Search articles about India, Hinduism, Whole and cross cultural living, and vegetarian and Indian recipes!:
Submitted by: Kelly Randall
Written on June 21, 01 (Summer Solstice)
Birth: The Awakening - Falling into Love with Life
What does it mean to be a person?
It has been said that one cannot become a witch, but must be born a witch. The word divination is derived from the word divine. To be a witch is a journey of self-discovery: to tap each layer of one's ego, identity, and personality; layer upon layer to reach an inner core. It is a witch's belief that within this inner core, is our divinity - where we blend with the force of creation - where our humanness is kissed by the divine. During times of this "connectedness" with Wisdom and Guidance, we are in line with or flowing with these principles of life: truth, justice, love, patience, integrity, human dignity, strength, potential, growth, change, etc. It is an inward journey to commune with the "truth of life" and the "truth" of one's "Self".
After experiencing these beauties of life and gaining Wisdom, one then makes the outward journey back toward their loved ones and to the greater society, re-created by having been in such Presence. It is then possible to add this newness to the world by applying one’s self to it; your new self as you simply live and relate. This happens everyday with everyone as people learn and grow. This process is governed by a natural omnipresent Guidance wherein learning and growth are possible and triumphant over any circumstance.
These truths of life are inherent and unchanging. These are the foundation of life and how it works. These form the lighthouse, that you as a wave, crash into or learn to flow around. The journey (in both directions) is transcendental and imminent. It is an ascent, an "aspiration" toward Spirit, a Mighty Headwind, as we catch it by its very breath. During our lives, we experience all - the sharp intake of breath in sorrow and the sigh of relief in joy. Our happiness lies in letting ourselves "happen". It can remain elusive if we only look passively at the noun. It becomes alive and is given birth as we turn the noun into a verb by taking action with what we can envision. We take "flight" as we "happen". That is the ascent.
Another word for witch is "human being". We are all witches, all human beings. To know yourself as a witch is only to remember who you really are - to feel alive again in your body, and to take flight.
Wicca Defined and Practiced
Wicca is a nationally recognized world religion given Supreme Court protection in 1985. Since then, each state has followed suit with their own laws protecting practitioners. It grew from paganism - the roots of Christianity. So, many of the symbols, rituals, and practices are reminiscent of our familiar upbringing in traditional religion.
This movement gained in popularity in the 60's and 70's, and formed a neo-pagan movement that originated across college campuses. There are many sociological correlations to these phenomena. The feminist movement that not only challenged a patriarchal society, made it common for women to leave their traditional roles and enter society. A void was created.
Wicca is a matriarchal belief system. Rather than dogma, it is an archetypal practice - a system of relating to one=s experience through symbols. This is inherently a human daily occurrence. Think of the images that the word "mother" conjures up. Words cannot fully define the whole meaning behind this "archetype".
According to anthropologists Clifford Geertz, Vivianne Crowley, and Margot Adler, religions are systems of ideas about the shape and substance of reality. It relates a view of one's experiences with a bigger ultimate view of nature. It guides one to live a life in accordance with this view and to aspire to ideals. Broadly, religion refers to any set of symbolic forms and acts that relate human beings to their condition of existence and their purpose in it.
Psychologist, Carl Jung believed that all religions rest upon archetypal foundations and finding a "feminine" principle is a powerful inner psyche force. He went on to explain that this invokes an inward process that finds outward expression in ritual and mythology.
Applied to everyday life, this can be seen in how family values and traditions are passed from generation to generation - not in dogma, but in ritual. Family dinners, stories of remembrance from grandparents, holidays and celebrations, comforts of routine, ways of coping learned from example, grieving, and ways to find meaning in circumstances; are examples of common daily ritual. These cannot be lectured, but are absorbed over time and "learned" by shared experience
Maybe, at this point in our evolution and at this time in society, we have returned to the need to share, absorb, and nurture our learning along with time. This may be the void that neo-paganism is filling and the re-creation of our form of worship in Wicca.
Wicca employs this means of "absorbed learning" by creating "rituals" that tell a story or lesson of life in play form. Life lessons are presented through modeling which is a means to transmit more than words can convey. This also allows for multiple levels of insight, as each lesson can be learned on a deeper and more complex level each time - comparable to growing up in a family and maturing.
Wiccans do not refer to a "godhead", as this is patriarchal, but rather to a three-fold goddess that illustrates or symbolizes not only a creative life force but the processes of life over time. The Wiccan analogy of this goddess is the phases of the moon: waxing, full, and waning. She is seen in three parts: the maiden, the mother, and the crone. Another analogy is a rose bush: The bud in its freshness (the maiden), the full bloom (the mother), and the withering petals preparing to drop for recycling (the crone). This is an endless cycle as the death part of the rose is taken back into and accepted into the bush for rebirth again. This is a representation, a symbol or archetype of creation, nature, or "God". Wiccans better relate to this feminine model as it is evidenced everywhere in nature and in one=s relationships. There is more of a "connectedness" with this goddess. The feminine reference is cyclic, returning to its origin; whereas the masculine reference is linear: it starts, stops, and ends, going out and not reconnecting to its origin.
The Power of the Circle
The circle is a powerful Wiccan symbol for this reason. A very Christian saying: "It has been said that it is harder for a rich man to enter heaven than it is for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle." Very few know this secret, that love makes the circle grow. Two meet and form a friendship as they meet each other=s needs. (Sewing together something new out of what was old). In turn, this friendship grows into a committed love between the two. (The eye of the needle grows into a ring). This, in turn, creates a home and brings forth fruit (The ring grows into a home and children). After years of labor, this fruit is sent out into society where the fruit is shared among all. (The circle is now large enough for future generations to pass through and how love is manifested in the world). This is an example of how ritual works and how knowledge is learned and transmitted. A marriage is one example of ritual and is common to all religions, as is raising children, maintaining a circle of friends, human or public service, and life's work. So it is with Wicca.
Religion is a physical expression of the life journey. It seeks to find answers as to our origins, the meaning behind our life experiences, and seeks continuity within the realization of each passing generation. To be a practicing Wiccan is to be a Seeker. We wish to interpret and to project the culmination of knowledge gained as it becomes ours. This is a religion of process rather than dogma. The process is seeking knowledge, wisdom, compassion, and growth aligned with the way this is exhibited naturally in creation.
The "Craft" includes a reverence for nature expressed in the worship of the goddess. It is earth-based. The earth is seen as the body of the goddess. The temple is the great outdoors. Human beings were born of this earth in their biological organic nature, and as such, are biologically connected to the earth. Our bodies are the soil layed bare by labors of love, where we are each deposited into for committal and safe keeping. We are the graves of each other and our lives etch the epitaphs of the human legacy.
Wiccan Holidays (Holy Days)
The holidays (eight) follow the wheel of the year. These convey change over time and each season can offer a way of relating to and finding meaning in all experience. Birth, commitment to potential, realization of potential, expansion of the original vision, re-commitment, letting go, acceptance, death, re-birth.
The holidays follow the life cycle that all humans experience and can relate to in the birth, growth, death, and re-birth cycle. The year is represented by a circle in the Wheel which acts like a compass with the cardinal directions (the two equinoxes and the two solstices). There are four festivals in addition to these, aligned on the cross point. It is an eight-spoked wheel.
Samhain (pronounced Saw-when)- Oct. 31 The Wiccan New Year. This time of year is for remembering the events of the past year and processing them. Deciding what to remember fondly, what is to be let go, essentially winding up the year and developing some goals or resolutions for the coming year. Traditionally, stories are told to fondly remember events, what is to be laid to rest or given up is written on slips of paper, placed in a cauldron, and burned- to be released within the smoke to the wind. These include times of transition and life events that have been difficult struggles. Then, seeds are passed to represent the new goals and resolutions. These are planted, watered (representing sweat and tears of coming labor), and placed in the care of someone to see what sprouts in the coming year.
Yule (Winter Solstice) - Dec. 21 Marks re-birth. A time of joy and celebration when one sees the visible evidence that time does go on, chances are given time and again freely, a newness does happen again and again. In other words it is a time of renewed hope born again in spite of the past. Traditionally, practitioners gather before sunrise to watch "the sun's" birth. At the moment of sunrise, a decorated yule log is set aflame as horns and drums welcome its arrival, signifying the new hope with the new day=s sun. Gifts and words of love and thankfulness are passed. A feast is shared. This helps to solidify relationships and makes a social circle grow.
Imbolc - Feb. 2 also known as Candlemas. This is a festival of light as the first stirrings of spring are occurring under the winter snow. It acknowledges life yet unseen (comparable to a pregnancy and the first "flutterings" felt). This pagan holiday was turned into ground hog=s day which does still express pagan meaning if one looks deeply. All new enterprises have elements of risk and fear. Newness is scary. As someone looks for evidence of the new year resolutions beginning to take shape, will they see their shadow (fear) and turn back, or will they face it head- on and continue on their course? This is a time of "prayer" so to speak to assess progress and a time of re-dedication to this year's projects, amidst candles, music, and loved ones. It is an honest look at possible problems and troubles brewing that need to be expressed and resolved - a time of weeding, pruning, and grafting. It keeps things from becoming pushed down and pent up. A release is needed for progress to be made. This is a serious gathering of sharing and talking about each others lives for relief and problem solving, or just to share empathy. "It melts the snows".
Ostara - Spring Equinox -March 21 - The word Easter comes from the derivative, Ostara. Ostara means "rising from the east". Snow and ice make way for green, just as struggles eventually ease. Traditional Easter practices are based on the original pagan practices of decorating eggs (a goddess symbol), and finding them in a "hunt". Many cultures still consider egg decorating an art form. It is a time of counting blessings and recognizing and voicing them.
Everyone is involved in a give-and-take social circle. Everyone loves to be the giver and few people recognize the need to be the taker to keep the circle going 'round and round.’ Being a giver feels good. As one accepts a turn as the taker in need, they give someone else in their circle an opportunity to be the giver. Therefore it is an honor to be a taker in need, as well. This is acknowledged during the equinox to draw analogy to the fact that these two functions in everyday life must be in balance or the social circles fall apart. (How many people get caught in the trap of sparing their loved ones when they are in need, only to find out later that they drift apart? The relationship loses closeness and honesty). Bounty and Need are the rhythm and resistance that allow for people to develop meaningful relationships that last. When you "have" you share in grace, when you are in need you turn to others and accept in grace. Once "aired", there is space and air for buds to form and bloom.
Beltane - May 1 - May Day - This symbolizes mating or marriage, not just literally. People who think that their achievements are solely their own are mistaken. Achievements occur because of the give and take relationships wherein people engage, therefore an achievement is a group effort. This is a time to acknowledge achievements and help received, that made these possible. This is a time to celebrate the good things "happening".
This is the start of friendship parties and gatherings for each others events and happiness. Traditionally, this involves sharing food, music, and dancing (where the Maypole came from - to illustrate the weaving of art accomplished only in group). Spring usually brings new romances and anniversaries. This is about celebrating love. Again, it acknowledges that "give and take." New "budding" romance partners usually come from meeting a friend=s friend, right? Garden parties show the new love off, and include couples already in lasting relationships. It is a time to give some of one=s extra, ask for what one might need, and introduce more people into the social circle for growth. Love and growth are synergistic - the whole is more than the sum of its parts. The mystery of "marriage" is the third unseen party in the union that seals the union in "wholeness."
Midsummer - June 21 - Summer Solstice - This is the time of the bloom, of realized potential. (Graduation time-same theme) the younger generation is being recognized as reaching a point of achievement as the older generation takes pride in helping that comes to fruition. Another way of looking at it is that the past fuels the future with action in the present, and at this moment all three are one. It is the realization of the mystical third party in the above mentioned union. People realize and feel a sense of belonging to a "bigger picture", a whole. This is celebrated by attending community-based events and getting involved in a bigger arena. (Sponsored events, graduations, local festivals, etc.)
Lughnasadh (pronouned Loo-Na- Sa) - Aug. 1 - also known as (Lammas - The feast of Bread or First Harvest) The first hints of sacrifices that one experiences in life for a greater good. People experience this on all levels: financial, raising children, having to make choices, etc.) Infinite numbers of possibilities are always available, until a choice is made and a course is set. There is a hint of grieving with this as we subconsciously acknowledge all the other possibilities we give up when we make a choice. Wheat needs to be cut and harvested to make bread. The bread also represents comfort. Comfort is given because there was suffering in the first place or a need of some kind. As people meet this for each other, comfort is created and something new grows out of what was old. This is a natural process. Remember that we would not have loving relationships if we did not have needs to begin with. Bread is made in a group process and some is stored for the coming holiday (frozen). Also a time for preserves - in other words, group cooking, canning, and baking. Another equally nice tradition is to start a group quilt, each making a square to be joined. It is a nice symbolic representation of this concept, as old fabric is transformed into art through group improvisation. Any group project will serve well.
Mabon - Sept. 21 - Autumnal Equinox - The Festival of Wine - Need as well as suffering have a purpose in the larger scheme of things. It's our own creative expression applied to these human conditions that prove we are filled with divine or spiritual "essence". We can participate in creation. We can walk into a barren land and create an oasis. We can take a bad situation and turn it into an advantage. We are solution makers, and the solutions can and usually are better than the originals because they are a group effort (Synergy). Bread is broken (representing the sacrifice) and shared (representing comfort made and creation in progress). It is also similar to communion rituals in other religions; "We are, each one of us, bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh." Wine is also poured and shared, representing that sometimes we look for answers high and low, but find the answers in the lowliest of places - ourselves. It is "the blush from this connection with the naked truth (humility) that turns the water into wine". Poetry, art, beauty of any kind is shared. The process begins again as Samhain again approaches.
Sabbats are gatherings each month during the full moon to share books and interests. People teach each other during these gatherings about anything of interest. They ask questions of each other about life, marriage, relationships, children, jobs, hobbies, health, etc. They share resources and send each other to community resources. In other words, they use word of mouth in a support group-type setting. It can have a light atmosphere such as hobbies together, or a more serious tone such as counseling each other. Need dictates the setting and content.
It is evident that people have practiced the "holy days" by virtue of simply living together in community. They did not need to recognize that they were practicing a "religion." Religion grew from the practice of living together in a meaningful way. This is the meaning of paganism - the roots of formalized religion.
The Art of Magic
"Magic" is the art of bringing about our goals and dreams so these "happen" or, in other words, become manifest in the world. In concrete form this is "happiness" (Ourselves in action to realize our potential). Rituals during the eight holidays all contain certain components. A circle (or area) is prepared for the gathering by symbolically sweeping it with a broom to clear out the old and make it clean and pure. Wiccans recognize the four cornerstones or "watchtowers" that make a foundation. These are Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. They coincide with the four cardinal directions: East, South, West, and North. These are literally represented at these cardinal directions with wind chimes, feather pens, water fountains, candles, stones, etc. The conceptual meanings of the corners are: Ideas, insight, awareness in the east; inspiration, passion and communication in the south; emotions, compassion, and empathy in the west; and physical sensations, practicalities, and memories in the north. We take in information from these directions and reach out from our own experiences toward them. In a sense these are a filter wherein we interact with the environment and circumstances. They represent the four seasons, as well as the four psychological functions: intuition, thinking, feeling, and sensation. (mind, emotions, body, and soul).
These cornerstones together make up a whole of life that is a foundation for all we do and will do. The mind is dry and takes in information for sorting and storing; like a seed planted in the ground. The emotions add moisture, providing fertile ground; causing the seed to swell and sprout. The body shows physical evidence of our state at that moment in life; smiles and tears - eyes that see and perceive, and hands that produce). The body is the flower or bloom. The soul is the finer essence - the fragrance - the essential oil: The part of us that lingers and is remembered.
The Soul of a Witch
I have traveled this journey in Wicca and will continue to travel again and again into eternity. I have traveled inward to remember again where I have come from, as I sometimes lose sight of myself to commune with my own spirituality. I have traveled outward in a re-created self, seeing the world with new eyes in all of its freshness.
The journey inward:
Tapping the Divine
by Kelly Randall
I crossed a threshold, a veil inside of myself. I had pierced my own heart,
sustained myself with its blood, and hid in its very cells. I stowed away safely and was soothed by the breeze of my fluttering spirit. I lingered in this beauty - this perfume - the aroma of myself. I learned to dance in these secret places. I learned the language of its song. With its movement and melody, I came back through the veil. Reborn. Dripping with its vital fluids - the pool of my heart and soul.
The journey outward:
Remembering the Universe into Being
by Kelly Randall
Goodbye Gold-friend, and dream sweet dreams as you pass through the "Land of the Young" and await your re-birth. Whisper promises in my ear, and let me feel the flutter of your quickening against my heart. The waters will break and rush forth between the stark white thighs of tomorrow. This womb - this place of transition - this arena of play - my circle of dreams that I blow through with the breath of your inspiration, will become the bubbles of hope that I will chase into my own future.
Submitted by Kelly Randall May 2003.
This page has been visited times
since it's inception - July 2003.