What is Wicca
Wicca is a nature based pagan religious system. It is predominantly a western based belief. It has its roots in the resurgent witchcraft movement of the 50s and 60s. This movement was started in part by Gerald Gardner. Gerald Gardner was an English civil servant. He is called the father of Wicca. Gardner studied the works of Aleister Crowley. Gardnerian Wicca came to the United States through Raymond Buckland. Buckland was an Englishman who had emigrated to the US and brought the Craft with him.
Wicca’s origins come from pre Christianity traditions found in northern Europe. Wiccan’s belief system is not eclectic like those that practice witchcraft. It has a definite neo-pagan theological structure with laws and tenets. The practices include the celebrations of the solstices and equinoxes. They honor the god and goddess and the cycles of nature. These cycles are demonstrated by the Wheel of the Year. Wiccans study the use of herbs and gemstones. The Craft, as it is often called, is practiced in covens. Some Wiccans work alone. Covens are groups of witches. The adherents that work alone are called solo practitioners.
As Wicca grew and extended to different parts of the world, the practice began to split off. There are various schools of Wicca. Each tradition has its own set of beliefs and rituals. Gardenerian, Alexandrian, Dianic, and Saxon Wicca are just a few branches.
The basic tenets of Wicca remain the same such as the marking of the Wheel of the Year. This is done by celebrating the 8 Sabbats. They are the solstices and equinoxes and the days that fall in between them. These are called the cross quarter days.
Wiccan Holy Days Make up the Pagan Wheel of the Year
- Yule. The winter solstice.
- Imbolc. This is the early stirring of spring.
- Ostara. Spring equinox.
- Beltane is the first stirrings of summer.
- Litha. Summer solstice.
- Lughnasadh. First harvest.
- Mabon. Autumn equinox which is the second harvest.
- Samhain is the final harvest.
In 1974 The American Council of Witches drafted a set of common principles for Wicca. This council of 73 members disbanded shortly after but the principles are still followed today.
Principles of Wiccan Belief
- We practice rites to attune ourselves with the natural rhythm of life forces marked by the phases of the Moon and the seasonal Quarters and Cross Quarters.
- We recognize that our intelligence gives us a unique responsibility towards our environment. We seek to live in harmony with Nature, in ecological balance offering fulfillment to life and consciousness within an evolutionary concept.
- We acknowledge a depth of power far greater than that is apparent to the average person. Because it is far greater than ordinary it is sometimes called “supernatural”, but we see it as lying within that which is naturally potential to all.
- We conceive of the Creative Power in the universe as manifesting through polarity – as masculine and feminine – and that this same Creative Power lies in all people, and functions through the interaction of the masculine and feminine. We value neither above the other, knowing each to be supportive of the other. We value sex as pleasure, as the symbol and embodiment of life, and as one of the sources of energies used in magickal practice and religious worship.
- We recognize both outer and inner, or psychological, worlds – sometimes known as the Spiritual World, the Collective Unconscious, Inner Planes, etc. – and we see in the interaction of these two dimensions the basis for paranormal phenomena and magickal exercises. We neglect neither dimension for the other, seeing both as necessary for our fulfillment.
- We do not recognize any authoritarian hierarchy, but do honor those who teach, respect those who share their greater knowledge and wisdom, and acknowledge those who have courageously given of themselves in leadership.
- We see religion, magick and wisdom-in-living as being united in the way one views the world and lives within it – a world-view and philosophy of life which we identify as Witchcraft, the Wiccan Way.
- Calling oneself “Witch” does not make one a Witch – but neither does heredity itself, nor the collecting of titles, degrees and initiations. A Witch seeks to control the forces within her/himself that make life possible in order to live wisely and well without harm to others and in harmony with Nature.
- We believe in the affirmation and fulfillment of life in a continuation of evolution and development of consciousness, that gives meaning to the Universe we know, and our personal role within it.
- Our only animosity towards Christianity, or toward any other religion or philosophy of life, is to the extent that its institutions have claimed to be “the only way,” and have sought to deny freedom to others and to suppress other ways of religious practice and belief.
- As American Witches, we are not threatened by debates on the history of the Craft, the origins of various terms, or the origins of various aspects of different traditions. We are concerned with our present and our future.
- We do not accept the concept of absolute evil, nor do we worship any entity known as “Satan” or “the Devil”, as defined by Christian tradition. We do not seek power through the suffering of others, nor do we accept that personal benefit can be derived only by denial to another.
- We believe that we should seek within Nature that which is contributory to our health and well-being.
Bide the Wiccan Laws we must In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust.
Live and let live. Fairly take and fairly give.
Cast the Circle thrice about to keep the evil spirits out.
To bind the spell every time let the spell be spake in rhyme.
Soft of eye and light of touch, Speak little, listen much.
Deosil go by the waxing moon, chanting out the Witches’ Rune.
Widdershins go by the waning moon, chanting out the baneful rune.
When the Lady’s moon is new, kiss the hand to her, times two.
When the moon rides at her peak, then your hearts desire seek.
Heed the North wind’s mighty gale, lock the door and drop the sail.
When the wind comes from the South, love will kiss thee on the mouth.
When the wind blows from the West, departed souls will have no rest.
When the wind blows from the East, expect the new and set the feast.
Nine woods in the cauldron go, burn them fast and burn them slow.
Elder be the Lady’s tree, burn it not or cursed you’ll be.
When the Wheel begins to turn, let the Beltane fires burn.
When the Wheel has turned to Yule, light the log and the Horned One rules.
Heed ye flower, Bush and Tree, by the Lady, blessed be.
Where the rippling waters go, cast a stone and truth you’ll know.
When ye have a true need, hearken not to others’ greed.
With a fool no season spend, lest ye be counted as his friend.
Merry meet and merry part, bright the cheeks and warm the heart.
Mind the Threefold Law you should, three times bad and three times good.
When misfortune is enow, wear the blue star on thy brow.
True in love ever be, lest thy lover’s false to thee.
Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill: An ye harm none, do what ye will.
-Doreen Valiente (1964 speech)
13 Goals of Being A Witch
There are 13 goals that each witch strives for. These goals were penned and outlined by Scott Cunningham in his book Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner .
- Know Yourself
- Know Your Craft
- Apply Knowledge With Wisdom
- Achieve Balance
- Keep Your Words in Good Order
- Keep Your Thoughts in Good Order
- Celebrate Life
- Attune With The Cycles of Earth
- Breathe and Eat Correctly
- Exercise the Body
- Honor the Goddess and God
Wiccan Book of Shadows
A witches spell book is called a book of shadows or a grimoire. The book of shadows is a book or sometimes a journal. It is a tome in which a witch records magickal information, rituals, spells, formulas, recipes, etc. A book of shadows is a personal record of a witches journey. In Wicca, covens (groups of witches) share a central book of shadows. Each member is allowed to copy spells, rituals, instructions from it. Solitary practitioners have their own book of shadows. Traditionally a witches book of shadows is destroyed upon her death. Modern witches however pass their book down to loved ones or friends of the craft upon death. With subsequent witches adding their own information to the book, over time the family book of shadows becomes an invaluable inheritance.
Some of the things to keep in your book of shadows are:
- A dedication page
- Sabbats/ Wheel of the Year
- Moon phases
- Elements and elementals
- Herbal information
- Wiccan Rede
- Candle magick
- Ritual tools
- Crystals and Gemstones