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HomeIrreverand Hugh, Witch Neo-Pagan Witchcraft / Wicca 101 Glossary Part 1


Neo-Pagan Witchcraft / Wicca 101 Glossary Part 1

Irreverend Hugh

Foreword


Neo-Pagan Witchcraft, and Pagan religions in general have undergone some startling changes and growth in the past few years. I used to laugh about the idea that Neo-Pagan expressions of
spirituality would become the dominant set of religious practices in any society. Now, due to the rapid growth in the number of people involved in Neo-Pagan religions, led by the popularity of Wicca, I still laugh but only
because such an impossible idea is being realized before my very eyes. Due to the rapid influx of newly identified Pagans, usually of Wiccan or (Neo-Pagan) Witchcraft traditions, many of us who can write have started doing so with an aim to share our spirituality with others who may need an introduction of sorts.
The following is such a work. There is a key difference however. In this work
I am attempting to clear up a lot of preconceptions and oft repeated stereotypes that even people in “the Craft” have. I also
wish to demolish some of the stereotypes and unfounded assertions that many so-called occult writers have about Neo-Pagan Witchcraft; Wicca in particular.
To start with I will list a glossary of sorts dealing with the most common terms. It is important that such common terms be defined
as clearly as possible. Remember that not all will agree with everything I have to say, but I will present explanations that are generally
agreed upon with the caveat that sometimes there is an exception or two.

In the history of Neo-Pagan Witchcraft (that is, Wicca and other Pagan Witchcraft traditions), three texts have been published which are absolutely essential reading for anyone who wants to form the most balanced
outlook. The first was Margot Adler’s Drawing Down the Moon (original ed. 1979; 4th ed. 2006) which contains a wealth of information regarding Gardner’s ‘revival’ (most likely his creation) of Wicca, which is
definitely the first version of Neo-Pagan Witchcraft. The work also contains information on other forms of Neo-Paganism which contributed to the broader community at large.
The second work is Ronald Hutton’s Triumph of the Moon (1999) which is the most scholarly and detailed account of this phenomenon. Hutton’s work proves beyond any reasonable doubt that
Neo-Pagan Witchcraft is an absolutely modern creation and a lot of cherished assumptions held by both Wicca’s supporters and detractors are laid to rest.
The third work is Bonewits’s Essential Guide to Witchcraft and Wicca (Citadel Press, 2006). Isaac Bonewits has been working on this book for decades and he was one of the first American Neo-Pagans to challenge some
of the assumptions and myths about Wicca that were being told and retold as fact by many who should have known better. He effectively demolished the “Old Religion” and “Burning Times” myths and was not well liked because of it
way back in the halcyon days of the 1970’s. His work is important in that it contains a concrete account of the creation of Wicca, the various strands of Witchcraft, definitions of Witchcraft terms, and
common ritual structures. If you are stressed for money and can only afford one of these books, Isaac’s is the one to buy and read. (Go to his site at Neopagan.net for it.)

Now keep in mind that this presentation is only one of many that you can find. You should also consult others out there to get as informed as you can. A good start in your research is the Wicca 101 info at
the Wicca For The Rest Of Us website. To read my own personal ‘obligatory anti-fluffy’ rant, go over to Witchcraft Heresies, but I must warn you
that it is very polemical.

I have written the glossary in a very personal manner, so any of my own biases and preferences should be obvious. Each definition does contain commonly agreed upon uses, however. Intelligent readers will be able to tell the difference between my own commentaries
and the facts, as we have them today anyway. I have only listed what I feel are key terms that need my comments and definitions. I have tried to include all terms relevant to Neo-Pagan Witchcraft and even some terms that people assume have to do with it. Instead of emailing me angrily, look elsewhere if you don’t find the term you are looking for.
If you feel that I have missed an absolutely important term, contact me and I will investigate it with the intention of including it in future editions of this work.


Glossary of Commonly Used Terms



Altar

This is the central place, usually a low table, upon which ritual items and other significant things are placed. The altar is also the place where significant workings can take place during individual practice. Some covens/groups have their altar literally in the center of the circle. Other groups work with the altar in
one of the quarters, the most favored being the East, and somewhat lessor, the North. The altar also contains objects that represent the God and the Goddess, in whatever forms significant to the idiosyncrasies of the group or individual. The altar can be temporary, which gets consecrated every time a circle is cast. Or it can be
a more permanent structure which can gather and focus energy. This depends on the needs and habits of the group or individual. A note of etiquette: If you are ever invited into the home of another Neo-Pagan (or an adherent of any other religion for that matter), do not mess about with their altar or anything on it, no matter how prominently or beautifully it is displayed. (This ‘messing about’ includes touching or moving objects, or even simply
sitting/standing in front of it, or staring at it, no matter how reverential you feel.)
When in doubt, simply ask first. You wouldn’t want someone going into your home and rummaging through your things, even if you did invite them inside for dinner or chatting. Use the same courtesy in return.
Always assume that personal home altars are not public access worship spaces. This is simply common sense and good manners.

Athame
By now you know that this is the ritual knife. It is used for drawing the circle and certain symbols in the air – the element for which it represents. I bet you didn’t know that the English pronounce the word “athaymee.” It seems that Americans like to pronounce
it “athamay” or “athaym.” However it is pronounced, no one really knows just where the word comes from. Ronald Hutton makes a good case for it showing up in certain grimoires (some versions of the Key of Solomon) but tends toward
it being a modern invention. Be wary of false etymologies of the word.
Some people claim that you should not use this ritual tool to do any “mundane” activities. This is only good magical sense. However, you should feel free to use it to cut things during rituals or to prepare
magical items. The athame ‘traditionally’ has a black handle and the blade is double edged. It is a personal working tool…i.e. people don’t usually swap and share them.
Most Wiccans have their own athames, but also note that some of the present day derivatives of Wicca do rituals without them at all.

Banishing
When ending or winding down a ritual, some people call this “devoking.” The term refers to a sort of ‘saying goodbye.’ For other people the term ‘banishing’ runs the gamut from the simple sort of
devoking that occurs at the end of a ritual, to a more forceful sort of getting rid of unwanted entities, whether in ritual or as a spell. The latter usage is more common with the Ceremonial Magic practitioners or
other occultists. Banishing is a good practice to learn for mental and magical hygiene, at least in terms of grounding and centering exercises.
The usual direction for this sort of thing, if motion is involved, is counter-clockwise. You may hear the phrase ‘direction of banishing.’ (In which case you should laugh at the person who just said it.)

Some people may call this “clearing,” “cleansing,” or “exorcising” when at the beginning of ritual, depending on the tradition and the fancy of the individual or group. I favor more concise terms such as these since “banishing” has been stretched these days, but it is the most familiar term you will encounter.

Book of Shadows
Gerald Gardner adapted this term to Wicca. Doreen Valiente in The Rebirth of Witchcraft says that he came across the term in an article that was discussing Hindu divination through shadows. Gardner liked the name and thereafter used it
for what is now an important part of Wiccan practice. Outside of Wicca, an equivalent word used for the same thing is grimoire. These are basically texts in which magical practitioners would write their rituals and experiences, including any other related thoughts.
For Wiccans, the BOS is a personal sort of ‘journal’ which includes rituals, practices, experiments, meditations, meaningful phrases, bits of advice, and things related to personal Wiccan practice. Many traditions also have more standardized Books of Shadows which are only revealed
to oathbound initiates. The initiate is then allowed to copy this Book of Shadows and at some point will be encouraged to add to it. A personal BOS is your own possession and only you have the right to reveal portions of it (so long as it has no oathbound information). However, your coven or group’s BOS is never to be revealed to anyone not
oathbound to your coven or group.

You may wish to keep a distinction between the sort of daily notes you will make and the more formalized inscriptions you would add to your own BOS. This helps keep your BOS a distilled piece of work that only inspires a bit of reverence. Many Wiccans use regular notebooks and journals for the former and then later take the best
writings or practices and add them to their BOS. Please also note that you can go back over and rewrite your BOS, even after you feel you have finished. It is really a work that is never finished. Gerald Gardner himself never stopped rewriting his own BOS. Also, when writing things into your BOS, don’t feel like you need all the answers. It is perfectly okay to
have questions or to not have things figured out. That’s what the personal BOS is there for. At some point later in your life, you will read what you have written in the past and you will see how far you have come in your practice and understanding…this applies to everyone, no matter how long they have been Wiccan.

A note should be made about various versions of Books of Shadows that have been published. While you may wish to pick one or two of them up to get an idea of what some of them can look like, remember that as ‘living’ and constantly changing things, a tradition’s or a coven’s BOS, even if somehow published at some point, would never completely match what you can find in a store.
Versions of Gardnerian Books of Shadows that have been circulating don’t match any current Gardnerian coven’s BOS simply because each one is a changing and constantly added to and re-edited work.

Another note for those who are new to this: Beware of people who try to convince you that you should use special inks, papers, or books to write your BOS. That is so much hogwash. The important thing is that you yourself develop a feeling of reverence and care for the special work, if you should be so inclined as to make a formalized BOS. A lot of silly superstitions have grown up around
the Witch’s BOS. Don’t listen to any of them.

The Burning Times
The only reason I even put this definition here is because there are still some people out there that believe in this myth, lock stock and barrel.
The Burning Times refers to the period of persecution in Early Modern Europe in which several thousand people were accused as witches and executed for imaginary crimes. Wiccans as a whole once believed that the persecutions were an attempt
to destroy an earlier version of Wicca which was postulated to be a survival of pre-Christian Paganism. We know now that that is not the truth. Most of those executed for the imaginary crime of witchcraft were from a very devout Christian milieu and would probably be horrified
at today’s Neo-Pagans claiming them as their own. There are some notable exceptions, as in the case of Giordano Bruno, who was brash enough to suggest to a Pope that Christianity should be replaced with another religion (which would be a vaguely post-renaissance conception of classical paganism). Bruno paid for his heresy
by being burned at the stake in 1600. Bruno was a Ceremonial Magician and was not a precursor to modern Wicca in any way, except via the inspiration of his standing up for his convictions. (Though he could have been smarter about who he talked with.)

With all of the turmoil and social upheaval going on in early modern Europe, the period when the Witch Hunts are said to have taken place, it would be hard to imagine that the execution of accused witches would have been noticed by anyone except those immediately concerned. During the same period,
many more thousands of people were killed by warfare and by Christian sectarian fighting, not to mention various anti-Jewish pogroms and anti-heretic inquisitions. Early modern Europe does not seem to have been a nice place to live at all.

The fact that most of the victims of the Great Witch Hunts were women actually makes a slightly better case for feminists claiming the Burning Times than for any Neo-Pagans. But for Pagans looking for a time of persecution that rings true with their feelings, they need to look further back to the first few hundred years of Christianity, when classical forms of Paganism were destroyed
by Christian zealots who had political and military power. Let’s stop playing the victim game however, since it only sets us back and it could very well divert our attention from the much needed struggle for Neo-Pagans to be able to practice openly in today’s world.

The Celts

It is a sad example of the tenacity of ignorance that some who call themselves Wiccans or (Neo-Pagan) Witches still consider their religion
to be descended from the Celts. Many cite Robert Graves, who himself knew nothing of any Celtic cultures, as the source of these ideas. Citing Robert Graves
for any historical information is not very smart since his work is largely poetic and has nothing to do with scholarship. (Robert Graves rejected both native Celtic cultural experts and scholars of Celtic history.)
Wicca, outside of a few holiday names and some individuals adopting old Celtic pagan deities, has nothing to do with any Celtic culture, ancient or modern. Nor does it need to. Anyone who practices Wicca and claims
it is a Celtic-based or Celtic-descended religion is lying. Anyone who calls what they do “Celtic Wicca” is simply ignorant of both Celtic cultures/beliefs and Wicca.

A common mistake many Wiccans make is to assume that the Celts are long gone. Thus Celtic cultural trappings and deities can be used willy-nilly. Another idea is that modern people who have nothing to do with Celtic cultures, but feel for whatever reason to be descended from the Celts can claim a Celtic identity.
The problem with the first assertion comes from ignorance. There are Celtic people living in the modern world. There are six modern cultures and languages, all of them threatened. And as these people witness the slow murder of their cultures and lifestyles today, what does that make you look like when you claim to
be Celtic or to be practicing a Celtic religion, when you are not? If you are not a member of a Celtic community nor speak a Celtic language, stop posturing as a Celt. Celtic identity is cultural and has nothing to do with bloodline, no matter how strongly Celtic your ancestors may have been.

With that out of the way. Here is an inkling of the truth. There are today just under one million speakers of all six Celtic languages (out of a combined population of 16.5 million). The six Celtic lands are Ireland, Scotland, Brittany, Wales, Man, and Cornwall. In each one of these places Celtic cultures are threatened by economic pressures, social oppression, and tourism. Remember that the next time you decide
to “recharge” your pagan “roots” by visiting a Celtic land and imposing your values and language on the hard-pressed communities who now must cater to you to survive. Or remember it the next time you are tempted to lend yourself an air of authenticity or uniqueness by stealing facets and names from a people you really know nothing about.

Anyone who wishes to become informed on the subject of the Celts can find a plethora of information about them. You may wish to start with my polemical The Great Triple Spiral.

The Charge
The term originally comes from Free Masonry which, being one of the most long term enduring occult societies, unwittingly contributed much to modern groups. For most Wiccans today, ‘the Charge’ refers to the Charge of the Goddess, though there are many other charges used at different times. (And charges are usually the speeches or sayings people give when gods/goddesses have been invoked on them.) The modern Charge of the Goddess is largely the work of Doreen Valiente who rewrote Gardner’s original version of it into one of the most powerful and evocative
religious writings of any tradition. Gardner had written his original version based heavily off of material found in Charles Leland’s Aradia: Gospel of the Witches and some phrases he borrowed from Aleister Crowley’s The Book of the Law. Doreen Valiente wanted to revitalize the material. She kept much of the Leland material while expunging much of what can be traced to Crowley. The result was spectacular.

Today there are many versions of the Charge of the Goddess circulating among Neo-Pagan groups, most of which can be directly traced back to Doreen Valiente’s work, despite the fact that some people falsely credit the work as being ‘traditional.’
The basic format is one in which someone announces the invocation and then another person, usually a High Priestess, speaks the Charge as the Goddess Herself. Anyone interested in reading the Charge of the Goddess can find it in Wiccan books. Even Starhawk’s The Spiral Dance (which is about her own Neo-Pagan Witchcraft practices derived from Dianic and Feri traditions) contains a version of it. But it is really much more effective to hear it recited by an inspired person.

The Circle
This is the sacred space that is created before most important rituals. It can be traced on the ground, marked with cords or ribbons, or simply visualized by the participants. The circle is a ‘container’ of sorts which focuses the ritual energy. It is not known how old the practice of circle casting is, but Wicca absorbed the practice directly from ideas of the Ceremonial Magicians, particularly the Golden Dawn. The circle also represents the cyclical spiraling nature of life and of the seasonal
precessions. Contrary to the perceptions of many people within the broader Neo-Pagan community, Wiccans do not have to cast a circle for each act of magic or for each act of reverencing the deity, since both magic and the divine are everywhere.
The circle is mainly the symbolic representation of the way we garner a focus of energy in rituals that call for it. Regular practice of casting the circle and its attendant rites is also good magical/spiritual hygiene. But don’t kid yourselves into thinking that Wiccans must cast a circle before everything magical/spiritual that they do.

The Cone of Power
One of my favorite parts of Wiccan ritual involves the raising of the cone of power. It is the reason why you may see a bunch of Witches running or dancing around in a circle and then suddenly drop to the ground. But then again, they could just be weird.
Basically the cone of power is created when energy is drawn up through the body and circulated, or held in the circle to garner intensity, making a sort of spiral pattern to those who can see such things. At some point when the energy reaches its peak, it is launched out and immediately upwards towards whatever its intended goal is. (Such as a sick person needing healing energy.) The combined coven’s energy merging together is seen as a sort of cone-like emanation to those who see such things.
I personally can’t say I have seen it visually, but that’s because by the time the energy is launched, I’m at the point where I literally am not interested in seeing anything except for my visualized intention, though sometimes my vision is flooded with an electric blue. The feeling of launching the energy is akin to orgasm. Once the energy is released, most groups will drop to the ground and relax, letting any excess energy ground itself out through the earth.

Energy raising of this sort can also be accomplished by solitary practitioners. It is recommended that you try to find a mentor or at least someone who knows a trusted method, if only so you don’t get discouraged easily if your first attempts produce nothing exciting. Please note, that while raising a cone of power can be pleasurable in and of itself, you should always do so with an intention in mind. Even if the intention is just celebratory or an act of worship. If you just want entertainment, go watch a movie.
But, then again, who am I to tell you what to do with energy?

Coven

This is the most common term for a small group that practices Wicca. The coven is said to be the heart of Wicca. It functions as a sort of congregation and adopted family.
Covens usually have between three to fifteen members. Any group larger than fifteen becomes unworkable due to most of the rituals in Wicca being developed
and conceived of as small-group focused. Contrary to popular beliefs, coven based pagan witchcraft didn’t exist until Gerald Gardner created Wicca, although many writers postulated that
it had existed during the middle ages. The word ‘coven’ is not interchangeable with the word ‘circle’ for a couple of reasons. One: A circle refers to the sacred space in which most rituals take place.
Two: A circle, when used to refer to a group, is used to describe any gathering and can be loose and informal with people of many traditions gathering…such as in the words “Drum Circle” or “Fire Circle.” Some Pagan groups
call themselves circles, and some Wiccan groups may hold ‘circles’ that are open. This is not the same thing as a coven meeting which is usually private and intimate.

Cowan
I have to say that I really dislike the word ‘cowan.’ Technically it refers to someone who is not initiated into Wicca. But I have heard it and read it used in disparaging ways to refer to
non-Pagans much in the same way that some Jewish people use the word “goyim” to refer to non-Jews. As tolerant as all of us Neo-Pagans are supposed to be, do we really need special terms to describe other people? Can’t we just call others
what they themselves would like to be called? Besides all that, using a term like ‘cowan’ can lead to a gross simplification of the way one would view those who are not Wiccans specifically, or Pagans in general. And what about those
who are Wiccan by religion but have not been initiated? What about those Pagans who are simply content to worship the gods and goddesses without joining any mystery traditions or specific traditions?

I myself have tried to check out the etymology of the word and it seems to have always been used disparagingly, as in “We are the insiders, the cool people, the Ones who Know…and you are just a filthy, ignorant cowan.” This is more than enough justification to lay the use of this
stupid word to rest. If you join a group that I am in and I catch you using it, you had better wash your mouth out with soap. Just saying.

The Craft
This is one of those words that is often bandied about contributing to the muddled thinking many have about Neo-Pagan Witchcraft.
The term should never be used without a context since it means different things to everyone, if it can be said to mean anything at all.
Many people use it as shorthand word for Witchcraft or as another term for Wicca. The word actually comes from Free Masonry, which makes a lot of sense considering the fact that practitioners of that system also call themselves ‘Masons.’
I am ambivalent about the term. Sometimes I use it out of blind linguistic habit picked up from other people. Sometimes I dislike using the term and wish that others who do so would be more specific.

Dedication
This can be a ritual where one starts a course of study with a coven for “a year and a day.” This is so the candidate can get to know Wicca well enough to be able to make an informed
decision on whether they wish to be initiated into the religion. Those who have been dedicated in this way are often referred to as “dedicants.”
Some solitaries may also do a similar ritual for themselves. Dedication also refers to a ritual whereby one makes a more-or-less specific commitment to one or more of the gods and goddesses. It can also
refer to just a silent decision made between a practitioner and the gods and goddesses. Some people equate a solitary’s dedication with self-initiation, but the two terms are best left to refer to different rituals/ceremonies. For most of us, dedication is the start of our growth in Wicca.

Eclectic Wicca /(Neo-Pagan) Witchcraft

The word eclectic usually means a collection of various or disparate influences. This entry is here because, technically, this sort of Neo-Pagan Witchcraft is not a tradition. It refers to the practice of those who either don’t have access to a tradition or who choose
to not follow any specific tradition. There are some covens that are eclectic. There are even some traditions that are or were originally eclectic. Isaac Bonewits considers this form of Neo-Pagan Witchcraft to be the
most “heterodox,” whereas the Gardnerians, Alexandrians and other “British Traditionalists” are the most “orthodox.” (See Bonewits’s Essential Guide to Witchcraft and Wicca.) In practice, however, this polarity is blurred.
Contrary to the opinions of some “Traditionalists,” being eclectic does not equate with fluffiness, even though fluffy-bunnies often hide behind the eclectic label.

Elementals
The various spirits/beings associated with particular elements – as the term suggests. To my knowledge, the concept of elemental beings springs forth from Western Ceremonial Magic and it is not important whether Wiccans believe they exist, though many do.
Elementals can be naturally ‘self-existing’ entities, or they can also be creations of magic users. It is commonly thought that elementals are sentient beings who primarily live in etheric planes. The common names for them are Sylphs (air), Salamanders (fire),
Undines (water), and Gnomes (earth). Despite what many spurious writers have claimed, elementals are not gods or goddesses, which are a separate class of beings altogether. Contrary to what many people may feel, it is important to study and note the differences.

The Elements
Depending on one’s practice, there are four elements which make up spirit, or there are five elements including spirit. The four basic elements are earth, air, fire and water. They are essential to ritual and are commonly associated with the “quarters” and are symbolized by ritual items in the following way:

  • Earth – North; Salt, Pentacle
  • Air – East; Incense, Blade
  • Fire – South; Candle, Wand, Incense burner
  • Water – West; Cup/Chalice.
    Note that some Wiccans consider the blade (athame or sword) to be an item of fire and the wand to be an item of air.
    There are more associations and aspects but that should be a good enough start. To learn how they fit into Wiccan rituals, do some research or ask your Craft mentors/teachers. It is much more interesting and worthwhile to learn about the elements from discussions and ritual practice than from any other method.

    Feminism
    There used to be a lot of animosity between Wiccans and their feminist co-religionists, many of whom, to be fair, consider themselves Goddess worshippers more than Wiccans.
    Because of writers like Z Budapest, who is the most famous Dianic Witch, some have assumed that the whole of Wicca and Neo-Pagan Witchcraft is feminist. (Some people cite Starhawk, but compared to Z Budapest, Starhawk can be seen more as the middle ground between feminists and other Neo-Pagans.)
    Feminism is a social, political, and cultural movement. Neo-Pagan Witchcraft is a religion, not necessarily having anything to do with politics.
    I respect feminism and have been much influenced and illuminated by many of its writers. Feminists can be Wiccans and Wiccans can be a part of feminism. Since Wicca has a balanced and equal treatment of genders and all sexualities are welcome, I don’t see the need for a feminist ‘Craft. And while I respect the right of covens to be as feminist as they want to be, even
    to the point of excluding men, I don’t feel they have the right to misrepresent our religion as something that is innately feminist. It isn’t innately anything but what it is: Neo-Pagan Witchcraft.
    There are still a few people who believe that their ‘womanhood’ gives them the right to call themselves Witches. This is absurd.
    One’s gender or sexuality doesn’t give one the right to call oneself a member of any religion. What makes you a member is belief and practice.

    Fluffy-Bunnies, Fluffers, Wiccolytes, etc.
    No matter how many variations on these terms there are, they all can be defined thusly: A person who insists on misrepresenting Wicca or other Pagan traditions no matter how many others point out the errors of their ways.
    Fluffy-bunnies also tend toward a rosy picture of life based more on New Age types of metaphysical fantasies than actual ritual practices. Fluffers tend to adhere zealously to the likes of Silver Ravenwolf or Fiona Horne.
    Note that fluffers are not the same as newbies. A newbie is someone who is simply uninformed because they are new to the whole thing. A fluffer gets called fluffy no matter how long they have been around simply because of their ignorant attitudes. For more on what fluffies do and what they are about,
    see the article “Fluffy Bunnies” on the above mentioned Wicca For The Rest of Us website and Obsidian’s Mirror for starters.

    Tendencies to look out for which can be signs of fluffiness include:
    slavish devotion to the opinions of writers who have proven to be spurious at best or fraudulent at worst;
    refusal to investigate any opinions that may counter their own;
    dogmatic attitudes about what they think Wicca, Witchcraft, or Neo-Paganism should be or is;
    exhibiting no signs of being touched by the divine or of having any ecstatic experiences;
    fearing, mistrusting or looking down on ecstatic experiences because they are “weird” or they don’t seem “cool”;
    rabid anti-Christian sentiments even when an individual has no experience of persecution;
    claims about titles, elevations, initiations, or abilities that they refuse to verify; claiming to have been a Wiccan or some other Pagan since they were toddlers yet without having Pagan parents;
    and so on. I’ll leave you with a quote from the “Fluffy Behavior 101” webpage by Freeman and Skydancer:

    “The distinction we make between newbie and fluffy is precisely in terms of how they respond to education. We encounter plenty of each kind. The uneducable will more likely flare up at anyone who presents the truth, because they have already committed to “it’s anything I want it to be” as a guiding principle, whether we’re talking about history, theology, the practice of magick, or whatever.

    Why do we make such a big deal about fluffies? We’d happily let it pass if they weren’t so busy trying to impose their fluffy values on the rest of the community. The rabid fervor with which they attempt to impose their flippancy on others gives outsiders the impression that we’re all stupid, incapable of critical thinking skills, and inconsistent. Quite frankly, we don’t appreciate that, and we don’t appreciate being told we need to behave in stupid, unthinking, and inconsistent ways. So while you are certainly entitled to believe whatever you wish, you don’t have a right to force it on us; but we do have a right to call bullshit when we see it.”

    The Fluffying Times
    This term describes the present day inundation of all forms of Neo-Pagan Witchcraft by the fluffy-bunnies and their favorite authors. It also refers to the forum trolling
    and flaming that occurs when any other Pagan challenges their fluffy ways. Fluffy bunnies may be into all peace-and-light, but ask them to verify some of their knowledge and watch them get
    nastier than the Inquisition.

    Despite the current rise of the fluffying times, accurate information about Wicca and Neo-Pagan Witchcraft is available and it is just as easy to find as the more spurious crappola.
    Serious and mirthy practitioners have published about as many websites as the fluffy media-whores. And many of us will still be around after the fluffy bunnies have moved on to the next
    big hyped thing.

    God and Goddess; The Lady and the Lord; Him and Her; etc.
    I don’t know about the rest of you all, but the Wicca I was introduced to had an equal emphasis on both the Double-Aspected Horned God (actually “Antlered” in my group) and the Triple-Aspected Goddess (“Young Lady, Mature Lady, and Old Lady”).
    I myself preferred the Goddess for a while, but I chalk that up to my maleness as opposed to any feminist leanings.
    Thanks both to the rise of fluffy-bunnyism and to secrecy, it seems that these representations of divinity are today the least explained aspect of Wicca.
    (It’s hard to get into theology when all everyone wants to do is to buy instant-witch spellbooks and dress up like sea-hags.)
    Please be forewarned that Wicca is a religion and that gods are a part of it. There is a lot of stupid arguing going on about whether or not the Wiccan duotheology is
    a modern invention or not. Why argue? Of course it is a modern invention, but so what? At some point back in time the Christian trinity was a new invention too.
    Other stupid arguments revolve around Wicca’s supposed emphasis on its duotheology where all gods and goddesses are seen as aspects of the Lord and Lady. This is a fruitless argument too.
    People need to realize that the Lady and the Lord are a framework through which divinities are approached. They are not a be-all-end-all revelation of the “true nature” of any deity. Wicca’s duotheology is
    simply one beautiful way of describing the divine. It in no way prevents Wiccans from being polytheists and recognizing the plethora of deities that exist. I do feel that if people are going to call themselves
    Wiccan then they need to work around this duotheological framework, no matter how many deities they worship, otherwise why bother calling oneself Wiccan?
    See separate entries for more info on the Lady and the Lord.

    Finally, if you are one of those people going around saying that the God and Goddess are beings of love and goodness, you need to check yourself. Since our spirituality is one of balance and we have no evil deities, why would we have good ones?
    The Lady and the Lord are the sunshine on your face as well as the thunderstorm that just flooded your basement. Like the humans you may know, any deity may be perceived by you as ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ but don’t let
    these categories fool you. An all benevolent deity is not something to be found in most Pagan religions, modern or ancient. That idea is most favored in Christianity and its monotheist sister faiths. Also, those people going around only worshipping the Goddess and ignoring the God because of their assumed bad experiences with “patriarchal Christianity” are insulting both Wicca and Christianity. Why
    someone who calls themselves Wiccan would ignore the Wiccan God because of what the Christian God allegedly did is beyond me. Our God, like our Goddess, is not the same thing and bears no resemblance to Christian conceptions of divinity. So your assumed or real experiences
    with Christianity do not give you an excuse to ‘cop-out’ from an important part of Wicca. Remember people, it’s “God and Goddess” together.

    Goddess Spirituality/Religion
    This refers to the religions and practices of those who worship a “Great Goddess” or goddesses but may or may not consider themselves Neo-Pagans. Usually this involves
    a Paganism heavily influenced by feminist writers, some of whom are, or were, adherents of Neo-Pagan Witchcraft traditions.
    Many Goddess worshippers call what they do “Witchcraft” and consider themselves “Witches.” By definition some Goddess religions could fall under the term Neo-Pagan Witchcraft. But Goddess religion and spirituality is really
    a distinct movement. It is not Wicca. Starhawk can be said to be the most popular writer in the (Neo-Pagan) Witchcraft portion of Goddess spirituality movement.
    Consult her writings for a good example of something that is a derivative of Wicca but has gone off to become its own religion.

    Hereditary / Family Tradition Witchcraft
    First off, if you assume that everyone who claims to come from a family that has been practicing witchcraft
    for generations is lying, your assumptions will not be wrong. Since the announcement of Gerald Gardner’s Witchcraft religion in the early 1950’s, there has been a plethora of people and groups who, for one reason or another,
    claim to be practicing witchcraft that has been handed down through the centuries. All of the individuals and groups who claim so have never been able to support their claims, a good many of them being discredited. Most of these
    groups and people practice a witchcraft that is suspiciously close to modern Wicca and/or its derivatives.
    When Wiccans and many of the general public accepted the Murray thesis (about the “Old Religion” and the “Burning Times”), most of these “Hereditary Witches” claimed to be practicing a better form of Wicca. Now that the Murray thesis is largely
    discredited with most serious Wiccans not believing it, some of these same “Hereditary Witches” are claiming to be from what they call either “Traditional Witchcraft” or “Traditional Paganism.” Both of these terms are mainly used in attempts to de-emphasize Gerald Gardner’s role in creating
    Neo-Pagan Witchcraft. They usually never call themselves Wiccan anymore. Most Hereditaries use athames, cast circles, and use the four elements in their rituals; none of which can be definitively proven to have been used together in any pagan religion before the 20th century rise of Wicca.

    Secondly, there are some who believe that Witchcraft is in the blood line, so to speak. Since none of this can be verified in any meaningful way, treat anyone who claims to have Witchcraft in their blood as a liar. You can’t have Witchcraft in your blood anymore than you could have
    Physics, Music, or Buddhist Meditation in your blood, even if your parents did one or more of these things. Now some people may be geniuses in such fields, as some people are geniuses in Witchcraft, either the Neo-Pagan religious variety, or the more mundane magical variety. But that has nothing
    to do with heredity, no matter what people want to believe.

    Both the occult and the Neo-Pagan worlds are full of such canards. But don’t fret, other subcultural groups have them as well.
    I suppose that as Pagans have children and their children have children, then at some point some people will be able to claim that what they are doing is family tradition or hereditary.

    Next page —>

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