Wicca is a much misunderstood spirituality that can be explained and described in more ways than can be imagined. Ask a hundred people what Wicca is, and you will likely get a hundred very different answers. This is because Wicca is a personal spirituality, a journey that an individual undertakes in one of a thousand different ways. It is unique to each and every individual that walks the path. While this is one of Wicca's greatest strengths, it also makes it very hard to describe what Wicca is in any kind of specific detail. In this article, I've attempted to explain the more generally accepted beliefs and practices of modern Wicca. My hope is that those with little experience dealing with Wiccans might better understand what it is that we
Wicca is a type of Neopagan Witchcraft. That is to say, we generally practice a reconstructed version of pre-Christian European Pagan spirituality. Beliefs and practices are generally centered around a culture of the practitioners choosing, usually with a belief in that culture's deities and folklore, etc. However, since Wicca is a personal spirituality, this does not hold true for everyone. Many practitioners choose beliefs on the basis of what 'feels right', and you will find those who practice a mix of Celtic, Greek, Native, Sumerian, Hindu, Buddhist, and other beliefs. Wiccans have a high regard for the beliefs and practices of others, and for the individuals right to find their own path. As such, almost any combination of beliefs and practices is possible.
Being a Pagan spirituality, Wicca reveres the natural world. The Earth, the seasons, the tides, the moon and stars: all things are sacred. All life,
all plants, animals, and peoples are sacred. I am sacred, and so are you, regardless of our similar or differing personal beliefs. We build no physical "churches" except when it is necessary. Our sacred places are outside, in the forests, in the fields, in our hearts.
Wiccans generally believe in both male and female aspects of divinity. Usually, both goddesses and gods are respected as equals, with neither aspect seen as "more important" than the other. While Wiccans can worship many gods at any given time, sometimes a general "Divine Feminine" is referred to as "The Goddess", and a "Divine Masculine" as "The God". The Goddess is generally seen as the shaper, the mother or wise one. It is She who brings forth life and shapes the world. The God is generally seen as the giver, of energy and life. He is the Horned One, the God of the forests, the grain, and the hunt. It is he that sometimes gives the spark to the Goddess
that she may create and form life. The idea of The Goddess or The God is not an exclusive title or belief however, and the individual is free to worship whatever gods and goddesses they please.
We have only one law that governs ethics and morality: "An it harm none, do as ye will". We believe that all things are interconnected, and our thoughts and actions echo through the world in ways we might never have imagined. As such, all things we do are returned to us threefold- if we do ill, we are returned ill three times. If we do well, we are returned this also three times. And so our destiny is in our own hands, we must shape it as best we can. We are free to do whatever we like, but be careful of causing harm even unintentionally.
Our services are called rituals, and we honour the gods and the Old ways. We sing, we dance, we call our gods and celebrate life. It is hard to describe what happens at an average ritual,
because almost every single one will be different from every other ritual. Everyone has their own idea of what a ritual should be, and everyone does theirs a little differently. Generally, we burn candles and incense, we talk with our gods, we look within ourselves, we try to understand the world around us, and we try to become better people.
There are some things that we do not do, however, and it's a shame that I have to cover them in this article. Because we claim the name 'Witch', there are some strange misconceptions about us. Following are some of the common ones.
Our gods are sometimes horned. They can be very sensual and sexual. Some of them die and some of them rule the Underworld. But none of our gods are the Christian devil. Our horned gods are the ancient fertility gods; they can be both the hunter and the stag. They are the power and joy of life itself. They are forces beyond time. They are not
vengeful or rebellious children engaged in family feuding, and they care nothing for such things. Our gods are recorded on the walls of ancient caves; they are complete within themselves. Those that label them devils are misguided or confused. We are not satanists; we are Wiccans.
We are also frequently accused of performing sacrifices which take life. This is also untrue. We do make offerings of food, wine and flowers from time to time, but nothing much more than these. The closest we get to sacrifices is the pig that roasts for dinner, for those of us who eat meat.
Finally, we are sometimes accused of trying to "recruit" people into Wicca. This accusation is so groundless that I don't understand why it is still floating around. We believe that everyone has the right to choose their own path. We believe that no-one can tell another individual what is 'right' for them. We believe in the fundamental right to believe
in whatever we choose. And we believe in your right to choose differently. Trying to force others to become Wiccan goes against everything that we are. There are few things that you can say is true for 'all Wiccans', but this I think is one of them. It is the acceptance of differences that makes a true community.
Wicca is a 'mystery religion', as opposed to a 'revealed religion'. This means that we have no holy books, no prophets, no holy people. There is no-one that can tell us the answers that we seek. There is no book that will explain what we don't understand. We believe that the answers are hidden within ourselves; we must work to search ourselves for our answers. No-one else can do it for us.
We cast spells, and we do magick. But we don't harm or manipulate others lives. If we were to do so, the law of three would return whatever we had done. I am frequently asked for 'Love Spells' to make someone fall in love
with the asker, and I adamantly refuse. This isn't love. This is extraordinary disrespect for the person you are trying to manipulate. A spell is like a prayer: it is communication, and sometimes a request, we make of our gods. Frequently we will work for healing, self improvements, inner strength, or help with skills like self honesty. We pray to our gods for the same reasons that members of other religions pray to their gods or God.
Is Wicca a "white light" spirituality? No, I would say not, although some may disagree with me. We generally believe in balance in all things. Simply taking the "happy" parts of life and assigning it a spiritual meaning is only half a spirituality. Walking the Wiccan way involves a great deal of introspection and self discovery. And you won't always like what you find. But there are lessons in the hardships in life; there are valuable things to be learned. While we may not actively seek out
difficult life lessons, they do tend to find us regardless. This is a part of being a human being. If something bad happens, it is because it was meant to happen. There are things we need to learn, and even the painful things have meaning. In embracing the dark and painful parts of life as well, I believe that we, as well as many other major religions, are not "white light" spiritual paths.
All these things we are; and yet I would like to say one more thing. To members of other religions: we are not your enemy. I truly want to make this clear. We respect the individual's right to believe in what they will. We believe in other's rights to believe differently from ourselves. If sometimes we seem to be at odds with other spiritual paths, it is simply because we feel we are not being treated with the same respect. But we'd probably much rather sit down and chat over tea than be at odds with anyone.
Being such a varied
and individual spiritual path, there is much more information I could go into. But I hope that this helps to explain some of the basics of "what Wicca is". As I mentioned before, not everything holds true for everyone, but this is the general basics of what it is we do and believe. If you have any questions, please feel free to visit my "Questions from the Community" section, and perhaps ask your own question.