Every Monday and Friday in January we will be asking people questions about Wicca. Want to weigh in? Find the next question at the bottom of this post!
What makes someone Wiccan? Dedication? Initiation? Practice? Belief?
(Any responses should be assumed to be individual opinions and not representative of traditions or covens unless otherwise stated.)
Joseph D. Carriker, Jr. (Alexandrian trad.) responds:
It is initiation that makes one of the Wica, immersion in the occult current of our Craft and introduction into the spiritual lineage which we continue. The Wica are a tribe, with our own culture, and that culture has requirements for what makes one of us. But this is a gift, an introduction not just to worldly members of the Tradition, but also to the otherworldly contacts that we have built up over decades of practice using the same praxis.
What makes someone one of the Wica is also a practice of our praxis, and holding it in regard. The Wica may add elements, but are cautious to differentiate them from the core praxis that is to be carried on by their students. We have all discovered some elements which resonate well with us in the core, and some that do not, but it is arrogant to discard elements that do not just because they don’t work for us individually. Those we teach may find resonance in those elements, and we owe both our students and the Tradition the dignity of maintaining those parts.
Being one of us requires belief, but it is not revealed belief. It is experiential belief – we all participate in the rituals and traditions of our praxis, experience which informs our belief. We have connections with the Goddess and God of our Craft, but our understanding of them is not informed by information from someone else. It comes of our own experiences. We learn the ritual forms, symbolism and names to contact the Goddess and God of the Wica – after that, all we learn is first-hand.
Lady Moonshadow Xian (Ravenwood trad.) responds:
First I would like to establish who I am and what my background is. I am Lady Moonshadow Xian currently an active member of RavenStone Church and Seminary. I began my study of Traditional Witchcraft in 1992 at Ravenwood Church and Seminary of the Old Religion. I was initiated by Lady Sintana with Lord Starhawk as High Priest to the First Degree at Ravenwood, to the Second Degree by Lady Deveyana Augusta Acting High Priestess with Lord Michiel as Priest of the Ravenwood Council of Elders and to the Third Degree by Lady Larina and Lord Gaelin High Priestess and High Priest of Ravenwood 2000 to 2009 with the assistance of Lady Sintana and Lord Merlin as Elder High Priestess and High Priest.
The opinions I express here are my own and are not given to be representative of any group I have previously or am currently a member of.
What makes someone Wiccan? Basically, Belief and Practice.
If you believe in the Creative Life Force working through the polarities of Goddess and God; in working with the energies of the Universe; and adhere as closely as possible to the Wiccan Rede in your daily life – Then you are Wiccan.
It is not as simple as it sounds. To actually live by the Wiccan Rede of “An It Harm None, Do What You Will” means living a very considered life. It means that you weigh each of your actions against their consequences and take responsibility for the results.
To live by your beliefs takes practice everyday. It does become second nature after a while. However it will remain a daily challenge no mater how long you have been on the path.
In the Tradition I personally follow: It Takes a Witch to Make a Witch. This means Initiation.
You can be Wiccan by belief and practice. You can only be a Priestess or Priest/Witch through Initiation by an Initiated Priestess or Priest of the Craft. It requires study and hard work to reach that point. You cannot simply read a book and do the self dedication rite at the end and suddenly you are a Witch.
It is not that the self dedications rites cannot be a powerful rite and important to you personally. They can be powerful and very meaningful. It is not Initiation.
Initiation requires study, learning, practice and understanding of the energies of the Universe. It is your formally introduction to the Elder Gods. It is not something done lightly without proper guidance.
I personally have a difficulty with the term “dedication”. It brings images of all the horrific things done in the “Name of God”. The most recent thing that struck me was seeing young Shiite boys cutting themselves with machete and knives in “dedication” to some dead cleric. People have done and will continue to do incredibly stupid and horrific things to show their “dedication” to their Gods.
It brings to mind the people I call the pseudo-Christians. We all know them. The people who carry around a bible and start every sentence they speak with “I’m a good Christian.” They have to make this statement and show because you could never tell their beliefs by their actions everyday.
As I was taught, “Keep the Secrets. Reveal them always.” Or as Lord Starhawk stated, “Them that know don’t say and them that don’t can’t shut up.”
You demonstrate your beliefs by how you live your life everyday. “By your deeds you will be known.”
Should Wicca be classified as a new religion?
If you’d like to weigh in just e-mail me your short response (250-500 words) before Jan 5th. It’s sfoster at patheos.com.