Have you ever wanted to delve into the world of Wicca?
If you live in the Comox Valley, or Campbell River, you don’t have to go far.
The Aquarian Tabernacle Church of Canada (ATCC) is one of the country’s few Wiccan churches, and it practises out of Halbe Hall, in Black Creek.
Mary Malinski is the high priestess of the Circle of the Sacred Muse – the circle she started upon her arrival to Vancouver Island, more than a decade ago. The congregation has been growing ever since.
“Active members, we probably have about 20, but we probably have about 80 that kind of sit on the fringes… they come and participate every once in a while, or they check us out, but are not actively participating all the time,” she said. “There is an active group in Victoria as well, but they are a little more quiet about it.”
The ATCC began in 1990.
Wicca is described as a modern Pagan religion, whose followers worship a goddess and a god (duotheistic), although Malinski said that definition over-simplifies the practice.
“I don’t like to limit it to duotheism,” she said. “In general, we honour both the masculine and feminine principles of the divine. “However each member relates to that in different ways. Some people connect very strongly with the Greek gods and goddesses, some connect very strongly with Norse, some with Sumerian… and some just like to keep it general. But what makes Wicca unique is that we make sure we balance both the masculine and feminine faces of the divine.”
Wicca is a religion connected with nature. As opposed to worship on a certain day of the week, Wiccan services are planned in connection with the phases of the moon and the cycle of the sun.
“We have public rituals at or around every full moon … on the Saturday closest to the full moon,” said Malinski. “We also have public celebrations around the solstices and equinoxes, and the cross-quarter days that happen halfway in between. So there are eight solar festivals that we celebrate every year, with a potluck and ritual.”
Wicca and witchcraft
No discussion about Wicca can be complete without addressing the subject of witchcraft.
While popular belief is that Wiccans practise witchcraft, Malinski said that is another over-simplification of the religion.
“The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Many people who see themselves as Wiccans also practice witchcraft; spells, herbs, oils, using the tools of nature to create magic; using our will to create change in the universe,” she said. “But this is where Wicca and witchcraft differ. Witchcraft in its purest form could be beneficial, or it could be harmful, depending on the intent of the user. For those who are followers of Wicca, we have a rule, kind of like the Golden Rule. Ours says ‘an it harm none, do what you will.’ So we have that ‘harm none’ rule in place. We cannot use our magic to harm other people, or harm ourselves. It has to come from that place of benefiting ourselves, benefiting the community, benefiting the people around us.”
A reasonable analogy would be comparing Wiccans to the Good Witch of the North in the Wizard of Oz.
“Kind of, yes,” said Malinksi, chuckling and adding there is nothing to be fearful of, when it comes to Wicca.
“I would say it’s very much a path of personal growth. As Wiccans we take personal responsibility very [seriously]. It’s very similar to the law of attractions. We are responsible for everything that happens in our lives. So if we don’t like what we are experiencing, it’s our responsibility to make changes.”
Another rule of the Wiccan religion is that all magic used must be consensual.
“One of the rules that our church follows is ‘cast no spell, for good or ill, on or about, or against, any other living being without their knowledgeable approval.’”
The local congregation is family-friendly.
For more information on the ATCC, Malinski can be contacted at 250-897-8761.
The start of a new decade also marks a new era for the ATCC. Malinski will receive her elevation to Archpriestess of ATC Canada at the annual Spring Mysteries Festival hosted by the ATC Mother Church (https://www.atcwicca.org).
Malinski founded the Circle of the Sacred Muse in Courtenay more than a decade ago, thereby becoming a priestess. She has been working on her path to archpriesthood since 2006.