||The English used in this article may not be easy for everybody to understand. (February 2012)|
Wicca, or the Craft, is a Neo-pagan (meaning "new pagan") religion that was made popular by a British man named Gerald Gardner in the 1940s. Gardner called Wicca the "witch cult" and "witchcraft" and its followers the "Wica". The word "Wicca" means "Witch" in Old English. People who follow Wicca are called "Wiccans."
There are many different traditions of Wicca, and different traditions practice differently. However, there are common beliefs that are shared by all Wiccans, such as God and Goddess, the afterlife, magic and morality.
God and Goddess [change]
Wiccans believe in a God and Goddess. The God and Goddess are equal in Wicca, although sometimes the Goddess is seen as more important than the God. The God and Goddess can be split into different Gods and Goddesses. Goddess can be split into other Goddesses such as Athena (a Greek Goddess), Brigid (an Irish Goddess), and Isis (an Egyptian Goddess). God can be split into other Gods such as Cernunnos (a Celtic God), Ra (an Egyptian God), and Thor (a Norse God).
There are some Wiccans, like Dianic Wiccans, who mostly worship the Goddess only. Dianic Covens (a group of witches) are normally comprised entirely of women.
Many Wiccans perform magick. Magick is using your willpower to create real change. Wiccans ask the God and Goddess to help change their lives, or the lives of other people (with their consent, of course, doing magick on someone without them consenting or knowing is otherwise immoral), through prayer, ritual and magick. Wiccans say affirmations and poems out loud to help with their magick, or might burn a candle or some incense. Magic is not only practiced in Wicca - anyone can practice magic, sometimes termed as witchcraft (actually spelt witchkraft, with a K), but one must accept the after effects of the magic performed - whether good or bad. If one doing magick is skeptical, or does not believe that it will be affective, the magick will not work. See magick for actual definition.
Many Wiccans have special places at home where they perform ritual and magic and worship. These places are called altars. Wiccans put holy and special objects on their altars, such as the following items:
- A pentagram. This is an old symbol of a five-pointed star within a circle. It represents the five core elements of Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit. A pentagram is a type of pentacle, which is any thing that protects the person who owns it, called a talisman.
- An Athamé. This is a magical knife (or sword) that is used in ritual. It is traditional to have a black handle, but not everyone does. It is never used to physically cut anything, but is used to 'cut' the air, and to direct energy. The athamé is also a symbol for man and God.
- A Wand. This is normally wooden, but can also be glass, metal, or clay. It might also have decorations such as crystals, paint, ribbons, or wire. It is used like the athamé to direct energy, and it is traditional for it to be the length from your elbow to your wrist. It also symbolises man and God.
- A Chalice. This is a wine-shaped cup used within ritual and magic. People drink from it during ritual. It symbolises women and the Goddess.
Some Wiccans also put other objects on their altars, such as statues of personal Gods or Goddesses, a bell, some candles, incense, and a broom (called a besom), which is used to "sweep" away evil or negative energy or spirits.
The most important Wiccan teaching is called the Wiccan Rede. The word Rede means "advice" or "council" in Old German. "An harm ye none, do what ye will" is the very basic Wiccan Rede, which means, "Do what you want to do, but do not harm anything in the process." This means you must think about how your actions will affect yourself, other people, and the world. Wiccans believe that their actions have effects that come back three times as powerful. This is called the Rule of Threefold Return or "Rule of Three". This rule has different meanings depending on who you ask:
- Some believe it means whatever you send out into the world, good or bad, will return to you time three.
- Others believe whatever you do can take effect on three different levels: the mental, spiritual and physical levels.
The Wheel of the Year [change]
Wiccans have eight Sabbats, or 'Holy Days', which are:
|Sabbat||Northern Hemisphere||Southern Hemisphere||Historical Origins||Associations|
|Samhain, aka Halloween||31st October||30th April, or 1st May||Celtic (see also the Celts)||Death and the ancestors.|
|Yuletide||21st or 22nd December||21st June||Germanic Paganism||Winter Solstice and the rebirth of the sun.|
|Imbolc, aka Candlemass||1st or 2nd February||1st August||Celtic (see also the Celts)||First signs of spring.|
|Ostara||21st or 22nd March||21st or 22nd September||Germanic Paganism||Spring Equinox and the beginning of spring.|
|Beltaine aka May Eve, or May Day||30th April or 1st May||1st November||Celtic (see also the Celts)||The full flowering of spring. Fairy folk.|
|Litha||21st or 22nd June||21st December||Summer Solstice.|
|Lughnasadh aka Lammas||1st or 2nd August||1st February||Celtic (see also the Celts)||The harvest of grain.|
|Mabon aka Modron||21st or 22nd September||21st March||No historical pagan equivalent.||Autumn Equinox. The harvest of fruit.|
Book of Shadows [change]
In Wicca, a private book containing spells, rituals, potions, and occult knowledge, called a Book of Shadows, is kept. In some types of Wicca, such as Gardnerian Wiccan, the contents of the Book are kept secret from anyone but other members of the group, or . However, some versions of the Book have been published. Some parts of these published versions, such as the "Wiccan Rede" and the "Charge of the Goddess" have been used by non-Wiccans or Wiccans. Many eclectics create their own personal books, and keep them to themselves.
An early band called Themis toured Canada and the USA singing and talking about Wicca. The Themis body of works promotes things that are Wiccan such as the divinity of nature; the Lord and Lady (dual deity aspect of Wicca) and an ethical credo  that resembles Wiccan philosophies.
Another Canadian band, a group of vocalists from Vancouver Canada, the Chalice and Blade, also perform original pieces based on the beliefs of Wicca and "sing songs which show (their) reverence for the earth and the balance of the God and Goddess" -Chalice and Blade
According to The Religion Newswriters Foundation "Wicca is moving into the mainstream" smashing stereotypes as their movement matures. Throughout America, Wiccans are organizing congregations and youth groups, training clergy, pursuing charity work, sharing parenting tips and fighting for civil rights
- Kemp, Anthony. (1993). Witchcraft and Paganism Today. London: Michael O'Mara Books. Page 3.
- Gardner, Gerald B (1999) . Witchcraft Today. Lake Toxaway, NC: Mercury Publishing. OCLC 44936549.
- Seims, Melissa. (2008). "Wica or Wicca? - Politics and the Power of Words" in The Cauldron magazine #129. Available online at www.thewica.co.uk/wica_or_wicca.htm.
- Farrar, Janet and Farrar, Stewart. (1987). The Witches' Goddess: The Feminine Principle of Divinity. London: Robert Hale. Page 59.
- Harrow, Judy (Oimelc 1985). "Exegesis on the Rede". Harvest 5 (3). http://www.draknet.com/proteus/rede.htm. Retrieved 2007-02-26.
- Lembke, Karl (2002) The Threefold Law.
- Gallagher, Anne-Marie. (2005). The Wicca Bible: The Definitive Guide to Magic and the Craft. London: Godsfield Press. Page 67.
- Gallagher, Anne-Marie. (2005). The Wicca Bible: The Definitive Guide to Magic and the Craft. London: Godsfield Press. Page 72.
- Crowley, Vivianne (1989). Wicca: The Old Religion in the New Age. London: Aquarian Press. p. 14-15. ISBN 0-85030-737-6.
- Farrar, Janet; Farrar, Stewart (1996). A Witches' Bible. Custer, Washington: Phoenix Publishing. ISBN 0-919345-92-1.
- Gardner, Gerald (2004). Naylor, A R (ed.). ed. Witchcraft and the Book of Shadows. Thame, England: I-H-O Books. ISBN 1872189520.
- Wicca music defined at WebRadio Canada
- A Canadian Wicca Band at CBC Radio
- Fans speak of emerging Genre
- Toronto Music Scene Magazine "that means that it is hard to saw what type of music it is except to say that it is Wicca Rock, a new genre. ... Each song is: melodic, most have happy words filled with hope and love and the songs have a nice beat for dancing... featuring live tribal drumming (no drum machines in Themis music) and rythmic guitar"
- The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - Wicca 101
- Wiccan Music Creed at ThemisMusic.com
- Wicca Moves Into The Mainstream - The Religion Newswriters Foundation
Other websites [change]
- Witchvox.org - Neopagan news and networking site
- Covenant of the Goddess (U.S.)
- Pagan Federation (UK), (Canada)
- The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies