What is Sin? One Wiccan perspective

The question of sin was a heated conversation in my religious studies classes. We were Buddhists, yogis and a Wiccan who did not believe in a God outside of creation ( or did not believe in God at all), who did not believe in punishment or damnation.

Sometimes, the aversion to the concept of sin would make  it difficult to relate to Christian text. Eventually, it became clear  that we had to think differently about sin in order to really engage the texts.  We began to think about what sin meant from our own religious perspectives.

In my case, I had already lessened my anger around the term. It happened when I was introduced to the idea that sin was “whatever takes you away from God”*. Boom. It was a miracle. That one phrase was like poetry to me because it took out all the damnation and punishment. It also made rejecting sin sound  like a daily practice. You do what brings you closer to God to avoid sin. It was also so much more relatable. While someone Christian might take that to mean do not have sex before marriage because it takes you away from God. I could relate it to when I am not doing practices that bring me closer to the Goddess.

When we substitute God for divinity or sacredness, then sin holds a whole other notion of personal responsibility and wisdom. In the Buddhist tradition, we can likely “sin” to what leads you away from enlightenment, service to others or a healthy mind. An example of  this would be virtuous or non-virtuous  karma. These are not a good/bad reward system. They are not a punishment system. Instead, non-virtuous Karma is what is created by  and leads to unhealthy emotion patterns (Kleshas). Kleshas stand in our way of  having a healthy mind (somewhat like that sin that keep us from God).

In Wicca,  God is Divine Immanence. God is and is in nature. God is in us and all creation. So what would be sinful in Wicca. To me,  Wiccan “sin” would be  whatever causes imbalance in nature and whatever makes us experience disconnection from  The Goddess, The Divine, Nature and Humanity.  If I did a spell that causes an imbalance or was against nature or if I was cruel to an innocent human, I would see that as “sinful.”

With all that said, Christianity, Buddhism and Wicca are not completely comparable if at all. Also, sin is unique to certain religions like Christianity. The theology of sin does not really work in religions like Wicca. However, it is so helpful to ponder religious concepts that challenge us, to translate into our religious words. In this case, the concept of sin can be a doorway into to thinking about what is important in our Wiccan practices. And what makes us have regret, fear or imbalances. What do we “punish’ ourselves for. And what can we do to be closer to The Goddess and Nature.

* I do not remember where I first heard this but it seems to be a 
   take on " Sin separates us from God" (Isaiah 59:2).
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How to incorporate Meditation into Wiccan practice

First, I would say, that Wicca practice already uses meditation. Ritual ( like yoga) is really meditation in movement. If one is really connecting to the ritual, to the invocations and to magic casting, this is meditation. When a person is fully in tune with the Goddess then this meditation. Or when we casting a circle and have that single object and single intention focus, this is also a form a meditation.

Think about when you are lost in any creative project. Where the project moves you into present moment. Where you are ” in flow” to the point where you move/ create automatically  We feel like someone else is guiding us because it is so effortlessly pouring out. In those moments of creativity, you are not worry about bills, or thinking about the future ( unless this is divination). You are completely in the project. This is mindfulness. This is meditation. And we have these moments all the time in Wiccan rituals.

These moments do not always happen.  Sometimes, we do a ritual and we can only go with the motions. We are  speaking, moving and acting but not connecting. We are not growing from the experience. Or we do a spell and our thoughts are all over the place.  It seems impossible to  send our intention into the universe.

This is why having a daily or weekly meditation practice can help Wiccans. By developing you meditation skills, you will likely find that you are able to focus and ground yourself  better before, during and after a ritual.

So here are a few ways to introduce meditation to your Wiccan practice.

First off, any of these techniques can be used before or after a ritual for grounding or by itself for a daily practice.

1: Doing mindfulness meditation. In this type of  meditation ( from  Tibetan Buddhism), you place a gentle focus on your outward breath and relax during the inward breath. or focus on both the in and out breath. See which technique is a better fit for you. When you have a thought, label it thinking without judgement and return to the breath.

2: Do visualizations:

A great visualization for Wiccans is working with  trying to project one’s own energy. An example of projecting your own energy is to imagining a beam of light coming from the middle of  your hand. Imagining  that you can move that light around. You can also imagine a beam of light coming out of each of your chakras or important body centers. These sort of energy meditations are great for strengthening ones’  energy body and projection abilities to aid in spell work.

3: Chanting/ Affirmation meditation.

You can do a traditional chant such as ” Om”. If you do a traditional chant from traditions such as African spirituality,  Buddhism or Yoga, you are benefitting from energies that have been tried and tested. They are energies that are connected to the vibration of earth and spirit and  create  healthy vibrations in your own body.

However, you should know enough about/ have access to the tradition, culture or chant ( though some chants have no literal meaning) before doing so. You don’t want to invoke things that are not meant for you. ” Om” however is  a good safe start.

You can also create your own affirmations to repeat. In this case, you can  do affirmations that are connected with a recurring goal, a spell  or ritual you will do  or something that creates a feeling that you  want such as relaxation.

Chants should not be more than a sentence, probably no more than five words. But can be as little as one.

Always remember the effects of meditation take a while. At least try a certain practice for a month before reflecting on the benefits and cons. Hopefully you will notice meditation or contemplation has a good effect on your rituals, spells and  mental well-being.

Purpose of Mindfulness practice using emotions

Similarly to the mindfulness of the breath, practice with one’s emotions is another avenue to anchor one’s attention into present moment. It allows the person to be honest about their direct experience. In this way the view is that emotions and feelings are not a problem, it is when we avoid them that problems arise. In our attempts to run away from our emotions we distract ourselves from the reality of the present. The purpose of practicing mindfulness of emotions is its ability to enhance one’s capable to deal with the highs and lows of life. It builds courage with the practice and shows that life is doable. As a result, one’s capability to stay within the present moment grows. We are able to listen to our emotion without using escapism or projections to run away from them.

Quote of the Day: A Path with a Heart

When we let go of our battles and open our heart to things as they are, then we come to rest in the present moment. This is the beginning and the end of spiritual practice. Only in this moment can we discover that which is timeless. Only here can we find the love that we seek. Love in the past is simply memory, and love in the future is fantasy. Only in the reality of the present can we love, can we awaken, and can we find peace and understanding and connection with ourselves and the world.
Jack Kornfield, A Path with Heart

Things I learned on retreat…

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1. Kleshas ( conflicting emotions) will follow you everywhere.

2. It is difficult to meditate outside when you are worried that a bear might eat you.

3. Animals are attracted to peaceful people. We found that dogs, birds and deer approach us during and after meditation.

4. Good practice requires a mixture of solitude and community.

5.  Retreat from  the ones you love will either strengthen or harm those bonds. But the test is worth it.

6. Bring hiking boots.

7.  Do  a vow of silence for at least one day.

8. Real practice gets harder not easier.

9. Practice, Practice and then go explore.

10. Returning home will either  be traumatic or you will be really really hyper.

The one who perceives through Emptiness …

The one who perceives through Emptiness is neither male nor female. The ears,nose, mouth, body, and mind are also Empty. Just as the stillness of space is neither male nor female, If one can understand completely the origins of the eyes, then one is said to be enlightened.

The Sutra Of Sagra, the Naga King . Translated by Diana Y. Paul

meditaton on Words

Found this inspiring. Hope you do as well. it’s excerpt from a reading in one of my classes:

In the moment of Love, When overwhelming compassion flows freely,
Its empty nature nakedly appears.
May we meditate day and night
Inseparable from this unity, the supreme unerring path.

~Mahamudra Aspiration by Karmapa Rangjung Dorje