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Published! “Wicca values life, and witches follow many paths”

With Halloween near, it is an excellent time to share a bit of truth regarding witches.

We speak from the first-person perspective because we are witches and Wicca is our religion.

While some may view Halloween as a time that focuses on pretend and evil witches, we affirm that witches are real. We are not collectively evil. We are serious about our beliefs and religious practices.

Those of us who follow Earth-centric paths are described as pagans. The term evolved from the earliest definition as a simple person who dwelled away from the city.

As Christianity’s influence increased, the word “pagan” took on strong derogatory connotations. To be called pagan implied an immoral follower of false gods or one who lacked religious beliefs altogether.

As part of this expanding influence, the implication of a witch as being evil was anchored. Those of us describing ourselves as witches (both men and women) associate with the earliest references in the Old English, meaning a wise one, teacher or healer.

One could say that paganism is a reflection of the universe’s infinite variety, where there is room for all. Some folks are inspired by nature’s raw power and incredibly beautiful wild places, and others by time and tide, or both.

Some follow a specific path and tradition. Some are solo practitioners or attend large gatherings, or no gatherings. A sizable contingent participates in seasonal rituals and daily observances.

There are those who combine Earthcentric practices with monotheistic faith, such as Celtic Christianity, or culture and paganism, such as heathenry. There are atheists and agnostics too.

As pagans, diversity rather than dogma unifies us. Paganism does not have a central organizing committee. It does not have a city-state. It does not have one person who speaks for all believers.

Paganism does not control vast land holdings, own a bank, IT or news services.

We are clear in what we value.

Paganism values the Earth and all life upon it, relationship and interconnection, the individual and honors individual paths, being alive and celebrating that knowledge.

Those of us describing ourselves as Wiccan experience the Creatrix of Earth and the cosmos as Goddess. Many acknowledge a God as a partner to the Goddess, but as such, he comes from or through her … not the other way around.

We sense and “tap into” the energies of the Earth, the heavens and the elements.

Our main holy days are the eight Sabbats comprising the Wheel of the Year that reflects the seasons, as well as the solstices and equinoxes and the Esbats that align with the phases of the moon.

These energies are ever-present yet ever-changing, and so our path to faith is cyclical or circular rather than linear. A core statement of Wicca is the Wiccan Rede. It calls us to harm none and to do all in perfect love and perfect trust. …

To publicly identify ourselves as pagans or witches is a conscious choice. Because prejudice and violence are still present today, many continue to practice in private or secret. Those of us who come “out of the broom closet” know we are challenged regarding the validity of our religions. Our community, The Temple of the Creative Flame, is a temple of the Goddess serving the greater pagan community.

Our focus is to serve as a temple for thinkers and lovers of life, building bridges through ceremony, ritual and dialogue within safe and sacred space.

A local opportunity to experience the fullness of paganism takes place 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3. Pagan Pride Day is open to the public. More information is available at www.paganpridephx. com and www.TheCreative-Flame.com.

Priestesses of the Goddess Patricia Ballentine and Cynthia Cebuhar are codirectors of the Temple of the Creative Flame and ordained ministers.  [Please see *Note below…]

Faith Matters

Patricia Ballentine and Cynthia Cebuhar Guest columnists

PART OF THE USA TODAY NETWORK Copyright © 2018 The Arizona Republic 10/30/2018

  • NOTE: From the authors, Patricia and Cynthia…  

“We are grateful for the opportunity to share a bit of what is true and what is not true about Witches through the Arizona Republic “Faith Matters” series. However, out of respect for our greater Pagan community I feel compelled to note that our original submission capitalized the terms Witches, Pagan, Paganism and Heathenry as descriptions of religious or spiritual practices and as terms of primary self-identification. The capitalization of those terms were edited after our submission.”
Some links you might find interesting:While this petition is no longer active this link does an excellent job of putting our experience in a larger context:https://www.change.org/p/university-of-chicago-press-associated-press-capitalize-pagan-in-chicago-manual-of-style-ap-stylebook

Additional references of interest:
https://wildhunt.org/2014/07/update-ap-stylebook-initiates-journalists-to-wicca.html

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