Wicca is a neo-pagan religion that incorporates witchcraft.

History Edit

Origin Edit

The creation of Wicca was inspired by the two popular books by Margaret Murray: The Witch Cult in Western Europe and The God of the Witches . Those two books inspired some low-ranking members of the Rosicrucian Order Crotona Fellowship in the Christchurch area of southernmost England to create the New Forest Coven in the mid-to-late 1930s. That original version of Wicca incorporated elements from Margaret Murray's books, Freemasonry, the Golden Dawn, Aleister Crowley's writings, and other things.

In 1939, Gerald Gardner was initiated into the New Forest Coven. Gardner, who had likewise read the two aforementioned books, was enthusiastic about that witch group, and wanted to publicize its paradigm, and to add his own innovations to it. In Gardner's personal notebook, titled Ye Bok of Ye Art Magical, Gardner gradually created his own version of Wicca, which added elements from The Key of Solomon, among other things.

In or around 1946, Gerald Gardner founded the Bricket Wood Coven, near London, by recruiting a bunch of nudists from a nudist club. That was the first Gardnerian wiccan coven.

Contemporary Wicca Edit

Since being introduced to a significantly wider audience by Gardner, Wicca has forked in many directions, commonly known as traditions. Gardnerian Wicca, for example, is initiatory, meaning that it is limited to people initiated into an existing coven. The secrets contained in its Book of Shadows were only accessible to someone from within the coven.

Another form of Wiccan traditions are syncretistic ones which import concepts and practices from other religious practices such as ceremonial magic and Kabbalah. The formation of Dianic Wicca was a step in a completely different direction because it promotes self-initiation and the idea that it is the birth-right of every woman.

Common practices and beliefs Edit

Wiccans celebrate eight main holidays, called sabbats. The sabbats include four cross-quarter days, namely Samhain, Beltane (or Beltaine), Imbolc (also called Imbolg, Oimelc, or Candlemas) and Lammas (or Lughnasadh), as well as the two solstices, Litha and Yule, and the two equinoxes, Ostara (or Eostar or Eostre) and Mabon (see Wheel of the Year). They also hold esbats, which are rituals that are held at the full and the new moon.

Wicca is generally a duotheist system, worshipping both a moon goddess and a horned god. In Dianic Wicca, only the goddess is worshipped, whereas the horned god plays either no role, or a diminished role. Many Gardnerian Wiccans practice some form of polytheism, often with particular reference to the celtic pantheon. Neo-wiccans may be animists, pantheists, or agnostics instead of duotheists. Some neo-wiccans worship a set of three deities consisting of the sun/sky, sea/earth, and the moon.

Many Wiccans are members of groups, known as covens, although it is not uncommon to find solitary practitioners. Coven membership is sometimes a point of contention between different traditions of Wicca because one line of thought believes that a coven should be no more than thirteen members, and the other that a coven can contain as many members as it chooses. The former still have more than thirteen members by having covens "hive" off, with the multiple covens forming a grove. Almost all Wiccans gather together, at one time or another, regardless of coven membership, for community events.

Traditionally, most, if not all, spell work is done inside a magic circle, which is drawn out in a ritual manner followed by a cleansing and then blessing of the space. Many Wiccans use a set of special tools for spell work (see Category:Tools).

Morality Edit

Wiccan morality is guided by the Wiccan Rede, which (in part) states "An it harm none, do what thou wilt." ("An" is an archaic word meaning "if".) The Rede is central to the understanding that personal responsibility, rather than a religious authority, is where moral structure resides. While the Wiccan Rede concept was present early on in Gardner's teachings, it appears to have moved into a more central role thanks to Doreen Valiente and a speech she gave in 1964[1]. Some Wiccans, including some Gardnerians, do not consider the Rede to be central to their system although today many do.

Many Wiccans also promote the Law of Threefold Return, or the idea that anything that one does may be returned to them threefold. In other words, good deeds are magnified back to the doer, but so are ill deeds. It can also be interpreted to mean that your deeds come back to you emotionally, spiritually, and physically, not three times in strength. This is another point of contention within the Wiccan community as several prominent members, including Gerina Dunwich, believe that the Rule of Three should be interpreted as whatever we do on a physical, mental, or spiritual level will sooner or later affect us, in either a positive or negative way, on all three levels of being.

See also Edit

Notes Edit

  1. [ essay by John J. Coughlin examining the Wiccan Rede's history]

References Edit

External links Edit

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