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Ancient Goddess Alive in Philadelphia

The reconstructed temple of Nehallenia near the town of Domburg in the Netherlands
The reconstructed temple of Nehallenia near the town of Domburg in the Netherlands
Temple of the Ways

Nehallenic Wicca is culturally involved with Continental Northern Europe, or what we call “Channel Culture”. It’s a different Celticism than that found in the British Isles. Nehallenia, our patroness, is listed both as a Celtic and a Teutonic-Norse goddess, and so was a natural choice for a tradition based on the meeting of these cultures.

The Nehallenic Tradition of Wicca is not at all ancient, but it does draw on old sources and folklore.

In the 1970′s, a group of people in Philadelphia, PA of Breton, continental Celtic, Dutch, German, and Norse descent came together to compare their traditions. The result was the discovery that they all had a great deal in common philosophically. They also all shared a common goddess of seafarers and journeys, Nehallenia.

This group stuck together more or less through the years. Finally, in 1985, a priestess established the Nehallenic Tradition. Aldsvider Loar Nevez became the first Nehallenic “lodge” or coven, and it is the center of this tradition which weaves these cultures together. On the Fall Equinox of 2003, the lodge was reincorporated as the Temple of the Ways.

Until the completion of http://www.templeoftheways.org/, information on Nehallenic Wicca did not exist outside of the Nehallenic lodges. Knowledge was passed from person to person within a lodge or to a Dedicant. But these are not the days for secrecy. These are the days to share so that seekers might better find their paths. After all it is not so much where we have been but where we are going that matters.

The central idea is the union of Norse/Teutonic and continental Celtic cultures (that is, not from the British Isles) symbolized by the shared goddess Nehallenia. She was especially popular in this area as the Roman Empire declined. The devout invoked Nehallenia for safety in travel, for fertility, and as a general mother figure.

Most traditions are driven by a particular focus. In Nehallenic Wicca, the emphasis is on the continuing improvement of the self as well as reaching out to others to help them reach their fullest potential. Many Nehallenic Wiccans become teachers of Wicca for the general population.

Aside from Nehallenia, deity is represented by the Goddess Dagmar and the God Alaric. These are special to this tradition and have not been taken from legend or lore. Nehallenia is more representative of totality.

Nehallenia is not without a consort. This equal-but-unique God figure is Herne the Hunter/Cernunnos, the Horned God of Europe.

In the Nehallenic Tradition we have three specific points of concentration:

TEACHING – There’s been lots of talk about the relative ignorance of new Witches/Wiccans/Pagans. Instead of complaining, why don’t we teach?

SPIRIT – More and more it seems that the spirit of our ways gets lost behind the flashier side of spellwork. Let’s do what we can to emphasize the spiritual aspect.

INTERFAITH – We are each of us ambassadors of our faith to the world beyond our paths. Let’s take this to a new level and really be excellent representatives.

In the past, the training for someone looking to walk the Nehallenic path was lengthy. A Seeker had to spend the traditional year and a day in study with a coven before being initiated into the First Degree and coven membership. In another year and a day the Seeker would attain the Second Degree, and pass another year to reach the Third Degree. Members who entered the Third Degree can choose to become a working priest/ess for the coven or to become an Elder and help those rising through the degree system. More recently we have seen fit to adopt a more flexible system.

Nehallenic Wicca is practiced in lodges, or covens, although there’s no reason a solitary couldn’t adapt group ritual for private practice. Working clothed, the Nehallenic chooses ritual wear according to the work being done. There are times when special robes and accoutrements lend a magic of their own to ritual, and then there are times when simple street clothes will suit. This tradition observes Full and New Moons as well as the eight traditional Days of Power.