Faith in Halloween: Exploring Witches and Wicca
Amanda Faith Taylor
Why do pagans make the best of friends?
They worship the ground you walk upon. Literally!
The first thing to remember about Wicca is that it is a form of Paganism, and it’s technically a religion. Like any religion, it provides a connection to the spiritual divine, however one chooses to define that.
Heather Dawn of the Evergreen Tradition, Calgary’s branch of Wicca, describes her personal perspective on the religion.
The first thing to understand is what the word “tradition” means.
“Evergreen is an official ‘tradition’ and not just a teaching circle. Think of Christian denominations. We all believe the same basic things, but how we go about it and our way of worship and things like that are maybe, slightly different than the group down the street.”
And the thing that makes Evergreen specifically different is its semi-universal beliefs that could slightly differ from others.
“We believe the Divine is present in nature, therefore nature needs to be honoured and respected,” says Heather Dawn. “That means everything from animals, plants, trees and rocks, are elements of that sacredness, which is why we try to lessen our footprint on the earth and are very heavily into environmental issues and things like that.”
Heather Dawn describes her relationship with “Lord and Lady, and Earth Mother, or Gaia, which is the Earth, the Nurturer.”
She said, much like Hinduism, Wiccans often believe in multiple deities that are often represented by a male and a female.
Although there are many different “flavours”, as Heather Dawn describes, of Wicca, there is a Wiccan Rede, which is basically a framework of ethics for Wiccans.
The idea of ethics and morality is also explored in Wicca as there is no “devil” figure.
Heather Dawn says there is no personification of evil, at least in her tradition, and that each person is responsible for their own actions.
The actions and energy that one puts out in the universe will come back to them three times over.
“We call it the Law of Threefold Return, which says, whatever you send out, you get back three times over. If you send out harm, you get three times that harm back, or if you send out good, you get three times the good back.”
It sounds a bit like the concept of Karma. Heather Dawn agrees.
“We do have our equivalent to, what we call, the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. Basically that reincarnation aspect. I mean, some people believe we become part of the Earth’s energy, some people believe that we go to a place called the summerlands, which is kind of our version of heaven.
Not all Wiccans or Pagans believe in the summerlands, for example, those who follow more of a Norse belief, believe in [something different], you have to look at the cultural framework.”
Wicca and Paganism are very subjective and can change with the individual’s viewpoint of different aspects of the religion, such as making their own sacred spaces.
Heather Dawn was raised Anglican, but has been Wiccan for nearly 20 years.
“My mother decided I needed spiritual education and we ended up in the Anglican church, and I’m very glad that my mother did that because I learned about a whole part of life, that spiritual connection and that became very important in my life over the various years.
But I did have exposure to different forms of Christianity.”
This exposed her to different viewpoints fairly early on.
“By my early 30’s, I wasn’t really associated with any spiritual path. Towards the end of my 30’s, I was starting to feel a certain lack of connection with spirituality and with the Divine.”
The Divine can be interpreted in various ways. Once again, Paganism and the Evergreen Tradition in specific tend to be very subject to interpretation.
“There’s an old saying that if you ask ten different Wiccans, what is Wicca, you’ll get ten different answers. I’m giving you broad strokes here. The realities of Wicca are totally different, from that of The Craft in Hollywood.”