Wiccan Beliefs and Practices
Wicca is a nature oriented religion ~ Wiccans consider the natural processes of the Earth and the greater universe to be divine. All life and all lives are sacred.
Members of the Wiccan priesthood, both men and women, are called Witches ~ A Wiccan is not the "witch" depicted by Hollywood images or defamed by the ugly stereotype seen at Halloween. The terms Wicca and Witchcraft refer to the whole of the religion and its practices complete with deity, salvation, ethics, holy days and trained clergy who minister to Wiccan congregations. A warlock is any witch, male or female, who is shunned by the coven for unethical behavior.
Wiccans believe in God ~ To a Wiccan, God (The All) is the all-encompassing, all-powerful force of life - the Creator. Wiccans view The All manifested in a duality of male (God) and female (Goddess), each of equal importance. Though the different religions of the world worship gods and goddesses of many names, Wiccans consider all gods to be one God and all goddesses to be one Goddess. The Wiccan God and Goddess are the same deities as those worshipped by everyone else. There are many pathways, but they are all traveling up the same mountain along the way to spiritual fulfillment and a personal relationship with God.
The Wiccan clergy consists of Priests and Priestesses ~ The clergy functions just like that of any other religion, performing religious services, legal marriages, funerals, baby blessings and personal counseling.
Wiccans usually celebrate 21 holy days each year ~ Though Wicca is a religion for the individual, Wiccans often come together to worship the God and Goddess. Wiccans mark the progress of the seasons and nature's cycles at thirteen lunar (full moon Esbats) and eight Sabbat festivals each year; four solar and four agrarian. The Sabbats make up what we call The Wheel of the Year.
Wiccan ethics are summed up in the following creed: "An ye harm none, do what ye will." ~ This rule, also known as the Wiccan Rede, seems simple, but a great deal of personal responsibility is necessary to live up to its requirements. In striving to fulfill this creed, Wiccans must take responsibility for their actions on a mental, physical, and emotional level. They must give deep consideration to all the possible repercussions of any thought or deed. Wiccans try to live a virtuous and balanced life in harmony with other people and with nature.
The Wiccan concept of Salvation is incorporated into the Witches Three-Fold Law, which states that any action or thought of an individual will return in like kind thrice over. Spiritual fulfillment is achieved through positive works and harmonious living.
Wiccans are NOT Satanists! ~ Satanism is a deliberate perversion and reversal of Christian practices. Wicca predates Christianity and has nothing to do with Satan, who is the Christian personification of evil. In fact, Wiccans do not believe at all in an ultimate evil force. Wiccans do believe that ignorance can lead misguided individuals to commit harmful acts. It is unfortunate that Satanists have stolen and then perverted the sacred symbols of both Christianity and Wicca. This is disrespectful to both religions. Such harmful ignorance of the Wiccan religion by the larger public leads to a belief that Witches are Satanists because of confusion over similar religious symbols.
Wiccans do NOT commit blood sacrifice ~ As practitioners of a life-affirming nature religion, Wiccans find human and animal life sacrifice sacrilegious. The very concept of blood sacrifice is repulsive, and the practice is an abomination to Wiccans.
Wiccans do NOT practice black magic ~ Wiccans do not spend time casting spells or indulging in ego-feeding hocus-pocus. Rather, Wiccans know that when life is responsible and harmonious, things fall into place as they should as if by magic. Well, to Wiccans, this is, magic ~ the only magic. Magic happens when an individual is able to discipline the mind enough to control thoughts, no matter what else happens. According to Wiccan teaching, our minds can be our undoing or our doing. As we think, so shall it be. Thus, magic is a by-product of right-living and disciplined thought.
Oakspring, Inc, Organizational Structure...
OakSpring, Inc. is a Wiccan spiritual community. Its affairs are directed by a Board of Directors known as the Coven Council, under the leadership of a High Priestess and High Priest in accordance with its Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws, aided by the advice and guidance of Lady Galadriel and Lord Athanor of the Grove of the Unicorn.
OakSpring's tradition arose from the House of Ravenwood established by Lady Sintana in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1975. OakSpring acknowledges the House of Ravenwood as its spiritual foundation and the basis of its teaching, while giving due acknowledgement to the Sisterhood and Brotherhood of Wicca founded by Lady Circe of Toledo, Ohio, as a principal influence upon Ravenwood's tradition.
OakSpring abides by the Wiccan laws as written in The Book of Laws given by Lady Sintana to the initiates of Ravenwood, which includes the Lovecraft Laws; A New Wiccan Book of the Law, compiled and edited by Lady Galadriel; and The Laws of Ma'at. However the Elders of OakSpring acknowledge and agree that the laws must be flexible to meet the changing circumstances, which are inherent in the evolution of any spiritual tradition. Therefore OakSpring may amend and modify the laws as necessary to further the continued evolution and growth of its community and the Wiccan faith.
Definition of Circle Offices and Responsibilities
The Coven Council
The Coven Council (the Board of Directors) is the governing body of OakSpring. It is chaired by the High Priestess and High Priest and is composed of the High Priestess, the High Priest, the Third Degree Initiates and the senior Second Degree Initiates. The Elders, who are the Third Degree Initiates of the group, will help and advise the High Priestess and the High Priest in a) governing the circle and b) hearing and settling disputes between members of the circle. The Senior Second Degree Initiates, who are those who have held such rank for at least one year and a day, will be full participants in the general and active management of the affairs of the group as members of the Council as provided in the Bylaws. However, matters of a purely religious nature are not appropriate for decision by vote of the Coven Council but shall be decided by the High Priest and High Priestess in consultation with the Elders after having given due consideration to the views of the entire initiate body.
All matters brought before the Coven Council will be resolved on a consensus basis if possible. If not, they will be decided by vote as provided in the Bylaws.
Interested Second Initiates who do not serve on the Council and First Degree Initiates are welcome to observe Coven Council meetings, except insofar as matters of an initiatory matter are discussed, as to which such persons are not privy under the Wiccan laws. The Coven Council shall meet at least quarterly.
Principal Circle Offices
The High Priestess is the spiritual mother of OakSpring and the leader of the group in the season of the Goddess. Her duties include but are not limited to:
- ruling and governing the Circle with justice and with love as representative of the Goddess;
- settling differences, hearing complaints, administering order and discipline;
Chairing the Coven Council in the season of the Goddess and vice-chairing the Council in
- the season of the God;
- Effectuating the will of the Coven Council unless her conscience dictates to her that she cannot, in which case she may make such decision as she sees fit, subject to the rights and powers of the Council as set forth in the Bylaws;
- Accepting advice and help from the Coven Council and the High Priest.
The High Priest is the spiritual father of OakSpring and the leader of the group in the season of the God. His duties include but are not limited to:
- ruling and governing the Circle with justice and with love as representative of the God;
- settling differences, hearing complaints, administering order and discipline;
- Chairing the Coven Council in the season of the God and vice-chairing the Council in the season of the Goddess;
- Effectuating the will of the Coven Council unless his conscience dictates to him that he cannot, in which case he may make such decision as he sees fit, subject to the rights and powers of the Council as set forth in the Bylaws;
- Accepting advice and help from the Coven Council and the High Priestess.
Handmaiden is the chief assistant to the High Priestess. She assumes the ritual duties of the High Priestess in her absence or at her request. It is anticipated that she is in training for the office of High Priestess.
Summoner is the chief assistant to the High Priest. He assumes the ritual duties of the High Priest in his absence or at his request. It is anticipated that he is in training for the office of High Priest.
Council Secretary/Scribe keeps the minutes of the Coven Council Meetings and all general and initiate meetings, and all other meetings and councils, and is responsible for most Circle correspondence; keeps records of attendance for all rituals; keeps records for all initiations/acceptances, sabbaticals, banishments and general coven membership; should be held by Third or senior Second Degree.
Treasurer is responsible for maintaining the checkbook, keeping the Circle finances in order, submitting a monthly financial report to the Coven Council, submitting a financial report to the entire Circle when required, maintaining a record of member donations, sending donation statements to Circle members as required by law; should be a Third, a Second, or a senior First on Second track. This office is normally held by the corporate treasurer.
Initiate Education Elder is responsible for the continuing education of the Initiate Body, including chairing the Craftwork meetings, developing initiate-level educational materials and coordinating all other initiate-level educational activities including spiritual, meditational and ritual exercises; must be Third Degree.
Student Education Elder is responsible for OakSpring's core student curriculum; coordinates teachers and classes, schedules classes; coordinates, organizes, and schedules any extra curricular student classes and workshops; coordinates and cooperates with other groups on classes and workshops; must be a third Degree.
Ritual Review Elder reviews any and all rituals and is responsible for giving the performing priests and priestesses critical suggestions prior to ritual and feedback after ritual; may work with priestesses and priests in writing ritual; must be Third Degree.
Ritual Scheduling Elder schedules all rituals, coordinates priests and priestesses; must be a Third Degree.
Front Door/Hospitality Elder is first contact with those who are interested in OakSpring, screens people who express interest in visiting, coordinates special events or activities which involve non-member participants; should be a Third Degree, may be a senior Second.
All Other Circle Offices
Librarian/Archivist is responsible for maintaining the Circle library and keeping the history and the lore of the Circle; may be any Degree or an interested senior student on Initiation track.
Webmistress/Master maintains the OakSpring web page and any related sites, keeps and updates e-mail lists, keeps and updates the calendar; must be an Initiate.
Editor directs and publishes the OakSpring newsletter/magazine (Note: the Webmistress/Master and the Editor must work closely together); must be an Initiate.
Child/Youth Director supervises child and youth education and special activities; must be an Initiate.
Volunteer Coordinator keeps account of volunteer time (minimum of 5 hours per month recommended) of each member; must be an Initiate.
Autumnfest Coordinator works w/ Grove of the Unicorn in organizing pre-fest work sessions and responsibilities to be carried out at the gathering; must be an initiate.
Physical Grounds Supervisor coordinates and oversees the maintenance of the OakSpring circle space, the surrounding area not considered to be part of the Nature Preserve, and the House and yard; must be an Initiate.
House Keeper oversees set-up and clean-up of all activities at OakSpring, maintains duty roster, coordinates workers; must be an Initiate.
House Supplies Coordinator works with the treasurer to keep OakSpring fully equipped, buys supplies for mundane and ritual related activities; may be an Initiate or a senior student on Initiation track.
Initiates: Requirements and Definitions
First Degrees: Those who have petitioned for and have been initiated into the Old Religion by OakSpring or those whom OS has accepted at the First Degree level and who have been given the Keys to the Inner Temple may call themselves witches and are known as either priest or priestess. OS expects First Degrees to abide by the expectations accorded to Children of the Goddess and to:
- continue individual and group magical and spiritual study and practice;
- follow the Wiccan laws as adopted by OakSpring;
- act in Perfect Love and Perfect Trust in all matters related to OakSpring and their brothers and sisters in the group;
- support OakSpring through regular pledges, participation, and service;
- conduct themselves in a manner which serves as a model for others;
- become active participants and voices in OakSpring membership meetings and
in OS in general
- communicate with the High Priestess, the High Priest and members of the Elder Council
- serve in one of the offices appropriate to a First Degree;
- co-teach one or more classes.
Second Degrees: Those who have received elevation or acceptance to OakSpring Second Degree. These individuals are honored with the title of Lord or Lady. In addition to the rights, responsibilities, and duties of a First Degree, Second Degrees are expected to:
- serve as senior teachers of one or more of the classes;
- develop and present special interest or initiate and/or non-initiate
classes (subject to review and revision by the Student Education Elder) if they choose;
- in keeping with their vows, maintain a position of leadership and
responsibility with in the OakSpring organization;
- if they have served a year and a day, serve on the Coven Council
- if they are not senior Seconds, attend open Coven Council meetings and all other councils (such as disciplinary councils) and meetings when called upon to do so;
- serve in one or more of the offices appropriate for a Second Degree;
- honor their Second Degree oath at all times, in all places, and on all occasions.
Third Degrees/Elders: Those individuals who have been granted elevation to Third Degree. Third Degrees/Elders may choose to hive off, establishing a separate Circle under the auspices of OakSpring, or they may choose to remain with OakSpring. In addition to the rights and responsibilities outlined above, they will be expected to:
- become a living embodiment of their Third Degree vow;
- make themselves available to all members of OakSpring;
- serve on the Coven Council;
- serve in one or more of the OakSpring offices;
- act in positions of senior leaders and teachers within the OakSpring community and the Wiccan community at large.
Non-Initiates: Requirements and Definitions
For those who willingly place themselves under the guidance and governance of OakSpring, the following expectations apply:
Friends: Those people who attend rituals and other events and may have attended classes but have not yet requested nor intend to request initiation. OakSpring expects friends to:
- abide by ritual protocol before, during, and after circles;
- respect the personal privacy of members of the group;
- donate or volunteer when appropriate;
- not be a spokesperson for the group;
- not bring any guests to any OakSpring function without securing prior
permission from the Front Door Elder or High Priest/ess.
Students: Those people who are taking the series of OakSpring formal classes or those who have taken these classes and intend to ask for or have asked for formal initiation. Students and former students may repeat classes at any time. OakSpring expects students to:
- abide by the behavior rules outlined in the Protocol class;
- be willing, serious, and dedicated students (come to class, be on
time, study, do homework);
- attend and participate in OakSpring and OakSpring sponsored rituals and activities;
- not bring any guests to any OakSpring function without securing prior
permission from the Front Door Elder or High Priest/ess;
- conduct themselves at all times as good representatives of this group.
Additionally, those students who have received the Blessing of the Children are expected to:
- behave honorably and responsibly as true Children of the Gods;
- follow the Wiccan Rede;
- abide by the guidelines set out above for either Friends (those who choose not to seek initiation) or Students (those who choose to seek initiation).
It is the intention of the Elders of OakSpring that the organizational structure set forth above be flexible in order to best serve the interests of the group. Therefore these guidelines are subject to revision as may be deemed advisable by the Coven Council; such revisions may include but are not limited to changes in definitions and requirements for initiates and non-initiates, changes in the duties and responsibilities of the various offices, the combination of duties into a single office, and the addition of new offices and the deletion of existing ones, as circumstances may require. However no revisions may be made, which are in conflict with the Articles of Incorporation, the Bylaws or the Wiccan laws as adopted by the group. In the event of any such conflict, the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws control.