Over the past couple of years, we have seen more and more articles written by scientists discussing the Solar System, the Environment, changes in the Earth, changes in the Planets, etc. etc. etc. We’ve had various events happen such as an increase in hurricanes, changes in weather conditions, the close encounter to the planet Mars, etc. etc. Astrologers talk about entering the Age of Aquarius and the conjunction of the Galactic Center and so forth.
So what does it all mean? Is all this information a good thing or does it spell doom and gloom? Are these folks saying the end is coming, or is this all heralding a new age? Are these signs that the goddess and god are pissed off or what?
I would like, if I may…to try and come up with a response to these questions. I’m not sure if I can give a direct answer, but at least I might be able to help shed a bit of light on this topic.
The question of “what does it all mean” is not a bad one. I think if we were to analyze it a bit, we would find that the real question we are asking ourselves is actually “how do I make a spiritual interpretation out of this scientific matter?” That’s not such a strange question. In fact, I believe it is this very search for such interpretations that is at the heart of our spirituality. Paganism, Witchcraft, Wicca…whatever you wish to call it, our Path is predominately a nature-based one, where we learn to study the various messages that nature sends to us, in both simplistic and complex forms, and ask ourselves “what DOES it all mean? How can we use these messages to enhance our understanding of and connection to the Divine?”
If we study the history of mankind, we will find that civilizations throughout thousands of years have asked these very questions. They have studied the Moon, the Sun, the stars, and other nature phenomena in an attempt to better understand the world around them, and in the process, develop a better understanding of themselves. Many of these studies fell under the blanket definitions of words such as Magick, Mythology, Religion, Faith, Spirituality, and the like.
Today, such studies would be referred to as Science.
Indeed, many of the sciences of today were the magick of yesterday. What may seem like “science fiction” to us today could very well become “science reality” tomorrow. (That “beam me up” process in Star Trek comes to mind!)
When we look at the growing number of people who are attracted to the Craft nowadays, we find that the lure of it for many is in fact not it’s religious or spiritual content, but its scientific and technical allure.
A good example of this would be the number of folks who are drawn to it not because they desire to better understand and commune with Deity…they just wanna know how to cast spells!
Stop and think about that for a moment – spellcasting IS a science…just like divination, astral projection, astrology, telepathy, and the like.
And the fact of the matter is… there are many “wannabes” who are far more interested in the science of making things happen their way, than in understanding the spiritual meaning behind such actions.
For some, such understanding leads to spiritual enlightenment, with the result that the person becomes a true student of Witchcraft, or perhaps some other similar religion such as Shamanism, or Druidism. Some may decide to focus on Ceremonial Magick…which, while certainly having spiritual connections, does tend to focus more on the scientific principles of using magick more than the religious concepts.
Bear in mind that most witches of today have come into the Craft from other religions. Many of them come into it slowly, and often through their original interest in a certain aspect of the Craft. That aspect could be its focus on nature; it could be its focus on women; it could be its sense of freedom and individuality; it could be its flexibility to accommodate various modes of thinking and practicing. Or it could be its scientific aspects – what one might refer to as the metaphysical or such. How many of us have known individuals who began by becoming interested in astrology, or tarot cards, or natural healing, or psychic development or such…and then slowly through the original interests, developed a reconstruction of their spirituality? Maybe this is even what happened to you!
The point being…for some people, it is easier to come into the Craft from a scientific approach, which allows them to gradually allow this reconstruction to occur without it becoming overly threatening or uncomfortable. After all, it is unrealistic to expect a newcomer to this Path to just drop everything they grew up with or formerly believed overnight. It doesn’t often happen this way…usually it’s a process that goes through various stages as the person becomes more knowledgeable and begins to experience more, and understand those experiences on a deeper realm.
Science teaches us the wonders of the world around us, and also the wonders of the world within – how the human mind, when programmed properly, can accomplish some pretty awesome stuff.
Witchcraft teaches us these same concepts.
Thus, witchcraft is both a set of scientific principles and a religious structure. People can enter it from a variety of different directions, and none of them will necessarily be wrong. Each person must find their own door. You will encounter those witches who have very little interest in the scientific aspects…who prefer to practice in a very spiritual manner with little use for all the trappings. Then there are those who practice their spirituality within strong scientific boundaries – whose elaborate rituals are often filled with a great deal of ceremonial magick and the like. There are those who are more interested in communicating with the Divine, and others who express an interest in talking to the dead. There are those who believe in using spells for any and all needs that they might have, and others who rarely, if ever, cast a spell.
It’s all good. It’s all acceptable. It’s all part of the Craft.
There’s room for everybody, which I believe is part of the appeal of the Craft to begin with, and much of what makes it so unique. Everyone seeks and follows what is acceptable to that particular individual, and nobody else. You do what is right for YOU, not what is right for the High Priestess next door, or the Gardnerian down the street, or the Eclectic Solitary a few blocks over.
It is this concept that can be hard for newcomers to understand, since they often jump into it all with both feet, wanting to learn everything now, everything the right way, in their desperate attempt to be seen and accepted as a “real witch.”
I’m not sure if such even exists…each of us must define our own reality. There will be as many definitions of a “real witch” as there are people out there who consider themselves one. Certainly there are parameters by which we define such…criteria which is used to determine if a person truly has developed the knowledge and understanding that is generally applied to the term. Nevertheless, defining a “real witch” is easier said than done.
So how does this all tie into the above questions?
To be honest, I am not sure. And I say that only because I am still interpreting for myself what all this scientific data means…for me.
But that’s the point.
What does it all mean? It means what you want it to mean. It means that in some way, this information is going to impact on how you see the world, how you interpret it, and how you integrate that interpretation into your spirituality. It may very well be that you will simply shrug your shoulders, say “well, that’s interesting…” and go along your way without giving it nary another thought. That’s okay. It could mean that you see it as a sign that “evolution stops for nothin’.” Perhaps you see it as a sign that the Goddess is coming..and boy, is She pissed!
The moon phases…the study of the tarot…the understanding of ethics…the discussions of how planetary actions can affect our behavior (such as the recent Mars event or Mercury being in retrograde)…all of these are scientific principles that we can apply to our understanding of spirituality.
You may find that the study of such interests you…then again, you may find that it doesn’t. Either way is perfectly acceptable.
But in today’s world, it is hard to find the Pagan who hasn’t at least attempted a study of such principles…
and in doing so, has indeed gained spiritual enlightenment.