Tag Archives: earth-based spirituality

Wicca 101: Witches, Magic, and the Art of Intention

What is it with witches and wizards? We love them, hate them, persecute them for hundreds of years, and glorify them in wondrous stories of magical worlds and flying broomsticks. In this week’s episode of “Holy Facts” on The Chopra Well, Gotham Chopra explores the wizarding world of Wicca in the hopes of dispelling some common misconceptions about this rapidly growing religion.

We’ve come a long way since the witch trials of Renaissance Europe and the American colonies,  but prejudice lingers. In some parts of the world witch hunts are a daily reality, with individuals harassed, beaten, shunned and occasionally even murdered for bearing “witch-like” traits. Harry Potter is a fine and beloved fantasy around the world, but how would we treat him if he were real? Witchcraft is acceptable in the realm of fantasy, but could we make room for it in the muggle world, too?

The world has had centuries to work on religious tolerance for pagans and Wiccans, but we continue to fail in making an accommodation to their traditions. Ancient European paganism, Hebrew mysticism and Greek mythology are just some of the forebears cited by Wiccan texts and oral histories. The inclusion of a feminine divine also leads historians and archaeologists to draw a line of ancestry from ancient fertility cults to contemporary Neo-pagan traditions, of which Wicca is probably the most organized and certainly most widely recognized.

Historians in the 19th century began writing about the connection between earlier traditions and groups purportedly practicing underground magic at the time. In 1951 the United Kingdom joined the rest of Europe in repealing remaining anti-witchcraft laws, just in time for the publishing of civil servant and amateur anthropologist Gerald Gardner’s book Witchcraft Today. In his book, Gardner declared himself a practitioner of a heretofore unknown religion “Wicca,” which he dated back to the Stone Age. The religion swiftly gained momentum, with many neo-pagan traditions branching off from it in the decades that followed.

John William Waterhouse: Magic CircleThere is no single sacred text, governing body, or outlined doctrine in Wicca today, and beliefs and practices vary widely from practitioner to practitioner. But certain themes crop up repeatedly in rhetoric and at modern gatherings. Connection to the earth and nature’s rhythms is key, as is reverence for both the divine masculine and feminine, sometimes as the Goddess and God but often as a merging of creative forces in the Universe. Wiccans and pagans also tend to revere the directions (East, South, West, North and Center) and elements (Wind, Fire, Water, Earth, and Spirit), perform rituals that coincide with seasonal cycles (equinoxes, solstices, and moon phases), and believe in reincarnation.

Even more fundamental is adherence to a fundamental ethic called the Wiccan Rede: “An it harm none, do what ye will.” Essentially, the community trusts its members to make their own decisions, hold their own beliefs, and act in such a way as to harm none – self and environment included. Similar to The Golden Rule known to just about every religious tradition throughout history, The Threefold Law is prominent in Wicca, as well, and teaches that energy released into the world will return to the individual three times as powerful, for better or for worse.

Wiccan magic, often referred to as “the Craft,” is largely grounded in intention and ritual. The word “magic” stems from both the Old Persian term for “sorcerer” but also the ancient Greek word for “art.” Consider, then, that the artist, actor, or carpenter utilizes magic as much as the magician does in transforming natural resources into entirely new expressions of creativity. Just so, Wiccans harness energetic influences and elements in order to manifest certain intentions. Easier said than done, right? But at the end of the day isn’t it a lot like praying or repeating positive affirmations? More mainstream, but equally magical in essence.

What are your thoughts on Wicca and magic? Let us know in the comments section below!

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photo by: deflam

Earth-Based Spirituality

Earth-based spirituality is based on reverence for the earth and all of its inhabitants and has been practiced from antiquity to the present. Its roots lie in the shamanic wisdom of the ancient Caucasian peoples of Britain, northern Europe and Scandinavia; the Taoist teachings of the East and with the Native Americans of North America.
 
To honor all livings things is the basis of Earth-based spirituality. The Native Americans treated all beings on earth as their equal and all were considered part of the whole, or the Great Spirit. The Great Spirit is within all plants, minerals and animals and the earth itself. It is the life-force energy or chi; it is the “Breath of the Invisible.”
 
Earth-based spirituality recognizes that nothing is ever destroyed; that it only changes form. Matter is a physical and intelligent manifestation of energy, and energy is contained in all matter, but matter does not exist in all energy. The Earth and its inhabitants are all beings of energy and are all interconnected and interrelated.
 
We are integrated parts of a whole being. We affect the whole by our thoughts, words and actions—just as we are affected by other human beings, and by the animal, vegetable or mineral kingdoms, and by the higher frequency metaphysical energy patterns.
 
Earth-based spirituality is about following your own intuition—not some “authority” or that nebulous “they.” It is your intuition that is all-knowing, powerful and true. When you follow your intuition, you are following your heart. When you follow your heart, you are being guided by your higher self which is connected to all that is.
 
Learning to trust your intuition is important for all aspects of your life, and there are many books which discuss the aspects of this level of consciousness. When it comes to decorating your home, what sounds simple can be quite difficult until you learn to distinguish between your intuition and what you think you ought to be doing. When in doubt, meditate on the question at hand and see what comes up. Or, ask yourself if your reaction/desire is based on fear or love. Intuition is never about fear. Fear manifests itself only in the mind/body.
 
For example, suppose you are wandering around a craft fair and see a beautiful vase. You instantly visualize the vase in your living room and feel happy gazing at this vessel. However, moments later you worry: “what if it looks out of place?” “What if the vase is actually hideous and your husband and friends hate it?” Now, you look at the vase again and feel confused and think, “do I really like it?”
 
Yes, you really like it. Those nasty voices in your head are pure fear. When you see something and immediately love it (or think it’s awful) that is your gut feeling, or intuition.
 
Think about it, we are literally bombarded with things when we shop. Craft fairs are a great example because there is so much to see and judge. A quick glance at a craftsperson’s wares will usually be enough to draw you in for a closer inspection or keep you moving along due to a lack of interest. So, when you see an object that you think is beautiful among hundreds or thousands of other crafts, take note!
 
In another example, you are shopping with a friend, the “knower-of-all-things-trendy.” She spots this awesome new kitchen gadget that “you must have.” This gadget promises to slice/dice/whatever, and your first reaction upon looking at it is that you already have perfectly good knives to do the same job.
 
Your friend looks a bit askance when you admit that you aren’t sure that you need this new tool. This worries you—perhaps you do need this gadget. It might make kitchen chores easier. You might be the only one without one, struggling away while others blithely do their chores.
 
Now, stop. Look at the gadget and trust your intuition to guide you. If you are still unsure, ask your friend for a demonstration, but pay attention. I find that my first response is generally right on—if I react with delight over some new thing, it might just be what I need. However, if my reaction is an eye-roll (another useless piece of junk), I move on.
 
Your intuition knows what is authentic; it is not influenced by what is the newest and shiniest.
 

Excerpt from best-selling, award winning book, Harmonious Environment: Beautify, Detoxify & Energize Your Life, Your Home & Your Planet

 

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