“Lisa, are you okay with going skyclad with our coven?” Sharon asked. “I don’t know,” Lisa said. “Do you understand why we go skyclad?” “No.”
It’s your choice to go skyclad (which means nude) or clothed.
First, several covens do not practice going skyclad.
Some British Traditional Wiccan (BTW) covens do. For example, Gardnerians tend to, but many Gardnerian covens opt out of going skyclad.
Why go skyclad? Witches raise power. And, clothing is considered to insulate and prevent power from flowing.
Not everyone believes clothing has such a big impact. For example, I feel that magick is stronger than being so easily thwarted by clothing.
I note that we Wiccans try to attune ourselves as close to nature as possible. This is why most witches worship in the outdoors and honor the cycles of the seasons. Being in nature we feel closer to the Gods.
When we are born, we are naked, in a completely natural state. We are one with nature at that moment.
When we’re skyclad, I feel, we’re in a natural state. I feel this is a sign of freedom. We’re free from society’s chains. For some, clothing ties into how lower social-economic groups are, in a sense, enslaved. Taking off those Reeboks and fancy clothes help witches to come together as equals in circle.
For a number of Gardnerians, going skyclad is a manifestation of tradition. (Again, not all Gardnerian covens practice being skyclad.)
For covens, who opt out of going skyclad, they use robes or even daily, casual clothing.
I suggest that you consider choosing some clothing that you keep only for ritual. Such clothing will help keep you in the ritual mindset.
Some covens choose to hold ritual in a backyard. And some neighbors would find seeing a group of skyclad Wiccans as “indecent.”
Some people get a permit to hold a ritual in a public park (for example, the Spiral Dance in San Francisco, California). In these cases, going robed is a good idea.
Going robed works well when it’s cold outside. You really can’t concentrate if you’re cold and uncomfortable. Honoring the Gods is supposed to be a pleasant experience after all!
Your robe gives you a cool opportunity: You can place all kinds of magickal symbols on your robe.
You can add the following to your robe:
your name in Theban
the color of your patron Deity
crystals (you could sew a few into your robe)
In this way, you can create magick just by putting on your robe.
Where can I get a Wiccan robe? There are sources on the Internet and at pagan gatherings.
If you feel crafty, you can even make your own. Consider this pattern below.
When you make your robe, pick cotton or another natural fiber.
Remember, it’s your choice: skyclad, robed, or in specially chosen casual clothes.
For more of Moonwater SilverClaw, consider some of her books:
Have you wondered if practicing the old ways can really thrive in this fast-paced, high-tech age?
I think about this often. Walking my sacred path, I was fortunate to find a mentor and learn the sacred path in the traditional way, one on one. But what about those seekers who can’t find a mentor to teach them the old ways face to face?
Wicca continues to grow in leaps and bounds. We’re seeing that there are not enough mentors to go around with the growing demand for knowledge about our Craft. So many seekers turn to the Internet for help.
Is a Cyber Mentor going to work as well as an In-person Mentor?
The Pros and Cons When Comparing a Cyber Mentor and an In-person Mentor:
Seeker can have access to the Cyber Mentor from anywhere in the world.
Mentor cannot see and feel how Seeker moves the energy.
Seeker has someone to go to for support.
Both Seeker and Mentor can only communicate through the Internet (or perhaps, occasionally by telephone).
Seeker may have a number of choices in terms of selecting an online mentor.
Mentor cannot experience how Seeker uses energy.
Mentor cannot be present while the Seeker conducts ritual and provide in-person safety during the learning process.
Mentor is present and can give you an experiential understanding of Wicca.
Mentor may live far away, and meeting in-person may be quite difficult and time-consuming.
Mentor can physically sit with you and listen to your needs.
Mentor and Seeker may fall into personality clashes. Being present in-person may create an intense relationship.
Seeker has someone to go to for support.
Finding a compatible In-person Mentor may take much trial and error with related emotional ups and downs.
Mentor can read how Seeker processes energy.
Mentor can lead you through meditations and can answer questions about the feelings that rise up during the process.
Mentor can be there for Seeker’s safety in learning the finer points of the Craft.
Although, I prefer an In-person Mentor, I acknowledge that many Seekers are constrained by situations that require a Cyber Mentor. They may live in an area with no nearby mentors. They may have to hide while living where persecution makes it too dangerous to openly look for a mentor.
So Cyber Mentors come to be vital for many Wiccans’ learning and training.
Through my blog, I function as a Cyber Mentor. I share my experiences in learning the sacred path. There are a number of good websites/mentors out there. It’s often about finding someone who has a “voice” that really connects with your heart.
What would I suggest for those new to Wicca? Read to get insights from a number of credible people.
I have dyslexia so I’ve found that using an ereader and enlarging the type help a lot.
You can start with these books listed here:
The Way of Four by Deborah Lipp
When, Why….If by Robin Wood
The Hidden Children of the Goddess: Embrace Wicca, Become Strong, Be at Peace with Yourself and the World Around You by Moonwater SilverClaw
Goddess Has Your Back: How Wicca Can Help You Raise Your Self-Esteem and Make Your Life Magickal by Moonwater SilverClaw
Beyond the Law of Attraction to Real Magick by Moonwater SilverClaw
Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft and Witchcraft from the Inside by Raymond Buckland
The God of the Witches by Margaret Murray
Aradia by Charles G. Leland
The White Goddess by Robert Graves
The Golden Bough by James George Frazer and Robert Fraser
Witchcraft Today, Meaning of Witchcraft and a suggested novel called: High Magic’s Aid by Gerald Gardner
ABC’s of Witchcraft by Doreen Valiente
What Witches Do and The 8 Sabbats by Janet & Stewart Ferrar
Grimoire of Shadows by Ed Fitch
Robin Wood Tarot by The Book by Robin Wood:
The Sabbats by Edain McCoy
The Circle Within by Dianne Sylvan
Reading books like those above can help you on your first steps of your sacred Wiccan path.
For more of Moonwater SilverClaw, consider some of her books:
“I don’t want to make a mistake. I’m new to spellwork,” Claudia said.
Shifting the phone to my other ear, I thought, “I can empathize with this because I went through it, too.”
Years ago, when I first began with Wicca, I was really concerned about doing Wicca correctly from the start. It was very important for me to honor the God and Goddess appropriately.
Claudia asked, “How do I do dedication ceremony? It seems like there are a lot of ways to do it, depending on what kind of Traditions [Trads] are out there.”
“It’s true that there are many different types of dedication ceremonies,” I began. “Many have valuable parts and there’s no one and only way to do a dedication ceremony.”
Wicca includes various rituals that a practitioner may do. Rituals can be incredibly complex to quite simple depending on your tastes. Do you like complex and complicated or do you prefer the more simple types of rituals? The best thing that I can say is whatever you do, do it from your heart. That is what pleases the Gods.
I continued by sharing my own journey and how I chose one of the oldest Trads for learning the basics.
Claudia then asked about casting of a circle and why people enter from the East and leave from the West. I answered, “We start in the East, in the direction of the sunrise. Then you walk around deosil (clockwise or sun-wise) untill you end up back in the East. West is the direction of Death so you exit that way. When you make a circle starting in the East, it comes around to the East again, making a ‘door.’”
Think of the cycle of life and death. We are born just like the sun each day. And then the wheel turns untill we end up at death, when the sun goes down or “dies.”
Then Claudia asked about which colors are appropriate to use for your circle. You can use white. Or you can use colors that correspond to the four directions:
Another way to find a mentor is attending PantheaCon, a Pagan conference that takes place in the San Francisco Bay Area each February. Many different practitioners of Paganism (including Wicca) attend. You can then check out and ask about the different Trads, and learn from the practitioners themselves. You can check out the website of PantheaCon It would be fun to talk with you if we meet there. I often attend.
“When you’re using Black Magick, you’re—” the comparative religion student said, as he stared at me.
“Hey, she hasn’t said anything about Black Magick,” the college class instructor clarified.
I added that Wicca is a positive spiritual path. I emphasized: “There is no White Magick or Black Magick.”
Further in the discussion, another student asked, “Black Magick is about doing something bad to someone else—right?”
Still, another student said, “But I thought White Magic is when you do something good for someone.”
Stop. First, this is a “dualism way of thinking.” This type of thinking dates back many centuries. For example, in Zoroastrianism, the One Deity was said to have two manifestations: good–Spenta Mainyu and bad–Angra Mainyu.
Some comparative religion scholars suggest that this good/bad idea continued through Judaism and Christianity.
This dualism idea is not the Wiccan approach. Modern Wicca traces back its insights to pre-Zoroastrianism times.
In Wicca, magick is energy and a resource. Similar to water, it is neither good nor bad.
Here are two examples about water:
Lost and staggering in the desert, you’re parched, dehydrated. And water saves your life.
You’re taking a wonderful cruise, but a rogue wave knocks you from the deck. You tread water until . . . you can’t, and the sea takes another victim.
So is water good or evil? No. It just “is.”
Wiccans can use magick for good or bane (“a source of harm or ruin” – Merriam-Webster.com). The practitioner’s intention takes the resource that is magick and turns it to good or ill. Magick is simply the natural energies around us. I’ll say that Black Magick and White Magick are misnomers.
So does this mean that the practitioners can be either White Witches or Black Witches?
I suggest we drop these terms.
Still, we all have a light and a dark side.
My point is: Let’s drop these labels Black and White. Instead, remember the Wiccan Rede: These Eight words the Rede fulfill: “An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will.”
Yes, evil exists.
But if we stick to the Wiccan Rede, we can walk a positive and spiritual path.
For more of Moonwater SilverClaw, consider some of her books:
I placed the bowl of salt on the altar and then, gently, my mentor moved my hand to the left. Just then, I had the instinctive feeling that the bowl of salt was now in the right place.
I’ve found that having a mentor brings out an aspect of Wicca that one cannot find in a book.
Imagine trying to learn to swim without getting in the water.
Similarly, did you learn to ride a bicycle with no one next you? Learning to ride a bicycle is a good metaphor related to rising to higher levels of Wiccan practice.
You could read a book about a bicycle or watch other people riding bicycles, but that is not the same as having a mentor guide you.
When my dad taught me to ride a bicycle, he was there offering advice and helping me right the bicycle when I took a couple of spills.
Wicca is an experiential process. A mentor can guide you in a progression of experiences so that you learn at a good pace and have successful experiences along the way.
The idea of being a mentor means so much to me that I’m now completing a video in which I talk directly with the viewer and show the process of a number of meditations. I provide guided meditations—this is a prime example of when a mentor can provide an experience to help the viewer go deeper in his or her practice.
Consider ways to bring a mentor or mentors into your journey.
You’ll make progress faster and enjoy the journey more.
For more of Moonwater SilverClaw, consider some of her books:
Imagine you could enhance your magick working with a simple process. How? Your ritual bath. It’s important because it puts you into the right frame of mind before you perform ritual. Secondly, you physically clean your body of the dirt and grime of the day. Finally, ritual bathing cleanses you of the psychic garbage that clings to you.
You can choose any soap (a required part) that you prefer. Wiccans appreciate handmade soaps, especially if they already contain the herbs or essences one already uses in magick work.
How do I make my bathing a ritual bath (or shower)?
Bless and consecrate your soap and shampoo. Set these aside for use only during your ritual baths.
How to make a sachet with cleansing herbs for a bath:
Use a stocking or cotton cloth, and place inside selected cleansing herbs. The total amount of all herbs will be one tablespoon.
If you use a cotton cloth, gather the corners and tie them with a string. Make sure the sachet is closed and secure. This keeps the herbs from clogging your drain.
Place your sachet in the bath water then sprinkle in some sea salt and let steep for 5 or so minutes. Then enjoy.
Making a cleansing shower tincture:
If you will be showering, place your sachet in a large container of hot water to steep. Sprinkle sea salt and dissolve it into the mixture (the tincture). When the water cools to a comfortable temperature, then take into your shower and wash with soap, envisioning all the psychic garbage leaving you.
Then pour the contents of the tincture over your head and rub it in. In this way, the contents help you complete your cleansing. The residue flows away, down the drain.
Add a blessing
I also add a blessing at the end of my ritual bath. I’ve added some modifications to a popular blessing.
Starting at your forehead say as you touch you third eye say:
I bless myself by the Goddess,
(Touch your right breast)
By the air that is her sweet breath,
(Touch your left shoulder . . . [you are actually forming a pentagram with these movements].)
By the earth, that is her fertile body,
(Touch your right shoulder.)
By the waters that is her life giving womb,
(Touch your left breast.)
By the fire that is her bright spirit,
(Touch your third eye.)
May I be blessed, so mote it be.
Upon completing your ritual bathing, you’re now ready to enter circle to honor the Gods respectfully. Not only will the Gods be happy but your fellow practitioners will be grateful, too. (Trust me.)
Are there particular rituals you like to do prior to entering circle? Let me know in the comments section below.
Would you benefit from studying with an online Wicca or Pagan school? To explore this topic, I interviewed Heather Greene, Luna Marr, and Aline O’Brien.
(Some responses may have been edited for length.)
* When should someone consider going to an online school?
Luna: When it’s necessary. Some students work out very well with books and doing their own research, but there are others . . . who feel they need to hide their beliefs and study in secret, or just live in areas where a one-on-one pagan education isn’t available. Not all online educations are equal. . . . Some online schools just charge you money, hand you a bunch of information with little to no guidance. And others give you a mentor experience [in] your own home via the Internet.
Aline O’Brien: In the case of Cherry Hill Seminary (CHS), because there is no other school offering full training parallel with what is taught at mainstream seminaries. I strongly feel that Pagans should collaborate on the creation of our own culture. That means not attending liberal Protestant seminaries because you think they’re the only game in town when it comes to seminary-type training (chaplaincy, pastoral counseling, interfaith, history, etc.)
Heather: Online schools can help people who, for one reason or another, don’t have the ability to physically attend classes. In addition schools like Cherry Hill Seminary offer access to subjects and teachers that might not be available locally.
Moonwater: I agree. Online education may be necessary for someone who does not have a local pagan community for support.
* Would you use an online choice for your primary way of learning Wicca verses face-to-face learning?
Aline: Not necessarily. It really depends a lot on what’s available in a particular individual’s area.
Heather: I would not choose distance learning as my primary way of learning any subject unless no other option was available. And there are situations where that is the case. I do prefer the immediacy of presence and the concentrated, shared energy of the “classroom” experience. This cannot be replicated online. However I also believe that there are educational opportunities in all forms of learning processes. Distance learning gives us access to teachers and professional who might otherwise not be available to us at any point in our lives. I see that alone as an invaluable resource.
Luna: I wouldn’t say that I would choose it over face-to-face learning, simply that it’s an alternative and another valuable option. . . . In my school Pagans Learning Online we believe that an online education should mimic the face-to-face experience as closely as possible, through technology such as Skype, Google, and the ability to upload voice, video, and written materials. We are able to replicate the face-to-face experience fairly well. Is it the same as having that mentor there who can give you a hug when you’re down? Absolutely not. However, an online education can still offer the same benefits.
Moonwater: I prefer the face-to-face approach when possible. This way you can experience how your student moves and uses energy. However, it’s important to me that students have access to information. That’s the reason that I write this blog (with the help of my editors) and I wrote my book The Hidden Children of the Goddess.
* Are online schools helpful or harmful to our community?
Luna: This question is like a double edged sword. I want to say that online schools can be incredibly helpful to the Pagan and Wiccan community . . . . [But] some schools offer a lot of false certifications and dangerous ideas that if a person was so willing they could take advantage of. I even heard of one online school that tells you that you’re not allowed to worship the Gods and Goddesses unless you are a Level 1 priestess and [have] passed their tests. A student looking into an online school needs to know when something just doesn’t sound right or seem right. They need to do their research. . . . Healing of the aura and the chakras is something that should be left up to trained professionals. . . . For people who are forced to practice in the shadows, having the opportunity to practice online is something that [can] change who they are in a positive way. Online schools have the ability to help guide and grow future leaders of the Pagan and Wiccan community so that the next batch of people who look for a place to learn may not have the same struggles.
Aline: Some are helpful, others not so much; depends upon the school. I can say, however, that Pagans attend CHS for two primary reasons: one is for personal enrichment and the other to better serve their own communities. They don’t come so they can get a degree and get a job by being hired by some Pagan ‘church.’ They don’t come so they can get a raise at their current job. In the bigger picture, some seek chaplaincy degrees because in the mainstream world having one is required in order for one to do that work (the military being the most stringent in terms of chaplaincy requirements).
Heather: Just like anything, distance learning can be both helpful and harmful. It is helpful for the reasons specified above. Distance learning can offer people an opportunity to attend classes that they might not be able to otherwise. At the same time, distance learning is not yet accredited in the same way as conventional institutions. Assessing a school’s credibility and legitimacy is left to student and [it’s] often very difficult. The digital world has created a universe in which legitimacy is easier to falsify. Students must be very cautious.
* Online schools are on the rise, so how can you tell if one is right for your student?
Luna: It’s about doing the research, knowing yourself and your own personal learning style, and using your common sense. . . . Paganism and Wicca are terms for thousands of proud and dedicated religious pathways and traditions, rooted 60,000 years in the past. That isn’t easy stuff to learn over night. I think that as a society we get far too wrapped up in the “I want it now” of things and we overlook the hard work and dedication it takes to do something right. So before you jump into the first online school of Paganism that you see, do some research and ask some questions and remember that if it doesn’t look right or sound right then keep looking.
Heather: It is important to research the institution, teachers and the administrative staff; to examine the promises made and the cost; to talk to former students and to ask as many questions as possible.
Aline: I would say in the same way one would explore schools for any other kind of learning–read everything possible, ask others who attended that school, etc. I’m not sure I quite ‘get’ telling what’s right for one’s student. To me, the student her/himself would be the person making such decisions. S/he could seek advice and recommendations from a teacher. Alternatively, a particular teacher may wish to direct a particular student to a specific online educational resource/school for, say, a course on ministering to the dying.
* When should you not consider a school as a supplement for your student?
Heather: If local resources and lifestyle permit, it is good to consider the local options first. I would also steer a student away from a school that does not “check out” as legitimate.
Aline: Again, I can’t really speak knowledgeably to this because my experience is with a graduate school. It’s not about learning Wicca per se.
Luna: The only answer I would have for this is when the reason for seeking out the education isn’t pure of intent. . . . However if what you’re looking for is a chance to grow both as a person and in your magical abilities and you embrace the dedication it takes, then online schools are a great choice. I have seen many students whose self-esteem has bloomed. [And, one’s] inner light and love of yourself and those around you [become] powerful tools to change the world.
Since, Luna and Aline are active with online schools, I asked this question:
What can web schools like yours offer students with mentors?
Luna: I suggest a student stay with their mentor . . . unless they aren’t getting a full education from their mentor. I have had very good mentors. My first mentor was a Wiccan High Priestess. I myself have chosen the path of druidry, but it was very nice and refreshing to be able to learn so much about the Wiccan beliefs and practices. [I enjoyed] spending time with someone who knew what I was going through at a young age and was able to help guide me. It was a valuable experience. However, she was only able to offer me part of the picture that I was looking for. She could only teach me about Wicca. Because of this, I found myself studying books for years, doing research and seeking out others who had other beliefs.
Aline: The online school with which I’m affiliated, Cherry Hill Seminary (www.cherryhillseminary.org), provides primarily graduate-level education. We offer two masters’ degrees–M.A. in Pagan Studies and M.Div. So CHS is different from other online Pagan schools in that our students are already whatever kind of educated Pagan they are. In other words, mentors aren’t in the picture. Those who are seeking degrees, which is not all of our students, must attend two live, in-person multi-day retreats during the course of their studies. (http://www.cherryhillseminary.org/) CHS has a Dean of Students, who is not exactly a mentor but does help students determine their personal course of study. I think (not entirely sure) students have faculty advisors when they choose a degree path. (There’s tons of detailed info on this topic in CHS’ Catalogue.)
Some Pagans view Online Wiccan education as a controversial topic. The views expressed above belong to those who expressed them.
I, Moonwater, prefer the one-to-one mentor/student process (and that is my training). However, it strikes me that it is helpful to carefully study material if a local Pagan community is not available.
As with other important decisions, devote great care to your educational path.
Biographies of Our Interviewees
Luna Marr, has been studying paganism both independently and with various mentors for the last 21 years. She is very proactive in her local pagan community, serving as both clergy and secretary in her local pagan church. She says, “I have always believed that paganism deserves the same respect as other religions, but with that respect comes responsibilities to be knowledgeable in your beliefs and in the history of your beliefs. I feel that with the growing interest in paganism there need to be more hands-on ways for people to learn and grow without the pressure of being forced down one pathway or another.” Email: Luna@paganslearningonline.org Her online school is Pagans Learning On Line.