I'm more at peace; more in alignment; more fulfilled; more loving; and more understanding of the world and the people in it ~ although admittedly, it is a huge learning curve and there are moments when I think it might be easier to fall back on my old Christian beliefs. But it would be just that, easy.
I'm more conscious of treating the Earth in a respectful manner and have upped my efforts at recycling, even so much as picking up trash on my daily dog walks. I have a hard time killing spiders in my home and where I can I gather them up and whoosh them out the back door. And I don't run the water when I brush my teeth.
I didn't come to Paganism overnight. It's been a long, long process that, if I look back over my life, I believe started when I was a child. I never fit in. I always did the opposite of what other people did or wanted me to do. I was always empathetic to the point of crying over other people's spilled milk. I've also been able to intuit events in my life and I'm very intuitive about people. I've always been in touch with nature and more than anything else, want to be out in the garden or walking in a beautiful conservancy with trees surrounding me.
The real changes started about a year and a half ago. I bought some Pagan and Wiccan books, began reading and after a few months the old fears caught up with me and I put it all away. I delved back into Christianity with a vengeance. I went back to church, joined the choir and even joined a Christian weight loss group. But it never felt right. I was living a lie and I felt like a fake.
In February of this year I made the decision to listen to my heart and to follow it wherever it led me. It led me to Paganism and Wicca in particular. I make no apologies and offer no excuses. This is who I am. This is where I stand.
To those of you who claim to be 'afraid' for me, that I've gone to the dark side, let me try to rest your fears. I am not a Satanist (in fact I don't believe in the devil or 'Satan'). I do not do black magic or voo doo or hoo doo. I am not a necromonger (which means I don't worship the dead). I do not sacrifice goats or any other living creature. I have not joined a cult ~ I am a solitary practitioner drawing elements from all religions, all faiths and from the world around me. I don't live in the dark.
What I do believe are the 13 principles of Wicca:
- We practice rites to attune ourselves with the natural rhythm of life forces marked by the phases of the Moon and the seasonal Quarters and Cross Quarters (Sabbats and Esbats).
- We recognize that our intelligence gives us a unique responsibility toward our environment. We seek to live in harmony with nature in ecological balance offering fulfillment to life and consciousness within an evolutionary concept.
- We acknowledge a depth of power far greater than that apparent to the average person. Because it is far greater than ordinary it is sometimes called ‘supernatural’, but we see it as lying within that which is naturally potential to all.
- We conceive of the Creative Power in the universe as manifesting through polarity – as masculine and feminine – and that this same Creative Power lies in all people and functions through the interaction of the masculine and the feminine. We value neither above the other knowing each to be supportive of the other. We value sex as pleasure as the symbol and embodiment of life, and as one of the sources of energy used in magical practice and religious worship.
- We recognize both outer worlds and inner, or psychological worlds sometimes known as the Spiritual World, the Collective Unconsciousness, the Inner Planes, etc. – and we see in the interaction of these two dimensions the basis for paranormal phenomena and magical exercises. We neglect neither dimension for the other, seeing both as necessary for our fulfillment.
- We do not recognize any authoritarian hierarchy, but do honor those who teach, respect those who share their greater knowledge and wisdom, and acknowledge those who have courageously given of themselves in leadership.
- We see religion, magick and wisdom in living as being united in the way one views the world and lives within it – a world view and philosophy of life which we identify as Witchcraft – the Wiccan Way.
- Calling oneself ‘Witch’ does not make a Witch – but neither does heredity itself, nor the collecting of titles, degrees and initiations. A Witch seeks to control the forces within her/himself that make life possible in order to live wisely and without harm to others and in harmony with nature.
- We believe in the affirmation and fulfillment of life in a continuation of evolution and development of consciousness giving meaning to the Universe we know and our personal role within it.
- Our only animosity towards Christianity, or towards any other religion or philosophy of life, is to the extent that its institutions have claimed to be ‘the only way’ and have sought to deny freedom to others and to suppress other ways of religious practice and belief.
- As American Witches, we are not threatened by debates on the history of the craft, the origins of various terms, the legitimacy of various aspects of different traditions. We are concerned with our present and our future.
- We do not accept the concept of absolute evil, nor do we worship any entity known as ‘Satan’ or ‘the Devil’ as defined by Christian tradition. We do not seek power through the suffering of others, nor accept that personal benefit can be derived only by denial to another.
- We believe that we should seek within Nature that which is contributory to our health and well-being.
Wiccans celebrate the sexual polarity of nature. For example, the fertilizing rain is one manifestation of the male principle; the nurturing earth symbolizes the female. Females are respected as equal (and sometimes at a slightly higher rank) to males.
Sexuality is valued and regarded as a gift of the Goddess and God, to be engaged in with joy and responsibility, and without manipulation or coercion. Wiccans generally accept the findings of human sexuality researchers that there are three normal, natural, and unchosen sexual orientations: heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality.
Wiccans have a wide range of beliefs about life after death, but this is what I believe ~ that the soul goes to Summerland after death. Here, we are met with others who have gone before, review and integrate our previous lives on earth, and are eventually reincarnated into the body of a newborn. I believe that after many such cycles ~ perhaps some as female and others as male; some lives with a high standard of living and others in poverty; some in positions of power and others suffering oppression ~ that the individual accumulates sufficient experience to go on to another level of existence about which we know nothing.
I believe in the Three-fold Law (a.k.a. the Law of Return) The law states that:
"All good that a person does to another returns three fold in this life; harm is also returned three fold". This belief strongly motivates each Wiccan to avoid attempting to dominate, manipulate, control, or harm another person.
I believe in The Wiccan Rede ~ the prime Wiccan ethical teaching:
"An' it harm none, do what thou will", which means to say: "As long as it doesn't harm anyone, including yourself and future generations, do whatever you want to." This has been criticized for being too permissive. However, the Rede is actually quite demanding because it requires a Wiccan to carefully evaluate all of the effects that each of their decisions have on themselves, other people, future generations, the environment, etc.
So there it is, and there's plenty more where that came from. Do your research. Don't judge on what you believe from Hollywood or religious radicals. Think for yourself and most of all don't live in fear. When you learn, when you understand, when you've walked in the other person's shoes, when you've asked the questions ~ then we can all do what we were sent here to do . . . LOVE each other, RESPECT each other and to live in harmony with the Earth and all her creatures.
Excerpt from 'Wiccan Beliefs and Practices' by Gary Cantrell
"I elected to reveal my practice of witchcraft publicly simply because I personally feel that the time for intentionally hiding ourselves has come to an end. We are practitioners of a kind, gentle, and peace-loving religion. We are not the bloodthirsty or depraved, orgiastic fanatics all too often portrayed by the entertainment and news media. The general public has been misled about witchcraft for over a thousand years, and now with our numbers reaching an all-time high, possibly in excess of one million people worldwide, we need to stand up and set that record straight.
We are out there by the hundreds upon hundreds of thousands. We are in the arts, the sciences, and the humanities. We are law enforcement officers, engineers, builders, doctors, and farmers. We are a legally recognized religion under the protection of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and our isolation from the rest of the religious community should and must come to an end. With the phenomenal growth of witchcraft since the 1970s and with the free and easy interchange of information afforded to us by things like the Internet, that time will come to pass and it will happen soon. It may be happening now."