About Wicca

(Excerpted from First Degree course materials, by Grey Cat)

What is Wicca? Although in many ways, Wicca defies explanation due to the diversity of its practitioners and its depth of meaning, I have attempted to put provide a comprehensive description of the religion of Wicca. I have brought together a group of definitions and descriptions of Wicca to this end.

According to Marion Weinstein in her book Positive Magic, Wicca is “an ancient Celtic magic-religion,” the “craft of the wise” according to some interpretations of the word “Wicca”. Nor is Wicca “exclusively a religion in the modern sense because witchcraft dates from that early time when religion, theater, art, philosophy, science, and magic were all part of the same package.” The origins of Wicca, whether or not it is indeed continuous, could be as much as 6,000 years in the past.

The Craft is” monotheistic” (all according to Weinstein) because it is based on underlying belief in “one energy source of the universe.” That is, there is a concept of a prime deity, although we polarize that deity into male and female aspects. Not all Wiccans, I must add, believe in a prime source of all life; in fact some are atheist). Therefore, it is Pagan because of the acknowledgment of two primary aspects of deity: female and male. (Weinstein)

On the other hand Wicca is polytheistic as well “because it affirms that the one Power manifests in every life form all human, all animal, all spirit life and all forces of nature.” (Weinstein) Wiccans call upon many aspects of deity with many forms and names according to the influence needed at that time. We are able to sense the presence of deity all around us in all things. To us. God/dess is an ever-present part of our lives.

Margot Adler interviewed many Wiccans in Drawing Down the Moon, both individually and in groups. In one interview a Witch named Lady Cybele says that Wicca is “a Pagan mystery religion with a polarized deity and no personification of evil”. The Covenant of The Goddess is an organization of Witches of different Traditions who have compiled some definitions or descriptions of Wicca. Wicca (according to COG) is a religion whose practitioners (among other beliefs) 1) Worship the Goddess, and 2) Are bound by craft law — not the same in all traditions.

Teachings of Wicca

But because Wicca has no theology or dogma this is not to say that it teaches nothing. Starhawk has much to say along this vein. She states that Wicca teaches “love for life in all its forms,” and further that, “while the craft recognizes that life feeds on life and that we must kill (plants, food animals) in order to survive, life is never taken needlessly, never squandered or wasted”. We can extrapolate this to mean not only life in general but specifically our own lives as well.

Starhawk also believes, along with many other Wiccans that we are in fact stewards of life on the earth and perhaps beyond. “Serving the life force means working to preserve the diversity of natural life, to prevent the poisoning of the environment, and the destruction of species.”

What Wicca Is Not

I have gathered a lot of information here and we still don’t have a pinned down definition of what Wicca is. Here I also want to state what Wicca is not. Many people equate Wiccan Witchcraft (and that’s the only one I know anything about) with Satanism and further with antisocial practices. (Antisocial meaning bringing harm to others.) I have heard it described as a cult (even by Gerald Gardner).

First, to address the label of a “cult” According to sociological definition, a cult is a religion based on the teachings of a charismatic leader. By this definition Christianity is more of a cult than Wicca. Many Wiccans work in groups and some of these might be cults. However, the majority of Wiccans are so highly individualistic that they can hardly agree on the time of day (in a friendly way of course) much less become programmed to one narrow point of view, i.e. a set of teachings put forth by one person. (Just who does he/she think he/she is anyway?)

Now to address the issue of Satanism; I suppose that any non-Christian religion might be so labeled according to some members of the Christian faith. If one takes a broader point of view, Satanism is the worship of a specific entity; the Judeo-Christian God’s archenemy. Wiccans and Pagans do not believe in Satan or any personification of evil. We believe that nothing in nature is, of itself, evil. Many Wiccans believe that what evil there is caused by man’s actions, when these actions harm others. This is caused because the person does not take into account the needs of other fellow beings. All of us are responsible for our own actions and what we do returns to us via karma, threefold. If we sow good – good returns; if we sow evil – evil is our due. We art not tempted by an outside force to do evil, the potential for evil is within us and it is only when we try to separate that potential from ourselves that it can gain control. If we accept that sometimes we are selfish and that is a part of us, then we can be unselfish. So Wicca is not Satanism nor is it evil. We cannot worship what we do not believe in and we do not choose to give power to an external personification of evil.

What Wicca Is

In summation, Wicca is a nature religion the adherents of which worship a deity who is divided into male and female aspects. The adherents of Wicca attempt to attune themselves with nature and to see themselves and all life as a part of nature. The Religion does not have as a component, a personification of evil, such as the devil but; believes in personal responsibility for one’s acts.

In my general description of Wicca, I have touched upon some Wiccan beliefs. Earlier I quoted Starhawk as saying that Wicca has no dogma nor set of beliefs. This means that Wicca has no strict set of beliefs that everyone agrees upon. There are beliefs held by enough practitioners of Wicca to warrant further mention and explanation. Specific beliefs vary from tradition to tradition and person to person.

I have emphasized the belief in a polarized (divided into male/female) deity in the religion of Wicca. Most Wiccans do believe in a divinity although there are some that are actually atheist. The God is the Lord of animals, Lord of Death and beyond.”(Gardner) He is the “initiating life force, the essential phallic creative energy in all men and women.” (Weinstein) The God’s visualized as a horned mm, as the sun. He is the energy and wildness of the universe.

The Goddess is the personification of nature, the Morn. the Earth, or both. She is conceived of as the triple Goddess in her aspects of Maiden, Mother, and Crone and we look for her attributes around us and within us. According to Starhawk, “The Goddess does not rule the world; she is the world.” She is “the primary symbol for ‘that which cannot be told’.”

Whether or not the God and Goddess are viewed as “real”, “the concept of the God or Goddess, that is personification of the gods, is the means to make contact with divine reality.” (Weinstein) And it is noteworthy that deity, as nature, is in all life, all of the world seen and unseen, including being manifest within each person. So to contact the deity, He/She must be awakened within oneself. This means that Goddess is always with and all around each being, Our Gods are very much a part of our everyday lives.

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