“What is Wicca?”
This is the first of a monthly column which is aimed at seekers, those new to paganism, Wicca, and the occult. The ‘year and a day’ reference comes from the fact that most Wiccan groups require seekers to study the craft for a year and a day before they can be formally dedicated or initiated into the group. It is also said the Celtic goddess Cerridwen stirred her cauldron of knowledge for the same amount of time.
One of the most basic questions new seekers have is what is Wicca?
Most sources agree that Wicca is an earth and nature-based spirituality that celebrates the wheel of the year, personal power and responsibility, and living in harmony with the universe. Wicca is a path of empowerment and personal growth. Scott Cunningham also states that “Wicca doesn’t view deity as distant. The Goddess and God are both within ourselves and manifest in all nature.” (Wicca: A Guide For the Solitary Practitioner)
In one of my favourite 101 books, Wicca for Beginners, Thea Sabin describes Wicca in a series of points.
1. Wicca is an old-new religion. Although based on pre-Christian pagan traditions, what we today call ‘Wicca’ comes mostly from Gerald Gardner in the 1950s, compiling ancient pagan traditions with modern influences, such as the Golden Dawn and Freemason traditions.
2. Wicca is an earth-based religion. Wicca celebrates the earth and nature, the wheel of the year, and the cycle of life.
3. Wicca is experiential. You don’t just read about Wicca, you experience it by participating. Your experience tells you what’s true, what works for you, and what you believe.
4. Wicca is a mystery tradition. Wicca celebrates the mysteries of life such as birth, death, love, and deity. Wiccans reach beyond our five senses to try to commune with the divine, such as meditation and pathworking.
5. Wicca is European Shamanism. Although not exactly the same, Wicca shares a lot of similarities with shamanism and Native American traditions in that they work with altered states and their psychic abilities in order to overcome our fear and take charge of our spiritual paths.
6. Wicca is a magical system. Wiccans use magic, whether ‘Low’, ‘Folk’, or ’Practical’ magic, such as everyday tasks like finding your keys, or ‘High’ magic, such as manifesting your own personal power and divinity.
However Wicca is NOT:
– Satanic or anti-Christian. Satan or ‘the Devil’ is a Christian concept, and while Wiccans believe that everything has a ‘light’ and ‘dark’ side, they don’t believe in an innately evil being.
– Dualistic. Although Wiccans believe that most things have dual and opposite symbolism, they don’t believe that these opposites are antagonistic (such as God and Satan). Wiccans believe in opposite partners, or two parts of a whole, neither ‘good’ nor ‘bad.
– Proselytizing. Wiccans do not try to convert others or feel that their path is the ‘one true path’.
Wiccan groups are divided into ‘traditions’, each with their own viewpoints, rituals and practices. Examples of traditional groups include Gardnerian, Alexandrian, and Georgian Wicca. Groups that arose from the feminist and political movements of the 1970s include Reclaiming and Dianic Wicca. But the beauty of Wicca is that there is no “right way” to practice, and many Wiccans follow an eclectic mix of other traditions, either working in covens or solitary.
If you are just starting out on your pagan or Wiccan path, I say read as much as you can, challenge yourself, and above all, have fun!
“Wicca: A Guide For the Solitary Practitioner” Scott Cunningham
“Wicca For Beginners: Fundamentals of Philosophy and Practice“ Thea Sabin