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1. religious adoration or devotion
2. the formal expression of religious adoration; rites, prayers, etc.


Chiefly Brit a title used to address or refer to a mayor, magistrate, or a person of similar high rank
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

The word comes from "worth-ship," meaning dignity, honor, respect and reverence. In religion it is used in a sense of reverence to deities. Worship is usually a group of people with similar beliefs coming together to give thanks to their deities, often with specific rituals at certain times of the year. In Witchcraft there are the eight main sabbat ceremonies plus the weekly or monthly esbat rites. The gods of life and of nature—the male and female principles of all life are worshiped.

The Old Religion worship is performed in groups, known as covens, and also by individuals or Solitaries. The covens are led by a priest and a priestess who represent the god of nature and the goddess of fertility. In Witchcraft it is believed that all are their own priest or priestess, and so able to worship alone if preferred.

Documentary evidence of the worship of Nerthus, Mother Earth, is found in England well after Norman times, as evidenced by her nude effigies found in more than a dozen eleventh and twelfth century churches. There is also a twelfth century medical treatise (Ms Harl. 1585, fol. 12a) which says: Holy Goddess of Earth, parent of Nature, who dost generate all things, and regenerate the planet which thou alone showest to the folk upon earth. . . Thou givest us food in safety by a perpetual covenant; and when our soul fleeth away, it is in thy bosom that we find our haven of rest. Thou too art called by the lovingkindness of the gods, the Great Mother, who hast conquered the god of Mighty Name.

The need to worship, and the aversion to changing beliefs, is reflected in the

Bible passage (Jeremiah, 44:15-19): Then all the men which knew that their wives had burned incense unto other gods, and all the women that stood by, a great multitude,

even all the people that dwelt in the land of Egypt, in Pathros, answered Jeremiah saying: "As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken unto thee. But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil. But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine. And when we burned incense to the queen of heaven, and poured out drink offerings unto her, did we make our cakes to worship her, and pour out drink offerings unto her, without our men."

This explains the slowness of the New Religion (Christianity) in its efforts to oust the Old Religion. For generations the people had worshiped their ancient deities, seeing the relationship of the gods to the earth and to all life. They had developed a close relationship with these deities and with Mother Earth. There was understandable hesitancy to abandon what had been known for so long for an upstart god, however much his worship was enforced by the authorities. By the tenth and eleventh centuries, many priests continued to lead their people in the worship of both the gods of the Old Religion and the New. In 1282 a village priest at Inverkeithing, Scotland, was severely reprimanded for leading his parishioners in a fertility dance which included a phallic symbol. In 1303 the Bishop of Coventry, Walter de Langton, was accused of paying homage to a deity in the form of a goat. Many local priests would serve their pagan flock during the week and go through the motions of Christian worship only on Sundays.

Worship can give a sense of purpose to life and also a sense of worth to the individual. Wicca has been called the fastest growing religious movement in the United States. Reasons include the form of worship and the freedom from strict rules and rulership. The participants are free to express their feelings for deity in the ways that make most sense to them and which give them the greatest satisfaction.

The Witch Book: The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neo-paganism © 2002 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.

What does it mean when you dream about worship?

A dream about worship can embody a straightforward religious meaning. It could also be a representation of something that we adore, as in the expression “He worships the ground she walks on.”

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
On the night I worshipped with the group, a longtime member who had been absent from the congregation for some time because of illness arrived in a wheelchair.