Wiccan Belief, Wiccan Tradition

So, the title of the post represents some of what users have used to bring them to my site over the past week.  I can’t really emphasize anything in particular – I would recommend the links to the right for more information about Wicca in general.  Yet, I do have something interesting within my own life to share, if anyone would be willing to cock a listening ear.

The conversation began as any conversation – and lasted for a long time about secret organizations, and what Wicca would have become if all of its secrets had not been leaked.  What if we had a way to exert control over the imposters?  An interesting concept, to say the least.

But then it led to me finally asking my high priest:  Who taught you?  Who taught them?  At first, he did begin to delve into our “physical” religious history.  He told me of the two different traditions from which he was born – of the charges he was given as a third degree, and where he has gone since then.  He told me of the three of the seventy three witches at the ’74 witchmeet who were part of his magical ancestry.  He told me of his ex-wife, who nearly went crazy while subjected to all of the knowledge and mysteries of the path in three months, instead of years and years.

But the discussion took a turn while we were talking, and ended at this:

Do not allow me to tell you of those who taught me, nor allow yourself to tell others of me.  We gain our spiritual knowledge, we move along our spiritual paths not from the wisdom of humans, but from the wisdom of the universe itself.  Our teachers are not our high priests and priestesses, but rather Jesus and Allah and Buddha, Adonis and Anubis and Hecate.  Diana, Aphrodite, Ra, Odin – let these be our teachers.

Wicca is a religion.  It is a hierarchal path to gain enlightenment.  Yet going through the steps – ascending the ‘spiritual ladder’ and gaining our marks of honor are merely recognitions that we have learned *something*.

But what lies between us and God(s)?  That’s our path.  And that is the single most important thing in any discussion of religions and philosophies.

A Little Bit Of Crazy

I know I’m a little late on this particular post, but to be honest I couldn’t think of anything to write, and I did not wake up until 12:30 this afternoon after going to bed at 3am.  Not the healthiest of lifestyle choices, but sometimes, especially with such a non-structured schedule, it works.

Anyway, I keep hearing the same themes from my friends and family in reference to my cycling habits.  The words “crazy” and “insane” come up quite often, and although I know they aren’t too serious, after a while it does jab a tiny little place in my heart called “submerged feelings of inadequacy” which we all, to some degree, possess.

I spent much of my younger years trying to “fit in”, which was rather difficult, given that I was sort of steered along into skipping two grades in math and one in foreign language, rendering my middle school years a disaster.  I spent more time in the library of our school, waiting until a period for a different grade started or ended, than I ever should have.  I loved my school career, but I never fit in with my friends, at least academically.  At best, I was closest to the six people that were in the same boat as I – in a class of 300 – academically.

When I hit high school, it got a little bit better, despite not sharing a whole hell of a lot of classes with my peers.  Granted, I took the AP Calculus exam in eleventh grade and was basically in college my senior year, but I always had my eyes towards college where I could start fresh.

Then, I got to college and basically, the same thing happened.  Too far ahead (31 credits – I went in as a sophomore) and I eventually gave up on being normal, as I tend to attract strange and be an overachiever in my own fashion.  The problem(or great thing) is that I get urges.  And when I get an urge to do something, I do it.

The urge from 15 on was, “bike along the erie canal across new york state.”  And since I did that last year(and again this year) my newest urge has been, “bicycle across the country, from washington to maine.”  It alternates with, “bicycle ride across every state.”

And so, it’s been decided.  Two years from now, I will bicycle across the country.  The questions now are,

  • Will it have a purpose other than my spiritual fulfillment?
  • Will anyone be accompanying me?
  • what will I be bringing with me?
  • What route will I take?
  • How long will it take?

The first and the second are the most important, in my opinion.  Should I be supporting a cause?  It I support a cause, will that take away from my own spiritual fulfillment and experience as I am looking everywhere with one purpose: to get money for (cause here).

Anyway, my entire social circle is rather upset right now, because they can’t seem to understand why I would want to spend more than $100 on a bicycle.  I’m looking at purchasing a road bike, for better speed and better quality.  My bike is a little better than a mountain bike, a hybrid from Raleigh a few years ago – the c200.  But I want to take my hobby to the next step.

Is something crazy only when your social circle doesn’t agree with your choice?

They all know that I’m pagan, not-Christian, etc.  My parents have settled with, “It’s a religion and she’s happy” and claim blissful ignorance over any details.  Were my religion to come up in a conversation between them and others, I’m sure their response would rate somewhere along, “Oh, she’s into that nature stuff…” or something along those lines.

My friends accept my religion too, but some of them do refer to me by the various names – nature girl, crazy pagan, you/that witch, etc.

And so, my seemingly meaningless post comes to a round-a-bout end: religious tolerance.

It’s not always about the big legal battles.  Sometimes, it’s about the little things too.

The Religious Distortion

I tend to distance myself from politics, but as the election is coming very, very soon, we might as well get right to it.  I’d like to disclaim my views right now, in that they most likely do not represent any significant portion of the pagan community.  If any.  I’d also like to offer up the fact that if it were the other side being criticized in the same fashion, I would be just as quick to leap on the opportunity.

The Evangelist James Dobson is criticizing Senator Obama in his choice of words in 2006, at a meeting with the Christian Group, “Call to Renewal”.  From the article I read, Obama was at first, pointing out inconsistencies between biblical culture and modern culture – there is no more child abuse, animal sacrifice, or slavery, at least in the United States.

The criticism by Mr. Dobson begins there.  He claims that the antiquated bible verses should not be applicable to present day.  However, he fails to realize that in including the Old Testament into the Christian Bible, a certain amount of responsibility and reverence comes along with that inclusion.  In essence, not only the words of Jesus, but also the words of his ancestors and the traditions that predated Jesus should be held important.

Obama is, at most, with his statement that scripture should not fully lead the country, pointing out the inconsistencies between the two cultures:

Which passages of scripture should guide our public policy?  Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is OK and that eating shellfish is an abomination? Or we could go with Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount?

The second criticism mentions Obama’s appeals to the Christians to translate their believes into something with universal appeal to better their aims among other people.  Dobson refutes this, saying that Obama is attempting to lower America’s standards to the “lowest common denominator.”

Does Dobson realize that in such a religiously mixed society, this must occur?  And that some values – love, peace, respect – tend to be inherent to most religious values of the society in which we live?  Instead, he is merely presenting himself as intolerant of the idea that anyone could possibly be different than himself.

What he doesn’t understand is, that in those public schools which I graduated from not too long ago, every day, we’re taught that we are special.  We make our own choices.  And in the churches of America?  Your choices are your own.  God(s) love you.  You take responsibility for your actions.  And other religions?  They’re not that bad.  As long as they preach the same ideals: love, trust, peace, respect.

In this day and age, we’re concerned about oil and the wars that may be spawning from that concern.  We’re most interested in keeping peace and saving our failing economy – not preserving the ideals of a few fundamentalist Christians who want us all to be the same as them.

In addition to that, appealing to the majority?  Common economic principle.  Common business principle.  Common sense.  Dobson’s objections that Obama wants to be indecisive are unfounded.  Obama is, at most, recognizing the fact that he needs to appeal to more than one group of people.  As president, he needs to be willing and able to work with the country with all of its organized and disorganized religions alike, both “us” and “them” to find something that we all are happy with.

And go back to bible school, Mr. Dobson.  Even Jesus understood the importance of a universal message.  Why else has his legacy lasted 2000 years?

Jesus, I pray…

My high priest and I sometimes, although not often, converse about the prayer within, around and regarding Jesus Christ, their Lord and Saviour.  I hesitate to write this post, but I know I must, as I am entitled to my opinion, and generally I consider my own opinion of the open minded one.  If angered, upset, or otherwise taken aside by my post, feel free to comment or drop me an email.  If you enjoy it, comment as well!  The following will simply be a collection of comments regarding a few select interreligious experiences I have had with Christians extremely set in the, “My way is the only way” type of mindset.

It Begins…

“Lord Jesus, I pray you take these sinners into your hands and bless them, make them see your way, O Lord, that they may be saved and not perish in the fiery pits of hell…in the Lord’s name, Amen.”

I don’t have the magic priest-talk down – quite yet – but I think I did a pretty damn good impression of the few encounters I’ve had with Christians who have asked if they could pray for me.

I suppose I shouldn’t have started exploring so young.  The first time I purposely encountered a fundamentalist preacher was when I was fifteen or sixteen, curious about their path, which claimed to be open minded.  Mind you, I am referring to a church which is not part of any larger commune of churches – it is  a small town church, in its own little world.  I explained to the man that I doing research on churches and was wondering if I could ask some questions.

I told myself I wasn’t looking for a fight – not really – but I had been under the tutelage of my high priest for about a year and was just itching for a chance to stand up for what I believed in.  Eventually, the questions came my way as I was sitting in the man’s house.

“Are you a Christian?  Why not come a few more Sundays?  There’s a great teen program…”

And eventually, as I stood to leave, he asked if he could pray for me.  I assented of course, and the prayer above is about what I got.

Now.  If I ask to pray for someone, my prayer’s going to be something along the lines of,

“Please (insert gods names here), bless (insert persons name here) and give them the strength, courage, and faith to continue along their path.”

Not…

“Please (insert gods names here), help (insert persons name here) to see the error of their ways and convert to Wicca so that they don’t…”

Oh, wait.  We don’t have a “The gods are going to spank you if you’re naughty!” line.

Damn.

It Continues…

Onto the Mormons.  God, I love Mormons.  They are the most respectful, shy, and tolerant people you will ever meet.  The missionaries are people just like myself in terms of age, who are required to walk around, knocking on doors, spreading their faith.  My guess is, they’re so excited you’ll talk to them, they don’t even mind if you don’t plan on converting!

I started talking to them when I was sixteen as well.  They showed up at my door one day, and I was busy, but I offered to meet again with them later, where I worked – the local library.

I went through a few sets of Mormons this way – they kept my phone number, calling occasionally.  But, there was one set of Mormons I especially remember – I feel bad that I can’t remember their names.  If you don’t know the basic Mormon missionary set up, they usually travel in pairs in towns, stay for a month or two, and then move elsewhere.

I met this pair in the library after work.  They immediately wanted to talk to me about their faith, and how I should convert.  After a brief biblical conversation, in which I proved myself relatively worthy of speaking to, I said something that most likely blew their minds:

“I’ll come to your church.  But, only if you come to mine.”

And so… a few minutes later, on a hot summer day, I had convinced two Mormon missionaries to trek out to the woods across two corn fields with me, all dressed up in their white shirts, dress shoes and black pants.

And when we had gone down the deer trail, onto the main trek, down a hill covered in dead leaves to the valley I practiced in, adjacent to a small, bubbling creek, surrounded completely by nature, I invited them to sit with me on the stumps that served as chairs.

“This is god.”  I said.  “This is where I worship – with the sky as my temple, and the ground as my floor, and God all around me.”

The need for argument, for convincing me to confess my sins and turn to the right path was gone, and left only wonder, and tolerance in place.  The only thing further spoken of my faith by those missionaries that day was,

“As long as you believe in something – I think we all find God in different ways.”

Take that for tolerance, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

The Final Note

Well, you’ve heard two anecdotes relating Christians and myself.  Now, I have one last thing – something my high priest and I joke of occasionally…

I beg you, Jesus – let the rapture begin!  Take your Saved away and give us back our earth…

Til next time!