Had some good talk time with book club friends tonight, and I was reminded once again how hard it can be to talk about my spiritual path – not because I don’t love it, but because the words available to me are sometimes so loaded. It reminded me of this section from a book I use as a resource, and I thought it would be good to share here…
*note: I am not actually Wiccan. I don’t mind the word witch, because the root is simply “to change” – but Wiccan viewpoints largely align with most pagan or new age beliefs. They just have more specific rituals and traditions, which is great for some folks, just not my personal path. So, I use a lot of their materials, even though I’m not specifically Wiccan by a long shot.
tough word #1: “witchcraft”
the root of the word wic, or wicca, means “wise”, for witches were/are keepers of wisdom. Another definition was “to bend and shape”, meaning those who practice the craft can bend and shape natural energies to drive change, usually within themselves.
tough word #2: “power”
for Wiccans, power has little to do with control over people and things. Power is a natural state of being that comes from uniting with the vast flow of nature and operating from an experience of accord with that flow. In the Wiccan view, power is a shared, subtle energy that flows through all things.
tough word #3: “ritual”
Rituals in Wicca involve symbolic words, sounds, colors, and gestures. Wiccans understand that each element of a ritual speaks the language of the deep mind, and thus awakens the movement of psychological and spiritual energy. The symbols in Wiccan ritual emerge from both time-honored, shared correspondences, and personal associations that can emerge from dreams, meditation, personal experience and insight. Rituals involve words and actions that help align your mind and body with specific energies, making you more connected to the divine. (example: in the Christian faith, the act of taking communion is a powerful ritual with a lot of meaning that helps those in attendance experience a certain power, emotion, energy – pagans do the same, but the rituals honor various energies, times of year, etc.)
tough word #4: “magic”
Magic is a term that sometimes causes confusion or fear. In popular imagination, magic is about getting things that you want through forbidden, dark, or dangerous forces. Wiccans understand magic as a natural process. It is the ability to change one’s consciousness – one’s frame of mind. It is the ability to arrive at substantial realizations and broadening insights that change one’s relationship as a human being to the world. Out of one’s change of consciousness comes change in the world. (“As within, so without”) The processes of magic reveal our internal patterns that can help us live in close contact with our full human power. Empowerment and responsibility are the heart, and true lesson, of magic. Magick (spelling with a “k” is sometimes used to differentiate from stage magic) is the art of making change, manifesting your dreams, and banishing the things that no longer serve you and hold you back.
tough word #5: “occult”
The word “occult”, derived from the Latin occultusanum, literally means “secret.” Few Wiccans today use this term when referring to their contemporary magical or spiritual practices. However, the word simply refers to hidden teachings or energies that are available to all. The world of spirit and energy is a mystery to most all humans, making it part of the occult.
tough word #6: “pagan”
Pagan comes from the Latin paganus, meaning “a peasant or country dweller.” Formerly people used the word in reference to a non-Christian. The word then expanded over time to pejoratively mean anyone who was not “of the Book”, namely a person who was not a Christian, Jew, or Muslim. It gained negative connotations over time and came to mean someone who was an uncivilized “idolator.” In contemporary practice, a pagan is someone who follows a polytheistic or pantheistic spiritual system. Typically, a pagan is someone who believes that the universe, the earth, and all of its inhabitants contain divinity. The divine force is inherent in all life and form. Spiritual does not mean divorced from the physical, earthly realm. The earth is one of the most divine forms in all creation. All life, all nature, is the divine manifest, and most pagans honor the earth as a living being, a source of life.
tough word #7: “spell”
Simply put, a symbolic act through which anyone can channel nonphysical energies to move toward a goal. Spells are the same as prayers – simple acts of sending out intention to the divine, asking it to manifest.
tough word #8: “polytheist”
Although witches are usually considered polytheists, meaning they acknowledge and honor more than one deity, they recognize the one spirit running through everything. Perhaps the word monist, one who recognizes the divine in everything, is a more appropriate term, but most pagans identify as polytheists. The gods, goddesses, and spirits they recognize and honor are expressions of that one spirit, leading to a more personal relationship with the divine.
These words are often tough to explain in conversation, but hopefully, over time, they will come to reflect their true meaning – I find this spiritual path to contain some “dark” words, but in beautiful ways! The dark and mysterious can be beautiful, just as night can be beautiful, the space inside the womb can be beautiful, and even death can be beautiful…right?
(sources: The Inner Temple of Witchcraft, and Wicca: A Year and a Day)