When people start to look for or study other kinds of religions or spiritual paths as an alternative to the monotheism religions we are used to, in search for a pagan European belief, often they find Wicca as the first pagan tradition. Wicca so far is the best known form of European polytheism in its bases, so it isn’t hard to find it and actually working in that field, most kids are on to it, because it is easy to perform and it has an all romanized version of the real European paganism, especially when it comes to theCeltic paganism. It seems good to make a comparison of both neo-pagan religions, but first of all, we need to know that both have a variety of spiritual strands, so for now instead of talking about Asatrú, lets give it the name of Heathenism, for the Norse/Germanic beliefs are separated in Asatrú, Vanatrú ( having the faith placed with the Vanir gods ), Odinism/Wotanism, the cult of Odin the supreme sky god of the Aesir, Irminism, Forn Sidhr, Theodism, Germanic Reconstructionism and so on. This also happens with Wicca, but more divided and yet every pagan religion known is placed “inside” of Wicca, making it a cocktail of both pagan religions all over the world and also abrahamic religions which are exactly the opposite of being pagan and actually goes agaisnt that.
The major difference between being a Wiccan or a Heathen, is that in the Wiccan rites, they invoke deities from several other cultures as i have stated before, while the heathens stick to the gods and goddesses from the Norse/Germanic beliefs. Wicca also sees all goddesses and other female deities as aspects of the great goddess divided into the archetypes of Maiden, Mother and Crone in a very Celtic way, and all male deities as the Horned god ( most of the times the male principles don’t exist or are completely forgotten ) this makes wicca religion almost monotheistic-like, the worship of the great goddess in the three fases of life and of nature. While heathenry is more polytheistic-like, worshiping a range of gods and goddesses from the same culture and beliefs, equal in statues and each of them can stay alone without the need for a male or female complement.
Now this tiny paragraph shows us why Wicca is the most popular neo-pagan religion, it is the tiny step that people make while leaving the other abrahamic based religions such as Christianity, the worshiping of one deity, into a religion of the same sort but with pagan themes and rituals, making it look like something very familiar not to seem so shocking, and different, and very often Wiccans see Jesus Christ as the Male god and Virgin Mary as the archetype of the great goddess. The previous paragraph also shows us why in Wiccan, 90% of its followers are female, because the great goddess most of the time is the only deity with great importance and all the faith goes around her, leaving the male completely apart, it isn’t strange to see that most wiccans are lonely women who can’t have a love relationship and eventually are conform with the fact that they do not need a man.
I like to think that religions have strong beliefs when they are practiced by strong people, we shape those with our strong personalities, but with the lack of personality one religion can be very hollow, and women shouldn’t be the kind of women who need men, but rather the kind of women that men need, this is why we see a lot of Wiccans who have no idea what paganism is and actually give it a bad name and the reason for laughter because strong personalities always end up following the best virtues and people without personality end up confused, sad, frustrated and dig deep their own mud holes.
In Wicca the spirits of nature and everything that surrounds us are organized and divided into the four elements, which are earth, fire, water and air. Heathen cosmology is focused in the elements of fire and ice as opposing principles, chaos and order, the constant struggle for peace and maintain everything in harmony such as nature is, with the clear idea that one can’t live without the other, and we also can’t live in a magical eternal paradise where everything is good, we can’t be always happy, we have to experience sadness and other negative feelings so we may give the proper value to things, because if all was good, we would become lazy, ignoble, ignorant, and there is always the need of constantevolution of our personalities, of our own being, to become better. Go ask a wiccan about the meaning of the four elements, 86% or more will not be able to give you an exact answer, and this is due to the fact that people do not study deep their beliefs, they do not question it, they just stay with what is givin to them and they accept it how it is, they are like sheep, blindly following what was told to them, in a constant need to be guided because of the lack of personality, they can’t do things for themselves, they are not self reliant enough, they lack of a strong will and spirit.
In Wicca as a spiritual belief of community, covens are made, groups of people start to gather with the purpose of develp their members spiritually and magically in several initiations, everyone will become a priestess or a priest eventually and it will turn out to be a very lonely spiritual path because people will perform all the rituals are their homes, in a more intimate environment, in contrast most heathens form a kinship, and the rituals/blót and celebrations are formed within a family or household, each of the people have their own place in the group according to their choosing and skills, some may work in a shamanic way, other with other kinds of Germanic magic, some will specialize in brewing, woodcarving, other crafts for the community and other skills that are needed into the group or family, but the main purpose is to provide spiritual community. There are also rites of passa within the kindred, but these tend to mark life changes rather than magical achievments. In terms of rituals, wicca practice is often decended from medieval ceremonial magic, for heathens and practitioners of Norse/Germanic beliefs, rituals and modeled on folk practice, less formal, but also in a very much Seidhr form, in the old ways, in the shamanic performances of the Norse people as far back as memory and history allows us.
It isn’t hard to see the rituals in Wicca being so closely similar to medieval times or with a great connection to the Arthurian legends which was believed that Arthur was a great king in medieval times because his legends gave inspiration to a lot of medieval writers, in a time where politics were very hard and harder was to have the society in order and peace, so the stories of Arthur gave the perfect political order to be followed, stories that date back to the roman times which we can read the stories and legands of Wales and Irland, of a great king and his warriors, all their deeds throughout the land, all of these stories were romanticized in France in later centuries in a tipical medieval way, full ofsplendor, magnificence, glamour, the perfect political order and harmony on the land, heaven on earth, where common men would become nobles and nobles would become knights, and a king od such power and purity that god himself would light his path. At the time the romanticized version was written, it was also the time when christianity was already the main religion of Europe, and so to the Arthur stories and legends it was added the search for the holy grail, as in ancient legends the search was for magic and the realms of the other world, the spiritual world and items of power. The mixture of celtic paganism with the romantic times of medieval Europe and the Arthurian legends, gave the perfect flavour and combination to the Wiccan religion and people tend to fantasize a lot, they are blind and they can’t see the truth of it because the wondrous tale is more appealing to the heart and soul. I have read the real Arthutian legends from Irland and Wales in the real time where they occurred, the story is fantastic and it is actually a more accurate part of history, less romanticized, and more precise, people should also read it, i might talk about it one of these days. This leads me to what i have said before, people don’t question their beliefs, they do not study, they don’t try to comprehend it, in heathenism people tend to be much more formal and precise than wicca in the relationship with the lore, because we have a lot of lore to work with and Wicca is essentially a modern tradition with the lack of lore even being a great mixture of cultures, they do not search for it. Those who practice Norse/Germanic pagan traditions are encouraged to read the primary sources as well as scholarly works discussing them and debating their meanings rather than accepting the interpretations made by others with less contact with the themes, it is a religion/spiritual path always in constant evolution as we human beings also are, adapting to the new needs of the society and of the individual. Many of those who practice the Norse/Germanic paganism, study Old Norse or Anglo-Saxon so they may examine the sources in their original languages.
Another difference between wiccans and heathens is the way taht ethical principles are articulated. In Wicca has a single advice, not harming anyone and doing what we will and also the law of whatever someone might do it will come back to the person tripled, heathens mostly hold to the Nine Noble Virtues ( for that you might want to read my post about them –> [Link] ). While Wicca has a simple statement of what not to do, much like christianity and the 10 commandments, the Norse/Germanic pagan tradition offers a more elaborate statement of what we should do, there is also the great importance of our ancestors and family values such as the friendship and its important bonds.
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