In Wicca, the land ruled by the Lord of Death, the dark winter aspect of the Horned God, who controls mortality throughout the natural world. Some Wiccans see it as the place to which the Goddess descends in search of the answer to the most fundamental human conundrum of death. She is provided with the answers she seeks and returns with the Necklace of Rebirth as the youthful Maiden.
This concept is loosely derived from the story of the Brisinga men, and the golden necklace which the Norse Goddess Freyja obtained from the Underworld where it had been fashioned by dwarfs. It may also be traced, in some respects, to the Mesopotamian saga of Inanna's Descent to the Underworld to challenge the forces of darkness embodied in her half-sister and alter ego, the Queen of the Underworld, Ereshkigal.
In some Wicca, the account of the descent of the Goddess into the Underworld is related at the Sabbat of the Autumn Equinox. The Lord of the Harvest, John Barleycorn is now become the God of the Underworld to whom the Goddess, in her aspect as the Hag, travels for the dark months of winter. The festival of death is then celebrated at Samhain, when the temporal and spiritual worlds come into close alignment.
see also: ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES
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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