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A pentacle, a symbol of faith used by many Wiccans

Wicca is a neo-pagan (meaning "new pagan") religion that was created by a British man named Gerald Gardner in the mid-to-late 1940s. Gardner popularized the new religion via books of his that were published in 1949, 1954, and 1959. Gardner called Wicca the "witch cult" and "witchcraft", and called its followers the "Wica", though in his 1959 book he also called them the "Wicca" (with two Cs), which is where that word came from.[1] The word "wicca" means "witch" in Old English.[2] People who follow Wicca are called "Wiccans". Before the name "Wicca" was adopted, the religion was sometimes called simply "the craft".[3]

Beliefs[change | change source]

There are many different traditions of Wicca, yet many are common beliefs shared by all Wiccans, such as the afterlife, magic and morality.

God and Goddess[change | change source]

Not all Wiccans believe in a god and goddess. Some of those that do, believe that the god and goddess are equal. Others believe the goddess is more important than the god.[4] There are some Wiccans who mostly worship the goddess only.

The god and goddess can split into different gods and goddesses.

Practices[change | change source]

Altars[change | change source]

Many Wiccans have special places at home where they perform rituals, magic, and worship. These places are called altars. Wiccans put holy and special objects on their altars, such as the following items:

  • A pentacle. A wiccan pentacle is a rigid disk, the size of a small saucer, that has a pentagram on it which spans across the disk. A wiccan pentacle may be made of any of a variety of materials, such as wood, ceramics, or metal. In wiccan rituals, the face of the pentacle is shown to the four cardinal directions (north, south, east, and west), so as to show the pentacle to the "lords of the watchtowers", which are believed to be in those directions.
  • An athame (pronounced ah-thah-may). This is a magical knife that is used in rituals. An athame traditionally has a black handle, but not every one does. It is never used to cut anything physical, but is used to make a circular 'cut' through the air, to cast the magic circle. In the 'cakes and wine' ritual and the symbolic 'great rite' ritual, the athame is used to symbolize the male penis.
  • 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 traditional for it to be the length from your elbow to your wrist. It is used to direct magical energy.
  • A chalice. This is a cup that is used in two rituals. People drink from it during the 'cakes and wine' ritual. In the 'cakes and wine' ritual and the symbolic 'great rite' ritual, the chalice is used to symbolize the female vagina.

Some Wiccans put other objects on their altars, such as statues of gods or goddesses, a bell, candles, incense, and a broom (called a besom), used to "sweep" away negative energy or spirits.

Morality[change | change source]

The main Wiccan moral 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."[5] This means that you must think about how your actions will affect yourself, other people, and the world.

Many 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".[6] 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.
  • Although not all Wiccans adhere specifically to the "Rule of Threefold Return" belief, most Wiccans do adhere to some type of belief in which actions are returned in some way to the individual.

Wiccan Holidays[change | change source]

Wiccans have two types of holidays, called sabbats and full moon esbats. There are eight sabbat holidays throughout the year. As the name suggests, full moon esbats take place during a full moon, so there are twelve or thirteen of them per year. Many post-Gardnerian wiccans use the neo-druidic term 'wheel of the year' to refer to the cycle of eight sabbats.

The eight sabbats are as follows:

Sabbat Northern Hemisphere Southern Hemisphere Historical Origins Associations
November Eve, aka Samhain or Halloween October 31st April 30th Celtic (see also the Celts) Death and the ancestors.
Winter Solstice, aka Yule or Yuletide December 21st or 22nd June 21st Germanic Paganism The rebirth of the sun.
Febuary Eve, aka Imbolc or Candlemas January 31st, or Febuary 1st or 2nd July 31st, or August 1st or 2nd Celtic (see also the Celts) First signs of spring.
Spring Equinox, aka Ostara March 21st or 22nd September 21st or 22nd Germanic Paganism The beginning of spring.
May Eve, aka Beltaine or May Day April 30th or May 1st October 31st or November 1st Celtic (see also the Celts) The full flowering of spring. Fairy folk.[7]
Summer Solstice, aka Litha June 21st or 22nd December 21st
August Eve, aka Lughnasadh or Lammas July 31st, or August 1st or 2nd January 31st, or February 1st Celtic (see also the Celts) The harvest of grain.
Autumn Equinox, aka Mabon or Modron[8] September 21st or 22nd March 21st No historical pagan equivalent. The harvest of fruit.

Book of Shadows[change | change source]

In Wicca, a private book containing spells, rituals, potions, and occult knowledge, called a Book of Shadows, is kept.[9] In some types of Wicca, such as Gardnerian Wicca, the contents of the book are kept secret from anyone but other members of the group, or coven. However, some versions of the book have been published.[10][11] Some parts of these published versions, such as the "Wiccan Rede" and the "Charge of the Goddess" have been used by non-Wiccans or eclectic Wiccans. Many eclectics create their own personal books, and keep them to themselves.

Music[change | change source]

Wicca music or Wicca rock is music influenced by the Wicca religion and its beliefs relating to nature and conservation.[12][13]

An early band called Themis toured Canada and the USA singing and talking about Wicca.[14][15] 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)[16] and an ethical credo [17] 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[18]

References[change | change source]

  1. Gardner, Gerald B (1999) [1954]. Witchcraft Today. Lake Toxaway, NC: Mercury Publishing. OCLC 44936549.
  2. 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.
  3. Kemp, Anthony. (1993). Witchcraft and Paganism Today. London: Michael O'Mara Books. Page 3.
  4. Farrar, Janet and Farrar, Stewart. (1987). The Witches' Goddess: The Feminine Principle of Divinity. London: Robert Hale. Page 59.
  5. Harrow, Judy (Oimelc 1985). "Exegesis on the Rede". Harvest 5 (3). http://www.draknet.com/proteus/rede.htm. Retrieved 2007-02-26.
  6. Lembke, Karl (2002) The Threefold Law.
  7. Gallagher, Anne-Marie. (2005). The Wicca Bible: The Definitive Guide to Magic and the Craft. London: Godsfield Press. Page 67.
  8. Gallagher, Anne-Marie. (2005). The Wicca Bible: The Definitive Guide to Magic and the Craft. London: Godsfield Press. Page 72.
  9. Crowley, Vivianne (1989). Wicca: The Old Religion in the New Age. London: Aquarian Press. p. 14-15. ISBN 0-85030-737-6.
  10. Farrar, Janet; Farrar, Stewart (1996). A Witches' Bible. Custer, Washington: Phoenix Publishing. ISBN 0-919345-92-1.
  11. Gardner, Gerald (2004). Naylor, A R (ed.). ed. Witchcraft and the Book of Shadows. Thame, England: I-H-O Books. ISBN 1872189520.
  12. Wicca music defined at WebRadio Canada
  13. A Canadian Wicca Band at CBC Radio
  14. Fans speak of emerging Genre
  15. 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"
  16. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - Wicca 101
  17. Wiccan Music Creed at ThemisMusic.com
  18. Wicca Moves Into The Mainstream - The Religion Newswriters Foundation

Other websites[change | change source]