Wicca Way Do I Go?
One of my earliest memories is jumping off our one-story roof with an umbrella and expecting to gently float to the ground. Mary Poppins apparently made an impact. As an adult, it makes no sense. Physics, you know? As a kid, though, it was an expectation. I was going to jump, and the air would catch me. The realm of possibility was so expansive that nothing truly seemed impossible.
Basements housed skin-eating boogymen, the full moon summoned werewolves, and magic…magic flowed all around us.
When I kicked off this Religion Tour, I immediately knew I wanted to explore the world of Wicca, or at the very least a slice of it. The mysterious practitioners who act as conduits for the unknown have fed the imaginations of many for centuries, and writers have all too often taken liberties there.
Broom-laden wart women are a thing of the 90s. Wicca is about so much more…so says the all-knowing Google.
Picture this: a cold, New York evening at my desk, wondering when the sun will return to the world, inexplicably exhausted after simultaneously working all day, yet not moving an inch away from my green rolling chair. I open my computer, get over any embarrassment I feel because, after all, this was all my idea in the first place. I type three words:
What. Is. Wicca.
This inevitably led me to a place deep in the West Village called Stick, Stone & Bone. I remember seeing it pop up on my map app — the name alone gave me goosebumps. It was an exciting name. It was a magical name. In short, it was exactly where I wanted to start.
Set along a tight street, its doors open and welcoming to the public, the shop is inoffensive in nature but immediately draws the eye in. When I walked up the steps and into the store, I instantly smelled the incense — a thick, husky scent that reminded me of the supply shop at the Vatican. I had a cheeky thought at the time that to some people, that’s exactly what it was.
Not a place of worship — but a place to buy tools that help you reach the divine.
The shop specializes in crystals and candles, both staples in the practice of Witchcraft. Which reminds me…now’s a good time to specify something to you, Reader. You see, all Wiccans practice witchcraft, but not all witches are Wiccan. It’s a delicate balance of magic(k), intention, and the reverence of nature.
I thought of this as I walked down the railroad-style layout of Stick, Stone & Bone. A kind man with a Scottish accent paused to help me, asking me what I was looking for — it was a loaded question. What was I looking for? Grand answers in a tiny shop? No, I couldn’t put that on him. I doubted he’d take me seriously.
“I’m looking for help with anxiety,” I said instead. He didn’t tell me what to buy, so as far as salesmen went, he wasn’t anything to write home about, but he did give me advice. He told me to wander, and pay attention to what drew the eye. He told me to listen to my intuition, which is a tool heavily relied on in Wicca.
Humans are unique in the sense that we have more senses than the five we know and love. Some people call it gut sense, some tell intricate stories about how people in their families “just know things.” There are even studies about the gut that call it the second brain, but I digress. It doesn’t matter — it’s all the same. It’s a psychic ping that some people can listen to. Don’t believe me?
I followed my gaze in the shop and picked up a small, glittering, deep green crystal. Goldstone, the basket read. Its properties were in supporting creativity, elevating your mind…and easing anxiety.
I left with two Goldstones, a deck of tarot cards, a ritual candle, and a book about the lunar cycle.
The God of it all
I think it’s fair for anyone looking through the Wiccan window for the first time to ask the “God” question.
Especially for Christians, we are trained — hardwired- to judge other religions. Not many people will admit to that, but it’s a fact. There’s nothing subjective in saying that there’s an inherent bias toward the Christian God and if He isn’t your Father and King, who is? Or:
“If this person is Wiccan, what God do they worship?”
Let’s be really, really clear, Reader: Wiccans do not worship the Devil or any Satan-like figure. Saying so is like saying Jesus was white with blue eyes…
Simply, it’s a stupid thought. Don’t be that person.
One of the most beautiful things about the Wiccan faith is just how many paths an individual can take when working with the building blocks of the Rede*. It is deeply personal, as I learned. Some Wiccans worship a singular Goddess, or God, some worship many, and others see the divine in the world around them. The latter is something I latched onto almost immediately.
Walking around New York City is like walking through time; one street will be under construction — the old being bulldozed for monstrosities of glass and concrete. Yet, right around the corner is a cobblestone road that has looked the same since 1924 and will likely never change. The city exists in pulses of birth fighting with consistency, and the magic is in the details.
As I started studying Wicca, I began to notice those details. It was a moon symbol carved into the stone facade of a building. Or a star with no explanation drawn in chalk on the sidewalk that catches your eye. There was a storefront with an evil eye hanging over the threshold, making it clear to me — magical symbols are memorialized on the streets of the Five Boroughs, but it is through the eyes of a religion that implores you, begs you, to notice them that you truly see.
The natural world is full of divinity and meaning, and that is accessible to all. It’s a beautiful concept.
So what “God” can they worship?
It’s the world — it’s the breeze on a beach where you scattered your loved one’s ashes. A rogue snowflake on your nose as you dance under the moon. It’s asking the natural world for a sign and seeing a sunbeam breach the clouds, warming you from head to toe.
You choose who your God is. You choose what your God can be.
Practice and Art
One of the elements of Wicca that I was most excited, and nervous, about was magick. Dipping a toe in almost feels like taking communion without going through your first communion.
Though, magick (Yes, I am spelling it correctly…) is like a compass or a hammer. It’s a tool, and though I was only going to be in a witch’s world for but a moment, even I was allowed to hammer a few nails.
Enter my tarot card deck.
Divination (or utilizing supernatural means to “see” the unknown) through the use of tarot cards can be traced all the way back to the Renaissance. There are 78 cards in a deck — 22 Major Arcana cards, the big boys that tell you about major forces working around you, and 56 Minor Arcana cards, which carry general meaning. Each card can provide insight during a reading, though they aren’t hard-set rules.
At the point of writing this, I’ve done a reading a day for myself, and about a dozen for others, and let me tell you…there’s something there. Call it a self-fulfillment-yada-yada, but when you draw a card that is so specifically showing you something going on in your life, you tend to get wide-eyed and just go, “wow.”
You shuffle the cards.
Knock on the deck three times to instill them with your “energy” — which in my case is manic, nearing-30 energy.
Cut the deck three times and put it together again.
Lay them out…and wait. You listen to where your intuition (there’s that word again) is telling you to pull from. It was the magic I was looking for, though by Wiccan standards it was small potatoes. Spellwork is definitely a thing…but after careful consideration, I knew it wasn’t going to be my thing. It felt too personal to dip into so carelessly.
Wicca, and all of its experiences, translates to something very simple: personal power.
The Wiccan *Rede that I mentioned above lays out all of the guidelines anyone needs in a way that anyone, whether novice or long-time practitioner, can understand.
And it's the perfect thing to end the month on. It’s a piece of poetry ending in the most poignant compass statement.
Bide the Wiccan Laws we must In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust.
Live and let live. Fairly take and fairly give.
Cast the Circle thrice about to keep the evil spirits out.
To bind the spell every time, let the spell be spake in rhyme.
Soft of eye and light of touch, speak little, listen much.
Deosil go by the waxing moon, chanting out the Witches’ Rune.
Widdershins go by the waning moon, chanting out the baneful rune.
When the Lady’s moon is new, kiss the hand to her, times two.
When the moon rides at her peak, then your heart's desire seek.
Heed the North wind’s mighty gale, lock the door and drop the sail.
When the wind comes from the South, love will kiss thee on the mouth.
When the wind blows from the West, departed souls will have no rest.
When the wind blows from the East, expect the new and set the feast.
Nine woods in the cauldron go, burn them fast and burn them slow.
Elder be the Lady’s tree, burn it not or cursed you’ll be.
When the Wheel begins to turn, let the Beltane fires burn.
When the Wheel has turned to Yule, light the log and the Horned One rules.
Heed ye flower, Bush and Tree, by the Lady, blessed be.
Where the rippling waters go, cast a stone and truth you’ll know.
When ye have a true need, hearken not to others’ greed.
With a fool no season spend, lest ye be counted as his friend.
Merry meet and merry part, bright the cheeks and warm the heart.
Mind the Threefold Law you should, three times bad and three times good.
When misfortune is enow, wear the blue star on thy brow.
True in love ever be, lest thy lover’s false to thee.
Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill: An ye harm none, do what ye will.
Translation: harm none, and do whatever the hell you want.