Wicca, a religion that originated in Europe is now being practiced here in the Philippines- a predominantly Catholic and Christian country. As a revival of a pre-Christian nature religion, Wicca is closely tied to nature and has practices and beliefs like our pre-Spanish animistic Babaylan practices. But how does one practices Wicca here in the Philippines? That is the topic that we will discuss here.
1. The Sabbats- The Wiccan Sabbats or Holy Days are tied up to the seasonal cycle in the Northern Hemisphere. Spring, Autumn and Winter are all seasons that we do not have here, however we must remember that wherever we are in this world, we are still affected by the natural cycles. We still can feel the changes in nature as the season arrives, so even though we do not experience these seasons first hand, we still are affected by the ebbs of power that moves the Wheel of the Year.
2. The Gods- The Gods that we normally believe and worship are beings from different European and or Asian pantheon. Though we have Deities here in the country, it is difficult to look for materials that record the Filipino Gods' information- Feasts, Sacred Days etc because the pantheon that our Ancestors worship vary from island to Island. When it comes to the foreign Gods, there are a lot of materials written by ancient scholars about the worship of their Gods, while here in the Philippines it is mostly practiced in islands and localities and are the worship is mainly transfered by word of mouth. However, I believe that no matter what name we Worship the God and Goddess or whatever image we picture them in our minds, these are just aspects of the same Divine Mother and Father we are worshiping so it is not much of an issue.
3. The Tools- Vervain, Asafoetida, rue, Dittany of Crete, Lavender and other herbs are used for spells as written on Wiccan Books sold in bookstores around the country. Normally these herbs are found only in the US or in Europe and it is very difficult to get hold of the plant here in the country. These plants thrive in temperate climate and since the Philippines is a tropical country, we are lucky to find a plant of the same genera here. In my practice as a witch, I would normally rewrite spells and dissect rituals to match the materials and tools that we have here. For a Witch that stays here in the country, there are some occult shoppes that sells imported herbs for a high price. Or, we could just go to the groceries and grab jars of McCormick to use for spells. The best thing to do though is to look around us, for there are herbs and plants that are even more effective than what is written on books.
4. The Rituals- A Wiccan Coven in the US could just celebrate or do their rituals in parks near their vicinity. Since they are an accepted group in their country, they are protected by their laws under Freedom of Religion and are allowed to practically worship everywhere. In my experience as a Wiccan here in the country, we would normally travel hours outside the city to celebrate Sabbats and Esbats. We would go to some secluded beach or mountain just for us to Worship the Lady and the Lord under the guise of an outing. It is very difficult to do rituals in open especially if there are a lot of people passing since they would just label us "Kulto (cult)" without even trying to know what we are doing. To avoid this kind of hassle, you could do rituals in your own backyard or in your room and if you wish to really do the rituals outside, go to a secluded part of the beach or on the mountain top to worship.
5. The Religion- Since we are technically born and bred Catholics or Christians since birth, it is a struggle to practice a religion that is "condemned" by the Christian faith. No matter how we distance ourselves from the Christian/Catholic belief we cannot just shove it away. Majority of the people around us are Christians and they are not entirely open to a son/daughter-brother/sister who worships the Moon and the Sun. Now how do we explain it to them that we are Wiccans and we worship Old Gods- well for in my opinion- you don't. Now some may react violently to the things that I wrote here, but we need to remember that even though we need to be very proud of our Practice and Faith, Wicca is also the Path of the Wise. We must be wise enough to discern people that we share our beliefs with. If you are an open Wiccan, you must be able to explain and defend the Craft, should you be asked about it. The more people knows about it, the more we need to explain, so I think it is better to keep it- To Will, to Know, to Dare and to Keep Silent. Just respect their Faith and in time they will also respect yours. Again Wicca is not a religion for people who are angry with Jesus and God the Father. This is not a religion that will serve as a sanctuary to those who hate Christianity and is disgusted by its practices. It is a different religion with different belief structure and structure. So if you decided to be a Wiccan just because "Papa Jesus" did not give you your crush, better stop now.
There are still a lot of things that needs to be discussed here but I think these five are the most important topics to talk about. However, here are some tips I can give you to make the Path easier to tread in this Christian country.
- be Proud that you are Wiccan, but do not attract attention. If you want to wear a symbol of your faith, make sure that it will not attract attention. It is okay to wear a Pentacle, or any pagan symbol but it is not okay to wear a Pentacle the size of a saucer.
- Share the faith only if you are asked to and not broadcast it to anyone you just met. If people are asking why are you wearing that symbol (ex. a Pentacle) tell them that it is a symbol of your faith, and when they ask answer.
- Wicca is not synonymous to wearing Black. We are common people- tax payers, workers and the likes. If you are a Wiccan, it is not required to wear Black however, if that is your "Fashion Statement" you are entitled to do it just try not to over do it and tell people that you are a Witch that is why you wear Black.
- Lastly, study and read books about the Craft. The more knowledge you have about it, the more respect you can get. Then the people around you will acknowledge that you are really serious about your Path and it is not just a "phase" in your life.
Live and Learn, Know More and Seek. Vivere, Scitor, Discere!
Picture from the internet