I am a 3rd generation white witch High Priestess specializing in all areas of the craft. We are also Christian based on faith not religion.
THE MERGING OF CHRISTIANITY & PAGANISM in the 21ST century
The merging of Christianity and Paganism
is a relatively new concept, one rarely talked about and one that stirs much
controversy. As more and more people speak out about their love of both Christ
and of the Goddess
it becomes apparent that the practice of Christian Witchcraft is no myth. It is
real and it makes sense most in the celebrations that both Christians and Wiccans
share. The feast days of the Christian and Wiccan calendars are closely linked
both in date and meaning, which gives the Christian Witch the greatest of
gifts: a way to honor her Christian tradition in the light of a Pagan practice.
I offer you here a little bit of history on the development of the feasts that
Pagans and Christians both share and how these celebrations can become the
focal point of a beautiful and loving spiritual practice.
The interaction between Pagan and Christian philosophies really began
following the "conversion" of the Emperor Constantine. As
Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire and of its elite,
the legislation and the religious practices began to reflect this change. The
establishment of Christianity as the official religion brought on the need to
organize and regulate its doctrine into a coherent monotheistic
philosophy that contrasted quite drastically with the eclectic reality of the
pagan practices of the time. The unregimented pagan cults, multiple gods, rites,
and celebrations came to be considered unfounded from an intellectual point of
view, criticized as superstitious, and open to constant re-interpretation. By
the fourth century, it had become common practice to re-interpret pagan shrines
and festivals from a Christian perspective. The Romans had done the same thing
to the religious practices of the Celts
and Germanic tribes it had conquered. The practice of assimilation of the
religion of the conquered is as old as the history of war, conquest, and
The conversion of Europe to Christianity followed two opposing philosophies.
Boniface (c.675-754) abolished the religions he encountered on his missionary
journeys and destroyed pagan holy sites in order to build new Christian ones.
Pope Gregory the Great (c.540-604), on the other hand, instructed missionaries
to sprinkle holy water and build altars containing holy relics on the site of
pagan temples. Whichever method was used, it is clear that most pagan religious
practices were transformed in order to teach the Christian message in a way
that was culturally relevant and easy to understand. In fact, "modern Christianity
is in many ways as much the heir of European paganism as it is of first-century
Judaism." Such a statement clearly demonstrates the important
role of paganism in the development of Christian practices.
This pagan heritage is most obvious in the feasts and celebrations we both
share. The eight Wiccan Sabbats
are closely linked both in date and intent to the feasts of the Christian
calendar. This makes merging the two faiths extremely easy for someone who
wishes to practice Christian Witchcraft. Practicing Christian Witchcraft does
not mean you have
to merge all celebrations; you can choose to focus
on the Pagan aspects or on the Christian ones, or you can choose to celebrate
both! Let’s take a look at each one and discover the Christian Witch Wheel
of the Year
. You’ll find here each Sabbat listed with its Christian
equivalent, along with the common themes they share. I’ve also included a
ritual practice or tradition that can be used to build a celebration that truly
honors both the Christian and Pagan aspect of the feast day.
All Saints and All Souls Days:
November 1st and 2nd,
The Christian celebration dates to the fourth century. It commemorates the
lives of the saints and the people who have passed on. It was moved to November
1st by Pope Gregory III to coincide with Pagan celebrations.
Remembrance of our ancestors
The dumb supper is one way to acknowledge the
presence of our ancestors on the night of
It is believed that on this night, the veil between the realm of the living and
of the dead is extremely thin and that our ancestors can come back to visit.
The dumb supper consists of setting an extra place at the dinner table to
welcome them back and to share in their company as we used to when they were
living amongst us. It is a great family ritual that teaches that death is a
passage and that the ones who have passed on are never really forgotten.
is celebrated on the winter
the longest night of the year. The date for Christmas was chosen by the roman
Emperor Aurelian in the third century, to coincide with the feast of the
Unconquered Sun. So, for both these feasts, we see a strong association with
the power of the sun. Many pagan traditions were incorporated in the Christmas
feast. Boniface introduced the Christmas tree, which was a Germanic tradition.
Also, Santa Claus is an amalgamation of St. Nikolas and the god
Encouraging light in times of darkness. This
light is represented in various ways: the unconquered sun, the star of
Bethlehem, Jesus as the light of the world, or simply by the ritual use of
Burning candles throughout the night is a
practice of both Pagans and Christians. Christians still perform a midnight
mass on this night, a symbol of keeping the light burning in the darkest of the
night. Pagans let candles burn all night long to give strength to the sun on
the longest night of the year.
celebrates the efforts of the God to woo the Goddess out of her wintry sleep.
For Christians, this date also honors the sacred feminine in the person of the
Virgin Mary. It is called
because it is customary to burn candles in a procession on this date.
Devotion to the Goddess
Imbolc or Candlemas is a great day to honor
the Sacred Feminine. It can be done in a traditional way, like burning candles
and offering flowers at a shrine in Her honor. This date also coincides with
the feast of St. Brigid, a
whose life work was to tend to women’s health, particularly in childbirth. What
better way, then, to honor this special day by volunteering or making a
donation to your local women’s shelter.
First Sunday after the full moon occurring on or after
celebrates the coming of spring and return of life after the dead of winter.
Easter celebrates the resurrection of Christ after his descent into the realm
of the dead.
There are so many ways to celebrate life. One
way that I find links both the Pagan and the Christian philosophy is by the
blessing of the
This is done at the Easter vigil service every year, and I find that there is
no better connection between Pagan and Christian rites than this. There is the
blessing of the fire and of the water, and the burning of incense to sanctify
the altar. Flowers are all around the altar. It really is a great
representation of all the elements Wiccans work with regularly. You can perform
the blessing of the elements in your own home with your own personalized
ritual. You can then take this holy water to bless yourself and your home in a
commitment to bringing forth life everywhere you go.
May Day is a festival that has been somewhat lost. It used to feature young
girls walking in procession behind the statue of the Virgin Mary. It seemed to
indicate that these girls were of age to get married.
is a fertility festival with the May Pole dance an obvious symbol of the Great
A way to commemorate fertility is through a
symbolic Great Rite, representing the copulation of the God and Goddess to
bring life back on earth. You can use any two items that represent feminine
receptivity and male virility and unite them into a state of completeness. It
is a day to be a little frivolous and let you hair down, go out on the town
with a significant other or go on the prowl for that special someone…
St. John the Baptist:
These feasts commemorate the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, and
the beginning of the harvest season.
The link between the two feasts is thin, but the
importance of St. John’s day in many parts of the world is a testimony to the
importance of this day. It is a time where the solar energy is at its highest.
It is a time to commemorate that strength by soaking up this great gift.
A common practice is the lighting of
bonfires. It brings back this theme of energy and strength that this day is all
Loaf mass is not celebrated anymore in the regular Church calendar. It dates
back to the early Church, when it was common to make an offering of the first
fruits of the harvest as a sign of thanksgiving. Particularly, on August 1st,
people brought bread that was baked with the new wheat to be blessed during the
celebrates the wheat harvest and the blessing of livestock.
Giving thanks for the wheat harvest
Baking and sharing bread is a ritual both
Pagans and Christians can relate to. It is especially relevant to Christians as
a commemoration of the Eucharist.
Variable date (Canadian Thanksgiving coincides
more closely in date with
Giving thanks for the harvest
There is no greater ritual than preparing a
meal with the fruits of the harvest and giving thanks for all our blessings.
That is communing with nature and the divine in the most fundamentally human
I hope that this quick turn of the Wheel of the Year has given you a new way
of looking at the celebrations Pagans and Christians share. If you are looking
towards a practice in Christian Witchcraft, I hope this has inspired you to
find new ways of expressing your own special tradition. For those of you who
are strictly Pagan, I hope that this overview also helps in linking with family
members and friends who may be of Christian upbringing. Seeing the elements
that unite rather than divide is a great way to continue to participate in
celebrations and to educate others on the fact that we are not that different.
Now, what of the Esbats
the full moon rituals?
I am happy to say that the night still belongs to the Goddess. By night, one
way, by day, another. It is the beauty of our spiritual path that we find such
balance within it and around us. The days belong to the sun, the virile God in
his countless manifestations. The nights belong to the Goddess, under the
nightly orb, reminding us of the cyclical nature of our lives in her
manifestation as maiden, mother, and crone. What beauty in this balance! By
honoring both manifestations of the divine, we have come full circle in our
celebration of life!
May your year be filled with the sounds of celebration and merriment!
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