A ceremony performed by some Wiccan Covens, including that of Vivianne Crowley, as a precursor to first-degree Initiation, compensating the candidate for his or her absence from the invocation of the four elements within the circle of witches at the outset of the Initiation rite. It is felt that the candidate will benefit from a sense of inner balancing before the sometimes intimidating procedure of Initiation.
The balancing rite offers an imagery of the featureless primeval waters into which the initiate sinks, Trance-like, to rest deep within the embryonic earth awaiting its genesis. As the waters recede, the candidate struggles from its womb and begins to ascend, climbing ever higher into the air, reaching towards the warmth and vitality of the sun until engulfed by its purifying fire. Cleansed, he or she returns once more to the earth and awaits rebirth into the society of Wicca.
The imagery reflects very ancient concepts that are not limited to Celtic Traditions. The primeval water from which all life emerges is fundamental to Egyptian and other ancient Near Eastern beliefs, the sun has been a source of light and vitality for most Pagan cultures and fire is always a purifying element. Achieving the correct balance between earth, air, fire and water is considered essential for the spiritual well-being of the Wiccan initiate.
One of the major problems with 'defining' Paganism and/or its beliefs and practices is that it is an 'organic' movement, in that it is undergoing constant change and re-evaluation from within, and as such any 'one-size-fits-all' approach to understanding Paganism will be found wanting.
Due to the very 'organic' nature of Paganism, and the many differing Paths and Traditions within it, in many cases no one definition may be universally accepted by all Pagans. Therefore, where such cases of possible conflicting and/or contradictory meanings of certain terms occur I have endevoured to give not only the generally accepted meaning, but also any major 'variations' in belief and/or practice.
Christians who believe this difference in meaning of certain key terms, beliefs and practices to be unique to Paganism need to remember that such conflicts also arise within the Body of Christ - the Church. Take for instance the differing practices amongst Christians concerning Baptism and the different attitudes towards women in the clergy.
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