This lifetime I chose to be born in the ancient land of Vedic wisdom, India…the place where timeless spiritual truths still live on in the form of tradition and culture. Yet, I was born with witchcraft (and Wicca too) in my soul. It was 1989 when I conducted my first ritual at ten years of age, feeling the powers rise within me, casting a circle, calling the quarters, raising energy of the elements and conjuring a spell. At the turn of the millennium after I was formally initiated into Wicca and remembered my past lives, I started conducting Wiccan rituals for large and small groups in Mumbai while teaching tarot and then I began Magick, a small store at 16th road, Bandra west, Mumbai in 2008 that still continues there now being used as a temple of Global Wicca.
The best part about being a Wiccan in India was that India already is rich in ancient wisdom. Wicca found easy acceptance in the diverse cultural and religious medley of India because of the spiritual openness and pagan heritage of India. In-fact there are so many parallelisms between western pagan traditions and Indian paganism that India seemed to be the perfect place for me to have launched Global Wicca, a spiritual tradition that unites the western magickal concepts with eastern mysticism.
- Talk about the five elements of nature and you find the ‘panch-tawwas’ of Vayu-air, Agni-fire, Apas-water, Prithvi-earth and Akasha-spirit are all honored in every ritual or yagya/ yajna since Vedic India.
- Talk about the goddess and god equality and India will teach you how the Goddess is the all powerful Shakti or energy, the ultimate creator who is worshiped in her numerous forms through so many festivals and rites.
- Talk about the Wiccan Rede, ‘An Ye Harm None Do As Ye Will’ and Indians would say yes to Ahimsa, a virtue of non-violence that was promoted not only by Gandhi but also by several traditions including but not limited to the Jain saints of India.
- Talk about the Law of Three and you will learn of Karma, the law of cause and effect as your energy comes back your way not only in this lifetime but through rebirths to help you learn and grow through experience.
- Talk about the multiplicity of deity and you will get no better place than India to see gods and goddesses of all shapes, genders and forms in each street.
- Talk about spells and magick and you will learn about mantras (spoken spells), yantras (tools and talismans) and tantras (the craft and yogas) to weave the enchantment together), crafting intentions with focused energy – witchcraft in other words.
- Talk about crystals, herbs and gems and you will learn all about their planets, chakras and various correspondences from ancient Indian spirituality. Some of the best crystals, stones, herbs and incenses are sourced from India the world over.
- Talk about astrology, divination, healing and you will learn this in every street and corner of India where its been practiced in so many ways as a well established profession whether as ancient Vedic astrology or other intuitive arts.
- Tarot cards with the five suits of Europe may have originated in Italy in 15th century but Indian spiritual cards have been around since the 7th century in the form of Dasavtara taash depicting the ten suits of Vishnus ten reincarnations.
- Animals and trees have been regarded as divine too, with each deity connected with their own animal familiar and trees as well as herbs being worshiped for their magickal and healing powers in each corner of India.
- Speak of the power of lunar cycles and you will find that each lunar day from Amavasya (new moon) and each day or tithi of the waxing moon to Purnima (full moon) has been celebrated and observed as special and magickal in its own way.
- Talk about celebrating the major and minor Sabbats and cycles of earth – and you will learn how they correspond closely with the ‘rutus’ (seasons) in the Indian calendar and the annual celebrations that mark each season
- Just like Imbolc celebrates the goddess Bridget the maiden who brings in warmth after winter, Vasant panchmi celebrates Saraswati, the maiden who brings the light of awareness as spring begins to dawn.
- Vernal or spring celebrations of Holi, Gudi padwa, Ugadi correspond with the Ostara spring equinox celebrations where color returns to earth after winter
- Just as Beltane is the start of summer, Vaishakh celebrates agriculture and fertility with the festivals Vishu, Bihu and Akshaya Tritiya celebrating the solar power.
- Midsummer solstice and Litha celebrate the peak of summer and faery frolic the outdoor processions of Rath yatra celebrates the procession of celestial deities and Nag Panchami celebrates the reptilian underworld.
- As Lughnasad is the first harvest or loaf-mass/ lammas, Shravan celebrates the monsoon and the harvest festivals of Green Teej and Krishna Janmashmi or the birth of the dark half of the year when the wheel turns towards autumn.
- The autumn equinox and Mabon time are the harvest festivities much like Onam and Ganesh Chaturthi when grain and harvest are celebrated.
- As the summer ends and winter draws closer, the last harvest of Samhain corresponds with the festivals of Navratri, Diwali and Kaali Puja that celebrate the great goddess energy in the dark new year.
- Winter celebrations such as Yule and mid-winter solstice or Christmas see parallels in Lohri, Pongal and Makar Sankranti when the rebirth of the sun is celebrated.
So what is the difference between ancient Indian customs and that of the western Wiccan witches? If we observe the parallelisms we will find that we are more similar than different and that our differences are superficial while our similarities are deep rooted.
Core philosophical beliefs and nature based celebration rituals of harvest and cultivation deeply unite both western and eastern pagan practices. Myths and mythologies involving various culture specific deities came much later, initially the ancient natural forces were honored and propitiated through all rites, rituals and festivals all over earth.
All over earth our rites, rituals, customs all have evolved to reflect the cultural shades of our land.Our unique herbs, trees and folklore in each country has led to a unique magickal heritage of each country . Communities within each land have their own customs and traditions. Yet the base of all magickal traditions – both in the east and the west is One. It is nature that has shaped our magickal beliefs and traditions all over earth and the oldest spirituality in each part of the world is simply – nature.
The western propaganda against the word ‘witch’, ‘withcraft’ and ‘paganism’ had spread even to the east over the last few centuries. It is only in the west that ancient and timeless wisdom, natural celebrations, herbal and stone magick, meditation, goddess worship, paganism, idol worship and mantras/ spells were all connected with evil thanks to the fears spread to promote religious conversions from pagan to non-pagan beliefs. In the eastern world ancient magick is a living continuing tradition since thousands of years, having survived the conversion attempts of western religions. Yet we have seen instances of witch-hunting and prosecution of women and children ‘blamed’ or ‘accused’ of witchcraft even in Asia and Africa…even in the ancient magickal land of India, all thanks to the misunderstandings seeping in from all around.
What people of India and the rest of the world have to understand is that magick is an integral power in every being of nature including humans and that it is nothing to be feared of. Calling it superstitious, irrational or evil is akin to dishonoring our deep rooted magickal heritage and the spiritual work of our thousands of gurus since ancient times. No matter what the dictionaries, bibles and wikipedias of the world might say regarding witchcraft, Wicca and magick, let us remember that these are not to be seen with the tainted shades of religious discrimination.
If we focus on the ancient teaching from both the east and the west we will find ample guidance in favor of learning and practical magick and spirituality in everyday life. I may have been a western western witch in my past life but in this life being born Indian, I have learn to expand my consciousness greatly and to see paganism, witchcraft as well as Wicca in a new global light that unites the east and the west. There is no point arguing about whether eastern or western paganism is superior. We know that we are all one and what we all must strive towards is to let go of all our misunderstandings and accept the magick in everyone and everything.
Swati Prakash is the founder of Global Wicca and the author of The Global Wicca Revolution which is now amazon fulfilled all over India.