Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I am a Yogini and an Eclectic Wiccan

I have been a pagan/eclectic Wiccan longer than I've been a yogini.

Over eight years ago, while living in Montreal, I walked into a magic store, bought "The Spiral Dance" and never looked back. I just couldn't identify with a male, patriarchal religion. I couldn't connect, I couldn't reconcile the history, so many of the teachings and it just felt so disconnected from where I found Spirit. In Nature.

Eclectic Wiccan (or pagan) I find myself. It feels right. I feel like I found my Spiritual Home.

So, obviously I must take part in sexual ritual in my 'coven' of Engorged Lunar Mists (ELM), sacrifice small animals and make 'magick' with a "K". Right?

My spirituality is an extremely private matter that I don't discuss with hardly anyone. Not my friends, not my family and rarely even my husband. It's not because I'm embarrassed, I just feel like it's Sacred.

Unfortunately, with all the hoopla recently around Mr Friend and his apparent 'Wiccan' status I feel that not enough pagans, or yogi-pagans have written about it. So- I thought perhaps I'd share what being Eclectic Wiccan means to me. (please understand that the beauty of Wicca and Paganism is it's diversity. What you read here will be MY practice, but do not assume that another Wiccan or Pagan that you meet will believe or practice similarly).


For a Pagan response and nicely linked post, check out The Wild Hunt on the John Friend Anusara Scandal. Then come back here :)

Firstly, I don't practice within a coven. Like I said, my spirituality is intensely personal and private, solitary Wiccan I remain. From what I've read (which isn't exhaustive, but is plenty), covens most certainly do NOT engage in sexual acts or orgies. With Beltane, a Wiccan (and pagan) holiday approaching, the symbolism of  the sexual act may be re-enacted, or even a sacred coupling between two consenting adults, but never willy nilly to 'raise energy'. See more at The Wild Hunt.

Wicca is a recognized religion and is generally thought to be formed as it stands today about sixty years ago (give or take). Despite early theories that Wiccans and Pagans practiced the 'old religion' they haven't been substantiated. Please check out wiki for a brief intro.

What I believe:

  • I believe in a Divine Force that for myself is the Goddess. She resides in all of us, in all of Nature from plants to rocks to the water we drink. I recognize that there is a Male aspect, but I honestly don't recognize myself in any 'God' practice- for myself all, including the Male, is a part of the Goddess. (This is kinda a huge hiccup in my calling myself 'Wiccan'- it's a bit of a requirement to believe in both the God and the Goddess... but I don't like identifying as 'Dianic Wicca')
  • I believe in the Elements of Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Spirit as being Sacred, True Energies.
  • I believe that Life is a Cycle and we're all turning on the Wheel. Our Energy doesn't fade, but after death we are reborn as part of Nature or as another person. Thusly, I firmly believe in reincarnation.
  • I believe that as Energy is a part of All, which comes from the Goddess, and that it can interact with other Energies- whether they are human or not.
  • As a result, I believe that I can subtly direct my Energy and guide it (perhaps not always successfully) along a certain path. 
  • I believe that what I send out comes back to myself Three Fold and that my actions have consequences. As a result I will strive to harm none. (Wiccan Rede).


What I actually "do":

  • I celebrate 'Sabbats' which are solar based, seasonal and comprise of Eight holidays: 
    • Yule: December 20-23 (winter solstice)
    • Imbolc: February 1-2
    • Ostara: March 20-23 (spring equinox)
    • Beltane: May 1st
    • Litha: June 20-23 (summer solstice)
    • Lughnassadh: August 2
    • Mabon: September 20-23 (autumn equinox)
    • Samhain: October 31 (Wiccan New Year)
  • Lunar phases are sacred- New Moon, Waxing Moon, Full Moon and Waning Moon. The Moon represents the energy of the Goddess and this guides my practice (below).
  • I read Tarot cards, will cast a circle, purify a room or an object and imbue objects with Blessings, Protection or ask for the Energy of the Goddess. 
  • My main time of 'worship' or connection with the Goddess is during my Yoga practice (but it can occur if I have the opportunity to sit quietly in some space). 
  • I Ground my Energy with that of the Goddess's (through the Earth) and reconnect during meditation. 

What being Eclectic Wiccan truly means in my world:

  • I sometimes lie when people ask my faith. Knowing that I'm Wiccan or Pagan would have a significant effect on my professional working relationships in Acadian communities. Last week, at one of my presentations a principal asked if I was Catholic (in reference to discussing guilt). Most Acadians are, and since culturally I was raised one I said 'yes'. Even if it felt wrong, being openly Wiccan or Pagan isn't 'safe' or 'acceptable' yet.
  • I'm constantly explaining what I believe (and that no Pagans didn't actually participate in human sacrifice).
  • I couldn't ask to have my spiritual belief as part of my public family wedding. Jesus got invited and was announced while I had quiet moments of asking the Goddess her blessing, placing ourselves in a circle of white candles near the ocean to simultaneously represent the four elements and a circle. All surreptitiously and secretive.
  • I celebrate my holidays quietly, privately and try to incorporate all that I can into Christian timetables for family, friends and work (as, like other non-Christian religions, I don't have my holidays off).
  • Reading how Wicca is being warped and changed by this JF fiasco, or how some yoga bloggers felt it would be acceptable to poke fun at the word 'magick' (see comments) is difficult and disappointing. I expect  yogis to be more open and accepting. (that said, there have been many fabulous yoga bloggers who've been quite clear that what JF did was not 'wicca', or this post on Yoga Modern).

All that said, and I wouldn't trade this beautiful spiritual practice for anything. I have never felt more connected and at Home than with my belief in the Goddess.

17 comments:

  1. Thank you for such a wonderful post and for sharing something that is so beautiful, and important to you. I really appreciate you taking the time to provide some truth about Wicca and explaining what you believe in. I too have been very bothered by the number of yogis who have made terrible remarks about Wicca, paganism, witchcraft etc and perpetuated misconceptions about these belief systems. I know we are all human, but I guess I had hoped for more respect. I found it all rather hypocritical. Anyway, thank you again for sharing, I too am quite private about my beliefs, so I have a deep appreciation for what you have shared with us all.
    Blessings to you and Namaste.

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  2. This is wonderfully written and so accurate for many pagans, I think. We are all such an eclectic lot, which I think is somewhat unusual in the world of religion.

    And just as you said, there's still so much suspicion about it, or at the very least, the temptation to make fun of it. :( I still don't talk about my beliefs openly, either. I live in a small town where Christianity is expected. In fact, despite our supposed separation of church and state, there is a national prayer day coming up, and our school district is hosting a Christian brunch to celebrate. The superintendent and teachers will be attending and leading the prayers. While prayers are all good and fine in my opinion, I wish it was an open-religion forum, to be fair!

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  3. Hi Lisa,

    I think what you've written here is very brave. You are certainly not the only one to consider their spirituality to be personal. This is the stuff that makes up the core of our beings, and so it can be very hard to describe.

    As you say, it is also something that varies from person to person. Anyone reading what you've written will probably have an internal commentary going on - oh, I agree with that but not this... etc.

    What do you and don't believe however, is no one else's business but it is lovely to read more about you. I'm sorry that you didn't feel that even at your wedding, you could be open about what's important to you. :(

    I'm not sure if you know this, but I spent several years - most of my 20's - exploring pagan cultures including Wicca. I was even in a coven. But contrary to what you wrote, there most certainly was nudity and sometimes even sex or sexual expression. But certainly not in the group orgy kind of way.

    I wrote a series of posts on my spiritual search, that ultimately led me to yoga and Tantric studies (not the foofoo stuff JF was apparently touting). To me, yoga and paganism mix well, although why I think that is another whole post, perhaps...

    I think the weirdest part of the JF coven situation is that he was the only guy in the group, whereas I'm more familiar with situations that strive for balance - in both Wicca and yoga. One guy trying to set himself up as the leader of a group of women, and using pro-goddess ways of doing so? Well, that's just trouble.

    Anyway... its good of you to share. :)

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  4. Thanks for this post!
    Last year I read a lot about Wicca and Paganism, as it really appealed to me, but never went further (still a bit tender about this kind of thing, I am an atheist in the first place :D), so didn't want to write about it not being completely engaged into it.
    So glad you did though! Merci :)

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  5. Gosh, I cannot believe that you have had to post this - I am really sorry that you are in the closet.

    I am fairly out about it all, although as a teacher I did not feel it appropriate to discuss it with students (nor any religion in fact).

    We are fairly ok about it all in the UK, although there has been some steps forward and some steps back - see the recent uproar about it being taught in schools.

    I had a handfasting as part of my wedding and I am sorry you couldn't be as open about it as I was.

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  6. @Yu: Thank you- i'm glad I wasn't being paranoid and overly sensitive and that others have noticed. There have been some really fabulous yoga bloggers who've posted as well, but you know, the negative stuff stands out. :)

    @Five Seed: Thank you! I was very nervous, just because I don't attend a coven and didn't want to step on anyone's toes. I was also thinking about you when I wrote this post (still need to give myself a few minutes to read your latest!!), and wow- prayer day? that would be disappointing and weird. Unfortunately I totally understand- if you said something it would be extremely awkward and most likely wouldn't cause change.

    @svasti: ah, I didn't know that about you! that is interesting. I don't think I said there wasn't nudity- I'm fairly certain going 'skyclad' is typical in most covens, but from what I've read and hear other pagans post- sex with coven members is discouraged (but not prohibited).
    I agree with you 100%, yoga and paganism go very well together :) I'd be interested in hearing your reasons! I also agree that JF's 'coven' wasn't a coven at all, but emotional and physical manipulation, unhealthy and wrong, abuse isn't wicca. You're right as well- balance is usually key (which is why I'm a bit of an oddball with my 'Goddess' stuff).

    Emmanuelle: interesting! Yep, isn't for everyone- it's taken me a while to find a system to that fits for me :) I thought perhaps I might be an atheist, and this journey was a good part in deciding that, nope, not that!

    @darkpurplemoon: Thank you. Yeah, I was jealous of your beautiful handfasting and rituals you got to incorporate and share with your family. I wondered if the UK was more open, doesn't surprise me that they are- and truly it's very neat to read about someone's experiences like yours- gives me hope :)
    I've read a bit about the schools-sad!
    It's funny but you're right- I'm still in the 'Broom' closet with most people I know... or at least just not 100% out...?

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  7. I have always been fascinated by wiccan/pagan practice. Being a book nerd I would love it if you could write a post reviewing books about the practice that you enjoy/dislike. Thank you for sharing :)

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  8. Hugs and high-fives from one pagan yogini to another. :) Thank you so much for this beautiful, honest post. I too have been pissed about John Friend's appropriation of Wicca (I don't call myself Wiccan, but I do feel protective of it) and am so glad you took this deep breath and spoke your truth. I promise that one day the closet door will open a little more. It happens in its own time and until then, keep honoring the Goddess as feels right to you. She loves us all. Blessed be!

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  9. it seems like a connection to the planet through the moon and stars if you look at it that way

    a grounding effect

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  10. Ohhh yes!! thank you for this post! My beliefs are very close and run parallel to yours.
    I find it so strange when people shudder when I say the word pagan. Why they can't wrap their head around the aspects that we are inter-connected with the trees, water, air, and all energy... BUT find it very easy to put their faith and beliefs in a "big man in the sky" ??? I just don't get it- not to offend anyone's belief system....just saying.
    Thanks for this intelligent and sensible explanation of wiccan/paganism and the Divine Goddess.

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  11. I don't know what particular controversy you are referring to as I am not part of the yoga community. But I am pagan although not wiccan, and I do live in Halifax too:) Starhawk and the Reclaiming community were my introduction too to paganism and yes in Montreal too but 20 years ago:)People just don't understand how risky it still is to identify as non chritian/jewish/muslim. Although here in Halifax we have a large buddhist community which has helped a lot of people realize that non christians can be just plain old ordinary folkds too.

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  12. @Christine: totally, I can share a few things with you- although I'm sorting out my book collection as we speak :)

    @VB: Thank you! Glad to see another Pagan Yogini recognize the appropriation for what it is :)

    @Erik: yes, a part of Wicca (and many Pagan belief systems) is strongly connected to the Natural World.

    @Boho Mom: i hear ya :)

    @s.e.: Ah, I really didn't want to draw that much more attention to the scandal- but I've now linked to it in the post. In case you were curious- The Wild Hunt has a really nice recap complete with fantastic links to see the story unfold from day one (Yoga Dork) onward... and the Pagan response: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wildhunt/2012/02/the-wiccan-angle-to-a-yoga-scandal.html

    re: buddhist community- yes I think that has helped, although I do know many Haligonians (and Dartmouthians) who are completely oblivious to the Buddhist community here. This is an interesting city, and I do feel it has far to go before I can advertise that I am a Wiccan... perhaps though, that as I become more wise I'll let go of my fears- and that it will also become a part of my personal journey :)

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  13. Kudos for speaking out... but if you are posting it on this blot, aren't you "out" now as a wiccan?

    Also, sorry that you had to compromise on your wedding and couldn't at least have had a secular ceremony.

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  14. @Anon: lol- well most of my work crew doesn't know i write a blog (and although i try not to kid myself, i don't use my last name here). The only family members who've read this post is my husband and my mom (and she pretended that she didn't lol).

    so i'm ok. :)

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  15. Thank you for this post. it inspired me to write my own piece.

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  16. I have spent fourteen years, on and off, practicing Wicca. It has always been the only religious avenue that spoke to my soul. But, because of society and the dark images associated with it, I have found myself falling out of it over the years. I, too, do not like to talk about my practice; my mother however is not like that. Because I spent many years practicing alongside her, it has made it hard for me to feel that Wicca is mine, truly personal and separate, partially because I cannot seem to enjoy something she loves and also because she spent many years telling people I did not want to know, or before I had a chance. Though she doesn't know it, this has really hampered my beliefs. I love Wicca. It's beautiful, natural and completely personal. I've never enjoyed sharing it. Now that I am on my own, things have changed. For the last two years I have spent all of my time being a mother, and doing yoga. Yoga opened me up again, made me see myself in ways I never had before while simultaneously showing me that my body is amazing, strong and beautiful. I can finally meditate! That alone has been a long uphill battle. Recently, I decided to open up my dusty Wicca books and begin anew. I am myself again, I know who I am and what I want and what I truly believe in and now I can do it on my own terms. Yoga has helped me in that way and I am so thankful.

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