Dragon Palm Circle
The online version
Week 1 - Introduction to Witchcraft
In the following 51 weeks we will be following the guideline of study set up in the book " Bucklands' Complete Book of Witchcraft" by Raymond Buckland. To supplement the course we will also be using "To Ride A Silver Broom" by Silver RavenWolf, " A Witches Bible" by Janet and Stewart Farrar and "Wicca: A Guide for the Soldiery Practitioner" by Scott Cunningham. Plus four more books that you chose. (More would be better).
We will try to show you that there are many ways of doing things. We will not be teaching the Dragon Palm Circle way of doing things, although we will be telling you how we do them. We want you to find the way that is right for you.
Part 1: What is Wicca:
First of all Wicca means Witchcraft. And Wiccan means Witch. Wicca is a religion, which means so is Witchcraft. (You will find people who will say they are Witches and Wiccans are not .... You will find in many cases these same people never did a year and a day for their first degree, and have done very little study into witchcraft, or they have been banished by a Coven , or not allowed to become part of a Coven - In other words they couldn't cut it as a Witch, so instead of looking for their own path, they try to create something that isn't)
Modern Wicca is both Old and New. Parts of the religion can be traced back to the early days of mankind and other parts can be traced to Garner, Crowley and others in the 20th century. What tradition of Wicca you follow will depend on how old or new some of your ideas are.
Wicca is a nature based religion that believes in both male and female deities. They also believe that there is one all powerful entity that created or gave birth to the universe. This entity is neither male or female and at the same time is both. With deities it can be different from tradition to tradition. Some feel that the entity shows itself as both male and female as the God and Goddess, others feel that it created the God and Goddess, and others feel that there are many Gods and Goddess all coming from the entity and staying alive by the people who worship them. Much of this is personal and can bee different from Wiccan to Wiccan.
Part 2: What tradition are to be taught:
Dragon Palm Circle is an eclectic Coven. Before we go very far, we need to talk about what is an eclectic Wiccan. If you check with many people on the Internet you would get the impression that its a Witch that can do anything she/he wants as long as they follow the REDE. FALSE!!! You will find that there are many different ways of doing things in Wicca. Some cast circle starting at the North others start in the East and then it gets more complex with many different ways of doing things. Being eclectic is like going to a smorgasbord and picking just what you want. The main thing to look at is, if it works you can use it. Now many will bring in ideas form other Pagan paths...this is OK to a degree. You can be an eclectic Wiccan using Shamanic (Native American) principles, but you can not be a (Native American) Shamanic Wiccan. There are many beliefs that are shared between Pagan paths and can be used by all - but there are areas that they are different. These are what truly mark the path you are on. There are many people who like the term WITCH who are truly following another path - you should be true to yourself as well as others.
A few things about Dragon Palm's "Tradition": We start in the East, we have as Guardians: East = Gabriel, South = Raphael, West = Michael and North = Urial. You will find in the books we read and from other traditions this is not uniform. I have seen each Guardian at a different quarters. And they are called Guardians, Angels, Archangels, and Watchers (and I am sure there are other names) The main thing is, if you pick our way or one of the others, stay true to it, if it feels right. There is nothing wrong with change and growth - in fact it is very important. But don't change every time you read or hear a different way of doing something. (Do change when you find something that will add to the rituals). When this is being done by a group, you need to have some agreement, or you may end up calling the same Guardian for each quarter. (and besides Guardians there are many others Elementals, ect. That can be called)
Other Traditions - To be taught a tradition in most cases you must join a coven of that tradition. Most non-eclectic witches belong to a single tradition. There are a few who are degreed in several. To learn outside the coven, you will find that you are taught only parts of the tradition. The reason for this is that Covens have oaths of secrecy. These are very strong within traditional Covens. The secrets can only be taught to someone who is joining the coven and tradition. If someone says they have learned on their own to be a Gardnerian Stega Witch, you can be sure they know little of Wicca. Both can only be learned through a Coven - yes there are books on both and they skim the surface of both. Members of both Trads would consider this person a fake. (Don't mix this up with some one who says" I am a 3rd Degree Stega High Priestess, and I have also earned a Gardnerian second degree". This is a person who has done a lot of studying) Also don't mix it up with someone who says they are eclectic Witch leaning toward Gardnerian or Stega - which just means that they like the way that Trad does certain things that are public knowledge.
Part 3 - A little about the Book of Shadows.
We will study the BOS in more detail latter on, but we feel we need to touch it today. This is your bible. And you write it, putting in what you think is needed. As you follow this path you may have several BOS and they make take many different forms. Today it can be anything from a hand printed, leather bound book to space on your hard drive. I've even seen people who use a file folder, just placing information they want to keep in it. With this, your first Book of Shadows, you may want to include the questions from this course with your answers to them. You may also want to put in spells you have done or written and rituals you have been in or also have written. (Please Note: The BOS is not for collecting spells off the Internet, if you have not done the spell or written it, don't put it in the Book.) The following questions and your answers should appear in your BOS and you can change the answers as you grow.
Why do I want to be a Witch?
What is a Witch?
What do I want from Wicca 101?
Keep these answers to yourself and your BOS. Also, unless invited, you do not read someone else's Book Of Shadows.
Discussion: Book of Shadows, what is it to me and why I should keep one.
To Do: See if your local New Age store (if you have one) rents video tapes, if they do rent Raymond Buckland's Video "Witchcraft Today" (you can buy it if you want - Azure Green carries it). If you can not find it to rent and you don't want to buy it, Don't worry - it's just a very good introduction to Witchcraft.
Assignment for Next Week:
Read Pages 1 - 8 Bucklands Complete Book of Witchcraft.
See if you can find anything about the History of Witchcraft from a book other than the one's being used for the course. (Please Note: all information must be accompanied by book name and page numbers.) (This should be sent to the list)
Many of the graphics used in the Wicca 101 section of this site are from the Magick Shop