Introduction to Wicca
Wicca is a common and ancient term for witchcraft, which refers to the efforts of humans to develop supernatural powers for the malicious use of black magic. Because of this, the terms magic, sorcery, and witchcraft can be considered synonymous (“History and Background of Wicca”).
Wicca is based on pagan nature worship systems and is similar to other humanist religions where “everything goes as long as it doesn’t oppose their claim to being god/goddesses or hold them to a higher power” (“Wicca Beliefs and Practices”).
Origin of Wicca
There is no authoritative source that traces the roots of Wicca in ancient times (Slick). However, Wicca is said to have started with the Celtics who lived in a place that is now known as Great Britain.
The nature worship system of Wicca, which resembles paganism, was practiced mostly in secret throughout history and even today, but especially during the period of the Roman Catholic Church’s dominance over Europe (Slick).
Figure 1 Witch Burning
Up to this day, there is no official pagan tradition. However, the aforementioned ancient pagan practices have become the bases for modern-day Wicca.
It was Aleister Crowley who established the first group of modern Wiccans. However, it was Gerald Gardner who established Gardnerian Wicca, a Wiccan tradition. It was also Gardner who led the solidification of the idea of gods and goddesses, making Wicca a religious movement.
Figure 2 Aleister Crowley
Figure 3 Gerald Gardner
“Wiccans celebrate the Earth and believe all living things have a spirit. They espouse pantheism and claim to see the divine in everyone” (Billups).
The pagan tradition got their roots from agrarian societies where people largely depended on the environment for survival. People studied the stars and the seasons in efforts to understand and predict how the environment affects rain, cattle, crops, and others. They wanted to learn how they could control these factors. This became the reason behind the earth and pagan based worship systems, which were evidenced by the many deities indicated in ancient European pagan writings (Slick).
Nature worship also centers on the woman who gives birth for the continuance of the human race. The woman’s role was considered very important especially in cultures where children had to care for the elderly, hunt, and work the land. As such, the woman became endowed with mystical powers in some cultures. This concept later transferred to the different “theological pagan worship systems” (Slick).
Wicca doesn’t have a holy book or prophet. They believe that everyone can access the divine without the need of an intermediary. Every Wiccan is considered a priest or priestess (K).
In Wicca, there are no sacred people per se, as every Wiccan is considered a priest or priestess (K). However, one can become a high priest or high priestess once he or she gains the experience, knowledge, ability, and desire to devote himself or herself in Wicca and to serve others and the divine (“Leading by Example”).
Most Wiccans do not believe in good or evil. They believe only in the presence of forces that must be balanced. They believe that evil is an integral part of good and that the negative can be transformed into positive (“History and Background of Wicca”).
Their main ethic is “and ye harm none, do as ye will” (K). They believe that whatever energy they send returns three-fold; hence, it would be best for them to be kind to others.
They are also advocates of neo-tolerance, that is, there is no absolute truth. They believe that each person has his or her own truth, that what may be true for one may not be true for another. Among the other causes they support are the abolition of Christianity from government functions and schools; abortion; sexual freedom (teen sex, non-monogamy, polyamory, homosexuality, etc.); and women’s rights and matriarchy (“History and Background of Wicca”).
There is no specific sacred space in Wicca. Wiccans can worship from anywhere, and wherever they choose is considered a sacred space. They can create the sacred space by “casting a circle, calling the directions,” and “inviting the gods and goddesses (“Creating Places of Worship”). They make the place and themselves holy and form containers for the Divine Essence wherever they are.
Figure 4 Creating a sacred space
Sacred time in Wicca is determined by the sun and moon cycles. The solar cycle “occurs over the course of a year” (“Pagan Sacred Time”) while the lunar cycle occurs every twenty-nine to thirty days. A lot of Wiccans perform their rituals on these days as they believe these days are favorable for worshipping the gods.
Death and the Afterlife
Belief in the afterlife varies among groups. They do not believe in heaven or hell; rather, they believe in endless reincarnation and karma. Others believe that one undergoes reincarnation until enlightenment is achieved. There are others, though, who admit to not knowing what happens after death (“Wicca Beliefs and Practices”).
Society and Religion
“Wicca is a religion rooted in the mists of Neolithic history. It is basically a fertility and agrarian society. It is a religion of nature worship and the subsequent interaction with nature that is dissented from that practice by the Celtic clans of Western Europe and the indigenous peoples of the British Isles, the builders of such monuments as Stonehenge” (Cantrell 16-17).
In the modern day, Wicca is estimated to be the second fastest-growing religion in the United States, second to Islam (Slick). People who practice this religion come from all kinds of professions and all walks of life. It is being met with a lot of opposition from the Christian faith, as it is said to be anti-Christian (Leap).
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