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What is Wicca? A Definition, Explanation and Debate.

Wicca is one of the most popular contemporary pagan religions with millions of people worldwide following this wonderful, deep and meaningful spiritual practice. It is often debated as to what the definition of Wicca really is. This article offers you my facts and findings alone, as always, the definition is open to personal interpretation.

The Word Wicca: Let’s start by defining the word, Wicca. Wicca is the old English word for “Witch” and is synonymous with Pagan Witchcraft.

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What is the Wicca Religion?

Wicca is a pagan practice and those who follow this practice are referred to as Wiccans. Wicca has influenced and has been influenced by other pagan religions, so making clear-cut distinctions is quite challenging.

Wicca is a form of nature religion, with elements of mystery and magico-religion and is considered a form of Western esotericism. It practices reverence for the creative forces of nature and uses the Goddess and God symbolism. Wicca often involves the ritual practice of magic, although it is not always necessary.

NOTE: Some Wiccan practitioners themselves deliberately avoid using the term “religion” as they associate the word purely with organized religion – instead they prefer to use “spirituality” or “way of life”.

NOTE: A big percentage of modern culture still has a prejudice against the Wiccan religion based on misunderstandings of witchcraft and what it is.

What is Wicca?

I want to make clear at the start that there is no governing bodies, agencies or leaders in Wicca. It is very much an individualistic religion although there are structured forms out there, there is no “one way only” to do anything in Wicca, it is up to the individual practitioner of Wicca.

  • Wicca is typically duotheistic (Goddess and God)
  • It is also multiple deities (polytheism) of gods and goddesses
  • It is inspired by the ancient religions
  • It incorporates acceptance of magic
  • The modern day Wicca we are familiar with was developed in England in the early 1950’s By Gerald Gardner
  • It incorporates ancient pagan & hermetic motifs for its structure and ritual practices
  • It has no authority figure
  • Gerald Gardner and Doreen Valiente (Gardnerian Wicca) outlined the original core beliefs, principles and practices
  • It doesn’t seek members, members seek Wicca

There is not , and can never be, one “pure” or “true” or “genuine” for of Wicca … the Wiccan spiritual experience is one shared with deity alone.

Quote by Scott Cunningham

What is the meaning of Wiccan?

It is someone who has typically been initiated into Wicca and practices witchcraft and nature worship. As a Wiccan you can practice as part of a coven or you can be what is called a “sole-practitioner” as do it on your own. When I say, practice, I am referring to witchcraft; this is the means a Wiccan uses to connect with deity, in forms of rituals, spells and other crafts that connect them to nature and the spiritual/Otherworld.

NOTE: Anyone, anywhere can practice Wicca, you do not need to be initiated, it is not required.

The God and Goddess of Wicca

In Wicca most practitioners connect with the Triple Goddess and/or the Horned God. These two deities are sometimes viewed as an “impersonal force or process” rather than a personal deity. For this reason, they are sometimes referred to as the “Great Goddess” and the “Great Horned God”. The “Great” is implying that the deity contains many/all of the other deities within their own nature (referred to as subordinate deities). The Wicca deities are seen as forms of ancient, pre-Christian divinities and they have many different divine aspects which can identified with many diverse pagan deities which come from the Celtics, Egyptian, Greek and Norse. Beyond Wicca’s two deities there is believed to be the “Supreme Deity” or “Prime Mover”. This is an entity that is too complex for people to explain or even understand therefore people refer to it also as the “Supreme Cosmic Power” or “Godhead”, even the “Universe”.

What do Wiccans Celebrate?

Wiccans Celebrate Cycles of the Moon:

Wiccans have regular celebrations known as Esbats (aka Wiccan lunar holy days) which are associated with the Goddess (female deity)

Wiccans Celebrate Cycles of the Sun:

Wiccans also have seasonally based festivals known as Sabbats  which are associated with the Horned God (male deity)

A common perspective of a Wiccan:

In general, as previously mentioned, a lot of Wiccans adopt a more polytheistic or animistic world-view of the universe. They see the world as being filled with spirit-beings. These spirits are associated with the natural world of Mother Earth. Examples of these spirits/beings are: genius loci, fairies, elementals and a belief in angels. A belief in the afterlife varies among Wiccans and isn’t really the primary focus of their religion. Most Wiccans (generally speaking) believe that if you make the most of the present life (the life you are living right now!) in all aspects, then the next life is going to benefit from the process. Because of this, they tend to concentrate and focus on the present and being the best wiccan/person they can be.

NOTE: Although not accepted by all Wiccans, a belief in reincarnation is the dominant afterlife belief within Wicca.

The Wiccan Debate:

Because Wicca does not have a centeralized, governing body or leader with this comes some disagreement over what constitutes Wicca. Some traditions collectively referred to as “British Traditional Wicca”, who strictly follow the initiatory lineage of Gardner, consider the term Wicca to apply only to similar traditions, and not to newer more “eclectic” traditions of Wicca. The British Traditional Wicca began claiming that they alone should only be termed “Wiccan” and that other forms of the religion must not use it. This however, never caught on because it kind of defeats the part of Wicca which encompasses the whole purpose of being an “individualistic religion that you can do and chose to be how you please” and therefore, there are many practitioners out there today who call themselves Wiccans without being an initiate of the British Traditional Wicca and so on.

NOTE: In Wicca, denominations are referred to as traditions, while non-Wiccans are often termed Cowans and “Wicca” refers to the WHOLE of the religion not just specific traditions.

Do Wiccans follow any Rules?

The Wiccan Rede is a popular expression of Wiccan morality although not universally accepted by all Wiccans. The Rede states, “An it harm none do what ye will

NOTE: “An'” is an archaic Middle English conjunction, meaning “if’.

To Wiccans, this is interpreted to mean that they have freedom to do what they want with their beliefs and practices as long as they do not inflict harm on anyone else.

What are the symbols and tools of Wicca?

Wicca is heavily based on symbols and tools that carry spiritual meanings. The main symbol of faith for Wicca is the pentagram. The pentagram is a five pointed star circumscribed inside of a circle. Four of the points represent the natural elements of air, water, fire and earth. The fifth point at the top of the star represents the spirit. Wiccans use many different tools to perform their rituals. The tools act to mediate energy (they are not the source of the energy, that comes from the Wiccan) so they can perform the intended magic. These can include but are not limited to:

  • Broom (besom)
  • Cauldron
  • Chalice (goblet)
  • Wand
  • Book of Shadows (spell book and diary)
  • Altar cloth
  • Athame (ritual dagger)
  • Boline (sickle-like knife for collecting herbs)
  • Candles
  • Incense

NOTE: The tools do not contain the magic themselves, the magic it is driven from the spirit of the person/wiccan/practitioner.

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