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THIRTEEN GOALS OF A WITCH
I. Know yourself
II. Know your Craft (Wicca)
IV. Apply knowledge with wisdom
V. Achieve balance
VI. Keep your words in good order
VII. Keep your thoughts in good order
VIII. Celebrate life
IX. Attune with the cycles of Terra
X. Breath and eat correctly
XI. Exercise the body
XIII. Honour the Goddess and God
BY Scott Cunningham
What is a Witch/What else are they know as?
OTHER NAMES BY WHICH KNOWN: Witchcraft; Goddess
worshipers; Neo-Paganism, Paganism, Norse (or any
other ethnic designation) Paganism, Earth Religion,
Old Religion, Druidism, Shamanism. Note: All of these
groups have some basic similarities and many surface
differences of expression with Wicca.
Wiccans do not proselytize and generally resent those
who do. They believe that no one Path to the Sacred is
right for all people, and see their own religious
pattern as only one among many that are equally
worthy. Wiccans respect all religions that foster
honor and compassion in their adherents, and expect
the same respect. Members are encouraged to learn
about all faiths, and are permitted to attend the
services of other religions, should they desire to do
BASIC BELIEFS: Garnerians worship the Mother Goddess
and also the Horned God, symbols of the basic male/female polarity of all nature. They seek the
balance within themselves, and with their environment. Worship is often done in pairs, masculine and feminine, and the power which is produced by magical ritual is directed by the High Priestess for its desired purpose. While devotion to the Wiccan deities is the main coven activity, magic, the control and use of natural cosmic forces which emanate from the human mind and body, is the secondary activity of the coven. It is done for healing and for aiding members in various endeavors. Most Witches believe in reincarnation; i.e., that the soul or spirit of the individual will progress through a number of subsequent Earthly lives as it evolves. Retribution for acts in this life will be returned threefold, good or evil, in this life. A reincarnated spirit starts afresh.
Contrary to popular media representations, the Wiccan neither worships nor believes in "the Devil," "Satan," or any other similar entities. They point out that "Satan" is a belief associated with the Judaeo-Christian Tradition, while the Wiccan beliefs are based upon a pagan mythos which predates the Judaeo-Christian era.
One book used by Gardnerian Wicca is authoritative:
The book of Shadows, or book of ritual. In the Gardnerian tradition, these are hand copied from High Priestess to High Priestess. Each High Priestess then shares the information with her coven. They are part of the traditional teachings of the Craft, and are available only to initiates. From coven to coven, the rituals vary slightly. The Gardnerian tradition is an evolved and evolving tradition. Hence, each coven will start with the materials passed on to its High Priestess, and then experiment with new emphases, magical formulas and rituals. The books of Janet and Stewart Farrar (Eight Sabbats for Witches, The Witches' Way, The Witches' Goddess, and The Witches' God) are the best currently available sources on Traditional Wicca. For eclectic Wicca, the best source is Star hawk's The Spiral Dance. Margot Adler's Drawing Down the Moon is a useful survey of the larger neo-Pagan movement.
PRACTICES AND BEHAVIORAL STANDARDS: Gardnerian Witches live by the Wiccan Rede: "An Ye Harm None, Do As Ye Will." Within this general concept is the Law of Retribution, by which witches can expect to receive threefold return on their actions. Social forces generally do not yet allow witches to publicly declare their religious faith without fear of reprisals such as loss of job, ridicule, etc. Rituals, many teachings, and even acknowledgement of
affiliation with the Craft are generally not discussed with non-initiates. Ritual instruments are generally hidden and protected. Eight sabbats, or festivals, important for witches to gather and attune themselves to natural rhythms and forces as the seasons change, are followed: February Eve (January 31), Spring Equinox (March 21), Beltane or May Eve(April 30), Summer Solstice or Midsummer June 22), Lammas (July 31), Autumn Equinox September
21), Samhain (October 31) and Yule or Winter Solstice(December 21).
ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE: Each coven is autonomous,
headed by a High Priestess and her High Priest. Covens vary in size from approximately 8 to 14 members. The High Priestess heads the coven. The High Priestess who trained her is recognized as a Queen to whom she can turn for counsel and advice, thus maintaining a lineage of High Priestesses throughout Gardnerian Wicca. Members pass through three initiations, each of which is normally at least a year and a day apart.
ROLE OF MINISTERS: The High Priestess and her High
Priest are responsible for coven activities, serving
both as leaders in the rituals and as teachers for
coven members. A High Priestess, or a woman she has
delegated, can cast a circle.
WORSHIP: Wiccans usually worship as a group. Individual worship is possible, but not generally
practiced. Worship takes place in a private location
in which a circle can be drawn according to prescribed ritual formulas. Covens meet either weekly or bi-weekly (at the full and new moon), always in the evening. Worship in some (but not all) groups occurs in the nude.
Minimum items for worship include an athame (ritual
knife), a bowl of water, a censer with incense, salt
an altar and 6 candles in candlesticks. A sword and
pentacle (talisman) are optional. All tools must be
ritually consecrated by a High Priestess.
FUNERAL AND BURIAL REQUIREMENTS: None. Recognition of the death of a coven member takes place in the coven, apart from the "body" of the deceased. Ritual tools or material found among the remains of the deceased should be immediately returned to members of the coven. It is not necessary for a priest or priestess to be present at the time of death.
MEDICAL TREATMENT: No restrictions, but Wiccans may
want co-religionists to do healing rituals in the
hospital in tandem with medical treatment. So members of patient's Circle should be permitted ICU visits as though they were immediate family.
OTHER: With respect to attitude toward service in the armed forces, members include the full range from career military personnel to conscientious objectors. Wicca is open toward other faiths, recognizing that the Principles of the Great Mother appears in a great many faiths under various names and symbolisms. Because of the persecutions of past years, Wiccans take a guarded relation to groups which claim to possess "The Truth" or to be the "Only Way." Wicca is only one path among many, and is not for everyone. Members are encouraged to learn about all faiths, and are permitted to attend services of other faiths,should they desire to do so.
GENERAL SOURCE BOOKS:
Margot Adler. Drawing Down the Moon. Boston: Beacon
Press, 2nd, ed., 1986. 595pp.
Janet and Stewart Farrar. Eight Sabbats for Witches.
London: Robert Hale, 1981. 192pp.
The Witches' Way. London: Robert Hale, 1984. 349pp.
The Witches' Goddess. Custer,WA: Phoenix
The Witches' God. Custer, WA: Phoenix, 1989. 278pp.
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*As most everyone by now is aware, the Alexandrian Tradition is very close to Gardnerian with a few minor changes. (One of the most obvious ones being that the Alexandrians use the athame as a symbol for the element of fire and the wand as a symbol for air. Most of the rituals are very formal and heavily indebted to ceremonial magick. It is also a polarized tradition and the sexuality of that female/male polarity is emphasized. The ritual cycle deals mostly with the division of the year between the Holly King and the Oak King and several ritual dramas deal with the dying/resurrected God theme. As with Gardnerians, the High Priestess is supposedly the highest authority. However, it is odd that the primary spokespersons for both traditions have been men. [*This material provided by Gillan]
Alexandrian Wicca is the creation of Alex Sanders (with his then wife Maxine) who claimed to have been initiated by his grandmother in 1933. It's principal proponents are Janet and Stewart Fararr whose books set forth most, if not all, of the Alexandrian tradition. Contrary to popular belief, the name Alexandrian refers not to Alex Sanders, but to Ancient Alexandria.
Although similiar to Gardnerian Wicca, Alexandrian Wicca tends to be more eclectic, and liberal. Some of Gardnerisms strict rules, such as the requirement of ritual nudity, have been made optional by Alexandrian Wicca.
Mary Nesnick, an American initiate in Gardnerian and Alexandrian traditions founded a 'new' tradition called Algard. This tradition brings together both Gardnerian and Alexandrian teachings under a single banner. This was possible due to the great similiarities between the two traditions.
*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]
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