There are many groups of Pagans – Wiccans, Druids, Witches and others. Most people think that all Witches are Wiccans. We are not. I am a Witch who follows the ancient Celtic Tradition. It is only within recent times that many of us have felt that we are able to openly profess our religion. Anyone familiar with the history of the Craft will know the consequences of Witches, indeed any Pagans, openly following their path. Some were put to the stake or murdered by other means. Others paid lip service to the Catholic Church while continuing to practice the Old Ways in private. Unless the Fundamentalist monsters in Congress take control of this country, we don’t ever expect to have to hide our faith again. Pagans will never tolerate another mass persecution of our religion.
The Wicca was brought forward by a man named Gerald Gardener in England in the 50’s. There are people who will tell you that Wicca is the true and only religion of the Witch. That is nonsense. Celtic women of Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales were practicing the Old Religion before Gardener’s great, great, great, great, great grandparents were much more then sperm. By the same token there are Witches who will tell you that Wiccans are cowards hiding from the name Witch. I don’t believe that either.
Wicca is a highly formalized and codified religion. It is both beautiful and theologically significant. Because of their belief in dual divinity, that is to say the equality of the Goddess and the God, they often work with a high priestess and high priest in tandem, groups or covens and according to prescribed rituals. They follow what is known as the Wiccan Rede which is based upon long held Pagan beliefs that I also hold. For me the only relevant part of the Rede, as I was taught and understand these beliefs, is: abide in the Laws of the Goddess, in perfect love and perfect trust. You must live and allow others to live. You must neither take nor give unfairly. You must honor the rule of three, for bad and good return to the sender three fold. These words will the honor of Goddess fulfill – and you harm none do what you will.
As a practitioner of the Old Faith and disciple of the Sacred Feminine I agree with the Wiccan liturgy to this extent. The rule of three has always been understood to be a prime moral directive; whatever you do in the world will return to you three times. The final eight words – and you harm none do what you will - is acceptable to me with this caveat, I reserve the right of self defense.
Having said all of this, I differ from the Wiccans with regard to the necessity of formalized ritual and the need for a high priestess and high priest. I do not accept the concept of dual divinity. The creation myth of my tradition holds that the Goddess is the universe and out of her womb was born all life including the first male principle of the God. She is the prime mover of our existence. She is the prime celestial presents of our heart.
Much is made of our use and practice of magic – white magic, gray magic, black magic. There is only one kind of magic. The nature and quality of magic itself, understood by the uninitiated as the color, rests with the intent of the practitioner. Magic is simply the energy of the Goddess given to us by Her grace and through Her teaching. We use it in Her sight and by our intent to achieve a purpose
Most of us select a divination tool prior to our initiation. Particularly Celtic Witches are very intent and focused upon developing what is called the sight. Some call it the third eye. It is a form of perspicacity – the ability to see on many planes at once. All people have the potential; most people never develop the ability. Some use candles, crystals, water and pendulums to name a few. I use all of them but the tarot deck primarily.
Many of us feel an inclination to focus on a specific use of our Craft. I was called as a child to the care of the earth. Gardening is for me a form of ritual and a deep, abiding part of my personal liturgy.
Pagans are universal in their belief that no one stands between them and their personal revelation of the Goddess or God of their heart, intuition and inspiration. This is my primary objection to the institutional use of codified ritual and high priestesses and priests. It is perhaps human nature to want to gain control of the conduit through which we each perceive the Source for the purpose of exerting personal power. This is also my objection to the over concentration on the influence of Gerald Gardener whom I believe was just another man trying to control the values and beliefs of woman and in effect dominate the Sacred Feminine.
I do not speak for all Pagans. I do not speak for all Witches. I do not even speak for all the Witches I know. This is just the wisdom that the Great Crone Hecate has given me.
I believe that the Goddess gives us each a different light to illuminate the path we selected before we were born. All we can do is use that light and follow that path with the very best intent and the deepest faith.