Guest Author - Leslie Ravenwing
The word "Wicca" is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word wicce which means "wise one" or it also meant "practitioner of the old Religion." Pagan comes from the Latin word paganus meaning country dweller. If you pull out the wonderful Webster's dictionary, Pagan means heathen.
Wiccans and Pagans attune themselves to nature, earth, each other and the cycles of nature. We try to coincide our rituals with the phases of the moon. We seek to live in a balanced way. Our everyday lives should revolve around our religion not a certain day of the week or year.
Divinity is experienced everywhere! From prayer, meditation, and ritual to preparing a meal, life changes and even making love to your significant other. Divine energy is present in everything. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we take into our bodies, the creatures we share our planet with, and, yes, even in each other!
The deities we worship and honor are those similar to the ones our ancestors honored. The Gods come from many cultures. We honor a Goddess and a God, although there are some traditions that only honor the Goddess for personal reasons. We have often been labeled as idol worshippers. This is untrue. We have statues that represent our Gods just like the Christians do, but we don't worship that statue ; we worship what the statue represents.
We do not have a dogma or set rules and commandments we follow. We only have one law or rule that governs us. It is called The Wiccan Rede. It is pretty plain and simple to follow. It states "An ye harm none, do as thou will." Easy enough. Do what you want as long as your actions and words harm no one or no thing including yourself.
Another important thing is that we do not worship an entity named Satan or the Devil. Satan is the Christians' enemy of their God. To believe in Satan would mean that you believe the Christian god exists. We do not perceive God the same way Christians do. We do have Gods who have antlers like a deer or bull but they are nothing like the being Christians call Satan. I have read in a few places that this is where the Christians got their picture of Satan because the Pagans were honoring a horned Being and it was said in the Bible that Satan had some sort of horns.
I have also been asked how someone becomes a Witch or Pagan or Wiccan. Entering into the Mysteries of Wicca is an important decision and one that should not be taken lightly. Before being officially initiated or self-dedicated, you should learn as much as you can. The embracing of the Wiccan religion holds changes which will affect your lifestyle and future direction. There aren't many people who were born into a Pagan family, but I think that statement will drastically change in the coming years. Yes there are Hereditary Witch, but most people find this path later in life on their own.
If you go to any New Age/Occult section of a bookstore, you can find lots of books that deal with Wicca and Paganism. There are also numerous sites out there to get you on your way. If after much studying, contemplation, and soul-searching, you believe in your heart that the Wiccan path is for you, you are ready to dedicate yourself to the Lord and the Lady (or the God and Goddess.)
There are many books that have Self-Dedications in them. I will provide the one I do in the near future. I try to renew it every year on my birthday. You of course don't have to do this. You can only do it once, you can do it every year on the same date you did it the first time, or do it like me. Just do whatever feels right to you.