on Religious and Spiritual Accommodation
section (updated 2005)
Correctional Service of Canada (CSC)
has produced its first national Manual on Religious and Spiritual
Accommodation in federal prisons, in part in response to the
growing diversity of faith communities (including minority
faiths) represented in the inmate population.PPO
Elders contributed material on Paganism
(the umbrella term) and Wicca,
as well as arranging for material on Asatru
(formatting is specific to this site)
On this page:
Definition and Background of Paganism
Paganism in CSC
A : Memorandum of Understanding from Warkworth Institution
Definition and Background of Paganism
people in North America and Europe who call themselves Pagans
are participating in a relatively new religious movement that
finds it inspiration primarily in the religious traditions
of pre-Christian Europe, although 'pantheons' or approaches
from other parts of the world may also be included. [FN
1 - Some people who practise Wiccan or other Pagan traditions
follow an Egyptian or Sumerian pantheon, or even incorporate
some Hindu expressions of the Divine]Whether
the practices of modern Pagans are based on ancient traditions,
modern interpretation or invention, they generally hold four
features in common:
Nature is seen as sacred.
The Divine is represented by multiple 'faces', both
female and male, though not necessarily as 'Goddess' and
The cycles and features of Nature are the basis for worship,
spiritual growth and/or modern cultural and ethical responsibility.
While not necessarily adopting the specific practices of
the ancestors, ancient wisdom is revered and re-explored
for relevance to the modern world.
As such, most indigenous traditions
around the world - for example, Native American, Japanese
Shinto, Australian Aborigine, African tribal traditions -
fall under the general category of Pagan.In
common practice, however, those traditions that have been
practised in a relative continuum since ancient times are
generally referred to as 'aboriginal' traditions; while those
which are distinctively modern interpretations of ancient
traditions are referred to as 'neo-Pagan' or simply ' Pagan'.
Pagan spirituality is considered
to be "manifest", that is available to all people
through their direct connection with the Divine manifested
in Nature, as distinct from "revealed".In
this sense, the most common interpretation of the term 'pagan',
especially in Western countries, is someone who does not follow
the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam), the
more commonly known Oriental religions (such as Buddhism),
or other 'scripture-based'/'revealed' traditions.
Originally the term 'pagan'
meant 'country dweller'.Likewise
'heathen' originally meant 'those who live on the heath'.The
original European pagans were those rural people who were
the last to be converted to Christianity, the early Christian
tradition having primarily spread through urban centres.Because
rural people preferred their Nature-based traditions, and
were therefore resistant to conversion, the term 'pagan' took
on a derogatory meaning within the growing Christian tradition,
culminating in dictionary interpretations such as: non-religious,
blasphemous, materialistic, and self-indulgent.
While many, if not most, modern
Pagans are urban-dwellers, they seek to reconnect with Nature
in a distinctly spiritual way.Neo-Pagans
base their practices on the cycles of the sun and moon, the
agricultural seasons and the Divine as manifest in Nature.For
some, Nature is celebrated as Gaia, a Living Mother, and ecological
responsibility is seen as a sacred vocation.The
movement can be roughly equated with Native American spirituality,
both in the similarity of their themes and the variations
in local practice.They
also share a lack of any centralized authority.However,
'Elders' or other leaders establish a following and are generally
recognized and respected.
Distinctions between Paganism and Satanism
Because the early Christians
who converted Europe were opposed to the old 'pagan' ways,
they considered people who followed them to be sinful and,
therefore, demonized the pagan gods.As
a result, the idea lingers that modern Paganism can be equated
fact these two spiritual traditions are different in origin
and their adherents do not consider themselves at all related.Paganism
in current usage refers to re-constructions of European tribal
is, at least in its origins, a Christian heresy. [FN
2 - The former celebrates access to the Divine in nature;
the latter opposes itself to Christianity by rejecting and/or
distorting its teaching. It is important for correctional
staff to understand these distinctions in order to prevent
inappropriate decisions based on incorrect information.]
Pagans do not believe in a malevolent
entity, such as Satan.They
do recognize that evil exists in the world but do not personify
it, considering it to be the result of people persistently
making choices - as distinguished from 'mistakes' - that come
out of, and progressively cause a greater, lack of balance
within themselves, their society and the natural cycles of
example, cooperation and exchange of goods is beneficial for
all concerned, while stealing constitutes taking without giving
in return and so is harmful to the individuals involved and
Varieties of Paganism
The largest group under the
umbrella term of Paganism is Wicca.Other
identifiable groups are Asatru (reconstructed Norse), Druidry
and Goddess Worship.Each
of their categories comprises a variety of sub-categories
or traditions, comparable to denominations within Christianity.The
Wiccans, being the most numerous, have the most variations.
At the present time, virtually
all Pagan spiritual visitors to CSC institutions are Wiccan,
but this could change in the foreseeable future.Even
Wiccans of one tradition may or may not choose to attend circles
led according to another tradition.Finding
community leaders of Asatruars and Druids is difficult and
followers of these traditions may choose to attend Wiccan
circles or practise as 'solitaries'. [FN
3 - Definition of 'solitaries': Pagans whose practice
of spirituality and ritual practice is undertaken as private
devotion, without reference or access to a group setting or
There are also an unknown number
of people who call themselves simply 'Pagans'.Many,
though not all, have beliefs and practices that are generally
akin to those of Wicca, though some consider 'divine energy'
not to be personified and/or find their own 'sense of the
divine' or spirituality in Nature without defining it as a
there is no specific common belief system or set of practices
that is 'Pagan' as such.As
a result, since most of the Pagan spiritual visitors to CSC
institutions are likely to be Wiccan, an inmate calling himself
or herself 'Pagan' will have to accept ministry from a Wiccan
leader or practise as a solitary, unless and until Pagan visitors
from other traditions become available.
Paganism and Christianity
At various points throughout
history, Christian leadership has strongly condemned 'pagans',
believing them to be living in a manner contrary to the will
of God as revealed in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures.This
often led to wide-spread persecution and large death tolls
of those deemed to be 'pagan', the best known being the 'burning
times' of the 15th to 18th centuries in Europe.In
fact many of the victims were killed for policital or economic
reasons or as scapegoats and were accused of being 'pagans'
or witches or of 'following the devil' as a justification
for their death.This
led to centuries of justified fear, amongst real pagans in
acknowledging their faith.
On the other hand, observance
of the seasonal pagan rituals was so strongly established
that the Church ended up co-opting a number of festivals and
celebrations and dedicating them to certain saints and/or
events in the Christian worship cycle.
Increased religious tolerance
in the latter part of the 20th century has meant that modern-day
Pagans (neo-Pagans) can practise their spirituality more openly,
although negative attitudes toward them, based on ignorance
and in some cases narrow Christian teaching, persist in some
In some of its expression, Christian
'creation theology' reflects the Pagan principle of the Divine
as 'revealed' in Nature, but places this spirituality within
the context of scriptural revelation.Some
parallels can be seen between Christian celebrations of God
in the natural order and some approaches of 'eco-pagans'.
Paganism in CSC
- The information above was provided by spiritual visitors
to Wiccan inmates housed in CSC institutions and other Canadian
sources of information. What follows are general observations
from the Manual's editor.]
Although the general public
has misconceptions about what 'Pagan' and 'witch' mean, this
Manual is providing correct information regarding the beliefs
and practices of people who use those terms for themselves
nothing in the practice of Paganism as described in this Manual
contravenes the law, Pagan offenders are free to practice
their religion and CSC is obliged to provide appropriate accommodation.
Functional Distinctions between 'Paganism' and 'Wicca'
In present practice, the term
'Pagan' is used in two ways:
to designate a particular category
people practising Wicca, Goddess Worship, Druidism, Asatru
and various other spiritual traditions are all Pagans.So
for example, the Pagan Federation of Canada (PFPC) is an
association of people who practise a number of spiritual
traditions under the umbrella of Paganism.As
a result, individual members of the Pagan Pastoral Outreach
(pastoral offshoot of PFPC) may offer different traditional
practices in institutions; however, since the only PPO members
currently visiting the prisons in Ontario are themselves
Wiccan, they offer Wiccan practice to the inmates.
to designate people following
a specific tradition falling under the category
the community people who call themselves Pagans usually
practise as 'solitaries', but may also attend groups and
rituals of specific traditions (such as Wicca)."Paganism"
as such does not connote any defined beliefs (equivalent,
as a category, to "monotheism") and practices
in the way that Wicca or Druidry do, for example.
For the purposes of this
Manual the terms 'Pagan'
and 'Paganism' will refer to both the category of spiritual
tradition within which other specific traditions - such as
Wicca - fall and the people who identify their spiritual practice
a Pagan but do not choose to belong to the other traditions
listed above. [FN 5 - This is
not unlike the general term 'catholic' (meaning "universal")
applying to a number of Christian denominations at the same
time that it is used in designating specific traditions, such
as the Roman Catholic Church.]
These distinctions are important
when it comes to ensuring that inmates' religious affiliation
(as it appears in OMS) corresponds to the tradition endorsed
by visiting community leaders.In
some cases, Pagans will feel strongly about practicing their
own specific tradition, and therefore attempts should be made
to find a visitor from that tradition.
On the other hand, some feel comfortable participating in
whatever tradition is being offered in that particular institution,
including by multi-traditional organizations (whose members
may be from any one of the major traditions).However,
since 'Pagan' is not a defined tradition in itself, inmates
who identify as such will need to practice as 'solitaries'
or attend the gatherings of whatever Pagan tradition is presently
practiced within that institution.
Wicca, in particular, is divided
into distinct sub-traditions with different practices, as
different as those between Christian denominationsAs
a result, inmates may not accept the specific practices of
available Wiccan visitors in the same way that a Protestant
would not necessarily accept the leadership of a Catholic
Another way in which these distinctions
may affect the management of institutional religious groups
is in inmates' willingness (or unwillingness) to recognize
a spiritual leader from the community as representing their
a Pagan group clearly defines itself as belonging to a particular
tradition (or sub-tradition) that the outside leader does
not, this must be taken as rejection of the individual visitors,
in which case it is up to the inmate group to find another
leader acceptable to them and CSC.
Variations in Belief and Practice
Unlike most "Western"
religious traditions, the practice of Paganism is shaped to
a large extent by the individuals within small, local groups.There
is no authority structure responsible for establishing and
upholding generally held beliefs, authenticating valid practice
or making decisions in the name of the tradition at large.
As a result, the practice of
the traditions within Paganism varies greatly from one group
within the community to anotherSuch
creative freedom is only limited by the preferences of group
members and provisions of the law.The
same cannot be said of the practice of Paganism within CSC
only are a number of the "tools" used in Pagan rituals
forbidden in this setting, but certain limits on creative
expression are deemed appropriate in the interests of the
safety and good order of the institution.For
example, some time limits on rituals must be observed, outdoor
rituals may be approved only under certain conditions, and
rituals must normally be carried out during the day (even
though the tradition may normally hold some of them at night
in the community).
Also, Pagans in the community
may choose to design their rituals on the basis of any beliefs
held by one or more individual, without approval of a designated
a spiritual leader from the community is required in order
for a Pagan group to function in CSC institutions, and such
a leader must take responsibility to ensure that the teaching
and practice of his or her group conforms to institutional
many cases the leader must adapt the spiritual practices for
use in the correctional setting.And
since each leader is independent (meaning that there is no
central authority) and each institution may have reason to
impose certain restrictions, practice will vary from one institution
Wicca as it is currently practised is a modern reconstruction
of European tribal, Nature-based religion.The
movement was largely started by Gerald Gardner (aided by Doreen
Valiente) in the 1940's and '50's and is based on surviving
pagan folk customs with some Masonic and ceremonial elements.Since
the 1950's, feminism, Jungian psychology, the ecological movement,
and other influences have brought about many variations, some
of them very different from "traditional" practice,
but all authentic for their practitioners.
The "European tribal"
reference has to do with the origin of the practices only,
and in no way limits practice to people of European descent.Wicca
is practised by people of all ethnic and racial groups, sexual
Other names by which this spiritual
tradition is known include Witchcraft, Earth Religion, Old
Religion, and the Craft.It
is sometimes also referred to as Neo-Paganism, which actually
includes more than just strictly Wiccan practice.
Some Wiccans understand the
faith to be polytheistic, others pantheistic or 'panentheistic'.
[FN 6- Ontario Multifaith:
"There have been and continue to be very many Gods and
Goddesses. They are distinguished by the times and places
in which they are worshipped and by the natural forces or
human endeavours over which they rule. Deities who rule over
human works are held to be exemplars of excellence in their
areas of expertise; human efforts in those areas are considered
as offerings to those deities." However, many modern
Wiccans understand the various Goddesses and Gods as archetypes,
and multiple faces of a One Divine (that may not be deified
more general terms, however, Wiccans understand the Divine
as being a cosmic unified One-ness (somewhat similar to the
concept of 'godhead'), which is intrinsically beyond the ken
of human beingsNature
is considered to be the Divine's primary expression.Worship
focuses on 'faces' of the Divine, that is, multiple forms
that people can identify with and/or relate to personally
and which are personifications of the reality that we all
live within - time, space and this planet.The
most common and central 'faces' that represent living reality
are Mother Earth and Father Sun, who together produce life.Attribution
of the feminine as well as the masculine to the Divine is
a basic feature of Wicca.
Wiccans believe that no single
path to the Sacred is right for all people and see their own
religious pattern as only one among manyWiccans
respect all religions that foster honour and compassion in
their adherents, and expect the same respect of their traditions
are encouraged to learn about other faiths and are permitted
to attend the services of other religions if they wish to.
"[Wiccans] seek to control
the forces within him - or herself that make life possible
in order to live wisely and well, without harm to others
and in harmony with nature.[They]
acknowledge that it is the affirmation and fulfilment of
life, in continuation of evolution and development of consciousness,
that gives [sic] meaning to the Universe we know and our
personal role within it. " [FN
7 - from Drawing Down the Moon, Margot Adler, p. 101,
quoted in 'A Law Enforcement Guide to Wicca', Kerr Cuhulain,
Wiccan Information Network, Vancouver, B.C., 1989, p.3.]
Many Wiccans believe in reincarnation,
but the tradition does not require such a belief.There
are a variety of concepts about the 'afterlife', some of which
include a paradise, place of transformation and/or reincarnationFor
most Wiccans, the specifics of the 'afterlife' are not of
primary importance; rather, living one's present life in an
honourable and responsible way in regard to all life is more
Wiccans focus on the poetic/symbolic
significance of Nature rather than on any scripture or creed.They
celebrate the cycles of Nature the progress of the sun around
the Wheel of the Year and the resulting seasonal changes,
as well as the phases of the moon.Both
literally and metaphorically, Wiccans see the seasons of the
year (or cycles of the moon) as reflecting the seasons and
cycles of their lives.
A group collectively committed
to each other and to a specific tradition is called a coven
and its members join by invitation only.Wiccans
think in terms of not only going around the cycles of their
lives, but of spiralling deeper (or higher) and progressing
in their spiritual understanding together.Traditional
covens mark this by initiations, or degrees, by which every
practitioner is made a priestess or priest. Prison ritual
groups (or 'circles') cannot operate like exclusive covens
and have to be open to a variety of participants.'Initiations'
and taking a priesthood role in relation to other inmates
are not appropriate.However,
dedication rites, which celebrate an individual's personal
dedication to the Goddess and the God, are appropriate.They
serve to encourage further spiritual development and help
the inmates feel they are part of a larger community that
exists outside the prison.
Goddess Worship is a derivative
of Wicca with the focus on the Divine as mainly or entirely
Goddess, the Great Mother.Practitioners
are usually women, though male practitioners do exist.The
teachings of Wicca generally apply to Goddess Worship.
For specific ritual practice
see below: Worship and Cell Effects.
Adopting Wiccan Names
Some Wiccans use a special 'spiritual'
the past such names served as a pseudonym to protect their
identity. [FN 8 - Law Enforcement,
p.15.] Although this is still sometimes the case in
modern culture, it more often represents a personalised commitment
to the individual's faith and tradition.In
many traditions this name is only used by the members of one's
coven or circle; in others, it may be used within the community
There exist many common misconceptions
about Wicca in the minds of Wiccans and non-Wiccans.These
will be addressed in a section dedicated to the subject at
the end of this chapter.
There are no actions required
on the part of Wiccan women who give birth.
Recommended practice, however,
the expectant woman - three rituals, one in each trimester
of gestation, focus on adjusting to the changes in body
and life and on developing commitment to the child;
Wiccaning ritual, similar to a christening, for the child;
Encouragement for fathers to attend birthing classes and
the birth itself, and to have an on-going bond with the
child (whether or not he and/or the mother is incarcerated).
There is nothing absolutely
necessary to Wiccan religious expression, but the use of candles
is central to practice.
The Use of Candles
Staring into a candle flame
is very effective for meditation purposes, particularly for
inmates who are surrounded by much noise in the cellblocks.Where
an inmate is denied access to candles (see Fire Safety SOP
[FN 9 - See Infonet/Bookshelf/Manuals or http://infonet/techservice/engservices/fire-safetye.doc
)], the Pagan Prison Outreach [FN
10- Affiliated with the Pagan
Federation/Fédération païenne Canada]
agrees that the play of light through a crystal might
serve as a substitute.Due
to the refraction of light, crystals can provide a visual
aid for meditation somewhat similar to a candle flame.
However, for religious purposes
other than meditation, i.e. personal rituals, a crystal is
not a substitute for a candle.The
candle embodies the element of Fire or 'light in the darkness',
whereas a crystal embodies quite a different element, namely
are universally central to Wiccan worship, while personal
meditation practices may vary considerably.
See the Appendix
at the end of this chapter for a Best Practice from Warkworth
Institution on managing the use of candles.
Required: An altar
with candles and incense is an integral part of Wiccan practice,
which inmates should have wherever possible.The
altar can be any flat surface.A
standard set-up would include a cloth, three candles (for
Goddess, God and Cosmic Source), incense, water or juice in
a cup (a chalice), and salt in a bowl.
also like to have natural objects - such as shells, feathers,
stones, crystals, a small tree branch, etc. - on their altar,
representing the four elements of Air, Earth, Fire and Water.
The wearing of a symbol or talisman
(or other religious jewellery) is common amongst Wiccans,
as it is amongst people of other faiths.These
symbols represent a general commitment to their faith, a spiritual
dedication, and/or specific commitment to a particular group/tradition,
and especially if blessed by one's priesthood or circle group.
Although not sacred objects,
many Wiccan practitioners wear robes or other particular items
of clothing, such as a special shirt, for personal or group
Unless particular security considerations
exist that would curtail access to these items, inmates should
be permitted to use those already mentioned and/or the following
in the practice of their spirituality:
cingulum (a coloured cord or sash worn around the waist
of simple robes); the colours vary according to the tradition
candles and candle holders
small bottles of consecrated oils
stick and burner
ceramic and wooden chalice and bowls
cards and/or rune stones (ceramic or wooden)
and ritual jewellery (rings and pendants)
wooden wand (length traditionally from elbow to tip of index
finger, but is often a small blunt stick)
Sacred texts, literature, study material
Wicca is traditionally
more an oral than a written tradition.There
is no common sacred text.
Recommended: Practitioners usually have a personal
notebook, listing their rituals and working notes, commonly
called a 'book of shadows' (in many traditions, 'shadows'
refers to private reflections).They
are encouraged to collect books on Wicca and related subjects,
together with study material supplied by the authorised spiritual
visitors from the community.Most
Wiccans use tarot cards (or similar decks of cards) for meditation
should be permitted for personal or group use.
Some examples of Wiccan literature
commonly referred to are:
Adler, Margot, Drawing Down
the Moon, Beacon Press, Boston Mass., 1987.
The Spiral Dance,
Harper & Row, NY, 1979.
Wicca, a Guide for the Solitary
Llewellyn Publ., St. Paul MN. 1988
Marion, Positive Magic: Occult
Self Help, Phoenix Pub. Inc., Custer WA,
Vivianne, Wicca - The Old
Religion in the New Millennium, Thorsons
(U.K.) 1996, and Principles
of Wicca, Thorsons (U.K.) 1997.
Stewart & Janet, The Witches
Way and Eight Sabbats for Witches, republished
in one volume as A Witches
Bible Compleat, Magickal Childe Publishing,
As of 2002, the following groups
provide spiritual services to inmates in CSC's custody:
Prison Outreach (affiliated with the
Pagan Federation/Fédération païenne Canada)
provides visitation to inmates where possible, contacts
potential Wiccan prison visitors elsewhere and provides
a correspondence study program, especially where there is
currently no Wiccan visitation.Contact
information: Box 8312, Station T, Ottawa, ON K1G 3H8; 613-299-3327
Aquarian Tabernacle Church
(or ATC) is based in Seattle, but has branches in British
of this group have visited Pagan inmates (men and women)
in the PAC region in the past.The
address is ATC Canada Headquarters, P.O. Box 20048, Duncan,
BC V9L 5H1; firstname.lastname@example.org
or phone (250) 746-7646.
Church of Canada provides leadership to some
institutions in the ONT region.The
address is 106 Vaughan Rd., Unit 201, Toronto, ON M6C 2L9,
email@example.com, , (416)
Conversion / Initiation
Wicca specifically prohibits
proselytising, but Wiccans are obligated to answer questions
from sincere seekers.Circles
are generally open to anyone who is genuinely interested and
willing to participate in a Wiccan form of worship - whether
the person presently identifies him or herself as pagan or
Although it is not appropriate
for inmates to be initiated and act as priesthood (as is common
in traditional practice), dedication rites, which celebrate
an individual's personal dedication to the Goddess and the
God, can be offered, and are usually a significant element
in the inmate's spiritual journey.
are no general customs as regards the handling of the body,
nor any prohibitions against autopsies or organ donations,
If the inmate's family is aware
of and sympathetic to his or her religious practice, the religious
cell effects should be given to them.Otherwise
the effects should be given to the Wiccan visitors, who will
give them to other Pagan inmates for their use during their
incarceration or return them to the earth (usually this means
burying or burning them).
deceased's priestess or priest usually conducts a memorial
service with his or her fellow inmates, with family and friends
present, if desired.
has no general dietary requirements beyond a preference for
'seasonal foods' for sabbats.Individuals
may decide on personal religious grounds to be vegetarian,
but it is not a requirement. [FN
11 - Some traditions practise the belief that the Divine
protects animals and, therefore, observe a vegetarian diet.
The community leader supervising the Wiccan group at the institution
should be able to assess whether an inmates choice to
be a vegetarian is based on an authentic spiritual belief.]
holidays - in particular October 31st and May 1st - are generally
celebrated with a feast, preferably featuring seasonal foods,
which can either be ordered from a caterer in the community
or prepared in the institutional kitchen.For
the other six sabbats, a token feast (e.g., sabbat cake -
note: "cake" is an old fashioned term for round
bread and doesn't mean something sweet) can be arranged by
the inmates. (See Holy Days and
are no rules pertaining to divorce.
'hand-parting' ceremony is often done to mark this passage/change,
either for both parties (if they are willing) or with one
partner. (See the section on Marriage
is no required dress code for Wiccans.
use of robes or some other special item of clothing - for
example, a special shirt - for circle/ritual is optional.However,
a change of dress can help a person achieve a certain state
of mind different from that of everyday reality, which is
conducive to meditation and worship.
Wiccans often wish to wear a
pendant in the form of a pentacle (an interlaced five-point
star within a circle) as an expression of their faith and
a constant reminder of their communion with the Divine and
their search for an authentic, responsible relationship with
the living Earth.Many
covens have a symbol that identifies members and provides
spiritual connection. (See Sacred
Objects, above, and Symbols
There are no obligations regarding
prayer, dress or leadership based on gender, except that,
while priest and priestess are equals, the priestess is considered
'first among equals'.The
more traditional Wiccan rituals are usually led by both a
priestess and a priest, thereby reflecting the feminine and
masculine 'faces' of the Divine.
In other traditions or more
eclectic practice, members of either gender (singly or jointly)
can lead a ritual.This
by no means precludes homosexual leaders or participantsSolitary
ritual, in which there is no leader, only the single participant,
is a practice included in most traditions, whether or not
the person has access to group practice.In
solitary ritual practice, the individual (of either gender)
commonly does the ritual parts that traditionally the priestess
and priest would do in group worship.
Health / Illness
acceptance or refusal of care, including transfusions, is
a matter of individual conscience since Wiccan policy on medical
restrictions does not exist.
the case of illness, the person's coven and spiritual leader
should be notified. Whenever
possible, the religious visitors should be permitted to visit
seriously ill Wiccan inmates, whether in the institutions
or a hospital. [FN 12 - However,
Wiccans generally believe in the efficacy of spiritual
or psychic healing when done in tandem with standard medical
treatment. Most Wiccans believe that healing energy can be
sent from great distances. The U.S. Army's Religious
Requirements and Practices of Certain Selected Groups: A Handbook
for Chaplains, (pp.231-236), date of publication lost.]A
healing ritual should be allowed.It
is recognised that some reasonable restrictions of tools used
in the bedside ritual may pertain in some cases.
Strikes: Even if spiritually motivated, hunger
strikes remain a personal choice.Inmates
considering such a choice are encouraged to seek spiritual
counsel, but cannot necessarily expect support for this course
of action (or its stated cause) from their prison visitors.
Holy Days and Holidays
The dates of specific celebrations
or 'sabbats' are based on the progress of the sun through
the wheel of the year and the agricultural/natural cycles.While
some Wiccans insist on celebrating the sabbats on the proper
day, most wait for the weekend or some other convenient time.In
CSC institutions, sabbat celebrations are often held in the
course of regular get-togethers for ritual with the religious
visitors; it is therefore not necessary to celebrate the sabbats
on precise dates.
The primary holy days are Samhain
(Oct. 31/Nov. 1) and Beltane
(April 31/May 1), marking the beginning of winter
and summer respectively and reflecting the ancient Celtic
division of the year into two seasons, the Dark and the Bright.Inmates
and their religious visitors often celebrate these with an
all-day visit and special ceremonies.
The sabbats serve as life lessons
derived from Nature: There are hard times, but they eventually
give way to good times, and vice versa.There
are different kinds of necessary work to be done in the dark
times and in the bright times.The
wheel turns and change is the only thing constant in life.But
each turn of the wheel is an opportunity to do things better,
based on experience of the past.
Besides Samhain and Beltane,
the other two major sabbats are Imbolg/c
(Feb. 1/2) and Lughnasadh
or Lammas (Aug.1/2),
marking the time to prepare for spring and harvest respectively.
they divide the year into the four agricultural seasons.The
four major sabbats are called the 'cross-quarters' because
they fall in between the astronomical markers of the year,
the solstices and equinoxes.The
four cross-quarters and the two solstices and two equinoxes
together constitute the eight sabbats celebrated within Wicca.
The agricultural year cycle
is a progression and has no clear seasonal markers.Although
tradition has given the shifts specific dates (with a day
or two variance between traditions), the actual day is less
important than a recognition of the progression of the year
cycle, and this reminds practitioners that the change of seasons
is a process and not a particular date or event.The
four major (cross-quarter) sabbats celebrate the seasonal
changes and mark a shift in approach to one's own life, including
those within the psyche, and the world around, eventually
coming full circle within each year.
On the other hand, the minor
sabbats (the equinoxes and solstices) mark the shortest and
longest days, and the point at which day and night are equal.The
actual date changes (20, 21, 22) according to the rotation
of the earth around the sun each year, although the 21st is
generally held as the sabbat date.Still,
the effects of these celestial events upon the world lag behind.For
example, 'Midsummer' is celebrated on the summer solstice,
usually June 21st, because it is the longest day and the sun
is at its height.However,
the effects of the sun in terms of heat and growth do not
reach their height in the Northern hemisphere until a month
or more afterward, and are celebrated at the major sabbat
of Lammas on August 1.
The Wiccan wheel of the year
is based on the agricultural cycles, and therefore it is traditional
for seasonal foods to be included, either in the ritual itself
or in a celebratory feast afterwards.Some
traditions attempt to include a specific list of foods for
each sabbat (where available), but most focus on what is seasonal
within their own geographical area.Of
particular significance would be any food that inmates have
Wiccan inmates who are isolated
will need to celebrate the sabbats in a solitary ritual.Those
who do have Wiccan groups and visitation available may want
to do a solitary observance on the actual date of the sabbat
if the group's celebration was either before or after that
these solitary rituals would have a particular focus, they
would not be significantly different from other solitary practice
(and CSC limitations thereof), except for the inclusion of
seasonal foods (if the inmate requests them).If
they need direction on solitary observance for regular or
sabbat worship, isolated Wiccan inmates should request contact
with the Wiccan service providers, either directly or by correspondence,
through the institutional chaplains.
What follow are brief descriptions
of the main festivals observed in most Wiccan traditions
[FN 13 - A list of specifics for those inmates practising
within the Wiccan Church of Canadas tradition is available
at the Ontario Multi-Faith website.]:
(on which the cultural holiday Hallowe'en is based)
- October 31st - originally marked the 'death' of the year,
the apparent death of the natural world, the end of the
harvest, the culling of the herd.It
is the time to remember ancestors, say final farewells to
friends and family who have 'passed over' during the year,
and to acknowledge one's own future death.This
sabbat is sometimes called the 'third harvest', when root
vegetables and squash are brought in and animals slain.Samhain
heralds the shift of attention from one's external world
to the internal reality, thus a time for reflection, contemplation,
and preparing for internal metamorphosis.Blessings
are requested for safe passage through the long night of
winter and its transformations in the wheel of life.
The night has reached its zenith and days begin to lengthen.Held
on the winter solstice (December 21), this is the celebration
of the re-birth of the sun and the waxing of sunlight, as
the short days of winter begin to get longer.The
evergreen tree and holly, which stay green throughout the
winter, unlike deciduous trees, are honoured as representations
of 'life everlasting' despite the cycles of birth and death.The
Yule tree may be dressed with fruit or other decorations,
representing the promise of spring and a fruitful summer
are lit to represent the sun; the Yule log is lit to bring
exchange of gifts symbolises how people must give to each
other in order to survive.Attention
is focused on the re-birth of light and its promise of a
are requested to remain strong through the barren times
of one's life, and to encourage 'new light' in one's directions.
Usually observed on February 1st or 2nd, this is a festival
of light and fire.The
increase of warmth and light, and the promise of spring
that are both present even in the depths of winter, are
some traditions, 'corn' dolls (from last year's straw -
note, corn is the European term for grain; it does not refer
to maize) are burned as offerings to the sun, to speed its
return. In the meantime, Brigit, the ancient goddess of
the hearth and arts and crafts, as well as knowledge, smithing
and forging, is honoured.She,
like many other goddesses, represents the cauldron of transformation
(death to life) from which all life comes. [FN 78 - Remnants
of this Pagan festival are found in Christian worship as
the feast of St. Brigid.]It
is a time to prepare for the coming agricultural season
and an opportunity to study during times of confinement.Attention
turns to new directions for the coming year and whatever
preparations are necessary (physically, emotionally, and
are requested for these new directions - that they be wise
and held with determination.
(or Ladyday): The spring equinox celebrates
the coming of spring (March 21), which is often envisioned
as a Maiden Goddess who returns from the land of the dead
where she spent the winter.One
of her names is Eostre, from which the word 'Easter' is
and rabbits are eaten, marking the return of life and fertility.Attention
turns to the beginning of actualising new projects or directions
in one's life.Blessings
are requested for the 'seeds' of growth and a wise stewardship
Celebrated on April 30th or May 1st, this is widely regarded
as the mating day of the Earth Goddess and Sun God (representing
the fertility and virility of Life, respectively), whose
marriage will eventually provide the fruit of the harvest.It
marks the full return of the bright season and the time
to plough the land in readiness for planting.Maypole
dances today are holdovers from pagan fertility rites.This
time is for hard work in gardens and fields.Attention
moves to developing healthy 'fertile' relationships in all
areas of one's life.Blessings
are requested for fertility (both physical and mental) and
fulfilment of new directions.
(or Midsummer): The summer solstice (June
21) is a celebration of the sun at the height of its power.The
festival marks time out from hard work, but at the same
time any adjustments that might need to be made now at the
first signs of 'fulfilment' (such as weeding).Some
people also mourn the beginning of the sun's dying, as sunlight
begins to wane after this date. [FN
14 - Different traditions acknowledge the death
of the sun on Midsummer, or one of the three harvests
Lammas, Mabon/Harvestide or Samhain.]Attention
focuses on the strengthening of one's will in the choices
made and testing original plans.Blessings
are requested for the 'ripening' of one's personal directions,
skills, relationships, etc.
(or Lughnasadh): Usually observed on August
1st or 2nd, this is a celebration of the first harvest of
grain, marked by a special loaf of bread to be shared (Lammas
means 'loaf mass').The
people who did not mourn the 'death' of the sun at Midsummer
may do so now, as it still lingers but is weakening.The
grain king is honoured for his sacrifice on behalf of Life
as he is cut down in the harvest.Attention
shifts to re-evaluating the specific plans of a new project
(or new direction within an existing one), and any adjustments
that need to be madeBlessings
are requested for a healthy harvest in one's own life.
(or Harvestide): A celebration (September
21) named after the sacrificed god, who is the harvest.This
is the 'second harvest' when vegetables and fruit are gathered
and the major grain crops cut down.It
is a time for preserving food and making other preparations
for the long winter months.This
sabbat is considered the pagan Thanksgiving.Attention
focuses on giving thanks for the 'harvests' of the past
year in one's own life.Blessings
are offered for the Earth's abundance, and requested for
new seeds that may be planted now or stored for spring.
The 13 full moons (Esbats)
of the year are also celebrated (particularly in solitary
ritual, but also within a group, if circumstances permit),
but are not considered 'high holidays'.The
new or dark moon phase (moon absent from the sky) may be also
Required: There are no abstract 'religious laws'
in Wicca generally, although specific traditions may include
some distinctive expectations. [FN
15 - A copy of the code of laws commonly used by the Wiccan
Church of Canada is available upon request from Ontario Multifaith.
Note, however, that they only apply to that particular tradition.]Where
they exist, they provide rules to settle disputes, instructions
for maintaining the security and privacy of one's fellow Wiccans,
procedures to create new covens, limits on acceptable uses
of money within the religious community, and instructions
for caring and maintaining sacred objects. (See
Contacts, below, for more information.)
In general, Wiccans base their
actions (as best they can) on the moral imperative of the
"If it harms none, do what you will".This
means each person has the responsibility in all actions both
to avoid any deliberate harm to others or oneself and to consider
the possibility of unintended harm resulting from choices
Rede is seen as an obligation to think carefully about the
potential consequences of an action before one acts.On
the other hand, Wiccans are encouraged to make the best and
most creative use of their life and talents.In
the phrase "what you will", the word "will"
is considered something more profound than mere want, i.e.,
"true will" or tuning in to the Divine will.
of the Goddess', a central piece of Wiccan
liturgy, exhorts practitioners to live in "strength and
beauty, honour and humility, power and compassion, reverence
and mirth", and to seek within rather than look for someone
outside to tell you what to doAny
further interpretation and application of these precepts are
the responsibility of each individual.
Leadership / Practitioners
Wicca has no overall central
traditions have an internal hierarchical structure, while
others function on a more egalitarian basis.
A traditional Wiccan group or
coven usually consists of a high priestess and high priest,
and a handful of other people.Renowned
to number thirteen people, covens are usually made up of fewer.Once
the coven has initiated more than thirteen members, and at
least one is capable of leading a coven on his/her own, a
new group usually 'hives off'.Covens
are seldom permanent arrangements, but tend to include close
relationships for the duration.
Within a traditional coven,
the high priestess, usually assisted by her high priest, serves
as leader in the rituals, teacher and counsellor, for coven
members and unaffiliated 'pagans'.'Eclectic'
covens tend to share leadership more equally.
With the growth of Wicca in
recent years, more and more people do not follow the coven
model and practise as solitaries, in casual groups, in open
circles or in long-standing groupsFor
reasons noted above (see Beliefs and Practice), the
latter models are more appropriate to prison settings.
In prison, groups practising
Wicca should be accessible to any interested inmates.Wiccans
and people from other Pagan traditions (Druidry, Asatru, etc.)
often circle together.Wiccan
groups should not function with an inmate leader who has religious
authority, as that would be the equivalent of conveying the
status of 'acting priesthood'.All
responsibility for religious authority should remain with
the visiting priests/priestesses who are accountable to the
Pagan community, CSC and the general public for maintaining
acceptable standards of practice.
Wiccan priesthood or spiritual
advisors are bound by the same rules of confidentiality regarding
personal information as any other priests or counselors.Since
rituals are participatory and often involve a revealing of
deeply personal information, all participants are expected
to maintain the confidentiality of the ritual circle.In
either case, however, this does not extend to anything regarding
security, violence or suicide threats.
are no rules concerning marriage, beyond those set out by
Wiccan wedding is called a 'handfasting' and is performed
by the priesthood of one's tradition or another acceptable
a few provinces have licensed pagan 'clergy' to perform legal
places where such is not the case, a 'legal' marriage can
be performed before or after the handfasting; or, alternatively,
an authorised clergy person or a Justice of the Peace can
attend the ceremony and legalise the marriage.
In the difficult matter of prison
marriages, marriage counselling prior to any confirmation
of the ceremony is strongly recommended.
Wicca has no policy relating
to searches of inmates and visitors, the use of 'drug dogs',
the taking of blood/urine samples, or the use of any technology.Wiccans
acknowledge that the rules of the institution prevail.
[FN 16 - Some Wiccans have refused to give urine or
blood samples. (See Common Misconceptions Among Wiccans #3
at the end of this chapter.)]
CSC policy allows inmates to
be on hand when their cell/room is searched in order to show
their religious items to the correctional officers, who do
not actually handle themIf
the inmate is not on hand, the chaplain can handle and show
is preferable that staff not handle the religious items; but
if it happens, as is bound to occur from time to time, the
items can be re-consecrated. (Also, see Misconceptions
Among Non-Wiccans #6, at the end of this chapter.)
The universally recognized Wiccan
symbol is the pentagram (or pentacle), in which a five-pointed
star is interlaced within a circle (with the fifth point on
top, not at the bottom of the circle).
Many Wiccan inmates wear a pentagram
pendant or ring.While
this practise is not required, those who wish to should be
permitted to do so, unless there are security considerations
to the contrary.Unfortunately
many non-Wiccans tend to regard the pentagram negatively despite
its being a simple star, familiar in many other contexts (see
may display other symbols (e.g. a triskel) to acknowledge
their particular Wiccan or pagan tradition as a matter of
If institutional staff have
questions relating to the use of a specific symbol by a Wiccan
practitioner or group, they are asked to contact NHQ-Chaplaincy,
who have resources describing some of the symbols and their
meaning. [FN 17 - Law Enforcement,
p.4. Providing a list of symbols related to Wicca can prove
problematic because "a given symbol may have a specific
meaning for the group that uses it, while another group may
use the same symbol to represent something completely different.
] Certain symbols are traditionally used in Wiccan
practice. Unfortunately, some of them have been borrowed by
Satanists, just as they have borrowed magical, Qaballistic
[sic] and Christian symbols, changing the meanings to suit
Because Wicca is a very physical
expression of spiritual practice, a variety of "tools"
are generally used, particularly in group rituals, but also
in solitary practice.(See
Cell Effects, above.)These
tools are useful in maintaining ritual focus and should be
available to inmates if they pose no security risk.Strictly
speaking, none of them is required, but their use is characteristic
of the practice.
All objects found in nature,
including stones, serve as aids to meditation as the goal
is to 'get in touch' with the natural world, and clearly if
Wiccans have a choice they will have such things at their
being said, however, no physical object is actually essential
for Wiccan worship.Wicca
teaches that adherents should be able to maintain their spiritual
discipline if circumstances preclude the availability of candles,
The eight sabbats (see Holidays)
are usually celebrated as close to the actual day as possible.Esbats
(moon rituals) are usually done at the full moon, but sometimes
at other lunar phases.
Worship can be either solitary
or collective, and may take on more or less of a formal ritual
many Wiccans worship in groups, all of them also do personal
rituals and meditations as part of their work towards spiritual
Solitary practice can happen
at any time, while the timing of group circle practice is
only restricted by the presence of the spiritual visitor from
the absence of a service provider, incarcerated pagans should
be solitary practitioners.
Formal worship usually consists of invocations of Goddess
and God and elemental energies, meditations, chanting and
dancing or moving around the circle, personal contemplation,
and healing and/or divination work.Frequently,
though not always, an altar is set up for group worship (see
Cell Effects, above).A
ritual usually includes use of a broad range of tools (candles,
etc.); however, these are primarily symbolic and not essential
to worship itself.Non-participating
observers are not generally welcome at Wiccan rituals.
Some Wiccan spiritual visitors
who offer leadership to Wiccans incarcerated in CSC institutions
sometimes adapt rituals from the normal practice of the outside
community to forms that take the limitations of the correctional
setting into account.
Ritual style ranges from quite
informal to highly structured between different traditions
and differs considerably in how focal personal/individual
development is incorporated in the ritual (somewhat comparable
to the 'range' between the rituals of Quakers and Catholics).
Group worship is referred to
as a 'circle', which can be done at any time or on any day.Where
possible, Wiccans do their circles outside on the earth, under
the sun or moon, and Wiccan inmates should ideally have a
dedicated growing space, such as a garden plot.
"A Wiccan does not have
any formal temple, though they may have some room or field
reserved for ritual use.Outdoor
worship is preferred.A
Wiccan creates a sacred space whenever and wherever by "casting
a Circle", which is traditionally nine feet in diameter
or larger to accommodate larger groups." [FN
18 - Law Enforcement, p.8.]
Traditionally, the 'casting
of a circle' is done by an athamé (ritual knife) or
various sorts of 'wands' (including those handmade from a
tree branch) can also be used, or the person could simply
use a pointed finger; this is generally more appropriate for
both solitary and group practice within a prison.
[FN 19 - However, some groups have made a wooden model
of a sword for ceremonial use.]'Casting'
creates a defined sacred space equivalent to a physical temple
- holding any untoward energies outside of the circle and
any intended ones within the circle until the appropriate
time to release them 'into the world' (such as is done with
a 'power-raising' for healing, a physicalized equivalent of
These items are used to help
a person achieve a certain state of mind different from that
of everyday reality, one that is conducive to meditation.Their
use is a valid option within the Wiccan tradition.Inmates
often request to use these things because of how difficult
it is to achieve a state of mind conducive to worship and
meditation in a prison environment. (See Use
of Incense in Section II)
Wiccans understand magick
as part of the natural/dynamic forces of the Universe that
are not physically manifest or easily recognisable.'Working
magick' in a ritual may include dance, chant, creative visualisation
and/or focus of psychic energy for the purpose of healing,
protecting and aiding members in various endeavours.In
this sense there are some similarities between 'magick' and
more physical expressions of prayer. Many
Wiccans spell the word "magick" to distinguish their
practice from sleight-of-hand entertainment.
Wicca is universally understood to be polytheistic.
Information: Generally, the Divine is understood
as a 'One-ness' that can been seen in its many 'faces'. (See
Theology, under Beliefs and Practice,
Wicca is uniformly anti-Christian.
Information: Wiccans are not necessarily anti-Christian.Although
there is recognition of the particular historical issues,
based in politics of dominance that pitted Christianity against
Paganism, the general acceptance of diversity of faith within
Wicca encourages Wiccans to respect all faith traditions.
"Even today "some
people have suggested that Wicca must be anti-Christian
simply because it isn't Christian.The
same individuals who make this suggestion often accuse any
faith or Christian denomination other than their own of
being anti-Christian or Satanic. [
believe in good and evil, just as Hindus or Buddhists do.
But we do not have a Zoroastrian forces-of-light vs. forces-of-darkness
concept such as the one adopted by Christianity and Satanism.We
are not anti-Christian.We
are simply different." [FN
20 - Law Enforcement, p. 3]
Wicca is indistinguishable from (and, therefore, equivalent
Information: "Wicca is not Satanism.Satanism
is a deviant and perverted Christianity with the same God
and Devil.vA Satanist must, by definition, believe in all
the Christian mythos.It
is only through that belief that the Satanists' blasphemies
[claim to] have any power. [
Witches do not believe in the Christian God or Devil, so the
whole question is outside our religion." [FN
21 - ibid. It should be noted that this is particularly
true for gothic or classical Satanism,
but not necessarily for contemporary philosophical Satanists.]
(Also see the chapter on Paganism,
Wiccans reject the Judeo-Christian scriptures.
Information: Wiccans do not revile the Jewish
and Christian scriptures (the Bible), although they may disagree
with its premises.They
simply regard it as one among many of the world's mythic systems
deserving of respect.
Wiccans symbols have hidden, anti-Christian meaning.
Information: Some Wiccan symbols, notably the
pentacle or pentagram, are also used by other groups (such
as so-called Satanists) and sometimes given other meanings,
particularly threatening ones.As
such, the pentagram (five-pointed star) is often thought to
be a symbol of evil.When
this is the case, it is unfair to attribute this new meaning
to Wiccan faith.
The pentacle or pentagram is considered to be in the upright
position when a single point is at the top.In
the reverse position it simply means materialism (as opposed
to spirituality), and this is why that form is used by Satanists.Some
traditional Wiccans use the reverse (materialism) pentagram
as a 2nd-degree symbol, meaning they have mastered the form
but not yet the spirit, and the 3rd degree is symbolised by
an upright pentagram (spirit presiding over the other four
points of mind, emotion, energy and action).However,
because of the bad reputation of the reversed pentagram, most
Wiccans at present use it only in the upright position.
While there are a variety of
interpretations of the pentagram among Wiccans, they all centre
The items on a Wiccan altar are not, by their nature, 'sacred'.
Information: Sacred objects, such as stones,
do not have quite the same significance as an Aboriginal medicine
pouch because all objects can be considered sacred in Wicca
and take on specific sacred connotation.However,
since naturally occurring objects are seen to be representative
of the Earth (Nature), they are valid sacred objects in Wiccan
If a stone, for example, does not present a security risk,
incorporating one into personal devotion by placing it on
one's altar is a legitimate Wiccan practice.It
is, therefore, appropriate for CSC staff to be respectful
of such items if the inmate is authorized to have them in
his or her possession.
Among Wiccans (especially those new to the faith)
Some Wiccan inmates have a tendency to take the idealistic
representations in books as the way 'real-life' Wiccans
is also a strong tendency to take mythology as literal or
to attempt to recreate ancient practices exactly.Furthermore,
it is often the case that a newcomer to Wicca will read
a book based on one tradition, and assume that its specifics
hold true for all Wiccan traditions, thereby becoming a
Information: Wiccan leaders encourage reading
a variety of books by credible Wiccan authors to learn about
the range of true Wiccan practice.
Some Wiccans believe that Non-Pagans can contaminate ritual
tools by touching them, or that rites of purification are
required when this happens.For
example: "Our religious items and our robes constitute
a 'portable church'.Therefore,
they are considered sacred and having non-believers rummage
through them is comparable to people desecrating a church,
temple, or mosque." [FN 22
- Citation lost.]
Information: While some traditions do not allow
ritual tools to be handled by non-pagans or even other members
of their group, this belief is not inherent to all Wiccan
since Wiccans generally believe that tools hold the residual
energy of their users, it is appropriate for tools to be re-consecrated
if handled by others, when such is the wish of their owner.
Some Wiccans have claimed that their bodily fluids are sacred
and, therefore, cannot be taken for drug testing.
Information: There is no basis for this stance
in Wiccan thinking.When
everything is considered sacred, bodily fluids have no special
Enforcement Guide to Wicca, Kerr Cuhulain,
Wiccan Information Network, Vancouver, B.C., 1989, 33 pp.)
Information Manual, The Wiccan Church of Canada,
Ontario Multifaith Council on Spiritual and Religious Care,
Toronto, ON M3C 1T5, pp.221-231. Omcsrc@omc.on.ca )
II of this
Manual contains information that is common to all religious
traditions; this chapter only attempts to provide information
specific to Ásatrú.
- Information provided by by Gary Penzler with contributions
from Dan Miller and Terrie Renwick]
Ásatrú is one
name for the modern-day revival of the pre-Christian religion
of the Germanic tribes of northern Europe.Its
inspiration comes from the Bronze Age through about 1300 C.E.,
and from surviving literature and current history, archaeology
names include Vanatru, Heathenry/Heathenism/Heithni, Odinism/
Wodenism, Irminsul, Theodism, Forn Sed, Germanic/Teutonic
Paganism, The Elder Trow, The Folkway and The Northern Way.For
the purposes of this document, Ásatrú
will refer to the faith, and Heathen
to a follower of this tradition.
Ásatú is polytheistic.Many
Heathens do not like to use the word worship,
as they feel it implies subservienceHeathens
see the gods as their elder kin, and therefore treat them
with honour and respect, but meet them on a much more equal
footing than many other faiths.
Heathens follow an ethical and
moral system derived from the surviving literature, which
many Heathens codify as The Nine Noble Virtues: Courage, Honour,
Truth, Fidelity, Hospitality, Industriousness, Perseverance,
Self-Discipline and Self-Reliance.
Heathens often gather in small
worship groups, variously called kindreds,
groups often become like extended family and can become very
important to the Heathen.Family,
close relatives, ancestors and community are very important
to Heathens and form the very foundation of their lives.Troth
are very important concepts to Heathens.Troth
refers to loyalty, staying true, in the way that one might
refer to staying true to one's spouse or one's ideals.Frith
refers to peace and the interconnected web of a healthy community.Frith
is enhanced by such things as friendship, gift exchanging
and coming to the aid of one's community in times of need.
Ásatrú does not
believe in sin in the Christian sense.Rather,
Heathens believe in a natural cause-and-effect relationship
between wyrd and
is the sum of the deeds of each Heathen's life, the lives
of their ancestors and of anyone to whom they have sworn an
is the process of natural laws by which wyrd is re-balanced:
Those who do good deeds can expect good to come to them in
turn, and ill deeds will bring ill of one kind or another,
either to the individual or their children if their debt is
not paid in their own lifetime.In
this way, the past leads to a most likely future, but through
their conscientious effort of rebalancing wyrd, Heathens can
affect their own orlog, choosing to voluntarily pay their
Oaths are sacred in Ásatrú.
Any promise made, especially in the context of a holy ritual,
is a serious commitment to the gods, as well as to the people
words spoken go into that Heathen's wyrd; if they are not
lived up to the resulting orlog can be quite negative.Oaths
sworn within a community, even for small things, are the bonds
that tie a community together in frith.They
are the bonds of friendship, trust, marriage, responsibility
oaths, community cannot exist.Many
of the ancient tales tell of people who broke oaths suffering
what others might call streaks of incredible bad luck, and
others tell of Heathens who would rather die than break an
today are less extreme and more practical, but nonetheless
take their promises very seriously.
Priests exist in this faith
is the male term, gythia
is the female - but are not necessary for Heathen to speak
to their gods.Gothar
(plural) chiefly exist to be the experts in leading
rituals, though individual Heathens may lead their own.
The basic rite of Ásatrú,
(rhymes with 'boat'), which means an offering,
is a ceremony of the exchange of gifts.The
faith teaches that a gift demands a gift in return and the
blót ritual provides an offering for the gods in exchange
for their blessings.A
secondary rite, called sumbel,
is a ritualized drinking of toasts, a holy setting in which
all that is spoken passes directly to the gods and into wyrd.
(For further details, see 18. Worship,
Many Heathens, but not all,
use magic (in the sense of exerting one's willpower to create
changes in the world) as a part of their religious practice.One
of the most popular forms is the use of runes for divination
or magical writing.Runes,
often called futhark,
are the ancient characters that formed the first written language
among the Germanic tribes.
The basic tools required for
the faith, which are quite simple, include a Thor's hammer
pendant or other symbol of the faith (see 17. Symbols,
below) and books and/or photocopied material for learning
worship rituals require a drinking horn or other vessel, and
often a bowl for sacred offerings.The
swearing of oaths, prominent in some rituals and even throughout
life, requires a large metal ring (an oath-ring)
upon which the oaths are sworn.The
ring symbolizes the unending nature of the oath.To
use an oath ring one simply holds it and says aloud the oath
two people are swearing oath together (as in a marriage rite)
both would hold the ring.It
may also be held by a gothi or gythia.
A naming ceremony is often held
nine days after birth, whereby the parents formally name their
child and bring him or her into their community.Often,
this consists of consecrating water in the names of the gods,
anointing the child and providing birth-gifts.Sometimes
a full blót is held to request blessings for the child.
ceremony. Water, bowl and other basic tools.
Recommended: Evergreen twig as aspergillum,
a meal as a sacred feast, with exchange of gifts and an offering
to the ancestors.
Required: A Thor's
Hammer pendant or other Ásatrú symbol (see 17.
Symbols, below) and a set of runes (usually written
or carved on small stones or wooden tiles), as well as books
and photocopied material.
altar (flat surface called a "stall") and cloth,
with drinking horn, offering bowl, images or statues of the
gods and goddesses, candles and an oath-ring.
Pastoral Outreach association can provide
visitation in some areas and will attempt to locate Ásatrú
prison visitors elsewhere.A
pen-pal program is also available. Box 8312, Station. T, Ottawa
ON, K1G 3H8,
, (613) 299-3327.
converts from any faith (including atheists) without restriction.However,
Heathens do not seek to convert others, nor do they proselytize.Generally,
one discovers an attraction to the faith on one's own and
then finds others to help one learn about it.
No special ceremony is required
for initiation, though many Heathens choose to swear holy
oath on an oath-ring that they will be true to the gods and
goddesses of the North.If
they are joining a pre-existing kindred, the members may wish
the new member to swear an oath of peace and respect to the
Cremation or burial, personal
or family preferences are respected.A
standard memorial is not inappropriate, but there may be a
request that other faith symbols be removed.
Required: A service
by someone trained in Ásatrú ways (or sensitive
to them) and willing to respect the wishes of the deceased.
Recommended: Blót, feast and sumbel (see
18. Worship, below)
to remember the deceased.
There are no specific dietary
requirements associated with this tradition.For
blót and sumbel, fruit juice can substitute for mead
or other alcoholFoods
for sacred feasts are general rather than specific, usually
derived from European cuisine, including hearty, home-cooked
dishes such as roasts and stews, desserts and apples.Often
a portion of the food is left on the ground or in the wilderness
as a gift to the gods, ancestors and nature spirits (see 18.
Marriage vows are considered
holy oaths, and one who break a vow without very good reason
courts disaster (see 1.ii. Theology,
people considering divorce should do so with great thought
and deliberation and an awareness of potential consequences.
both historically and today, divorce occurs and not particularly
looked down upon.
There are no specific dress
adherents prefer historically-based attire for rituals, but
this is not strictly necessary.
Men and women have equal status
position of importance, including priest, can be held by either
gender, and either gender (or both) may lead a ritual.Sexual
orientation is likewise of no issue in Ásatrú.These
issues are of no concern in the doctrines of the faith itself,
though some individual Heathens may hold specific stances.
Most Heathens use standard Western
medicine, sometimes opting for naturopathy/ homeopathy or
magical healing practices when available.Medical
matters, such as autopsies, are not strictly a religious matter.Hunger
strikes are not in any way considered a religious activity.
In the historical period, holy
tides and feast days were greatly dependent upon a given community's
where the same festival was held in two different places,
differing climatic considerations often changed its timing.Today,
most Heathens follow a general guide that includes the following:
Yule-tide or Júl
celebrates midwinter, a week on either side of winter solstice,
usually December 21st.Some
Heathens celebrate on the full moon closest to the equinox,
and some celebrate for thirteen nights beginning the night
before the equinox.
Easter-tide, Eostre, Ostara or
Summerfinding celebrates the beginning of summer,
at any time during the lunar cycle following the spring
may vary according to local tradition from March 21st to
Litha or Midsummer may
be celebrated as a day, a two week period, or in some traditions
a lunar month, bridging the summer solstice (around June
Winterfinding, Winterfylleth or
Harvest celebrates the beginning of winter at
any time during the lunar cycle following the fall equinox.It
may vary according to local tradition between September
21st and November 1st.
There are additional holy-tides
which may or may not be observed by individual Heathens or
groups, depending on their tradition, including
Thorblot or Disablot in early February, Hlofnact
or Loaf-Night in early August, and other feasts
commemorating the heroes, gods or ancestors.
There are no written laws in
Heathens strive to follow the Nine Noble Virtues or a similar
code (see 1.ii. Theology,
above), and the advice from the historical literature, such
as Hávamál ("the Words of Odin").In
addition to this all believe that mistakes and ill deeds become
debts which must be paid.Therefore,
responsibility for one's own choices and actions is of paramount
Ásatrú has no
Heathens are lone practitioners, responsible to themselves
and their gods.Kindreds
may have a gothi or gythia to lead rites and/or a secular
leader ("chieftain," "lord," or "lady")
to provide a sense of leadership to the group; but such leaders
do not have power over other individuals, nor do they usually
decide matters of faith.They
act more as elected leaders, subject to the group's will.
Required: A marriage
solemnizer trained in Ásatrú ways (or sensitive
to them) and willing to do as the couple wishes.Oath-ring
for the swearing of vows, normal blót equipment (see
I.iii. Practice, above).
Recommended: Blót and feast (see 18.
to celebrate the occasion.
Required: No strict
Recommended: The inmate's faith symbol/pendant
and runes should not be handled by others, if possible; but
if this is unavoidable, they can be re-consecrated.
The most common symbol of the
faith is Thor's Hammer, often worn as a pendant.Also
common are the valknut, the runes themselves, the solar wheel/Odin's
Cross, and the Irminsul.See
involves giving something up in exchange for the blessing
of or particular help from the gods.It
usually takes the form of a drinking-horn of mead dedicated
to the gods, requesting the blessing, sharing the drink among
the group, and pouring out the rest on the ground.Because
mead is contraband in CSC institutions, juice, milk or water
can be used.During
blót food, craft items or money can be offered.A
blót can be elaborate - with many props and poetry
in ancient languages, begun with the symbolic erecting of
sacred space (similar to a Wiccan circle) - or a lone practitioner
with a cup of juice can say a few words to the gods, taking
a sip and pouring the rest out.This
rite is best performed in a group, led by a gothi or gythia,
but if necessary it can be performed as an individual ceremony.
tools, bowl and/or horn.
Recommended: Group setting, evergreen twig for
sprinkling the group instead of drinking, outdoor location.
a series of ritualized toasts, often follows a sacred feast.A
horn or other single vessel is passed and the one who holds
the horn may speak in this most holy context.In
some cases, all hold their own drinking vessel and the speaking
turn passes without an obvious visual cue.This
may be preferable if there are any health concerns.The
first round of toasts is offered to the gods and goddesses.The
next round is to those gone before (literal ancestors, those
who followed the faith of old, or even personal heroes).The
third and any subsequent rounds are open, for oaths, boasts
(promises of worthy deeds to come), brags (tales of worthy
deeds already done), stories, poetry and song.Sumbel
ends with the pouring out of the remainder, as in blót.This
rite requires a group.A
gothi is not necessary to the rite, but some practitioners
may prefer an official leader.
tools, group setting, cup or drinking horn, fruit juice or
Recommended (additional): Outdoor location.Some
prefer for all participants to have their own drinking vessel.
Ásatrú is a racist faith, exclusive to "white"
Information: Among those who identify themselves
as Heathens (or any of the other names associated with this
tradition, (see 1.i. Origins, above) there is a minority
who feel that race is a factor in their faith.This
approach may range from "anyone of any background can
follow this faith, but one wonders why they haven't found
a connection to the ancestral faith of their own people"
to "this is the faith of northern European Germanic people,
and is only for those people," and even to "this
faith is a white people's faith, and it teaches that they
are better than others."
All available scholarly information
on the faith as it was and the cultures it came from disagrees
with the more extreme of these views.The
ancient peoples welcomed outsiders into their societies and
extant stories of the gods themselves tell us that they welcomed
individuals from other groups, even from among their greatest
enemies (and some of the gods themselves have mixed ancestry).
Those who believe that Ásatrú
is a faith best suited to those of Germanic descent, but anyone
is welcome, are generally just proceeding from a strong feeling
of cultural identity.The
cultures from which Ásatrú is descended are
a very important part of the faith and form the basis for
its beliefs and observances.
However, any Heathen who claims
that feelings of racial superiority are a part of his or her
faith or wants to actively keep non-Germanics out of it is
either proceeding from a poor understanding of it or actively
using it as a smokescreen for a pre-existing predilection
Ásatrú and its symbols are related to Nazism
Information: The Nazis appropriated some ancient
Germanic symbology, but they were merely using the old symbols
for political purposes, and did not follow the old religion
The swastika ("fylfot")
was a holy sign, but one of luck and personal power, not really
a symbol of the faith.A
small movement of modern Heathens wish to reclaim its original
symbology, so the presence of this symbol does not automatically
indicate a more racially-oriented mindset, though it often
Ásatrú is tied to gang activity.
Information: While Ásatrú has
sometimes been used as an excuse for gang-related activity,
and while close-knit communities are very much an element
of the faith, there is no legitimate connection between the
faith and this type of behaviour.Individuals
associating together for reasons of power, even if the Ásatrú
name is used, are in no way pursuing a religious activity.Those
who associate for such reasons but who are also honest practitioners
of the faith should have no trouble separating the two.
Eddas" - The Elder, or Poetic Edda and the
Younger, or Prose Edda constitute the greatest extant repository
of the old stories of the gods.Although
not equivalent to a Bible, these two are generally considered
the must-have books for any Heathen, and tell more about the
faith than any others.
Book of Troth, by The Troth (see website,
Religion, by Kveldulf Gundarsson
Mysteries and Magick,
by Freya Aswynn
Troth is an international organization based
and incorporated in the United States, serving as an umbrella
organization to help Heathens everywhere get in touch.It
generally allows members (individuals and groups) to make
their own choices and set their own policy, but it does have
a strong stance against a racial interpretation of the faith.Though
exact numbers of Heathens are not known, the Troth appears
to be the largest Ásatrú organization worldwide.
II of this
Manual contains information that is common to all religious
traditions; this chapter only attempts to provide information
specific to Druidry.
- Resource information in this chapter has been provided by
practitioners of various Druid paths, edited by PPO (see Contact,
Origins and Modern Expressions
Originally the word 'Druid'
referred to the priestly class of ancient Celtic cultures.While
some modern groups do the same, in practice most followers
of this religion are known as Druids.In
this chapter, ordinary followers will be referred to as 'Druidic
Knowledge of the ancient Druids
comes from archeology and classical writings as well as stories,
myths, poems, etc., preserved in medieval manuscripts.
Ceremonial Druidism originated
in the secret societies of the eighteenth century, such as
modern orders are strictly cultural, rather than religious.Others
promote historical scholarship and participation in ecological
and social issues; they can have a more religious or philosophical
may draw upon earlier traditions such as Gnostic Christianity.In
addition some orders - such as the British Druid Order (BDO),
and the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD) - draw the
inspiration for their practice from extant literature, history,
Celtic Reconstructionists, Traditionalists
and Revivalists are distinctive traditions, differing on issues
of the use of a priesthood caste, specifics of organization
and leadership, and the degree of tribal orientation.However,
all attempt through archaeology, historical research and comparative
anthropology to reconstruct and practise the religion of the
ancient Celtic peoples.
The most common groups in North
America are those who have self-consciously created a new
Neo-pagan religion inspired by the ancient religions of Europe
with a stress on Celtic culture, customs and cosmology.One
example of this is the ADF (Ár nDraíocht Féin:
A Druid Fellowship).These
groups are most likely to refer to all participants of the
tradition as Druids, rather than reserve that term for a specific
It should be noted that Druid
groups, while looking to Celtic tradition, do not seek to
exclude those without Celtic ancestry.One's
own ancestors are generally revered, but in some groups (OBOD,
for example), there is an acknowledgment that all members
of the Order who have passed to the Summerlands are their
"ancestors" and are still present on several levels,
ritually and otherwise.Such
groups also hold that all humanity is really one tribe and
has a common heritage and future.
Druid practitioners are generally
polytheistic and tend to honor Deities from within a specific
Celtic cultural pantheon.Their
relationship to Deity may be variously expressed in the following
are seen as real beings who participate both in this world
(Nature) and realms beyond (the Otherworld). They can therefore
bring knowledge and powers from the Otherworld into this
are aspects of a Transcendent Divine Force or Being.
are human archetypal representations of Divine Energies
that exist in the world.
There are Three Sacred Realms:
Earth, Sea and Sky.All
beings are considered sacred, be they Gods, Spirits of Nature,
Ancestors or any other form of life on the planet.The
spirits of trees and springs are considered particularly sacred.Sacred
beings are seen as knowable, and relationships between them
and the Druid practitioner can be cultivated by means of an
exchange of offerings for favours and blessings or through
meditative communion and reverence in ritual.
The Otherworld is the home of
the Gods and heroes.It
intersects with this world, enabling the Gods and mankind
to interact with one another.The
Summerlands, or Underworld, is the Realm of the Dead.
Druidic practitioners seek the
divine and sacred through a connection to the Natural world
and, for some, their ancestors.
They celebrate the cycle of
the seasons, and their major holidays mark the major events
of the agricultural and solar years.The
natural world and everything in it is seen as sacred, and
the divine/spirit is seen as immanent in all things.As
such, the natural world is to be revered and treated with
great care and respect.Practitioners
consider themselves to be part of a complex web of interrelationships
that connects everything on the planet.
Religious practice can be solitary
or within a group, sometimes called a 'grove', 'fellowship'
or 'seed group'.Such
groups are usually open to newcomers.Ideally,
ritual is performed outside in contact with Nature, but may
be done indoors in an appropriate setting.Group
rituals can be facilitated by a single person; alternatively,
any or all participants can take active roles.
Some practices that ordinarily
would not be seen as religious (such as academic study, music,
artistry, craftsmanship) are considered by most practitioners
to have a religious significance. (See 3.
Cell Effects, ii. Sacred texts/study material,
are no required practices related to the birth of a child.
ritual called a Saining is commonly performed for the
purpose of formally naming the child, introducing him or her
to the community, the Ancestors and the Gods.It
involves an anointing, with the recitation of traditional
prayers and appointing God-parents for the child. In some
traditions, guests bring gifts for the child.
Required: Wherever possible,
inmates should be allowed an altar - any flat surface or a
special box - with symbolic representations of the three realms:
(a bowl of earth)
(a bowl of water)
(the Bile, pronounced "bill-uh")
The Bile may be any one of the
sacred trees in the Ogham (Irish) alphabet.(See
Sacred Texts, Literature and Study
below) and is associated with the sky-fires of sun and lightning.When
a small branch of one of these trees is inserted into a bowl
of earth, which is then nested in a bowl of water, it is considered
to traverse and connect all three Realms, and therefore represent
practice in prison, any kind of cut branch or artificial representation
of a tree or branch can be used.
A candle for fire, representing
the Primal Force of Creation, is at the center of Druid ritual,
together with the Bile.Incense
may also be used in ritual.
religious items can include ritual garb (a robe or special
shirt), a tree branch with bells and other items from Nature.The
use of items evocative of the seasons and seasonal practice
is also very common, for example:
Pictures of ancestors or friends that have passed away,
or other items that signify the ancestors
Sheaf of wheat or other harvest-related items
Flowers in bloom, other items that signify fertility and
Early spring plants, especially bulbs
As these four celebrations are
Fire Festivals, a candle should be permitted where possible.
ii. Sacred texts, literature,
are no required texts.However,
some groups may view the myths and other writings as sacred
Ancestral lore, especially in groups in which Ancestor worship
material describing Celtic culture, languages, mythology
and religion, as well as other ancient Indo-European cultures
tools are also sometimes used (e.g. small sticks inscribed
with the Ogham alphabet or Tarot cards).
materials for the three types of training- Bards, Ovates/Filidh
and Druids (See # 14 Leadership/Practioners below).
Pastoral Outreach association can provide visitation
in some areas and will attempt to locate Druid prison visitors
elsewhere, or suggest appropriate correspondence study programs.Box
8312, Stn. T, Ottawa, ON K1G 3H8, (613) 299-3327, firstname.lastname@example.org
Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD)
of Danu, Pagan Church of Alberta
Druidic practitioners have no
interest in proselytizing.While
the practice itself is based on Celtic cultural traditions,
it is open to people of any ancestry.
There is no rite of entry into
Druidism/Druidry, but a ceremony welcoming a new person to
the religious community is commonly performed, often followed
by a social gathering.
The passing of a Druidic practitioner
from this world is regarded as a continuation of the spirit's
journey; part of a continuing process, rather than an ending.Most
practitioners believe in a form of reincarnation, in which
the spirit will return to the temporal world to continue its
journey through more than one lifetime.In
addition, it is believed that there are times of the year,
known as Holy Days, on which the barrier between the Otherworld
and the temporal world is particularly thin.At
these times, the spirits of the Ancestors and the dead are
especially honoured, communion with them being more easily
effected at such times (particularly Samhain).
are no general customs regarding the handling of the body,
nor any prohibitions against autopsies or organ donation,
body and religious effects should be disposed of according
to the wishes of the deceased.In
the absence of such a statement, the inmate's religious community
should be consulted with regard to the disposal of religious
believe that the deceased journeys to the Summerlands or Underworld,
a joyful event to be celebrated by the community (a wake).Candles
are lit and traditional prayers said.Traditionally,
these activities took place in the presence of the body, but
today it is customary to provide a picture of the deceased,
with a candle and shot of liquor or substitute drink beside
drink is later poured out on the ground as an offering to
the deceased's spirit.
not a requirement, many Druidic practitioners choose an organic
vegetarian or vegan diet out of respect for animal life and
general desire to minimize their impact on the planet. This
is considered a diet of conscience only.
There are no specific dietary
rules for Druidic practitioners.However,
the body is understood to be sacred and should be cared for
and not abused.
Juice mixed with honey is an acceptable substitute for mead,
ale or whiskey (which are considered particularly sacred),
as an essential libation to the Gods, Spirits of Land and
Place, Nature Spirits and the Ancestors.Honey,
hazelnuts, salmon, oatcakes or bannock are commonly eaten.
celebrations are usually accompanied by eating certain traditional
foods associated with the season or considered sacred to the
Milk and milk products esp. butter
Cereal grains, ale (or juice)
many Druidic practitioners there are no rules pertaining to
'hand-parting' ceremony is often done, either for both parties
(if they are willing), or with one partner to mark this passage/change.Though
the bond between partners is dissolved, responsibility for
any offspring remains.
is no required dress code for Druidic practitioners.
use of robes (or some other special item of clothing, such
as a special shirt) for private or group ritual is optional.
There are no gender or sexual
orientation distinctions in Druidic practice or ritual.
acceptance or refusal of care (including transfusions) is
a matter of individual conscience.
possible, the religious visitors should be able to visit a
seriously ill inmate, whether in the institutions or a hospital.A
healing ritual should be allowed, recognizing that some restriction
of the tools used may be necessary.
a long tradition in Celtic law, where they were a means of
redressing grievances and compelling justice.An
inmate making such a choice can expect spiritual counsel,
but cannot necessarily expect support for their cause from
Pagan prison visitors.
Holy Days and Holidays
All Druidic practitioners celebrate
the Celtic Fire Festivals, which mark the midpoints between
the solstices and equinoxes.
- October 31st
- February 1st [FN 90 - Imbolg is always celebrated
indoors, around the hearth fire, which may be symbolized
by a candle flame ]
- August 1st
The Celtic year ends and begins
at Samhain (as the Celtic day begins and ends with sunset).The
dark half of the year is from Samhain to Beltane; the light
half from Beltane to Samhain.
Some Druidic practitioners also
celebrate the Equinoxes and Solstices. They are generally
held on the dates below, but shifting each year to a day earlier
Equinox/Mean Earaigh/Ostara/Alban Eilir - March
Solstice/Litha/Comhain/Mean Samhradh/Alban Hefin
Equinox/Mabon/Mean Fomhar/Alban Elfed - Sept
Solstice/Yule/Mean Geimhriuill/Alban Arthan-
It is preferred, but not strictly
necessary, to celebrate group rituals on the exact days.Celebrations
within a correctional institution may be held in the course
of regular get-togethers for ritual with the religious visitors.
There is an underlying concept
of personal honor and a strong sense of justice in Celtic
Honor and Duty are the three highest causes.Individuals
must take responsibility for their actions and make appropriate
restitution, preferably in this life, to those one has wronged.If
one fails to do this, the responsibility for restitution will
be carried into the Otherworld or the next life, if need be.
Many groups base their moral behavior upon the precepts of
Brehon Law and cultural custom.Brehon
Law is a body of law texts that governed all social interactions
recorded in 7th-8th century Ireland.It
has its foundations in the much earlier oral and social traditions
of pre-Christian Ireland.Because
of its archaic context and language, only a council of fully
trained Druids and Brehons are authorized to interpret it
for a modern day environment.
As well, many groups adhere
to the Irish and Welsh Triads, which are three-line maxims
and proverbs that serve as memory tools to help the practitioners
remember the spiritual and social laws they live by. While
written to address the specifics of ancient Celtic culture,
they are essentially variations of 'perennial wisdom' similar
to the moral directives of other religions, and are more appropriate
to incarcerated practitioners. [FN
25 - See http://www.illusions.com/rowanhold/mainpage.htm
for an example of the Triad's interpretations.]
A Druidic organization or order
can confer "Priesthood" confer as a recognition
of accomplishment following an extended period of study or
considerable practical experience (12 to 20 years would not
is status or authority inherent in the title by virtue of
the higher level of learning and training achieved in each
groups differ in terms of how formal this authority is.In
some it grants special power over other practitioners; in
other, it does not.
Scholarly pursuits are central
to most Druidic orders, which are usually divided into three
major areas of study:
Bards: the arts and
'fee lya'): healing, herbalism, divination, as well as the
deeper spiritual meanings of the arts and law)
Druids: philosophical issues,
administration of legal issues, mediator of disputes, transmitters
The leader of an organization
may be referred to as "Arch Druid" or "Chosen
In the prison setting, outside
leadership should be respected in matters of the tradition
and teaching. Although
some outside groups may have strict hierarchies, hierarchy
within inmate groups is not recommended.
Druidic spiritual advisors are
bound by the same professional ethics of confidentiality as
other Priesthoods or counselors, concerning personal information.Participants
in Druidic rituals should respect the privacy of their fellows.In
either case, the security of the community at large and the
welfare of the individual in question should be the paramount
are no rules concerning marriage.Some
groups may choose to adhere to traditional marriage law, which
does not, however, supersede the law of the land.
a Celtic marriage or 'handfasting' (a term borrowed by other
Pagan traditions) is an explicit agreement between two people
stating their responsibilities in their relationship.The
parties may agree in advance to a temporary or permanent arrangement
or may set conditions for its dissolution.Legal
(permanent) handfastings are officially witnessed as a matter
of law. Non-legal
(or temporary) handfastings need not be officiated by a third
party, but must include a witness.
Marriage counseling beforehand
in the difficult matter of marriage during incarceration is
Druidism has no policy regarding
searches of inmates and visitors, the use of 'drug dogs',
the taking of blood/urine samples, or the use of any technology
in this regard.They
acknowledge that the rules of the institution prevail.
If the inmate is not on hand
for cell searches to show their religious items to the guards,
the chaplain can handle and display the items.It
is preferable that the religious items not be handled by staff;
but if it happens, as is bound to occur from time to time,
they can be re-consecrated, if desired, by "smudging",
burying in salt, immersing in pure water, or exposing to the
rays of the sun or to moon.
symbols commonly associated with Druidism are:
The Triskel The
Other symbols include the Ogham alphabet and Celtic knotwork.Trees
are central to the symbology of Druidism, especially the leaves,
acorns/seeds or branches of Rowan, Apple, Hawthorn, Elder
and Yew, or Oak.In
some Orders, there are symbols associated with specific Grades,
or levels of study.
Worship can be either solitary
or collective, and may take more or less of a formal ritual
practitioners may choose to worship together with other Pagans
and should be allowed to attend open circles with those of
other Pagan traditions.
Solitary ritual may include
a period of meditation employing visualization techniques
to facilitate and develop a connection and communication with
may also occur in group ritual work, but it is not required.
Wherever possible, Druidic practitioners
worship outside in contact with the earth and close to trees
and natural sources of water.If
weather is not conducive or other restrictions apply, ritual
may be celebrated indoors.Druidic
practitioners should have access to a growing space/garden
plot, if possible.
Rituals can take place at any
time or on any day, alone or with the religious visitors.However,
observation of the Fire Festivals, Equinoxes and Solstices
ideally should occur at the customary times or as close as
Generally, Druidic rituals involve
first establishing a symbolic microcosm within the ritual
space mirroring that of the cosmos as perceived in the Celtic
this components of ritual include:
I. the acknowledgment of the sacred beings;
the making of offerings to Spirits of Land and Place (food
and drink, precious items, poetry, dance, music, stories,
invocations of the beings with whom one wishes to relate,
which may take the form of requests for favours and blessings,
work (e.g. divination, meditation, healing);
thanking the beings invoked; and
A ritual can last for anywhere
up to three hours, depending upon the number of participants
and the content of their offerings.
Appendix A : Memorandum
of Understanding from Warkworth Institution
Memorandum of Understanding between Warkworth Institution
and the Wiccan Community re: the Use of Candles in Inmate
All Wiccan inmates holding a
valid Wiccan Property Card can use candles in their cells,
as stipulated by the Human Rights Commission and C.S.C. providing
the following conditions are met:
a. Candles are to be used
in inmates' cells.
b. For safety considerations,
the candles must be approved 'votive' type.
c. These candles must be
in approved brass votive candle holders.
d. Inmates are limited to
5 candles and holders at any given time.
e. The metal base of spent
candles must be returned to the Chaplain before new candles
f. The inmate must not be
residing in the E.M.U. (Eighty Man Unit) because this
Unit is not only smoke-free but also allergens-free.
g. No Wiccan inmate may
give candles to non-Wiccans.
h. The candles are issued
strictly for religious purposes.
i. The Warden of the Institution
reserves the right to cancel the permit of individuals
for infractions of the above rules.