By Harleen Kaur
Wicca. A craft of magic and empowerment, believes that every element has a consciousness directly linked with Nature. If we are open to this consciousness, it acts as our guide in life. Wicca is all about developing an enhanced awareness, both of one’s surroundings and of oneself
Long ago when the world started, there was magic everywhere; every race and country, every tribe and tributary had its magic-handlers, its wise witch-people. Magic is another word for creation, for the creation of the world was the biggest magic of all.
—Dorothy Edwards in The Witches and the Grinnygog
Magic (often spelt as ‘magick’ to differentiate it from sleight of hand) was a part and parcel of the Old Religions. It was an Old Way of Knowing, it followed the law of the land. It delighted in finding the sacred in the profane, its popular language was myth and ritual, its foundation was rapture and the experience of Nature its living communion. Its perception of spirits in streams, rocks and groves and its acceptance of Nature as the divinity manifest was an age-old awareness that has been all but lost in this century.
It was a mature appreciation of the created and the uncreated worlds, this magic. Its objective was to seek to restore the ancient harmonies between intellect and intuition, matter and spirit, earth and heaven, head and heart, and it presided over the principle of union in Nature. It offered freedom from oppression. It was the veneration of natural icons, the use of natural clairvoyance and the subtle powers of the human body and mind.
From this rose paganism, shamanism and other religions of the Old World. In all these, the Earth Mother and the Creator were central—for day-to-day living, evolution, empowerment and healing. From paganism and shamanism arose ‘Wicca’ or modern witchcraft.
The Moon Goddess and her consort, the Horned God, are the two main deities worshipped and honored in Wicca. Moon is the sacred symbol of the Goddess and represents fertility, feminine energy and occult powers of Nature. The Horned God presides over woodlands, wild animals and the hunt (which in those days was as important as life and death). The union of the God and the Goddess maintains the balance in Nature.
Wiccans (practitioners of Wicca) derive their power from air, water, earth and fire, the natural elements from which God created the universe. These elements are associated with directions—air is east, fire south, water west and earth is north.
Wiccans believe that every element (animate and inanimate) has a consciousness that acts as a direct link with Nature. If we are open to these modes of consciousness, they may act as guides and guardians on the path that we are meant to follow. We may also gain wisdom from simply observing them. This is believed necessary for developing an enhanced awareness, both of one’s surroundings and of oneself.
I am the beauty of the green earth,
the white moon amongst the stars,
the mystery of the waters.
I am as I always was…
In truth I am,
I was and will be
I am something that you possess,
Something yet that you seek
I am that which binds, and that which sets free
I am the Soul of Nature, who giveth life to the Universe…
Wiccans seek spiritual communion with the wisdom of the universe, to absorb what is good, wise and practical, which is then used to empower and heal. According to Egyptians and Celts, stone and wood have thoughts, a kind of comprehension that can be imbibed, and which then becomes part of one’s own being. Cooking in the woods on an open fire, meditating and walking in the forest have traditionally worked as energizers.
Wicca includes the practice of various forms of white magic, as well as rites to attune oneself with the central rhythm of life spelt out by the phases of the moon and the seasons.
All Wiccans follow the Wiccan Rede: ‘An’ it harm none, do what thou wilt.’ The exact origin of the Wiccan Rede is not known. It has been interpreted as meaning—Be free to do what you feel in your heart is right, provided no harm be brought to anyone as a result. Most Wiccans live by the Wiccan Rede and believe that if they violate it, even unintentionally, they would have to contend with negative karmic returns.
Ipsita Roy Chakraverti, a well-known Wiccan, comments: ‘Traditionally, Wicca has never interacted with people. It has always been close-knit and secretive. Also, it doesn’t want converts. Those who are meant to follow the Path know it.’
The aim of a Wiccan is not just self-improvement and delving into the olden ways, but it is to live them, experiment with them and to become them. A Wiccan communes with spirits of Nature, and in turn uses these powers. As Ipsita says: ‘It is not something that can be learnt in a day or two. Unfortunately, people don’t understand that it takes years of practice. Why Wicca, any mystical subject takes years to learn. It has to become a way of life.’
IN PRACTICAL TERMS…
An ancient ritual known as ‘Drawing down the moon’ is practised to absorb the powerful energy of the full moon for spiritual and magical empowerment and for recharging of the Wiccan’s energies.
Different phases of the moon are important. A waxing moon is ideal for magic that causes things to increase, grow, strengthen or attract. The waning moon is for magic that causes things to decrease, weaken or come to an end. The full moon is favorable for performing divinations, fertility magic and all things psychic. The only phase not conducive to magic is when there is no moon.
There is another ritual known as ‘Drawing down the sun’ in which energy from Mother Earth is drawn through a technique called the Cone of Power, intended at a specific goal. Spirits of the woods and other elements in Nature are invoked. This involves visualization techniques, chanting (derived from sounds of Nature) and, should be performed at the correct lunar phase.
When power is drawn from the elements of Nature, it is done for specific intentions and goals. The magical energy is raised, directed (towards the goal or intention) and then released.
Love and care for the universe is essential in Wicca. It is a beautiful craft, but not without some inherent danger. The use of invisible forces can be deadly if done without adequate clarity, guidance and protection. Growth and transformation come from the use of power, the danger stems from its abuse.
WICCA AND HEALING
‘White Magic’ has traditionally been practised by Wiccans over the centuries. In medieval Germany and in 19th century North America, the charmer would whisper or sing the patient back to health. In a small village in southern Italy, the maciara or sorceress treated her patients by tying knots in a length of a string. Old Wiccans used healing wands made from tree branches.
Some traditions of Wicca use herbs , oils, gemstones, colors and spells to empower and heal. For instance, cinnamon is used to bring money and success. Cloves banish evil, protect and bring love and money. Eucalyptus is perceived to be the best herb for healing. Lavender and rose buds are used in love spells.
Similarly, every fragrance, color, oil and gemstone has its own asset in the form of riches, peace , exorcism, spirituality, luck, energy and healing.
Athame, a ritual dagger and an extension of the healing hand, is used to store and direct energy during rituals. It corresponds to the air element.
A Wiccan would draw energy from the universe using these tools, which would then be used to suck out the diseased energy from the patient. This would then be dispersed into the Earth. The healer, thus, is not drawing upon his/her own energies, but is tapping the universal current. However, a Wiccan healer must be trained properly to draw this universal energy.
A white magician needs to practise strict discipline and adhere to a code of conduct. Over years of practice, she becomes a part of the universal current that she invokes. As Rekha Anand, a Wiccan, says: ‘I underwent a training period of three and a half years and I feel I am still learning. I need to know more.’ Delving into her personal experience, she says: ‘When I trained for Wicca, I felt I had come home. I use it for emotional healing, which is what most women need.’
A popular tradition in Wicca is love craft, which is based on the simple tenet: ‘Love is the law’. As love is healing, nurturing, motivating and empowering, it is by far the most powerful of all human emotions. Love is said to be able to ‘conquer all’. It is not only the greatest source of magical power, it is magic in itself.
Practitioners of this tradition utilize visualization techniques in conjunction with the raising, directing and release of love energy in the casting of spells. Regardless of the goal of the spell, whether it be for healing, prosperity, obtaining affection or passion, breaking curses, promoting fertility or awakening psychic powers, it is always powered by love, but above all by the will of the witch.
Wicca is a way of opening up to an expansion of consciousness, but it does not automatically bestow spiritual insights. The initiator can do no more than open the gate. It is the student who must climb the path. And mind you, Wicca is a path not for many.
As a Wiccan would say ‘You began your actual study many centuries ago. The wheel has started turning. It will stop only when the purpose is fulfilled. Maybe you have already realized the purpose. Above all else, there was a path on which you were meant to walk. Recognize it, just as it knows you.
‘Be like Isis (Egyptian goddess of fertility associated with magic), a woman complete in yourself. Learn the language of enchantment but not of deceit. Learn how to play the games life offers. Take from life the part you wish to play, but play it with a regal demeanor. Even with power at your feet, crush not kindness and compassion, without which power is the tool of fools.
‘Learn from what is around you, from the elements; absorb, assimilate and bestow a legacy on your children.’
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An interview with Delhi-based Wiccan Ipsita Roy Chakraverti who belongs to the Pagan School of Wicca:
What are the sources of energy used by a Wiccan?
All the elements—Earth, rocks, wood. When the world was formed, there was consciousness in the elements, and it is the same consciousness that is drawn upon by a Wiccan.
Are symbols used in Wicca?
No, we don’t use symbols, but in certain Wiccan traditions, a circle is drawn clockwise with the Athame and the Wiccan stays inside that circle. The powers are then contained within that space.
How does a Wiccan heal?
Wiccans use the Athame, an extension of the healing hand. There is also crystal, amber (not used in any other alternative stream of healing) and rose quartz. Certain mantras or chants are also used. A Wiccan uses certain parts of the body, like the eyes to channelize energy.
How can Wicca empower women?
Historically, witches have been burnt at the stake. Fortunately, in the West now Wicca is being taken positively as revering the wise woman. But in India, it is still considered evil. I do get a lot of inquiries from women who want to become witches. I have done workshops with women in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, in India. My book (Beloved Witch) also has some simple spells, which have been used by people.
Is Wicca becoming popular, then?
Everybody learns with a purpose, which might be love, revenge, money, power. To those who are serious, I recommend a few books, The Golden Bough by James Frazer, for instance, and then talk to them. Unfortunately, very few want to empower themselves without any ulterior motive.
I’ve found keen interest in the younger generation. In colleges, girls want to know about the spiritual side of Wicca. About toning the mind, helping others. That is where I am going to focus now. There are about 1,000 students in Bengal who have adopted the Wiccan way of life.