disk of earthenware, wax, silver, or clay. It is inscribed with magic symbols including a pentagram and is used to consecrate the magic circle. In some rituals the high priestess may asume the pentacle position.

 

Some witches may wear a pentacle as a sign of their religeon. Some covens use the pentacle as the sigal of the witches who are initiated in to the second degree. The pentagram is the witches symbol of power and protection and used to control elemental forces.

 

Pentagrams are usually drawn in the air with a sword. The method used to draw the pentagram depends on its purpose.

 

Such as pentagrams to invoke are different from pentagrams to banish. Pentagrams are also used in meditation exercises where each point of the star is associated with a specific quality, attribute, concept, emotion or name of a pagan deity.

 

The magicians pentacle is also referred to as the pentacle of solomon. It represents God or man and the four elements of nature, five senses, five wounds of Jesus, and the five points of man.

 

The magician attaches pentacles on his robes. Pentacles are also engraved on rings. As a talisman the the pentacle enables the magician to command the spirits.

 

 

Coven Governance: Which Style is Right for You?

Coven Governance: Which Style is Right for You?

Author: Bronwen Forbes

If you’re looking to join a coven, you should not only do your homework to decide what tradition is right for you (eclectic, Dianic, traditional Wicca, etc.) , you should also think about what style of coven leadership you’re most comfortable with at this point on your spiritual path. Different groups are run in different ways, and knowing your own personal preferences will go a long way toward making the coven a good fit for you. Here are some of the most common styles of coven governance:

Hierarchy. In a coven run as a hierarchy, there is a High Priestess and/or High Priest, and they are in charge. They will make most or all of the decisions for the coven including: membership (whether or not a person can become a member *and* whether or not a member is asked to leave) , ritual style, class topics (if it’s a teaching coven) , and whether or not a student or member is ready for initiation and/or elevation.

Pros: a hierarchical coven tends to get the most done of any style coven. Students are trained, sabbat and esbat rituals happen when they’re supposed to, and everyone knows what is happening and when, and what needs to be done to grow and advance.

Cons: some (in no way do I mean all) High Priests and High Priestesses who run a hierarchy have a hard time giving their students and other coveners any responsibility or authority at all. They can truly become tyrants.

Democracy. There may be a High Priest and/or High Priest in a democratic coven, but the coveners have more say in the day-to-day, season-to-season workings of the group. Potential members may be voted in; the decision whether or not to volunteer to run opening ritual at this year’s Pagan Pride Day may also be put to a vote. Coven leaders may even be voted to office on a rotating basis, or the High Priest and High Priestess may have a “weightier” vote than everyone else.

Pros: students and coveners feel like they have a say in how the group is run and what route their spiritual activities will take.

Cons: just because a majority votes in favor of something does not mean it is the best choice. A potential member could be completely unsuitable for coven life but is friends with more than half the group. Once the unsuitable potential member is voted in, he or she wreaks havoc with the group but – because of the majority vote of his or her friends – can’t be voted out.

Consensus: Many groups choose consensus as the way to make decisions. An issue or agenda item (new members, how to celebrate the next holiday, whether or not to offer a Pagan 101 class, etc.) is brought up, the group as a whole discusses it and comes to a decision or plan of action that everyone in the group is comfortable with.

Pros: Everyone in the coven is happy about how the coven is run. In a small group (up to eight people) , consensus works very well.

Cons: coming to complete agreement about a decision can take *forever*, even with eight or fewer people. In fact, so much group time and energy can be used up on making decisions that nothing else ever gets done – including implementing those decisions.

Also, consensus can be co-opted into “minority rules.” By the rules of consensus, if even one member is against something (“No, I don’t want to allow Sybil into the group”) , then that something cannot happen (Sybil is not allowed to join the coven) .

Anarchy. As a rule, anarchy-run groups don’t last very long because no one is responsible for running circles, organizing the schedule, welcoming new members, etc. Very little if any teaching or training is done, unless it is one-on-one on an as-needed or personally-requested basis. Rituals are usually never conducted the same way twice, so no comfortable, familiar ritual pattern is ever established. Pros: If you are looking for a coven or group that you can drop into and drop out of any time you need to with no sense of ongoing obligation due to work or family constraints, an anarchic coven is probably best for your. Cons: not much ever gets done. If something is actually accomplished, it’s usually by accident.

In general, very few covens only use one governing style. For example, my husband and I ran a training coven for several years. As High Priest and High Priestess, we had complete authority over who was initiated/elevated and when (not the actual date, but determining when a student was ready) . We also planned the classes, and determined class content, class order, and homework.

Group membership was decided by consensus – one “no” and the potential member did not get invited to join. Only my husband and I could ask a member to leave, but we certainly accepted input from the other members before making a decision. Class and rituals were scheduled by consensus. If one person couldn’t make it at a certain date and time due to school or work considerations, we’d find a time when everyone could make it (schedules were usually determined three months in advance, so there was rarely a problem that couldn’t be gotten around) .

Whether or not to lead an open sabbat for the local Pagan community was democratically decided – we voted, all members having equal say. Extracurricular activities happened mostly on an anarchic model: “Hey, we’re going on a Pagan shopping spree to the nearest large city on Saturday. Want to come?” or “Selene just got dumped by her boyfriend and is on my couch crying. I’m ordering pizza. Come hold her hand with me?”

If you’re thinking about starting a coven, you need to determine what style you’re most comfortable with. If you’re not suited for sole “I’m in charge” responsibility, consider a democratic or consensus group. If you have a vision of how to teach students and form your own way of celebrating the Gods in ritual, go for the hierarchical coven.

Whether your joining a coven or starting your own, make darn sure you’re comfortable with how it’s run before committing yourself as a member or leader.

What is Progressive Witchcraft?

What is Progressive Witchcraft?

“We do not see our ‘trainees’ as empty vessels, waiting to be filled up, but as individuals with a wealth of experience and ideas which they can contribute to the craft. (Rainbird, 1993)

The use of the term progressive arose from a discussion between Ariadne Rainbird and Tam Campbell in London in the late 1980s (*3) They were discussing the evolution of Wicca, and the fact that it had moved on over the decades, beyond the labels of “Gardnerian” or “Alexandrian”. They clearly stated that the term was being used to describe a trend, not a tradition, and that any coven that was eclectic in its approach and not limiting itself to the Book of Shadows was being progressive.

In 1991 Ariadne Rainbird formed a network for covens who subscribed to a more eclectic view of Wiccan practice, called the Progressive Wiccan network (*1). This network included covens in Wales, England, Germany and Canada. 1991 also saw the first Grand Sabbat, at Lughnasadh, with around 30 witches from six different covens meeting up to camp out in the wilds of South Wales and celebrate together. This tradition was to continue for some years, developing into an annual weekly gathering in Cornwall for members of different covens to work together.

In 1992 David Rankine became the editor of the magazine Dragon’s Brew, which became the magazine of the Progressive Wiccan movement. Dragon’s Brew was created by Chris Breen in 1990, originally as the house magazine for the Silver Wheel Coven (*1).

To quote from the magazine (1992):

“Progressive Wicca is a movement which spans the traditions and emphasises networking, closeness to nature, personal growth and co-operative development. Personal experience of other paths is welcomed and integrated into covens, and we do not slavishly follow a Book of Shadows, as we see Wicca as an ever growing religion and the Book of Shadows changes and grows with each new Witch.” (*1)

Contact details for a number of covens were given in the back of each issue of the magazine. The editorial stance of the magazine was actively supportive of environmental protection, detailing protests, distributing leaflets and supporting organisations like Dragon (eco-magick environmental network) and Friends of the Earth Cymru in their actions. Campaigns like the ones to save Oxleas Wood and Twyford Down were covered, as well as events in other parts of the world, like proposed wolf culling in Canada, tiger conservation in India, and anti-nuclear testing by the French in the Pacific. (*1)

Dragon’s Brew ran quarterly until 1997, with a circulation of several hundred copies, and covered a wide range of subjects, from chakras and kundalini to Enochian magick and running effective open rituals. Different pantheons were also explored, including the Welsh, Greek, Sumerian and Egyptian. A number of prominent academics also contributed to the magazine, which received articles from distinguished figures such as Professor Ronald Hutton and the Egyptologist Terry DuQuesne. (*1)

By 1994 Progressive Witchcraft was widely known throughout Europe. David Rankine gave a number of talks at events like the Talking Stick Meet the Groups conference in 1994, and at various University Pagan Societies. The growth of the movement was acknowledged by Michael Jordan, who gave it a sizeable entry in his 1996 book Witches: An Encyclopaedia of Paganism and Magic. (*3)

To avoid some disharmony caused by the term “Progressive” in the Wiccan community the term was changed from “Progressive Wicca” to Progressive Witchcraft in 1993, as was demonstrated by the cover of Dragon’s Brew (*1). In combination with this Ariadne Rainbird and David Rankine set up the Progressive Witchcraft Foundation, to deal with enquiries about Progressive Witchcraft, and also ran workshops under the banner of Silver Wheel with other coven members on a variety of related subjects.

In 1994 Ariadne Rainbird and David Rankine started running correspondence courses on natural magick based on much of the (non-oathbound) Progressive Witchcraft material. This material was to form the basis for their book Magick Without Peers: A Course in Progressive Witchcraft for the Solitary Practitioner, published by Capall Bann in 1997. (*2)

Reference Material

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(*1) Dragon’s Brew, a Magazine of Magick, Paganism & Progressive Witchcraft, (1992 -1997)

(*2) Magick Without Peers, A Course in Progressive Witchcraft. Capall Bann 1997

(*3) Witches, An Encyclopaedia of Paganism and Magic; Michael Jordon, 1996

Patchwork of Magic, Julia Day, Capall Bann, 1995

(*4) Talking Stick Magical Directory, 1993

This article was written by Terminus, 2000 and provided for free distribution.