What is Contemplative Wicca?

Contemplative Wicca is the practice of contemplative prayer using a Wiccan theological frame of reference. It is a spiritual way of living, based on neopagan religions that venerate nature and life.   Today, with environmental disaster looming, it is imperative that we find a new way to live our lives, new guiding values that will help us to heal the earth and each other. The currently existing religions have doctrines and practices that grew up when circumstances and worldviews were vastly different from those of today, and it is difficult to use these religious systems to make sense of the current world and society. Ancient religions had no scientific knowledge to refer to, no notion of the vastness of the cosmos and our tiny place in it, no idea of the expanse of time or origins of the universe. Science and exploration have changed our worldview considerably. We now have explored nearly every square millimeter of our own planet, and a great deal of our moon. Most ancient people only knew of those people and things they could get to on foot. Phenomena that were not understood were considered mysterious and magical, and were a source of fear and superstition. Today, we have scientific explanations for most occurrences we encounter, and magic has greatly retreated. How can we use these ancient systems to explain the world we know now?

What is needed is a new system of religious thought and practice that will help us make meaning in our new world, and live in it peacefully and sustainably. The extant religions are heavily encumbered with trappings from societies and worldviews long gone, and are not amenable to the radical alteration that is necessary to address our changed circumstances and the issues that arise from them. Neopagan religions are without such encumbrance, and are also sufficiently sparse in doctrine that they can be reformed as necessary to address the issues we now face.

Wicca sees nature and other humans as sacred, and human society as collaborative rather than hierarchical. This view of ourselves and our planet needs to be brought forward if we are to avert catastrophe. Although this is certainly not the only such path available, Contemplative Wicca, with its thoughtful consideration of spiritual issues, veneration of nature, and promotion of a collaborative social structure is particularly suited to this task.

Wicca has a strong tradition of solitary practitioners, and it is this model of witchcraft that can provide a reference point for pagan contemplative practice. Traditionally, the practice of witchcraft is ecstatic, even for solitaries, but it can also be contemplative. This means that the usual rituals that include chanting, drumming, and dancing would be supplanted by silent prayer and meditation. Groups can practice Wicca in a contemplative manner by conducting rituals that are minimal, and delegating most of the time for silent prayer or meditation. The more usual activities of feasting and singing can be done afterward during fellowship.   Solitaries have ample opportunity to honor Sabbaths and moons by meditating on their meaning.   Many have been drawn to pagan practice precisely for the opportunity it affords to engage in ecstatic prayer. For them, it was a joy to find a meaningful religion that did not involve sitting quietly in a stuffy church listening to interminable, dull sermons and cloying, simplistic songs. For the first time, they could express their joy in God and be accepted. Why would they ever change their way of worship back to something even remotely like the way they had left? They don’t need to. God is there for them, as It is for everyone. Besides, people may usually prefer one method of worship over another, but still avail themselves of other methods from time to time as the need arises. Once in a while it is helpful to engage in a period of reflection and quiet prayer, or sing in a joyful group ritual, even if this is not the usual method the person uses to find the sacred.

Some pagans, however, find the noise and activity of ecstatic rituals overwhelming and distracting. For them, I offer the depth and peace this system of Wicca can bring.

Copyright © 2015 Teresa Chupp.  All rights reserved.

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