Read an Excerpt
The SOLITARY WICCAN'S Bible
By GAVIN FROST, YVONNE FROST
Red Wheel/Weiser, LLCCopyright © 2004 Gavin and Yvonne Frost
All rights reserved.
THE PILGRIMAGE OF WICCA
The pilgrim sets out on a journey of outward and inward discovery and returns forever changed, eternally empowered and inspired. We invite you to take such a pilgrimage into Wicca. If you are a true pilgrim, we promise that you will return similarly changed and reinvigorated, with a new way of looking at the world and yourself.
The pilgrimage we propose will be based on the ancient symbology of the Pentagram enclosed in the triple circle. As you cross the circles you will move from the Wilderness through the Home realm and the Astral realm, to achieve the central Spiritual realm. This may be likened to moving from outside a cathedral, through the nave, past the altar rail, and then into the sanctuary behind the altar. The circles are a Wiccan church.
Your reason for taking such a pilgrimage must be a real force in your life; for as you proceed you may face dangers that range from the derision of family and friends to actual physical danger from those who cannot rise above infantile programming. The latter group grows smaller with each passing year, but it still exists. You will not face psychic danger because the methods we recommend have been extensively researched and have proven safe.
A Summer Walk
In high summer, Biarritz in the south of France still retains reminders of the glitz of its famous past. It still embodies Western materialistic society. This is your starting place.
A few kilometers south and back into the mountains lies another tourist-trap town, St-Jean-Pied-de-Porte. Here avoiding the main road we can find an inconspicuous path that leads away from the superficial tourist souvenirs and the bargain-hunters' paradise. As you walk that path, a few kilometers out of town the world abruptly changes. You are on the old pilgrim way to Santiago de Compostela, where hundreds of thousands of pilgrim feet have trodden. The air is quiet. The sky is near, and snow-capped mountains rise splendidly in the distance.
Paradoxically, the pilgrim path to Compostela that you tread today is newly refurbished with fresh markers and signposts, with a new surface to walk on; so it is now difficult to get lost or to wander into byways. We can't help feeling that in some ways this has made the pilgrimage less meaningful. The path used to be very much like exploring Wicca: You could wander off, later unexpectedly rediscovering it. Likewise, the vast array of information available today on Wicca sometimes tempts you into byways, and at other times points you back to the true pilgrim path.
This book is an attempt to introduce you to another realm of the reality where we all exist—an attempt to remove you from the glitz of modern life, back into nature and back to a world where you depend on yourself, not on the amount of money in your wallet.
Imagine yourself as a pilgrim. You start in the same condition as the souvenir hunters in St-Jean-Pied-de-Porte, overwhelmed by the variety, the clamor, the garish colors, and, yes, the tawdriness of much that is on offer. With persistence you find the path you seek. As you walk from France over the Pyrenees into Spain, you see much cast-off detritus of civilization. First it's candy wrappers and empty aluminum cans. Then these diminish and you start to come across heavier artifacts that pilgrims have decided not to carry up the slopes.
You, too, discard ideas, assumptions, and thought patterns—the detritus of busy stuff that you find no longer necessary or relevant. The various parts of your life shift in their order of importance. The pilgrim often finds that the most important things in life are his shoes. You, too, may suddenly find that apparently small things are now of great importance. The clamor of the world fades into insignificance beside the pain of muscles unaccustomed to climbing hills. A blistered heel replaces concern over how to pay off the credit card charges; reading an esoteric text overrides the impulse to watch the Super Bowl. All this may happen to you before you get to the first overnight hostel less than ten miles along your way. Similarly, Wiccan pilgrims often enjoy their first epiphany within hours of setting out on this metaphorical journey.
Think now what can happen to you as you walk the rest of the almost five hundred miles toward your shining goal, Compostela, the symbol of a new life of awareness. The pilgrimage takes you over rugged terrain, through lonely mountain passes, along rushing rivers, and among the temptations of modern towns with their easy life. You meet people who have taken the tour bus and walked a few miles on the path. They tell you they know now what it means, and they may believe their own claims; but they delude themselves.
Your Spiral Pilgrim Path
The chart of your pilgrimage, like an ancient map, shows areas labeled Terra Incognita and Here Be Dragons. The path we have chosen for you does not venture into unknown territory, and it assiduously avoids dragons. It is based on the Wiccan symbol of a pentagram enclosed in a triple circle. Though today you are probably outside the outer circle, soon you will pass inward to traverse the other circles. Passing each circle marks for you a new level of understanding. It is customary to mark each passage with a ritual, which some call initiations. With our aid you can construct for yourself suitable and memorable solitary rituals.
At some phase of your development pilgrimage you may want to experience working with another person or a group. Groups will not usually accept solitary initiations as valid reasons for admitting a stranger. If that is true of the one you propose to join, you will either have to submit to the group's rituals, stay solitary, or form your own group. Later in this chapter we discuss compromise initiatory paths offered by the directors of the Church of Wicca that will admit you to some of our circles.
After you pass the circle barriers (the metaphorical mountains) in chapter three, we lead you around the points of the Pentagram to end at its center, which is Deity. This path can never be direct: There are no shortcuts. Many Wiccans liken it to a spiral of development. It should grow in you as does the natural spiral contained in such things as the nautilus shell or the ram's horn you might find beside the road.
Layers of Meaning and Awareness
As you study Wicca you find that many things have layers of meaning not apparent to the outsider. Very soon now, as you investigate the triple circle, you will perceive layers of new meaning. In many mundane experiences and sayings you will find hints of the old ways.
In 1816 Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote the following verse as a part of his mystical poem Kublai Khan:
Weave a circle round him thrice, And close your eyes with holy dread, For he on honey-dew hath fed And drunk the milk of Paradise.
Here you see that in 1816 people were certainly acquainted both with the triple-circle symbol and with the use of mead (a fermented honey wine)—yet an outsider reading Kublai Khan would regard the verse as just a pleasing rhyme. Within Wicca itself, similarly, there are often hidden meanings whose significance is apparent only to the initiate.
The Six Directions
Any time you look around, you can gaze in hundreds, if not thousands, of different directions. In Wicca we normally think of the cosmos around us as capable of being defined in six mundane (physical) directions plus Time. These six directions are the four points of the compass familiar to everyone, along with Up and Down. Time itself is thought of not as a direction but rather as a dimension.
As an illustration let's look closely at the East. To a Wiccan, East means new beginnings. This ancient association is universal because the Sun rises in the east to begin another new day. In Europe, East is also the direction of air and of sylphs (the elementals of air). In the Greco-Roman pantheon, it would be Venus and Aphrodite, who are associated with creation. When you think of air, do you have in mind the air you breathe? Is it a gentle breeze? Is it a hurricane? Is it the humid air of summer, or the dry, cold air of winter? Is it life itself? Possible associations are nearly endless. The levels of meaning go on and on. When you face east to honor air in all its forms, you could probably honor it in at least a hundred ways. Thus you can see that many meanings may be assigned just to East.
There are meanings behind meanings, all hidden behind ordinary mundane words. Table 1 shows some of the layers of meaning that Wiccans associate with the six directions.
As you exchange ideas with other Wiccans, you will find they may have slightly different interpretations of the hidden meanings of East. This lets you both reconsider your own ideas and break away from stereotyped thinking. Diversity leads to reflection, which should lead to discussion and growth. Regrettably, inevitably, you will meet a few people who have closed minds; these individuals descend too quickly into personal attacks on anyone whose ideas vary from their own.
The directions given in the table with their associations are typical, but not cast in concrete. Too many Wiccans continue thoughtlessly to use traditional European associations, even those who work south of the Equator in the antipodes, where at least north and south should be interchanged. There are more subtle problems in American usage. On the east coast of North America you have the massive water volume of the Atlantic Ocean in the east, and the winds blow from the west. Thus at that spot on the planet it would be rational to associate the East with water and the West with air. Yes, that would constitute a direct reversal of the circle's traditional directions, and might well prompt Wiccan fundamentalists into a hissy fit. Regardless, you should do what appeals to your thinking mind and psyche, not what some "expert" (probably long dead) has decreed for another part of the globe. Don't join the Marching Morons, who blindly follow the feet before them.
The Pentagram in the Triple Circle
As with many things in Wicca, in the Pentagram there are meanings behind meanings and many levels of understanding to be explored. Figure 1 shows a Pentagram enclosed in a triple circle. On one level the Pentagram symbolizes magic, on another a human figure standing with arms outstretched.
To reach the Pentagram, you must cross the triple circle. As figure 2 shows, each circle actually represents the intersection of a sphere with the earthplane. The circles can be interpreted as spheres dividing various realms of existence. Sometimes spheres are called levels of understanding; at other times they are called levels of protection. Both labels are accurate.
Today you stand outside the outermost sphere, in the area that we have called the Wilderness, or Chaos. You know full well how hard it is to live out there. As we look outward, we who have passed through the first sphere feel a great compassion for those struggling to live in a world growing ever more complex and threatening.
The Four Realms
Figure 2 also shows the four realms defined by the three circles. They are the Wilderness, the Home, the Astral, and the Spiritual realms. For now let us consider the outermost sphere: the one that divides the Wilderness from Home. We define both these realms as the life we know in the paycheck world on the earthplane. Some call the Wilderness "Chaos," for it represents the chaotic world in which most people exist. We call the second realm "Home" because so many students of the School tell us, as they move through the course, that coming to Wicca feels like coming home. In this realm you can move beyond just blindly existing and can start to live life to its fullest.
As you go over the first high pass on the pilgrim route, you can look back to see below you the wilderness you have left behind: a place where nothing was firm or secure, where everything implied a possible threat. You may think of your movement past the first sphere into the Home realm as a philosophical change. Money and vapid luxury lose their importance, and such things as your place in the cosmic scheme of things and your historical importance become of concern.
When you have once passed into the Home realm, the petty annoyances and frustrations of daily life pass almost all away. The need for more amusing toys and for keeping up with the Joneses disappears. Part of the change occurs because you begin to use your natural abilities to smooth your path. Those natural—inborn—abilities include such things as predicting the future and working what is sometimes called magics. Later in this text we examine procedures for working spells. A more extensive text on the subject is The Witch's Magical Handbook.
The chief thing many Wiccans cast away is guilt and its control of your actions. Soon after guilt, you discard the other great herd-control mechanisms, shame and fear. Later chapters equip you with a new set of guidelines for life and a new spirituality. These guidelines allow you to make your own autonomous decisions and to live comfortably with the consequences.
Another way of looking at this passing out of the Wilderness and coming home is that Wicca is not a religion of sackcloth and ashes. Wicca is a way in which your dependence on money and the worship of goods and services now count for less than your health and your serenity.
Meditating from the Moon
You live in a Wilderness. Daily life is full of little fears: fear of losing your job; fear that your companion leaves; fear of traffic accidents; fear of illness; recently fear of terrorism and war. If you let them, all these monsters in the Wilderness can eventually kill you, through the "modern" disease of stress. To get those fears in true perspective, you need to do a little exercise that we call meditating on the Moon.
In your mind, travel for a few moments onto the surface of the Moon and look back at Earth.
Can you see yourself?
Can you see the hell and confusion of your daily life?
Now while you sit quietly on the Moon with no one to interrupt you, list what is really important. From the physical point of view, high-ranking needs are: food, shelter, and the security of your children. A little below these needs ranks a reasonable amount of comfort.
Once you have listed your physical needs, think about such things as improved awareness and spiritual growth. In a whole, serene person, all parts of the entity are balanced.
When you start thinking about the impact you're having on the people around you, it's like the pebble thrown into the pond. The ripples move outward and affect many people in ways that you cannot necessarily foresee. If the ripples are positive, then life around you smooths out. If they are negative, the converse is true. We're not going to give guidance in a "do this, do that" way, but we are going to remind you that whatever you do has an impact. Our Native American friends say that whatever you do to your children is visited unto the seventh generation. If you punish them harshly, they punish their children in the same way. If you let them run over your judgment or overly pamper them, the same pattern continues into the future.
The Epiphany of the Gate into the Home Realm
As you explore Wicca you suddenly realize that many of the "truths" you were fed in your highchair are in fact not necessarily valid, are not immutable laws. Instead, they are somebody's interpretation of age-old sayings and ways that make little or no sense in today's world. Often they were somebody's way of manipulating you. If you obeyed Law A, who stood to gain? If Law A was valid for a little kid who needed to learn to live in a dangerous world, is it valid for the adult you are today?
As you come into Wicca, people encourage you, "Think for yourself. Do what is right for you—today. All the while remember that you should harm no one by word or deed when you can possibly avoid it." At some point comes that great awakening—that epiphany—that feels like a huge load being dropped from your shoulders. Just as when you walk on your pilgrimage, your priorities shift, so do they as you evolve spiritually. Suddenly life is easier and much more worth living. Even on a dull wintry day, the scenery outdoors somehow becomes brighter than it was before the moment of epiphany. In the timeworn cliché, the scales drop from your eyes.
Excerpted from The SOLITARY WICCAN'S Bible by GAVIN FROST, YVONNE FROST. Copyright © 2004 Gavin and Yvonne Frost. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
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