Firstly, Merry Meet and Blessed Be in the Name of the Lord and His Lady and may they bless us as we explore this fascinating topic.

To begin.  Let us take a quick look at some terms that have been gleaned from several dictionaries as to what constitutes a Pagan

PAGANISM – A STATUS QUO DEFINITION

         A Heathen, one who does not worship the true God” but rather leans towards “the worship of false gods.”  Note the small ‘g

         One who is not of the Abrahamic religions of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.  The Pharaoh Akhnaton (18th Dynasty d. 1350 B.C.) taught that Aton the Sun-God, was the One God.

         A Inhabitant of an unchristian country

         To  be one who has no religion

NOTE

This Egyptian monotheistic revolution arrived under the 18th-dyansty pharaoh named Akhnaton, also known as Amenhotep IV, and his wife, Nefertiti, also known as Nefertiti or Nofretete. Akhnaton and Nefertiti ruled during the 14th century B.C. Nefertiti is well-known to modern scholars because an intriguing, beautiful and well-preserved limestone bust of her was uncovered at Tell el Amarna in 1913. The bust is now part of the Berlin Museum‘s collection. Yet despite her famous visage, little is known about Nefertiti. One of the most salient facts about her existence is that Nefertiti and her husband promoted a monotheistic belief in an Egyptian god known as Aton

HEATHENRY

         A religious system of the heathens

         Pagan

         Barbaric

         Unenlightened

         Irreligious

         Outside the generally accepted faith

 

TO BE BARBARIC

 

         Is To be Savage – Wild, Fierce, Cruel, Brutal

         Foreign

         Uncivilized

         To be destitute of religion

         Ungodly

          Chambers Concise Dictionary 1988

 

THE ABRAHAMIC MONOTHEISTIC FAITHS

         A Christian is a believer in the teachings of Christ

         A Jew is a person of Hebrew descent or a believer in the teachings of the Old Testament

         A Muslim is one who believes in the teachings of Muhammad as espoused in the Qur‘an

 

MONOTHEISM

         Is a belief in the One God who makes known His purpose through the prophets

         The Christian, Judaic and Islamic faiths are all monotheistic and all contain Sacred Writings

         The Egyptian, Ahknaton (18th Dynasty) and his famous ‘Hymn to Aton’  taught monotheism in his time.  ‘Aton‘ is represented by the Sun – for this is the source of all life on earth

 

At the turn of the century, the Scottish scholar and folklorist, Andrew Lang (1844-1912) asserted that the beliefs of the most primitive peoples “did not reveal an animistic personification of natural objects and forces. Rather they gave evidence of a monotheistic belief in a supreme being, who was not only the creator, but also a good and kind father, whom they could approach for help in the conduct of their lives“. [Custom and Myth?]

 

The Catholic scholar, the Rev. Wilhelm Schmidt of Vienna  (1868-1954) wrote, “The supreme being is to be found among all the peoples of primitive culture, not indeed everywhere in the same form or the same vigour, but still everywhere prominent enough to make his dominant position indubitable“. [The Origin and Growth of Religion, 1971]

 

Professor Evans-Pritchard affirms, “The theories of (earlier) writers have not been sustained by research. As far as the most primitive peoples in the world today are concerned, the evidence points to the opposite conclusion, i.e. that monotheism preceded polytheism“.[ Nuer Religion, 1956]

 

POLYTHEISM

 

         Is The belief in several gods

         The Pagan faith sees the gods as the manifestation of the One Universal Creator

         There is both the:-

        The Goddess, the Mother Earth and the Moon

        The God, the Father Sun who impregnates the Mother to bring forth new life

         Heathens worship several Gods and Goddesses who are each distinct Beings with their own stories and attributes

 

POLYTHEISTIC FAITHS

 

         Worship more than one God

         Sometimes view the things of Nature as containing a spark of the Divine – Pantheistic

         Sometimes view the things of Nature as containing not only a spark of the Divine but are likewise conscious of their own life – This is known as Panpsychism and is the exact way that I view the things of Nature. Panpsychism was a term coined by the German philosopher and psychologist, G.T. Fechner (1801-1887)   

 

A HEATHEN

 

         Is  one who subscribes to a polytheistic faith

         Uncivilized

         Has no real religion to speak of

         Is barbaric and brutish

         Is deemed a  Savage – Wild, Fierce and Cruel

         One can add here: to be unimaginative, naive

WHAT THEN IS A RELIGION?

 

In the book, Essential Ásatrú  by Diana L Paxson p, 132, writes that:

 

Through rituals and spiritual practices, our faith is strengthen as we contact our gods

Religion brings about a community of believers who help each other and offer support

Religion offers a worldview and guidelines on how to live in harmony with one’s self, in community and in relation to the gods

For heathens, “Live Trú” means keeping faith with the gods, with each other and with our own true selves.

TRUE PAGANISM IS

“The ancient ethical worship, and after it had been excluded from its former shrines, and from the metropolitan towns, was maintained for a long time by the inhabitants of humble localities.  To this it owes its later designation. From being kept up by the Pagi, or rural districts, its votaries were denominated as Pagans, or provincials”

             – Alexander Wilder, as cited in The Secret Doctrine Vol.2 p.179

In the West, Pagan Wisdom has been seen as growing from and being developed by Dark Forces supposed to be at constant war and in opposition to the One God of the Abrahamic Faiths.  This being Satan, the Devil and so forth

         The long held idea of this word – etymologically – means a villager, a rustic. The Christian Church first established itself in cities whilst the villages continued to dwell near the ‘heath‘ (= heathen?)

         The Roman soldiers called them Paganus (rustic) and the Christians viewed them likewise.

         Paganism was, and is, a way of living with nature and all that it contains.

         The key point of Paganism is the view concerning the ‘spirit’ of a place, the genius loci. This is typified by the American Indians who taught that places can have a sacredness, a spiritual importance, quite apart from the more physical characteristics of the place.

A PAGAN WORLDVIEW

         Paganism is essentially a mode of working with the forces of nature, not against them

         For some, the worship of the Horned God of the Hunt and the Goddess of Fertility are those forces of nature personified.

         The Lord and Lady are neutral, neither fully good nor fully evil but rather simply ‘Are

         Pagans are called to The Path or, as Buddha put  it ‘When the Student is ready, the Master shall appear’  This  Call is sometimes known as ‘The Voice of the Wind.’ It is something external – and to our ancestors, this ‘Voice’ was of the world of Nature: Be these the trees, plants, rocks, hills, as to the lakes, rivers and oceans.  Our ancestors, from an ancient time harkened to these whisperings of the Nature Spirits and the other Folk found in the Otherworld.   We must remember that within all things there is a Life that has its own need to exist.

         Paganism can help us in combating evil – By ‘evil’ I refer to the disharmony that exists between we as people and the rest of Creation.  

         Pagans  see places are being the realm of spirits and elementals rather than just places to buy and sell

         Pagans  see the Creator in ALL LIFE and thus we respect ALL LIFE; both the Seen and  the Unseen

         Pagans  try to accept all people but do not tolerate indifference – for indifference  leads to Apathy

         Pagans may appear to live in the ‘otherworld,’  but I ask,  is this  truly a bad thing?

Gerald B Gardner writes in his book, THE MEANING OF WITCHCRAFT  (1959) this little poetic gem:

So many Gods, so many Creeds

So many Paths that wind and wind

When just the Art of being kind

Is all this old world Needs

 

THE OLD ONES

 

The Old Ones that one reads about relates to the primal spirits of Nature before humans gave them guises such as fairies and other mystical creatures.  The Old Ones are the teachers who dwell within the trees, the hills and mountains, the lakes and oceans. They are before even the Gods and Goddesses. Indeed, our ancestors learned from such spirits as these – long before human teachers appeared.  

Their teachings are those of Oak and Boulder, the primal teachings of a forgotten age. The Standing Stones represent the ancestral memory and the Tree symbolizes the Living Teachers of that memory.  [from THE WELL-WORN PATH by Raven Grimassi and Stephanie Taylor]

The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings are great novels to read about such elemental folk

Such is why the Path of the Pagan is very in-tune with, and concerned for, the Environmental issues that currently affect Mother Earth and all that She supports.

 

 THE PAGAN UMBRELLA

 

         Wicca/Witchcraft

         The Druids

         Heathenry

         Ásatrύ (A Norse/Germanic Pagan Path)   Pronounced ‘AH-sa-tru’   or ‘Ow-sa-Tru’  (the term is Icelandic)

         Ceremonial Magic – Basically, the art of communicating with spirits of various kinds and drawing aid from deities and elementals.  It is very structured and discourages spontaneity

         The Hedge-Witch or Solitary.  Does not belong to a coven or particular Tradition, though they may follow a particular Tradition unless that Tradition entails Initiation by a High Priestess (HPS) or High Priest (HP) such as the Gardnarian or Alexandrian.   Historically, the Solitary Witch was the norm; only in 1662 did the concept or word, Coven,  in relation to witchcraft, appear. This was at the trial of one Isobel Gowdie who Sir Walter Scott speculated that “this wretched creature was under the dominion of some peculiar species of lunacy” – Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft (1830)

         SATANISM – No.   For Satanism relies on the Christian, Judaic and Islamic worldview, not so Paganism or its various manifestations.  

However, I am sure some Satanists would deny this concept. As an aside, it was not until the year 447 CE that the Council of Toledo declared the legal existence of the Devil as an actual entity

 

WISDOM

 

Wisdom is the greatest characteristic of the Pagan cultures of old but sadly, such wisdom is rarely seen today.  There are those who are still wise and despite the mocking of such folk by the so-called ‘Civilized,’ the Pagan still has much to offer.

Here we shall briefly look at two systems that fall under the umbrella of Paganism, these being

Heathenry – more specifically Ásatrú, and Wicca

SEVEN RESPONSIBILITES OF PAGANISM

1. We are responsible for the beliefs that we choose to adopt.

2. We are responsible for our own actions and our Spiritual/personal development.

3. We are responsible for deciding who or what Deity is due our respectful worship and likewise for forming a relationship with that Deity.

4. As everything contains a spark of the Divine – We are responsible for how we mete out treatment to ALL things that surround us.

5. Everything is sacred due to its interconnectedness and Blessedness – thus we are responsible for how we choose to relate to all things be these animate or inanimate.

6. We are responsible for choosing how best to work our Magick – for good and bad. By Magick I refer to the outpouring of Ritual, the Intent behind our work.

7. As Consciousness survives death, we are responsible for choosing a way that elevates ourselves to a higher Spiritual level – Most Pagans accept the notion of Reincarnation, Rebirth and Karma according to their own ways of understanding

 

HEATHENRY

 

Until recently, the term heathen, like pagan, was taken to mean a person without religion, or at least without the civilizing influence of Christianity. The word was first recorded in the translation of the Bible into Gothic made by Ulfilas in the fourth century, where it was used to translate the term Gentile.  It has been assumed that just as pagan meant the people of the ‘pagus,’ or countryside, heathen meant the people of the heath who continued to practice the old ways when all the city folk had converted to Christianity. [However] this interpretation has been questioned.

From ESSENTIAL ASATRU by Diana L. Paxton and Isaac Bonewits , Citadel 2006 Introduction XIII

         We must remember that most of the world’s tribal faiths are Pagan in Nature

         The Northern European share a folk-soul with the Heathen Gods but should that exclude others – Personally I say NO!  For the Old Ones are present within all Nature and we humans are likewise of the world of Nature – we all share a connection to each other and everything. We simply need to reconnect back to the teachings found with the Eddas, the various Sagas and other such Norse writings

         In addition to the gods, Heathens likewise honour the landveitter, the spirits of the land.

         Heathens also follow the concept of Wyrd, this being a force that connects everything in the Universe.

ÁSATRÚ FOR BEGINNERS

 

Erin Lale, in her book, Ásatrú for Beginners (2010): writes that:

 

‘A Heathen is a Pagan whose faith  originated on the heath, that is, Germany, Scandinavia, Iceland, Scotland, and other parts of Northern Europe…The dividing line between what is the heath and what is not is the Rhine River, which is the border between the Roman Empire and Germany.’

 

The term itself is derived from Ása (from Aesir) referring to the Germanic Gods and Goddesses and trύ meaning Faith.

Heathens follow a Code of Conduct that has been compiled from the writings contained in the the Poetic Edda  (particularly the Hávamál), the Icelandic Sagas and Germanic folklore.  This Code is known as:

 

THE NINE NOBLE VIRTUES

 

1.      Courage                                              

2.      Truth                                                               

3.      Honour                       

4.      Troth     ‘Fidelity’ or ‘Loyalty’

5.      Self Rule  – ‘Discipline’                                  

6.       Hospitality

7.      Industriousness                                              

8.      Independence – or ‘Self-Reliance’

9        Steadfastness

 

The First 5 Virtues  relate to the Individual and the remaining 4 to our relation with others.

 

Ásatrú is based on freedom, honesty, fidelity and respect for nature, and all life therein. The main principle of the heathen custom is that every human being is responsible for themselves and their own actions.

The Heathen finds his history and its religious teachings from the written material that dates back to the Anglo-Saxon (ca.800 AD) and Viking times (8th-11th Cent.)

Eight major Blots (bloats) are celebrated in the Asatru calendar each year. These are listed below with the modern English name of each given first, followed by its Old Norse name in parenthesis, and the date (although the usual practice is to hold the Blot on the nearest weekend).

1. YULE (Jol) 20th December – January 1st

2. DISTING (Disablot) 31st January

3. OSTARA (Ostara) 21st March

4. MAY EVE (Valpurgis) 30th April

5. MIDSUMMER (Midsumarblot) 21st June

6. FREYFEST (Freysblot) 31st July

7. FALLFEAST (Haustblot) 21rd September       

8. WINTER NIGHTS (Vetrnaetr) 31st October

 

Whilst another is known as the LESSER FEASTS or Days of Remembrance

THE NINE WORLDS of the NORSE GERMANIC COSMOS (In descending order):

1. Asgard – The home to the Gods and Goddesses of the Aesir

2. Alfheim – The realm where the Light Elves dwell

3. Vanaheim – The home to the Gods and Goddesses of the Vanir

4. Midgard – The home of the mankind

5. Jotunheim – The realm where the Giants dwell

6. Muspellheim – The world of primal fire where the Muspilli Fire Giants dwell

7. Niflheim – The “world of mists” and primal ice

8. SvartAlfheim – The realm where the Black Elves / Dwarfs dwell

9. Hel – The land of the dead, ruled by the goddess Hella.

 

By learning about the Gods and Goddesses, the Heroes of the Sagas, the Elemental beings of Earth, Air, Fire and Water, we shall learn about ourselves.

The American Mythologist, Joseph Campbell, (1904-1987) penned the following:

We have not even to risk the adventure alone.  For the heroes of all time have gone before us. The labyrinth is thoroughly known.  We have only to follow the thread of the hero path.  And where we had thought to find an abomination we shall find a god.  And where we had though to slay another we shall slay ourselves.  Where we had thought to travel outward we shall come to the centre of our own existence.   Where we had thought to be alone we shall be with all the world.

          The Hero with a Thousand Faces  (1968)

Thus, stories are there for us to read and learn from as far as Virtues and Strengths are concerned.    For example, the Goddess Sif had her hair cut off by the God, Loki.  This was a great shame for her.   Sif has therefore become a Goddess who offers comfort and protection to those who have been abused or violated in some way.

Her husband, Thor (the Thunder God) is called upon for protection, courage, and the strength to face our own challenges, be these physical or spiritual.  He is called upon when a wildfire threatens our homes or the homes of the animals.

Before leaving Heathenry, a quick word must be said concerning Nazism.   It appears that this Path often attracts Neo-Nazis, given that many believe that only those who have a traditional link to the land; a cultural identity, can follow this Path.

Heathenry Is Not For Racists

It is important to the Ásatrú, Heathen, and Pagan communities that we and the general public alike, understand that racism, nazism, white-supremacy, and the propagation of hate have nothing to do with Ásatrú, Othinism, or any of the pre-Christian religions in practice today(or during the “golden-era” when our pre-Christian ancestors walked the lands of Europe.)

Hitler himself was raised Christian, and never actually believed in any of the Germanic gods. If anything, his beliefs most resembled those of the so-called “Identity Christians”, who use a warped interpretation of the Bible to justify racism and male dominance. The Germanic symbolism was used mainly because it appealed to the masses’ nationalistic feelings–and even then, its meaning was perverted into something that the pagan tribes wouldn’t have recognized or accepted.   During his time, Hitler even produced a New Testament that showed Jesus as being anti-Semitic

 

WICCA

WICCA or Witchcraft reveres the Divine as manifested in the God (the Masculine, the Sun, the positive) and in the Goddess (the Feminine, the Moon, the negative).

I feel that these terms have arisen over time – not to separate the sexes but rather to respect each aspect together as one whole.  It’s funny but the Sun can often be harsh and kill plants and animals, whereas the Moon is gentle and soothing upon the face of the earth.  So the Sun is not positive per se, nor the Moon negative. Satanists, for one thing, accept the Christian duality between good and evil; Pagans not necessarily so. 

THE EMERALD TABLET OF HERMES

Wiccan folk venerate Nature for by understanding nature, we a given a peep into the Mystery of Deity – to quote the Greek God Hermes:

That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracles of the One Thing.   And just as all things have come from this One Thing, through the meditation of One Mind, so do all created things originate from this One Thing.

Its father is the Sun; its Mother the Moon. The Wind carries it in its belly; its nurse is the Earth. It is the origin of All, the consecration of the Universe; its inherent Strength is perfected, if it is turned into Earth”

This is beautifully expressed by the Hindu monk, Sw. Vivekananda (1863-1902), when he once utter in response to a question, “How can I die when an earthworm still lives?

HISTORICAL PAGANISM

 

A lot of authors trace the origin of Witchcraft back to pre-Christian European beliefs, such as the British anthropologist Margaret Murray in her book, THE WITCH-CULT IN WESTERN EUROPE, (1921) whilst others say that it stems back (in its recent form) to another British anthropologist Gerald B. Gardner.  He wrote two books, WITCHCRAFT TODAY (1954) followed by THE MEANING OF WITCHCRAFT (in 1959).    Gardner also wrote a fictional book that contains a wealth of historical details – HIGH MAGICK’S AID (1949). Some folk believe that he wrote the novel so as to be free of the restrictions of the Witchcraft Act of 1736.

You may be interested to learn that this Act of 1736 was only repealed as recently as 1951.

LEGISLATION

 

         In 1542 Parliament passed the Witchcraft Act which defined witchcraft as a crime punishable by death. It was repealed five years later, but restored by a new Act in 1562.

         A further law was passed in 1604 during the reign of James I (1566-1625) who took a keen interest in demonology and even published a book about  it,  Demonology,  in 1603.  The 1562 and 1604 Acts transferred the trial of witches from the Church to the ordinary court

         In Victoria 2005, the Government repealed Section 13 of the Vagrancy Act, which prohibits the practice of witchcraft and fortune-telling.

How scary to think that one could, technically, still be arrested as late as 2005 for simply practicing their faith

 

SOME WICCAN PATHS

 

         Gardnarian   – f. Gerald B Gardner 1884-1964)

   : Full Moon Gatherings, God/dess, Skyclad, Cakes and Ale. BOS

         Alexandrian  – f. Alex Sanders 1926-1988, and Maxine Sanders

   : Ceremonial Magick, Enochian, Qabalah, 3o Hierarchy , Robed or Skyclad

         Seax-Wicca  – Introduced in 1973 by Raymond Buckland and borrows from the Saxon or Norse traditions.  Its primary deities being Freya and Woden

  : Deities are Woden and Freya (Saxon)  No degree system or oath of secrecy

          Janet and Stewart Farrar – Introduced by Alex Sanders but over time have developed their own system. Prefer to be simply known as Wiccan.

Though there may be differences the Craft is a religion of Love and Joy.  One that is close to the Land. It seeks to employ Magick via Ritual as a means of working with Nature – instead of against Nature. When casting the Circle, the ‘Guardians of the Watchtowers’ are called to guard and protect each of the Cardinal Points of East, South, North and West.

One of my most beloved Wiccans, Scott Cunningham (1956-1993) had this to say in his book, Living Wicca (1992)

Living Wicca is for those who have become enchanted by the moon shining through the trees; who have begun to investigate the sublime world that lies out beyond the fabric of daily life, and who stand in smoke-shrouded circles, raising aloft their hands to greet the Goddess and the God as the candles flicker on the altar…for those who, through choice or circumstance, meet with the Silver Lady and the Horned God alone.

And as a famous chef once said – “Mother Nature is the true artist and our jobs as cooks is to allow her to shine.”   We can easy paraphrase this as a working motto for living out the Pagan faith; the Wicca or Heathen faith, substituting the word ‘cook’ with ‘Her children’ is to allow her to truly shine.

 

SELF-DEDICATION RITUAL

In the book, Wicca for One, by Raymond Buckland, another of my favourite writers on Wicca, I found a beautiful Self-Dedication Ritual; the words of which truly sum-up (at least to me) this wonderful Path:

God and Goddess; Lord and Lady.  I am here a simple seeker of knowledge, a lover of life.  I here dedicate myself to you and to your service.  You are the ones I have chosen to serve.  I do this of my own free will, with no pressure from any other.  Guard me and guide me in all that I do, for all that I do is in love of you and of all life.   Help me live my life with harm to none.   Help me to acknowledge the depth and beauty of all life, animal, vegetable, and mineral.  The animals, birds, fish, reptiles, and all living things are my brothers and sisters.  The trees of the forest, the plants, flowers, herbs and all growing things are my brothers and sisters. 

The rocks, soil, sand, the rivers, lakes, seas, all waters of the earth, and all that is of the earth, are my brothers and sisters.   Make me one with this family.  Let me guard them and work for them as they all work for me.

Lord and Lady, from this day forth I accept all and will ever abide by the Wiccan Rede: ‘An it harm none, do what thou wilt.’   I pledge myself to you, the gods.   I will always protect you as you do me.  I will defend you against those who speak ill of you.  You are my life and I am yours. So Mote It Be.

Again, you will find another Self-Dedication Ritual in Scott Cunningham’s WICCA: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner (2000).

 

D.J. Conway, in her book, BY OAK, ASH OR THORN, writes that:  Dedication, Self-Discipline, Patience and Reflection on what has been learned, all form a changed self with the aspiring Shaman› or the aspiring Wiccan, Druid etc. “However,” continues the author,  “you will accomplish little if you are not dedicated, disciplined and sincere in your motives.”

 

MAGICK

 

When Wiccans refer to Magick, the definition generally used is that defined by the famous British occultist Alastair Crowley, (1875-1947) who said that Magick is “The science and art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.”    To thus create Change, one must first have the Will to work towards that Change – this is what True Magick is about. There are 6 components to create successful magick:

1. Personal Will – The Desire to Change

2. Timing – Noting the right time

3. Imagery – Creating the picture

4. Direction – Visualizing the Change

5. Balance – Is our Magick right?   What we give out comes back Three-fold. We must have the right emotional balance to work effective Change

6. Intent   Must  be pure and creative, not destructive

 

The 16th Century Alchemist, Paracelsus writes that: Magic has power to experience and fathom things which are inaccessible to human reason.  For Magic is a great secret wisdom, just as reason is a great public folly

As an aside, it is believed that Paracelsus first invented the Garden Gnome as a statue so as to help folk remember once more our Mother Earth.

Again, to cite Scott Cunningham:  Magic plays a special role in Wicca.  It allows us to improve our lives and return energy back to our ravaged planet.   Wiccans also develop special relationships with the Goddess and God through magic.”  (Wicca, 2000). 

Magic be always be requested and never summoned.  Again, in Ceremonial Magic, spirits are both conjured and commanded – the Circle is cast to keep entities out, whilst in Wicca the Circle is Cast to invite in the Lord and Lady.

Magic and Witchcraft are not the same.  A Ceremonial Magic undertakes to work Magic though not the Path of Wicca – for Wicca is a way of life that employs Magic.  As I once read, “By his magic, so shall ye know him.”

SOME COMPARISONS

There are some differences between Wicca and Heathenry worth noting.  Please remember that I am using  Ásatrú (Ow-sa-tru). as one strand of Heathenry.  Please note that this list is not complete but is simply a small sample.

Wiccans called on the gods of several cultures – Egyptian. Greek, Celtic, Norse

Heathens stick to the gods and goddesses of Germanic Lands – such as Odin and his wife, Frigg

Wicca is duotheistic – all the gods and goddesses are but aspects of the Lord and Lady. Dion Fortune wrote in her book, THE GOAT-FOOT GOD (1936) that:

All the gods are One God, and all the goddesses are the One Goddess and there is one initiator.”

Heathens are polytheistic, and worship are range of gods and goddesses from the same culture

Wicca is organized according to the 4 elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water

Heathens see Fire and Ice as opposing each other: Thus there are the frost giant, barn wight (or spirit)

Wicca allows each member to become – eventually – a High Priest or High Priestess in a coven

Heathen folk tend to be more clan-based and members become skilled in different areas such as brewing, woodcarving etc. 

Wiccans cast a circle and other formal aspects are put in place

Heathens are much less formal and celebrate seasonal festivals or to hold blots (bloats) when performing a ritual with a specific purpose or stumbles to honour the gods, heroes and ancestors. However, a Magic Circle is cast when undertaking to do magic  (Norse Magic by D. J. Conway, Llewellyn 1990)

Wiccans hold to the Wiccan Rede: ‘An it harm none, do as ye wilt’ and the Threefold Rule:  ‘Every action affects us on three levels: mind, body and spirit’   What we do comes back threefold.

Heathens follow a Code known as the Nine Noble Virtues

 

A NOTE ON THE WICCAN REDE & THE LAW OF THREE

‘Eight Words the Wiccan Rede fulfill, An It Harm None, Do What Thou Wilt’

 

The beauty of this Axiom is that it truly connects us to others; to all life (= Universal Brotherhood) and takes us deep within ourselves – ‘An it Harm None.’  I believe that the word ‘None’ likewise includes our self, as we are a part of the Rede.  This means we cannot take harmful drugs, practice unsavory or dangerous habits or acts or display a lack of virtues, ethics, or generally hurt ourselves.

 

‘Every action affects us on three levels: Mind (Mental), Body (Physical) and Spirit (the Spiritual)

 

Every action that we perform manifests as an emotion. Emotion causes a change in our bodily chemistry, and so this results in a physical change.  This change influences the way that we feel, which, in turn, affects our spirit.   Through one single act our Mind, Body and Spirit is affected.  Some believe that what one gives out, comes back threefold.    As such, we need to be mindful of what we do.    We cannot justify harming others simply because we might seek vengeance for some negative act done to us or others.

 

Both the Rede and the Law of Three cannot be separated as both depend upon each other.

 

Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) had a similar quote:  Do What Thou Wilt Shall Be the Whole of the Law…What is the Law?  Love is the Law, Love Under Will.

SUMMING UP

 

I sincerely believe – without a shadow of doubt – that the true value in Paganism and its numerous traditions, lies within its story-telling.

Many people read fantasy novels yet few there be that truly believe in the worlds thus describe with these works.   But if we open up our hearts and minds, we might just been granted the privilege to see that such worlds do truly exist.    They may not be called what the writers call them, but they are there nonetheless.

One of the things that I felt when watching the Never-ending Story years back was that there was a hidden or occult message to be had.   To me, the story teaches that we need to keep alive our imagination else the world of Imagination may either cease to be or it may simply cut itself off from us.

The greatest fantasy that I ever read was a the Tir Alainn Trilogy.    Reading about the killing of the Witches by the Inquisitors and the subsequent closing of the Roads (or Bridges) to the world of the Fey moved me like no other book ever has.  

I am so taken in by this Trilogy that it has almost become like an alternative Bible – as it were.  In this Fantasy, the Witches of Old – who do not interfere – are called upon to assist with saving the Bridges – And when the Witches finally give in, all the Powers of Evil cannot even hope to win.   These Witches are to me the ones who command my respect. There are also the Fay and beings such as the Selkies.

Within the pages of this book there is much truth if we but open our hearts and minds to the plot and the images that the author, Anne Bishop, has so beautifully described.   Indeed, a part of me would love to see it as a film but then my other half say No.  For is not true fantasy about imagination?

The novelist, Robert Carter, writes in his book, THE GIANT’S DANCE, [Harper Voyager 2011] a wee bit of wisdom that I believe we should all reflect upon – “It is the task of all people to make life less unfair if they can.” And this can be extended to all life.

So as I see it, the Pagan Path, no matter the Tradition that one follows, can help not only our immediate world as we learn to value the life both seen and unseen, but also the numerous planes of existence that we may not even  consciously know to exist.

Scott Cunningham had a sentiment that I wholeheartedly have taken on board for its truth is self-evident:

This [Wicca] can be a lonely path, because so few of us follow the Old Ways. It’s disheartening to spend your time reverencing nature and watching the Earth suffocating under tons of concrete while nobody seems to care.

Wicca: Guide for the Solitary Practitioner p.75

For myself, this is my worldview and one that I hope that you assembled here today may take away some of what I have said.

I shall end this talk by quoting from the Theosophical book, To Light A Thousand Lamps (2001) by Grace F. Knoche, who has so brilliantly written:

Already the theme of our oneness with nature has revolutionized present-day thinking and lifestyles.   Once again we are beginning to see ourselves as participants in an ecosystem of cosmic dimension.  We are discovering that we, the observers, measurably affect not only the object we are observing but the entire complement of evolving entities.  Best of all, we are realizing, though not sufficiently as yet, that we are one humanity, and that what you or I do to help another benefits all, striking a resonant chord in the on-going symphony that together we are composing.   Though the burden of our inhumanities are indeed heavy, the universe must rejoice over the slightest movement of compassion in the soul of even a single human being.

Is this not the goal; the underlying reason as to why we must not fear the Pagan, the Heathen or the Wiccan; the Witch?

Thank you all for your attention, and for allowing me to cover a subject that is both urgent and the greatest gift that the Lord and His Lady-Love have called me to partake off

May you take the hand of the Lord of the Forest or Lady of the Silver Moon and Dance the Sacred Circle Dance of Life