Saturday, July 22, 2006

What is the 'GREAT WORK' and how does it relate to Wicca?

I was hoping some of you could help me understand the "Great Work" and, more specifically, how that belief carries over into a Wiccan or neo-Pagan context.

I know that the term has been used since the days of the alchemists and allegedly refered to the "Philosopher's Stone" but it seems like it is also used in quite differing ways in other esoteric/occult philosophies.

One way I have heard it described, at least as believed by Aleister Crowley, is that it basically is if enough people use magick (especially sex magick), a new god is born and a new aeon is ushered in, probably in a tumultous way ("force and fire")... This does not seem to jive well with the Wiccan Rede ("harm none") so I was wondering what the deal was with this as I am pretty sure the Great Work is referenced in some traditions' Wiccan rites, such as initiation. I've read a lot to suggest that Crowley had his hands in part of the creation of Wicca, but to what degree seems to still be under debate. This Odinism website even goes so far as to bash Wicca because of this view on the Great Work. However, at the same time, I feel that Wicca has progressed and continues to do so, even long after Aleister Crowley has passed, so therefore I don't think it would be fair to say that this is the universal belief of the Great Work for all Wiccans today.

I have read on some Cabalistic websites this sort of idea but presented in different wording and without the ominous tone. Something like uniting the two sides of the Tree of Life so that God can see a reflection of his true self, good and bad, etc. etc...

So as someone looking into Wicca as a potential path for myself, I ask you this: What does the Great Work mean to you today, if anything? Is it more innocous than the above doomsday scenario or do you think that this is accurate?

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