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

                     A Witch's Thoughts on Halloween 
      Most people celebrate Halloween as a children's holiday of candy
 and costumes.  However, I will be celebrating tonight as Samhain 
 ("Sow-wen"), the Celtic New Year, the night for remembering loved ones
 past and looking toward the future. For I am a Neo-pagan, a follower of
 the Old Religion, a Wiccan.  I am a Witch.
      There are probably as many definitions of Wicca as there are prac-
 titioners of the Craft--one of the joys of this path is that there is no
 "one, true way"; intuition is as valuable as teaching.  This then is my
 personal definition of what Wicca is to me.
      First, what Wicca is not is devil-worship.  Wiccans don't believe
 in an entity of all-evil.  (I personally don't believe in evil per se; 
 all evil is simply a perversion or excess of something that is good when
 present in a proper balance.)
      Wicca is a religion based on experience of Deity as male and
 female.  It is pantheistic--seeing all things as part of God/dess, and
 seeing the Earth Herself as a living organism of whom we are part.  It
 is also a religion of immanence--seeing God/dess present in each of us
 and in the world around us, not "out there somewhere" but part of daily
      Wiccans celebrate eight major holidays, or sabbats--the beginning
 and midpoint of each season.  We also celebrate the phases of the moon: 
 some only celebrate the full moon while others celebrate full, waxing,
 and new moons.  Each of these rituals helps keep us in touch with
 Nature.  These celebrations are in small groups usually called circles,
 covens, or groves and are usually led by a Priestess, and often a
 Priest.  Some groups share duties and avoid titles.
      Wicca is also a "Craft".  We practice magic through chants,
 visualizations and spells, all to focus our will on something we want to
 happen.  We believe that everything we do, good or ill, comes back to us
 tripled, which is why we don't "hex" or "curse" anyone.  We also believe
 that many psychic talents are real and simply haven't been studied
 enough by science to be catalogued as such.
      Wiccans for the most part accept reincarnation, not as dogma to be
 believed, but as fact based on personal experience.  Many of us remember
 past lives.  As one who has studied science, I know that every atom of
 my body once was part of something else, and I am  continually losing
 atoms that become part of others.  Knowing this, it makes sense that my
 soul also is "recycled".
      Wicca is a positive philosophy.  The only "law" is 'An it harm
 none, do as ye will":  Enjoy life to its fullest, and remember to help
 everyone else enjoy it as well.  Wiccans don't preach; Wiccans don't
 evangelize.  Everyone has to find his/her own path, and we welcome the
 diversity this brings.
      So tonight, when you dress up as a "wicked witch", know that there
 are "good witches" celebrating as well.  Know that I and thousands like
 me throughout the world are celebrating the cycles of life through the
 dance of the Lord and the Lady, trying to make this world we all share
 a little brighter through our cauldron fires in the darkness.  Know we
 are not out to convert you;  know we mean you no harm.  All we ask for
 is understanding, tolerance, and the freedom to practice as we choose.
 Blessed Be,
 Cecylyna Brightsword
 High Priestess, Thalia Clan
 P.O. Box 681092 . Indianapolis, IN 46268-1092 . (317) 579-3083

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