I was recently asked to respond to a “Wicca Survey” for a Journalism class project. Here is the survey and my answers.
The Wicca Survey
Do you consider yourself a wiccan or pagan, both? To you is there a difference?
Both. Paganism is an umbrella definition. My own definition, and the one I use when training others, is as follows: A philosophy which incorporates elements of aboriginal practices, the recognition of deity as immanent, and the concept of spiritual responsibility.
Wicca is more specific: an initiatory mystery path within Paganism. There are many Traditions which I consider “Wicca”. Curiously, due to the lineage of my own Tradition, many members of those Traditions do not consider my Tradition to be “Wicca”. However, that was the word used in my Initiation and Elevations, so I roll with it.
Some people use the term “Wicca” in a way I don’t necessarily agree with, but I’ll recognize it if the practitioner in question includes the following hallmarks in his standard ritual practice:
- Service to a duotheistic Godhead
- The magical creation and destruction of the Temple (ie. casting a circle, invoking elemental energies)
- The development of the Cone of Power
- Reenactment of the Great Rite (in actual or, far more commonly, through a symbolic act)
- A grounding act (such as The Feast/Cakes & Ale).
If yes, how would you define your belief.
The interesting thing about Wicca is that it is not an orthodox religion. We don’t care about what practitioners believe. We care about what they DO. We are an orthopraxy. That’s why I defined the *practices* that make someone “Wicca”. Beliefs are intensely personal, and I’ve members in my coven who are still working with Catholic saints, a couple who are just this side of hard atheists, Earth Mother animists and hard polytheists.
Myself, I probably fall into the soft polytheist realm. As for the Gods, my experience with them has been that they are unique, and yet all seem to come from the same basic source. I tend to “believe” what I have experienced, and keep my mind open to new experiences. I am, at heart, a scientific skeptic.
Probably the most important thing I believe is that I manifest my own life. I keep a guard on my thoughts and ensure that I work toward a positive mindset at all times. I endeavor to be fully present in my own life and to allow my higher self (inner God) to pipe up when choices are made.
What made you choose Wicca?
Honestly, I don’t feel like I chose it. I feel like it (and more specifically, the Gods I work with) chose me. I chose the Tradition I practice because I met a woman who I knew in my heart was meant to be my High Priestess.
What are some of the traditions or rituals for your religion how are they significant?
- Dedication: ritual acceptance of training/study on the path of a given deity form.
- Initiation/elevations: Ritual recognition of spiritual development of an individual.
- Sabbats: Ritual celebration of natural cycles of life, death and rebirth.
- Esbats: Ritual celebration of individual and familial (coven) power.
- Rites of Passage: Ritual celebration of individual movement though the natural cycles of life, aging, coupling/uncoupling, death and rebirth.
- Healing rituals: This is specific to my tradition, and is a ritual celebrating communion with many deity forms to assist us in finding our unique power to manifest our lives and the lives of loved ones.
What does your religion believe about the following?
None of these items is really defined at a “religion” level. I understand this is very difficult for people who come from “book” religions. Our religion is about practice, and using that practice to find answers to these questions on an individual level.
Unfortunately, you will find people who have read a book or two on the subject and accepted one or another author’s views as the LAW OF WICCA. (Once such author is, in fact, the founder of my Tradition. She’s a “banned topic” on many a Traditional Wicca message board, largely because of the paperback zealots. Anyone who knows her personally finds this all rather amusing.)
I can answer these questions based on my personal experience.
a.)How would you characterize the divine?
A very complex question. I’ve often described the divine as a giant ball of spiritual Silly Putty. Bits can be broken off, shaped and imprinted by myth and experience, and joined back to the whole. Other bits get shaped and imprinted so thoroughly that they become permanent Godforms. Some of those bits are human.
b.)What human problem does the religion address?
The question of powerlessness. Wicca is attractive to many because of its acceptance and integration of Witchcraft — practical magic. An adept manifests his own life and takes back personal power in his life through his religious practice.
c.)What is the solution to that problem?
d.)What are your views on life after death?
Sure. Silly Putty. Go back, hang out, reintegrate, or recycle and play again. I do think it’s a choice, but not a choice made by our tiny human consciousnesses.
How does Wicca “play out” in arenas such as the workplace?
Similar to how it affects any other area of my life. I don’t broadcast my practice at work (I am self employed, but I do work with many others and in a communal office), but I don’t hide it either. In past jobs I have had some individuals avoid me due to my practice, and others becomes oddly fascinated by it.
What (if any) are the difficulties you experience in society as a result of Wicca?
I really don’t have any. Those who choose to avoid me are people I don’t need in my life. I don’t have children or work in a “public” arena, so I am rarely touched personally by prejudice against Wicca.
How do you personally relate/compare your religion to Christianity?
I don’t. It’s comparing apples to submachine guns.
Do you consider Wicca more of a philosophy than a religion?
Well, it depends on your definition of religion, doesn’t it? To me, when someone does something *religously* he does it with full lifestyle dedication. In that respect, I consider Wicca as more of a religion (because it’s about practice) than most book religions (which are about beliefs and therefore much more philosophical).
What are the positive aspects to Wicca…What are the negative?
For me, it’s all pretty positive or I wouldn’t be practicing for 20 odd years. I suppose the “negative” are the noisy Paperback Priestesses that tarnish the public’s image of the Craft.
How does Wicca simplify your life?
I’m not sure that it does. It doesn’t complicate it much, though. My position as Clan Head/High Priestess sometimes complicates things, as I have to consider my coven’s schedule and needs when planning personal time.
Do Wicca ceremonies involve nudity? If so, why? Is this a conflict with younger wiccans?
This depends entirely on the Tradition. My own Tradition does not practice skyclad, rather we wear simple black robes. Those traditions that DO practice skyclad do so for ritual purposes or symbolising perfect love and perfect trust. The nudity is not, in itself, sexual, although Wicca *is* a sex-positive practice.
Most traditional covens do not initiate children, so “younger” wiccans are adults. The reason for this is simple: a traditional initiation is forever. Throughout all lifetimes, not just this one. Therefore we expect that a candidate be fully matured to make such a soul changing decision.
Solitary/eclectic students don’t have the strictures of Tradition, and can choose if they wish to practice skyclad, robed, or in street clothing. I don’t see any conflict here.