A Christian's Guide to Witchcraft and Wicca

by JoHarrington

This article has its genesis in a request by a Christian to explain what Wicca really entails, as opposed to what he'd been led to believe. I hope it answers those questions.

The spittle glistened in my hair, running down in rancid disrespect after being expelled from the mouth of the Christian lady.

She was still yelling in my face, calling me words which I'm sure were not sanctioned in the Bible, or perhaps - thinking about the Babylonian Goddess - they were.

I should have felt intimidated. But mostly I felt pity, over-ridden in huge part by the adrenaline rush of containing the danger. You see, she'd picked on the little one, the harmless looking one; I was actually the High Priestess.

"May God forgive you." I calmly told her, while around the corner came the rest of the coven. It could have ended nastily, but I both signaled and told them to walk on by, the High Priest by my side. "And Jesus Christ too."

Used to following our lead in a circle, they did so, though the looks they gave would have impressed Medusa. They were Wiccan, but they were also human beings, and bullying is ugly in any context. The Christians were physically protected that day by two high-ranking witches, even as they protested our right to attend the Pagan convention down the road.

I would like to say that it was an isolated incident. Though rare (and I consider unrepresentative of Christianity as a whole), it was not. But I understood that they were acting within the constraints of their ignorance about what we do and believe, and ultimately they were trying to save us according to their own spiritual reality.

Hence the High Priest and I protected them as feelings ran high, and I'm writing this Wizzle to inform their brethren now.

Do Witches Worship the Devil?

No, we consider Him to be a Christian concept and/or deity. There's no place for Him within our religion, other than as part of an Abrahamic pantheon.

It's an image beloved of dramatic story-telling.

The Weird Sisters dancing on the blasted heath, or the unwary, foolish girls raising circles still in their school uniforms. Each of them harnessing the power of Satan to wreak havoc upon good Christian communities.

Unfortunately, these scenes are all written by Christian authors, or else delve into a deep well of cultural misconception, originally propagated by Christian clerics.

In short, it has nothing to do with real witchcraft, nor indeed any form of Paganism.

The thinking that there is one God and, if it's not Yahweh, then it must be the Devil, typically stems from Abrahamic religions.

Moreover, those accusations are the only time that Satan is elevated to the status of deity, outside Satanism itself. Of course, that latter is also an Abrahamic faith, albeit considered a shadow side by the others.

On the whole, Wiccans tend to be polytheists. The Gods of the Witches can, and have, filled whole volumes in encyclopaedic listings. Not to mention the Goddesses too.  In our religious mindset there is no one God, but several.

This is a point of view that does have relevance in Christianity too:

  • Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? (Exodus 15:11)
  • Make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth. (Exodus 23:13)
  • Thou shalt have none other gods before me. (Deuteronomy 5:7)
  • For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords. (10:17)
  • And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth. (1 Samuel 28:13)

Those are merely a small selection of Biblical references to other deities. The difference being that Christians are taught to ignore Them, or else consider Them false constructs of an ignorant people, while Wiccans may explore Their teachings too.

However, even amongst the multitude of divine masculine forces with whom we may work, there's no-one quite matching the description of Satan, other than the fallen angel Himself.

Popular depictions of the Devil's aspect may draw upon the archetypal images of Pan or Cernunnos, while the behavior of the Lords of Misrule or Loki might conceivably match that of Satan. But only at a stretch. There are parallels in figures like Gwyn ap Nudd, Hades or Pluto, as male sovereigns of the Underworld, but none of them are automatically figures of punishment.

There is no Wiccan God who fits this criteria:

  • Sympathizes with the plight of humanity, locked out of the Afterworld, so much that He challenges the Father to let them in.
  • Leads a rebellion against the Father, when the answer is no. Ends up getting kicked out of the Afterworld Himself.
  • Tempts, guides or directs humanity into behavior deemed evil within the rules laid out by the Father.
  • Switches viewpoint again, in order to punish people for precisely the same behavior that He exemplified while they were alive.

I understand that I've just over-simplified that theology terribly. But the point was to highlight the major attributes, in order to categorically state that there is no God - or Lord of the Host - quite like that in Pagan legends.

Witches do not worship Satan. He's not one of our Gods.

Books about the Origins of Satan

In order to understand how the Devil is not part of witchcraft, you need to grasp where He DID come from. These histories of Satan may help.

Do Witches Know That They're Going to Hell?

You wouldn't believe how often I've had this question hurled at me over the years. I always thank the person warning me, as I realize they have my best interests at heart.

Here's where it gets a little more complicated.

Witches may not believe in a fire and brimstone Underworld, where evil-doers are punished for all eternity (or until they repent), but they certainly believe in Hel.

In Norse and Germanic mythology, there is a choice of destination upon your demise.

Those killed on the battlefield are gloriously lifted by the Valkyries and transported to Valhalla.There they drink and feast in the halls of their ancestors, sharing tales of valor and greatness, waited upon by virgins of exceeding beauty.

Everyone else goes to Hel.

More specifically, they go to Helheim - the dreary, grey and unexciting realm of the Goddess Hel. To be in Helheim, as opposed to Valhalla, is downright ignoble. It's the Fate of cowardly warriors, or those who simply did not try hard enough.

With half of Her face that of a stunningly beautiful woman, and the other half a skull, Hel has many parallels with the Christian demon Mazikeen. This is not coincidental. She's also found expression in the Germanic Frau Holle or Mother Hulda.

To the old people of Northern Europe, and modern day Heathens, Odinists et al, the phrase 'go to Hel' merely means to die. For the ancient nations especially, with their cultural emphasis on war, heroic fighting, territorial gains and bringing home the spoils of plunder, Hel awaited only the pacifists.

Do witches know that they're going to Hel for their practices and beliefs? That all depends upon whether they draw upon the Norse and Germanic legends within their spirituality.

There are some parallels here with Hell - as representing an undesirable Afterworld underscored by separation from the Glory - but the fiery pits of eternal pain don't feature anywhere.

Personally, I'm always grateful when Christians take it upon themselves to warn me about the perils of Hell. But only because I realize that, in their religious view, it's a much more terrible Fate. They're doing the spiritual equivalent of attempting to push me out of the way of an oncoming car. What's not to appreciate there?

But to fear Hell, as understood in Abrahamic faith, you first have to accept its reality as taught in the churches, synagogues and mosques. There really is no equivalent to that dread place in Paganism.

Discover More About the Witches' Concept of Hel

For those Wiccans steeped in Northern Traditions, Hel's heim is very real. But not quite in the same way as it is in Christianity.

Do Witches Hate God?

No, that would be phenomenally stupid. He's much bigger than any of us, and infinitely more powerful too.

It often seems to be a source of surprise for the more unthinking Christians (we all have their ilk in our religious communities) that Wiccans can worship their same God.

The issue here is two-fold: a) Allah/Yahweh/Jehovah isn't viewed in isolation, as a single, almighty deity; and b) He might not be worshiped - or worked with - in quite the same manner that you do yourself.  But frankly, aren't both of those things true within the broader scope of Abrahamic denominations anyway?

Wiccans generally apply equal credence to all of the other aforementioned Gods too, but not at the exclusion of the Abrahamic deity.

In fact, Christian Wicca or Christian Witchcraft is one of the biggest growing denominations in Paganism. They seamlessly merge Wiccan practice with Christian theology without any apparent problem at all.

So no, witches do not hate God, nor Jesus Christ, nor Mother Mary (we largely see Her as the Mother Goddess anyway), nor any of the angels and saints.

Books about Christian Witchcraft and ChristoPaganism

Witches, and particularly Wiccans, may delve into any spiritual pathway that calls them upon it. This includes Christianity and other Abrahamic faiths.
The Christian Witch's Handbook: Solitary Practitioner's Edition

Discover the magical way of worshiping God with The Christian Witch's Handbook - a complete and often entertaining book of shadows, with prayers, spells and worship for the begi...

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Christian Wicca: The Trinitarian Tradition

As a form of folk religion, Wicca is intrinsically eclectic and protean, and attempts by some reviewers to assert that there can be no Christian Wicca seem to be elevating their own anti-Christian biases to the level of a dogma.

View on Amazon

The Path of a Christian Witch

A unique mix of memoir and how-to that includes practical daily Pagan rituals, this inspiring book shows how one woman blended Christian traditions with the magic and beauty of ...

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ChristoPaganism: An Inclusive Path

BLENDED PATHS: REVOLUTION OR EVOLUTION? Have you ever questioned the nature of religion? Would you like to explore more inclusive modes of spirituality? You are not alone. In th...

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Ancient Paths: ChristoPaganism

This book's primary purpose is to explore in depth,Christ's journey throughout time.His roots and teachings from a Gnostic viewpoint. Material gathered personally from research a...

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Wicca and the Christian Heritage: Ritual, Sex and Magic

What is Wicca? Is it witchcraft, Paganism, occultism, esotericism, magic, spirituality, mysticism, nature religion, secrecy, gnosis, the exotic or 'other'? Wicca has been define...

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Do Modern Pagans Sacrifice Lives in Ritual Practice?

I've genuinely been asked if I, as a witch, sacrifice babies or animals at my altar. If I did, do you really think I'd still be walking around free?

No matter what I'm asked about Paganism, I try to keep a straight face. I understand that I am - for this person, and in this time and place - representing all Pagans everywhere, and that the questions asked may well be of vital importance for my querent.

However, the 'sacrifice' question always elicits a smile.

Please understand that I'm rarely ever actually asked about it. I'm more likely to be accused by someone very loud, doing the whole finger waggling in my face thing too.

And those people tend to be wearing a crucifix at the time.

I am being publicly vilified, as a practitioner of human sacrifice, by someone whose religion is based upon the sacrifice of a human being. Albeit the Divine Son of God in human form. Sooner or later, I'll be asked if I've not heard the Good News, and I'll totally crack up.

This laughter is not directed at the Savior - not only could Jesus Christ Himself turn up in Wiccan ideology, but we have plenty of other Sacrificial Kings and Gods in our pantheons too. It's more about the lack of joined up thinking involved in utter outrage at the thought that Pagans might ritually sacrifice anyone or any being, while deifying the concept of a Christian Savior dying upon the Cross.

But most of all, the inner hilarity concerns sheer common sense.

If every witch out there was habitually taking daggers to victims at the altar, then we'd all be serial killers. There are hundreds of thousands of Wiccan practitioners out there. The death toll would be astronomical. Yet we're apparently all crafty enough never to have been caught.

There's the serious side to it too. Tabloid newspapers have infiltrated covens, or other ritual gatherings, in the hope of sensationally reporting upon the sacrificial practices. When they came away thwarted by the lack of any gore, they made stuff up.

Wiccans have had their children taken away from them. They've lost their jobs and had their marriages ruined.

A Wiccan friend of mine, living in the American Bible belt, once left her home to take her young son to kindergarten. They encountered a collection of dead wild animals, each with their throats cut, and messages daubed in blood upon the wall, 'Your Next!' (sic) and 'Witch Get Out!' It terrified her, traumatized her son and wasted a lot of police time in not ever finding the perpetrators. Nor did it have the desired effect in chasing them out of their home, though the grisly warnings occasionally still appeared.

All because of this misconception that our circles are stained with blood.

Throughout history, human and animal sacrifice has been a feature in most religions. Some still incorporate it - Voodoo springs to mind - while others have elements in symbolic gestures. The  Transubstantiation into the Blood and Body of Christ is a big example there.

This concept remains in Witchcraft and most other Pagan religions too. But as the latter.

We no more slaughter the High Priest at Lughnasadh, than Christians nail their priests to crucifixes each Good Friday.  We certainly don't kill babies, any more than Abraham did Isaac. I can't see any context, even historically, when virgin women (nor any female) would be ritually slain - our ancient traditions lean more towards male sacrifice.

Symbolism abounds, but never the reality. At the very least, it would countermand our Golden Rule of Harm None, and land a whole lot of us in jail.

I do have one funny story though, about a local practitioner of Ásatrú (a Norse Heathen religion), which did require an animal sacrifice as part of its rituals. The ancients probably did drive their knives into something alive and writhing, but modern day priests improvise.

This priest had his blade held high in the air, and was about to plunge it down onto his makeshift altar, hidden in the depths of a public park at night. Suddenly there was a loud cry of 'Stop! Police!' and constables emerged en masse from the shrubbery.

A passer-by had seen them entering the park. She'd noted the knife and seen something pink wrapped in the arms of a burly, bearded man. Assuming it was a baby, she'd called the police, and personally I'm glad that she did. Under that assumption, I would have too.

Thus the officers were there to interrupt the moment when the Ásatrú priest would have sacrificed a frozen chicken from Tesco. (With a spare stashed under the altar.)

It happened. I heard the story often from the priest involved, and giggled every time. Remembering that is part of the reason that I always smirk, when I'm asked if Pagans sacrifice animals.

Example of a Sacrificial King Within the Wiccan Faith

Please do feel free to embrace His teachings too, and accept the ultimate gift of salvation engendered by His sacrifice.
Frank is a Christian and a fellow Wizzley writer. His take on this matter is highly informative and most definitely worth a read.
Jesus Through Pagan Eyes attempts to combine Liberal Christian thinking with pagan spiritual insights, as the author combines being a minister with druid and theosophist beliefs.

Do Witches Obey the Ten Commandments?

I'm never exactly asked this question, but I am frequently queried along those lines. In short, have we got any kind of morality at all?

One of the best 'Wiccan coming out' stories I ever heard was from a friend, who came from a devoutly Catholic family.

When circumstances conspired to force her to inform Mum and Dad that she was now an initiated Witch, her mother replied, "Well, as long as you still have faith." And hugged her.

It's an undoubtedly heart-warming tale, but the main point for me is her mother's astute spiritual intelligence.

Religions exist to give us meaning in the Great Mysteries. Faith tends to require some form of moral framework. Does it really matter then what form that spirituality takes?

And by the same token, I once overheard a conversation in which an Atheist was asked, "So what stops YOU going out and murdering people then, if you don't believe in Heaven and Hell?"  The answer - "I do."

It's my belief that human beings are fundamentally 'good' and 'bad' in equal measure, directed as much by the mores of their society and their own conscience, as by their religious grounding. As members of the human race, that includes witches too.

Wicca is an active religion, as differentiated by the passivity of religions like Christianity. By that I mean that Christians will attend church, hear a sermon, read their Bible and understand very clearly certain distinctions between right and wrong. They passively receive that teaching, then actively apply it in their daily lives.

On the other hand, Wiccans are encouraged by all to actively find their own pathways through life. No High Priest nor High Priestess handed me morality on a plate. I will challenge my own initiates in turn to explore their spirituality. There is no dogma, no central council issuing guidance and certainly no single book to delve into for answers.

Chief amongst the dogma, that we stubbornly refuse to admit that we have, is the Wiccan Rede. Better known to one and all as: An it harm none do what ye will.

This 'ancient' rede was adapted by Doreen Valiente in 1964, from Gerald Gardner's paraphrasing of a French literary character a few years before - Do what you like so long as you harm no one. (You've got to admit that Doreen's version sounds better.)

Both with knowledge and reference to Aleister Crowley's occult teachings from 1904, wherein the Rede was actually a kind of question: Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law? The reply being: Love is the law, love under will.

Which he had nicked from the 16th century writings of François Rabelais:

DO AS THOU WILT because men that are free, of gentle birth, well bred and at home in civilized company possess a natural instinct that inclines them to virtue and saves them from vice. This instinct they name their honor.

Incidentally, 'rede' is an Anglo-Saxon word meaning 'counsel'.  The Wiccan Rede is therefore extremely strong advice that none of us harm anyone nor anything, though we can otherwise apply our will to whatever we wish.

Do you know how restrictive 'harm none' is in reality? It seems so simply stated, but once you get into the implications of what's meant by 'harm' and who/what is encompassed by 'none', then it's an extremely wide-ranging umbrella of morality over all modern witches.

But how does that compare to the Ten Commandments?

One and two are habitually broken outright by the average Wiccan:

  • You shall have no other Gods before me isn't acceptable in witchcraft, as the rest of our pantheons hold equal precedence.
  • You shall not make for yourself a graven image - actually, I could probably get away with this, as I've never made one for myself.  I have graven images crafted by other people though. But my statue of Morrighan, face plaque of Morgan and twin set of the Green Man and Green Lady are only of the same ilk exhibited in the figurines of Mother Mary on show in my brother's household. Do they count?

As for three through to ten, they are all covered by the Wiccan consensus in our Rede - An' it Harm None. So yes, Wiccan morality ticks the boxes of eight (maybe nine) out of ten, when compared to the Commandments.

Hence proving again the insight of my friend's mother, in her kindly comment, "Well, as long as you have faith."

I do hope that this has answered the most common questions to the satisfaction of all. If you need further clarification, or any other queries, please do feel free to ask away. I will do my best to respond to all.

Books about Paganism in Christianity

Most well-read Pagans would consider Christianity Pagan anyway. There should be no enmity there, as we each take different paths through the same wood.

Do Witches Practice Magic and/or Sorcery?

Yes, I really do hope that magic is a part of witchcraft. But then again, we may be talking about different things.

This was asked in the comment section, and referred to later too. Hence I realize that it was an important point missed out.  Here is how I answered it below, but with a few additions:

As for magic, the etymology there is very interesting. It ultimately comes from the Old Persian - to have power - via Ancient Greek - to be a member of the learned or priestly caste. This meaning is retained in Christianity too, when the Three Kings are sometimes alternatively called the Three Mages, or the Three Wise Men.

Magic is definitely dangerous. It means to have enough education to make up your own mind about things; and to use that freedom of information to influence events around you.

In modern terminology, the internet is a fabulous source of magic. People all over the world pool expertise, news and lived experience, providing a greater scope for understanding. This is magic in its purest sense. Then they may band together to enact change, whether it's raising money for the needy, petitioning government or solving mysteries through collective brainstorming.

We're performing magic right now. We're exchanging information. We've influenced our lives in that exchange, because that knowledge is accessible in all of our future dealings.

In fact, let's run through the original meanings of related words and titles here:

Mage - To be learned; to be a priest; to have power through knowledge.

Priest - To be an elder; to know things through age and experience; to be in charge.

Magician - To use your learning, scholarly studies, experience etc to effect change in the world around you; to influence society by your counsel or teaching, or lives through your research, discoveries and inventions; to share your priestly insight.

Sage - To be a philosopher; to have profound wisdom; to have good taste.

Philosopher - (Roughly: Philo-sage) Lover of wisdom; one who speculates on the nature of all things to uncover truths.

Wise - To be aware; to be learned; to know; to understand the form; to be able to judge correctly; to have discernment.

Wizard - To apply wisdom; one who is wise - a sage or a philosopher, a magician or a priest.

Witch - Old English word for wizard. See above.

Wicce - A male witch; a man who knows.

Wicca - A female witch; a woman who knows. (NB This is Old English, we don't tend to separate male from female now. We're ALL Wicce, Wica, Wice or Wicca.)

Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology

As all lovers of language know, words are the source of our very understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

View on Amazon

The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology

This comprehensive dictionary by one of our century's greatest language scholars provides a clear and brief account of the origins, history...

View on Amazon

But back to the etymological evolution of magic.

By the time the Romans got hold of the word, it moved on to meaning those in charge of their own Fate or fortune. But the Fates and Fortuna meant very specific things to the Romans, dangerous things. Leading to the Late Medieval version of magic - fortune teller, those who can predict the future. A magician.

Stemming from this period we get another word to add to our list:

Sorcerer - (from the Latin Sortiarius) To be able to sort, arrange or line up, though in a very specific sense. The sorting in this sense refers to your lot in life, or your Fate etc. It's not precisely what you may think. Originally sorcerers (or sorters) were concerned with assigning status according to class; creed; color; race; parentage; wealth etc. They'd be sociologists now, or, at least, some kind of governmental administrator.

Naturally sorcerers could alter your life and affect your fortunes by changing your societal status. Which is the root of their later meaning - to tell fortunes. Then their role became all mixed up with magicians, so let's return there.

Meaning evolves. In the late 14th century, those practicing magic - those with learning, education and the knowledge to influence, manipulate or change the future - were deemed able to use hidden natural forces to create marvels. I think we'd call them scientists today, but magicians and alchemists they were then.

Only in Hollywood have practitioners of magic been able to stir their tea with their finger turning in the air. I mean, I can do a variation easily. But my finger would end up scalded.

Books on the History of Magic

Christianity is very much included here, as it's a source of learning, knowledge and spiritual truths. But, in the Pagan mind, it's not the sole source.

Do Witches Perform Spells?

Yes, we do; and if you are a Christian reading, so do you. If you are a good Christian, then you share your spells at any appropriate opportunity!

You know, I would absolutely love to be able to wriggle my nose and some obnoxious individual turns into a frog.

But I can't. Not least because it's against the ethics of 'harm none'. And, of course, I can't.

I would adore the ability to wave a wand at my empty cup, say some wise word and it be filled with tea. That would harm none! But my wand doesn't work that way.

Yes, witches perform spells, but first I think we need to agree on what is meant by spells. It's not what you saw in Harry Potter, Charmed or Bewitched.

In its original sense, spell means to tell a story; recite a genealogy; provide a history (from historias - testimony or witness); pass on information; teach.

You might know it from the word Gospel. Gos = good; Spell = story. Or Good News.

Every time a witch shares his or her information, we are performing spells. I'm doing it right now in writing this article.  Every time you, or a member of your clergy, tells a parable from scriptures, or explains to someone why it's an amazing thing that Jesus died on the cross to save us, you are performing a spell.

But none of this appears to cover what springs to mind, when one imagines witches performing spells. Appearances can be deceptive.

Spellwork involves applying your will to enact a desired result. Forget right now that it also covers writing to your political representative to try and exert your wishes, or telephoning your doctor as you want an appointment this morning. They count, but they're all examples of when you can combine spells (telling your stories) with actions. You can do something about your situation.

There will always be times when nothing that we could do can affect the outcome. It's in the lap of the Gods. It's all down to the Fates. It's God's will.

So we tell deity our story. We recite our history in a holy context, or pass on information to our Gods in the hope of divine intervention. We plead, beseech, and beg for our desired result.

We pray.

That's all that spellwork really is, in the context so beloved of Hollywood. It's another word for prayer, only the deity at the other end might not necessarily be the same as in your church.

Christian Prayer Books

You spell out your problems to God and hope that He will change things for you, or else guide you to where you need to be.

More Articles about Wicca and Christianity

Like any faith, Witchcraft and Christianity often travel across the same spiritual landscape. What binds us has always been more important than what divides us.
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What happened to the Celtic Gods and Goddesses after coming of Christianity? Some staggered on in fairy tales, others were lost and a few were incorporated.
A television drama is not the best source for learning about any religion, but it's probably the one with the biggest reach. This was my creed, and its people were murderous.
Anglesey lies off the Gwynedd coastline of North Wales. Its ancient credentials, as the headquarters for Celtic Druids, lives on in its Christianized landmarks.
Updated: 06/02/2014, JoHarrington
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JoHarrington on 06/24/2014

Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasadh are British/Irish; the equinoxes and the solstices are Anglo-Saxon. That's why there's so much overlap in what's going on regarding divinity in some of them.

frankbeswick on 06/23/2014

Thanks for the information about the two wheels of life combined ino the wiccan wheel. While I knew the wiccan wheel, I did not realize that it was a combination of Saxon and British.

JoHarrington on 06/23/2014

Ah! I see what you're talking about now. Yes, there is most certainly a sacred wheel of the year in Wicca. Itself is an amalgamation of two sacred wheels (one British, one Anglo-Saxon) resulting in eight spokes of the wheel instead of four apiece.

At each position, you may view the Goddess in Her various aspects, and a succession of Gods, within a cyclical story. The God is born, lives large and dies. The Goddess is roaming free as summer, or hibernating in the frozen ground. But that's the agricultural cycle again. There are many, many layers beyond that.

Last night I was chatting with friends about Arianrhod. Her cycle is more akin to the solar system. Her name translates as silver wheel, and we're looking at the stars to explain that one.

Then you get zodiacal ages, which span much longer than a year. When Pisces rose at Spring Equinox, then the fish came to be attached to the dominant religion. Before that it was all about the bulls, or the rams, or the lion. We're reaching the point where it'll be Aquarius rising, hence all of the talk (and great songs) about the Age of Aquarius. That'll see us through the next few thousand years. We'll see water and water-carriers taking over the fish symbolism, regardless of the religion involved.

As a species, we've always looked to the Heavens and the ground for our sacred explanations. As above, so below.

frankbeswick on 06/23/2014

I have been thinking that we see time in a secular way, but ancients regarded it as having a sacred dimension, and religions carry on this idea with their ritual year. The yearly cycle of the dying and rising god is an example of this cycle. The Christians inherited the ancient sacred year and grafted on their festivals. Certainly, food is something sacred, as it is central to life. So the cycle of food and time is a sacred reality. I was aware of the connection of Wiccan festivals with farming, and I suggest that this connection developed in the neolithic age. Finding the sacred in the ordinary realities of time and space is important and enriches life greatly

JoHarrington on 06/22/2014

WordChazer - I didn't know that about the haywain.

JoHarrington on 06/22/2014

Frank - I saw the cycle as fulfilling a need to match ordinary people's lives. That meant the agricultural year, upon which everyone relied for their food. So many Wiccan Sabbats (and older Pagan ones, plus folk festivals) follow the cycle of farming.

Or did you mean something more distinct in your sacred year?

frankbeswick on 06/22/2014

Harvest festival is an essential part of the sacred year, going as far back as the Neolithic age. I suppose that having special clothes for certain times is connected to sacred times, but I am unsure how. I did not know the haywain superstition

Guest on 06/21/2014

Did you know, Frank, that to see the back end of a haywain or hay waggon was considered bad luck, just like seeing a single magpie is? (I learned that thanks to Peter and Iona Opie's books.) I might be Christian, but I still observe the traditional superstitions when it comes to single magpies, not crossing the fingers of your left hand and not walking under ladders. I'm also a creature of habit in that some routines and clothes worn on certain days bring me great peace of mind. Some of that must be rooted in things done for one or other version of the sacred year, depending on which religion you adhere to? As for the sacred year - Harvest Festival must be a part of this, surely?

frankbeswick on 06/21/2014

Now hay making festivals are new to me, and interesting.

What is interesting to me is the sacred year. Clearly paganism follows the sacred cycles of the seasons, and Catholicism inherited this sacred cycle, grafting Christian feasts onto the older pagan system. But the need for a sacred cycle of seasons and their celebration does not go away, and it lurks underneath the newer Catholic ritual year. This sacred time seems to parallel the need for sacred places. Paganism had its sacred sites, and some of them carried on being held sacred under the newer faith. I am reflecting on the sacred year, for I see the need for the cycle of time to have a sacred dimension, just as we need sacred places. What are your thoughts on this issue, Jo.

JoHarrington on 06/21/2014

I might go and check out a hay-making festival that I just found. :) I hope today isn't too onerous for you.

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