Wicca – Cliche or Gateway
Wicca seems almost a cliché after the 30 years of public abuse. Between the dismal attempts of some authors to make it “more accessible” and the Hollywood effect of “glamour and terror,” it has a torn and worn look similar to that of the denominations many of us count in our history. For those of us with many years experience, it is no longer relevant because (let’s face it) we have “Been there, done that.” However, Wicca with all its public baggage is the path that many of us followed as a stepping stone to either become older and jaded or grow wiser and more deeply involved.
Wicca played a pivotal role in the Neo-Pagan movement of the 20th Century as it still does today — regardless of its origins. Many girls and women have found and identified with Wicca because it provides personal control and freedom of belief difficult to find in everyday living. The sexism integral to many masculine religions is replaced with a focus on balance and equality. Also, identifying with the cycles of life and nature has helped many women find their center which can be completely ignored in the mainstream of Western culture. Wicca indirectly provides validation for many personal choices commonly frowned on by parents or family who are not Wiccan: vegetarianism, caring for animals, environmentalism, and self-determination in sexuality and relationships can (and has been) enabled through the introduction of positive moral values at the core of Wicca.
Many of the early luminaries of Wicca in the 20th Century also rode the waves of the feminist movement as it evolved to bring fundamental rights of women to the forefront in America and Europe. The numerous rights gained by women involving control over their own bodies, minds, and souls would have been hard to accomplish without the influence of Wicca (or at least a religion similar to it) because the necessary social structures are not present in the top three faiths (Christianity, Judaism, Islam.)
We have a lot of reasons to look at how we arrived at where we are in life today. We can take a revisionist view of our personal histories and claim a steady progression of sage teachers and deep meditative insights, or we can acknowledge more of our true influences that lead us to serious study. Were you a fan of “Bewitched,” “The Craft,” “Practical Magic,” or Cinderella’s fairy Godmothers? Or maybe you found rebellion and freedom in the Wicked Witch of the West, “Blair Witch”, or the countless other darker roles that can be encountered? We all have been changed by the fantasy of popular culture. Where some find fear in freedom and self-control, we find the seeds that lead us to Goddess and the God.
Part 2 Magick more than just a Force of Nature
Magick is the other element that Wicca offers with its practice. Magick is a force that allows Wiccans and other Pagans to take an active part in shaping our lives and at the same time providing the touch of the wondrous and divine strength we had been told was untouchable and only for Judeo/Christian God’s use. Remember the first time that you knew a spell or ritual worked and the flush of connection and accomplishment that followed? That experience in itself is transformative and leads to the sense of never being truly alone or apart again. The whimsy or fantasy that lent us strength or courage to try magick is a catalyst to break the bonds of all the “lessons” of our lives up to that point. It can be easy to forget all the trial and error once we have learned how to walk. However, many dreams and much personal exploration was required to take those first steps.
It really does not matter what neo-pagan path you follow, but as experienced individuals, we should honor the steps of our own “childhood” of learning. More importantly we have the obligation to recognize those same experiences as they happen to others and acknowledge that sometimes the fantasy and desire race ahead of knowledge and certainly wisdom. At each stage of life we experience a different level of certainty: in youth it is the certainty of knowing what we want in life, in motherhood it is the certainly knowing what’s best for family, and in our elder years it is the certainty of knowing what is best for community.
During each stage of our lives we have a different view of our experience. In our teens it is the certainty of getting what we want for ourselves. In our adult years it is the knowledge of what is right for our families. In our elder years it is knowledge of what is right for our communities. In every case it is the view point that shapes us, right or wrong, selfish or altruistic, and we bring our pride into how we act. The next time you encounter a self-possessed and eager Wiccan that tells you about their history, abilities, and experiences remember your beginnings, errors, fantasy’s and failings before clamping down. Remember the Gods give us knowledge so that we can live closer to others and to nature. Sometimes the best thing you can give is your ear and not your wisdom.
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