General Wiccan Rite Information
Wicca is an ancient religion, still practiced by many people worldwide today. Wicca is a religion based upon the belief of a God and Goddess that are supreme deities. Followers of Wicca follow one cardinal rule, known as the Wiccan Rede: “An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will”. There are several rites of passages of a practicing Wiccan priest. This article will serve to explain these important rites of passage.
Dedication is when a person makes the decision to serve the God and Goddess and becomes a Wiccan abiding by the Wiccan Rede. People dedicate themselves to the ways of Wicca and learn as much as they can about the religion and way of life. This is a trial period, of sorts, allowing people to explore the world of Wicca before completely committing themselves. Now is the time when the most learning and soul searching occurs. Though it is unlikely that someone that had recently undergone a dedication would relinquish their vows to Wicca, it is theoretically possible and still is a viable option at this stage in a Wiccan’s life. Frequently, a dedication will consist of a party with the members of the coven.
An initiation is a formal acceptance of a follower of Wicca into the Wiccan community. This is when a Wiccan truly becomes Wiccan and formally accepts the God and Goddess as the divine beings that ultimately rule the universe. Each coven tends to have its own initiation ceremony. Frequently, your height is taken with cord and samples of your hair and fingernails are taken. Many covens choose to bury these items as a way of symbolizing that you are now one with the earth. If you are an independent Wiccan and do not have a coven that you affiliate yourself with; your initiation can be whatever you want it to be. It is important that whatever you choose to do is right for you and is from your heart. The vows that you design for yourself are so much more important than fancy food and pretty tools. You may wish to take your own measurements and bury them, or you may wish to perform other rituals. Initiating yourself as a Wiccan should be whatever it is that you want it to be, so long as it feels right and you are dedicating your life to worshiping the God and Goddess.
A handfasting is the Wiccan equivalent of a wedding in which two people that believe they are matching halves of one whole dedicate their lives to one another. A handfasting tends to be a very different ceremony than a traditional wedding, since the traditional wedding ceremony is based upon monotheistic beliefs and traditions. A handfasting can vary based upon the couple’s wishes and the coven’s traditions, assuming that the couple has affiliated themselves with a coven, though there is generally no aisle to walk down and no white dress for the bride, as these are not Wiccan concepts. Generally, the four elements of the earth are incorporated into as many aspects of the handfasting as possible. Exactly how the four elements are incorporated vary upon the wishes of the couple and the traditions of the coven.
Handfasting ceremonies are equivalent to legal marriages and more and more Wiccan clergy members are becoming online ordained ministers, so a handfasting can oftentimes accompany a legal marriage. Many same sex Wiccan couples announce their commitment to each other in a handfasting ceremony. This is true even in states and countries that do not allow same sex marriage. Usually, either member of the couple can reverse a handfasting, which would be equivalent to a divorce, if they see fit.
Parting of the Ways
When a Wiccan marriage dissolves it is called a parting of the ways. This is similar to the traditional divorce of a traditional marriage. However, it would seem that it is intended to be much more civil and peaceful than the traditional divorce. A parting of the ways can be a time to celebrate if done properly. It is simply the act of two mature Wiccan adults deciding that their lives together can no longer continue on the way that they have been. The ceremony for this tends to vary by coven but it is generally similar to a handfasting. Wiccans tend to be very peaceful people. Even the dissolution of their marriages tend to be peaceful. The four elements of the earth are incorporated into most parting of ways ceremonies.
A Wiccaning is a child’s first Wiccan ritual. It is when a child is formally named and is presented to the God and Goddess for protection. Different covens have their own traditions on when a Wiccaning should take place. However, it is strongly advised that new parents at least provide themselves with enough time to adequately recuperate after the birth of the baby before planning a Wiccaning. Generally, gifts are brought for the baby. The gifts are not necessarily traditional. They are frequently personal offerings, such as a poem, a song or a gemstone. The idea is that these gifts can be presented to the children when they grow into adulthood as a reminder of all of the people that cared so deeply about them. These are intended to be lifelong gifts to be forever cherished.
A Wiccan funeral tends to vary greatly from a traditional funeral. A Wiccan is more about celebrating the life of the deceased as opposed to grieving the death. The ceremony itself varies by coven, but elements of the earth are generally incorporated as much into the ceremony as possible. Many Wiccans prefer to have their bodies laid to rest directly against the soil without a casket, though this is not allowed in many jurisdictions. The body, however, is not a necessary element to a Wiccan funeral. Only the spirit is necessary. The intention of the attendees of the Wiccan funeral is more important than the ceremony itself, since as long as a Wiccan’s heart, soul and intentions are in the right place, no wrong can possibly be committed.
The Great Rite
The Great Rite is a term meant to explain sex acts performed in a magical context. The Great Rite is meant to signify the unity of the God and Goddess. The Great Rite is generally only performed by existing couples and no one should ever feel pressured to partake in sexual activity. No reputable coven will require that its members partake physically in the Great Rite. Many covens choose to symbolically perform the Great Rite instead of actually physically performing it. This is a way that all members of the coven can experience the Great Rite without anyone being pressured into sexual activity. It is also a way for covens that consist of many single members or many members of the same gender that are heterosexual to participate in the Great Rite and celebrate the unity of the God and Goddess.