Yule and Wiccans
Anonymous
Yule and Wiccans "The Way of Wiccans"
Sun Jan 4 14:03:36 2004
151.198.112.124

 

The following information came from an excellent site: Please visit: http://www.shootthemessenger.com.au/u_jun_99/i_wicca.htm


Philip Johnson, director of Australian Christian organisation, New Age Mission, looks in detail at the popular - and often misunderstood - Wiccan spirituality
As we approach
the 21st century we hear people talking about spirituality in terms of lifestyle choices. And it seems to be a feature of our postmodern era to explore spirituality beyond conventional structures such as church, mosque and temple.

One emerging pathway that many are finding some fulfilment in is "Wicca". Wicca is an old word for "witchcraft". As the word witchcraft carries with it very pejorative images, contemporary practitioners usually prefer to call their craft Wicca.


Wicca: A Description

In very broad terms, Wicca is a 'pathway that embraces natural magic'. Wiccans have a reverence for the natural world and strive to attune themselves with it. They may believe in and worship the Mother Goddess, or invoke a variety of pre-Christian deities. Some may even be pantheists (the idea that God is only the created universe).

Wiccans may operate as sole practitioners or work within a group. A group of Wiccans is known by the familiar label, "coven". A coven often comprises members of both sexes, but generally the leader is female. Many covens have only female membership, and some may be wholly lesbian. There is also the phenomenon of gay Wiccan covens.

A coven normally meets on the new and full moon (known as "esbats"), where magical rituals and ceremonies are performed. They also gather together for major festivals, known as "sabbats", which relate to the cycles of the seasons. Celebrations vary between the northern and southern hemispheres. These festivals include:

Samhain......October 31
Yule.........December 21
Oimelc.......February 2
Equinox......March 21
Beltane......April 30
Solstice.....June 21
Lammas.......August 1
Equinox......September 21


The coven is usually led by a High Priestess, with a subordinate Priest. Ceremonial magic is governed by the Wiccans' golden rule, "That you harm none, do what you will." Thus contrary to many lurid rumours, Wiccans do not offer human or animal sacrifices to the Devil. Indeed, Wiccans eschew the very existence of Satan. Instead their ritual magic is directed to harmony within oneself, and harmony with nature.

The casting of spells, another feature of Wiccan, is intended to promote healing and well being, as well as protecting the earth from harm. Some covens include a strand of sex magic, where life partners either symbolically or literally have intercourse as a means to empowerment. With the strong emphasis on empowerment for women in Wicca, many practitioners include ceremonies celebrating fertility, menstruation, menopause and post-menopause. Some also believe in reincarnation.

As is the case with organised religions, one finds within Wicca various traditions or schools of thought. However, it would be misleading to call these divisions 'denominations' or 'sects', because this presupposes some standard creed as a litmus test for orthodox belief. Wiccans do not confess formal doctrines or creeds, as is the case within Christianity. Some Wiccans draw their inspiration from the works of Gerald Gardner, Margaret Murray and Alexander Sanders. Yet it must be emphasised that there is a diverse spectrum of ideas and practices, and many other Wiccans would beg to differ with the views espoused by Gardner, Murray and Sanders.


The Wiccan Vision

Wiccans have a vision of reality that radically departs from the rationalist outlook of the European Enlightenment. The modern era has been powerfully shaped by a reliance on human reason and scientific explanations. Although bringing many technological advances, it was based very largely on an anti-supernatural perspective. The world was an object for analysis, where human beings were the observers, rather than participants, in the natural world. Such a jaundiced view has brought with it a cynicism about spiritual meaning. It has also contributed to the debasing and denuding of the world's natural resources, and assisted in the production of technological devices of mass destruction.

In contrast to this mechanistic outlook, Wiccans have a keen sense of spiritual realities permeating our world. This is evident in their awareness of the Mother Goddess being present throughout the whole natural world. In technical jargon, their deity is "immanent" in the creation. From such awareness it follows that they see the natural world as sacred and imbued with spiritual powers. Since the world is sacred, Wiccans understandably have deep concerns for the environment and thus some Wiccans call themselves eco-feminists.

Wiccans place the accent for their spirituality on a feminine, nurturing, intuitive basis. They perceive that the modern world has been dominated by an aggressive, patriarchal society, which, in its worst excesses, has oppressed women. The dominant spirituality of the Western World has been the Church, which is controlled by men preaching about a Father figure God. Thus Wiccan spirituality not merely offers a female deity, but offers a very affirming spirituality that speaks to female sensitivities. They likewise link sexuality with spirituality, and celebrate the empowerment of women in fertility rites.

Another aspect of the Wiccan vision relates to healing. Wiccan spells are meant to draw on earth magic to facilitate healing from illnesses. Some practitioners specialise in complementary medicine, particularly with respect to herbal remedies. The emphasis is very much on treating the individual as a whole person in body, mind and spirit. This tackles the perceived gap in mainstream medicine where the focus is on surgical procedures and drugs, and where the emotional and spiritual needs are often by-passed.


Wiccans & Christians

The relationship between Wiccans and Christians has, generally, not been a very good one. Understandably, Wiccans feel that Christians misrepresent and distort them. This is acutely felt when Christian books on contemporary witchcraft and paganism claim that they are 'servants of Satan'. Wiccans also feel badly disposed towards the church over the historical persecution of witches in Europe and America.

I believe that Wicca offers some significant theological challenges to the church. At a very basic level, Wicca is a mirror in which Christians can see themselves reflected for all the things they have neglected. It is comparable to the role played by ancient movements such as Arianism and Gnosticism, which challenged the church to clarify what its teachings were all about, and to then live by them consistently. Thus Wicca acts as a goad or spur to Christians to not merely believe but to daily incarnate their faith in every dimension of life and thought.

Another fundamental point is that Christians must strive not to bear false witness about Wiccans. Whenever Christians write books about witchcraft, paganism and the occult, I find there is often scant attention paid to primary sources. It is a basic principle of scholarship that one always goes to the original sources before commencing any interpretation.

Thus Christians need to meet personally with Wiccans to ascertain what they accept and practice, and then to read Wiccan literature. Sad to say such lofty standards of truth have generally been lacking in Christian literature on the subject. This has been fostered by the na´ve acceptance of books such as Mike Warnke's The Satan Seller, Lauren Stratford's Satan's Underground, and Rebecca Brown's He Came To Set The Captives Free. These stories have been investigated by other Christians and, after sifting through the authors' evidence, their credibility has evaporated.

A further bone of contention is, as we noted above, that representatives of the Christian church have persecuted witches across the ages. Wiccans surely need to hear Christians repenting of what evil has been done to them - and their forebears - in the name of Jesus. These days non-Christians in general, and Wiccans in particular, will scarcely take seriously any Christian who tries to avoid or down play the hideous things done to people by the church. We succeed in earning the right to be heard when we acknowledge and grapple with these ghastly matters.

More information at:
http://www.shootthemessenger.com.au/u_jun_99/i_wicca.htm

click to continue... part II "Theological Challenges"  http://www.shootthemessenger.com.au/u_jun_99/i_wicca2.htm

 

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