Religion and Worship. “Almost from their beginnings, magic and religion have been intermingled. ” (Believing in Magic The Psychology of Superstition, Stuart A. Vyse, Oxford University Press, New York, Oxford, 1997) The root of the word religion means relinking. And as the Pagan religions are the only religions that I know of that insist that the interaction of the worshipper with their deity be direct and personal, and that the rhythms of our world are the signals and timing for most interaction, we may well be the only religion that has a primary accomplishment of relinking our people with our selves, our Gods, our world, and Nature Herself. Most of the standard definitions for religion specifically refer to the Christian God, or another monotheist deity. Our dictionaries and encyclopedias are so inherently Christian it is difficult to find a non-Christian definition of religion or worship. Raymond Buckland insists that the first call of a witch is the worship of the Gods. But there is little definition of that process of worship that is not also the process of ritual magick - it is hard to discern wherein the difference lies. I have read through many of these books looking for a concise answer. That answer seems to lie in the interactive responsibility of the Witch to focus their awareness and responsibility for the consequences of their magick on the entire system which is comprised of the Gods, Our world, our community and all the other Children of the Gods. This comprehension of their role within the entire scheme is in line with my definition of a Witch, “One who knowledgeably undertakes through their vows to their Gods the obligation to further growth and harmony.” What that definition also implies, yet does not outright state, is that that obligation also includes personal growth and development. The Witch never promotes growth and success in the system without offering themselves the same opportunities. There may be rare circumstances where a Witch will spend so much of their energy for a particular outcome, that they compromise their own success and health - but offhand, I cannot imagine what would demand such a sacred gift - sacrifice. It is not healthy or reasonable to demand things of any teacher, healer, priest/ess which lessen that person's own path and powers. We are not victims or martyrs because we have decided to enrich our entire community, we are simply responsible members of our community. And much like the goose that laid the golden egg, if you overtax those who have the gift, you will loose all that it offers. You must always prioritize your health and well-being, for if you are lost or in failing health, then what do you have left to offer.
This is also a religion, that by its very nature, would never demand you harm another. That is not the point. “I am the Mother of all things, and My loved is poured out upon the world.” And She who is the mother of all things, never demands that you harm any of her Children. (Charge of the Goddess)
Is this a Goddess religion? Do we have male Gods? Yes. I think the primary reason that we are considered a Goddess religion, is that all other religions have male gods. Thus, in explaining our differences, people take the prominent diverse feature, the female divinity, and focus on it when explaining our beliefs. But the male aspect of our world is a partner and consort of the Goddess. Without the God, we would not have the balance and creative interaction that allows for the Wheel of Life. Do we value men in this religion? Absolutely. We could not be who we are without male and female aspects to balance and provide all the parts to our Sacred World. Why is there any question about the importance of the God? “The image of the Horned God in witchcraft is radically different from any other image of masculinity in our culture. He is difficult to understand, because He does not fit into any of the expected stereotypes, neither those of the “macho” male nor the reverse-images of those who deliberately seek effeminacy. He is gentle, tender, and comforting, but He is also the Hunter. He is the Dying god - but his death is always in the service of the life force. He is untamed sexuality - but sexuality as a deep, holy, connecting power. He is the power of feeling, and the image of what men could be if they were liberated from the constraints of patriarchal culture.” (The Spiral Dance A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess, Starhawk, Harper & Row, San Francisco, CA, 1979.
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