The Third Eye – What Is Wicca? – Column

The Third Eye

What Is Wicca?

by Nicole Howard
illustration by RAchelle

In a lot of ways, Wicca is merely putting a name to what many people already feel and believe. A 13,500 year old (or so) legend, being Pagan is about tracing back to our deepest roots. The reaction from many people who are not Pagan is usually one of fear and out-of-hand rejection. Possibly, this can be explained as the aftermath of the Witch Trials of the 1600s, where magic became a hex-y gray area of spell casting. Is it black (evil)? Is it white (good)? Or perhaps it is due to a patriarchal God-fearing society that denies the Goddess and says, “witches who cast spells shall go to Hell.”

We live in the World of Form; a witch is aware that the Invisible World of “Everywhere” else exists just as strongly. While Wicca encompasses the occult and psychic powers, equally important is the inner core and basis of this religion, which is not given as much attention when usually discussed. To me, this substantiality can be summed up by a friend who was simply describing an isolated experience. “I was walking along the forest at 3:00 a.m. and the branches of the trees were covered with freshly fallen snow. As I looked out amongst them, I saw how alive they were, they accepted the burden of the snow and it didn’t limit their strength. I looked out amongst the forest and felt my brothers here with me.” I realized later on in our conversation that this is a feeling of Wicca, which all of us seem to experience at one time or another, in a myriad of ways. It is about living alongside Mother Earth, no matter where we might be, and realizing her elements; earth, water, air and fire.

Scott Cunningham’s LIVING WICCA: A Further Guide for the Solitary Practitioner defines Wicca in seven basic principles; Harm None, Reincarnation, Karma, Magic, Thought, Earth Stewardship, and the Continuous Presence of the God and Goddess.

All work is for the good of all only, and according to free will, thus “harming none.” If it is inevitable that we will experience negative emotions such as anger, jealousy and hatred, then we need to realize that these energies can be transformed into positive vehicles.

“Reincarnation” reminds us that life is a continuous wheel.

The threefold law is a statement of “Karma.” Everything that you do comes back to you three times. Anything done to yourself or another, positive or negative, will return in triple strength. This is the essential reason why a true Wiccan would never practice negative magic that would harm another. This is one of the most important Laws of The Craft.

“Magic” points out that we have control over our lives. If we don’t like our circumstances, we can change them through positive ritual. However, magic is never performed without a real Need. Earth Magic works Threefold: The Work is stated and performed in the World of Form, it goes back into the Invisible World, and comes back to manifest itself in the World of Form.

Many do not realize the power that “Thought” possesses. When highly focused, intense thought grows into something obliquely large, becoming its own entity. Repeated with intent, positive thought is a powerful source of energy, which can be used to better oneself and others.

“Earth” is the macrocosm that we microcosms live in, it is important for us to realize our integral connection to every living being and to care for them accordingly.

We are all immortals living in mortal bodies. We can look at ourselves objectively; realizing Personality, Spirit and Soul. We might hear our Higher Voice speak. This is representational of “The continuous presence of the God and Goddess” within.

The concept of Goddess and God can be difficult for the non-Wiccan to comprehend. In order to understand their part in daily life, I drew them in the form of my own image. The God is my arms and legs, representing Movement and Action, for where my hands and feet take me. Lightning comes off of these 4 parts; showing the energy of He who is The Bringer. The Goddess is my womb, representing birth and life; and also my breasts which form ∞, the symbol of infinity. She is also the triangular hat upon my head whose three points are her three aspects: Maiden, Mother and Crone. In the middle of the triangle is the pentacle, the symbol whose five points (among other things) represent the five senses, the “sixth” sense of Spirit encircling them. The Goddess is She Who Is All, the nurturing and destructive force who created our lives. She is power, wisdom, love, fertility, compassion, nurturing and wonder. But without the God, our world would be cold and desolate, devoid of fertility and life. He is sex, the cycle of death and rebirth, and retribution, war and conflict. He is the movement of action on Earth. The Goddess is the earth itself. The Goddess is the cool reflection of the Moon, the God the fiery Sun. One could not exist without the other, both are of equal import, though one might be more strongly felt at times than the other. Perhaps it’s because I am female, but I feel the Goddess within me, She is flashing intuition and perceptive thought, I bathe my body in Her silver. It is harder for me to identify with the God. I’ve always seen the power of the Sun as uncaring. He’s gold-rush insanity radiating down, should you stare too long, you’ll go blind. Yet He is also the same force that holds the solidity of a rock still.

“Ritual” is paying respect to the God and Goddess through prayer. An altar is set up, with the left side representing the Goddess and the right the God (according to many, but not all, traditions). A candle is burned for each of them. Tools during ritual might include the broom, wand, censer, cauldron, athame, white handled knife, crystal sphere, cup/chalice, pentacle and Book of Shadows. Tools are representations of Thought that energy is sent through. It is not the object itself that is important but the strength of will that runs through it. Each Tool has attributes to the God or Goddess and is placed on the altar accordingly. In personal ritual, each witch pays their respects to the God and Goddess as often as is necessary for their person. Spells might be cast for anything that the witch requires help or guidance with. For instance, love, money, success, and protection spells are widely available; but spells are not limited to textbooks. There is a wide arc of flexibility, creativity and individuality. There are also eight Sabbats when the earth’s magic and power are most intense for specific purposes. Coinciding with the winter, spring, summer and fall solstices and equinoxes, these Pagan holidays are Yule, Candlemas (Imbolg), Spring Equinox, Beltane, Summer Solstice, Lammas, Autumnal Equinox and Samhain. As Marion Weinstein’s Earth Magic describes, “when a witch tunes into this energy, they are working with an infinite number of other Witches in all time and space, from many lifetimes, past and present.”