Wicca is not Witchcraft. Witchcraft is an earth religion, a relinking with the life force of nature, both on this planet and in the stars and space beyond. In city apartments, in suburban backyards, and in country glades, groups of women and men meet on the full moons and at festival times to raise energy and put themselves in tune with these natural forces.
As Traditional-Egyptian Witchcraft, we honor the ancient Egyptian Goddesses and Gods, including the Triple Goddess of the waxing, full, and waning moon, and the Horned God of the sun, death and animal life, as visualizations of immanent nature.
Our religion is not a series of precepts or beliefs, but rather we believe that we each have within ourselves the capacity to reach out and experience the mystery, that feeling of ineffable oneness with all life. Those who wish to experience this transcendence must work, and create, and participate in their individual religious lives.
For this reason our congregations, called Temples, and Covens where seekers start their learning, are small groups which give room for each individual to contribute to the efforts of the group by self knowledge and creative experimentation within the agreed upon group structure and tradition.
There are many traditions or sects within Paganism & The Wtichcraft. Different groups take their inspiration from the pre Christian religions of certain ethnic groups (e.g. Celtic, Greek, Norse). Our form of Witchcraft comes from the traditional ancient Egyptian worship and magick.
Wiccans, (Gardnerians and Alexandrians) on the other hand, are fairly new, following their cannons and dogma originated in the liturgical works of some modern personage (e.g. Gerald Gardner-an English government worker, and Alex Sanders-self proclaimed "King of the Witches", descended from Gardner). Wicca originated in the early 1940's and was invented by Gerald Gardner, from pieced together legend and ritual from the Celtic, ceremonial magick, ancient Egyptian, African and other world areas.
Many feminists have turned to Witchcraft and the role of Priestess for healing and strength after the patriarchal oppression and lack of voice for women in the major world religions. In Wicca, as opposed to Witchcraft, the male is still the dominant figure, as in Christianity, Jewish, Islaminc, and other patriarchial religions - this is evident in their attitude and ritual form. Traditional Witchcraft places the female Priestess at the head as the leader.
There are many paths to spiritual growth. The Paganism of Witchcraft is a participatory revelation, a celebratory action leading to greater understanding of oneself and the universe. We believe there is much to learn by studying our past, through myth and legend, through ritual drama, through poetry and song, through love and through living in harmony with the Earth.
Despite competition from twentieth century 'life in the fast lane', the awesome spectacle repeated in the patterns of the changing seasons still touches our lives. During the ages when people worked more closely with nature just to survive, the numinous power of this pattern had supreme recognition.
Rituals and festivals evolved to channel these transformations for the good of the community toward a good sowing and harvest and boutiful hunting. One result of this process is our image of the 'Wheel of the Year' with its eight spokes: the four agricultural and pastoral festivals and the four solar festivals commemorating seasonal solstices and equinoxes.
In common with many ancient people, most Pagans & Witches consider the day as beginning at sundown and ending at sundown on the following day. Hence a Festival or Sabbat such as November Eve runs through the day of November 1st. Solstice and Equinox dates are held on the 21st of the month in which they occur. (see details below)
OCTOBER 31: NOVEMBER EVE
This is our Festival of Summer's end. In the increasing starlight and moonlight, we hone our divinatory and psychic skills. Now nights lengthen, winter begins, and we work with the positive aspects of the dark tides. It is a night when the veil that separates our world from the next is at its thinnest, allowing the dead to return to the world of the living, to be welcomed and feasted by their kin.
Celtic Traditions call this Festival Samhain (pronounced sow-an) - meaning 'summer's end'. Some Pagan & Witchcraft traditions, and the Celts, consider this New Year's Eve. The Christian religion adopted this theme as 'All Saints Day' or 'All Hallows Day' (Nov. 1), celebrating the eve as 'All Hallows Eve' or 'Halloween'.
DECEMBER 21: WINTERTIDE
Winter Solstice - This is our Festival of the longest night of the year, for now the wheel of the year has reached a turning point. This is the seedpoint of the solar year, mid winter, time of greatest darkness when we seek within ourselves to comprehend our true nature. This is the night the Great Mother Goddess gives birth to the baby Sun God, because from this day forward, the days begin to lengthen, light is waxing.
Some other traditions call this Festival Yule - "Yule" means "wheel". The Christian religion adopted this theme as the birthday of Jesus, calling it 'Christ mass'. The alternative fixed calendar date of December 25th (called 'Old Yule' by some) occurs because, before various calendar changes, that was the date of the solstice.
JANUARY 31: FEBRUARY EVE
This is our Festival of spring's beginnings. We celebrate the return of the Goddess to her Maiden aspect, just as the Sun God has reached puberty.
Celtic traditions call this Festival Imbolc - "Imbolc" means "in the belly" because that is where seeds are beginning to stir. Another name for the holiday is 'Oimelc', meaning 'milk of ewes', since it is lambing season. It was especially sacred to the Celtic Fire Goddess, Brigit, patron of smithcraft, healing, midwifery, and poetry. The elder of some Groves or a Celtic Coven's High Priestess may wear a crown of lights (candles).
Weather lore associated with this festival is retained by the folk holiday of 'Groundhog's Day'. The Christian religion adopted a number of these themes, as follows. February 1 became 'St. Brigit's Day', and February 2 became 'Candlemas', the day to make and bless candles for the liturgical year. The 'Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary' adapts the Maiden Goddess theme.
MARCH 21: SPRINGTIDE
Vernal (Spring) Equinox - This is our Festival of Spring. As Spring reaches its midpoint, night and day stand in perfect balance, with light on the increase. The young Sun God now celebrates a hierogamy (sacred marriage) with the young Maiden Goddess, who conceives. In nine months, she will again become the Great Mother. It is a time of great fertility, new growth, and newborn animals.
Some traditions call this Festival "Lady Day". In other traditions, the next full moon (a time of increased births) is called the 'Ostara' and is sacred to Eostre, Saxon lunar goddess of fertility (from whence we get the word 'eostrogen'), whose two symbols were the egg and the rabbit. The Christian religion adopted these emblems for 'Easter', celebrated the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox.
The theme of the conception of the Goddess was adapted as the 'Feast of the Annunciation', occuring on the alternative fixed calendar date of March 25 ('Old Lady Day'), the earlier date of the equinox. 'Lady Day' may also refer to other goddesses (such as Venus and Aphrodite), many of whom have festivals celebrated at this time.
APRIL 30: MAY EVE
This is our Festival of the beginning of Summer. As summer begins, weather becomes warmer, and the plant world blossoms, an exuberant mood prevails. It is a time of unabashed sexuality and promiscuity. Young people spend the entire night in the woods 'a maying', and dance around the phallic Maypole the next morning. Older married couples may remove their wedding rings (and the restrictions they imply) for this one night. May morning is a magical time for 'wild' water (dew, flowing streams, and springs) which is collected and used to bathe in for beauty, or to drink for health.
Celtic traditions call this Festival "Beltaine' - meaning "fire of Bel", Belinos being one name for the Sun God, whose coronation feast they now celebrate. The Christian religion had only a poor substitute for the life affirming Maypole, namely, the death affirming cross. Hence, in the Christian calendar, this was celebrated as 'Roodmas'. In Germany, it was the feast of Saint Walpurga, or 'Walpurgisnacht'.
JUNE 21: SUMMERTIDE
Summer Solstice - This is our Festival of Summer. On this longest day of the year, light and life are abundant. At mid summer, the Sun God has reached the moment of his greatest strength. Seated on his greenwood throne, he is also lord of the forests, and his face is seen in church architecture peering from countless foliate masks.
The Christian religion converted this day of "Jack in the Green" to the Feast of St. John the Baptist, often portraying him in rustic attire, sometimes with horns and cloven feet (like the Greek god Pan)! Midsummer Night's Eve is also special for adherents of the Faerie faith.
JULY 31: AUGUST EVE
This is our Festival of the beginning of Autumn. As Autumn begins, the Sun God enters his old age, but is not yet dead. It is also a celebration of the first harvest. This is the time for trial Handfastings which last a year and a day.
Celtic traditions Celebrate this Festival as "Lughnassad", meaning "the funeral games of Lugh", referring to Lugh, the Irish sun god. However, the funeral is not his own, but the funeral games he hosts in honor of his foster mother Tailte. For that reason, the traditional Tailtean craft fairs are celebrated at this time. The Christian religion adopted this theme and called it 'Lammas', meaning 'loaf mass', a time when newly baked loaves of bread are placed on the altar.
SEPTEMBER 21: AUTUMNTIDE
Autumnal Equinox - This is our Festival of the final grain harvest and the darkening of the year. From this mid Autumn day forward, darkness will be greater than light, just as night becomes longer than day. It is a festival of sacrifice, including that of the Sun God in his aspect of Spirit of the Fields.
In other traditions and mythologies, this is the day the Sun God, the God of Light, is killed by his rival and dark twin, the God of Darkness, who was born at Midsummer, reached puberty at Lammas, and lives a mirror image life of the Sun God. The Christian religion adopted it as 'Michaelmas', celebrated on the alternative date September 25, the old equinox date (Old Harvest Home).
Unlike Wicca, which is fairly new (1940's), the roots of the religion called Paganism or Witchcraft, are very old, coming down to us through a variety of channels worldwide. Although any general statement about Witchcraft practices will have exceptions, the following will attempt to present a basic foundation for understanding. Some of the old practices were lost when indigenous religions encountered militant Christianity and were forced to go underground for survival.
The ancient Witchcraft religions were lost when the practice of the rites were stopped and the old verbal traditions were no longer available. Parents transmitted their traditions to their children down through the centuries with parts being lost and new parts created. These survivals, along with research into the old ways, provide a rich foundation for modern practice.
Other factors contributing to the revival of Paganism and Witchcraft are archeological and anthropological studies of the religious practices of non Christian cultures such as ancient Egypt, the works of metaphysical orders, and the liberalization of anti-Witchcraft (Paganism) laws.
As modern Traditional-Egyptian Witches, we hold rituals according to the turning of the seasons, the tides of the moon, and personal needs. Most rituals are performed in a ritual space called a Temple, marked by a circle. If possible, we build Temples or establish Temple rooms in our homes to create this ritual space. Our Temples are in touch with the Goddess and God, and are permanently consecrated to use for our Festivals, Celebrations and rites..
Within our holy Temple, two main activities occur: celebration and the practice of magick. Celebration is most important at the major seasonal holidays, called Festivals or Sabbats. At these times the legend and form of that particular holiday are enacted and dancing, singing, feasting, and revelry are all part of the festivities. On these occasions we celebrate our oneness with Life.
Magick is more often performed at gatherings called Moon Celebrations or Esbats, which coincide with the phases of the moon. Types of magick practiced include psychic healing sessions, protection and retaliation, the channeling of energy to achieve positive results, and work toward the individual spiritual development.
Magick is an art which requires adherence to certain principles. It requires a conscious direction of will toward a desired end. When the celebration, teaching, or magical work is finished, the blessing of the Goddess and God is called into food and drink which are shared by all. Unlike Wiccans, we do not believe in or adhere to the "law of three" and the "wiccan rede" as described below, so we are free to work any kind of magick that we see fit, and to retaliate when we are attacked or threatened, with our arsenal of Spells and Magickal workings.
Wiccans (Gradinarian and Alexandrian) believe in the "wiccan rede", that it is an attribute of magick that what you direct your will toward will return to you three times. Therefore, Wiccans are careful to practice only beneficial magic. This threatening dogma rings of the oppression of the Christian church and it's cannons (rules and regulations).
To create the circle and the working of magic, we may use tools to facilitate a magical mood in which the psychic state necessary for this kind of work can be achieved. The tools are part of a complete and self consistant symbolic system which is agreed upon by the participants and provides them with a 'map' for entry into unfamiliar psychic spaces. In the later advanced stages of development, a true High Priestess/priest finds that tools are not necessary for direction of the will and protection.
A primary tool, which is owned by most Witches, is a Sacred Blade or Athame: a ritual knife. The Sacred Blade is charged with the energy of the owner and is used as a pointer to define space (such as casting a sacred circle) and as a conductor of the owner's will and energy.
Other important tools are the symbols on the altar which denote the elements: earth, air, fire, and water. A pentacle (a pentagram traced upon a disk, like a small dish) is often used to symbolize earth and its properties, stability, material wealth and practical affairs. Alternatively, a small dish of salt or soil can be used to symbolize the earth element.
A Sacred Ritual Sword is used by the High Priestess/Priest only, for the same purpose as the Sacred knife. Alternatively, a thurible of incense and a bell may be used to symbolize the air element. A candle is used to symbolize the element of fire and its properties, will, transmutation, and power. A Magick Wand is sometimes used for magicks where it is not appropriate to use the Sacred Knife or Sacred Sword.
A bowl of water is used to symbolize the element of water and its properties: cleansing, regeneration, and emotion. There are many other minor tools which are used for some specific purpose within magical workings, but the tools described above cover the basic tools used in the practice of our religion of Witchcraft.
Since these tools are the conductors of personal energies, as copper is a conductor for electrical energy, if possible, we provide some degree of training in psychic development to strengthen each student's and memeber's ability to participate in the religious activities. Each individual decides what level of such training is useful for them.
We see psychic abilities as a natural human potential. We are dedicated to developing this and all of our positive human potentials. The energies raised by these practices and other religious activities are directed toward healing ourselves and the Earth, and toward diverse magical workings.
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