Who can tell me some specific things about Wicca?
April 22, 2008 5:02 AM   Subscribe

Looking to learn more about Wicca in general, and about a particular ritual specifically.

OK, a girl who I've been seeing for the last month (exactly as of today, actually) is Wiccan. Fine, not a problem. However, since it's important to her, I want to learn more about it, and I'm kind of at a loss of where to begin (there's A LOT of information out there). Also, specifically, she's made mention of a purification ritual that's based on the Blood Moon (somehow) that I want to know more about, as she claims she's giving up drinking and sex for the duration (which is fine, but an odd thing if you know her), and I am curious if she's just pulling my leg, or if there really is such a thing.

I'm new to Wicca, and she's not much more experienced then I, but refuses to tell me too much about it unless I want to become one (I'm not ready to give up my current beliefs yet). I think even the mention of the Blood Moon was a slip of the tongue. At any rate, any advice on either of the two parts to this question would make me mighty thankful. I really care for her (which is strange after so short of a time but what ever), and want her to know that what's important to her is to me too.

P.S.: I'll try to be on and off all day if you need any further clarifications!
posted by TrueVox to Religion & Philosophy (22 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
The problem you're going to face is that Wicca, like a lot of Neo-Pagan religions and Witchcraft traditions, has no one particular set of beliefs and ceremonies. There are many many different sects/traditions/paths, as well as people who follow more of a "eclectic" faith and pick and choose what makes the most sense to them. Is there a particular path or tradition she follows? Even then, though, there are always different interpretations.

A good place to start might be The Witches' Voice. They have a LOT of information on their website. Start off with the basics section and work on from there. Really, though, the best way to learn is from her. Is she part of a coven, or is she solitary? Ask her, at the very least, to tell you what she would tell an initiate or neophyte in the religion before they commit to the path she is on. You can't make a decision to join her unless you know what it's about.

As far as her purification ritual, I doubt she's pulling your leg. I don't know of a particular association with a "Blood Moon", but temporarily giving up things that may distract the body, mind, or spirit is common when going through a period of cleansing. She may want to "climb inside" herself for a while to focus on her thoughts and her spirituality. Give her space if she seems to want it, but continue to gently impress on her that you're interested in learning about her faith.
posted by XcentricOrbit at 5:55 AM on April 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wow, that's a LOT to digest! Thanks a lot!!! No, I don't know what type she practices, nor does she (like I say, I guess she's almost as new as I am lol). If you don't mind me asking, are you a practicing Wiccian, or just interested? And is there anyone else out there who can add more to this? Thanks!!!
posted by TrueVox at 6:16 AM on April 22, 2008


Margot Adler's book Drawing Down the Moon is a good place to start.

I am a former Wiccan, active for a number of years and participated in many rituals, but I never heard of the Blood Moon ritual, FWIW.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 7:41 AM on April 22, 2008


I hate to put it this way, but there really is no set Wiccan tradition, and it is not uncommon to find that a practitioner's beliefs are a melange of some shitty Llewellyn books, key episodes of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and/or "Charmed," some "Sandman" issues, and whatever s/he happened to pull out of his/her ass that morning. So it's extraordinarily difficult to understand what Wicca "means" to a particular Wiccan by reading any book, website, etc. You'd probably be a lot better off just asking your girlfriend to explain her beliefs to you herself. Might even be a really, really good thing for your relationship...

That said, I'd second Drawing Down the Moon as a generally pretty cool book, though I imagine it may be a little dated by now.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:07 AM on April 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


See:

http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/moonphasemagic/g/Blood_Moon.htm


IANAWiccan - Good luck!
posted by lungtaworld at 8:13 AM on April 22, 2008


I am curious if she's just pulling my leg, or if there really is such a thing.

I...want her to know that what's important to her is to me too.


Your two statements seem at odds. Are you trying to catch her out in a lie, or are you trying to be supportive?

Don't ask us, ask her. And if she doesn't want to tell you, then respect her privacy.
posted by ottereroticist at 8:48 AM on April 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Not at odds at all, actually. I want to learn all about it to be supportive and show her that what's important to her is important to me too, but I'm also curious if she's pulling my leg about that one ritual. As for asking her, as I said earlier, I have tried that. I suspect she doesn't know what she can and cannot tell me (though even that could be wrong). If you don't care to share, I won't hold it against you. I just care for her and want this to work, however, I have gotten to know her fairly well over the last month and this seems out of character for her. I've been hurt in the past (just check my posting history), and I'd rather not set myself up for a repeat. However, not knowing my situation specifically, it was a totally good question, and well worth asking.

As for the rest of the stuff you folks posted - THANK YOU! It's fantastic! Though, as far as asking her, I have, and haven't made much progress. :(

Thanks again, if you've more, please keep it coming!
posted by TrueVox at 9:14 AM on April 22, 2008


TrueVox: I'm sort of a student of many religions. I used to follow a rather generalized natured-based spirituality that had similarities to Wicca, and I have studied some (though far from all) of the different traditions. Now I'm more of an agnostic, I guess. I see the possibility of a higher power in all the world around me, but I don't presume to know what it is or what it is doing. So to me, all religions are probably a little right and a little wrong at the same time, and they all still fascinate me.

It is odd to me that, since she is still figuring things out herself, she won't share her spiritual journey with you even though you seem interested and excited to learn about it. You didn't answer before; is she part of a group, or practicing solitary? If she's a solitary, is she learning from friends, online, or from books?
posted by XcentricOrbit at 9:16 AM on April 22, 2008


Oh! Sorry, I'm doing this from work (so I'm brief by requirement lol). She's practicing with at least one other girl whom I've not been introduced to. Beyond that, no one that I'm aware of.
posted by TrueVox at 9:45 AM on April 22, 2008


Oh, I also should have mentioned (rather then just infered) that part of the reason she isn't sharing too much is because she's under the impression (whether correct or not) that there is much about what she does Wicca wise that isn't to be shared with "outsiders". If I were to start practicing with her, I may learn more.
posted by TrueVox at 10:14 AM on April 22, 2008


Oh, I also should have mentioned (rather then just infered) that part of the reason she isn't sharing too much is because she's under the impression (whether correct or not) that there is much about what she does Wicca wise that isn't to be shared with "outsiders".

New one on me.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:30 AM on April 22, 2008


New one on me.

Yeah, many Wiccans try to be as open as possible to avoid being lumped in with Satanists or other "evil" religions.
posted by Monday at 10:43 AM on April 22, 2008


And thus my questions. :) Glad I'm not the only one to think it a little odd.
posted by TrueVox at 11:16 AM on April 22, 2008


she's under the impression (whether correct or not) that there is much about what she does Wicca wise that isn't to be shared with "outsiders".

This is generally a bad sign, no matter what group is saying it. If you're not allowed to learn about it, you can't make a wise decision about whether or not to start practicing with her. It's one thing to limit how much she says if she's in an anti-Wiccan environment and is trying to protect herself, but quite another with her boyfriend whom she trusts.
posted by heatherann at 2:26 PM on April 22, 2008


So, what would you recommend I do? Take this as a bad sign and write her off (I'd prefer not to, as I said I really do care for her)? Grin and bear it? Attempt to convince her that she may be misunderstanding something and ask to be introduced to her teacher?
posted by TrueVox at 2:34 PM on April 22, 2008


I wouldn't write her off. She's probably got "DON'T SCARE OFF THE NORMS" in her head big time and doesn't want to weird you out right off the bat (after a month). She's probably just sussing out how much she can say to you without you freaking. Some people don't deal with out-of-the-ordinary happenings very well (especially depending on their own religious education), others do, but it's kind of a guess and check thing. You haven't been seeing each other all that long, let her feel out how comfortable she is about talking to you about things you don't already study.

As for "outsiders," that seems to vary from person to person. Some traditions are all about that, but it doesn't sound like she is following one. I would just guess she's being cautious with you now.

Might I recommend http://wicca.timerift.net/?
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:15 PM on April 22, 2008


I don't practise Wicca but I know people who do. My understanding is that it's considered a mark of immaturity by some of the practitioners to talk about Wicca to anyone who will listen. As Heatherann says though there is a difference between telling everyone everything and explaining a bit about her beliefs to a boyfriend whom she trusts. I would be very concerned about any group that only gives you the important information once you are committed.

Wicca isn't an organised religion with official celebrations and rituals. Traditional groups may use standard formats for rituals and celebrations but they are not mandatory. The purification ritual may well have been a ritual your girlfriend wrote herself based on a need she felt in her life. This wouldn't mean that she was pulling your leg about the ritual and the majority (if not all) of practitioners of Wicca would consider it equally valid even if it doesn't turn up online or in any book.
posted by Laura_J at 5:05 PM on April 22, 2008


Well, thank you all very much! This was very informative. I think (maybe) I've got enough to start with (between the WitchVox that was suggested earlier and something turned up by a friend of mine (TheCauldron)). However, I fully intend to keep coming back here for a little while in case someone has any other info to add (or, if you feel the need you can contact me at my blog: http://truevox.net).

Thank you all!
posted by TrueVox at 5:45 PM on April 22, 2008


A bit about secrecy among Wiccans. I'm not Wiccan but know some who are and have read a ton about it in my spare time. There is a bit of a rift in the Wiccan community right now between traditional Wiccans (that is, initiated Wiccans who can trace their lineage back to Gerald Gardner) and neo-Wiccans, who are generally more eclectic and may or may not be involved with a working group or coven. If your girlfriend is a traditional initiated Wiccan she may be prohibited from revealing certain information to those who are not part of her particular coven or tradition. There are some things within traditional Wicca that are oathbound. If she refers to herself as a Gardnerian, an Alexandrian, a Blue Star, a Georgian or a Mohsian Wiccan, you can be fairly sure she's a trad Wiccan although they seem to be rare these days. There are other traditions out there but those are the big ones. There is a comprehensive "family tree" of traditional Wiccan "trads" here (warning:annoying popup.)

A really great resource for learning more about traditional Wicca is the Amber and Jet list on Yahoo. For more information on neo-Wicca, well, Google "Wicca" and pick a page. It's pretty much a build-your-own path sort of thing. Nothing wrong with that, it's just hard to say what neo-Wicca is when there are so many different versions of it floating around out there. This more eclectic and "free-form" Wicca is what most people think of when they talk about the Wiccan religion.

The Cauldron forums are also a good place for information. Lots and lots of past threads in the archives about both traditional and modern eclectic Wicca.

Purification rituals are pretty common. Actually, you can find Wiccan rituals for just about anything if you look hard enough. There are tons of books out there that offer up Wiccan rituals for just about every conceivable major and minor event, life-change, transition, whathaveyou.

While it's true that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to non-traditional Wicca, most Wiccans of every stripe tend to follow the Wheel of the Year, a cycle of festivals and holidays (called sabbats) centered around the turning of the seasons and usually falling on the solstices, the equinoxes and the cross quarter days. Moon phases usually play a pretty big role with most Wiccans too. The full moon is often a time for working groups to come together for worship and ritual. These meetings are usually called esbats.

"Blood Moon" sounds to me like simply a reference to an upcoming full moon. There are a lot of pagans out there who use different names for each month's full moon (Harvest Moon, Wolf Moon, Corn Moon, etc).
posted by LeeJay at 6:33 PM on April 22, 2008


she's under the impression (whether correct or not) that there is much about what she does Wicca wise that isn't to be shared with "outsiders".

This is generally a bad sign, no matter what group is saying it. If you're not allowed to learn about it, you can't make a wise decision about whether or not to start practicing with her. It's one thing to limit how much she says if she's in an anti-Wiccan environment and is trying to protect herself, but quite another with her boyfriend whom she trusts.


I should say a little about this here. Most of my experience with Wiccans is with traditional Wiccans who are often required by oath to keep certain information a secret. Now it is my understanding that there is nothing scary or cult-like about this information although I can't know for sure, of course, becuase they can't tell me exactly what it is! What they have told me is that it usually is more about preserving mystery than keeping secrets. Wicca is considered a mystery religion and at the core of it are things that can only be experienced and not explained. In other words, it's oathbound, yes, but even if it weren't it really wouldn't make much sense because it has to do with the communion between the coven and their gods. Speaking of Gods, and this is just a bit more information for you to work with, traditional initiated Wiccans (sometimes referred to as British Traditional Wiccans) generally worship specifice gods, pagan gods of the British isles, and the names of those gods are oathbound and not revealed to outsiders. Eclectic Wiccans and neo-wiccans generally worship any number of pagan gods from many different pantheons and usually aren't secretive about which ones they work with.

It sounds like your girlfriend is not an initiated Wiccan so it seems to me that her secrecy might be more a matter of not being comfortable enough to share her religious beliefs with you yet or it could indeed be indicative of a more serious problem. Maybe she's involved with something you should be worrying about, maybe not. Likely she just doesn't know how to explain it or feels silly talking about it with someone who doesn't share her beliefs. Whether that is a problem for you is something only you can decide.
posted by LeeJay at 6:47 PM on April 22, 2008


posted by LeeJay at 9:33 PM on April 22
There is a comprehensive "family tree" of traditional Wiccan "trads" here (warning:annoying popup.)

OK - I know this is a day old or so, and yo are probably not checking, but I had to point out that the timeline on this link looks right.. some of the "facts" are just plain wrong in terms of describing some of the traditions
(sorry - happened to see my tradition listed there, and the basics might be right, but the details are just plain wrong)

As for your question - you don't mention how old you or your GF are.. it sounds like she is essentially practicing solitary, based on either what she has read or her friend tells her. While there is nothing wrong with learning about things that way, there is also a tendency in the books to make more of a big deal about secrecy then needs to be (IMHO). Frankly, the basic tenants of almost every trad I know of (and that covers everything from Wicca to Strega to Santeria and everything in between), allows and encourages the sharing of basic beliefs with trusted people. Some of the "hidden knowledge" consists mostly of things like specific rituals (i.e. what you say, who you call, etc) or names of the deities, etc.. nothing that most non-initiated would care about anyways.

It's a mystery religion in those terms, but with all the books out there it's a lot easier to learn the basics.. Truth be told, most people these days learn all thy know about "Wicca" through Scott Cunningham's Solitary book - and while it's mostly fluff, there is a lot of "true" knowledge in them for the beginner.

This sounds more like she is just a bit unsure of herself and her belief system, and is following along with what her friend is telling her - in my mind, I'd advise to let her find her way on her own for a bit. If you want to read up on the subject, fantastic, but realize that what you are going to see is probably not going to match up with what she's doing due to the myraid of different traditions, etc out there.
posted by niteHawk at 8:20 AM on April 23, 2008


Ah, but I *AM* still checking! :) Sadly, this is no longer of use to me. :( We broke up today (for reasons beyond either of our control, maybe if things change we can get back together). However, I never turn down knowledge, so I will attempt to glean what I can. I just don't have the reasons for gleaning beyond a casual interest at this point. However, thank you very much! I'm' quite thankful for the effort. :)
posted by TrueVox at 4:40 PM on April 23, 2008


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