Project Conversion

Project Conversion


Andrew Bowen: Wiccan Edition

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Every month, I die and rise again. Like a Phoenix, my spirituality ignites every 30 days and a new faith rises from the ashes. This month, those ashes reconfigured into the path of Wicca.

Merry Meet, Blessed Be, and welcome to my first day on the Wiccan path! The first few days are always the hardest when I switch faiths. So much energy swarms around the house as I prepare for my transformation–so much so that I rarely sleep. I got lucky this month and had about three whole hours of shut-eye last night! Woohoo! I mean, how can you sleep with this much awesome going on in life?

So what is a Wiccan and what is Wicca? To be honest, this month feels like Hinduism (the Eternal Dharma) did. That isn’t to say the faiths are the same, only the approach to them. Here’s why: Both paths are huge. Just as there are no two identical Hindus, there are also no two identical Wiccans. Put 15 in a room and you’ll get 20 traditions. Wicca is a very broad umbrella term that describes many ways, so the best thing for me was to actually choose a specific tradition. My Mentor this month (Hey Mentor Melissa!) is a High Priestess of the Fey Tradition, so that is my path as well and most of the information I share this month will come from this perspective. I will do my best to point out otherwise. But before we go into that, let’s cover the basics Wiccan beliefs that most if not all Wiccans share.

The pentacle, a Wiccan/Pagan symbol which represents many things, including the balance of natures elements: Air, Fire, Earth, Water, Spirit

Defining what Wicca is depends on the practitioner (one who follows a Wiccan path) you ask. Much of modern Wicca as we know it today was developed in the early 1900’s by authors such as Gerald Gardner who are said to have initiated in the old Pagan ways of northern Europe. In this way, Wicca could be described as a revival movement, or a restoration of the old ways. Different traditions within Wicca have various roots and origins.

Most Wiccans believe in the God and Goddess in some form. Some may only worship or actively engage one over the other (usually the Goddess), however the important aspect is the recognition of a higher power and/or energy.

This belief in the God/Goddess aspect reflects the Wiccan belief in duality in nature and its balance, flow, etc.

Wiccans typically hold all material–living and non-living–as having its own energy or life force. Even stones bear this energy. Life itself is usually sacred and highly regarded.

Wiccans believe that the energy in all things can be manipulated or channeled. This is where the practitioner becomes an active agent in his/her environment. Wiccans mould and control their lives via this energy in the same way a conductor orchestrates the pieces of a symphony. Learning this energy manipulation is one of the most important aspects of the Wiccan path.

Wiccans, because they believe in the importance of balance, also believe in the law of reciprocity. Often referred to as “the law of three”, Wiccans maintain that whatever one does, he/she is responsible for the consequences. The so-called Wiccan Rede formulated by Gerald Gardner states “An it harm none, do as you will.” Basically, if it hurts no one, go ahead. Wicca does not have a list of “do’s” and “do not’s.” All Wiccans must understand the power they wield and are solely responsible for the karma they produce.

That’s Wicca in a nutshell: An “earth-based” faith which focuses on the duality of the God/Goddess, the energy of all matter, its manipulation, and the law of reciprocity. Wiccans are not blood-drinking Satan worshippers. Satan is a Judeo-Christian construct and therefore has no place in Wicca. Wiccans do not believe in a central evil figure like Satan, so to imply that they worship him is insulting. I can tell you right now that I fully intend on crushing as many stereotypes as I can this month about Wicca because it’s the only faith thus far that I’ve actually received negative comments about. Know this: My service belongs to each faith, each month, and therefore my loyalties and energies go into supporting those faiths–mostly via defeating ignorance, prejudice, and stereotypes.

So what is Fey Wicca?

Fey Wicca is fun, however with balance! The word “Fey” denotes faeries (also spelled fairy), legendary spirit beings said to be small and inhabit nature itself. They are known by believers as quick to hide, mischievous, helpful, playful, and generally good, though a “dark side” is present. Fey Wicca draws its lore and stories mostly from the Irish legends and the Pagan tradition of the ancient Celts from that area. There really is no written tradition (such as a universal holy book) as far as the Fey Wicca  is concerned and therefore most of the lore and learning is passed down orally.

In this way, Fey Wiccans are typically a fun-loving group–much like the faeries themselves–and are known for their lighter, more spontaneous take on life.

If you haven’t found joy or a reason to laugh during the day, you’re wasting your time.” –Mentor Melissa

Laying down the law on day one, huh?

My Mentor stressed the importance of Wicca’s exploratory nature in general, that the faith is literally what you make of it. That isn’t to say that you should simply invent what you believe, but only that the foundation of your practice is founded upon your experience. What works, keep. What doesn’t work, toss out. Live. Laugh. Learn. And don’t worry too much about the particulars. Wicca in general is a meditation on life and worshipping the divine by interacting with it in every moment. It’s about channeling one’s energy and the mingling with the energy of everything around you. That said, each tradition has its own methods for doing this.

The challenge for me this month will be to not take myself too seriously. While I enjoy Project Conversion greatly, sometimes I get caught up in the process instead of the journey. This is when the details slip my notice. Fey Wicca is the court jester–the mirror–showing me how ridiculous and unhealthy such a path can be.

I look forward to laughing…a lot. I hope you’ll join me. Tomorrow we’ll take a look at my altar, one that bears my sweat and blood…literally.

 



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abowen

posted April 21, 2012 at 7:31 pm


Merry Meet, Stephanie!

Thanks for coming by. Wicca was an incredible experience that will echo through the rest of my life. Looking forward to your future comments and insights.



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Stephanie

posted April 21, 2012 at 3:24 pm


I really think this is interesting and cool what you’re doing, giving each religion it’s month to be better understood. Being a Wiccan Practitioner I will be hanging around for awhile :) Especially because it’s like you said, no two are the same in their practice, so it’s interesting to see how others do it as well.



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abowen

posted February 8, 2012 at 2:21 am


Katie,

As always, I appreciate anyone who spares a prayer for me. And to answer your questions: Yes.



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Katie

posted February 7, 2012 at 2:29 pm


Still praying for you Andrew. Can you say yet that you’ve reached the place of total contentment, found the source of complete joy, attained peace that transcends understanding, and found the true purpose for your life? This is my prayer for you.
Katie



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abowen

posted January 31, 2012 at 8:36 pm


Abambagibus,

Long time, my friend! How have you been?

To answer your question, rest assured, I’ve invented nothing. My dharma is thus: to be a life-long student of all traditions that I might be of better service, spiritual relation to and of the multifaceted humanity which embraces them. In other words, I continually work to make myself a blank slate for those around me. It’s a tough discipline, but I’m in for the long haul.

Don’t be a stranger!



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abowen

posted January 31, 2012 at 8:18 pm


GaudioLugens,

Turns out, the destination is yet another journey. How lovely the ironies of life are!



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GaudioLugens

posted January 31, 2012 at 8:14 pm


Have you reached your destination?



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Abambagibus

posted January 31, 2012 at 8:05 pm


Now that Sri Bowen has presented to the world the multifaceted gem of the sacred images of himself for the perusal and appreciation of all, I dare to respond with a query as to the sanctity of the referent inferred. Despite the impression of functionally running, the invention that invents itself as its own most reasonable inventor is as stuck in the mire of a most unreasonable paradox as am I. Fortasse Ab Ambagibus.



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Nicholas

posted October 7, 2011 at 3:31 pm


ABowen, I just wanted to say that I’m appalled at the way you were treated at that blog. I expected better of the pagan community, even from those who disagree with you. If you’re interested, you may also want to look into learning about Asatru, Hellenism, or Kemeticism, those being Norse, Greek, and Egyptian paganism respectively. I don’t think they get enough fair press, if you ask me.



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abowen

posted October 7, 2011 at 10:40 am


Hey there Nicholas,

This is a unique month in which I do not have a central scripture to quote from, however my Mentor is sending me reading material through the mail. I’ll post those sources as I receive them. Also, there is much with the Fey trad in particular that is orally based. To be fair, my experience this month has been that many Pagans and Wiccans within their own communities do not trust one another’s sources, so I don’t feel bad at all being in the middle of a cat fight the pre-existed my entry this month. I’ll check out the first link you posted. As for Star’s blog post, I was there and made my case the first day it was posted and haven’t been back since. I have too much to learn to get caught up in that drama.

I appreciate you being on my “side” but I’m not here for a popularity contest or to create sides. I just want to gain respect via knowledge and understanding while killing my own stereotypes. Some, it seems, would rather I remain in ignorance and continue those stereotypes. To each their own…



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abowen

posted October 7, 2011 at 10:32 am


Kilmrnock,

Hi there. I appreciate your opinion about the project. Truly, walking a few steps in the shoes of another in order to gain another perspective from our fellow man isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I wonder where I stated that I would learn all the nuances of faith in a month, or that I would gain a complete understanding? This is about gaining respect through knowledge and experience. Lives are being changed here. If you want proof, skim the comments from months such as the Baha’i, Latter-day Saints, Muslims, and Sikhs just to get you started. You may not respect me and my perspective by the end of the month, but I will surely come away on day 31 with a greater understanding and respect for your faith. Peace.



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Nicholas

posted October 7, 2011 at 2:59 am


I was wondering what your sources are that you might be able to share with us? Some within the pagan community have doubts about your sources and we don’t like our beliefs to be misconstrued. Also you may want to look at http://www.circlesanctuary.org. I think I should also bring this article to your attention: http://www.patheos.com/community/paganportal/2011/10/04/dont-worry-wicca-isnt-a-real-religion-a-rant/

Don’t worry. I’m one of the ones on your side. ;-)



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Kilmrnock

posted October 6, 2011 at 11:18 pm


hmmmm. not enuf guts to air a slightly negative comment aye. i think this being a wiccan for a month thing is slightly rediculuce anyway. that is not enuf time to learn the nuances of wicca or any religion for that matter. as others have mentioned it takes a year and a day for any one to be considered for membership in any coven and entails alot of work , study and devotion to complete.this whole concept of switching religions every month is odd at best and insulting to us that have put in the proper time and work to call ourselves pagan



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abowen

posted October 5, 2011 at 6:31 pm


The Allergic Pagan,

Blessed be! The opinion of Star and her readers belong to them, and I respect that. I thank you though, for giving me a chance and an honest read. I’m simply trying to learn and grow. I hope to hear more input about the Path from you as the month continues!



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The Allergic Pagan

posted October 5, 2011 at 5:58 pm


Andrew, after reading the debate over at Star Foster’s blog Pantheon about your Project, I came over here to check out the facts, and I was pleased to find that you have done an excellent job of making the points that Wicca is varied and that you are speaking specifically about the tradition of Wicca you are studying and not Wicca generally. All of your work so far has been thoughtful and respectful in every way, and I am sorry that was not appreciated by others.



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abowen

posted October 5, 2011 at 5:35 pm


Eileen,

Thank you so much for mentioning these texts!



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Eileen

posted October 5, 2011 at 4:50 pm


While you are correct in saying that there is no one particular sacred book to such a varied path, there are several more academic texts that are generally well considered across multiple traditions. Two specific such texts are Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler, and The Triumph of the Moon by Ronald Hutton.

For an introduction in solitary practice, while very 101, Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham has good content.

The Element of Ritual by Deborah Lipp also has some very good information about why specific things are used and done in circle.



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abowen

posted October 5, 2011 at 2:55 pm


Freeman,

Thanks for the help!



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Freeman Presson

posted October 5, 2011 at 6:08 am


Oh, I see from some of the comments that there will be many terminology issues. This might help: http://freemanpresson.wordpress.com/2010/11/17/defining-pagan-witch-etc/

although it’s not definitive or academic, and it doesn’t address whether one can consider Satanism(s) Pagan or not (short answer: some of them, such as theistic Satanists, Setian and Luciferian magicians, _if_ they want to be called Pagan; most don’t). Warning that goes with this answer: I know more about it than 99% of my fellow Pagani, and I don’t think I know enough to give a firm answer.



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abowen

posted October 4, 2011 at 11:30 pm


Adalis,

This entire month is my homework. I appreciate your gracious contribution to the conversation of learning about Wicca and the kind welcome.



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Adalis

posted October 4, 2011 at 10:53 pm

abowen

posted October 4, 2011 at 5:29 pm


Ray,

Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read, analyze, and comment on this quest! I’d love a good reference of where I stated that the transition between faiths within an exploratory learning context is as simple as changing costumes. I also dig the racist lines in your statement. Wonderful show of yourself, Ray. And if I remember from the Sikh community that taught me in their ways, a Sikh is one who actively seeks wisdom and honors God with purity of heart. We are all equal and adored in Waheguru’s eyes, and to suggest that I or anyone else is not worthy of this love or right to seek wisdom is a blemish of ignorance that only reflection on His name can remove.

Peace,



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abowen

posted October 4, 2011 at 5:24 pm


Crystal,

Thank you for the clarification!



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abowen

posted October 4, 2011 at 5:23 pm


Erramun,

I’ll certainly do my best.



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abowen

posted October 4, 2011 at 5:23 pm


Sosanna,

Thanks for reading! That is indeed the difficult part of this month: trying to hone in on the different aspects. In many ways, the first week is a growing pain where I have to learn to walk and sometimes, I stumble. This is where the comments and the members on the Facebook page come in. Because this is a learning process and not me dictating things, I always er on the side of what the actually members of the faith say.



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Ray

posted October 4, 2011 at 5:09 pm


Andrew, you have no freakin idea what you’re talking about when it comes to Wicca or any other religion you’ve played dress-up with.

Your experiment in cultural appropriation emphasizes the sense of entitlement that is prevalent among bored, middle to upper class white males.

Your premise that you can switch from one religion to another as simply as you change traditional costumes implies that the cultural backgrounds that formed those religions and practices don’t matter. Most insulting to me was dress-up stunt as a Sikh. People like you will never be good enough to be a Sikh.

Grow up.



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Crystal Blanton

posted October 4, 2011 at 5:00 pm


I think it is interesting that you are doing a month of being Wiccan. I think there are a couple of things that might be more accurate in your reflections through the month in representing some of this path. First I think it is important to mention that this is a path that believes in the power of orthopraxy and practice to reveal the mysteries of our faith. This cannot be done in a month, although it starts the ball rolling. This is one of the reasons that the study for High Priest or Priestess takes years….. usually one or more years per level. I think it is also important to distinguish between traditions and some of the more traditional Wiccan traditions versus a more eclectic path of Wicca. Many of the statements you make are specific to more eclectic Wiccan paths and do not reflect Wicca as a whole. And lastly, part of Wiccan (not Pagan) practice is the few guidelines within the path. It is unfair to say there are no real guidelines…. the duality of deity and the Wiccan rede are two things that make a path clearly Wiccan versus just Pagan. Good luck



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Erramun

posted October 4, 2011 at 4:39 pm


Keep in mind that your mentor only speaks for Fey Wicca and not for Neo-Wicca or Eclectic Wicca in general. Certainly not for British Traditional Wicca (Gardnerian, Alexandrian, et al). During your brief exploration into Fey Wicca you will be exposed only to Fey Wicca. Please keep that in mind as you reflect on what you learn and blog about your experiences. Please be clear in your writing that you are describing Fey Wicca and nothing else.



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Sosanna

posted October 4, 2011 at 4:23 pm


I believe I understand what you’re trying to do with this post. I think that maybe on a few of these things there’s a bit of over simplification. There are many aspects of wicca where the initiate goes through long training periods and is then inducted into the order. Some require fasting and memorization. Whereas mine for example, I’m a Solitary Witch so I don’t have these hard fast rules to follow. Also I’m concerned that you’re focusing on one particular tradition and using the umbrella term of “Wicca” to represent it. I’m not familiar with the Fey tradition, but do look forward to hearing more about it. I would like to note that even though I am a Solitary Witch I do not simply “toss out” what I don’t like about it. I do what feels “right” for me. Meaning that I respect the God and the Goddess equally even though I tend to lend my devotion to the feminine. I do not have a book of shadows but would never assume to say it’s not important to other traditions.

I embrace your effort in showcasing a particular religion and putting it forward for the masses but to claim to be that religion for a week/month what have you could be taken as offensive to some. Just putting that out there.

I hope that you find what you’re looking for in this journey.

Blessed Be.
Sosanna



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Val

posted October 4, 2011 at 2:09 pm


Excellent. Facetious dilettantism is such a profound way to explore the nature of what people actually believe and practice.



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abowen

posted October 3, 2011 at 11:00 am


Kenneth,

I’ll be sure to look into that author. Thank you!



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abowen

posted October 3, 2011 at 10:59 am


Iris,

I love that quote and thanks for reading along! Yes please, a blessing for sleep would be great.



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abowen

posted October 3, 2011 at 10:58 am


Rita,

Thank you! It’s my pleasure to share this awesome journey.



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abowen

posted October 3, 2011 at 10:57 am


Richard,

Oh no, Charmed. Haha I’m sure the truth is far more interesting than fiction ; )



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abowen

posted October 3, 2011 at 10:56 am


Kaleesie,

Thanks for reading! I will do the best I can!



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kenneth

posted October 3, 2011 at 2:52 am


Wicca is a big topic, and I cannot speak to Fey Wicca directly, but I cannot recommend highly enough the works of Kerr Cuhulain if you want to get a good idea of some of the key concepts.



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Iris

posted October 2, 2011 at 8:12 pm


Welcome to Wicca! It is a powerful and enlightening path that will inform and challenge what really is important in life.

Laughing is part of the process… we have a saying in my grove “If it’s perfect, something is wrong.” But we see the perfection in the imperfection and learn from it.

I have enjoyed the past 9 months and now that you are part of the path I welcome the comments, questions and insights that the coming month will bring.

Regarding sleep.. with permission I will ask Hypnos and Morpheus to bless you.

Blessed be!
Iris



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Rita

posted October 2, 2011 at 11:39 am


Greetings and welcome to the Wide World of Paganism! I have drawn much of my religious faith from what I learned about Wicca, and enjoy hearing more about nature-based practices.
My personal beliefs fall more into the category of Pantheism and gratitude. Hence, I thank all the gods for sharing your life with us through this project.
Looking forward to every post!



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Richard Grove

posted October 2, 2011 at 5:01 am


I hope you’ll take some time to dispell any misrepresentations made by the tv show Charmed.

All joking aside, I had a good friend who was Wiccan. I’m interested in seeing more of the faith(s). :)



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Kaleesie

posted October 2, 2011 at 3:24 am


I think what your doing is fabulous! Im wiccan, and i hope you learn much and break those negative stereotypes that have been placed on us! Good luck and
Blessed Be
Kaleesie



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gupt

posted October 2, 2011 at 1:10 am


very informative!! :)



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abowen

posted October 1, 2011 at 11:52 pm


Nydia,

Thanks for joining us! I hope you enjoy your time here and I look forward to your comments and insight.



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abowen

posted October 1, 2011 at 11:51 pm


Colin,

Can’t wait for your thoughts!



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abowen

posted October 1, 2011 at 11:51 pm


B,

Good point on the relationship between Wicca and Paganism. I think this will become increasingly more clear as the month goes on. Yes, I did get some antagonism for LDS, but some of the comments I’ve had toward Wicca are just horrible.



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abowen

posted October 1, 2011 at 11:49 pm


Ann,

Thanks for the title recommends and the insight into the Fey! I will certainly delve into this topic more as I learn. Welcome to the Congregation!



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abowen

posted October 1, 2011 at 11:48 pm


Susan,

It is my hope as well that some eyes will open. Working together, we can clear the air, as it were.



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abowen

posted October 1, 2011 at 11:47 pm


Mrs. B.

Thanks for coming along!



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abowen

posted October 1, 2011 at 11:47 pm


Niki,

Yes! I will clear that up. I just want to make sure folks know that there is a difference.



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abowen

posted October 1, 2011 at 11:46 pm


Ishna,

That is crazy! I know you’ll have some great insight for us this month.



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Nydia Macedo

posted October 1, 2011 at 11:39 pm


As a Brazilian Wiccan woman, I’m looking forward to follow up your new challenge.

So far so good! :o)



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Colin Faux

posted October 1, 2011 at 4:42 pm


I don’t know very much about Wicca. I’m looking forward to learning more.

Thank you for your efforts!



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Editor B

posted October 1, 2011 at 4:36 pm


A great start. I’ve been learning about contemporary paganism for the last few years and find it endlessly fascinating in its sprawling variety. The comparison to Hinduism is apt and there have been a number of interfaith efforts between Pagans and Hindus, and some concomitant tensions as well.

It might be worth noting explicitly that Wicca is a variety of Paganism. Many people conflate the two and they are confused in the public perception. But there are many other Pagan paths and traditions. Wicca has had phenomenal growth and is clearly the most prominent.

Looking forward to learning about Fey.

You got some negative comments about the LDS too right?



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Mentor Melissa

posted October 1, 2011 at 3:38 pm


Niki you are indeed correct, though its an easy mistake. Pagan is the umbrella term under which we find both Wicca and Satanism. Wicca is an umbrella term for many traditions of Wicca.

Hi Andrew :)



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anne johnson

posted October 1, 2011 at 2:24 pm


Welcome to the Fey path! There is an excellent book called “The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries,” by W.Y. Evans-Wentz. I highly recommend it, also the books by Orion Foxwood.

Faeries are portal beings, straddling the apparent and spirit worlds. Yes, they appreciate fun and high spirits. And please get back to me on how many times they steal your car keys this month!

But along with the “fun” fey tradition, there is a quiet serious aspect to faeries, one that is overlooked at festivals and frolics. They escort our souls to the Summerlands. On occasion some of them are malevolent. This must not be overlooked.

I don’t know how your mentor feels, but I take my practice from Evan-Wentz, whose interviewees regarded faeries with a mixture of fear and respect.

One last thing: You can’t be a Wiccan without visiting Mrs. B at “Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom.” October is her finest month.

Bookmarking now. Blessed be.



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Susan

posted October 1, 2011 at 2:07 pm


Thank you for such a beautiful and accurate description of the Wiccan faith. I only hope those who have such a negative view read this as well. One of the most misunderstood and misrepresented faiths in the world. Almost hated as much as people in American hate Islam without having a clue what it is about. Thank you too, for taking this wonderful journey. Blessed Be! Forestra (my Wiccan name)



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Mrs B

posted October 1, 2011 at 1:30 pm


Welcome! Though not a Wiccan, I am a Pagan witch. Just found your blog and I am excited to see you explore this path and break down some stereotypes and misinformation that’s out there. Good luck and have fun! You could not have picked a better month to do this in, lol!



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Niki Whiting

posted October 1, 2011 at 12:30 pm


Yay! You could use a break and a trad without too much daily practice might be just what your spirit ordered!

One quibble: I would never say that Satanism falls under the Wiccan umbrella, though it can fall under Pagan. We need some venn diagrams! Satanism is not nature based, uses much Judeo-Christian symbolism, and has a different history and set of influences.



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Ishna

posted October 1, 2011 at 11:30 am


Hilariously, in my life, I went from being Wiccan to being Sikh. Andrew, you’re going from being Sikh to being Wiccan! Best wishes to you during October! :)



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