“I’ve always been interested in Wicca since I found out about it a few years ago, I have a few books about the religion/culture and love reading about it. There have been a few times where I considered becoming a Wiccan, but I’m not very religious and I don’t really feel comfortable performing any magic, ceremonies, or anything like that. I guess what I’m trying to ask is how I should go about becoming a Wiccan.”
You’ve got a few questions rolled into that one:
1. Should you consider becoming part of a religion, although you don’t consider yourself religious? But what does ‘being religious’ mean to you?
2. You don’t feel comfortable practicing magic or participating in ceremony and perhaps wonder if this is a requirement to be a Wiccan.
3. You’d like to know what to consider in respect of becoming Wiccan.
Well, all these are excellent questions! I can help you with numbers 1 and 2, but there is only only one person who can answer number 3 – you! But you need to have the information and the tools which will be the response to questions 1 and 2 in order to make your decision and that is what I’m going to provide for you.
You’ve asked specifically about becoming a Wiccan. Wicca is but one flavour in this vast universe of pagan religions and practices, and I think it’s worth outlining the differences between them all for you.
First of all, you need to consider what a religion is.
The difference between a religion and a practice is that a religion is a set of beliefs that has a social aspect. This means that it is organised, has clergy, a liturgical calendar. A spiritual practice is a set of beliefs that lacks the social aspect. A religion will be a spiritual practice, but a spiritual practice may not be a religion. Most people I talk to understand that ‘being religious’ means proselytising, attending mass weekly, and being god-fearing. Really, it means holding a set of spiritual beliefs and participating in the social aspects of those beliefs with others.
So, would you consider that you could be ‘religious’ in the right religion for you?
How do you find that right religion? Let’s have a look at Wicca and paganism in the broadest sense as potential candidates.
The word pagan originally meant ‘one from the country’, but was borrowed by the Catholic faith to mean ‘not Catholic’. Today, a pagan is someone who is not a follower of an Abrahamic or Karmic religion and celebrates the cycles of the Earth. Broad, isn’t it!
Wicca is a pagan religion which has a specific subset of beliefs of paganism and usually encompasses the practice of witchcraft. Big names in Wicca are Buckland, Cunningham, Gardner, Starhawk… the list is as long as your arm. There are also various forms, such as Gardenian, Dianic, and Alexandrian.
Witchcraft is the practice of magic, or, as I call it, the direction of energy using ritual. On its own, witchcraft is not a religion but is a spiritual practice.
Considering the above:
· A witch can be pagan
· A witch can be Wiccan
· A pagan can be a witch
· A Wiccan can be a witch
· A pagan may not be Wiccan or a witch
For example, I am a witch and a pagan but I am not a Wiccan.
What I think you should do is get this whole ‘should I become a Wiccan’ question out of your mind for a moment. The beauty of finding the practice and religion that is best for you is that wondrous ‘ah ha!’ moment. The, ‘I thought I was the only one that thought this way!’ moment that ignites your very core and stirs your soul.
Let’s sort out if Wicca is the path for you.
· A half hour of spare time
· Pen and paper
· Your favourite CD
· Your favourite incense
Sit quietly and write down answers to these lists. Set a timer of three minutes for each list. The total is fifteen minutes of list writing.
First list is all the things that are important in your life. The non-negotiables. Things like living close to trees, treating others with respect, speaking your mind etc.
Second, write a list of what makes you happy. This could be sleeping in, walking in the forest, watching the moon, catching up with friends.
Third, write a list of what you believe is important about the Earth. Her seasons, day and night, animals are all possible answers.
Fourth, write a down three social justice issues that are important to you and why they are important.
Fifth, write the names of three people you admire and dot points about why you admire them.
At the end of these five lists, you should have an insight into what motivates and is important to YOU. Find the words and themes that overlap. These are your primary clues. Really sit and think about your results. Journal and contemplate today. Don’t do any more than that.
The next day or even a few days later, find some basic information about some Wiccan traditions and reduce them to a few key themes. Do these themes align with what is important to you? If not, it is likely that this religion is not for you. If so, GREAT! Enquire, read, talk to others, ask questions, then read some more!
In any case, read and ask more questions about paganism as this appears to be the underlying theme of what stirs you.
On a personal note, I never felt comfortable chanting in yoga until I had a mind-blowing experience with an amazing tacher who opened my eyes to what sound can mean as part of the practice. Lack of comfort can be a great thing. This is where we find out who we really are. But there is also the lack of comfort that comes from the ‘whoooa, wrong for me!!’ If you can learn to distinguish between the two and push your boundaries a little bit, you can learn amazing things about yourself.
Good luck, lovely! I wish you the absolute best.