Coming to the Edge of the Circle: A Wiccan Initiation Ritual

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Oxford University Press, Aug 4, 2005 - Religion - 200 pages
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Imagine yourself sitting on the cool damp earth, surrounded by deep night sky and fields full of fireflies, anticipating the ritual of initiation that you are about to undergo. Suddenly you hear the sounds of far-off singing and chanting, drums booming, rattles "snaking," voices raised in harmony. The casting of the Circle is complete. You are led to the edge of the Circle, where Death, your challenge, is waiting for you. With the passwords of "perfect love" and "perfect trust" you enter Death's realm. The Guardians of the four quarters purify you, and you are finally reborn into the Circle as a newly made Witch. Coming to the Edge of the Circle offers an ethnographic study of the initiation ritual practiced by one coven of Witches located in Ohio. As a High Priestess within the coven as well as a scholar of religion, Nikki Bado is in a unique position to contribute to our understanding of this ceremony and the tradition to which it belongs. Bado's analysis of this coven's initiation ceremony offers an important challenge to the commonly accepted model of "rites of passage." Rather than a single linear event, initiation is deeply embedded within a total process of becoming a Witch in practice and in community with others. Coming to the Edge of the Circle expands our concept of initiation while giving us insight into one coven's practice of Wicca. An important addition to Ritual Studies, it also introduces readers to the contemporary nature religion variously called Wicca, Witchcraft, the Old Religion, or the Craft.
 

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Contents

Life as a ScholarPractitioner
3
2 Stumbling toward Wisdom
23
3 The Merry Circle
43
4 The Path toward the Circle
63
Getting behind the Wheel
87
6 Coming to the Edge of the Circle
113
7 Concluding Remarks
141
She Changes Everything She Touches
147
Notes
149
Selected Bibliography
161
Index
177
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About the author (2005)

As a scholar, Nikki Bado is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Iowa State University and past Director of their Religious Studies Program. She is currently on steering committees for both the Contemporary Pagan Sudies and Body and Religion Groups of the AAR. As a practitioner, she continues her work as the founding High Priestess in the Coven of Prairie Hawks in Iowa.

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