A Process Epistemology of Wiccan Occult Knowledge


  • Constance Wise Metropolitan State College, Denver




Wicca, Occult Knowledge, Mystery Religions, Ritual, embodiment


One characteristic, among others, of the contemporary Pagan religion of Wicca is its affirmation of occult knowledge. Some Wiccan traditions hold this knowledge to be secret; others, in particular Feminist Wicca, have a more open attitude. Despite these diverse approaches to the accessibility of occult knowledge, all Wiccans link it to embodiment. Many Wiccans associate it specifically with female embodiment through the concept of Women’s Mysteries. However, the broader definitive qualities of Wiccan occult knowledge are non-gender specific, namely that it is creative, non-rational, subliminal, and contextual. The twentieth-century philosophical system of process thought understands knowledge to have three levels: the deep, non-rational level of causal efficacy that affords one a grasp of the relationality at the base of all reality; the sensory level of presentational immediacy; and the humans-only abstract level of symbolic reference. The first of these, causal efficacy, can be associated with the qualities listed above for Wiccan occult knowledge. Wiccans access this level of knowledge through ritual, which takes them across the veil of rationality and abstraction into a brief and faint awareness of deep interconnections among all things. Some Wiccan ritual practices, in particular those of Feminist Wicca, then cycle back from this deep non-rational level to a more cognitive appropriation of the knowledge gained there. The process concept of causal efficacy offers philosophical insights into Wiccan occult knowledge and metaphysically grounds the Wiccan claim that at a deep level all reality is interconnected in a Web of Being.

Author Biography

Constance Wise, Metropolitan State College, Denver

Constance Wise is a 2004 graduate of the Joint PhD Program of the University of Denver and the Iliff School of Theology. Her specialization is constructive theology, and her dissertation is titled .Power in the Sacred Circle: A Metaphysics for Feminist Wicca Based on Process Thought.. She is currently teaching at Metropolitan State College of Denver.


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How to Cite

Wise, C. (2007). A Process Epistemology of Wiccan Occult Knowledge. Pomegranate, 6(2), 199–211. https://doi.org/10.1558/pome.v6i2.199