Eight largest faiths in the United States
* Baha’i World Faith
Source: Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Holidays of the Wicca or Sabbats
Sabbats are according to the Wheel of the Year, which follows the agricultural cycle.
* Samhain, the New Year
* Yule, the longest night of the year
* Imbolc, Feb. 2
* Ostara, the spring equinox
* Beltane, May Day
* Litha, the summer solstice
* Lammas, Aug. 1
* Mabon, the autumn equinox
Lydia Crabtree believes God is dual in nature, meaning the divine is male and female. Because of this belief, which is termed the goddess religion, the Buford resident proclaims to be a Wiccan.
“It’s my life’s breath,” she said.
As a vocal Wiccan who also identifies as a witch, she sets herself apart from many of the estimated 750,000 followers of the faith, as several of her fellow practitioners are “still in the broom closet,” intimidated to share their religious status.
Too often, the religion — a peaceful faith with an emphasis on nature — is mistakenly deemed as part of Satanism, which is a large part of why people remain secretive, Crabtree said. But she does not remain silent or secretive. In fact, she has authored a book titled, “Family Covens: Birthing Hereditery Witchcraft,” which is set to be released soon.
And as one of the eight holy days for the faith, Samhain, approaches on Nov. 1, she wants to shed light on the nation’s fifth largest religion.
Here’s what she had to say on the subject:
Question: How would you describe the Wiccan faith to someone unfamiliar with the religion?
Answer: I think that the best way to describe the Wiccan faith is that we have a belief, first of all, that God is dual in nature, both male and female, which is where you get the term that Wiccan is the goddess religion. The second thing that is different is that you worship the natural world as if it is also part of the divine.
Q: What are some of the ways you practice your faith?
A: In our religion, there are eight holidays, which are called the Sabbats, which loosely translated means “holy days.” And the Sabbats are done according to what we call the Wheel of the Year, which follows the agricultural cycle. Right now, we’re approaching Samhain, which celebrates the time of year when we’re taking in the last harvest. It’s also the time of the year when we notice that the fields are dying, so we relate that to all of our ancestors who have died before us. So, we’ll honor our ancestors by having a meal and having a place at the table set for them and having food set out for them. We have their pictures at the table. We may go around and toast our ancestors who are from recent memory. And the wheel goes around, and then there’s the preparing season, the planting season and the harvesting season.
Q: How is the Wiccan faith different from witchcraft?
A: There is a saying that you can be Wiccan and not a witch, or you can be a witch and not Wiccan, or you can be witch and Wiccan. Witches typically do spells, and they may do spells by combining herbs, creating talismans, all these manners of physical things to create a different reality than they live in. The other way I would say it is people pray, and prayer is like a spell. When you speak your intentions, you are creating a spell. So, some Wiccans only celebrate the Sabbats. They do not do spells. They don’t pray. They just celebrate the Sabbats. Others celebrate the Sabbats and do spells, so they consider themselves both Wiccan and a witch. And then there are people out there who only do spells, and we would consider them witches.
Q: What would you consider yourself?
A: I’m definitely a traditional high witch, meaning I do spells and I celebrate the Sabbats. I follow what is called a North European lore, specifically the Scot Highlands and the ancient divinities that came out of there.
Q: Are you a solo practitioner or part of a coven?
A: I’m not part of a coven but part of a community. Covens have what we call a dogma of practice. They tell you how to do all the specific parts of our ceremony. They tell you which divinities to worship and when. They do everything in the same way. That does not appeal to me. My community is made up of reconstructionist Cannonites, reconstructionist Irish Celts. We have a HooDoo practitioner. We have some undecided. We have someone who classifies themselves as a Jewish Christian Pagan. And we all take turns bringing our own brands of Wicca and paganism to our services.
Q: Are there leaders or the equivalent of pastors in the faith?
A: Nobody in our group would claim to be in charge. We all share that burden equally. When we get together to have a service, we call it circle. When we have circles, what we do is called ritual, and all that means is doing a certain set of things in a standard way every time you get together. But I am an ordained minister, and I am not the only one in my group who is ordained. There are several others as well. I do light peer or pastoral counseling. I marry people. And then I also help to lead the weekly class.
Q: A lot of times, people mistake being Wiccan as being a Satanist, and there seems to be a feeling that being Wiccan is adverse to Christianity. What do you think about that?
A: First, Satanism is reactionary to Christianity. Everything in Satanism is the reverse of Christianity. They literally hang the cross upside down. Those of us who are Wiccan and witches think Christianity is just fine. We just celebrate a different path. We love our herbs and everything that’s part of the natural world. And there are Christian Wiccans. That’s a subdenomination of Wiccan. I’ve met some. They’re beautiful people. Wiccan does not mean a rejection of Jesus Christ as a divine figure, just like being Buddhist doesn’t mean that you’re rejecting Jesus Christ as a divine figure. It does mean that we see the divine in a broader sense, so not only do we see Jesus as a divine figure, but also Buddha and Morgan. It’s a polytheistic religion that does not exclude Christ.
Q: What drew you to the faith?
A: Studying the history of Christianity brought me to being a Wiccan. I was a Christian. I was raised Southern Baptist, and I started studying the history of the Protestant Church, which led me to Martin Luther, which led me to wondering why Luther left the Catholic Church, which led me to the Reformation, and that led me to studying the Council of Nicea. And that’s when I began to find out the Catholic Church blended pagan religions in order to convert the people they were ministering to, and in doing this, I started wondering what they took from the pagans they were ministering to. And here I am. We have this joke that says, ‘Give me that old time religion,’ referring to the religion as it existed before the church.
Q: Is there a stigma with being a Wiccan? Do people keep it a secret?
A: We call it coming out of the broom closet, and lots of us are still in the broom closet. We say that jokingly, but it’s deadly serious, and I do mean deadly. I know of a pagan author who writes pagan books for pagan children, and she’s had bricks thrown through her windows. It’s deadly serious in this country to be different. My husband and I were Boy Scout leaders, and there was a move in the Boy Scouts to kick us out. The church that hosted my son’s troop had a private meeting on the matter. Now, did some people leave the troop? Yes, but they were the minority, not the majority. What I have found is if I’m respectful of other people’s beliefs, it becomes very difficult for them to be disrespectful to me.
Q: What else do you want people to know about the Wiccan faith?
A: That it is just as deep and meaningful and daily and present as any other sacred belief someone might hold. And just because I may do it a little differently doesn’t take away how serious it is to me. It’s my life breath.