Wicca is a modern term that is often used in place of "Witchcraft" to get away from the negative images associated with that word. It is helpful to think of Witchcraft as the spell crafting part within a Wiccan Tradition, and also to remember that all Wiccans are Witches, but not all Witches are Wiccans. Wicca is more of the religious observance side, and Witchcraft alone is more about creating spells and working through issues in life using specific tools, herbs, candles, and other items to help focus an individual's will. Nearly all Wiccans will use perform some sort of spell work within their ritual space, and those who are not particularly religious will focus more on just the spell work without creating ritual space.
Performing your Rituals
Thanksgiving, Christmas, weddings and birthdays allow communities and families to celebrated things they see as important: religious or historical events or just time spent together. Like these, Wiccan rituals can be observed by a community, a small group or just one person.
Wiccan rituals help us to harness and direct the power of nature and our own energy. They are simple to practice and many can be performed without any special equipment.
Rites of Affirmation
Formalizing practice into rituals can help to act as a "checklist," making sure that all the necessary steps are followed in the correct order and that nothing is forgotten. It also allows the people involved time to stop back and think about what they're doing, giving them a chance to change their minds!
Rituals can be an important tool for making formal statements to others that cannot be misunderstood.
Rituals that are practiced today to affirm or acknowledge something of importance include weddings, which formalize the relationship between a couple, or graduations, which mark the passing of exams.
Following step-by-step identity or community rituals helps you to focus your energy and tune into people who are following the same path, as well as connecting with those who have gone before you.
Choosing your Rituals
The kind of ritual you perform depends on whether you are hoping to honor the cycle of the seasons, marking your passage through life or forging your identity.
Honoring nature is at the heart of Wiccan tradition. In ancient times, the entire community would gather together to celebrate eight festivals in the "Wheel of the Year." These rituals, known as Sabbats, fall as seasons change and at the midpoint of each season.
By observing these festivals we can tune into the rhythms and cycles of nature.
The Eight Sabbats
*Samhain (Pronounced SOW-in) Oct 31
*Yule (Winter Solstice) Dec 21-22
*Imbolc (Groundhog Day) Feb 1
*Eostara (Spring Equinox) Mar 21-22
*Beltaine (May Day) May 1
*Litha (Midsummer or Summer Solstice) June 21-22
*Lammas (Last Harvest) Aug 1st
*Mabon (Autumn Equinox) Sept 21-22
Personal rituals focus your energy, helping you on the path of witchcraft. Rituals of this kind can include:
**Choosing a Witch name: People often choose a "witch name" to give power to their witch identity.
**Setting up an Altar: This is a space in your home where you can practice rituals and spell casting.
**Ritual Tools: Many witches use ritual tools during spell casting. Making your own tools rather than buying them can imbue them with your personal energies.
Working with Ritual
Following the path of witchcraft, or Wicca as it is often known, helps many people to develop personal and spiritual qualities.
A Difficult Road
Ritual can be especially difficult when you are just starting out on your path. When you are spell casting, for example, you will have to think things through carefully--considering all possible consequences. You will have to learn to distinguish between helping people and interfering with their free will.
Remember that performing witchcraft rituals is a way of practicing magic. This focuses the mind, which is a vital skill to hone when working magic.
Don't Rely on Wishes
Wishing for something will not make it happen unless you've done everything you can to help it along. Just as someone who wishes to be a violinist must study and practice hard, so witches have to study and practice. The more you practice the more you avow your intent--your belief in your work.
Rites of Passage
Rites of passage are celebrations of ourselves. Just as we honor and celebrate the Earth's seasonal Wheel of the Year, so too can we celebrate the important landmarks in our lives. The most important ones are as follows:
*Menarche (first menstruation)
*Menopause (last menstruation)
Observing these rituals affirms our part in a community, announcing our arrival to the world, allowing our Friends to celebrate with us along the journey, and giving our loved ones a chance to say goodbye when we move on.