A Wiccaning is a form of blessing ceremony for babies and small children used by Wiccans. It is named such to convey its purpose as something similar to a christening, although most Wiccans would simply refer to it as a blessing. But what does it entail? Would it be right for your child?
Why Choose a Wiccaning?
A Wiccaning is a beautiful ceremony, held to welcome the child into this world and to ask the blessing of the gods upon them. The main difference between a christening and a Wiccan blessing is that whereas in the former the child is often welcomed into a belief system for life and to an extent tied to it, in the latter the child is accepted until such time as they are old enough to make their own decision as to their faith and choose their own path.
There are several reasons why this type of blessing may appeal to you more than a christening. Perhaps you are not especially religious but feel the need to welcome your child formally; perhaps the link to nature evident in a lot of Wiccan and Pagan1 rites touches you in some way. Or perhaps you simply like the freedom of choice the child is offered.
You don't have to be Wiccan, though, to choose such a blessing. A coven2 may prefer to perform such a rite for its members only, but a local lone practitioner may be approachable. If a witch3 cannot be found to help out, it is quite acceptable to read up on the ceremony and do it yourself.
What follows here is a basic outline. The ceremony can vary between practitioners and there is no right or wrong way.
The date and location for a blessing is personal to the individuals, although somewhere outside, preferably near natural water or stones, is recommended if at all possible. The persons acting as Priest and Priestess will begin by setting up the altar table with the items and tools to be used in the ceremony, such as their athames4, candles and items symbolic of the five elements. They will then call a circle of sacred space which envelops all present, as marked out physically with the athame, with water with added salt5 being sprinkled around the circle and the fire (a candle) and incense being walked around the circle to seal it. The quarters are called upon6 in turn and the gods7 are invited to witness the events.
As the ceremony now begins, the child's parents will be called forward to the altar with the child. His or her name is asked and a request made for the gods to watch over and love him/her until the time comes for them to choose their own way. The Priest will then hold the child as the Priestess marks their crown, forehead and heart by gently making a pentagram with a finger dipped in water containing added salt over the area. As each area is covered, she will ask that the child be blessed.
It is now time for any chosen godparents to step forward with their gifts for the child. The gifts may be traditional, but it can be nice to give a wish or personal blessing instead. For example, one might offer the child a book and a candle that their intellect may always burn brightly, or a heart shaped item that they may always know love. These gifts and wishes can be kept as the child grows up for them to cherish as an adult.
Cakes and Wine
With the ceremony over, it comes to the time for feasting and celebration. Still inside the circle, the Priest and Priestess will bless a small portion of cakes and wine from the food to be eaten8, offering a little to the gods in thanks and then passing the plate and cup to all to taste before the general feasting begins. What happens now is up to you. There may be music, dancing, whatever you wish, in which case the circle should be large enough for everyone inside to move freely.
Once the partying is over, the Priest and Priestess close down the circle and lead all in giving thanks to the gods for the day.