Prayers are a common part of nearly every religion, even a religion such as Wicca, where magick is used frequently to attain goals. The use of prayer in a belief system that utilizes spells, though, can seem odd, almost redundant. But, there is a difference between the two, not just in what they are, but in how one goes about praying versus how one casts a spell. And because of these differences, both can be effectively employed in one’s spiritual practice to attain the heart’s desires.
A prayer, at the most fundamental level, is simply a request. In prayer, we call upon a power outside of ourselves to manifest our goal. This power that we call upon may be a God, a Goddess, an Ancestor, a Saint, or any other spiritual or energy based entity. But the emphasis is that, in prayer, we are asking Someone else to grant our request, we are putting the power to manifest our desire in Someone else’s “hands.”
With a spell, we are taking control of forces outside of ourselves, manipulating them as per our own will, and manifesting our goal. There is no asking, supplication, offerings, or such: we grab onto the appropriate energy and our will be done! So, we use the energy about us in combination with the energy within us to bring about our desire; we “take matters into our own hands.”
Both prayers and spells can be accomplished in similar ways. They may both involve incense, tossing paper with words written upon it into a fire, chanting, and the presence of the Gods and other entities. But a prayer involves asking the Gods, or other entities, for Their help and leaves it at that; a spell requires you to raise the energy and send it out; the Gods don’t manifest your goal you do. Granted, the Gods may see fit to prevent your spell from coming to realization (They can do that, you know,) but, none-the-less, you are the primary force responsible for creating your desired change.
Prayers and spells are also able to be combined into an effective single working, and though the use of tools and props is nice, neither requires anything more than a clarity of thought and focus.
Many religions have a special ceremony marking the entrance of an individual into that religion. Within Wicca, specifically within British Traditional Wicca, there are several such initiations. But the first that may take place is for that of a child and is called a Wiccaning.
Like many Rites of Passages for children, the Wiccaning marks the entrance of that child into that religion. In this respect, a Wiccaning is much like that of a Christian Baptism. However, there is a significant difference between a Wiccaning and a Baptism; this is found in the meaning of the Rite.
Within Wicca, as well as most Neo-Pagan religions, there is an emphasis on free-will, respect for all life, and spiritual progression. What this translates to in a Wiccaning is that it is a dedication of the religion to the child (not the child to the religion as with a Christian Baptism) as all must come to this path willingly and are free to leave whenever they so choose; none are forced against their will. This dedication takes place in the form of a promise by the community to not just teach the child the ways of the religion, but to be there in the form of support and guidance throughout that child’s life, respecting the choices and decisions they make. In this context, the term community refers to the parents and any other family members and friends that may be present at the Rite.
Common to all Wiccanings, regardless of Tradition, is this promise by the community, a Blessing by the Gods and Elements (and perhaps by the Ancestors, too,) and the giving of one or more gifts by the community. This Blessing is not to be confused with a Baby Blessing, which introduces the child to the Gods and asks for Their blessing and protection of the child. The Blessing within a Wiccaning asks for the Gods to bless the child and calls Them to bear witness to the promises made by the community to the child, as well as introducing the child to the Gods as one of Their own (as the child is now to be raised in knowledge of Them and taught how to honor and worship Them.)
The gifts that are given vary per Tradition in quantity and significance, such as four gifts each representing an Element, one gift from everyone present representing various qualities of that child’s gender (e.g. something symbolic of strength for a boy child, something representing grace for a girl child, etc.) or one gift representing the religion or community.
Wiccanings are found within both British Traditional Wicca and Eclectic Wicca and can be a very positive, unifying event for a family. This Rite may or may not be performed within a coven setting and may or may not include a High Priest(ess) or other Pagan clergy. It is a Rite well suited to be performed with just the parent(s) and that child.
Working with energy is fundamental to the practice of Witchcraft for it is the very basis of its practice. Magick involves feeling and recognizing the energies around us, then reaching out and making changes to that energy. This is done by raising the appropriate amount of energy and sending it out into the Universe, where it affects the goal and causes change to ripple outwards.
But, to be able to do this, one must first learn to recognize the energy that exists about and within us. Without being able to recognize energy, it makes it incredibly difficult, though not impossible, to work magick. Consider the act of casting a Circle, fundamental to Wicca and used frequently within Witchcraft. You can say all the Words you want, wave around some tools, but if you can’t feel the energy change or see the Circle cast about you, how are you sure you actually cast a Circle at all?
So, how does one go about learning to recognize energy? Thankfully, it’s really not that difficult. One of the simplest ways is by learning to first feel it. To do this, one needs a physical object that naturally has a strong vibration rate; trees are good to use, as are certain crystals like Quartz or Amethyst.
To start, it’s best to be calm: quiet your mind and try to be open to whatever may or may not come. Sticking with the above suggestions of a tree or crystal, lay your hand gently on the tree or hold your hand over, but not touching the crystal. Close your eyes and pay attention to any sensations you get in your hand.
You should start to feel something. What you feel may differ from what someone else feels, but, generally, you may feel warmth, cold, and/or a tingle that may spread all the way up your arm. That is the energy within your object. And that is the same type of energy that is used within the practice of Magick.
Once you know what energy feels like, you can begin to try to work with it and even see it. Raising energy is the next step, as it easiest to learn to work with your own innate energy before learning to work with external energies. A simple exercise to this effect is in the creation of energy balls.
Stand or sit comfortably. Relax. Hold your hands out in front of you, palms together, as if you were praying. Close your eyes and visualize a small ball of light forming between your hands. Move your hands about an inch away from each other. Open your eyes and gaze (do not stare!) at the space between your hands. Concentrate on that little ball of energy forming and existing there. Push more energy through your hands and into the little ball, feeding it and making it larger; move your hands apart a bit more to accommodate the size change. Continue to see and feel the ball of energy you created. Feel the warmth in your hands as the energy moves through you and to the ball and the warmth of that ball as well. You may see the ball as well, perhaps as a swirling ball of pale light.
Play around with the ball of energy you’ve created. Push more energy into it, making it larger, squish it to make the energy denser, or stretch out into a ball so large that it surrounds your entire being.
Exercises like these are a great start to building competency in working with Magick, but they are, of course, not the only ways that one can learn to work with energy.