I've been facing a lot of questions about my personal beliefs lately. Almost all of them have been respectful and kind. Actually, most people seem terribly afraid of asking me about my beliefs for fear of offending me. I am also preparing to do a brief talk about Wicca at a local youth community group for a series they are doing about different religions. Some of my coven mates are going through the same experience, so I thought this is a perfect place for me to talk about Wicca, my practice of it, and some of the basics.
I apologize in advance if I bore you, I promise I'll get along to posting something interesting to my non-interested readers soon. I also apologize in advance to my other Wiccan readers out there, if, at some point, I say something that doesn't particularly jive with your personal beliefs. I know we all operate on different traditions, and as mine is an eclectic, I know some of my ideas may not be the same as yours. I bless you in your differences as I trust you bless me in mine.
Also, there will be many times where I will refer to a Christian practice as an analogy for a Wiccan practice. I do this because a better part of the people I know on an aquaintance level are Christians, and I believe this will help them relate to an idea.
Lastly, I want to make clear that I am firm in my choice of religion. If you want to have an open and honest conversation about my beliefs and how they relate to yours, you're in the right place. If you want to tell me I am wrong and I'm going to hell, I respectfully ask you leave. I believe you have the right to your beliefs, same as I have a right to mine. I won't hate on your religion, and ask you respect my choice of beliefs, I am not up for conversion.
So. The basics. I want to get a few misconceptions out of the way first.
Yes, I believe in god. No, it isn't necessarily the same god a Christian might believe in, but then again, it might be. I believe that there is one spirit that created everything. I believe that this spirit has both a male and female aspect. In simplest terms, the one god I refer to as Spirit. I refer to the non-specific male and female aspects as Lord and Lady. I also believe the Lord and Lady can take many forms and personalities. This is not unusual, as the Judeo-Christian god is seen as both a loving god, a vengeful god, a just god, a righteous god, etc. Think of it that way. The aspects of the Lord and Lady are manyfold in that way.
No, I do not worship the devil. In fact, I don't personally believe in the devil. I belive that the evil in the world is created by humans. The devil is a way to villify wrong action and gives a chance for some to lay blame at another's door. When evil is done, it is done by the person, by their own choice. Wiccans in general, and my coven in specific, are ardently against any wrong magick or personal action.
So, as a follow up, yes I believe in right and wrong. I believe that you should choose each action you take with the intent to harm no one. Not yourself, or others. Now, this doesn't mean I think its okay for people to walk on me, or for me to let them, but I choose to make my decision with the intent to never hurt a person if I can help it.
I do not believe I am god. This was a huge one I heard when I was growing up, that Wiccans believe they are god. Not true. I believe that my spirit, my soul, is connected to all other living spirits and souls. I believe that the whole of the earth, and the universe, is connected to Spirit in that way. That is my connection to god. Now, sometimes a Christian will refer to being "filled with the Holy Spirit" and like them, we have times where we feel filled by god. There are times when we specifically ask god to fill us. We believe this is possible because god has shared the divine spark, the spirit that connects every living thing, with us. This does not mean we believe we are god. Not at all. We are human, and fallable, like everyone else.
I do not go to a church building. This is because I believe that you can be with god anywhere. Now, when I do worship, there is a specific sacred space. We call it a circle. This is a space that we purify and consecrate so that we may be safe and happy when we worship. A circle, however, may be created everywhere. Most commonly mine are in my home or in my back yard. But I could do it at work, or in a park or in the middle of a freeway were I so inclined. Another note, we also take time to purify ourselves before we practice. This is simply a time where we cast away negativity and harmful things from ourselves so that we may approach Spirit with a pure and happy heart. Sometimes that involves simply a meditation and prayer, sometimes a bath, somtimes other things.
I do not practice Wicca naked, or "skyclad". There are some covens out there that do that, mine is not one of them.
I do not curse people, hex them, or any other negative thing with regards to magick. Its not that I can't. I could if I wanted. But I choose not to. Here's why. Wiccan's believe in the threefold law: whatever you send out you receive back three times. I don't believe hate or anger accomplishes anything, and willfully harming someone goes against all my beliefs. As a bonus, when I don't harm other people, I don't harm myself. It may sound pragmatic, but its true. Of course, because I believe that all living souls are connected, it seems silly and wrong to harm someone else on purpose, because I share the same divine spark their soul contains. It would be the essence of cutting off my nose to spite my face.
Another reason I choose not to hex, and in general make an effort to be a good person is because I believe that I share karma (spiritual reward and retribution, for now, I'll discuss that more in detail later) with my coven. They are the ultimate version of accountability partners. When I do wrong, I am punished. But my spiritual family is also punished. This gives me pause when I think "maybe its worth the karma to get back, just this once." I stop and ask if my spiritual family would think so, and if they would be happy to receive that punishment as well. 99% of the time, it isn't worth it. Its also nice because they function as a support system for me. When I am having trouble "being good" I can call them and ask their advice, and as a general rule, I receive very good advice indeed.
There's a start on the I do's and the I don'ts. I would be delighted and honored to answer any questions you might have for me. I am planning on doing a rundown of my holidays in my next Witch 101 post, so I'll focus on those and any questions you have for me. Feel free to leave them in my comments, I have the anonymous option on there for you. Of course, I am always happy to know who I am talking to, but if you feel better not telling me I understand.
Merry part, my friends, until we merry meet again.