Since its public introduction in the 1950s, the Wicca religion has grown into a fascinating spiritual path for the 15,222 Australians . Yet very little is known about this modern, Earth centred religion.
What is Wicca?
Complexly, Wicca is often described as a form of pagan witchcraft that bases its practices on contemporary pagan rituals. People who practice Wicca(Wiccans) see it as a peaceful, harmonious and balanced way of life. Which promotes oneness with all life and living things. It is believed that the Wicca religion is inspired by- and shares commonalities with- the ancient traditions of witchcraft.
Technically, witchcraft and Wicca, although similar in many ways, are not identical. You can be a witch without being a Wiccan. Wicca is a recognised religion, while witchcraft itself is not a religion. Thus, Wicca is pretty much a modern religion based on ancient traditions of witchcraft.
Origins of Wicca
Wicca was developed in England during the first half of the 20th century and presented to the public in 1954 by Gerald Gardner, a retired British official. The Wicca religion is based on a variety of 20thcentury hermetic and ancient pagan motifs for its theological structure and ritual practices. Wicca has no central authority or religious figure.
Most modern Wicca traditional beliefs, principles, and practices were originally outlined by Gerald Gardnerand Doreen Valiente. Particularly in the 1940s and 1950s in published works. As well as in secret written and oral teachings given to their initiators. If ever there was a dude that looked like a stereotypical wizard, it’s Gerald. There are many variations in the core structure as the religion grows and develops over time.
‘Gardner’s theories were drawn from numerous sources, including Freemasonry, magical orders such as the Golden Dawn and fellow occultists, including Aleister Crowley,’ BBC.
Today, Wicca is divided into a number of different lines, sects and denominations, which are called traditions. Each tradition has its own organisational structure and centralisation level.
The Wicca belief system
The Wicca belief system is kind of based on the reconstruction of pre-Christian traditions that originated in the Ireland, Scotland and Wales areas. Although most of the information about how the Wicca ancestors lived, worshipped and believed was lost. Mainly through the efforts of the Medieval Church that wanted to erase the existence of Witchcraft from history. Today, modern Wiccans try to recreate these beliefs and practices.
At its essence Wicca is a deep fondness and reverence for mother nature. And everything within it and created in nature.
Perhaps due to its decentralisation, there are disagreements about the exact nature of Wicca worship. It bears the characteristic of a typical duotheistic religion, worshipping both a Goddess and a God or several of their variations. These are traditionally considered as the Goddess of the Moonand the Horned God. However, there are no rules about which patrons to worship some people worship as few as one, and as many as four or five.
As part of their spiritual practice, many Wiccans try to develop their intuitive abilities and practice magic. And even spellcraft by directing their psychic energy for specific therapeutic and relief purposes. While practising magic, Wiccans adhere to the Wicca Rede. This is a form of Golden Rule that is the central ethical law of the religion. ‘Let it harm none.’ Most Wiccans acknowledge that every magical power posted is magnified and returned to the sender.
Let it harm none.
Contrary to popular culture and all those brilliant movies and TV shows we love, Wiccans do not practice evil magic or honour the Devil/Satan as such. Wicca has existed pre-and post-Christianity and is not even anti-Christian.
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All ego really is, is our opinions, which we take to be solid, real, and the absolute truth about how things are. Pema Chödrön
Recently, I joined (well rejoined) a gym. Which is not noteworthy in itself but it’s kind of unnecessary as I’m already a member of a fitness studio where I regularly do four or five classes a week. By most people’s standards, that is a decent amount of exercise.
But I wasn’t getting the results (read: high expectations) that I wanted and things weren’t panning out as I expected. So, the ego goes:
‘Things aren’t working out, push harder.’
As such, I upped my workouts to eight a week.
And immediately got sick. So, the body (one of our best and most accurate oracles) goes…
‘I’m physically stopping you right now.’
I didn’t have it in me to workout for more than a week. I was physically stopped from old patterns and easy to grab “go to” situations and firmly placed right in front of my soul (or Id), unable to escape.
So, the soul goes…
‘Try something else. As long as you are free.’
Which is counter intuitive. Which is counter society. Which is counter logic. Because rarely, if ever, do you hear or absorb the message that working out is not a good thing. And the more you do, the better you feel, right?
Where am I at now? I’m experimenting. I’m experimenting with resting more (perhaps temporarily until the ego kicks back in).
What I’m not saying is…
…that I am giving up working out, or even aiming to work out less. What I am saying is that I’m willing to experiment with sitting with the soul (the greater/deeper part of me, whatever you/we want to call it) and seeing what resides there. What wisdom exists that counterbalances ‘things aren’t working out, push harder.’
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Witches… from blockbuster Hollywood movies to the plethora of books and media that either praise or condemn them. They are predominantly known to practice witchcraft which is the belief and use of magical skills and abilities. You may think you know quite a bit about modern witches but do you actually know the real history of witchcraft?
Let’s tug at the veil of mystery that surrounds witchcraft to show you its origin and various facts surrounding it.
The earliest records of witchcraft
The concept of witchcraft and those who practice it (witches) has persisted throughout recorded history and continues to have an important role in many cultures today. The practice of simple sorcery, a form of witchcraftwhich involves giving offerings to spirits or using charms, can be found in most traditional societies. Evidence of this can be found in cave paintings and prehistoric artwhich depict magical rites and religious rituals.
In fact, one of the oldest forms of religion, Shamanism (contacting spirits through dreams, meditation, and trances) is considered a form of witchcraft. Carole Fontaine, a recognised American biblical scholar, argues in her Ancient Mysteries documentaryon witches, that the idea of witchcraft has been around for as long as humans have tried to deal with diseases and avert disaster.
Alleged practices of early witches
In the earliest accounts of human and witchcraft history, witches were seen as servants of deities and goddesses and therefore were revered in their communities. The witchcraft label was applied to those who people believed could influence the mind, body, or property of others. Their practices usually include:
- performing magic
- concocting potions and ointments
- necromancy (conjuring the dead)
- demonology (control of spirits and demons).
Back then, the word “witch” was not exclusively negative and was used to describe a healer or a wise person. However, this all changed in the fifteenth century with the widespread popularity of Christianity and Islam. Witchcraft was then associated with heresy and apostasy and viewed as evil.
Condemnation of witchcraft
Scholars believe that the condemnation of witchcraft began long before the birth of Christ. Even as far back as 1300 years before the common era, when the Hebrews settled in Canaan. The Hebrews believed in the laws of the Bible. And considered witchcraft to be dangerous and prohibited it as a pagan practice. This was further heightened when the Indo-Europeans expanded westward. With them came a warrior culture and male gods that valued aggression, which overshadowed the once-revered female deities.
In the 1300s, when the bubonic plague decimated half of Europe, it also caused a lot of hysteria. Many attributed the plague to the Devil and his supposed worshippers. At this point, the Catholic Church’s Inquisition was already in full swing. And intensified its efforts to seek out and punish the causes of the mass deaths which included the Devil-worshipping witches.
During this period, hundreds of thousands of people were accused and executed for being witches. Others were imprisoned, tortured, banished, and suspects had their possessions and lands confiscated.
Hammer of the witches
This dramatic rise in terror of witchcraft led to an actual witch-hunting manual written in 1486 by two German monks. The Malleus Maleficarum, which is Latin for Hammer of the Witches, outlined how one could identify who was a witch and how to punish one. As well as how to put a witch on trial and why a woman is more likely to be a witch than a man.
The book grew in popularity and eventually became the handbook for trying witches in secular courts throughout Renaissance Europe. However, it was not used by the official Inquisition and was later condemned by the Catholic Church in 1490.
Modern witchcraft practices have grown since the early twentieth century. Now they can involve anything from magic, shamanism and folk medicine, to spiritual healing and calling upon spirits. Plus they veneration of ancient gods and deities. Several neo-pagan witchcraft groups have appeared claiming to be offshoots of traditional witchcraft.
It’s fair to say that witches have had bad press. And whilst there are always unethical and dangerous ones in any subset of people, witches are nothing to fear. Unless, of course, you fuck them over but they are here to help humanity.
I’m living between worlds at the moment as a modern witch. Which makes me quite tired. My body swans through this world, this heavy, archaic world.
And my mind is here also but my “other mind” the greater mind, or the mind behind the mind, is all encompassing something that I cannot grab, name or identify. At least not in the space, time, location sense.
This modern witch motherboard dashboard can operate at entire freaky levels – I’m writing and sitting in here this physical, heavy body (both energetically and physically) and there is a fully composed song (although the lyrics dash mercilessly out of my grasp, they fear their own genius too much to be left to the clumsy devices of a pauper like me). This song is a beautiful chart topper, with heart stirring melodic familiarity. And my conscious mind, the smaller mind at the forefront, seems to be scrambling, itching… trying to work out who sings it and where I’ve heard it before. How can I find it on Spotify?
I am half awake. Which makes it difficult, as most of the world’s population know, to exist. Stretching through worlds, no, bigger and better than worlds… are they dimensions? Leaves me confused and ever grasping for what I’m supposed to be doing, knowing, feeling…
This hypnagogic state is often my favourite (when it precedes a deep sleep). It also offers the most mystical insights and experiences. I’ve had the most vivid of auditory hallucinations during this time-space void: fully plotted out movies, orchestral odes, long lost memories and answers to problems de jour. But being in this state when the sun is shiny and the day is floodlit with normalcy is just plain f*cking irritating and debilitating.
Imagine me calling in sick (I don’t need to because I’m a fulltime modern witch but imagine nonetheless) because of “In Between Worlds Syndrome”. Such an irksome affliction.
Soundtrack to today’s mood:
What do you do when you encounter the modern witch affliction?
Read about the history of witchcraft.
Here’s how to do tasseography. Also known as coffee scrying. Firstly, brew your coffee overnight being sure to source ethically traded beans that have been handpicked according to your zodiac sign.
Kidding. I’m a full blown modern witch that lives life in 2019 and am busy as shit. So, as my Nespresso machine heats up, I set an intention as to what I want my coffee to reveal or shed some insight on.
Often, because of the irony of not having had my first coffee yet, I can’t quite cogitate a reasonable request. So, I set an intention of ‘please tell me what I need to know today.’ Which is technically asking for trouble in the form of a full blown mythological story in one cup. Two monsters, one cup, amirite?
Be sure to look for symbols, images, stories, anything meaningful TO YOU in the cup.
To me, the symbols are obvious. Both upon pour in the froth/crème and or when the cup has been drained and there are some coffee stains and residue left at the bottom or around the sides. I continue to hold the same intention as I drink the cup. You might even discover a linear narrative from first symbols to bottom of the cup images – that could be quite the journey and you MUST tell me about it.
It is, in all, a meditative process. And as most traditional tea drinking ceremonies and activities are intended. Furthermore, it works best with white or light coloured cups. What’s more, it works even better if you have a special, sacred mug that only you use.
Traditionally, tasseography used coffee grounds and drained tea leaves (at the bottom of a finished cup) to scry messages and symbols. Which works well too. But I’m not above a loveheart or angel wings appearing in my latte foam.
Technically, this kind of scrying method could be used for hot chocolate, beer and possibly wine. I have been known to scry into people’s gin and tonics at the pub on occasion. Whatever makes you happy, truly.
Although there are many common meanings and universal symbolism in images- think of a loveheart as an example- ultimately, what you see and interpret is entirely personal to you (or the person you are scrying for). Just like doing the tarot or anything other method of divination. If you’re unsure, always pick the most helpful answer or possibility.
The tasseography steps:
- Set intention
- Make coffee
- Look for symbols
- Continue intention whilst drinking
- Review for any final symbols
- Record your symbols
And yes, my fitness instructor-cum-dance teacher totally judges me for having three (four?) coffees a day, I’ll have it known that I DO NOT HAVE MUCH LEFT IN LIFE SO LET ME HAVE MY COFFEE.
I *don’t drink (I’ve had two red wines TOTAL in the past four months). I don’t eat sugar and I don’t smoke. My carbs are mostly restricted to (gulp) let’s just say “not many” grams per day. Plus, I never do drugs and I don’t have late nights. Fresh air is BAE. And I work out five to seven times a week. Let. Me. Have. Something that society deems unhealthy (is it though?).
Are you a fan of tasseography? Send me your coffee pics via Instagram or comments below.
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