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Wicca Primer

History:

Wicca is a religious tradition based on the ancient religions of the prehistoric Europe, specifically Western Europe and Great Britain.  The faith is an amalgamation of folklore, archaeological evidence, and translated works from the period.  It is not, in most cases, a religion passed unbroken from prehistory.

Although many pagan and witchcraft traditions can be traced back to pre-historic times, the religion known as Wicca began in the UK in the 1950's from the teachings of Gerald Gardner.  This earliest form of Wicca, known as Gardnerian Wicca, is a system based on individual groups, known as covens, all of which can trace their lineages back to Gardner.  Other forms of traditional Wicca that have evolved from the Gardnerian tradition include Alexandrian and Seax traditions.

In the 1970's a new form of Wicca began to evolve that is looser in structure and practice.  These forms are not initatory, and often involve a blend of traditional Wicca with other pagan and/or non-pagan beliefs.

 

Traditions:

    ALEXANDRIAN TRADITION: Originated in England in the 1960's, by Alex Sanders. The rituals are said to be of modified Gardnerian.

    CELTIC WICCA: This is a mix using Celtic/Druidic pantheon, stressing on the elements, nature and the Ancient Ones. 

    DIANIC TRADITION: The Witch Cult in Western Europe, tracked back to Margaret Murray in 1921. This tradition has been pegged as the "feminist" movement of the Craft. It is a mix of many traditions, but its focus as recent is on the Goddess.

    GARDNERIAN TRADITION: This originated in England, by Gerald Gardner in the 1950's.

    SEAX-WICA: Founded in 1973, by Raymond Buckland, who authored this tradition without breaking his original Gardnerian oath. 

 

Beliefs:

Wicca is a nature-based belief system.  In other words, the natural world (i.e. trees, grass, rocks, mountains, etc.) is seen as a part of the Divine.  Christianity, on the other hand, believes that these things were created by, but separate from, the Divine.

Wiccans believe in a dual male/female divinity.  The God and Goddess are seen as separate but equal deities, each with unique talents and virtues.  Some traditions see all of the gods and goddesses of the world as 'faces' of the two true deities.  Others worship a trine goddess and god, the nature of the deities changing with the seasons.

Wiccans believe that the natural world, the creatures of the world (including humans) and the Divine are inseparable.  Harm done to any of the aspects reflects on the others, causing pain and suffering needlessly in the spiritual and physical planes.  As a result, many Wiccans are ardent environmentalists.

 

Practices:

Most Wiccans practice their faith in a group of 3 - 13 members, known in the faith as a Coven, although a significant number do practice alone.  These members are known as Solitaries.

Covens and Solitaries alike recognize eight Sabbats, or holy days, four minor and four major.  Sabbats celebrate the cycles of nature, and are sometimes known as the Wheel of the Year.  The major Sabbats are: 

IMBOLC - Feb. 2nd. 
BELTANE - May 1st. 
LUGHNASADH/LAMMAS - Aug. 1st. 
SAMHAIN - Oct. 31st. 
The minor Sabbats are:
WINTER SOLSTICE/YULE - Dec. 21st.
SPRING EQUINOX/OSTARA - March 21st.
SUMMER SOLSTICE/LITHA - June 21st.
AUTUMN EQUINOX/MABON - Sept. 21st.
Wiccans also celebrate on the full moon.

 

Scripture:

Wiccans do not have a written book of Scripture, but generally follow two guidelines: the Wiccan Rede and the Rule of Three.

The Wiccan Rede states: "An it harm none, do as ye will".  This rule is a guideline for every part of a Wiccan's life, and cautions against harming anyone or anything.  Interpretation of the rule varies, but many weigh decisions in order to find the path of least harm in any given situation.

The Rule of Three states: "Any energy that you send out will return to you three-fold".  This includes magical energy, as well as emotional and spiritual energy.  Wiccans interpret this rule to mean that any good works, bad works, arguments, etc. will return to them three times as powerfully as they left.

 

Controversy:

Many Christian groups are extremely concerned about Wicca, comparing the religion to Satanism and stating that Witches are devil worshippers, burn babies, cast evil spells, and other very nasty acts.

Wiccans vehemently deny these claims, stating that their faith does not recognize Satan at all, and explaining that the Wiccan Rede will not allow any harmful acts.

 


 

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