Orlando and Healing With Wicca

I have been interested in Wicca and witchcraft for as long as I can remember. You can thank Angela Lansbury for the initial interest, Bedknobs and Broomsticks is one of my favorite movies, but my interest has remained even though I know Wicca does not grant you the ability to turn someone into a rabbit.

I’m not sure why I haven’t studied in earnest. I’m 37, I’ve known about Wicca (as opposed to Hollywood witches like The Sanders Sisters) for two decades.

The reason for not starting sooner is not important though. The reason I’m reaching out to you is. Today I was deeply saddened when I learned that lives of 50 people were snuffed out by one man in one night. My first reaction was how could another mass shooting happen? Why is no one doing anything to prevent this? I argued with a couple of people on Twitter and then I saw other people saying “we should all come together for the victims.” At first I scoffed thinking, “OK right winger let’s not address the problem let’s just send our thoughts and prayers.” and I replied, “I don’t mean to sound ignorant, I honestly want to know, how do we come together for the victims?” And I thought and thought and realized that the problems with our country and the world are partisan based and it isn’t just the politicians, we the people are partisan politics incarnate. I thought hard about this and decided a softer approach was necessary. I discussed it with a likeminded friend who said something that sent me on this path, “At the core of all of this is in my opinion is the denial of love to others and ourselves.”

That made me realize that my request for self love isn’t only for myself. It’s for everyone. I believe that something happening across the world can impact me even if I don’t know about it so inversely I believe that me truly loving myself may spread self-love to others.

While I was thinking and typing I thought of Wicca because it was a wise witch who first really explained the “we are all one” idea to me and I thought, if I were a Wiccan would I be able to send healing to others? Would I be able to share tolerance with others? Could Wiccans heal our country? If so, let’s get together, I’ll buy a plane ticket. If not I will still begin my study of Wicca and learn to heal and love myself and wish for a better world.

Thank you so much for providing this service and for reading this novel.

Traditionally, Wicca is the priesthood of the Lord and Lady, so the things that one learns when joining a coven (both before and after initiation) are typically more focused on what is needed to properly serve them. Also, though all Wiccans are witches (one’s first degree initiation is as a priest/priestess and witch), not all witches are Wiccan. So, in and of itself, if one is simply looking to learn techniques for sending healing energy towards others, Wicca (specifically) is probably not what they are looking for. Using witchcraft, or even going non-magical routes and learning something like Reiki (which incorporates distance healing at level II), would be a better choice.  

In terms of witchcraft, gathering with others who are like minded and creating a large group magical working together can be effective, but individual spellwork can be helpful as well. It’s all a matter of how the spells are constructed and the focus/intent of those involved.

In this particular case, I do think sending healing energy is a good idea, but I also think that in the long term, given the variety of hot button issues that are part and parcel of this tragedy (LGTB issues, hate crimes, gun control, anti-Muslim sentiment, etc…) that we all should consider mundane (non-magical) ways to involve ourselves in making things better, in addition to any magical things that we do. Healing energy for the victims and their families is well appreciated, but taking action (even if it’s just getting yourself and others to write to their legislators) to help ensure that these things are less likely to happen in the future would be even better. Because if we don’t address the actual problem, then things are only going to get worse. 

A few resources that may be helpful…

  • Witchcraft: not sure where you are located, but you may want to see if there is a Reclaiming group near you. Given the things that you are looking to do, they would probably be a good choice. If solitary witchcraft is more your thing, there are a number of books listed here that may be helpful as well.
  • Contacting Members of Congress: you can find your Senators here and Congress reps here.

And finally, we previously wrote a bit on Social Justice and Witchcraft, which may be good to read over before taking any sort of magical action. Also, if we are looking to share love and tolerance with others, the best way to do that is by being loving and tolerant ourselves. Though we want to help those who are currently suffering and in need (and we should), if we each spend some time also working in our own communities, think about how much more we can accomplish.

An It Harm None: What To Do When Harm Is Caused?

Okay so my question is since one of the most basic Wiccan morals/ beliefs is the “harm none” concept I was curious about two different things. 1. What should you do other than accept the consequences when harm has been done through one of your actions? 2. What is to be done when another inflicts harm on you? Nothing? Just curious because I haven’t see this clearly stated anywhere.

The thing with “harm none” is that it has been grossly misinterpreted and misrepresented by so many people over the years that, in most cases, what the average person thinks it means is likely vastly different than what it actually is supposed to mean. So we’ll start with that, just to lay out the basics.

First and foremost, at no point (ever), does the Wiccan Rede prohibit one from causing harm, and in fact, it is literally impossible for any of us to go through life without causing harm to someone or something. The Rede, which in full states ‘An it harm none, do what ye will, simply tells us that if it doesn’t cause harm, we can do whatever we want. But nowhere in that statement does it say if it causes harm, don’t do it. The actual point of it all, is for one to carefully consider their actions before taking them, and to be willing to accept the potential consequences of such actions – for good or bad. In the end however, if one feels that a harmful action is justified/necessary, and is willing to accept the consequences, then there is nothing preventing them from taking the action. For more information on the history and meaning of the Wiccan Rede, I suggest reading The Wiccan Rede: A Historical Journey.

To your specific questions…

(1) If the harm was unintentional, we still need to accept the consequences and acknowledge that harm was done. Then we need to look for ways that we can make reparations (if possible). Saying “sorry” often makes us feel better, but in many cases it does nothing for those we have hurt. Taking actual positive action (assuming that there is one that can be taken), is the best choice.

If the harm was intentional, hopefully we thought carefully before taking the action and were able to anticipate the consequences and are prepared for them. If it’s something that we had considered, again – part of that consideration would be pre-planning what to do. Generally though, if those consequences occur in a way that were unanticipated (maybe we didn’t think carefully enough beforehand) or in some other way cause more harm than we were intending, we should refer back to the info on what to do when causing unintentional harm. Otherwise, if we have intentionally harmed someone/something, then there is nothing else to do as we’ve accomplished what we set out to do.

(2) The answer to this one is really going to depend on the individual. Some will look for positive ways to counteract the harm (such as shielding or looking for ways to invoke justice being served, etc…), while others will 100% strike back as hard and fast as they can with every curse and hex available, and some may be a mix of both. Since there is absolutely nothing preventing anyone from defending themselves and protecting others from harm, at least in terms of the Rede, if one feels that they need to take a harmful action in response to something that has been done to them (and again, being willing to accept any consequences) – then they should take it.

Personally, in the rare times that I feel that they may be necessary, I prefer “curses” that are sort of all purpose – like a “may you get everything that’s coming to you” sort of a thing. That way if they don’t do anything wrong, they have nothing to worry about (and it could even send positive things their way if they are doing good), but if they are doing harm to others, then anything negative that bounces back on them will be a result of their own actions. It doesn’t absolve me of dealing with any potential consequences, but it does put a lot more of the onerous on them for instigating it in the first place.

Deciding Between Paths: How To Know When You Are Ready?

I’ve been raised as a Christian my whole life. But about 2 years ago, I realized that it wasn’t my true calling or a place where I felt at home at all. But about a year ago, I fell upon Wicca. To me, it feels true and right and I feel so at home within it, so I just decided to call myself Wiccan. More recently, I realized that that wasn’t any way to follow Wicca and that I’d gone about it in a way that wouldn’t truly benefit me. So now I’m taking the time to learn more about both Christianity and Wicca and I’m so excited to finally choose and follow Wicca as I should’ve done in the first place.

However, going to church every Sunday has made it increasingly difficult to commit myself to Wicca so I’m left feeling unsure whether I was too quick but in Christianity I feel uncomfortable and unsafe and judged so I know it’s not what is right for me. I guess I’m just looking for advice and how to release all this doubt and fear. I truly want to dedicate myself to the God and Goddess but I’m just doubting whether I’m ready or not. At my age and in my ‘situation’ it’s hard to find other Wiccans who I can speak to and learn from and be guided by.

Probably not what you are going to want to hear, but at 14 you have plenty of time to figure which path is right for you. Particularly if you are having doubts, it’s good idea to take as much time as you feel is necessary.

From a traditional standpoint, Wiccan covens will not initiate anyone who is under the age of 18 (sometimes even 21), so there is not any need to rush to anything at this point. If you still feel pulled towards Christianity, keep in mind that, even if you are uncomfortable at your current church, that may not be indicative of all churches, or even all denominations. So it may be worth it to explore other areas of Christianity before making any major decisions.

Once you are sure that Wicca or Wicca-inspired NeoPaganism is more your calling, there is still not any real reason to start dedicating or oathing yourself to anyone at this point. Oaths and vows are something that the Gods take very seriously and doing such during the teen years is just not a good idea (in any way). It’s not always a good idea for some, even when they are older – things change and we think we will always be able to follow through, but that’s not always the case. And trying to take back an oath… it doesn’t always go well and some Gods are less forgiving than others. So patience at this stage is a good thing.

In the meantime, I would suggest lots of reading. We have a couple of previous posts with some recommendations (here and here). This doesn’t mean you can’t practice anything, but it simply means don’t look to settling in just yet. Give yourself plenty of time to explore.

Additionally, if you feel that maybe there are bits of both Paganism and Christianity that call to you, there are things like ChristoPaganism which may be of interest as well. In particular ChristoPaganism: An Inclusive Path by Joyce and River Higganbotham is a good one. Another book that encompasses multiple views is CUSP: A New Way to Walk An Old Path by Eric and Katrina Rasbold. In terms of going to church, it may also be worth checking out the Unitarian Universalists.

I know that when we are young, it often seems like we need to make a decision about things NOW, but in truth – particularly with the really important things, careful consideration is the better course of action. During our teen years things change rapidly and those things that we feel strongly about one day soon fade, and by the time we reach young adulthood we are often completely different people. Making any sort of decision, particularly involving dedicating oneself to a God (or Gods), is not something to make until one is absolutely sure that one can keep that commitment*. So don’t feel that you need to be doing anything, until you have resolved any lingering doubts are are fully ready to take those next steps.

*worth noting too that for some people, they are never ready to take an oath or dedicate themselves, and that is perfectly ok too. Never feel like you have to do such a thing, even if it said so in a book or on a website, etc… 😉

Passing On: What To Do With A Wiccan’s Things

I just found out that my Grandmother, who passed away several years ago, was a Wiccan. It was never discussed, and was never brought up in the past. I didn’t come to the realization until recently when my mother had mentioned that she had books on witchcraft in a passing comment. While I don’t practice spellcraft, being more focused on spirituality and meditation, I would like to recover said books as it breaks my heart to think they are gathering dust in some basement. I’m not sure if I will find her grimoire or not, as no one knows if she kept one. Like I said, her being a Wiccan was never discussed, and my mother wasn’t even certain that was her religion. So what I’m getting at here, I’m not sure what to do if I find it. I was hoping you could offer suggestions how to handle this situation. Part of me feels as though I’ll be breaching a boundary of privacy by looking into the grimoire if I find one, another part of me demands that I look inside if I do find one for there were a lot of questions that sprung up around her passing.

The answer really depends on if she was an initiated Wiccan (or similar Witchcraft tradition), which would make much of what was in her BOS likely oathbound, or if she was solitary, eclectic, or other non-oathbound tradition. If there is any way to ascertain this, that would be an important first step.

If she was an initiate of an oathbound tradition, her regular books and things would probably be fine for you to keep (though I would suggest cleansing and re-consecrating before using any tools), however her BOS should be returned to someone else who is of a similar initiated status/lineage. If she was Wiccan (BTW) you can check on Amber and Jet, to find someone who can help, if that is the case. If she was part of some other oathbound tradition, you would need to see if you can contact others from within that tradition for their thoughts on disposing of it. The alternative, in either case, would be to simply burn the book, which seems extreme, but is the best way to ensure that any oathbound information contained within does not fall into the hands of those who are not supposed to have it.

If she was solitary and/or part of a non-oathbound tradition, then it’s really up to you. If you knew your grandmother well enough, you are in a better position to know whether or not she would want someone with similar interests using her things. If you are unsure, I would suggest meditating on the question. Maybe even doing some sort of journeying or communication work, in which you contact her and ask specifically – Do you mind if I do this? Personally, if I passed, I would want my things given to someone who would find them useful, but I know that is not always the case with others.

Also, you mentioned questions about her passing – not sure what that means exactly, but realize too that her beliefs and practices probably had nothing to do with her death. If there are lingering questions, the answers probably won’t be found in her things. If they are just general questions about her life, then I think reading through her things would be a good way to better understand her, and keep her memory alive. The key of course, is making sure that what you are reading is not anything that is supposed to be oathbound.