A Wiccan of 25 years, Sage likes to put her background as a writer and teacher to use by helping people learn about this NeoPagan path.
Help! My Parents Won't Let Me Burn Things!
So, you’ve gotten over one hurdle—your parents are okay with you learning and practicing Wicca. That’s great! It’s good to know that your parents are educated, open-minded, and trust you to explore your spirituality. Other kids have to struggle and compromise until they’re adults and out of the house. Consider yourself lucky.
But now you face a new hurdle—your parents won’t let you burn things in your room. And all the Wicca 101 books and websites instruct you to have candles—multiple candles—on the altar. They also tell you to use incense—more burning! To top it off, one of the main tools of Wicca is an athame—a dagger! Ack! The frustration!
So what do you do in this situation? Well, obviously you can’t be Wiccan without candles and athames—wait, just kidding! Of course, you can!
Wicca is a religion, and religion, at its core, is about you, your Gods, and living a life based on certain principles and tenets. It’s not about which tools are on your altar. If your parents don’t want you playing with fire and blades in your room, there’s a very good reason for it: safety. There are plenty of ways to get around using these common ritual tools without defying your parents.
Wicca Without Candles
Candles are usually symbolic of different things on the Wiccan altar. Often they are used to represent God and Goddess. Instead of candles, consider putting a different symbol there. You might use a small statue (look around the thrift shops, you may be surprised at what you find!). Remember that it’s not just statues of the Gods themselves that can represent your deities—you may worship Athena, in which case a small owl statue would be perfect. Or maybe you worship Ra, the Egyptian Sun God—in which case, a sunstone is quite appropriate. Another option is to look online for images of your God and Goddess, print them out, put them in frames, and put the framed photos on the altar. This is an easy and inexpensive way to decorate your altar without any flames.
If you love the look of candles on the altar, get electric or battery-powered candles. Alternatively, you could use night lights or small lamps. These are good not just for representing the deities and bringing that great atmosphere to your altar, but also for representing the element of fire. Electricity and light are symbols of fire—so it’s entirely appropriate to use bulbs instead of flames.
Other symbols for fire you might use include lava rocks, red jasper, amber, sun or star images, sun or star figurines, “fake fire” (such as those sold around Halloween), or a figure of an animal associated with fire (salamanders, snakes, lions, etc.).
Wicca Without Incense
The whole point of incense is to use the power of scent—which is very evocative—to help promote the right state of mind for ritual (ritual consciousness). There are ways other than incense to bring scent into your ritual.
Scent sticks in bottles of oil are one option, but you can also purchase essential oils and use them in a small electric oil diffuser. A diffuser has a place for you to put oil, and when you turn it on, it heats up to convert the moisture in it to steam, diffusing the scent into the room. If you don’t have a diffuser, place a cotton ball in a tiny bowl and put a few drops of oil on it. This will infuse the scent in the room.
Another alternative is potpourri—keep a basket or herbal sachet on the altar and replace it when the scent goes dull. You can even make these yourself by mixing fresh and dried herbs, wood chips, fruit peels, and essential oils. You might also want a potpourri electric crockpot, in which you add water and potpourri. Turn it on, and it heats up, steaming the room with the lovely scents you put in there.
Wicca Without Blades
Though the athame—the ritual knife—is a standard tool of Wicca used for directing energy, it’s not irreplaceable. You can omit it altogether if you like—use a wand. A wand is easy enough for you to make—just find a nice stick from a tree you love and decorate it a bit if you want. The wand is a gentler tool than the athame but serves the same purpose—directing energy.
Your finger, incidentally, also can be used for the same purpose. If you want something a little more blade-like, but is legal for a minor to have, consider getting a fancy letter opener.
Meaning Over Material
Don’t hesitate to look around the house and make your own substitutions. What it all comes down to is this: is your tool meaningful to you? Does it help promote ritual consciousness? Does it do the job that you need? If so, then don’t hesitate to use your instincts for such things.
Your parents are already more understanding than most by allowing you to explore your spirituality in your own way. Meet them halfway, and respect their house rules. You’ll find you can focus on your religion a lot better when you’re getting into it peacefully, rather than fighting with your parents about it.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2013 Mackenzie Sage Wright
Megan on December 07, 2014:
Thank you so much! This was so helpful :)