What is Wicca?

Wicca is an initiatory earth-based mystery religion which believes in a Goddess and a God, follows the Wheel of the Year, and follows a set of ethics which aims to “harm none”. Wicca is a path of empowerment and personal growth, stressing personal power and responsibility, and living in harmony with the universe.  Scott Cunningham also states that “Wicca doesn’t view deity as distant.  The Goddess and God are both within ourselves and manifest in all nature.” (Wicca: A Guide For the Solitary Practitioner)

The_Spiral_Pentacle_by_SingingGandalf

Many Wiccans:

  • Are duotheistic, worshipping the Goddess and the God, opposite partners or two parts of a whole. The Goddess can also take the form of a Triple Goddess, with Maiden, Mother, and Crone aspects.
  • Are polytheistic, recognizing that there are many different deities or sub-deities.
  • Believe in reincarnation, where the soul is returned to a living being after death. Many Wiccans also believe that the soul resides in the Otherworld or Summerland between lives.
  • Practice magic/magick. This could include spellwork (releasing an intention into the universe) or something as simple as visualization or prayer.
  • Follow the Wiccan Rede, which states “an it harm none, do what ye will”. This includes harm to others as well as yourself.
  • Follow the Threefold Law or Law of Threefold Return, which is similar to the eastern concept of karma.
  • Follow the Wheel of the Year, with each of the eight festivals known as Sabbats. These are a modern take on pre-Christian festivals, as well as the solstices and equinoxes, which focus on the path of the sun, the agricultural year, and the power of the God.
  • Follow the cycles of the moon, known as Esbats. These ceremonies follow the path of the moon and the power of the Goddess.

moon_goddess

In Wicca for Beginners, Thea Sabin describes Wicca in a series of points.

  1. Wicca is an old-new religion. Although based on pre-Christian pagan traditions, what we today call ‘Wicca’ comes mostly from Gerald Gardner in the 1950s, compiling ancient pagan practices with modern influences, such as the Golden Dawn and Freemason traditions.
  1. Wicca is an earth-based religion. Wicca celebrates the earth and nature, the wheel of the year, and the cycle of life.
  1. Wicca is experiential. You don’t just read about Wicca, you experience it by participating. Your experience tells you what’s true, what works for you, and what you believe.
  1. Wicca is a mystery tradition. Wicca celebrates the mysteries of life such as birth, death, love, and deity. Wiccans reach beyond our five senses to try to commune with the divine, such as meditation and pathworking.
  1. Wicca is European Shamanism. Although not exactly the same, Wicca shares a lot of similarities with shamanism and Native American traditions in that they work with altered states and their psychic abilities in order to overcome our fear and take charge of our spiritual paths.
  1. Wicca is a magical system. Wiccans use magic, whether ‘Low’, ‘Folk’, or ’Practical’ magic, such as everyday tasks like finding your keys, or ‘High’ magic, such as manifesting your own personal power and divinity.

However, Wicca is not:

  • Satanic or anti-Christian. Satan or ‘the Devil’ is a Christian concept, and while Wiccans believe that everything has a ‘light’ and ‘dark’ side, they don’t believe in an innately evil being.
  • Although Wiccans believe that most things have dual and opposite symbolism, they don’t believe that these opposites are antagonistic (such as God and Satan).  Many Wiccans, however, are duotheistic, believing in the Goddess and the God, opposite partners or two parts of a whole, neither ‘good’ nor ‘bad.
  • Wiccans do not try to convert others or feel that their path is the ‘one true path’.

IMG_0701

Wiccan groups are divided into Traditions, similar to “denominations”, each with their own rituals, practices, and theology. Some of the most well-known Traditions are described below:

Gardnerian – Introduced in England in 1954, the Gardnerian tradition is considered the most traditional form of Wicca, from which most paths developed. Its roots are attributed to Gardner’s own experience with the New Forest Coven, as well as inspiration from sources such as Freemasonry, occultism, eastern religions, and naturism. Gardnerian Wicca and similar traditions are sometimes referred to as British Traditional Wicca, in which one usually has to be initiated by a coven.

Alexandrian – Founded by Alex Sanders (“King of the Witches”) in England the 1960s. Very similar to Gardnerian Wicca, with a strong emphasis on ceremonial magick.

Georgian Wicca – Founded by George Patterson in California in the 1970s. This tradition draws from Gardnerian and Alexandrian sources.

Seax Wicca – Created by Raymond Buckland in the 1970s. Buckland was originally Gardnerian, but founded his own tradition in America using his Saxon heritage. It is thought to be more open and democratic then Gardnerian or Alexandrian traditions.

Feri / Faery  – Created by Victor Anderson and Gwydion Pendderwen in California in the 1960s. Initially pre-Gardnerian however later influenced by Gardner and Alexandrian Wicca. Starhawk received training in this tradition.

Reclaiming – Starhawk co-founded the Reclaiming Collective in the 1980s, linking spirituality, magick, and political activism.

Dianic – Known as Feminist Wicca, this tradition honours the Goddess, specifically the phases of Maiden-Mother-Crone. Named after the Roman goddess Diana. Some groups are exclusive to women.

Green Witchcraft – A broad category, sometimes associated with kitchen witchcraft and natural/herbal magic.

Hereditary / Family Tradition – Traditions that have passed through family, therefore claim blood lineage not related to Gerald Gardner.

Eclectic – Doesn’t follow a specific tradition, but borrows from many traditions and cultures. Very popular, as it grants freedom and lacks hierarchical structure. Can be initiatory or self-initiatory, practiced solitary or in a coven.

Solitary – Those who practice without a coven, who learn and practice on their own. Usually self-initiatory and eclectic-based.

Wicca is the largest group within the greater Neopagan movement, with nearly half of all Neopagans identifying as Wiccan. Some Wiccans prefer to term ‘witch’ to highlight their practice in witchcraft, however not all witches identify as Wiccans, and vice versa.

Wicca for Beginners (Thea Sabin)
The Inner Temple of Witchcraft (Christopher Penczak)
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Wicca and Witchcraft: 3rd Edition (Denise Zimmermann, Katherine A. Gleason)
What is Wicca?
Wiki – Wicca
Neo-paganism.com – Neo-paganism and Wicca
Neo-paganism.com – Are Neo-pagans Wiccan

© The New Pagan (2013, 2015)

13 thoughts on “What is Wicca?

  1. I was wondering if you know where the stained glass pentagram picture is located. If it’s a church or something else.. I love your website! Blessed Be.

    • Hi, sorry for the late response!
      After a google search, found that the stained glass window is in the First Methodist Church in Warren, Indiana!
      Aine🙂

  2. What Does God Think About Witchcraft?

    Since you’re reading this article, you’re probably curious about how Wicca measures up to the Bible. Can you be a Christian and dabble in Wicca? What does God have to say about magic and the supernatural world? Keep reading!

    The spiritual world is real, and so is Satan.

    One thing Wiccans have right is that there is a supernatural world that interacts constantly with the world we see, touch and smell. Unfortunately, they believe it’s okay for humans to interact with spirits and spiritual forces any way we choose. To the contrary, the apostle Paul writes that the spiritual realm is potentially dangerous. Therefore, we need to treat it the way God tells us to and be prepared for spiritual battles of good versus evil.

    The Bible says:

    For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Ephesians 6:12-13)

    Many Wiccans say that Wicca is harmless and nature-loving — that it has nothing to do with evil, Satanism and dark forces. But that is exactly what Satan wants them to believe! Intent on deceit, “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light,” says Paul. “It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness.” Paul says that if they don’t turn toward God and repent, “their end will be what their actions deserve” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).

    We should worship God, not His creation.

    Wiccans are also right to care for and appreciate nature. But they go too far when they start worshiping it. Jesus tells His followers in the Gospel of Luke, “Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only” (Luke 4:8). Creation is merely a reflection of His glory and is not to be worshiped.

    The Bible says:

    For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.… They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator — who is forever praised. Amen. (Romans 1:21-23, 25)

    Don’t try to contact or control supernatural forces.

    Magic and spells depend on what Wiccans call a psychic link. Psychic development can involve training in divination — the attempt to obtain information about the past, present or future by occult means or one’s own psychic abilities.1 The Bible is very clear that divination and any other form of supernatural contact (other than prayer, of course!) is forbidden, since it relies on a supernatural power apart from God. In other words, there is no such thing as “white magic.”

    The Bible says:

    Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord, and because of these detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you.” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12)

    Do not practice divination or sorcery. (Leviticus 19:26)

    Jesus is the Source of real girl power.

    Many Wiccans are critical of the church’s view of women. They claim that Christianity does not empower women, whereas Wicca does. While it’s true that some Christians have distorted God’s Word and not honored women, the Bible says that men and women are equally important in the eyes of God.

    The Bible says:

    So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:27)

    Because God places a high value on women as bearers of His image, Christianity honors women in a way that’s unique. That’s why women were often with Jesus during His ministry. And in John 4 we see Jesus treating a Samaritan woman with utmost respect, even though men weren’t supposed to talk to women, and Samaritans were considered outcasts in Jewish society.

    We don’t need to make up our own rules.

    In Wicca, each follower is told to do as she wills. Their only standard is that no one should do harm. In other words, there is no absolute truth. But this presents several problems. First, how can one be sure that no harm is being done? Is there any way to know all the consequences of an action? No! And aren’t personal feelings a wishy-washy method of determining right and wrong? After all, Alex Sanders, a well-known Wiccan who died in the 1980s, wrote, “A thing is good for me until I feel it is not right for me.” Another witch named Stewart Farrar elaborated, “The witch’s own conscience must be the final arbiter.”2 What if a witch one day feels that incest or murder is the right thing to do? Is there anything to stop him? Even though most Wiccans would say that these things are wrong, they have no firm basis for saying so.

    Christianity, on the other hand, provides a powerful authority for denouncing racism, crime or any other moral wrong: God’s holy character and His Word, the Bible.

    The Bible says:

    All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

    Wiccans do not believe in sin as Christians do. They see sin as an outdated, constraining concept. Therefore, they see no need for God. Wiccan high priestess Starhawk says, “We can now open new eyes and see there is nothing to be saved from, no struggle of life against the universe, no God outside the world, to be feared and obeyed.”3 Through spiritual self-improvement, Wiccans hope to reach their equivalent of heaven, called the Summerland or the Land of Eternal Youth.

    On the other hand, the Bible tells us that no amount of good work can earn us eternal life. Through Christ alone we are saved.

    The Bible says:

    “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” ( Jesus in John 14:6)

    It’s Your Choice

    God has made it clear that Wicca is dangerous and incompatible with Christianity. He made His creation for us to enjoy as a reflection of His character, but not to be worshiped instead of Him. Wicca may seem attractive, magical and different, but it does not give eternal life and a relationship with the God of the universe. If you choose Wicca, you cannot choose God as well, because He will not tolerate worship of anything but Himself. He is perfect and holy. Study God’s Word and you will find that a life centered on the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who gave His life for us on the Cross is better than anything we could ever find here on earth.

    1. Craig S. Hawkins, Goddess Worship, Witchcraft and Neo-Paganism (Zondervan, 1998), p. 21. ↩
    2. Catherine Edwards, “Wicca Casts Spell on Teenage Girls,” Insight Magazine, October 25, 1999. ↩
    3. Starhawk, The Spiral Dance, p. 27. ↩

  3. I’ve had some strange experiences with witchcraft in my 14 years of life. You may want to grab some popcorn.

    2nd Grade: My first spell. I had no knowledge of what witchcraft was, only that I was a being with powers. I blame it on Harry Potter. There was this girl I hated, so I lit a white candle, wrote her name on a paper, put it in a plastic container, and froze it. She cut her forehead open. Younger me saw that it had worked, but didn’t fully understand what I did. I did this spell 3 more times over the years.

    3rd Grade: I made a friend who’s mother was a witch. Let’s call her Risa. We played pretend-to-be-a-witch for fun. I would start harvesting the garden in my backyard. We would carve sticks into wands, study herbs, and found our star signs. I discovered the wiccan community, but I didn’t think too much of it. I made a name: Rani Edd. Today, it doesn’t suit me anymore. A separate witch name is a part of being a witch, but I didn’t know that yet. This same year, I also got a cat🙂

    4th Grade: One day, we decided to make a herb sachet with the herbs we harvested. I put them in a purple much, whispered a prayer, and successfully made a love spell. Because it was Black Magic, the boy I targeted had glazed eyes as it presented pretend flowers to the girl I gave his love to. I was officially scared. Later on, I threw that spell in river after burning it in a jar.

    6th Grade: We cursed a locket. By this point, I have discovered the wiccan community and started checking out wiccan books at the library. We cursed the locket, and gave it to a wiccan friend. At this point my wiccan friend count was 2. We were a group of 3, but we didn’t know that meant anything yet. I still have no idea where the locket is, because it got lost in the moving. I hope it found its way into a stream because there were negative vibes on that thing.

    8th Grade: My last freezing spell was full of many negative emotions. It involved my best friends boy drama. As a joke, we pulled out a picture of his face and wrote bad things about him, his girlfriend, and there friends. Our two friends already had bad vibes, so this spell had a ton of deep roots. We ripped it, froze it, and forgot about it. Until they all started crying, the boy broke his wrist, and his girlfriend got a major concussion. They are physically fine now, but I suspect they went through some emotional trauma. After that incident, I did some research and found that freezing spell on many wiccan sites. I had done a wiccan spell without any knowledge of wiccan culture.

    I found many wiccan alter items in my grandmothers collection. She travels the world, and we know she collects many artifacts from history around the world. I now believe she practices witchcraft. Unfortunately, she lives in Egypt so it’s becoming increasingly harder to contact her.

    I have always felt like the outcast. Only recently have I realized that the rest of the world sees me as a social butterfly, and it’s only myself that sees myself as a stranger. Since practicing witchcraft, I have felt more myself. I’m more bold, fearless, and myself. I’m no longer afraid. I’m very artistic, and I’m a pretty gifted writer. My closet is 90% black and I have a ridiculous amount of candles.

    I am now aware of the Wiccan Rede, and I follow it to the best of my ability. I’m trying to go about the right path. If anyone can help me find out where all this knowledge and drive for witchcraft has come from please let me know! My parents are Catholic and Christian so its definitely not them. And if anyones looking for a witchy friend or if you want to help email me at ember@oath.com

    Thanks y’all🙂

    • Hey Ember, there’s some great resources out there, both books and online, about Wicca and Paganism. Knowledge of your ancestors is something many Wiccans are interested in, and helps one to understand where they came from. Pagan ethics is definitely something to think about! Treat everything and everyone with respect, and try to cause no harm (including harm to yourself).
      Good luck!

  4. Wonderful blog! I am a slavic neopagn but I started my spiritual path with Wicca 10 years ago. I still nave some influences of wicca in my practice . if you want came to my blog 😊

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s