Treading off the beaten path

Tradition is a funny thing, where you end up doing something that others have done before you, often without question or history. Personally, I feel its important to understand why we do the things we do;

Why do rituals generally start in the East? Its said because that’s where the sun rises. With this idea, you can just as easily cast circle by another direction. My coven used to start in the North because we focused on the elements instead. Earth represent growth, to which all things spring forth.

Why are rituals cast clockwise? Not all of them are, because of the reason that it’s the path of the sun. The sun and moon move clockwise (deosil) , and it’s a symbol of growth and moving forward, while counter-clockwise (widdershin) is banishing or removal.

Why do we celebrate the eight sabbats? This ties into the ancient societies that depended on planting seasons to make the change of seasons. Reading the history of the 8 holidays, and you find cultures spanning across Europe influenced practices. Equinoxes and Solstices tie into planting seasons, and even the hunting season. Other holidays mark times to prepare for seasonal changes or harvest times.

Why is the pentacle used to symbolize Wicca? This arises from Gerald Gardner and the history since his time. Before that, the pentacle was simply a magical symbol of protection against bad spirits. Even Christians wore the pentacle as a symbol of Christ’s five wounds.  To Wiccans, it represents Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit.

There are just a few examples of traditions, but I encourage you to read the history of all aspects of your practice to see why it was done in the first place, and does it still serve today? By challenging this, we can keep traditions alive (with purpose) rather than just follow blindly.

What traditions do you enjoy? Do you know the original purpose of the tradition? Post in comments.

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