If people would look beyond their differences, they'd find they have much more in common than they think. Learning about other belief systems or religions doesn't mean you have to take on any part of those beliefs or practices. But understanding why others feel they way they do about certain issues and topics can go a long way to understanding each other. Believe me, I have first hand experience in this. What started as a string of emails between myself and a Christian lady, has developed into a friendship and mutual understanding. I have learned from her; and she from me.
Roman Catholicism and Paganism/Witchcraft are very similar. Many forms of self-expression can be similar in varying times, places and cults. Water, oil, light, incense, singing, procession,candles, prostration, decoration of altars, and vestments are naturally at the service of the universal religious instinct.
The Altar in every Catholic Church is prominently positioned at the front of the church. The 'Mysteries of the Mass' are celebrated on and around the altar. In Witchcraft the altar is used for similar purposes: to practice metaphysical rites, the casting of certain spells, to honor deities, to hold the 'tools of the religion' and to say prayers.
2. The Altar Cloth
The Catholic custom of using three altar-cloths began probably in the ninth century, but at present it is of strict obligation for the licit celebration of Mass. Formally the altar-cloths were made of gold and silver cloth inlaid with precious stones silk, and other material, but at present they must be made of either linen or hemp. No other material may be used, even if it be equivalent to, or better than, linen or hemp for cleanliness, whiteness, or firmness. In Witchcraft, the altar cloths can be made of any material. They can range from the basic piece of fabric to an ornate covering. Often time, the altar cloths are handstitched, with cross-stitching or needlepoint decoration to suit the witch's tradition or preference.
3. The Goblet known as a Chalice
According to the existing law of the Church the Chalice, or at least the cup part of it, must be made either of gold or of silver, and in the latter case the bowl must be gilt on the inside. Among early Christians, the evidence seems to favour the prevalence of glass, though cups of the precious and of baser metals, of ivory, wood, and even clay were also in use. The Witches Chalice can be made of any material: wood, glass, clay or metal. They may be plain or decorated. The chalice is a private and personal piece of the witches property.
4. Candles used in services
The Church prescribes that the candles used at Mass and at other liturgical functions be made of beeswax. Anywhere from 2 to 7 candles are used depending on the ceremony. As a rule the color of candles should be white or yellow unbleached wax, though gilded and painted candles are permitted under certain restrictions. For the witch, every color of the rainbow is utilized. Each color has significant meaning.
5.The use of Incense
Incense is a constant tool that is used by Catholic Priests. They will take an incense burner, walk around the Altar, and then swing it out toward the crowd with an invocation. Not only do Witches use incense, but they will consecrate their Altar and their fellow witches in the exact way the Catholics do.
6.The use of Bells in the ceremony
The bell at the Sacristy door is rung when the Priest is about to begin Mass, much the same way Witches use a bell to begin their rituals.
7. The use of a golden scepter in giving a large blessing
This is the Catholic version of the Wand. When the Pope, Cardinals, or Priests want to give a large blessing, they will take out a golden scepter, or wand, dip it in holy water, and then wave it on the people. The Witch will use the Wand as a tool of blessing also and to direct energy.
8. Ceremonies and rituals
Just as there is meaning in the circle I cast, there is meaning in the Catholic ceremonies. When the Priest enters the church it is usual for the congregation to stand. It is the same with Witches: it is expected and proper to stand to give honor to the ones(s) leading the ritual. Both religions have ceremonies for Birth, Life, Marriage, Sickness and Death. I as a witch have my religious or holy days; as does the Catholic or Jew or Muslim. Just because the religious name is different or the fact that different dates are used, does not give the right to dishonor another's belief.
Religious differences aside, we are all worshipping the Divine in some form. We are all touched by Divinity in different ways, not better or worse, just different. My form of Deity is both male and female. I see the Mother and the Father; the Son and the Daughter.
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