Not many people are told they are going to hell on a regular basis, but Sabrae, an Athens resident, has heard it plenty of times over the 20 years she’s practiced Wicca. However, she said she has seen a change in the general reaction to her beliefs. Although largely misunderstood by many, Wicca is the fastest growing religion in the country, according to the 2001 American Religion Identification Survey. The study found that Wicca’s number of adherents is doubling about every 30 months, from 8,000 in 1990 to 134,000 in 2001.Although it draws influence from much older traditions, Wicca is a relatively young practice, said Sabrae. Most ofthe groundwork for the religion was laid in 1940s England by Gerald Gardner, who studied the occult, she said.The religion is earth- and solar-based, and practicing members celebrate the yearly equinoxes and solstices.
Wiccans generally worship a god and goddess, and there is a focus on the contrast between the two, she said.
Sabrae serves as the High Priestess in the Coven of Celestial Tides, Athens’ local Wiccan coven founded in 1990.
Though the frequency of
meetings varies greatly from coven to coven, Celestial Tides meets once
a week and members learn stories and spiritual healing practices. When
necessary, the coven members perform spells, which are like prayers
that include ritual objects like candles, said Sabrae.
The majority of the spells
the coven performs are healing based,for both members of the coven and
for people who have requested it, said Sabrae.
“Nothing I would call creepy,’” she said
Nature has played an
important role since the religion’s creation, but certain terms
associated with Wicca could have negative connotations, said Jessie, an
Ohio University junior who has been interested in Wicca since she was
“For the most part, when
people hear the words ‘witch’ or ‘witchcraft’ they think of people …
sacrificing animals and playing weird, spooky music and wearing long
black robes or whatever,” she said. “It just doesn’t give people a very
While Jessie feels she can
talk about her religious interests most of the time, she has chosen to
hide them from her emp......
The following principles were adopted by the Council of American Witches in April 1974. As American Witches, we welcome and respect all life-affirming teachings and traditions, and seek to learn from all and to share our knowledge...1. We practice rites to attune ourselves with the natural rhythm of life forces marked by the phases of the Moon and the seasonal Quarters and ross Quarters.2. We recognize that our intelligence gives us a unique responsibility toward our environment. We seek to live in harmony with Nature, in ecological balance offering fulfillment and consciousness within an evolutionary concept.
acknowledge a depth of power far greater than that apparent to the
average person. Because it is far greater than ordinary, it is
sometimes called "supernatural", but we see it as lying within that
which is naturally potential to all.
4. We conceive of the
Creative Power in the Universe as manifesting through polarity - as
masculine and feminine - and that this same Creative Power lives in all
people, and functions through the interaction of the masculine and the
feminine. We value neither above the other, knowing each to be
supportive of the other. We value sexuality as pleasure, as the symbol
and embodiment of Life, and as one of the sources of energies used in
magical practice and religious worship.
5. We recognize both outer
worlds and inner, or psychological worlds - sometimes known as the
Spiritual World,the Collective Unconscious, the Inner Planes, etc. -
and we see in the interaction of these two dimensions the basis for
paranormal phenomena and magical exercises. We neglect neither
dimension for the other, seeing both as necessary for our fulfillment.
6. We do not recognize any
authoritarian heirarchy, but do honor those who teach, respect those
who share their greater knowledge and wisdom, and acknowledge those who
have courageously given themselves in leadership.
7. We see religion, magick,
and wisdom-in-living as being united in the way one views the world and
live within it - a world-view and philosophy-of-life which we identify
as Witchcraft, the Wiccan Way.
8. Calling oneself "Witch"
does not make a Witch - but neither does heredity itself, or the
collecting of titles, degrees, and initiations. A Witchs......
For the valley's several dozen Druids, the big event of the holiday season comes when winter solstice arrives Friday and they gather in circles to honor the return of lighter and longer days, then feast together.That's what's important to Druids — nature and honoring markers like the shortest day of the year that promises a return to spring and warmth. And, although almost all written accounts of the ancient Druids have been lost, modern followers in three local groups (called"groves"), will gather to thank and celebrate the sun and all living things, then have songs and a potluck dinner.Most people have never heard of Druids, ancient or modern, explains John Michael Greer, author and head of the Ancient Order of Druids in America (www.aoda.org).
What they look like is regular folks, often wearing long white robes, "receiving the immense gifts of nature" and celebrating the start of the four seasons and midpoints between them, starting with a proclamation of peace.
were the philosophers and spiritual advisers of the ancient Celts of
the British Isles, eschew scriptures, since there aren't any in their
belief, and think religion should be a cross between a fun field trip
in nature and a good party, sprinkled with talks about the meaning of
life, and all tied, of course, tonature. Greer and his wife, Sara, are
members of the Grizzly Peak Grove. Others are the Dragon and Rose Grove
in Ashland and the Clan of the Triple Horses in Medford. Together they
have about 50 members.
Being an alternative to
mainstream religion, Druidism attracts individualists who like to
decide their own ethics by listening to their inner voice and the
wisdom of nature, says Ashland Druid Vern Crawford, author of "Druidic
Paths: A Naturalistic Druidism."
"Hard facts about Druids
are hard to come by. We do know for sure that they existed and were the
upper crust, educated intelligentsia, not serfs and also not often
kings or warriors," says Crawford, who also co-wrote "Lithia Park
Woodland Trail, a Guide to Trees and Shrubs" in 1984.
However, people claiming to
be carrying on the religion of theancie......
If you put your head on the floor of the burial chamber at Newgrange, Ireland's most famous passage tomb, rest your cheek on the soft grit and look back down the slightly wonky passage of upright stone slabs, you can see a wigwam of light at the end. This is the entrance, which faces south-east over the wide, shallow valley of the River Boyne and a ridge called Red Mountain.If you are lucky enough to be one of the 50 people, plus partners, whose names were pulled out of a hat (or rather, a scale model of Newgrange) by local children in September, you will be in the tomb one morning next week, between Tuesday and Sunday, waiting nervouslyfor the winter solstice sunrise.If it's fine, the sun will clear Red Mountain at precisely 8.58am on each of these days, pour through a rectangular slot above the tomb entrance and hit the floor at the back of the chamber.
Then, as the sun rises, the beam will slide back down the passage towards the entrance. By 9.04am the chamber will be dark again - and the most sought-after six minutes in the world of heritage tourism will be over.
It is 40
years since Professor J O'Kelly, professor of archaeology at University
College Cork, saw the winter solstice effect at Newgrange for the first
time. He was five years into a 14-year excavation and had heard tales
of some sort of astronomical alignment. "Between the bright sky and the
long glittering silver ribbon of the Boyne, the land looks black and
featureless," he wrote."...the direct light of the sun brightens and
casts a glow all over the chamber."
Not only was the solstice
discovery to make O'Kelly famous, it was also to have a profound effect
on the Boyne Valley. Clare Tuffy, manager of the Brú na Bóinne Visitor
Centre, which controls access to Newgrange and is run by the Office of
Public Works, remembers the late 1980s as crisis point: ''We were
getting up to 17,000 visitors a day, huge coaches were just turning up
along the tiny lanes. There were no facilities, there was no parking."
That was just everyday
access: people wanting to be in the tomb for the winter solstice had to
apply to Dublin - and there was a backlog of thousands.
Eventually, Brú na Bóinne
(usually referred to as "the Bend of the Boyne") became an
archaeological park, then aUnesco ......