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Wicca - The Balance of Power between the Male and Female
A BASIC OVERVIEW FOR THOSE NOT FAMILIAR WITH WICCA
Many people do not understand the beliefs behind the practice of Wicca. Stigmas involving the old beliefs that Wiccans are evil witches opposed to the Christian god, have clouded most people's views concerning those who practice the faith to the point that most who practice it are forced to do so in secret. The truth is a real Wiccan does not oppose Christian beliefs or morals, they just chose to worship something else.
There are, in fact, many different schools of Wicca and Wicca even encompasses the development of new paths created by individual practitioners. But, almost all who practice Wicca have one tenet they believe in above all else, "An' if it harm none, do what ye will." Depending on which Wicca group or solitary practitioner you ask, you may receive a different version, but it all amounts to the same. Wiccans do not believe in harming others, despite what the media and Hollywood seem to report. Though it may make interesting and frightening T.V. shows and movies, a Wiccan is not going to stab you with her athame.
Wicca, is a belief system that evolves around the natural world and the inherit "magick" that exists in all things. The divine to a Wiccan does not exists outside of the world watching what we do and passing down judgement, but exists within it, flowing through everything and in some cases, maintaining a balance. In some paths of Wicca, the divine is viewed as actually living within each person and all are carrying a spark of that divine flame. This does not mean that all Wiccans are vegetarians!
Within Wicca the divine spirit or essence is viewed as existing not just as a Male entity but also as a Female entity. The divine is all things, literally. The divine is the good and the bad. It can be as kind and caring as it is cruel. In some systems of Wicca, groups focus only on the kind and caring aspects of the divine, some accept all aspects and some only focus on what you might term the uncaring and ugly, but followers of this last path are not normally considered Wiccan.
The thing Wicca has become most famous for is that followers of Wicca perform and practice magick.(And yes, that is magick with a "k".) These are not the magic tricks that you might find performed by a magician. Magick of this kind is not instantaneous nor does it always result with what the caster desires. This form of magick is designed to seek a way of getting the elements of the world to slide in such a way as to bring out the desired effect. This is done by seeking out sympathetic aids, such as herbs, colored threads that represent the desired outcome, wood, etc. and invocations that are used to help direct the mind of the caster towards achieving their goal. Once this is done, the caster goes out with the mind set that what they have cast their spell towards achieving will be done or is in the process of coming to fruition. Most people have heard of the terms "white" and "black" magick, but in Wicca magick is not divided but such terms. Magick is neither "good" not "bad", magick just is. It is the practitioner that directs the flow of energy. Don't confuse someone who practices magick with a Wiccan. You do not have to be a Wiccan to practice magick or to use magick. Other faiths such as Hoodoo and Voodoo practice their own forms of magick. There are even a few Christian groups that practice magick. So, just because someone says that they are a witch does not mean that they are Wiccan.
THE MASCULINE AND THE FEMIMINE
In Wicca the divine essence exists within duality. Duality being the key. So the divine is both male and female. In some practices, this almost amounts to a hermaphrodite entity. But, for most, this means a God and a Goddess, mostly referred to as the Lord and Lady or the Mother and the Father.
Both of these manifestations contain contradictions. This just mirrors the duality found in nature. Such as the mother crocodile caring for her young until they reach a certain size and then snacking on them later without realizing or caring that they are her children. This duality is found to exist in both of these figures.
Recently, most people only ever hear of a Goddess being worshiped when they encounter the subject of Wicca. This is due to certain groups who desire or wish to have a deeper connection with their femimine natures and to not view their female qualities as evil and undesirable aspects of their personalities. A lot of women and female teens have turned away from mainstream faith due to the fact that women are often portrayed as negative figures and villains or as, well, idiots and barbies. And Wicca allows these women to develop a better understand and love for the female aspect beyond that of a caregiver. And while we are striving to show our young women that they are capable of achieving many things, as a society we still have a lot of work to do to reshape the image of gender appropriateness.
There are a few Wiccan groups, however, that do worship both the Male and Female. Some, even, worship the Male alone. In most of these groups the goal is to achieve a sense of balance between the Male and Female aspects. Worshiping both the Mother and Father.
The Goddess, referred to as the Lady and the Mother, is featured in Wicca as the Mother of all things. There is a sort of trinity to her that most Wiccan paths focus on. They are: the Virgin, which is associated with all new things and the waxing moon, the Mother, associated with motherhood and the full moon, and the Crone, associated with age, wisdom and the waning moon. There is also a fourth stage to the Mother and that is the Dark Lady which is sometimes associated with the new moon though few groups do add her to their practice.
The Virgin viewed as a child or young woman with the flush of youth. She is wild and untamed. The power of a new beginning or adventure. A complex mix of innocence, mischevousness, and sexuality. This version of the female force is not just all things that are good about youth and innocence. She can be distrusting and fearful as well as trusting and courageous. The duality that exists within nature is mirrored within this aspect as well.
The Mother is pictured as a woman at mid-life or as a woman with a baby in her womb. Either way, as a woman who has or is about to experience motherhood. She is loving dedicated and nurturing. She can also be cruel. Remember the duality.
The Crone is an old woman nearing the end of life. Full of wisdom and the lessons she has learned. She can be either ready to pass on or not. She can even be spiteful or caring and willing to help.
The Dark Lady is a temptress or vixen that can envince anger, chaos, or opposition as well as lust, passion, and strong emotions of love. Such abilities that exists within every woman.
The Lady is seen to be the Earth itself and her cycles are reflected in the moon in most Wiccan faiths. The cycle of the Lady also exists within the seasons with the spring being when she is young and fresh to summer in her full bloom, to autumn at her harvest of old age and in the winter, her death, to be reborn again in the spring in a kind of never ending wheel. She is also sometimes viewed at the land and water, not the plant and animal life.
Depending on the branch of Wiccan you look into, the practitioner may use the name of ancient Greek, Roman, Norse or even Egyptian goddesses to address the female force. Using the old goddesses perceived natures to tap into the kind of female energy they were looking to experience. Some even view Mother Mary as an adaptation of the Mother into Christianity.
Wiccans have a kind of ceremony that allows them to feel the force of their female deity. This ritual is called "Drawing Down the Moon". The ritual is performed at night during a full moon. And most groups and individuals have different ways of performing this ritual.
The God is every bit as contradictory in nature as the Mother. Where she is all things Female, he is all things Male. The God is associated with the Sun and with the animals and plants. There are three aspects to him as well (depending on the Wiccan group you are considering). These are:
The Blue God. He is the child, the youthful boy and son. He is playful innocence. He also has duality, like all natural things. He can be the good, little boy who is always joyful and caring. He can also be the bully.
The Green God that represents all vegetation. He is the grain and the seed. Planted in the spring and harvested in the fall, giving up his life so that life can continue and be sustained. He is also the crop that grows wild and can become poisonous.
And The Horned God who represents the hunted animal. He is a man who has come fully into his power. The passionate lover and caring father. The sacrificed and the one who draws blood. That beast that dies and provides the much needed meat and the beast who does the killing.
Being associated with the Sun he, too, has phases. At Sunrise, he is a newborn. All things new and everything is just starting. In the Morning, he is child. At Noon, he is both the Horned God and the Green God, at his peak in work whether it be as a hunter or harvester. In the Afternoon, he is the Father. At Sunset, he is ancient and old. After Sunset, he passes into the land of the dead and is reborn the next morning. In the seasons, he is born at Mid-Winter when the days begin to grow longer, in the Spring he is a child, in Summer he is a man, and he dies in Autumn on All Hollow's Eve ( the equinox) with the harvest when the days become shorter so as to be reborn again.
In most Wiccan traditions he makes the crossing into the lands of the dead, called "Summerland", to lead those who have passed on into the afterlife. In some traditions, he leads those who have passed on into the next life and they are reborn.
Unlike the Mother, who never dies and just becomes young again at the end of her old age stage, the God is seen as actually dying and being reborn. His is the hand of life and death, eternally locked in a cycle of the two. He willingly dies so that others may profit from his death, it is a sacrifice of self for the benefits of others, an act of love.
A balance between these two aspects exists throughout Wicca, due to the understanding of the duality of the world. There are male and female, good and bad, light and dark, dead and living etc. in this world. It is by taking into account the duality that exists, that the divine force worshiped in Wicca normally seeks a balance between the duality.
As mentioned previously, some groups only worship the Female and some only the Male. But, the duality and complexity that exists within each force still seeks a balance.
Groups that only worship the Female aspect still have a goddess that has traits that are normally associated with male behavior. While those that only worship the Male aspect still have a god that contains what is deemed female traits.
Either way, the balance of duality is achieved.