What Is Wicca?


History


Wicca is a neo-pagan religion based on the pre-Christian
traditions of England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Its
origins can be traced even further back to Paleolithic
peoples who worshipped a Hunter God and a Fertility
Goddess. Cave paintings found in France (and dated at
30,000 years old) depict a man with the head of a stag,
and a woman with a swollen, pregnant belly. They stand in
a circle with eleven mortals. These archetypes of the
divine are worshipped by Wiccans to this very day. By
these standards, the religion that is now called Wicca, is
perhaps the oldest religion in the world.

In 1951, the laws against Witchcraft were repealed in
England. A man named Gerald Gardner was the first to
come into the public eye with a description of what
modern witches were practicing. His information came
from the traditions of a coven called the New Forest
Witches, and from Ceremonial Magick and the Cabballah.
He began what is now called the Gardnerian Tradition of
Wicca. From Gardnerian came Alexandrian Tradition,
and a host of other offshoots that today number in the
hundreds.



Misconceptions


For two thousand years the image of the Witch has been
associated with evil, heathenism, and blasphemy. These
ideas have their origin in Christian myths created to
convert members of the Old Religion to that of the new.
By making the Witch into a diabolical character of ill
intent and action, the Christian missionaries were able to
attach fear to a word that had once meant Healer, Wise
One, and Seer.

These fears are present to this day. When we think of the archetypal image of the Witch, we remember the evil enchantress of childhood tales. We think of an old, wrinkled hag with a nasty wart on her nose. We think of hexes, and devils, and foul incantations chanted around a bubbling cauldron. While we modern witches have been known to stir up herbal remedies in a cauldron, we are a far cry indeed from the horrifying Wicked Witch of the West!


Witches Do Not Worship Satan

 

To believe in Satan, one must subscribe to the Christian mythos. We do not. Wicca does not have any belief in, nor do we worship a concept of evil incarnate. All life is perceived as a
constant flow of positive and negative energies, which
intertwine to create the balance of life. [From my own
experience, I must say that the only evil I have ever
observed in the world has come from Man. There are no
ax-murderers, or child-abusers to be found in the animal
kingdom, or in nature as a whole.



Witches Do Not Cast Evil Spells

 

Modern Witches have a very strict belief in the Law of Return. Whatever we send out into our world shall return to us, so even the most ill-tempered Witch would not consider doing magick
to harm another being. The spells that we do involve
things like Healing, Love, Wisdom, Creativity, and Joy.
The "potions" that we stir might be a headache remedy,
or a cold tonic, or an herbal flea bath for the family dog.



Beliefs



Immanent Divinity

 

Wiccans believe that the spirit of God/dess exists in every living thing: in the trees, the rain, the flowers, the sea, and in each other. This means that we must treat our peers, and all the beings of the Earth as aspects of the Divine. We attempt to honour and respect life, in all its many and diverse expressions.



Nature

 

Wiccans learn from and worship nature by
celebrating the cycles of the sun, and the cycles of the
moon. We look into ourselves for the cycles within that
correspond to those of the natural world, and try to
move in harmony with the movement of life. Our teachers
come in the form of trees, rivers, lakes, meadows, and
mountains, as well as other humans who have walked the
path before us. This belief infers a reverence and
respect for the environment, and all of life upon the
Earth We revere the spirits of the elements that create
our world. Air, Fire, Water, and Earth combine to
manifest all creation. From these four elements we gain
wisdom, and understanding of how the universe unfolds.
The rhythms of nature are the rhythms of our lives.
Wiccans attempt to dance in step with the pulse of the
Earth.



Other Faiths

 

Modern Witches believe in freedom first!
We do not choose to look at our path as the "one true
right way," but as one path among many to the center.
We do not convert new members to the Craft, nor do we
advertise or prosteletize. We believe that anyone who is
meant for this path will find it through their own search.
Wiccans practice tolerance and acceptance toward all
other religions, as long as those faiths do not preach or
commit harm to others.



Afterlife

 

Most Witches believe in reincarnation of some
sort, whether it be the Eastern version known as the
Transmigration of Souls (the spirit incarnating one body
after another in an effort to learn all the life lessons
that it can), or Ancestral Incarnation (where the spirit
and life lessons of the grandfather transmute to the
granddaughter, and so on down the genetic line). The
latter is a more traditionally Celtic approach, but both
are accepted.


Sin In Wicca

 

We do not have a specific concept of sin.
There is no heaven or hell that souls will go to based on
their worldly actions. Wrong-doing is governed and
determined by the individual conscience. With the belief
in the Law of Return, one's actions will determine one's
future. The individual is therefore responsible for his or
her own fate, based on what he or she chooses to do
internally and externally in the world.


Ethics

 

Wicca has but one law of action and ethics. It is
called the Wiccan Rede or the Wiccan Law, and can be
found under the Reading Room category of the same
name. "And ye harm none" covers almost everything that
the Ten Commandments do: don't lie, don't steal, don't
cheat, etc. It encourages us to strive not to harm any
living thing - including ourselves - except perhaps to
survive. Whether this means that you must become a
vegetarian or a passivist is up to the individual. The
Wiccan Law serves as a guideline to action, not a
mandate. The only law that the Ten Commandments
express that is not covered by the Wiccan Law is that of
marriage and adultery. In Wicca, love itself is
sanctified, with or without government authorization. As
long as two individuals share a sincere bond of love that
does not harm either party, it does not matter if they
are legally joined, if they are heterosexual, homosexual,
bisexual, or interracial.



Leadership vs. Hierarchy

 

There is no Arch Bishop of Wicca. There is no one person or organization that determines the practices and beliefs of Wicca as a whole. Instead, Wicca is formed of small nebulas groups
and solitaries who are charged with the leadership of
themselves. Wicca is a religion of clergy, not followers.
Each person who seriously pursues the Craft, whether it
be through study in a particular tradition, or through
self-teaching and private learning, has the choice to
become a priest or priestess of Wicca. Most modern
traditions of Wicca offer a three year program of
learning that will bring the student to the level of High
Priest or Priestess.



Churches and Temples

 

Wiccans do not usually have churches created specifically for the worship of the gods. Our temple is found in nature, among the creations of the divine. We meet in a circle that represents the Circle of Life, and the equality that we share. There is no
head, no top, no beginning and no end. When necessary,
our circles take place indoors in houses, apartments, or
wherever we can find a sacred, protected space. But
ideally, a circle will take place in a grove beneath the
stars, with the silver moon shining down from above.


Magick

 

Witches believe in the power of magick to
create change. A prominent Wiccan author named
Starhawk defines magick as "the art of changing
consciousness at will." By being in tune with the rhythms
of life, we can create change for ourselves and for our
world. We use herbs, oils, colours, stones, crystals, and
other symbolic materials to represent the change we wish
to create. Wiccans believe that the individual is
responsible for his or her own reality. If there is
something that is not healthy, or conducive to happiness
and growth, we have the power to change it. As aspects
of the divine, we are each Creator and Creatress, filled
with the power to manifest all that we dream of or
desire.



What is Wicca?

 

Wicca is a forest in the light of the silvery moon...a glade enchanted by the light of the Faery. It is the dewdrop on the petals of a flower in bloom, the warmth of the summer sun on the skin, the fall of colourful autumn leaves, and the softness of winter snow upon the Earth. It is light, and shadow and all that
lies in between. It is the song of the wind, and the tune of the tides. It is the symphony of life! To be a Witch is to be a healer, a teacher, a seeker, a giver, and a protector of all things living and alive. If this path be yours, may you tread it with honour and with light!

 

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