General principles of Wiccan beliefs:
Wicca is an almost completely decentralized religion. George Knowles, a
has said: "“Wicca has no high authority, no single leader, no prophet and no
Bible to dictate its laws and beliefs”. 1 Many,
perhaps most, Wiccans are solitary practitioners. Others form small local groups
called covens, groves, etc. Thus, there probably are almost as many sets of
Wiccan beliefs as there are Wiccans.
However, in 1973, a group of about 73 representatives from many Wiccan paths
and traditions met in Minneapolis to form a temporary "Council of American
Witches" under the leadership of Carl Llewellyn Weschcke, of the well
known Llewellyn publishing house that specializes in books dealing with
alternative health and healing, astrology, earth-based religions, shamanism,
Gnostic Christianity, Kabbalah, etc. The group successfully created a set of beliefs that
harmonized the beliefs of the many Wiccan traditions in
the U.S. at the time. The group disbanded shortly afterwards. However their 13 principles are still endorsed by many American Wiccans.
Of particular interest are:
|Principle #2 which stresses the importance of care of the environment.
Recall that this statement was prepared over four decades ago.|
|Principle #4 which affirms the equality of women and men. It briefly
touches on sex magick. These are a belief and practice foreign to many
of today's organized religions who continue to denigrate women and fear human
|Principle #10 refers to the intense opposition and oppression
experienced by many Wiccans at the time, typically from conservative
Christians. This culminated in a lynching of a Wiccan, and two fundamentalist
Christian pastors calling for government programs of genocide to wipe out
Wiccans. This hatred has largely faded since these principles were written.|
The 13 principles of Wiccan belief:
- We practice rites to attune ourselves with the natural rhythm of life forces marked by the phases
of the Moon and the seasonal Quarters and Cross Quarters.
- We recognize that
our intelligence gives us a unique responsibility toward our environment.
We seek to live in harmony with nature in ecological balance offering
fulfillment to life and consciousness within an evolutionary concept.
- We acknowledge a
depth of power far greater than that apparent to the average person.
Because it is far greater than ordinary it is sometimes called
‘supernatural’, but we see it as lying within that which is naturally potential
- We conceive of the
Creative Power in the universe as manifesting through polarity – as masculine
and feminine – and that this same Creative Power lies in all people and
functions through the interaction of the masculine and the feminine.
We value neither above the other knowing each to be supportive of the
other. We value sex as pleasure as the symbol and embodiment
of life, and as one of the sources of energy used in magical practice and
- We recognize both
outer worlds and inner, or psychological worlds sometimes known as the Spiritual
World, the Collective Unconsciousness, the Inner Planes etc – and we see in the
interaction of these two dimensions the basis for paranormal phenomena and
magical exercises. We neglect neither dimension for the
other, seeing both as necessary for our fulfillment.
- We do not recognize any authoritarian hierarchy, but do honor those who teach, respect
those who share their greater knowledge and wisdom, and acknowledge those who
have courageously given of themselves in leadership.
- We see religion, magick and wisdom in living as being united in the way one views the world and
lives within it – a world view and philosophy of life which we identify as
Witchcraft – the Wiccan Way.
- Calling oneself ‘Witch’ does not make a Witch – but neither does heredity itself, nor the
collecting of titles, degrees and initiations. A Witch seek
to control the forces within her/himself that make life possible in order to
live wisely and without harm to others and in harmony with nature.
- We believe in the affirmation and fulfillment of life in a continuation of evolution and
development of consciousness giving meaning to the Universe we know and our
personal role within it.
- Our only animosity towards Christianity, or towards any
other religion or philosophy of life, is to the extent that its institutions
have claimed to be ‘the only way’ and have sought to deny freedom to others and
to suppress other ways of religious practice and belief.
- As American Witches, we are not threatened by debates on the history of the craft, the origins of various terms,
the legitimacy of various aspects of different traditions. We are concerned with our present and our future.
- We do not accept the concept of absolute evil, nor do we worship any entity known as ‘Satan’ or ‘the Devil’ as defined by Christian
tradition. We do not seek power through the suffering of others, nor accept that personal benefit can be derived only by denial to another.
- We believe that we should seek within Nature that which is contributory to our health and well-being.
Detailed Wiccan beliefs about deity:
Beliefs among individual Wiccans differ:
|Monotheism: Some Wiccans believe that a single creative force exists
in the universe, which is sometimes called "The One" or
"The All". Little can be known of this force. Other Wiccans --
typically feminists -- worship the Goddess by herself.|
|Bitheism (a.k.a. Duotheism): Many regard the Goddess and the God
as representing the female and male aspects of the All. These deities are not
"out there somewhere;" they are immanent in the world. Others regard the God and
Goddess as two separate deities, representing the male and female principles.|
|Polytheism: Many regard the thousand of ancient pagan Gods and Goddesses (Athena,
Brigit, Diana, Fergus, Odin, Pan, Zeus, etc.) as representing various aspects of the God
and Goddess. The term "Wicca" normally implies that the person's
religion is based upon Celtic spiritual concepts, its pantheon of deities, and
seasonal days of celebration. Other Neopagans include
deities, beliefs, practices
and symbols from ancient Pagan religions (e.g. Egyptian, Greek,
various mystery religions, Roman, Sumerian) or upon Aboriginal
religions (Native American Spirituality, Shamanism).|
Pantheism: Some Wiccans believe that the
universe is divine and should be revered. Pantheism identifies the universe with
God but denies any personality or transcendence of such a God.
|Agnosticism: Some Wiccans are actually
Agnostics, who take no position on the
existence of a supreme being or beings. They often look upon the Goddess and
the God as archetypes, based on myth.|
|Strong Atheism: Some Wiccans are strong
Atheists and maintain that no deity exists. They often
view the God and Goddess as concepts or principles, not as living entities.|
It must be stressed that Wiccans have no supernatural
being in their pantheon of deities who resembles the quasi-deity Satan found in
Christianity and Islam. This belief was quite common among conservatives of
other faiths. It is now fading since so many Wiccans have come out of the closet
and gone public with heir faith.
An example of Wicca/Neopaganism/Pantheism influence in the culture:
Perhaps the best example of
the merger of Pagan and Pantheistic beliefs in popular culture
is found in James Cameron's "Avatar" movie. released during 2009-DEC.
4 Ross Douthat, a columnist for the New York Times,
commented somewhat unhappily:
" 'Avatar' is Cameron’s long apologia for pantheism — a faith
that equates God with Nature, and calls humanity into religious communion with
the natural world. ... The Na’Vi [race] are saved by the movie’s hero, a
turncoat Marine, but they’re also saved by their faith in Eywa, the 'All
Mother,' described variously as a network of energy and the sum total of every
living thing. ..."
"If this narrative arc sounds familiar, that’s because
pantheism has been Hollywood’s religion of choice for a generation now. It’s the
truth that Kevin Costner discovered when he went dancing with wolves. It’s the
metaphysic woven through Disney cartoons like 'The Lion King' and 'Pocahontas.'
And it’s the dogma of George Lucas’s Jedi, whose mystical Force 'surrounds us,
penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together'."
"Hollywood keeps returning to these themes because millions of
Americans respond favorably to them. From Deepak Chopra to Eckhart Tolle, the
'religion and inspiration' section in your local bookstore is crowded with
titles pushing a pantheistic message. ..."
"At the same time, pantheism opens a path to numinous
experience for people uncomfortable with the literal-mindedness of the
monotheistic religions — with their miracle-working
deities and holy books, their
virgin births and resurrected
bodies. As the Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski noted, attributing
divinity to the natural world helps 'bring God closer to human experience
[while] depriving him of recognizable personal traits'." 5
Other beliefs of Wiccans:
|Respect for Nature: Wicca is a natural religion, grounded in concern
earth. Some Wiccans believe that all living things (including stars, planets, humans, animals, plants,
rocks) have a spirit of some type. Many Wiccan rituals deal with
bringing harmony and healing to nature. The vast majority of Wiccans share a great
concern for the environment.|
|Gender equality: Wiccans celebrate the sexual polarity of nature.
the fertilizing rain is one manifestation of the male principle; the
nurturing earth symbolizes the female. Females are respected as equal (and
sometimes at a slightly higher rank) to males. In a coven -- a local group of
Wiccans -- a priestess is often the most senior person. They aim for a female-male
balance in most of their covens (local groups), although men are typically
in the minority.|
|Human sexuality: Sexuality is valued, and regarded as a gift
of the Goddess and God, to be engaged in with joy and responsibility,
and without manipulation or coercion. Wiccans generally accept the findings of human
sexuality researchers that there are three normal, natural, and unchosen
sexual orientations: heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality.
Some Wiccans celebrate "the Great Rite" which involves ritual
sexual intercourse. However, it is consensually performed by a loving, committed
couple in private.|
|Afterlife: Wiccans have a wide range of beliefs about life after
|Some believe in ancient Celtic legends of a Summerland where souls go
after death. Here, they meet with others who have gone before, review
and integrate their previous lives on earth, and are eventually
reincarnated into the body of a newborn. Some believe that after many
such cycles -- perhaps some as female and others as male; some lives
with a high standard of living and others in poverty; some in
positions of power and others suffering oppression -- that the
individual accumulates sufficient experience to go on to another level
of existence about which we know nothing.|
|Some see an individual's consciousness, personality, memory, abilities, talents,
etc. as functions of the human brain, which degrades and disintegrates
at death. They no not anticipate any form of personal continuity after death.
|Other Wiccans anticipate continuity after death in some very
|That the molecules that go to make up our bodies may in turn be
incorporated in other living entities;|
|That our influences on children, friends, and society in general
will continue to have an impact on the next generations. Even as our influence
on each descendent fades in importance with each successive generation, it is
spread among a continually increasing number of individuals. And so, the effect
of our lives remains constant over time. |
|Three-fold Law (a.k.a. the Law of Return) The law states that:|
"All good that a person does to another returns three fold in this
life; harm is also returned three fold."
This belief strongly motivates each Wiccan to avoid attempting to
dominate, manipulate, control, or harm another person.
|The Wiccan Rede: This is the prime Wiccan ethical teaching.
One form is: "A'in it harm none, do what thou wilt." In modern English
this may be rendered: "As long as it doesn't harm anyone including yourself
and future generations, do whatever you want to." This has been criticized
for being too permissive. However, the Rede is actually quite demanding because
it requires a Wiccan to carefully evaluate all of the effects that each of their
decisions have on themselves, other people, future generations, the environment,
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- George Knowles, "The 13 principles of Wiccan Belief,"
- The home page of Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd. is at:
- Definition of Pantheism taken from Wiktionary at:
- "Avatar" reviewed by IMDb, at:
- Ross Douthat, "Heaven and Nature," New York Times, 2009-DEC-20, at:
Copyright © 1996 to 2010 by Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2010-JAN-10
Author: B.A. Robinson