Wicca: A Year & a Day takes readers on a spiritual journey through the traditional year and a day of Wiccan training. It is the same kind of training you might receive if you were taught by an experienced Wiccan elder. And though it covers many of the essential magical arts, I would hesitate to call it an introductory book. At its heart, the book guides readers toward their own spiritual understanding. It helps readers of all levels of training to get a sense of their own spiritual essence. Through it, readers discover the mysteries of the Craft and of their own lives in daily increments. In many ways, the book is a "living mandala."
Why Is the Book a Living Mandala?
Well, I'm actually borrowing a term from Eastern paths. But I use it both literally and metaphorically. A mandala is a set of symbols, usually arranged in a geometric form (often a circle). Mandala images intend to communicate deep understanding of universally experienced principles. In that sense, a mandala transcends any specific spiritual tradition, and it is an archetype. This means it is something that every mystical, spiritual path includes in its expression. Take, for example, the pentacle, the encircled five-pointed star. This is a neo-pagan mandala that expresses the wisdom of the elements and their relationship to one another. In this way, the pentacle is not only a magical tool, but a teacher. Wicca: A Year & A Day is a living mandala because readers participate in the symbol system of the Craft, in a circular configuration—the wheel of the year itself. This book plunges readers into an experiential knowledge of Wicca, as opposed to an academic or cerebral understanding of things.
Why Do I Draw This Distinction?
Wicca is not a set of ideas, or even a set of spiritual principles. It is a path that impels the practitioner toward a mystical experience of the world. Through experience, Wiccans discover for themselves the spiritual principles of the Craft. Wicca attempts to cultivate an intimate understanding of nature, including human nature, at its most profound levels. Experience is not something you get by simply reading. It requires both contemplation and action. These are the active and receptive principles that we see reflected in the natural world. Once readers begin to accrue their own experiential knowledge, they tap into the energies of wisdom. Wicca is a Middle-English word that comes from the root wic, meaning (among other things) "wise." So Wicca evokes this characteristic of natural wisdom from its participants. There is no holy book, commandments or prophets that guide Wicca. Instead, it intentionally guides its participants into self-understanding.
What Is Meant by "Natural Wisdom?"
Natural wisdom is the energy that pervades the whole universe. It is what forms a baby in a mother's womb; it is what causes a flower to sprout from a seed. In mystical terms, it is the universe itself. So when readers cultivate natural wisdom within themselves, they are actually allowing the energies of life to freely flow through them. Living in the world we have created, it doesn't take much to cut ourselves off from this principle. Because of that, we begin to think that we can do things independently and be by ourselves—this just isn't true. Natural wisdom comes in the instant that we turn these mistaken notions around and allow ourselves to come into contact with life just as it is. We learn to incrementally let down our guard, our knee-jerk protections, and we start to take all of life in—the good stuff, the bad and all of the in-between. We begin to know in our bones that everything connects to everything else. It is within that same moment that we tap into the energies of magic.
How Does Magic Fit into the Teachings of the Book?
Many people involve themselves in Wicca to learn about and to practice magic. I suppose we can blame Hollywood for the glamorous and extraordinary images that many of us have internalized about magic. But when we see the practice up close, we learn that it is really all about transformation. It is about changing the relationship we have with the world. Often the relationship changes from a self-serving and cut-off relationship to one that recognizes that there is no separation. Everything is right here, and there is no need to clutch on to things and make them "your own." The flow of life moves through you unimpeded once that internal change takes place. This is the greatest position of power and of magic.