Wicca is a religion that has roots going back to the dawn of man. The late Dr. Margaret Murry traced Witchcraft’s origins to Paleolithic times, 25,000 years ago. Because the first humans depended so much on the animals and plants around them for life, animism developed to be what was the first known religion. Animism is ascribing to each natural phenomena a spirit to reside over it. A God or Goddess or spirit was in control of the seas, mountains, and of the animals that were hunted. New information about cave paintings and Goddess figurines and other forms of animism are being found every year.
Wicca is a joyous religion springing from our kinship with nature. It is a merging with the Goddesses and Gods, the universal energies which created all in existence. It is a personal, positive celebration of life.
Wicca is a spiritual path originating in Britain which recognizes both a feminine and masculine element to the divine. It believes that nature is sacred and should be protected. Aside from the protection of the environment Wicca’s central theme, called the Wicca Rede, is “if it does no harm do your own will”. This is a positive morality meaning think before you act.
Aside from the Wiccan Rede – and the “three-fold law.”
Wiccans do not have to subscribe to a fixed ideology so beliefs vary, however the common theme is that Wiccans gain a connection with the divine spirit of mother nature through the celebration of her cycles through the Wicca calender. This is done either individually or with other Wiccans.
According to most versions of the three-fold law, whatever one does comes back to one thrice-multiplied, in amplified repercussion. One short, rhymed version of the Wiccan Rede states “Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill: An it harm none, do what you will.” Often “none” is interpreted to include the doer him self in analogy to the “golden rule” of other faiths. There are no universal proscriptions regarding food, sex, burial or military service and Wiccans, as a rule, discourage proselytizing (attempts to convert others to a different religion).
At key points in the year Wiccans gather and connect with nature, generally by forming a circle, sometimes using set forms of words, or otherwise improvising according to the participants needs.
The morality of wicca is based heavily on free will allowing individual freedom with as little interference as possible. There is high level of equality in Wicca with the emphasis on the circle and the lack of any preaching. The concept of a talking stick where everyone has their say is more widespread than dominating leaders. The emphasis is on the creation of harmony by allowing the individual to do their own will but encouraging them to think of the harm done to others by the exercising of this freedom.
In order to understand Wicca it is essential to know its roots. All countries have a native spiritual tradition based around reverence for the forces of nature. Wicca is the native tradition for the nations of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, and is rooted in the period before 500 BC which marks the start of the iron age. The sacred sites from this period, in particular Avebury/Silbury and Stonehenge, are important to Wicca as are the ancient British legends, for example the Mabignogian. Wicca was illegal in Britain for nearly 1000 years up until 1951, however following it’s legalization a large amount of material has been published and Wicca is now accessible to all.
Wicca has its own art, including jewelry, and also has a deep understanding of the power of plants, in particular the influence of their fragrances. Many Wiccan also use crystals, both for their natural beauty and for their spiritual power.
Wiccan jewelry includes earrings, pendants and necklaces which often contain precious stones with particular meaning and Wiccan symbols. Crystals give power to the wearer.
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 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 Kaballah. 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.
Wicca is based on a deep respect for nature and the certain knowledge that we do not have the right to exploit it for our own gain. Wiccans are deeply concerned with conservation and ecology, and as in all Neo-Pagan religions.
Wiccans believe that both animate and inanimate objects possess a spirit which forms part of the Whole. Spirit is that essence which every object possesses linking it to nature.
Wicca is a celebration of the life-forces of nature as personified by the Goddess and her consort, the Gods.
Some Wiccans see their inspiration and traditions as coming directly from the gods. Certain Wiccan mythology holds that Wicca has come down from the stone age, surviving persecution in secret covens for hundreds of years.
Others say that their Wicca is a long-held family tradition (or “fam trad”), passed down through villages and grandmothers. Aidan Kelly argues that modern Wicca was largely pieced together by Gerald Gardner from Margaret Murray, Charles Leland and other sources, with significant revisions by Doreen Valiente (and others), beginning in 1939.
Whatever its origins, Wicca today is a vibrant, modern religion, open to change, creativity and personalization. Wicca is different than the religions of the ancient people, but it embraces some of the same beliefs. Wiccan’s have a common belief that the Earth is Sacred and the animals that dwell on it are sacred as well. Wicca or Witchcraft, Paganism, High Magic and other forms of Occultism are not Satanism. Satan is a belief of Christianity.
GODS & GODDESSES
Although some Wiccans focus on particular gods from particular world mythologies, Wiccans may worship many god(goddesses)s by many different names.