Deity Concepts and Worship Practices
«All religions are structures built on reverence of Deity. Wicca is no exception. The Wicca acknowledge a supreme divine power, unknowable, ultimate, from which the entire universe sprang,» (Cunningham, 9). This is a Witch's concept of the Divine. However, it is a distant, powerful image that is not easily understood. For the purpose of worship, the Wicca recognize the duality of this power. It is both male and female, good and evil, and therefore is worshipped in the form of a Goddess and a God. These are the primeval gods of the ancient world, worshipped under names in many cultures: Odin, Freya, Ra, Ma'at, Zeus, Diana, Apollo, Kali, Shiva, Pele, and countless others. Wiccans believe that these are all, in reality, simply individual aspects of one God and one Goddess, rather than individual Deities. Just as there are numerous names for the Divine, so do Wiccans worship them in just as many ways.
There are many different branches, called «traditions», of The Craft, most of which are based on the religious practices of one or more ancient cultures. There are Celtic Wiccans, Egyptian Wiccans, and Greek Wiccans. One of the newest traditions is a hybrid of Celtic Shamanism and the tribal religions of Ancient America. There is, however, a basic outline for conducting worship services that is followed by all covens and solitaries. A standard Wiccan worship service, or ritual, which takes place on one of the eight yearly sabbats (the solstices, equinoxes, and four Ancient Celtic agricultural festivals) or at an esbat (full moon), consists of the creation of sacred space (called «casting the circle;» this is done through visualization), prayers, and offerings (these are usually material possessions, plants, or handmade items; Wiccans never sacrifice animals or people), and a sharing of a simple meal with fellow witches (if a member of a coven) and the Deities. Worship services have many important purposes, but the main reason Wiccans perform rituals is to gain understanding of the energies of the divine and, ultimately, the energies contained in the witch himself/herself. The harnessing and directing of this natural, personal energy is what witches call magic (or magick).
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