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class 7

To: (owl)
From: (Sherry Michael)
Subject: class 7 (fwd)
Date: Wed, 8 Mar 1995 14:48:26 -0500 (EST)

> >  **"Wicca 101" class 7 - Solitary trad, teaching coven of the Three Crescents*
> >  **Please send all e-mail to this**
> > ***** Please do not distribute in full or in part without this header*****
> > 	
> > 
> > 
> > Many of you who are taking this course will, at least for a time, be a 
> > solitary Wiccan. Being a solitary means you will have freedom to practice 
> > without worrying about coven social dynamics, performance ritual and be 
> > limited to a coven's traditional system. However, being a solitary also 
> > means YOU have to come up with all the rituals and traditions yourself.
> > This class should help you develop your tradition.
> > 
> > Also, we will discuss Wicca in everyday life. Religion encompasses all 
> > aspects of life, just not Sabbat days. I will talk about being a Wiccan 
> > in "real life" and lifestyle choices. Also, issues we all must deal with, 
> > like discrimination and "breaking news" to friends and loved ones.
> > 
> > 
> > I bet you have started to wonder how in the world you are going to 
> > celebrate the Sabbats and Moons. You should have been thinking about other 
> > things too, like deity concepts, magical ethics, spirit guides and spell 
> > working. How are you going to know what to do? How are you going to be a 
> > Wiccan in practice?
> > 
> > Coven students have an advantage over you in one aspect: they have all 
> > this written out for them (literally). The coven has a tradition, 
> > most likely a set of deities, pre-developed rituals and rules. Well, we 
> > solitaries don't have this luxury. We have to create everything from the 
> > ground up. Before you smack you head and say "good Goddess"! at the 
> > overwhelming amount of work you have to do, consider the befits. You get to
> > make your OWN traditions and rituals. Best of all you get an opportunity 
> > to explore and learn more about your spirituality and beliefs.
> > 
> > Getting Started:
> > 
> > I'd like to mention I think the very best resource (maybe the only 
> > one) that describes in detail how a beginning solitary Wiccan can get 
> > started in tradition creation.  Scott Cunningham's _Living Wicca_, 
> > part 3 of the book. You may actually want to _buy_ this one.
> > 
> > To start off, it is easier to tackle your tradition creation if you break 
> > it up in a few parts. I have broken it up in four pieces that ask you to 
> > think about a few things and answer some questions, most of the questions 
> > come from things we talked about in past classes so you should be in good 
> > shape. This may take you a few days to complete, or a few hours. Get out 
> > your notebook (even if you hate notebooks, you will want to write these down)
> > and write out your responses to the questions. If you do not have a firm 
> > answer (or none at all) at this time, don't worry. Expect some of the 
> > complex concepts to require some time and a few changes of mind for them 
> > to become solid for you. 
> > 
> > 1) Deities and general beliefs: Do you have specific deities you are 
> > interested in? Do you feel drawn to one cultural pantheon (Celtic, 
> > Asatru, etc.) or are you more eclectic? If you are unsure, study and try 
> > contact rituals as in class 2. More generally, explore how you 
> > feel about the Goddess and the God in their various aspects.
> > 
> > How do you feel about reincarnation? Develop your own theory of 
> > life-after death. How do you feel about magic and how energy works? More 
> > or less, WHAT do you believe and why? 
> > 
> > 2) Rules: Remember the "Thirteen goals of a Witch" in the first class? I 
> > asked you to modify it toward your liking. The spiritual goals you have 
> > for yourself are very important to keep tabs on. How do you feel about 
> > the Wiccan rede "harm none and do as thou wilt"? What does "harm" mean to 
> > you? What do you consider as non-ethical magic? Think about the threefold 
> > law. Consider issues such as teaching minors, sexual orientation, 
> > charging for classes, proselytizing, protecting the earth and the concept 
> > as all religions different but equal paths to the Divine.
> > 
> > 3) Ritual: The holidays are one of the main things that make us Wiccan. 
> > It is very important to celebrate them in some way. If you were to make a 
> > holiday ritual, would your ideal ritual use a lot of tools, incantations 
> > and music, or would you prefer to light a few candles and say a simple 
> > silent prayer or a guided meditation that recognizes the holiday? Do you 
> > want to pre-write all the prayers and read/memorize them? Do you 
> > wish to celebrate all the Sabbats or only the four greater Sabbats? Do 
> > you want to have full moon and new moon Esbats or only full moons?
> > 
> > For non-holiday ritual, consider prayer, meditation and magic. You may 
> > want to set a daily/weekly/monthly time for prayers and meditations. Will 
> > your prayers be at an altar and will you give an offering? As far as 
> > magic goes, do you like a particular system of magic? Do you want to 
> > create a few "spells" before they are needed and keep them on hand, or 
> > create them as they are needed?
> > 
> > 4) Tools, spaces and dress: Consider starting a permanent altar if you can 
> > have one. Also, think of the altar setup you will use in a circle. Decide 
> > what you will put on it. When practicing ritual, where will 
> > you have your circle? Inside or outside? What will your circle look like 
> > (candles to make the corners, an outdoor stone circle, were the altar 
> > will face, etc.) Do you wish to use magical tools, and if so, which ones
> > would you like to acquire and what should they look like and be made of?  
> > What do they mean to you and how should they be used? During rituals you 
> > may want to go skyclad or wear a special cloak or clothing. 
> > You may also want to reserve jewelry for rituals only.
> > 
> > 
> > When you have completed the exercise above, it is time to start recording 
> > your beliefs and preferences into a working tradition. Most Wiccans have 
> > a Book of Shadows (BoS), or a book that contains rituals, concepts, 
> > beliefs, etc. These books are often used in circle to guide rituals 
> > (an "instruction" book). Even if you hate writing, consider making a BoS. 
> > They are valuable not only for recording your rituals, spells and ideas, but
> > also for helping you expand your understanding of Wicca.
> > 
> > The actual book can come in many shapes and sizes. Some folks prefer 
> > bound blank paged books. I suggest using a three ringed will 
> > be adding and subtracting stuff over the years and being able to shuffle 
> > pages helps. I suggest you hand write at least one copy of your BoS. 
> > Computers are great, but "Disks of shadows" loose some of the mystique of 
> > having something in your own hand. Besides BoS can be fun to make, esp., if 
> > you are creative and can decorate some key pages with drawings, 
> > calligraphy, Celtic knotwork, etc. (suggestion: use clear plastic 3 ringed 
> > binder sheets, or punch holes in a transparency, to protect the pages from 
> > wax droppings during a  ritual).
> > 
> > Below is a sample "table of contents" for a BoS. You can change or modify 
> > it at will:
> > 
> > 	I.   Book Blessing (invocation asking for the God/dess to bless/protect)
> > 	II.  Statement of tradition (name of practice, brief explanation 
> > 	     of sect/tradition, deities.)
> > 	III. Rules/goals (as above)
> > 	IV.  General beliefs (reincarnation, threefold law, etc)
> > 	V.   Altar layout, tools used and what for, ritual dress, etc.
> > 	VI.  Rituals
> > 	      Circle casting procedure	
> > 		Sabbats
> > 		moons
> > 		prayers, invocations, songs, etc.
> > 		Etc. (handfastings, initiations, tool consecrations, etc)
> > 	 VII. spellworking rituals
> > 		color/element/stone correspondences
> > 		"spells"
> > 		recipes, incenses, ritual foods, etc.
> > 
> > 
> > One big thing is missing. I prefer to keep diaries, dream and magic 
> > journals, meditation, etc. in a separate book. Why? Because I see the BoS 
> > as a relatively "permanent" book. That doesn't mean it doesn't change, but 
> > it doesn't mean I want a ton of mind wanderings in it, either. I work 
> > problems and ideas out in my journal, then add important and solidified 
> > ideas into my BoS. Also, another reason is that pages and pages of 
> > journal writings tend to make the book bulky in ritual. However, if you 
> > want to include them, do so at the end of the BoS.
> > 
> > A BoS takes a lot of time and thinking to make. However, it also shows 
> > your dedication to the Craft. It is also a valuable tool to monitor 
> > changes and growth in your faith. All and all, I can't imagine a practice 
> > without one.
> > 
> > 
> > In this section I'm mostly going to talk about developing sabbat ritual, 
> > however the concepts can be applied to any ritual. The key here is NOT to 
> > try to create a ritual a few days before an event or sabbat. Try to give 
> > yourself some time (at least 2 weeks) to consider concepts and to do some 
> > research. I would also suggest doing each sabbat as it comes along during
> > the year. I think it helps to get you in "the mood" of the season and also
> > does not overwhelm you by trying to write them all at once.
> > 
> > The very first thing to do is to learn everything you can about the 
> > upcoming sabbat. The class reading I gave you before in class will be a 
> > great start. Try to get a few interpretations, including modern and 
> > ancient symbolism. The better your understanding of why the sabbat is 
> > important to celebrate and what it means, the easier to write and more 
> > meaningful the ritual will be. DO NOT skip this step! Give yourself a day 
> > or so to just think about what you have read before moving on.
> > 
> > The next step is to grab a sheet of paper. Write down and identify these 
> > things:
> > 	a) The basic meaning of the sabbat (or other ritual) to you
> > 	b) The themes of the sabbat (or other ritual)
> > 	c) Symbolism related to this holiday 
> > 	d) All interesting old and new traditions related to the sabbat
> > 
> > Example for Samhain/Halloween:
> > 
> > 	a) The Lord journeys into the underworld / end of summer
> > 	b) Harvest, respect to the dead, day-between years
> > 	c) Pumpkins, black/orange, spirits and the dead, fall leaves
> > 	d) Trick or treating,"dumb suppers", lighting candles for the 
> > 	   dead, divination for the upcoming year, talking to spirits.
> > 
> >  
> > Now you are about ready to write the ritual. First, look at your notes 
> > from the Ritual section from "getting started" above. Do you prefer 
> > simple/complex ritual? Lots of words and music or silence? Spontaneous or 
> > structured? These things will strongly effect the structure of the ritual.
> > 
> > Now, start weeding out the themes/symbols/traditions you like the least. 
> > Select your favorites, but try to keep it down to one or two themes and 
> > traditions; otherwise your ritual will be too complex. You can almost use 
> > an unlimited number of symbols, especially for altar and circle 
> > decorations to set the mood.
> > 
> > Example for Samhain:
> >       
> > 	Preferred ritual: Complex, mostly silent prayer, spontaneous but 
> > 	structured.
> > 
> > 	Theme:    Respect to the dead
> >         Symbols:  Pumpkins, black/orange, spirits and the dead, fall leaves
> > 	Traditions: lighting candles for the dead, divination for the upcoming
> > 	 	    year 
> > 
> > If you get to this point, your ritual is almost written. Give yourself a 
> > day or so to daydream about your ritual.
> > 
> > The actual ritual is just putting your preferred themes/symbols/traditions 
> > together. It may help you to look over a few published rituals, if you have
> > not done so already. Be creative, try to stimulate a feeling of 
> > "other worldness" that allows your subconscious to come out and play.
> > Above all, don't be a perfectionist! Don't get so hung up with the details
> > being perfect that you forget the main reason for the holiday or lose 
> > that special feeling ritual creates. If you mess up in the ritual, just 
> > forget it and move on (or stop and do it over). If you dump the ritual 
> > wine and almost torch your altar cloth with a candle, laugh it off and go 
> > on. Who says ritual should be staunch? Write your ritual in your BoS!!!
> > 
> > Samhain ritual, (Lady Lunastrix "moonowl")
> > 
> > Setup/preparation: Drape purchased artificial cobweb from the 
> > room's central chandelier to form a canopy over the ritual area. All 
> > lights off except a red light in a small lamp in the corner. 
> > Jack-o-lanterns should mark the corners of the circle. Altar is decorated 
> > with fall leaves and a number of unlit black votive candles.
> > 
> > (grounding, cleansing, circle is cast)
> > 
> > A silent spontaneous invocation prayer to the Goddess and God to be 
> > present and bless the Work of the Samhain circle (I light a red taper 
> > to symbolize the presence of the God and a white large candle for the 
> > Goddess. This is standard in all ritual for me).
> > 
> > A brief spontaneous mentioning (silent or spoken, whatever moves me) of 
> > the reason for the celebration. ( ex. "This is the season the Lord 
> > returns to the belly of the Mother to be reborn. On this day that is
> > not a day, we also remember all our respected relatives, friends and loved 
> > ones, and those that may be forgotten, that have also traveled into the 
> > womb of the Mother to be Reborn. We will not morn, because remember; for all
> > that is born must pass to be reborn anew".)
> > 
> > One of the small black votive candles are taken in hand. For each, think of 
> > one of these suggested deceased: relative, pet, friend, ancestors never met,
> > dead without loved ones to remember them, victims of the Burnings or wars. 
> > Meditate on your memories of the person/people/pet, letting the energy of 
> > your memories and blessings of good will go into the candle. Continue to 
> > another candle and select another relative/pet/friend, etc.. (If you 
> > happen to do the ritual with another person, it is nice to share memories 
> > aloud for each candle.)
> > 
> > When you are done, light each candle and allow them to burn away, sending 
> > the energy to the honored dead. 
> > 
> > Divination with runes for a yearly forecast follows. (Sabbats are a good 
> > time for magic, usually certain kinds. It is common for magic rituals to 

> > follow celebratory ritual.)
> > 
> > For earthing (simple feast, cakes and ale), pomegranates and cider are 
> > served, with an offering of three seeds to the Lord and Lady.
> > 
> > The God and Goddess are thanked and bid merry part.
> > 
> > (open circle)
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > Being a Wiccan is more than a religious practice. It effects how we live 
> > our lives and what choices we make. Also, being a Wiccan means you are a 
> > member of an "alternative" religion that is also misunderstood.
> > 
> > Many Wiccans practice some sort of religious ritual other than on planned 
> > Sabbats and moons. Daily or occasional prayers and offerings of thanks 
> > are always encouraged when ever the need or mood strikes you. Prayers 
> > requesting assistance are also normal practice ( I tend to give offerings 
> > and prayers for divine inspiration often during finals week!). Some 
> > Wiccans keep altars, (and I would suggest you do so if possible) and some 
> > have altars that honor a specific God or Goddess. Some even change the God 
> > or Goddess the altar is dedicated for so they can build a relationship 
> > with other deities. Offerings and prayers are regularly made at the 
> > altars, even if it is just a passing blessing.
> > 
> > Meditation and study is another important aspect of a Wiccan's life. 
> > Meditation, as we have talked before is a great tool that can be used for 
> > pathworking, deity connections and finding animal totems. However, like 
> > any other skill, it gets rusty if not used. Try to set a regular time 
> > every day/week/month to brush up on your meditation skills, even if it 
> > just to relax. Beginners may need to practice more often than skilled 
> > meditators. Study of magic, Wicca, other religions and philosophies (even 
> > the natural sciences) is almost mandatory as you have already seen. Do not
> > be overwhelmed by this. The studying never ends. As I like to think, the day
> > I know everything is the day I stop living for a purpose. So hide in the 
> > corner of a bookstore and read a book, get some FTP files, or share ideas 
> > with other online pagans. Study keeps your practice always new, changing, 
> > and wondrous. The quest for knowledge is our most precious blessing.
> > 
> > Other areas that Wicca may effect you is how you live your life. As a 
> > member of a volunteer organization, I can't emphasize the benefits of 
> > service to the community. Feeding and raising money for the poor, 
> > visiting the ill, teaching, cleaning up your local park are all ways of 
> > serving the Mother. When you give of yourself to do Her Work, you perform 
> > Her magics, indeed.
> > 
> > Environmental concerns are prime importance to many Wiccans. How can we be 
> > worshippers of Nature if we don't take steps to preserve it? We don't all 
> > have to become park rangers; recycle, save water and energy, donate money 
> > to environmental causes. 
> > 
> > Many Wiccans become involved with politics, community and education. 
> > Women's issues of all types are also common focal points. The Goddess comes
> > in all colors and sexual orientations, so fighting  racial and cultural 
> > discrimination, as well as ALL types of religious discrimination and 
> > intolerance, is Her Work.
> > 
> > Don't get overwhelmed! Remember, the worst thing is to do nothing at all
> > because you can only do a little. Pick and choose things you like and 
> > feel strongly about, and do what you can. Always remember to take care of 
> > yourself, too. Don't get stressed out and put too much on your plate.
> > 
> > 
> > Being Wiccan is not easy, usually due to public misconceptions of our 
> > religion. The best advice I can give you in situations when others 
> > question your religion is to be honest, with simple explanations and 
> > avoiding terms that might set panic alarms off in others. I usually avoid 
> > using the word "witch" until I tell them I am Wiccan, a earth based 
> > religion that celebrates the seasons and worship a God and Goddess. Then
> > images of pointy hats and black masses don't pop up and get in the way of 
> > what I am trying to explain. Also, don't overload them with complexity. 
> > Try to keep to simple concepts and ideas.
> > 
> > I don't suggest hiding your religion unless your safely or security is 
> > threated. If friends and lovers can't handle your religion, too bad. If 
> > they disapprove and harass, don't bring the topic up for discussion with 
> > them, even if they try to egg you on. If they really can't handle it, 
> > they can walk (does your significant other really love you if they don't 
> > try to accept and understand something so important?) On the other hand, if 
> > you think your parents will kick you out of the house if they knew, or 
> > you will be thrown out of your dorm in a Christian college, practice 
> > simply in secret. It stinks, but its only temporary and better than being 
> > homeless/degree-less.
> > 
> > If you are independent, you MAY want to consider telling your immediate 
> > family about your religion. Bring the topic up casually, avoiding terms that 
> > may freak them out. If your parents and strongly religious or disapprove, 
> > stay calm and remind them you are an adult, and it is your right to 
> > practice what you wish. Stress that you are not a Satanist of any sort, 
> > and you will provide them with materials if they are interested in 
> > learning more. 
> > 
> > You may underestimate your parents. I told my mother I had to talk to her 
> > about my religion when I came to visit her. When I got home and told her 
> > I was Wiccan, she sighed with relief and said, "I thought you were joining 
> > a cult! Why didn't you just tell me you were just a witch?! Call your 
> > Aunt, she'd love to talk to you about this stuff." Surprise, surprise. She 
> > even gracefully got me out of saying the dinner prayer at Thanksgiving 
> > when she knew I was uncomfortable.  
> > 
> > I believe your faith is a very important aspect in your life, and if 
> > people, especially loved ones, respect you and love you, they will come 
> > to grips with your faith. I don't suggest breaking up families, but I 
> > don't suggest deception, either. Don't tell your parents you are a good 
> > Jew if you are not. If you cannot tell them you are Wiccan, at least you 
> > owe them the respect of not lying to them. I may have a strong opinion on 
> > this, and your mileage may vary. Do what is right for you, but don't take 
> > the path of least resistance for the sake of ease.
> > 
> > Unfortunately, out of the household you may find yourself discriminated 
> > against. Be careful here. You have the right to practice your religion, 
> > but fighting with your boss over the right for you to have a pentacle over
> > your desk may not be worth your job. On the other hand, if my landlord 
> > protested of my altar in my apartment, I may seek legal council. Pick your
> > battles wisely.
> > 
> > Sometimes a situation can be handled without mentioning your religion to 
> > the whole office. A Fundamentalist Christian was fond of leaving me pamphlets
> > at my desk at work after overhearing a discussion I was having about 
> > biological evolution and magic with a personal friend at lunch. I asked 
> > him to please stop, and I did not think it was appropriate behavior. When he
> > continued, his supervisor was notified. The problem was taken care of with no
> > mention of Wicca. If anyone actually harasses you, tell them calmly to 
> > desist.
> > 
> > Avoid problems. Running around wearing a huge pentacle, lots of black, 
> > and trying to be witchy for shock value does not make you exactly blend 
> > in. If looking different is your normal style, fine. But don't do it to 
> > force occult down someone's throat; people will never give you a chance 
> > to explain your views and frankly, you'll just be reinforcing their 
> > stereotypes and misconceptions.
> > 
> > If you wish to wear a pentacle outside your shirt, please do so. But have 
> > an answer prepared when folks go, "what is that?". Personally I keep mine 
> > tucked in because I don't think it anyone's business besides the people I 
> > choose to tell. I also don't get paranoid about it being tucked in. If it 
> > comes untucked and someone sees it, big deal. I have an explanation ready.
> > (My doctor noticed it during an exam the other day...I'm so used to 
> > wearing it I didn't understand what she was asking about at first!) An 
> > easy way to explain a pentacle when you are speaking to someone in 
> > passing,  tell them it is a symbol of the four elements plus soul, and not
> > a Satanic star. No mile long Wiccan lecture required.
> > 
> > Play these situations by feel. Do what thou Will.
> > 
> > *****
> > 
> > 1) Start work on creating your tradition, or just work on the questions in 
> > the "getting started" section if you are not sure about Wicca yet.
> > 
> > 2) Think about how you would deal with questions about your religion. 
> > Would you tell your family? What would you say? How would you deal with 
> > harassment?
> > 
> > 3) Think of how you can honor the Great Ones in daily life.
> > 
> > 4) Use the %&*#ing group list! :)
> >  
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 

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