We often turn to faith, spirituality and religion when we consider our mortality. Sometimes, religion can even help us cope with the fear of dying. This is certainly the case for “Melissa”, a Centre of Excellence student who suffered from thanatophobia — an intense fear of dying — for most of her life… She just had to find a religion that suited her spirituality first. Melissa — whose name has been changed to protect her identity — was raised by her devoutly religious family. Now 47 years old, she tells Centre of Excellence that it took discovering Wicca for her to conquer her fear of dying and find her own spiritual path.
Of her thanatophobia, Melissa explained she had sought help from members of the faith in which she was raised but they, unfortunately, gave her “no comfort” and little practical advice. As an empathetic person with a healthy curiosity and independence, Melissa had found herself questioning her religion as she grew into adulthood. So, where to turn to for answers?
Well, Melissa told Centre of Excellence, “I have always had a fascination with the witch trials in Salem and Pendle that I would hear about every Halloween and I suppose this, in turn, began my fascination with Wicca.”
Luckily for Melissa, Wicca teaches that the answers lie within yourself.
What Are the Wiccan Beliefs?
When you think of Wicca, what do you imagine? Devil worship? A brainwashing cult? If yes, sadly, you’re not alone. There are many misconceptions about Wicca. But no matter what you may have heard, Wicca is a deeply individual practice dedicated to peace, balance, harmony and the divine energy of the earth.
Some say it has been evolving since the ice age. Others say it’s a neo-Pagan religion. The origins of Wicca are indeed closer to Pagan teachings predating the widespread adoption of Christianity, in which practitioners are encouraged to focus on physical and spiritual realities to seek their own vision of the Divine in a very personal experience, often utilising ritual and witchcraft.
Either way, the open-mindedness of Wicca makes it an innately modern religion. It does not discriminate against gender, race, sexuality, age, or sociological and sociopolitical background. As an Earth religion, in Wicca, all people are considered children of the same Mother.
For Melissa, who loves the Native American “nature-based beliefs and respect for the earth and others”, this made more sense than more prescriptive religions. “The emphasis on meditation and the focus on energy felt more natural to me,” she added.
Melissa found herself becoming more and more interested in Wicca, fuelled by a family history that some of her relatives say could be traced back to the Romani people. In fact, Melissa had grown up studying these times at school and “often wondered if any of my distant relatives were ever tried as witches”.
Melissa had some difficulties learning more about Wicca “as the internet wasn’t what it is today” but found herself in a chatroom with members of the Wicca community. That night, Melissa recalled, “I had a dream where I had become Wiccan and I felt so at peace.”
At the time she brushed it off as just a dream but, after her alienating experience seeking help for her thanatophobia, her feelings about her former faith were changed and Melissa “decided to focus on my spiritual side instead and that brought me more comfort”.
On her journey, Melissa decided to undertake the Wicca Diploma Course with Centre of Excellence to uncover more about the religion she had so often wondered about. The lifelong student said, “Learning with CoE was easy. I was able to set aside time to focus, and because there were no time limits, I could relax and really take in the information.”
Melissa plans to develop her knowledge with the Advanced Wicca Diploma Course, Psychic Development Diploma Course and Tarot Diploma Course, the CBD Diploma Course, as well as several business courses.
On her learning journey, Melissa became more attuned with Wicca and her intuition and intentions. She explained her connection with the Wiccan Law of Threefold Return – a basic law that states you reap what you sow but that what you do also comes back to you threefold, as a lesson to do no harm – adding, “I have always had strong gut feelings about things and my dad always taught me to trust my gut.” It is yet to guide her down the wrong path.
Melissa said, “The aspect of Wicca that helped me deal with my phobia was the idea that all natural things, including ourselves, are forms of energy and that energy is never destroyed but merely transforms. This completely changed my way of thinking about death and for the first time in over 30 years, I was no longer afraid. I had finally found the peace that I could never find from my former faith.”
She told Centre of Excellence, “I now feel that I am a spiritual person rather than a religious person.” Melissa’s discovery did not come easily, however. Of the transition, she said, “It is often difficult to go against what we have been brought up to believe.”
However, she stayed true to those gut instincts and focussed her mind on what mattered most to her health and wellbeing. Melissa added, “I believe, in this day and age, more than ever, it is important to focus on our mental health. This includes how we feel about our spirituality. In order to be at peace in our minds, we also need to be at peace in our hearts and in our souls.”
Melissa shares her story not to try to convince you because Wicca does not seek to recruit new members and does not lay claim to the one ‘true’ deity, forsaking other beliefs. In fact, you can be Wiccan and follow another religion at the same time. Likewise, you might meet a Wiccan pacifist or a Wiccan soldier; all Wiccans are able to set out their own code of conduct and practice the rituals that suit them. After all, Wicca is about setting your intentions and empowering yourself from within.
With a final word of advice to others who might be going through a similar spiritual discovery, Melissa said, “Find what you connect with whatever religion or faith that may be, and you will find your peace.”