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quixotic!fantastic!
01-30-2011, 02:59 AM
Hullo!

My protagonist is a UEW (Universal Eclectic Wiccan) and practices basically on her own, with an agnostic approach to her beliefs.

I'm wondering if she'd pray, at all, regularly? In dire circumstances?

If she'd think things like "Oh my god," or if the phrasing would be different?

She doesn't drink. Is that common?

Sorry if these are stupid questions! I might have more. I'm trying to balance keeping her faith in her life, while at the same time staying true to the character, who definitely has a strong life philosophy.

Thanks!!

PattiTheWicked
01-30-2011, 03:08 AM
The problem with eclectic Wicca, or NeoWicca, is that each practitioner tends to form their own definition of what is reasonable practice and belief.

I'm Pagan, and part of an eclectic Wiccan tradition. I pray to the gods of my trad at my household altar, and I leave offerings for them fairly regularly.

I know many Wiccans who use the phrase "Oh My Goddess," but for me, that just feels pretentious. The gods are who they are, and if I say "Oh my god," it's just an expression, and not a call-out to a specific deity -- my deities have names, and if I need their attention I address them individually.

As to not drinking, again, like the rest of it, it's going to depend on the individual. I drink only in moderation, but it isn't because of my religious beliefs. I know Wiccans who refuse to drink at all because they feel it pollutes the temple of the body. I also know Wiccans who drink like fishes and get high every weekend. It depends on the individual practitioner and what the guidelines are of their practice.

I should also add that I'm not sure what you mean by an "agnostic approach." Do you mean she doesn't incorporate deity into her beliefs? Because if that's the case, then she's probably not so much Wiccan as she is something else entirely.

quixotic!fantastic!
01-30-2011, 03:15 AM
Wow, great to hear. I TOTALLY know what you mean about the "oh my goddess" thing, because I wondered about that originally, but it just didn't seem to fit the character, who's super down to earth and really level. That's one I was really stressing about.

I did read (on wikipedia, yeah, so feel free to tear me down for that one) that UE Wiccans can go so far as to take on an atheistic approach and hold tighter onto the philosophy, do you know anything about that? I still haven't completely pinned my character down yet on the idea of deities. She's a really tough one to sort out, but so far I've been able to know when I've hit on something that's right, which is why I'm asking all around.

I feel like a total idiot for having to ask these things, by the way, so thanks for being so cool. How are most Wiccans about dating someone who's not? I have her dating a Jew. Is that just a pipe dream, or another thing that could easily happen (based on the person)?

PattiTheWicked
01-30-2011, 03:27 AM
The thing with the term "universal eclectic" anything is that there isn't one set of guidelines. There's no Wiccan bible or set of rules; hell, usually we can't even agree on who's bringing the casserole to the potluck. I'd suggest if you're creating a character and you know she's some flavor of Wiccan, don't sweat stuff too much unless you're writing about *actual* practice and belief. If you have her dance naked around a toaster oven, chances are good that somewhere, someone who identifies as Wiccan is going to say "Oh yay! I do that too!"

If someone takes an atheistic approach to practice, then they're not Wiccan. They're something else. Wicca is an orthopraxic religion, in that to be a Wiccan, you follow certain practices and you honor the Wiccan gods. Now, that's been diluted over the years by people claiming to be Wiccan who are actually NeoWiccan, which is why there's the big disconnect between traditional Wiccans, and people who say Wicca is "whatever you want it to be."

As far as dating people of other religions, in general, us Pagans don't care about the religion of the person we're dating. However -- and this is big -- many folks find it hard to maintain an interfaith relationship with people of certain groups. For example, I could never marry someone whose belief was that I was going to burn in hell. That's a dealbreaker for me. Jewish people tend to be pretty tolerant of Pagan religions in general, because Jewish people are not out to convert anyone -- unlike people of certain other religions.

No problem with answering questions -- happy to do so. If you need some general info on Wicca and other modern Pagan religions, feel free click the About.com link in my sig -- yes, shameless self-promotion here, but it's what I write about regularly :)

rainsmom
01-30-2011, 05:13 AM
Wicca is a religion. I don't think you can take an atheistic approach to a religion. She can, however, be a *witch* without being religious. She could also be a wizard, a hermetic magician, a hoodoo root worker, or any number of other types of magick practictioner. Many practitioners of magick approach work with spirits, gods, and demons nonreligiously. Academically, even.

Rowan
01-30-2011, 05:43 AM
I also follow a pagan path but I'm NOT Wiccan. You can be a witch and not Wiccan, for example.

I drink--wine is medicinal and I couldn't live without Bordeaux. :) It's entirely an individual thing (as Patti said).

And, like Patti, I also "pray" to my respective deities and not only under dire circumstances. I recognize the pagan 'holidays' (Imbolc, Beltane, Samhain, etc.), and lunar cycles.

I don't say "Oh my God", but not because of my beliefs. It's just not something I'd say.

quixotic!fantastic!
01-30-2011, 11:41 AM
Okay, hmmmm, maybe I could work with that. I have this huge fear of being somehow disrespectful to anyone's religion so I really really appreciate all the very patient answers I'm getting here, haha.

Re: being a witch without being religious. I think maybe I could work with that? When I initially thought of this character I saw her as Wiccan but I mean, even since then her hair color has changed. Still, I'm really hanging on tight to the whole "witch" thing because I base the entire novel off a misunderstanding with it. What would being a witch entail then?

thanks for the link!!! And seriously thanks to everyone this is wonderful!

Rowan
01-30-2011, 05:34 PM
Okay, hmmmm, maybe I could work with that. I have this huge fear of being somehow disrespectful to anyone's religion so I really really appreciate all the very patient answers I'm getting here, haha.

Re: being a witch without being religious. I think maybe I could work with that? When I initially thought of this character I saw her as Wiccan but I mean, even since then her hair color has changed. Still, I'm really hanging on tight to the whole "witch" thing because I base the entire novel off a misunderstanding with it. What would being a witch entail then?

thanks for the link!!! And seriously thanks to everyone this is wonderful!

Bolding is mine.

First, one can be Christian and also a witch. http://arganteswell.tripod.com/id1.html

The MC of my AUF is a witch. Some reading suggestions: Melanie Rawn's "Spellcaster", Alice Hoffman's "Practical Magic", and Jim Butcher's "The Dresden Files" (MC's a male-wizard). Michael Gruber's "The Witch's Boy" is a fantastic read.

Being a witch doesn't mean you're green, covered in warts and ride around on a broom with a token black cat. Have you seen "Practical Magic" with Sandra Bullock (based on Hoffman's novel)? Some good stuff in there. There's also "Charmed" and the character Willow in Buffy: The Vampire Slayer. More recently, see Bonnie in The Vampire Diaries.

Witches aren't inherently evil although they're often portrayed as such in literature. ;) Paganism, at its core, is an earth-centric spiritual path.
One key fact before I go: Witches aren't devil worshippers, no matter what the Malleus Maleficarum author claims (that's another thread entirely). Satanism has nothing to do with the Craft--in fact, Satan is wholly a Christian construct (Sandra Bullock has my favorite line in Practical Magic).

Hope that helps. I'm sure Patti will also weigh in! :)

quixotic!fantastic!
01-30-2011, 06:31 PM
Yeah. I've been trying to research Wicca because it seemed to be what I was looking for for my MC, and I've always kind of had this vague idea of it as a really earth-based, beautiful religion.

What I want to really keep at her core of it is definitely the earth elements and probably the spirituality. That to me is essential to who she is. I don't know about her believing in any specific gods or deities though. (She is absolutely not Christian, that I'm clear on.)

Can anyone tell me more about the deities part? Who are they? Do people sort of find and name their own, or is there a set list you choose from? Are they something one "worships" or more just parts of nature you have a spiritual connection to?

And then witches, does that mean more that they practice magic, is that the base of what being a witch is?

If you're Wiccan but don't practice magic, and you're female, are you still a witch?

PattiTheWicked
01-30-2011, 08:52 PM
I think part of the issue at hand is the question of whether magic must be performed within a religious or spiritual context. Some people will tell you that all magic is the province of the divine -- a gift from the gods -- and therefore cannot be separated from religious practice.

However, I believe -- and I think many folks would agree with me -- that magic is a practice. It's a skill set, a tool in your repertoire. While I may practice magic within a ritual context, it is not necessary or required. I can practice magic on the fly, without casting circles, calling upon deities, or all the other fluff needed. Magic, for me, is natural and practical -- nothing supernatural about it, so I don't need to rely on supernatural influences for it to be effective.

As far as the deities, and who they are, it depends on the particular Pagan path you follow. If you're a traditional Wiccan (Gardnerian or Alexandrian) you follow the gods of those traditions, whose names are only revealed to people within the group. If you're an eclectic Wiccan or some other flavor of Pagan, you can honor whichever deities resonate best with you. There's a tendency to use a generic "the goddess and the god" among NeoWiccans, in which the gods are nameless but are more of a single entity. In the tradition I follow, which is based on Celtic spirituality but is not Celtic reconstructionism, we honor three specific Celtic gods.

The word "witchcraft" can mean *either* the practice of magic, or the religion in which one practices it.

The word "Wicca" applies to a specific religion, which happens to include the practice of witchcraft. If you say you're Wiccan but you do not incorporate magic and witchcraft into your practice, you're not Wiccan but something else.

If your MC's practices are earth-based and less deity-focused, why not have her be some flavor of Pagan, rather than specifically Wiccan?

rainsmom
01-30-2011, 08:57 PM
Lots of Wiccans don't practice practical witchcraft. I'll let Patti weigh in more on Wicca, because it's definitely not my area.

Witches practice witchcraft (which is just one type of practical magick [with the *k* only to differenetiate from stage magic]). They perform spells and rituals to effect change. There may be interaction with or prayers to the God or Goddess, but this is different from *worship* of the God or Goddess. Hmmm. Thinking. Witches might be able to choose their pantheon. Certainly the term "witch" is applied in cultures with other dieties. Patti can probably tell us. (I know more about other magick areas, personally.)

quixotic!fantastic!
01-30-2011, 09:07 PM
I honestly can't express how great it is to be able to ask what I'm sure are painfully obvious questions and get all these answers back. Again, thank you guys so, so much.

So if I had my MC be more pagan, what is paganism exactly, then? Because then I could still have her be a witch, on the more earthy side, and not necessarily require gods or deities?

I can absolutely see her having a very strong sense of spirituality, but where I'm caught on the deities is the same reason I don't see her as a Christian or other major religion: I do not see her as someone who would worship someone else. I can see her worshiping the earth, but not an earth god. Does that make sense? Still, I suppose, I'm not entirely sure what that would entail.

I really, definitely want to portray her well, and to portray her beliefs properly and in a way that lets in some positive light on Wicca or paganism (haha because now I'm suddenly not sure which). I agree with you guys that so many people have awful preconceived notions about it. Still, I want it to have a facet of accessibility in the book. The book is not about her beliefs, but she is the MC.

thanks again!!!

Rowan
01-30-2011, 09:39 PM
There are many websites out there devoted to paganism, but here's one for an example: http://www.crystalinks.com/paganism.html



All Pagan religions are characterized by a connection and reverence for nature, and are usually polytheistic i.e. have many Gods and/or Goddesses.


Like Patti said, a lot depends on the path you follow. I've always been drawn to the Norse pantheon and have a fascination with Celtic mythology as well. Along with God/dess, you'll also here "Lord and Lady" a lot in pagan traditions.

You can have your MC be more of an elemental witch. There's a great book out there, "Practical Solitary Magic", that goes into detail about the elementals:
http://www.amazon.com/Practical-Solitary-Magic-Nancy-Watson/dp/0877288747

You have a lot of flexibility. As I mentioned, my MC is a witch and I don't mention what path she follows or any details. She practices magic and she's a witch. The word "Wicca" or "Wiccan" doesn't appear anywhere in the text. ;)

Jacquelyn Hyde
01-30-2011, 10:46 PM
Just my ten cents, but...

I'm Pagan. I say, "Oh, my God." I pray, sometimes even with a (Pagan) rosary. I drink during rituals sometimes, but I don't think it would be all that unusual not to drink... it probably just wouldn't be for religious purposes.

Also, I'm not an outdoorsy Pagan. I eat off paper plates and use plastic forks. I enjoy nature but don't worship the earth. I worship, mainly, the Egyptian pantheon. I'm a softcore polytheist who doesn't think it matters what gods you worship. Picking a pantheon is just an easy way to put faces on different aspects of a greater Divinity.

HKCavalier
02-13-2011, 07:36 AM
Hi q!f!,

I'm new to the board and just getting around to the various sub-fora and found your thread here. If you've already moved on, no problem. Move on. If you're still interested here's my thoughts. I've practiced witchcraft variously for some 25 years.


Hullo!

My protagonist is a UEW (Universal Eclectic Wiccan) and practices basically on her own, with an agnostic approach to her beliefs.

There's a common misunderstanding, even among some witches as to what "worship" is and even what constitutes "religion." So many Wiccans nonetheless grew up in a very Christianized context culturally and that often bleeds over into their Wiccan activities. So, some Wiccans get very "holy" when they talk to the gods and bow down and "worship" their patron deities. They speak in sing-songy voices and do a lot of "intoning" and such. I find it kind of embarrassing, but it works for them.

Properly speaking, a Wiccan god is a very different animal from a Christian God. A classic Wiccan understanding of the Christian God would be that he was an ancient Fire diety or Sky god that got too big for his britches and started pissing on all his neighbors. We don't deny Jehova's existence, only his all-powerful badassery. I'd say a proper witch bows and scrapes to nothing and no one, even and particularly any being she would choose as her patron. Worship to a witch would look a lot more like love, even sexual love, than it would look like miserable folk bowing their heads in pews of a Sunday.

I'm wondering if she'd pray, at all, regularly? In dire circumstances?

I'd say the kind of prayer you're talking about is a Christian cultural phenomenon. So, if your character were still identified with her Christian culture--if she were very young, or not too far along in her spiritual individuation, then she'd pray like anyone might. But as ya walk the witch's path you're gonna move away from prayers and move in the direction of spells and "workings." After all, why merely beg for a thing from some far off Invisible Friend, when you can harness the energies of the Universe and make what you want come true?

If she'd think things like "Oh my god," or if the phrasing would be different?

Hard to break life-long habits. My own alternatives to "oh my god" have tended to be silly old-timey euphemisms like "golly" and "good gravey." Some somewhat more self-conscious but not quite pretentious witches I've known like to use exclamations like "Gods, yes!" or "Gods, no!" or "Gods forbid!" and it doesn't have to sound corny.

She doesn't drink. Is that common?

Is it common? Not in my experience. Drug use has been a part of witchcraft and religions for just about ever. Me, I don't drink, but it's because I'm vegan and my body has become too sensative to enjoy it. Drugs just tend to hit me like a ton of bricks. Right on the forehead. Ouch.

The thing about witches is we're very big on intention. We believe in living consciously. So if we drink or we do not, we will tend to have a pretty well-thought out reason for it. On the other hand, witches can act pretty impulsively, pretty intuitively as well. So, a given witch may not drink because she had a dream that she shouldn't or just because she's never felt like it and that can be something of a religious conviction with some witches.

Sorry if these are stupid questions! I might have more. I'm trying to balance keeping her faith in her life, while at the same time staying true to the character, who definitely has a strong life philosophy.

I'd say if your character has a "strong life philosophy" she's a witch, whether she likes it or not! ;)

Thanks!!

-HK

PrincessofPersia
02-13-2011, 08:14 AM
Just a note about the "Oh, my God" thing: It's a very common phrase among religious and non-religious people. I know many very serious atheists who will argue until they die of starvation against the existence of a god, but they'll still say "Oh, my God" if something shocking or whatever happens. I've also heard Wiccans and Pagans say it. I think it's perfectly reasonable for your character to say it.

LoopyLinde
02-15-2011, 06:40 AM
Just a note about the "Oh, my God" thing: It's a very common phrase among religious and non-religious people. I know many very serious atheists who will argue until they die of starvation against the existence of a god, but they'll still say "Oh, my God" if something shocking or whatever happens. I've also heard Wiccans and Pagans say it. I think it's perfectly reasonable for your character to say it.

That would be me. Only I'm more of a militant agnostic. I do think swearing can be over-done, at least that I over-do it. After all, if you swear all the time what do you say when it's really justified.

I have actually tried to substitute dammit or god dammit instead of fuck, since I think it sounds, to me, less unattractive, but haven't had much success.

kalencap
02-18-2011, 08:02 PM
So if I had my MC be more pagan, what is paganism exactly, then? Because then I could still have her be a witch, on the more earthy side, and not necessarily require gods or deities?

I can absolutely see her having a very strong sense of spirituality, but where I'm caught on the deities is the same reason I don't see her as a Christian or other major religion: I do not see her as someone who would worship someone else. I can see her worshiping the earth, but not an earth god. Does that make sense? Still, I suppose, I'm not entirely sure what that would entail.

thanks again!!!

To me, this sounds more pantheist than traditional Wiccan. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantheism for an introduction to that concept.

By the way, although Unitarian Universalists are people of varied individual faiths, some definitely don't believe in deities. But, they'd still be characterized as practicing their religion. So, there are corollaries with other religious entities if you need a comparison to get your point across.

I have one Wiccan character in my novel, somewhat lapsed in practice. (I see her as like a Catholic who only attends mass twice a year and doesn't do much else around it.) It isn't a main point in the novel, but since the subject of "cults" comes up repeatedly, it has a place in the context of characters having varied faiths that aren't trusted by other characters.