What is Wicca? A Basic introduction

by: Keitha FireWind

Posted: November 23rd, 2001

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 'do'.

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

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

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.

Brightest Blessings

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