What is Wicca?
Wicca is the modern revival of the ancient, indigenous, pre-Christian
Goddess religions of Europe and the Middle East. It is very similar
in its spiritual practices and principles to Native American spirituality,
and to that of other indigenous peoples. Wicca is also referred
to as Witchcraft, the Old Religion, and the Craft of the Wise.
People who practice Wicca are called Wiccans, or Witches. (Male
practitioners are also called Wiccans or Witches, never Warlocks.)
Wicca is also the fastest growing religion in America. Wicca is
a spiritual practice, rather than an abstract belief system. It
has more in common with a spiritual practice such as yoga, which
provides an individual with her/his own experience of the Sacred,
than with Biblical religions, which are based upon faith or belief
in a transcendent, male deity.
are the spiritual principles of Wicca?
Wicca is a life-affirming religion that experiences the Divine
as immanent, that is, everywhere present in the world. The Divine
is embodied in the Universe, in the world in all of its aspects,
and in humanity. Wiccans consider all of life sacred and inter-connected
by the Divine that dwells in all things. Wiccans have a profound
reverence for all of life as holy and therefore they have a deep
ethical standard to harm none. It is unethical to engage in any
form of spiritual work, or daily activity, that seeks to control,
manipulate, harm or have power over others. Wiccan ethics are
simple and profound: Witches live in a sacred manner because they
live in a sacred world. Spiritual insight is achieved through
living in harmony with the Earth, and with Nature, Wiccans have
a deep respect for Nature, and all of its forms and creatures
(the earth, air, water, humans, animals, plants), are revered
as the living body or expression of the Divine. Witches work to
attune themselves with the natural energies of the Earth, Moon,
Sun and Universe as a means of attuning oneself with the Sacred.
Wicca is non-dogmatic. There is no single leader, guru or prophet,
or literature of revealed and absolute truth. Rather, Wicca is
an accessible system of spiritual practices that enable individuals
to personally experience the Divine within themselves, in others,
and in the world. The Divine is perceived as feminine, the Goddess,
and masculine, the God, and is also perceived as totalities beyond
gender, the Divine. Witches relate to the many aspects of the
Goddess and God through the metaphors of many deities. There are
many different traditions or denominations within the Old Religion
- some reflect ethnic groups such as Celtic, Welsh, Greek, or
Italian, others the perspective of particular teachers. One of
the most rapidly growing is the shamanic approach practiced by
H.Ps. Curott. Wiccans are very tolerant of the faith traditions
of others, and do not proselytize, though they will teach someone
who sincerely wishes to learn.
Witches worship the devil?
Witches do not worship nor do they believe in the devil and they
are deeply offended by the accusation, and the stereotypes and
discrimination that accompany it. There is no devil in the Old
Religion of the Goddess. Satan is strictly a character from the
Biblical pantheon, and only the religions of Judaism, Christianity
and Islam believe in him. This erroneous association of Witches
and the devil arose out of the persecutions of the Catholic Church's
Inquisition against the Jews who were also falsely accused of
worshiping Satan . These accusations and persecutions were also
turned upon women and the practitioners of the Old Religion. During
the 200 years of the Witch-hunts, several hundred thousand were
tortured and killed, approximately 90% of whom were women. Women
lost all legal rights during this prolonged period of terror.
Legally, they were no longer legally considered people, but were
instead deemed chattel or property to be disposed of by fathers,
husbands or brothers. Women could not inherit or own property,
they could not receive an education, they were forbidden from
practicing medicine as midwives and herbalists, and they were
accused of worshipping Satan when they practiced their ancient
shamanic religion that worshipped the Goddess. The struggle that
women have to obtain equal rights today stems from this period
of ferocious persecution of women and Witches.
do people call themselves Witches?
word Witch is the phonetic spelling of an old Anglo-Saxon word
wicce, pronounced witche. Wicce meant a practitioner of the Old
Religion, a wise one, or shaman, and has its foots in the old
Norse word vitke, meaning a priestess, seer or shaman. The Old
Religion is the shamanism of Europe and the Middle East, and Witchcraft,
or Wicca, is its modern revival. Just as Jews were persecuted
and maligned but did not abandon their religion or its name, so
too Witches were persecuted and maligned, and today they use the
word to reclaim their religion and to challenge the culture's
distorted images and misogyny. Many Witches prefer to refer to
themselves as Wiccans, and the terms are often used interchangeably.
How many Witches are there?
Wicca is now the fastest growing religion in the United States.
While it is difficult to establish exact numbers because so many
practice in secrecy do to fear of discrimination, various reliable
academic sources have placed the numbers at 750,000 at the low
end, and 5 million at the upper end. Barnes and Noble has estimated
that, based upon booksales, there are probably close to 10 million
Wiccans. At 750,000, Wicca would be the 5th largest organized
religion in the United States, behind Christianity, Judaism, Islam
and Hinduism. Wicca is surpassing Buddhism and has surpassed established
faith groups such as Quakers and Unitarian-Universalism. 10 to
15 % of Unitarians describe themselves as Wiccan or Pagan (a related
religious view). Witches are book buyers. This is because almost
half, and possibly more, are solitary practitioners who have learned
from books due to the absence of a sufficient number of teachers.
Both the New York Times and Publisherıs Weekly have published
articles in the last two years describing Wiccan publishing as
one of the fastest growing and most lucrative areas of publishing.
Wiccans are younger than the practitioners of other religions.
Spin Magazine's survey, in their Girl Power Issue of October
of 1998, found that Witchcraft was the number one interest of
teenage girls and young women. Age distribution(approximately):
11% are 17 or under
25% are 18-25
40% are 26-39
23% are 40-59
1% are 60 or over
Approximately 71% of Wiccans are female, and 29% are male, though
more men are coming to this spirituality each year. Witches tend
to be well-educated, well read and independent. They increasingly
represent mainstream America there are Wiccan doctors, lawyers,
soldiers, psychologists, schoolteachers, schoolchildren, busdrivers,
waitresses, artists, actors, singers, and celebrities, to name
just a few typical occupations.
is Wicca the fastest growing religion in the United States?
There are 3 primary reasons:
First, the Goddess is one of the most important reasons that Wicca
is the fastest growing religion in America. Wicca is the only
Western religion that has a conception of the Divine as not just
male, but also female. The Goddess is deeply empowering for women
She is also a source of healing for men. Wicca is also the only
Western religion in which women are honored as spiritual leaders.
Second, Wicca is very well suited to the modern temperament, which
is rational, independent, and self-motivated. Wiccans don't have
to have faith in the existence of some transcendent, distant God
because they have direct and personal experience of a present
and indwelling deity. Wicca is a spiritual practice that anyone
can master to experience her/his connection to the Divine. The
spiritual practices are deeply empowering, and life- transforming.
Wicca is non-dogmatic, there's no prophet, no guru, no charismatic
leader, no one (usually a man) standing between you and God/dess,
interpreting "God's will" or telling you how to live. You are
responsible for your own encounter with deity and Wiccan practices
provide this profound encounter. And why would anyone leave the
most extraordinary experience of her/his life to someone else?
Third, Wiccans experience the world around them, and particularly
Nature, as the embodiment of the Divine. Nature is the greatest
spiritual teacher for Witches, because it is the body of the Divine.
In an era of environmental crisis that threatens our survival,
Wicca provides a way of living in harmony with the natural world,
and therefore of living in harmony with the Sacred. This is a
very beautiful way in which to live, that also enables us to make
the enormous, necessary changes so that the Earth, and we will
Do Witches cast spells and practice magic?
Witches do practice magic and cast spells but not in the way that
most people think. Magic is not supernatural manipulation nor
is it silly superstition. I have a new definition of Magic: Magic
is what happens once you experience your connection to the Divine.
It is how you co-create reality with deity. Spells are specific,
pro-active expressions of this magic. They are not a means of
having power over others or Nature by the use of supernatural
forces. Spellcasting is actually a form of religious ritual which
is very similar to prayer. The primary difference is that instead
of praying to beseech the aid or intervention of an external (male)
divinity when you feel powerless to create a needed change or
result, a Witch draws upon her/his own indwelling divine energy,
as well as the aid of the greater Divine, to manifest her/his
gifts, goals and desires in the world. The only person one ever
seeks to control with a spell is oneself. And they work so I warn
people to be careful what they ask for! Witch Crafting deals extensively
with real magic and with spellcasting.
are some Wiccan spiritual practices?
Witch Crafting provides readers with detailed guidance in not
only the "how to" practice, but also, uniquely, the "why do."
Wiccan techniques enable people to experience the magic of everyday
life. They help alter our consciousness to better experience communion
with the Divine. Wiccan techniques help one to fully develop one's
gifts and capacities to live a full, joyful and spiritual life.
They are also used for practical purposes such as healing, divination,
purification, protection, inspiration, blessing, and the raising
of energy to achieve positive life goals such as fulfilling work
and relationships. All of these techniques which may include spellcasting,
prayer, meditation, ritual, drumming, singing, chanting, dancing,
journeying, trance, active meditations in Nature, and others,
require and engender wisdom, maturity, patience, passion, compassion
and an abiding relationship with the Sacred. Wiccans may practice
alone, and are called solitaries, or in groups called covens (from
the Latin convenire to come together), or circles. There are also
large conferences and festivals held all over the world where
thousands of Wiccans come to celebrate together. There is no central
authority or hierarchy, and there are now thousands of Wiccan
temples and churches legally organized and functioning throughout
America. Wicca was legally recognized as a religion in the early
1970's, and was included the Military Chaplains' Guide in 1985.
are the Wiccan holy days?
In addition to working with the phases of the Moon, which is particularly
significant for women, Witches celebrate eight festivals, called
"Sabbats," from the Greek word esbaton, meaning holy day, to attune
themselves to the seasonal rhythms of Nature and the spiritual
wisdom abiding in those cycles of change. (These days have become
the basis for most of biblical religious calendars.) Collectively
they are referred to as the Wheel of the Year:
October 31 Samhain, popularly referred to as Halloween
December 21 - Winter Solstice or Yule
February 2 Imbolc or Brigitıs Day
March 21 Spring Equinox, or Oestara
May 1 Beltaine, or Mayday
June 21 Summer Solstice, or Litha
August 2 Lughnassadh
September 21 Autumn Equinox, or Mabon