Weeks 2 - 8
History, Philosophy, and Beliefs
Week 1 Weeks 9 - 12 Dragon Palm Circle Homepage Books
WICCA 101 - Week 2
History part 1
Much of the history we have been taught has had a Christian influence to it. Some of the history we are going to discuss is based on speculation of how it may have been, based on findings and historical writings. The prehistory information is very speculative. But again it has basis on what we now know and different things found in diggings.
Part 1: Prehistory:
It is thought that early man was a matriaroical society. The reasoning for this was man was a hunter, woman did everything else. Your earliest Shaman were women. The chief deity was the Goddess. The God at this time was only in charge of the hunt... Where the Goddess was in charge of fertility, which was very important to early man.. If the animals were not fertile there would be nothing to hunt. Women would go out and gather berries and vegetables while the men hunted. To preserve any extra they would bury them. In doing this the plants would grow, so farming was started.
Women were Magickal to the early man.. They could produce children, and they could bleed without dying. They could make plants grow where they wanted them. Working with the plants they learned of herbs and this could cure some of the ills. They leaned Magick.
As times change and man learns to raise his own animals - the hunt is replaced with War. The horned God is replaced with a War God. Pantheons are born. As the pantheons got larger a lead God was needed and he was male! The males became leaders and in some cases women became like property.
Part 2: The Farms
In most history books we are told of the large Pantheons that were worshipped by the pagans. What happened when city states were formed? The people who formed them all had different gods and goddesses and when the pantheons were formed they all became part of the whole. The more important Gods and Goddess becoming the "royalty". But on the farms they stilled worshipped the Mother Goddess and horned God. Most people only worshipped one Goddess and one God. Everyone would pay homage to the state Gods and Goddesses, but these were not the ones they worked with day to day. The Goddess, because of her nature, had more days of worship than the God . She was the one they felt they could talk to. The days of worship to the God were great celebrations. And they were held at important times of the year. The celebrations marked when the seasons changed, when the crops needed planting, and when they needed harvesting. Most of these celebrations were held at night - because, unlike today where holidays are times you take off from work, they still had to work the field and take care of the animals. So once the day of work was finished the celebration could begin. (The origins of todays Sabbats.)
Part3: The Cities
In the cities were the temples to the Gods and Goddesses. And the priest and priestess. Most of the science was done by the priesthood. They were the wise ones, the one who would study for years to become part of the priesthood. They would learn magick.... Even with the pantheons you would not find temples to all the Gods of the pantheon in the same temple - each God and Goddess had their own temples and their own priesthood. The priesthood for different deities performed different services for the people. Some would be advisors, other midwifes, others military tactician, herbalist, chemist, astronomers, and so on..
In the city like on the farm people had their God and Goddess that they worshipped, but because of the different service provided by the different priesthood's offering were given to many of the Gods and Goddesses. Also in time of specific need you would turn to the God or Goddess that controlled that need.
(This can be seen today in Wicca with the use of different God and Goddess names used with rituals and sabbats. You may have your own God and Goddess, but will use others when needed.)Part4: The Christian Invasion The people of Israel had taken the God and Goddess and Made one deity of them that was both Male and Female, who name was YHWH (pronounced as Yahweh). But as male domination became more important to them, their deity became male and the name unspeakable. Names like Jehovah were used in place of YHWH. His followers could only worship him.. Because of this his Priesthood became very strong, as it was the only club in town.
Their came a group who were following the teachings of Jesus, who were in the process of going back to some of the old ways. Women would be equals, the ever strong priesthood was to be replaced by teachers, and Magick would become apart of the religion. Then after the death of Jesus a man called Paul changed much of the good of Jesus and made him into the Son of God (YHWH). And we got a religion that allowed you to what ever you wanted as long as you confessed it to God through his Son Jesus and said that you believed in him.
The major problem with this religion is that it needed followers who were uneducated. By this time the people of Europe under Rome had become educated. Science had been borne thanks to the early priesthood's and with the Greeks came teachers who taught the common man and woman.
The Christians invaded Rome. The whole concept of their religion was so hard to understand all Rome could do was try to kill them. (The norm would have been to incorporate their religion into the Roman pantheons, but the Christians were like the Jews, followers of YHWH, who said he was the only one they could worship) This put Rome in a spot of having internal upheaval by the Christians and external upheaval by spreading themselves too thin in spots and the empire started falling. Finally it was completely taken over by the Christian church and has remained so to this day. One of the first things done was schools were done away with. All learning had to be done through the church. The next thing was that all religions other than Christianity had to be destroyed. This was done in several ways. 1. Making the horn God into Satan. 2. Destroying the temples and building Christian Churches on top of them. 3. Taking pagan symbols and making them Christian (the cross) or making them the sign of the Devil (pentagram). 4. Changing the names of Pagan holidays so that they were Christian holidays.
Even with all that they did, people still worshipped and worked with the old Gods and Goddess, and have done so to this day.
Part5: Witches:The priest and priestess of the old religions banded togather in small groups usually consisting of 13 people. This was to keep the old religion alive and to fight Christianity. Because of the ban on education usually only one person in the group could read and write. This person would be called by many as the man in black. He would take care of writing the Grimoire or book of spells and rituals (much like our Book Of Shadows today) The others had to learn by memory. Because of this it would takes years of study to become a Witch. The Witches became the midwifes, the doctors, herbalists, advisors etc. in the villages. Results was much faster, worked better, and cost less from the local Witch than it did form the local Priest. This would upset the Church... In many places the old religion was raising it head. People were following what worked for them. The Church made it a crime to be a Witch... At first it was jail or banishment, but later it became torture and death. (It is thought that most of the people put to death as Witches were in fact good Christians who either had an enemy or had a lot of land - which would go to the Witch hunter, the Accuser, and the Church)
At this same time many of the "Men In Black" had become wizards for Kings and Nobles. For some reason wizard were thought to be good Christians. And escaped the inquisition.( Most likely the Kings protected them because of the usefulness of their magick to them).
When King James of Scotland became James I of the United Kingdoms he had the Bible translated from Latin to English. In doing so he had witches added to the Bible as evil and being that should be killed. (You will notice that when someone reads about Witches in the Bible they are using a KJV or one of the modern updates of the KJV.)
Witchcraft and the old religions managed to survive the inquisition but even today many stay hidden.
CLOSING:In part two of the history we will cover the 1950's till today and people who helped form Witchcraft to what it is today. Now in this history much was left out that you will find in the required reading. Discussion: The history of Witchcraft. The old religions. Questions:
Wicca 101 Week 3 History of Witchcraft part 2
We are now in the 1950's. The last of the Witchcraft laws are repealed in England and Witchcraft speaks out. Dr. Gerald Gardner publicly states he is a Witch!! During this period of time there are a lot of unknowns. There are people who say Gardner created Wicca. Others say he just opened up the craft to the general public. Does it really matter? We know today many of the rituals we do have basis with earlier pagan religion, and others would be more at home with the Masons or Golden Dawn. But the things we do work.
If not for Gardner there would be a lot less people knowing they were Witches. I know many of you have had the delight of finding out about Wicca and the fact that it's beliefs mirrored your own. Think what it would have been like if you never found Wicca!... Always searching for something you couldn't find.
Gardner, although he opened Witchcraft knowledge to the general public, not anyone could join his Covens. Others who did join, felt that certain things were being done wrong. Because of this other Trads were formed and to this day are still being formed.
Gardner also though the Coven he was in was one of the last in Europe and stated so. He was surprised when other Covens started growing out of the wood work. Some like the Strega predates Gardner by hundreds of years. Leland wrote about them in the late 1800's and in his writing stated they had been around for hundreds of years.
Raymond Buckland when he brough Wicca to the USA claimed to bring Witchcraft to America. This upset a lot of American Witches.
So yes people like Gardner and Buckland have popularized Witchcraft, but they were not the first of the modern Witches, they were just first out of the broom closet.
In Europe the Trads control Witchcraft, while in the USA eclectic Witchcraft seem to be more popular. With Witches like Z. Budepest and Starhawk things change and trads can't fulfill the needs of the Witches.
Both are feminist . Z. Budepest formed the Diantic Trad of Witchcraft in which the Goddess is the major deity and the God is only her consort. Most of their Covens are all female. They believe in using HEXES. (They also believe in the Rede, so they are not easy spells to do). Starhawk's form of Wicca is not the same as Z. Budepest, but it is one in which you MUST DO... If something is wrong you must do something to right it. She feels it is all right to be in more than one Coven as long as they do not conflict with one another. So she is in both an all female Coven and one mixed Coven.
The use of the name Wicca and Wiccan came into use in the early 60's when Witches wanted a name to use that didn't shout out "I AM A WITCH". Today many people claim Wicca and Witchcraft are not the same - they are wrong! This comes from not being taught by an elder. They have no way of knowing what has gone on or about things that are not recorded because they depend on books and the Internet. (And the Internet is both a wondrous tool and a grand source of misinformation. )
There are many Modern Witches who are writers. Some are very good, others not so good, and a few really bad. When you pick up a book, try to find something out about the author. And find out when the book was first printed. All this will reflect upon the book. If the writer is a Solitary that has never been part of a Coven - his writings may not contain "main line" information.
It seems in the last five or six years we are getting more and more Witches coming out of the broom closet. This is a good sign. Witchcraft is a recognized religion and has been for close to fifteen years. And it needs its members to be recognized and counted. As more and more people see us for what we really are, the sooner we will be accepted by the general population. (Their will be some that will never accept us).
Here are a few things I would like some feedback on:
That's about all this week. Again I would like to hear feedback. Remember this part of the course needs to be balanced with the reading since it contains my views. And bring in other books.
Remember when reading books of History - they are always slanted. Remember a book on the early Christian Church and its influence on Pagan Europe is going to read one way when written from a Christian perspective and another way when it is written form a Pagan one.
Discussion: Modern people in Witchcraft.
Wicca 101 - Week 4 The Philosophy of Witchcraft part 1
This week we are going to talk about What is Wicca. The definition of Wicca is Witchcraft. Now you will have some people try to tell you Wicca is a type of Witchcraft - NO. Wicca is just another name for Witchcraft. Why do we have this other name? It started in the early days of Modern Witchcraft. It was a cover name used by many witches for their religion. Today between the press and the many books on Wicca, it is no longer an unknown term. Now a question for you: What is Witchcraft? We have people who are not followers of Witchcraft who call themselves witches! We have followers of Anton LaVay's Church of Satan who call themselves witches or Satanic witches. They are followers of La Vay's version of Satanism, so they would not be Wiccan, as they are not followers of Witchcraft. Another type is some of the followers of some of the African religions are called witches, or at least the name they use is translated to witch. Again they do not follow Witchcraft, so they would not be Wiccan. Then we have a very scary bunch - who have no concept of Witchcraft other than what they have read in fiction - they do not know that it is a religion - but they call themselves witches. They will kill someone's pet and defend their actions with it's what we witches do - NO WITCH WOULD HARM A PET OR KILL AN ANIMAL AS PART OF BEING A WITCH....(This doesn't mean that they don't kill animals for food, as some hunt and fish, but they do not kill because they are a Witch and they only do so for food).
And we have another kind the "want to be" Witch. They come in two types, the good type, who is trying to learn all they can, and because of one thing or another have yet to master the craft - most of these upon finding a good teacher will become Witches - their only problem was jumping the gun in calling themselves Witches before they knew the ways of the craft. The other is the person who has read a book and said I am a Witch because the Rede says I can do what I want as long as I don't hurt anyone and I sure don't want to read anymore books, except that one on love spells, and this year and a day of study is for the birds - because I Know I Am A witch! This person as long as they stay to themselves is all right, but if they start teaching others what they don't know we have problems. You can usually tell this person because they are always mad that other Witches don't accept them. They know that the Goddess loves them, so what else is there to being a Witch? These will sometimes come upon a teacher or a Coven and become real Witches.
Lets take a look at the long version of the Rede:
THE WICCAN REDEBide the Wiccan Laws we must In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust.
Live and let live, Fairly take and fairly give.
Cast the Circle thrice aboutTo keep the evil spirits out.
To bind the spell every time Let the spell be spake in rhyme.
Soft of eye and light of touch, Speak little, listen much.
Deosil go by the waxing moon, Chanting out the Witches' Rune.
Widdershins go by the waning moon, Chanting out the baneful rune.
When the Lady's moon is new, Kiss the hand to her, times two.
When the moon rides at her peak, Then your heart's desire seek.
Heed the North wind's mighty gale, Lock the door and drop the sail.
When the wind comes from the South, Love will kiss thee on the mouth.
When the wind blows from the West, Departed souls will have no rest.
When the wind blows from the East, Expect the new and set the feast.
Nine woods in the cauldron go, Burn them fast and burn them slow.
Elder be the Lady's tree, Burn it not or cursed you'll be.
When the Wheel begins to turn, Let the Beltane fires burn.
When the Wheel has turned to Yule, Light the log and the Horned One rules.
Heed ye Flower, Bush and Tree, By the Lady, blessed be.
Where the rippling waters go, Cast a stone and truth you'll know.
When ye have a true need, Hearken not to others' greed.
With a fool no season spend, Lest ye be counted as his friend.
Merry meet and merry part, Bright the cheeks and warm the heart.
Mind the Threefold Law you should, Three times bad and three times good.
When misfortune is enow, Wear the blue star on thy brow.
True in Love ever be, Lest thy lover's false to thee.
Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill:An ye harm none, do what ye will.
This lets you know a lot of what a Witch is, lets look an another poem, the Witches Rune:
THE WITCHES' RUNEDarksome night and shining Moon
East then South then West then North
Harken To The Witches' Rune
Here we come to call thee forth.Earth and Water, Air and Fire
Wand and pentacle and sword
Work ye unto our desire
And harken ye unto our word.Cord and censer, scourge and knife
Power of the witches' blade
Waken all ye into life
And come ye as the charm is made.Queen of Heaven, Queen of Hell
Horned Hunter of the night
Lend your power unto our spell
And work our will by our magic riteBy all powers of land and sea
By all the might of the Moon and Sun
As we do will so mote it be
Chant the spell and it be done.Eko, eko Azarak
Eko, eko Zamilak
Eko, eko Cernunnos
Eko, eko Aradia.And this also shows what Witchcraft is. Both of these poems are done at each of our major rituals.
Think about what they say.
Discussion: what is Wicca
1.What are the Principles of Wiccan Belief?
2.What was the Council of American Witches?
3.What is the Wiccan Rede?
4.What is the power within?
5.Why is religion important to Spells and Charms?
In your reading you read about the Council of American Witches. As a historic side note the council only lasted about six weeks and the only thing they did was write the Principles of Wiccan Belief. Why did they only last a short time. What kinds of thing keep us from having a Council Of American Witches? What are some of the good things that could come form a Council such as this and what are the bad things.
Bonus Question 2:
Explain what the Wiccan Rede means to you.
Ethics of Witchcraft
What are the ethics of Witchcraft? Do we get out our book and look up Ethics and find them cut and dry? What about Harm None?
A Witch must form his or her own code of Ethics based on the Wiccan Rede and the Law of Three. Lets look at the Rede - Harm None - Sounds simple, but is it. What about the times when all course of action will harm at least one person? An ye harm none, do what ye will.... What about when inaction will cause harm? Not so simple anymore. Now we must balance what we do. If there is harm, will good outweigh bad? This is when we can bring in the three fold law. For every thing we do its returned to us, good or bad. (and if you can not see the good that is returned you need to get closer to nature, open your eyes, and listen)
Using the Rede and Law of Three as your guide stick, you form you code of Ethics. You do not wait till something happens and then say well, with the three fold law and.... You need to have a firm code made. As time goes by you may refine your code, but it should not be something that is easily changed.
Ethics within a CovenWhen you become a member of a Coven you take an oath. This Oath says that there are certain things you can not talk about outside your Coven. It will also say how you will act within the Coven. Some normal thing in this Oath would be not to tell others the names of the other Coven members. (Some may not be out of the broom closet and this could cause them harm). Tell how certain rites and rituals are done. Terminology used by the Coven or Tradition. To show respect for your Elders. (Referring to an Elder within the Coven, who could be younger than you) Breaking this Oath could get you banished from the Coven and could possibly get you called a Warlock!
When you take an Oath, you must up hold it. It is very important.
Here's a quote I like:Magick requires mental discipline more than it does anything else. You must keep your word whenever you give it, and always follow through with everything you undertake. To do otherwise is to negate your own will. We often see in Wiccan magick the phrase "and as my word so mote it be." If your word means little to yourself or others, then it will reflect in your Magickal ability. Raven Grimassi - The Wiccan Mysteries - page 140. Your WORD.... So important. As a Witch, your word must mean something. Ethics within the Wiccan and Pagan communities There are many Pagan paths and many Wiccan Traditions, so there are going to be many things that are not agreed upon. When you are at an open circle, don't say "They are doing it wrong!" because they are not doing it the way you would. Witches depending on trad will start a circle in either the East or the North. And other Pagan paths could do it completely different. Accept that they are doing it their way and it is the correct way for them, and enjoy the circle.
Now you are asked to be part of an open circle. Ask questions - find out how they expect the circle to be done. This way you will not be doing something one way and everyone else another way. If the way they want to do circle feels wrong to you, thank them for asking you, but decline being part.. (Do Not say "You all are doing it all wrong")
If you are invited by a group to cast circle, do it the way you normally do. (If you are claiming that you are a Witch of the first degree or above - this is not something you would decline)Discussion: Ethics of Witchcraft Questions:
Assignment for Next week:
Wicca 101 - week 6 Beliefs - part 1 The Ultimate Deity and the Gods and Goddess Witches believe that there was a single all powerful deity which created or gave birth to the universe. And then things get tricky. Different trads believe differently from this point on.
1.The deity presents itself to us in both male and female aspects as the God and Goddess.
2. The deity gave birth to the God and Goddess.
3. The deity was the Goddess and gave birth to the God.
4. The deity created all the pantheons and all the Gods and Goddesses.
Regardless of which one we believe in, we still worship the God and Goddess. But we don't worship them in the Christian since of the word. We believe that they will work with us if we ask, we don't feel they will perform miracles for us. They will help us with our Magick.
A question that is asked is: What God and Goddess should I use? Unless it is a Sabbat ritual where you need a specific God or Goddess use the generic God and Goddess or Lord and Lady or even Mom and Dad. If they want to be recognized as a specific God or Goddess they will come to you and let you know. (If you are in a coven and in some Trads, you will be given names for your God and Goddess - but you can still have your own private deities)
Another question is: Do I need to learn Mythology ? Learning anything is always good, but do you need to - NO. Myths are stories about Gods and Goddesses that were told on cold winter nights. Some where to let people know about what the Gods and Goddesses did, but more are nothing more than stories. The Farrar's have two good books, the Witches God and the Witches Goddess. They give all the information you need on the Gods and Goddesses.
The God and Goddess have both a Dark and a Light side, as does everything in Wicca.Reincarnation: Many people will try and say reincarnation is a Eastern religious belief. No, the form of reincarnation that Witches believe in is Western and was part of many religions including early Chirstinaity. The Wiccan belief is that once a person dies they go to the Summerland (Name my vary by Trads) They stay here for a period of time and then they are reincarnated into another person. The knowledge of all past lives are within you, but out of normal reach.
Now we get to various different views: One is if you are a Witch you were always a Witch or Priest/Priestess in your pass lives.(Sometimes in a past life you would never find out you were a Witch) This is why certain parts of the Craft just seem to come to you.
Others say you follow a different path each time, so you experience different views each time.
And others say it's a cosmic game of chance of what path you follow.
There is even one view that we go back and forth through time. And that it is timeless in the Summerland. (This could explain why at Samhain you can see people who should have reincarnated long ago)Where to Hold Ritual Where ever you want... You should try to find a quite place where there will be little distraction. But if its an open circle, it can be a very public place with tons of distractions.
You can hold rituals indoors and outdoors. We prefer outdoors, it feels right. When we lived in Florida we have held them on the beach. (Had to drive almost 25 miles to find a beach open after dark) And we have had them at a park in Tennessee overlooking a Dam. Both places were wonderful.
There is no set place to hold a ritual. If a place doesn't feel right - don't hold the ritual there. (although we have to hold them inside from time to time and inside never feels right to us.) Try to make sure you will get no outside interference. (A neighbor coming over and asking what you are doing when you are in the middle of the Great Rite can be unnerving to say the least. J . )
Discussion:Why so many deities if we only believe in the Goddess and the God? Questions:
Bonus question:Karma and the three fold law. How does the Witch view Karma as opposed to some other religions?
Assignment for Next Week: Read pages 3 - 30 To Ride A Silver Broom by Silver RavenWolf.
Wicca 101 - Week 7 Beliefs part 2 What is a Witch?
We have been studying Witchcraft now for seven weeks. What is a Witch?
First, a Witch is a person. And because of this you will find that the craft is made up of people of very different personalities.
Now what are some of the things that make a person a Witch.
They worship the God and Goddess
They believe in an Ultimate Deity
They respect and protect nature and all living things
They believe in Magick
They believe in the Wiccan Rede
They believe in the Law of three
They believe that all Paths lead to the same end and respect the people who follow them.
They believe in reincarnation
Now a person can do all the above and still not be a Witch! There is an inner something that makes the person a Witch. How can you tell if you are a Witch? Witchcraft feels right to you, its like finding something that has been missing in your life.
You will find a lot of people talking about Witchcraft will say "I have always believed these things and now I have a name for my beliefs".
You will get the feeling of being one with nature - with the Goddess.... Now some people when they reach this point feel that is all that is needed and refuse to study any more. It's a real shame, these people should be Witches, but they refuse to learn the craft.
They have a working knowledge of the Craft. (the reason for a year and a day)
What is not a Witch A person following another path besides Witchcraft.
A person who has no knowledge of the Craft.
A person who thinks Witchcraft is only about magic.
There are people who say anyone who wants to be called a Witch should, since there is no central Witch organization that sets up rules. Others will say their are no rules to Witchcraft. These people are not Witches.
What are your views as to what is a Witch.
Could Witchcraft work with a central organization making Witch Rules.
BOOK REPORTBetween now and week 10 we need the first book report. We are not looking for a High School type book report. We want a small review of the book, then your recommendations on how good it is. Do you feel it covers the subjects correctly. Is it interesting. Is it easy to read. The book can be any book that relates to Witchcraft.
Assignment for next week
Read Pages 57 - 60, 75 - 84 To Ride A Silver Broom
Wicca 101 - Week 8 Beliefs Part 3
Your Magickal Name
The NAME.... Some people feel they must have a Magickal or Craft name NOW!! These people usually go through many Craft names.
How do you find your name? The truth is it will find you...
When a name comes to you check it with the number method in Buckland. Does it work. (If not, does it work by changing a letter?) Now what do you do if a name comes to you, but no matter what you do, it doesn't work with the number system?
First - how did the name come to you? How does it feel? Does it feel like your name? Does it fit you?
If after answering these questions and it still feel right to you - go with it.
Once you pick a name, it is not in stone. You can change it. Some people change or add to their Craft name with each degree they earn. Others will change it when something Magickal happens in their lives. Others change to mark transitions within their lives.
When do you use your craft name? This is up to you. Some Witches believe that once they reach their first degree that they leave the mundane life and start using their Craft name instead of there birth name. Others use it only in Circle. Some use their craft name around Pagans and their birth name around their mundane friends.
What about that other Magickal Name?
The name you share only with the Gods.... This is not a name you pick or create. You may never have one. But if you do have one, you tell it to nobody. Its used only for Magick. If you get one, you will know it. If you don't, you don't need one. This is not something that you can make up. Its given to you by the God and Goddess, and it is used for working certain types of Magick. This like so many other things in Witchcraft will come when and if you need it.
You have just moved into a new house. You have three room mates and you are the only Witch. Tell how you will set up your Sacred Place.
You have just moved into a new house. The people moving in with you are the people you live with in real life now. How will you set up your Sacred Place.Questions:
Assignment for next week: Read pages 29 - 33 Bucklands Complete Book of Witchcraft
85 - 97 To Ride A Silver Broom
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