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Wiccan Traditions: Happy Halloween!

In Art, Being Gay, Clothing, decor, holidays, Hollywood, Literature, Night Out, Relationships, religions, television on October 30, 2009 at 5:37 am

wicca

What does it mean to be Wiccan? Is there a difference between practicing witchcraft and Wicca? If you have ever visited the Salem Witch Museum in Massachusetts, rented such movies as The Blair Witch Project, or even turned your boob-tube to shows like The Vampire Diaries, you more than likely have been introduced to ways of the witch … or so you think. In the following interview, we will get to know Doreen Lavista (Westchester’s authority on all things Wiccan and Pagan) and her son, Michael. They are a pair of practicing Wiccans that will answer questions ‘til your heart’s desire. The mother-son duo clear the air on what Hollywood has made witches out to be for centuries and make the idea of performing rituals quite attractive.

wiccan

Joseph: When did you first realize that being Wiccan was what you wanted to associate yourself as? Can you tell us what the differences are between the different beliefs out there?

Doreen: Because it made sense! The more I read about it, the more sense it made. Wicca, witchcraft, and Paganism basically align themselves with the seasonal changes of the earth. Paganism is very gynocentric, in that we celebrate the changing seasons and celebrate the changes within ourselves each season.

witch

J: How old were you when you first started to read-up on Wicca and such?

D: First of all, before I even could read, I knew that I had a sense that other people didn’t have; that was what they called precognition … knowing something before it was actually spoken or done. That sense of being aware of what was coming next was very acute in me as a child.

I’m a child of the 60s; there was media that indicated, “Well, if you have x-ability, then you must be a … fill in the blank…” and at that time the word was “witch.” So like every other teenager looking for their niche, I would have to say between the ages of 12 and 13 was when I started doing real research; but what was available was either topics about the Salem Witch Trials and the history of the Inquisition … yeah, not too much. And a lot of dark and negative stuff … a little Anton Lavey …very little by people like Sybil Leek or Laurie Cabot was available at that time.

Really good resources and literature didn’t really come about until, oh I would have to say, the re-explosion of the Neo-Pagan movement in the late 90s.

religion

J: How is being Wiccan different from being Catholic, Jewish, or even Pagan?

D: Let’s discuss Paganism first; that’s kind of an umbrella term for anybody who does not follow the traditional Judeo-Christian-Monotheistic belief system. Pagan refers to all the indigenous people who had religions before they were conquered by Western Europe; Wicca kind of falls into that, in that it differs from Christianity, Judaism, and even Islam, in that it’s not strictly monotheistic. It is also, again, gynocentric, where a female deity is not only powerful but very present; there is balance in the male and female deities, where there’s balance in nature as above and also below. Monotheistic and traditional belief systems seem to be a little one sided there.

witch and cauldron

J: Wow … I didn’t know any of that. Films, like Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, give such a negative connotation to witchcraft and Wicca, you know? And I have become more intrigued by what that is all about…

D: As far as Hollywood is concerned, people like darkness … they like to express that darkness and see it in the theater, simply because they cannot manifest it or express themselves … most of it is way too violent, and it’s still against the law. But Hollywood manages to put a label on something they simply don’t completely understand. When we use the word “occult,” we’re referring to knowledge that has been hidden … and that’s exactly what it means; when a doctor takes the hemoccult, he draws blood and he wants to see what’s hidden in your blood.

This is what the ancient mystics, the Hebrew Kabbalah practitioners, the druids, the shamans, the medicine men had; they all had this “occult” knowledge. But again, it was suppressed when Catholics or Christian Western Europeans came into power. And you had to speak through a mediator … you were not allowed to speak to God directly.

the craft

J: I just have one question to add, and that is … How would you like to see the Wicca way be represented in the future? Would you like it to been seen in a more positive light and gain more exposure?

Michael: As far as exposure is concerned, as long as it’s portrayed the way it is in real life, and not something as dark, evil, or menacing, I personally would feel intrigued if they came up with a show about actual witchcraft and what they do; not a show about shooting sparks out of their hands.

D: Here’s my take on that … I would like to see Wicca and Paganism in general portrayed in the light that it’s really meant to have. It’s not just the Halloween thing; it’s healing and helping people, and being there to be console to people. There’s a lot more light and a lot more protective energy involved.

witches

Hollywood seems to get a little carried away with the special effects of reappearing and the disappearing, and all kinds of entities manifesting. A lot of pulp fiction and romance novels now are embracing the thought of “vampires are groovy and werewolves are sexy;” and so on; it’s driving me crazy because people really don’t know how they’re manipulating this energy. And it all begins and ends in the mind, with intent. What you intend is pretty much what you get … it starts with your mind set.

The “craft,” the nuts and bolts of the candles, colors, herbs, and the bags and the ritual, are the tools that go along with manifesting in the material world that which we have created in our minds. Does that make sense?

J: Yes … so it really isn’t something to be afraid of. It’s more about energy and the earth.

D: Oh, absolutely. There’s nothing to be afraid of … it’s all about truth and light.

J: How do you feel about witchcraft becoming more popular, let’s say as opposed to how things were back in the 60s?

D: Personally I think it’s great; and again with the caveat being, as long as it’s portrayed correctly. It works, but then again so do novenas and prayers. For me, the promotion of the stereotype perpetuates a myth of fear … once we take the fear out of it, and everything is in the light, it’s a-okay. Once again, it’s all about truth and light.

broom

J: Michael, do you feel that it was easier to relate to the Wiccan way as a gay individual, rather than other religions that shun homosexuality?

M: Yes and no. When I was in elementary school, my grandmother at the time wanted me to be raised Christian; well, I was sent out to CCD a couple of days a week after school and came home repeatedly with questions. The answers I was getting to those questions didn’t satisfy me. From what I gather, when one is spiritual, whether it be Christian, Jewish, Islam, Wicca, whatever … you’re supposed to feel something and get something out of it personally. I didn’t feel anything when I was going to church; there was no connection for me there.

I finally decided to take a step back and find something that suited me and what I like and what I was interested it. And as time progressed, I learned more about Wicca and witchcraft from my mom, participated in a couple of ceremonies and holidays, and said, “Wow, this is what I was looking for; this is about the cycles of the earth.” For me, it makes me feel comfortable, I feel and get something out of it. There was no pressure or influence from any outside source; there was no kind of cult mentality.

Looking back as a now 24-year-old, I’m a little upset because there are all these extremists announcing that “homosexuality is wrong,” and “God hates fags,” and so on so forth. There are so many different aspects and variations of Catholicism, that I’m pretty sure the whole “love thy neighbor” thing is supposed to take precedence over spreading words of hatred. That’s probably the main reason why I wouldn’t want to practice one of the three main world religions.

ritual

J: My last question is: Have you or your mother ever participated in any kind of ritual and what kind was it?

D: For about the past twenty years I’ve been part of a coven, and we’ve all taken our turns hosting particular rituals throughout the seasons; some of them were just for the purpose of getting together and celebrating the phase of the moon and bringing manifestation to that phase of the moon and some of them were our traditional holiday celebrations. For instance, Samhain is coming up … you call it Halloween, we call is Samhain; but we also celebrate Yule (December 21) which is the winter solstice. Our holidays actually predate the hallmark calendars.

I’ve often held public rituals in places for events; we’ve gotten some Pagans from all over the county to come and participate … it’s been a lot of fun!

halloween witch

As the time approached to bit each other adieu, Doreen recommended a website for you; it is called witchvox.net, and it is a great place to become more familiarized with all things witches.

Doreen also welcomes you all to befriend her on facebook, especially if you would like to work with her one-on-one … she teaches Wicca 101, you know!

With that being said, venture off calmly, dear spirits of the night and have a happy and healthy Halloween!

-J. Federico

Photo Source 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

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