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Arielle View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Arielle Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Ask a Wiccan :-)
    Posted: Sep 10 2009 at 12:46am
Seeing the high participation level and success of Purplicious' thread, I decided to try my hand at it.

So...

Ask me anything about Wicca.  Philosophy, tenets, controversial questions too. 




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NewFreedom11 View Drop Down
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What is the basic beliefs/philosophies of Wicca?

In this religion re you obligated to perform certain practices or hold certain beliefs?

Is it even classified as a religion?

What led you to it?

What makes you sure that you have found the right religion? (This isn't a backhanded question.)

What about it have you found rewarding?

What kind of experiences have you had with it that you would say differ from that of other the religion(s) you have tried in the past?

This is cool. I have always wanted to ask these questions, but I didn't want to be a pest.

I plan on doing even more research on my own. Smile
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purpulicious01 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote purpulicious01 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 10 2009 at 2:46am
Cool thread, Arielle!
 
Ok, for starters, I would like to know what is the main beliefs of a Wiccan; what are the key things that differentiates Wicca from other beliefs?
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Arielle View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Arielle Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 10 2009 at 12:22pm
Originally posted by NewFreedom11 NewFreedom11 wrote:


What is the basic beliefs/philosophies of Wicca?  Wicca is an earth-based religion, therefore the utmost respect for nature is observed.  The three-fold law is a common theme: "any good or bad you do comes back to you three-fold". Respect/reverence of the "god and goddess concept" is prevalent, but the interpretation of that depends on the individual.  The abolishment of gender inequity is a big point of interest for many of us, and it colors much of the philosophy, sometimes the feminine pronoun is traditionally used by default, but many times it's gender neutral.  Respect and recognition of the wide spectrum of human sexuality is also a big one.  In regards to the afterlife, this is a pretty broad thing and everybody seems to have their own take on it.  Many do believe in reincarnation, some believe in nirvana, etc.

In this religion re you obligated to perform certain practices or hold certain beliefs?  No.  No religion can "obligate" that you do anything.  In Wicca, there are certain occasions that are officially observed on the Wheel of the Year (calendar), any solitary Wiccan is free to participate or not to participate as they wish.  But if you don't care to observe anything pertaining to Wicca, then you're really not much of a Wiccan anyway, except for in name only.

Is it even classified as a religion?  Yes.  Wicca is a federally recognized and protected religion, my state and many other states explicitly grant rights and protection in regards to Wicca that any other religious groups are afforded.  Even the military must provide the same level of access to ministry as it does for any other major religion.

What led you to it?  I was attracted to it for many reasons (too many to list them all here, but I'll talk about a couple).  First, it did not force me to compromise my personal beliefs.  Second, this religion allows me the freedom of spiritual movement.  If today, I suddenly feel an inclination to Kuan Yin, and tomorrow, I pay homage to Kali, it isn't a big deal.  If I wanted to explore Buddhism, that would be another tradition to study on top of Wicca, and there would probably be some blending involved.  There are even Wiccans who still hold on to certain relics of Christianity.  I know some folks who invoke the arch angels in their practice.

What makes you sure that you have found the right religion? (This isn't a backhanded question.)  I personally don't feel there will be any such "right" religion for me.  Only what "works" and what "doesn't work".  Right now, Wicca "works" for me.

What about it have you found rewarding? My spiritual growth has been worth it.  I've been able to tap into my 'personal power' in a way that my upbringing made me feel guilty for accessing. 

What kind of experiences have you had with it that you would say differ from that of other the religion(s) you have tried in the past?  I haven't tried other religions other than the one I was forced into from birth.  I don't take jumping into religions very lightly, partially stemming from my distrust of them.  So I've resisted the call of them all, until I became comfortable with Wicca.  The freedom of spiritual movement is a BIG plus for me, and I didn't see that in many of the religions I knew of at the time.  This is very different from being a liberal-minded person of (insert religion) that accepts/tolerates everybody else's beliefs.  That previous mindset still didn't work for me, I still felt like I was in a strait jacket.  The "permission" to adopt any belief I want as my own is what draws me.

This is cool. I have always wanted to ask these questions, but I didn't want to be a pest.  No worries, NF, ask away!

I plan on doing even more research on my own. Smile Researching all angles is good.
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camille07 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote camille07 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 10 2009 at 12:58pm
you mentioned broomsticks and pentacles? pentagons? pentshaped necklaces? are these very important to you? what do they symbolize?
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camille07 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote camille07 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 10 2009 at 12:59pm
also, is there a difference between pagan and wiccan? i always liked the ideas of paganism. are these the same thing?
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Arielle View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Arielle Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 10 2009 at 1:30pm
Originally posted by purpulicious01 purpulicious01 wrote:

Cool thread, Arielle! Thanks, I happened to think someone else's idea to start something like this was quite brilliant! Embarrassed
 
Ok, for starters, I would like to know what is the main beliefs of a Wiccan; what are the key things that differentiates Wicca from other beliefs?


Alright, I'm going to expand upon what was mentioned when I addressed this question for New Freedom.

1. Wicca is an earth-based religion, therefore the utmost respect for nature is observed.  We believe that means everything in nature, not just our pets, fluffy clouds and pretty landscapes.  From the mosquito that bites you to the storm that blows your house away, nature will do as She will.  Nature is a powerful and awesome force that will not break Her own rules in order to appease us, as we are no higher than the amoeba or fungi in this regard.  We are also subject to our own biological behaviors and trappings.  When we alter our environment for our comfort, the consequences always appear elsewhere.  This mentality is why a disproportionate amount of us are drawn to the physical sciences and many have backgrounds in physics, chemistry, and astronomy in particular.


2. The three-fold law is a common theme: "any good or bad you do comes back to you three-fold". Now, I'm not a stickler for "however many fold".  But this basically means, don't spend your energy trying to harm people in any way.  And remember to do random acts of kindness.  You never know just who is walking around with a burden on their shoulders. But also, you don't have to walk around always being concerned about how make others feel good at your own expense.  We have a saying for this: "An it harm none, do as ye will."  That means, if it doesn't hurt anybody in the process, do what you want, be what you want.

3. Respect/reverence of the "god and goddess concept" is prevalent.
  Another aspect of Wicca is that it's a 'fertility religion'.  This doesn't mean they encourage you to breed lots of children.  What they are referring to are the different aspects of male and female.  The god and the goddess are each other's consort.  It impacts everything we do in ritual.  There are lots of allegories to sex, several phallic symbols, and an unabashed display of feminine attributes in imagery. 

4. Gender equity is a big point of interest for many of us.  Unlike in many other religious traditions, it is actually a requirement that both men and women can advance to the same levels of priest(ess)hood.  Many rituals necessitate the presence of both the High Priestess and the High Priest.  It is almost never an occurrence that you have one without the other... unless of course, you are within a Dianic order, then the male parts are completely cut out all together.

5.  Respect and recognition of the wide spectrum of human sexuality is also a big one.  As far as the issue of heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality, there is ZERO tolerance for discrimination, intimidation, and denial of rights.  There is a bone of contention with some of us with regards to transgendered/two-spirit/inter-sexed individuals.  Some of our temples are Dianic, meaning that only 'womyn-born-womyn' are allowed entry.  For those who are MtF transgendered, this presents a problem, as you can well imagine.  So there are some issues that are not quite ironed out, and won't be for some time, I suppose.

Also adults and couples are encouraged to have an active (and healthy) sex life.  One thing I do appreciate, is the inclusion of senior citizens in these discussions.  In fact, many of them are seen as "gurus" in this regard due to their experience in such issues.  I don't have any qualms about going to my coven matriarch and asking for tips pertaining to sex, and she's nearing 70+ years old. 

6.In regards to the afterlife, many Wiccans and other pagans call this "The Summerland", and when someone dies, we say "They have crossed the veil".  I've already given a brief overview of how broad that context can be in NF's question, but let me define what it does not include:

- There is no judgment day
- There is no hell/purgatory
- Believe or don't believe... religious belief is irrelevant
- Just because you are dead, it does not mean all is forgiven, there might still be people suffering because of what you've done in the past


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Arielle View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Arielle Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 10 2009 at 1:55pm
Originally posted by camille07 camille07 wrote:


you mentioned broomsticks and pentacles? pentagons? pentshaped necklaces? are these very important to you? what do they symbolize?

The broom has significance in many cultures, and they all seem to be eerily similar in meaning.  To sweep things clean, both real, psychically, or imagined.  (And I'm not being factitious here.) My reference to it is mainly West African in meaning.  I keep a rustic handmade broomstick on the outside of my front door, so I can sweep my front step clean.  Just like my foremothers have done before me.  But knowing the connection to witchcraft and some of the stereotypical associations, I really don't mind having it on my doorstep.Smile

The pentacle necklace charm (a five-sided star, inside a circle) is worn as decorative jewelry.  Just like a Jew might sometimes wear her Star of David, or sometimes a Christian might wear her cross.  Some people feel it gives them an extra little boost of protection.




also, is there a difference between pagan and wiccan? i always liked the ideas of paganism. are these the same thing?

"Pagan" is an umbrella term.  Pagan in this context covers any "non-traditional" polytheistic religion or belief.  This category includes Wicca.  Some people argue that Wicca is no longer really pagan since it is a mainstream religion now and recognized federally in the US and most Western countries.  But many others cling tightly to the pagan distinction because of the deep meaning in the term... being "apart" and running counter to the dominant patriarchal establishment.



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Arielle - Thank you for starting this threadThumbs%20Up

What types of activities take place at a Wiccan gathering.  This is in the context of what people would understand as going to mosque, church, synagogue.   Is there a specific gathering day?

What are the important 1st lesson for the children  in the coven?  Are there specific things for example that help them learn the respect for and important benefits of nature as young children?

Did you meet Wiccans by chance and decide to join or did you seek out a coven after you decided to explore? 

What specific life challenges did becoming a Wiccan help you resolve?  I ask because I have a healthy respect for anything that helps humans evolve emotionally. 

I know you've said that you don't necessarily embrace all aspects of your religion but do you ever get flack for that?  It sounds a lot like the way Romans embraced and incorporated aspects of other religions.  

Are wiccans more like cats in the sense that it is difficult to find a group that are all alike customs and beliefs?

I have always been really interested in Wiccan practices.  I was a huge fan of the Charmed series and they did so few episodes where they really explored their roots.  What did you think of that show?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Arielle Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 10 2009 at 3:51pm
Originally posted by kfoxx1998 kfoxx1998 wrote:

Arielle - Thank you for starting this threadThumbs%20Up  You're always welcome.  I thought it might be worth it to answer some questions.

What types of activities take place at a Wiccan gathering.  It depends on the gathering.  Some permit children participation, and others are explicitly adult-only.  If there are children present, then a full High Ritual is only in its most basic form, and not as involved... depends on the tradition though.
                -This is in the context of what people would understand as going to mosque, church, synagogue.   Is there a specific gathering day?
                 Some places are lucky to have a temple devoted to rituals.  But usually rituals take place in private homes.  We would do rituals on the esbats (full moons) and sabbats (holidays).  There is no specific day of the week we adhere to.  I mean, you could do it, if you really want to, but that's above and beyond any practical function.

What are the important 1st lesson for the children  in the coven?  Under-aged individuals are not initiated into covens.  At least they are not supposed to be.  However, Wiccan parents can teach the tenets of the religion from an early age.  It's never to early to learn.  **See the post in response to Purpliscious' first question.  We don't shy away from teaching children about sexuality either.  Though, we do keep it age appropriate and explain things according to their level of understanding.

Are there specific things for example that help them learn the respect for and important benefits of nature as young children?  Children will do and believe as we "do and believe".  The best teaching tool is to get involved and give them a full experience.  One of our local jokes is: 'Take your girl hunting and camping, teach your boy to garden and frolic in the grass.'  It serves children best to have a no-nonsense attitude about things, not just to gloss over it.  If you eat meat, then you explain that other beings must die sometimes so that you may live, and when you die it sustains other beings as well.  And so forth.

Did you meet Wiccans by chance and decide to join or did you seek out a coven after you decided to explore?  I decided to be a Wiccan before I joined a coven.  I decided to jump right in and join a couple groups on Meetup.com, and that led to invitations for other events.  It was at one of these events that an older woman (who would later turn out to be my coven matriarch) approached me and asked me if I was ready for formal High Priestess training.  It was odd how that happened.  It was only one week after I realized I wanted to pursue an education in that particular tradition... and then she just appeared out of the blue.

What specific life challenges did becoming a Wiccan help you resolve?  I ask because I have a healthy respect for anything that helps humans evolve emotionally.  The more I delved into the religious philosophy, and spent time with some of my close Wiccan peers, the more I realized... it's okay to be me.  I am a very strange and peculiar, introverted person who says weird things and dresses funny.  And that's okay.  And I'm loved because of it, not in spite of it.  My muggle friends, I give them credit, for really trying to be understanding of my peculiarities.  But it's my coven family mates who truly make me feel like a human being, and not like an alien.  CryCryCry

I also feel I've become less afraid to be more outspoken about my positions on issues, and being unpopular is no longer something to be ashamed of or down about, it just makes me more cognizant of the need to have my viewpoints and not surrender to "group think".  I also appreciate that they do advocate defense of one's self, not this "turn the other cheek" business.  First off, Christians mostly don't abide by this rule Jesus laid out.  And second, when someone attacks you, there should be no qualms about defending one's self.  I have learned that it's okay to defend my person/name/reputation when the situation warrants it.  Back then, I would just sit there and take it because I didn't know what else to do, and I was expected not to bite back, so I didn't.  I was trying to be the nice submissive Christian girl my parents *tried* to raise me to be.  The remnant of which have lasted long after the fact.  But not anymore.  And I am glad for it.  I now trust myself to look after my own tail without the need for someone else (a male, or other authority figure) to come to my aid.  That's when I knew I became a real 'woman'.  I can now handle my own business.


I know you've said that you don't necessarily embrace all aspects of your religion but do you ever get flack for that?  I try to be discreet about certain aspects I don't agree with.  Some things can cause eyebrows to be raised.  But ultimately, each person is in command of their own thoughts and beliefs, regardless of what any religion says.  If you don't agree with something, then that is that.  One thing I am more vocal about is the disenfranchisement of MtF transsexuals at our local Dianic temple.  I won't shut up about that.  I'll bring it up at every opportunity.  Hopefully in my lifetime, this will be changed.  It's no good if I can enjoy certain benefits, but my good friend beside me cannot.

It sounds a lot like the way Romans embraced and incorporated aspects of other religions.   Truthfully, every religion that comes to a new area goes through a period of incorporation, whether they want to admit it or not.  There is no such thing as an unadulterated religion, IMHO.

Are wiccans more like cats in the sense that it is difficult to find a group that are all alike customs and beliefs?  *Laughing*  I like your cat analogy.  Wicca has sects just like many other religions.  Covens within the same type of sect (for example: Gardnerian Wicca) can be similar enough where a person who finds themselves in a new group can feel at home with relative ease.  But each coven's "flavor" is a little different, and that is due to the individuals who make up that group. 

I have always been really interested in Wiccan practices.  I was a huge fan of the Charmed series and they did so few episodes where they really explored their roots.  What did you think of that show?  I never really got into that show, but I know people who really are fond of it.  I happen to be a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with one of the characters "Willow" being a Wiccan.  I think that some shows do a better job of conveying facts than others.  But then you have to remember that this is a dramatization, and it has to appeal to the mainstream as well.  So of course, there is usually the inclusion of several cinema magic tricks.  I'm pretty flexible with my entertainment, so long as they do not draw erroneous parallels to evil as a primary source of their power.
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