BOOK OF SHADOWS
What We Believe
Wicca is essentially a nature based faith. It concentrates and centers on the Triple Goddess and her consort - the God, although to many we appear to pay homage to every deity in the history of the human race (and in a way we do).
To us, a deity or godforce can have touched a thousand different peoples over a thousand years and gone by as many different names. But the attributes of a particular deity will always be similar. For example Diana, Artemis and Selene - all associated with virgins, hunting and the moon.
Dieties tend to follow four paths. The three aspects of the Triple Goddess, a lunar deity, and the God, a solar deity. These four paths are reflected in nature through the seasons, the moon, the sun and the cycles of life itself, which is why our festivals are strongly seasonal.
Each aspect of the Goddess is known by many names and has a specific time of the year, time of life and phase of the moon over which she is said to rule. The Maiden is the first aspect and rules during the waxing moon - a moon that is growing and coming up to strength. She returns to the world in Spring and is associated with childhood, flowers and virgins. Some of the names that Maiden deities go by are Diana, Artemis and Kuan Yin. The second aspect is the Mother who rules during the full moon - a moon that has grown to womanhood and becomes full of power. She is associated with adulthood, pregnancy, the harvest, and Summer. Mother deities go by the names of Ceres, Inanna, Isis, and Gaia, to name a few. The third aspect is the Crone who is associated with the waning (fading) moon, the later stages in life, wisdom, knowledge, and Autumn. Her names include Hecate, Cerridwen and Atropos.
The God is not perceived as holding separate aspects in the same manner as the Goddess because he is a solar deity. However, he is acknowledged as having different stages, depending on the year. They are the Solar Youth, the Green Man and the Hunter. The Solar Youth returns at the beginning of Spring from the depths of the Goddess and is known as Lugh, Belenus, or Apollo. Around the end of spring he becomes The Green Man, the God of the forests and vegetation, who marries the Maiden at Beltane and together they make the harvests possible. In Winter he becomes the Hunter, and is associated with the black moon and death, a sad but necessary part of life. At this time his names include Herne, Cerrunos and Yahweh.
Most Wiccans pay homage to both the Goddess and the God, though concentrating mainly on the Goddess herself. There are, however, no rules that say you have to. 'Ways of being' are just as varied. Some like the solitary path, some prefer a coven, some like to form looser, more informal groups (although I'm essentially a solitary, I am definitely a fan of the informal group), some are mixed groups and some are women or men only. Wicca is an individualistic and adaptable faith
The Basic Rules
As I said, the 'ways of being' can be widely different amongst Wiccans. There are, however, a few rules which all Wiccans abide by without debate.
First and foremost of these is 'The Wiccan Rede'. Traditionally it reads, "An' ye harm none, do as thou will". This means that your gifts must never be used against anything or anyone for any reason - ever.
This can be a hard one. For instance, the next door neighbours partner comes home three nights a week, drunk and stoned to the eyeballs, and beats the crap out of them. You cannot intervene without their request or permission and even then you cannot help by asking the Goddess to drop the transgressor down a very deep hole!
Scott Cunningham, a well known author of Wiccan books, once wrote that, although it seems a nice thing to do, helping someone against their will is no better than psychic rape.
Get it? I hope so because the second rule goes like this -'everything you do will come back to you threefold'! Which means if you put positive energy into the universe through positive thought and deed, you get positive energy back three times over. Alternately if you put negative energy into the universe through negative thought and deed, you get negative energy back three times worse.
The third thing, that we all tend to agree on, is that the earth is a living being and the animals and the plants, that we are lucky enough to share the earth with, are our brothers and sisters and they have as much right to be here as we. The value of life is not dependant on its vessel or size. One does not kill for any reason but the natural law - survival.
Majick - Ritual, Spellcraft and Prayer
is about fine tuning - it helps to direct the energies around you.
Spellcraft is, essentially, a stronger form of prayer. A great many of Wiccans actually prefer to pray but occasionally the situation demands a bit of oomph! Be warned, though, it must never be used carelessly or blindly. If you can, find someone you know well and trust, and who follows the Rules, to guide you.
The Rules of Majick are pretty much The Rede and the Need. The Rede - which is the First Rule of Wicca (don't hurt anything, any way) and the need - you must really need what you are asking the spell to do (the emotional element). There are some more notes on Spellcraft further on...
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