First of all, if any of you got the Monty Python reference, high five! Today, now that I'm done dog-sitting I figured I'd tackle a topic that isn't supposed to be talked about - religion. Specifically Wicca, a religion that has long been misunderstood and is well-known for all the wrong reasons.
Many people have seen Charmed, I'm sure, and if they know the words "Wicca", "Book of Shadows", and "Pendulum", it's probably from there. Where do I even begin to explain Wicca? It's a huge topic and it's something that means a lot to me. It's also a highly individualistic religion, so the way everyone practices and connects is different from each other.
The first thing I'd like to explain is that Wiccans don't worship nature. That's the impression that many people have, but it's untrue. I don't bow in front of a tree and go, "ALL HAIL THE MIGHTY TREE!!". Wiccans worship the forces behind nature, the God and Goddess. The Goddess is the Earth, she's the "womb", and all of life grows from her. The moon and the ocean are connected to the goddess, the feminine qualities in life. The God is the literal life that's on the Earth - the plants, the animals, the breeze, etc. He's connected to the Sun. They work together to make the seasons and the God "impregnates" the Goddess in the springtime, when all of the plants start to come to life again. If you couldn't tell, Wicca can be very sexual, but it's seen as something natural, something in the cycle of life. Things die, things are reborn. It's all natural, and it's okay and it doesn't have to be seen as something shameful.
Many Wiccans, although I can't speak for all of course, believe in some type of afterlife. This is commonly referred to as The Summerlands, and is seen as a nice relaxing place to go after death. The typical Wiccan belief is that the soul goes there after they die, and then they get reincarnated again after reflecting on their life and the lessons they have learned. Life is just an opportunity to pick up lessons and those who have cycled over and over again and have learned all the lessons they have meant to know become very spiritually aware beings and sometimes stay in the afterlife as spirit guides, to help us mortals here on Earth. Those who haven't learned all the lessons they possibly could come back again, and belief varies on whether the person gets to have influence in where/what they want to be, or if they don't.
Wicca doesn't teach belief in a heaven or a hell. There is no one Supreme Being, so there's not a supreme evil one either. Personally, I believe there's good and bad in the world and there has to be because there can't just be one or the other. A balance is needed. The god and goddess are obviously good, and I believe the Universe, the Divine, is good. So I think the bad comes from humanity and also potential bad forces. This is just my personal belief and what I've come to terms with in my journey.
But what about magic, spells, hexes, and curses? Okay, first let me just say - I'm not going to wiggle my fingers and blue flames are going to shoot out. That's not what magic is. When one works a spell, the end result is magic. It's basically just the universe around us working, and I love that that's what magic is defined as. It's so simple yet so amazing at the same time. A "spell" is simply an intention, like a prayer, but usually more "hands on". For example, if I wanted a little extra money to come my way, I would probably take a green candle, anoint it with oil and an herb associated with money, and visualize money going into my bank account (in a very simplified version). This is simply an intention sent out into the universe. The magic is the sway of the universe to help influence the end result. Of course, nothing might happen as well. Do all prayers get answered your way? Of course not.
As for hexes and curses, the first rule of Wicca is "An harm none, but do what ye will". Basically, don't hurt anybody and you can do what you want and let people do their own thing. Some people do make hex bottles or send out curses, but usually this isn't without provocation or reason. It isn't up to me to judge why a person might do that, but some people might do a "stop gossip curse jar" where they want to stop someone from spreading slanderous, possibly harmful words about them. The "curse" jar sends out the intent into the universe to stop the person - in what way, I don't know. I don't think it's my right to judge anybody and if someone feels the need to do a jar or something like that to stop someone from harming them physically, emotionally, or mentally, then I say do what you need to do. I think the Universe knows what people's intentions are and I can't possibly so it's not up to me to judge or disapprove. I personally would never curse or hex or make a curse jar or what have you, and that's just my brand of Wicca - good ol' Glinda the Good Witch type.
Oh gosh. Are you still reading? One last thing - I wrote the title on purpose because, well, I'm not a witch. Some Wiccans call themselves witches, but a person can be a witch without being Wiccan, if that makes sense. The "witchcraft" part is the making of the magic, using herbs, candles, etc (I think that's the right definition) but you can do that without being Wiccan.
So there you have it, folks, Wicca in a nutshell. I'm not scary, I promise! Although, I do like black cats and sometimes I wish I had a pointy hat!