Friday, April 17, 2009

Wicca: from my Christian perspective: a series 2

This is the second of two postings on "Wicca: from my Christian perspective: a series.

Wiccan and other neo-pagan groups, in contrast to the world view of eastern pantheism, attempt to give meaning to the material world. The Goddess acts and the acts are all the cycles and actions of nature, including the acts of humanity. Within this neo-pagan attempt to give meaning to creation, a defining motif emerges and under girds the rituals of Wicca; that is, viewing creation as divine.

Creation is the reality and focus of worship for many Wicca devotees. Honor and devotion are given to creation in the same way that Christians give worship to Jesus Christ. In the book The Coming of The Cosmic Christ, author Matthew Fox writes:

"The universe is, after all, the proper setting for and the source of all energy for rendering ritual, cults, and sacraments effective. . . . In this fuller context of a mysticism grounded in the ultimate mystery of the universe itself, liturgy receives its primary power, its primary source for its symbols and its work of healing and empowerment."9

Fox also suggests that the Church's understanding of Jesus as dying and resurrected lamb be replaced with "Mother Earth" as dying and resurrected.10 Indeed, others have proposed the same transfer in an attempt to wed paganism to Christianity. The point is, however, that neo-pagans, including Wiccans, understand creation itself to be the reality they worship.

This is, in fact, a closed system. Without a God separate from creation the magical aspects of witchcraft are simply connected to the material world. Nature worship becomes naturalism. Magic for the Pagan is neither heaven nor hell breaking into our world.

All wicca worship is connected to this understanding of creation as divine. The Wicca worshiper borrows deities and rituals from ancient practice and combines them with their own cultural understanding. They also, as individuals and individual covens, create their own new rituals. For instance, their creation centered worship involves tantra which is an eastern concept.

For the eastern pantheist tantra is a way of using the material universe to eliminate the material universe which is considered unreal. The goal of the eastern pantheist is to go beyond dualities of creation, losing the distinction of self, becoming like a drop of water in the ocean. However, for the Wiccan, tantra is a means of bringing harmony to the individual self and experiencing the force of the universe. Wicca adherents use tantra as a tool in an attempt to enhance and affirm creation.

The tools of tantra are used in combination with the senses. Words (Mantra), visual implements (Yantras such as a mandala), and ritual sexual union (Maithuna), are the basic tools of tantra.

There are tantrics who practice symbolic sexual union and those who practice actual sexual union. There are many other tools and rituals of Wicca. For instance, most Wicca ritual involves a circle considered a sacred space. Other tools include chants, songs and a cauldren ( a cooking pot used for ritual ).11 Much of the ritual action in the coven is used as a way of experiencing union with the Goddess, empowerment, a means of focusing power on individual or group needs and desires, and as a way of healing.

Likewise, morality for the Wiccan is based in creation and the individual. This view, for some, is based on seeing nature as divine, personal and good. Carol Christ argues that "nature is itself intelligent and loving," and that we should look for "principles of morality within nature." She suggests that such principles or "touchstones" "are relative to the situations in which we live." She further states, "New touchstones can be added as they are discovered. Those that have outlived their usefulness can be discarded."12

On the other hand, Vivianne Crowley, author of Wicca: The Old Religion in The New Age, writes that "Paganism tends to see darkness and light as being in harmony and necessary counterparts to one another."13 Likewise, remember Starhawks's comment about what defines the Goddess: not only is the bud and blossom Goddess, but also the fang and claw.

Unlike the righteous Creator, creation possesses both good and evil. Contrary to Wicca's expectations, creation offers no mercy and no restraint against evil. In fact, in a recent edition of Gnosis, Carol leMasters suggests that more emphasis on the "darker aspects of the Goddess" would help to extend acceptance to "promiscuity or anonymous encounters or kinky sex."14

9. Matthew Fox, The Coming of The Cosmic Christ, ( New York: Harper and Row, 1988 ), 40.
10.Ibid., 145.

11.Starhawk et al., The Pagan Book of Living and Dying: Prayers, Blessings, and meditations on Crossing Over, (San Francisco: Harper Collins Publishers, 1997 ), 339-45.

12.Carol P. Christ, "The Serpentine Path: Theology for a New Way of Being," Sage Woman: Celebrating the Goddess in Every Woman, 42 (Summer, 1998 ), 58.

13.Vivianne Crowley, Wicca: The Old Religion in the New Age, ( Wellingborough, Northhamptonshire, UK: Aquarian Press, 1989 ), 21.

14. Carol LeMasters, " The Goddess Movement : Past and Present," Gnosis, 48.

Here is a video, that I love, and although Christian I think some Wicca members might enjoy it. Please be sure and look at the pictures, they are beautiful.

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