Sacred Texts  Index  Previous  Next 

sacred-texts |  Web | Powered by Google

Internet Book of Shadows, (Various Authors), [1999], at

                               Hill Country Pagan Grove 
                                 Austin, Texas, U.S.A.  
             Published December 1982 by C.C.C. Creative Cooperative  Consolidated
           12611 Research Blvd. Number 125 Austin, Texas 78759 U.S.A.  
            First edition, December 1982 Second edition, revised, April 1983  
             Some have  asked how this little  booklet came into being.  It's all
           very straightforward: as the  most visible representatives of paganism
           here in  Austin, Texas, I  and my consort, Arnthor  Phalius, are asked
           often  to appear  in public  to talk  about witchcraft.  The questions
           included here  are those most often  asked, along with  the answers we
             Of course  we  cannot pretend  to  speak for  all Pagans,  only  for
           ourselves.  But  the  little  booklet  has  been  well-received  as  a
           non-threatening  method  of  getting  to know  a  subject  like Wicca.
           Occasionally  we will  find someone who  has had  negative experiences
           with  persons who  call themselves  Wiccans or  Witches, and  in those
           cases  they  expressed relief  on find  that  `other types'  of Pagans
           existed than those which had given them their initial bad impressions.
             The Directory* is an individual effort at networking in the Sunbelt.
           Here in Texas there are many traditions and varieties of Paganism, and
           if  one  isn't  to be  alone,  one  must  learn  that there  are  more
           similarities  than  differences  in   Paganism  and  the  other  major
           religions.  Pagans have  always known this,  but for  various reasons,
           have not stepped forward as representatives of this view.  
            I (Merlana) am a mystic who responds to the Universal Mind as it is 
           expressed in Nature. It  is my deep belief that persons  who reverence
           these  principles are  unified at  bottom, and  separated only  by the
           illusion  of words, which are not reality. Sometimes words aren't even
           adequate representations of `Reality`!  
             It is my  intention in this little booklet to  re-define some issues
           and terms in the  way that my tradition sees them.  It so happens that
           much  of the  rest of  Paganism falls  within this  general framework.
           (NOTE: A  `tradition' is a varietal type, like `denomination').  
             If youalready know the subject and wish to differ, your comments are
           welcome. If you are new to the subject, perhaps here  you'll find some
           questions  answered, and (if wanted) fellowship with others who are on
           similar paths. Directory* listings are free to those in the Sunbelt of
           the USA (South and Southwest.) New editions are published irregularly.
                          Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 
             If you don't live in  the Sunbelt, but have goods or  services which
           interest Pagans, you may also put an ad into the Directory.* Write for
            Blessed be, Merlana April 1983  
            1. WHAT IS WICCA?  
           `Wicca' (pronounced Wick-ah) is one name given to the Nature religions
           practiced in Northern Europe and the Middle East from the times of the
           ice ages. It is one spiritual path out of many in a group of spiritual
           practices  known  as  NeoPaganism.   NeoPaganism  is  currently  in  a
           world-wide revival, led by persons and groups in the United States and
            Wicca is one subsidiary form, or `tradition,' similar to the way 
           Christianity has  many forms.  One can  be  a Christian  and still  be
           Baptist, Methodist  or Roman Catholic. In  the same way, one  can be a
           Pagan  but   ascribe  to   another,  more  specific,   sub-variety  of
            3. IS IT THE SAME AS WITCHCRAFT?  
            One linguistic theory has the word Wicca coming from Olde English  
           `Wicca-Craeft', meaning `craft of the wise ones.' Most followers of  
             Wicca (and most Pagans) prefer not to use  the terms `witchcraft' or
           `witch' because of the emotional connotations these words carry in our
            Generally, one who calls him or herself a `witch' without further 
           qualifications is seeking notoriety and special attention. Those of us
           who guard  the  portals of  personal  Power (like  Carlos  Casteneda's
           character Don Juan) are normally hard to find or engage in discussion.
           Our Mysteries  are carefully hidden from the world, and from those who
           might be tempted to misuse them.  
            Although Pagans generally agree that one God exists and is the same 
           regardless of name,  they vary in specific  concepts about God,  as in
           other religions.  
             What  an individual  Pagan holds  is strictly  a matter  of personal
           belief.  However, occasionally  a tradition will teach highly-specific
           concepts,  structures  and  mythologies.   If  one  finds  oneself  in
           disagreement,  the  best  policy   is  `voting  with  the  feet',   or
           withdrawing to find another group who better agrees.  
             NOTE: Sometimes it may be easierto gather together a group of people
           who  believe  as you  do to  form an  entirely  new group.  That's the
           purpose of networking, or what the booklet is designed for.  
                          Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 
             Most  Wiccans divide the  Godhead (generally conceived  of as Mother
           Nature) into two forces. One force is male and the  other female. They
           are called respectively: The God and The Goddess.  
             Between them, these two divinities create balance and harmony in the
           Eternal  Dance.  They  represent  the  forces  of  birth,   death  and
           regeneration symbolized  in the  change of the  seasons. Wiccans  call
           5this cycle The Wheel Of The Year. Most rituals celebrate the Wheel Of
           The Year and our  deep, meaningful participation in natural  cycles of
             Because the male force has been in ascendancy for thousands of years
           due  to the Christian, Moslem and Jewish religions, there is presently
           a  tendency to emphasize The  Goddess, especially by  feminists (or by
           those whose personal concept of God happens to be female).  
             We also believe in  Magick, which is a partnership  between humanity
           and  the Universal Mind. This  partnership creates changes  in what we
           normally call `reality', i.e.,  change accomplished with prayer. These
           changes can seem miraculous or merely coincidental, and always include
           personal effort. Magick is not the same as `wishing.'  
             There  are  several  types  of  get-togethers  that  Pagans  of  all
           traditions  attend. The most available  and open is  called a `Grove,'
           where those who wish  may study both spiritual and  ceremonial topics.
           Most  groves emphasize fellowship  and harmony  of mind  between their
           members.  You should  choose one as  much for  how you  blend with the
           personalities of the members as for a particular brand of teaching.  
             Eight  times  a  year, at  the  solstices  and  equinoxes, May  Day,
           Halloween,  and other  points  on the  lunar  calendar, Pagans  gather
           together  (usually outdoors under  trees) to celebrate  Nature and the
           turn of the seasons.  
             These  celebrations consist  of  dancing,  prayer, invocations,  and
           rituals passed down from the many traditions through the ages. We also
           urge participants to develop and use their own original rituals and to
           share them with others.  
             Because we  dance and  pray in  a standing  Circle  (or sometimes  a
           spiral),  and because  we  draw  at  these  times  from  the  Universe
           spherical energies of protection and power - these meetings are called
           (appropriately enough!) Circles.  
             Wiccans and  Pagans tend to  be very  private, and do  not advertise
           their faith at publicly as  some others might. This is mainly  because
           of past persecutions. However, for those who are sincerely interested,
           there  always  exist  persons with  whom  to  visit  and explore  that
           interest. Check the Directory* at the  back of this booklet for  names
           of others who are open to contacts.  
                          Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 
             If you are sincere and rally want to setout upon the Pagan path, the
           first step  is to find a  Grove to study  with. After a  Grove accepts
           you, eventually you will attend Circles.  
                 That will depend on  the tradition and the teacher.  In general,
           Pagans  are most tolerant of any philosophical structure, and ask only
           that  the tolerance  be  returned. You  will  not be  requested  to do
           anything that differs with your beliefs and spiritual needs.  
             Well  yes, of  course. But  the special  qualities are  available to
           everybody.  Everything that  Pagans do  with Magick  is done  in other
           religions by  other names. It  is only that  we have found  that these
           particular formulas, beliefs, and celebrations work best for us.  
             These  are varying approaches to (and grasps of) personal Power. One
           way of recognizing someone who is truly Powerful is to note whether he
           or she seems to need control  or influence over others. True  personal
           power is content to control only the self, and personal reality.  
             The major law in  our religion is: "Do what you will,  an it hurt no
           other." (The Golden Rule)  
             In  other words, no  one is  prevented from  exploration of  God and
           GodSelf as long as others are not harmed.  
            We do believe in directing the energies of the universe toward 
           accomplishment  of  certain ends,  but  magick is  never  effective on
           another person  unless the person  specifically requests it  and takes
           responsibility for that request.  
             Attempts  at  so-called `black'  magick,  or  use of  the  universal
           energies for  negative  or harmful  purposes,  only result  in  karmic
           backlash  magnified at  least  threefold on  the unfortunate  would-be
           black magician.  
             Our  tradition  does  not believe  in  the  possibility of  `psychic
           attack',  and hence  does  not teach  methods  for combating  it.  Our
           philosophy tells us that to raise  a force against `psychic attack' is
           only to create that which you fear.  
            10. ARE PAGANS ANTI-CHRISTIAN?  
             No.  But  many Christians  are  anti-Pagan.  Historically there  has
           existed an adversary relationship  between Christianity and the Nature
           Religions  (largely created by Christians.)  
            It takes much universal love not to strike back when attacked, and 
           occasionally  a Pagan  might seem  bitter or  afraid as the  result of
           anti-Pagan  treatment.  This  is  only  a  personal  reaction,  not  a
           characteristic of the religion itself.  
                          Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 
             It is also true that Wiccans and Pagans have suffered dismissal from
           jobs and worse simply from their religious affiliation being revealed.
           Events like  these lead  to a  certain caution and  sometimes even  an
           attitude approaching mild paranoia.  
            11. WHO IS IN CHARGE OF PAGANISM?  
             Each person is in  charge of him or herself,  responsible totally to
           Godd/ess.  One might  hear  an individual  called  High Priestess,  or
           Priest,  but  this title  has  more  to do  with  the  role played  in
           ceremonies than with status in any formal hierarchy.  
             Groves  and  teaching  groups   sometimes  have  various  levels  of
           initiation, but again, these are individual to each tradition.  
           PSYCHIC POWERS?  
             We usually  find that people most often comment on the robes and the
           tools.  Traditionally  we  wear  special garments  while  engaging  in
           devotions, as a male Jew wears prayer shawl and skullcap. The garments
           have symbolisms, and stand for beliefs of the person wearing them.  
             The tools  are: a cup, knife,  staff (or wand), and  the pentacle, a
           5-pointed star with 5th point upward, enclosed in a circle.  
             For those familiar with the tarotcards, this was the original source
           of the  tarot suits as  well as  many meanings and  symbolisms in  the
           tarot deck.  
            13. WHAT IS DONE WITH THE TOOLS?  
             They  are used, along with  other objects, like  candles, bells, and
           incense  to focus  energies and  influence  Universal forces  with our
           prayers.  If the  format reminds  you of  Roman Catholic  mass, that's
           because much of the indigenous Nature Religion's mysteries were  
           `adopted'  when  Christianity  moved  into  Northern  Europe  --  into
           England, Scotland, Ireland and Scandinavia ... the lands of the Celts.
             Also,  if  the  tools and  concepts  seem  to  resemble elements  in
           Rosicrucianism, the Caballa, and the Masonic Temple, it is because the
           latter paths drew and adopted Pagan  rituals and forms for other uses.
           Since  ours was an oral  tradition we gratefully  acknowledge the role
           these organizations played  in bringing to modern  times knowledge and
           insights which have otherwise been lost.  
                          Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 
            Here's a bit of trivia: Although the Founding Fathers of the U.S.A. 
           generally held indifferent attitudes  about Christianity they were all
           thirty-third degree Masons. Obviously they sought to incorporate their
           high  ideals  into  writing  our  first constitution.  This  odd  fact
           explains  to  some  people   why  fundamentalist  Christians  and  the
           constitution occasionally seem to be at cross-purposes.  
            14. HOW LARGE IS THE RELIGION?  
             Since Wicca, or Paganism, is an alternative religion uninterested in
           power  or clout,  we  measure our  `size'  usually only  by  spiritual
           growth. There  is a  national newspaper  published quarterly  by which
           many Pagans keep in touch.  
             That's magick, too!  Craft practitioners of old  WERE the scientists
           ...  there  was  need  for  healers  and herbalists,  agriculture  and
           astronomy experts.  The scientific method has now  made teaching these
           subjects  respectable in universities. But in the process we have lost
           the lore's  former integration  of the spiritual  relationship between
           God Expressed As Nature and ourselves.  
             Manyof us are scientifically trained and hold technological jobs and
           interests. This does not interfere with but only adds to  a desire for
           ritual  celebration and  union  with Godd/ess.  Also  many of  us  are
           ourselves  practicing psychics,  or  are  interested  in  extrasensory
           perception  (ESP)  and   its  uses.     Paganism  makes  available   a
           philosophical structure for all of these ends utilized effectively for
           millennia.   It  urges individuals  to develop  their personal  powers
           within that structure and to use them thereafter in a responsible way.
                          Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 
             Good news makes terrible press. News  media and supermarket tabloids
           would much rather print  scandal and controversy. How many  times have
           you  seen a  headline that  attributed a  person's conduct  to his/her
           belief in Witchcraft? Do you ever see the same types  of stories about
           Moslems, Jews or Christians?  
             In addition, organized charity can only be accomplished undercertain
           forms  of  organized  religious  structures.  That  takes  leadership,
           delegation of  powers, community  resources and accumulation  of money
           and collective wealth.  
             We focus  instead on  personal responsibility and  the necessity  of
           reflecting Godd/ess in our  characters and lives. Occasionally persons
           in  the Craft  will join  together to  change a  situation or  to help
           someone, but this is  always done quietly and with  the full knowledge
           and  permission of those for whom the  help of change in requested. It
           is always done  without taking  public credit. We  feel that  Godd/ess
           knows, and that is all we need.  
            17. HOW CAN WE SUM THIS UP IN A FEW WORDS?  
             Wicca, a  branch of  the spiritual  movement called Neopaganism  (or
           Paganism) is  primarily a religion of  personal, mystical relationship
           between  the Universal Mind as expressed in Nature and the individual.
           It  believes in  Magick,  or positive  change  wrought by  prayer  and
           ceremonial  ritual. It brings its  practitioners the joy  of union and
           harmony with Godd/ess  as expressed  in Nature as  well as  fellowship
           with other persons who  are on similar paths.  Personal responsibility
           and growth are stressed, dogma and rigid beliefs are discouraged.  
                           MAY GODD/ESS SPEAK TO YOU 
                           IN THE VOICE YOU HEAR BEST. 
                           BLESSED BE! 
                          Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 

Next: A Little Less Misunderstanding (J. Brad Hicks)