Questions for Wiccans

I came across this on one of my lists – it began as a question on Yahoo Answers. It was directed toward Wiccans, which I am not, but I think they’re appropriate for anyone on a Pagan path. You can go here to view the original and some of the answers that were posted – here are mine.

1. The threefold law. Do you really view this as a law or a universal truth?

You get what you give, you reap what you sow, you get back what you put in – that’s a pretty universal concept, though calling it a law is a bit of a stretch. But three for one? I haven’t seen that anywhere else, and I haven’t experienced it in my life. One for one? Definitely.

I think the real benefit of the threefold law and the whole concept of karma as it’s generally understood in the NeoPagan community is that it removes (or at least reduces) the emotional need for vengeance. If I know that an evildoer has a cosmic ass kicking coming, I don’t have to worry about being the foot. Now, I still need to do everything in my power to stop him from doing further damage, but it’s not my job to even the score.

2. The rede. I’ve read the long version and the short version. Do you consider this pretty poetry, rules of your belief, guidelines or something else?

“Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill; an it harm none, do as you will.” The Rede is about as close as it gets to a sacred text for Pagans. And like the Bible or other sacred texts, it contains wisdom and truth, but in order to fully understand it, you have to consider the context. The Rede came out of the Victorian era when repression of individuality and especially sexuality was rampant. The authors wanted to say “they’ve got it wrong – you don’t have to deny who and what you are and conform to someone else’s view of ‘propriety’. Just don’t hurt anybody.”

I think the Pagan revivalists won, because in the 21st century Western world a lot of people who’ve never heard of Wicca live by the Rede. And it’s slowly but surely working its way into formal law, aided by the Griswold v. Connecticut ruling in 1965 that articulated the right to privacy.

As for me, it’s a guideline. It’s a reminder that I have to live my life my way. But because there are always other people and other factors to consider, it’s not a hard-fast rule.

3. Is Wicca hard polytheistic or soft, or is it up to the practitioner? I’ve seen so many contradicting statements on this.

I’ve seen Wiccans and Wiccan covens on all sides of this issue, and I have NO desire to get into an argument on the “correct” Wiccan response.

I’m a soft polytheist. I have experienced individual gods and goddesses, but I also see unity in all things. And I frequently address the Divine as “The Goddess and The God.”

4. From what I understand, most Wiccan spells or rituals are highly personalized and created by the user. Why is this? And how do you feel about spells or rituals not created by you, older things, like spells laid out in books like De occulta philosophia libri tres, Galdrabók, and common low spellwork such as the Roma do, or folk magic from older times?

This question should have come after #5, since it builds on it. Spells are manipulation of energy. Some ingredients contain a particular type or flavor of energy, and some props or tools help you focus properly. To the extent that other people’s spells utilize universal symbols, they can help. But no borrowed spell will ever have the correspondences that help you manipulate energy like something you prepare yourself – assuming, of course, that you put an adequate amount of time and effort into you preparation. Go back to Question #1 – you get out what you put in.

I don’t have a lot of experience with “high magic,” but I do know that much of it is ultimately concerned with spiritual growth and development, not with effecting things in the material world. Those who dabble with very old sources should make sure they understand exactly what they’re dealing with.

5. Do you view your spells and rituals as prayer or actual manipulation of energy?

Both. If I do it it’s manipulation of energy. If I ask a deity to do it, it’s prayer. If I do both, it means it’s really important and I’m leaving no stone unturned to make sure it happens. That’s why some of our public rituals include the line “add your magic to ours, we ask…” (I borrowed that line from somewhere, but it’s been so long I’ve forgotten where. Most likely an ADF Druid ritual).

6. How long must someone study or train to be a full fledged Wiccan or practice spellcraft? For my tradition it is something between three and five years – or is there no limit?

The traditional Wiccan period of apprenticeship is a year and a day. But anybody who thinks 366 days of study makes him or her a full-fledged anything is either deluded or lazy.

It takes an instant to commit yourself to a spiritual path. It takes a few years to become a competent practitioner, depending on your aptitude and dedication, and the quality of instruction you’re able to obtain. Becoming a master takes a lifetime, or according to some traditions, several lifetimes.

I used to have a boss who liked to ask “do you have ten years’ experience or do you have one year’s experience ten times over?” Don’t confuse quality with quantity – you need both.

7. If you don’t practice witchcraft, do you find that people assume you do? Is there a reason you don’t practice, or do you just not feel like it?

Since I’m primarily a Pagan and a Druid, I don’t get the witchcraft questions as much as I imagine most Wiccans do. But also, I generally prefer to address mundane problems with mundane methods – simpler is better. Still, I do occasionally get magical questions or comments. If I can respond in a helpful manner, I do. If not, then I at least try to point them toward someone or some place that can help.

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