In my quest to learn for the sake of learning and to figure out what I want out of life I came across Wicca. Now I'm not big into the whole "there's a higher being out there watching over us" thing though I do pray for my children on a daily basis. I've always thought that the "higher power" was more of an energy or force like in Star Wars. Not good, not bad, just there. So at any rate I've looked through several different religions and never really found my place though the closest I've come so far was Buddhism. Now I'm giving Wicca a try and I'm going to journal what I've learned so far, what I've done, what I think about it and how I feel about it.
Contrary to some claims, Wicca is not an old religion and really started with Gerald Gardner. From there it branched off to many different sects with different rituals and beliefs. At the core of each is the Wiccan Rede, which states "An it harm none, do as you will". This in particular struck a cord with me as I have seen it in many other religions in different forms "do unto others as you would have others do unto you" though this is more freeing as it allows all conduct that does not harm others.
Wiccans believe in many gods and goddesses though some choose to follow just one or two. Their belief system is different than Christianity and other "Religions of the book" as they do not require worship. I'm still wrapping my head around that as it runs contrary to how I was brought up.
I should make a note that I have so far based my studies primarily off of Witchschool.com and MagickaSchool.com. Witch School was founded on the Correlian Nativist tradition of Wicca and I am taking Correlian Wicca First Degree, Living the Wiccan Life, Basic Meditations and Basic Herbs. I am also doing some study of Herbalism as it fascinates me.
So far I have learned some history of Wicca as well as a few spells (which I liken more to concentrated meditation). I took a Tai-Chi class with my dad and learned a meditation to cleanse the body and store Chi that involves visualizing my body filled with water and draining out through my palms and feet. There's more to it than that but that's the basic idea. I found the same concept in the Wicca referred to as grounding. It appears that Gerald Gardner spent some time in Asia learning about eastern thought and religion and integrated that into Wicca. So magic, in Wiccan thought, is similar to chi or energy in eastern thought, also Wiccans subscribe to the concept of Karma though they call it the law of three. That which you do will come back to you three fold, most don't take this as a literal equation but rather as the classical version of Karma but in this lifetime rather than the next.
I also learned a shielding spell which is a meditation concerned with strengthening ones aura. The other one I learned but have not tried is the cleansing spell involving Rosemary, Sage, Salt, Oil and a warm bath. Prior to attempting this I looked up the medical uses of Rosemary and Sage. I found that Rosemary has been used effectively to treat baldness, and some skin conditions while Sage has been used for cold sores as well as a treatment for Alzheimer's. I believe that the medical properties of the plants themselves along with the words/ritual/meditation (creating somewhat of a Placebo effect) is what causes the persons "spell" to work. I'm personally fascinated by the mix of herbalism and meditation for healing purposes and this seems to be a lot of what Wicca is about.
So far I've spent the last three days doing the aura strengthening exercise and the grounding exercise. I can say that immediately after I feel a sense of calm that I usually experience after meditation. For the time being that's the only benefit I've experienced. I've also made a conscious effort to try and view everything as being aware though that has been a little bit more difficult for me. I have sat in my kitchen, bathroom, and computer room and asked the room what it wanted and needed from me. That was a strange experience though I believe what I got out of it was more what I envisioned the room to be rather than the room actually responding to me. I have also contemplated the eternal cycle of water in that the same water (in a sense) was around in ancient times just the way it is today.
One other thought I had was that in a way, we are depriving ourselves of healing opportunities by stepping away from belief when it comes to medicine. When we perform prayers, rituals and other such actions in tandem with whatever medicine we are taking I believe it increases the effect. Simply by believing it will work people have seen results from placebos, be it sugar pills or prayer, and combining that with medicine or herbs I believe would have an added effect. While I consider my self fairly grounded in science and reality I can see from that standpoint why religions and rituals come about.