The main Wiccan symbol is a pentacle: a
pointed star or pentagram inside a
It is shown here
The five points of the star are often associated with the main
elements in the universe: Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit.
We receive many E-mails asking about Wicca. The following are
some of the most common questions, with our answers. We will add additional
topics as they are raised in future Emails.
What is Wicca?
Wicca, sometimes called "The Craft" or "The Craft of the Wise"
is one of many earth-based neo-pagan religions. The word "Wicca" was derived from the Anglo-Saxon word "wicce" which means to bend or shape nature. It is often referred to as one form of Witchcraft. Unfortunately, the term "Witchcraft" has over a dozen mutually conflicting meanings.
The major religion which is closest to Wicca in
America is probably Native American spirituality. Traditional Wicca was founded
by Gerald Gardner, a UK civil servant, who wrote a series of books on the
religion in the 1940's. It contains references to Celtic deities, symbols,
seasonal days of celebration, etc. Added to this were components of
ceremonial magic and practices of the Masonic Order. A more recent form of Wicca is
called eclectic; it involves a combination of Wiccan beliefs and practices from various sources,
combined with other Pagan and non-Pagan elements.
Who are the Goddess and God in Wicca?
According to David Barrett et al, editors of the "World Christian
Encyclopedia: A comparative survey of churches and religions - AD 30 to 2200,"
there are 19 major world religions which are subdivided into a total of 270
large religious groups, and many tens of thousands of smaller ones. Each of the
19 world religions has one or more different concepts of deity or
deities. Even among the main Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and
Islam, there are very different views of the deity. Conservative Protestant, Roman
Catholic, liberal Protestant, Islam, Reform Judaism, Orthodox Judaism, and
Conservative Judaism all call their deity God, but conceive of their God in
different terms. Jews and Muslims view him as a single indivisible deity; Most Christians view him as a trinity: three persons in the Trinity. Each teaches that God requires different behaviors and beliefs
from his followers.
Many Wiccans believe in a deity that is largely unknowable --
sometimes called "The All" or "The One." However, they believe
that they can more easily understand the male and female aspects of the deity, whom they
call the God and the Goddess.
Sometimes, they commune with "The Goddess"
or "The God." Other times, they link with specific Pagan deity or pantheon of deities from the
past. Instead of "the Goddess," they might relate to a deity like Athena, Brigit,
Ceridwen, Diana, Gaia, Hecate, Ishtar, Isis, Venus, etc. In place of "The God"
they may link to a deity like Adonis, Apollo, Dionysus, Odin, Osiris, Pan, Thor, Zeus, etc.
How do Wiccans worship the God and Goddess?
Some Wiccans pray to their God or Goddess. More Wiccans probably feel that they have more of a partnership with the God and
Goddess than the God/worshiper relationship found in Christianity and other
world religions. They need the Goddess and God; the God and Goddess need them. They welcome communion with the God and Goddess; many don't
really worship them in the same way as followers of other religions do.
Is Wicca a form of Satanism?
The short answer is "No." The long answer is "It depends."
To some conservative Christians, all religions other than their own are
forms of Satanism in which followers worship Satan or one of his demons. So,
they view Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Wicca, and dozens of other religions as
varieties of Satanism.
However, most people recognize that there are many dozens of
religions in the world, with different beliefs about deity, humanity and the
rest of the universe. One of these is Wicca. Another is Satanism. These two religions have entirely different beliefs about deity, different
rules for ethical behavior, different expectations from their membership,
different views of the universe, different seasonal days of celebration, etc.
Wiccans do not recognize an all-evil deity or quasi-deity like Satan. Christianity and Islam
are the main religions that teach of Satan's existence, either
as an evil principle or as an all-evil fallen angel with supernatural
Wicca and Satanism are very different religions. However, the Christian church
them in the past -- particularly during the Witch burning times of the late
Middle Ages and Renaissance. They regarded Witches as worshipers of Satan. Some
Christian denominations have not been particularly thorough in correcting
mistakes of the past. So, Wicca, Witchcraft, and Satanism continue to be linked in many
people's minds. This problem is rapidly fading as more Wiccans come out of the
closet and become public with their faith.
One source of confusion is the English translations of the Bible. The Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) often translate "sorceress" as "witch." The Christian Scriptures (New Testament) often translate the poisoning of other persons others as "witchcraft." Meanwhile, many Wiccans have tried to rehabilitate the words "Witch" and "Witchcraft" to describe themselves and their religion.
More details about Wicca and Satanism.
Is Wicca a form of Paganism?
"Pagan" is one of those religious terms which has so many conflicting
definitions that the word is meaningless. "Neopaganism" is a better term.
It refers to a group of many religious belief systems that are reconstructions
of (or patterned after) ancient Pagan religions. Wicca is one Neopagan religion,
as are Asatru (Norse Neopaganism), Druidism, Shamanism, reconstructions of ancient Egyptian,
Roman, Greek religions, etc.
Do Wiccans have rituals like communion, baptism, etc?
Yes. However, it generally involves a direct encounter of the Wiccan(s) with the God and Goddess,
rather than an indirect experience routed through a priest, minister or other
Many Wiccans observe a Wiccaning service for newborns which is vaguely like a
Christian infant baptism. It welcomes the newborn into the community. However, it does not
obligate the infant in any way. Wiccans feel that a person must mature before they can make their
own decisions about religion; an infant or child cannot make such a choice.
There are initiation rituals where a person moves towards becoming a Wiccan. There are self-dedication rituals where a person gives their intent to study Wicca. Some are
self-initiation rituals where a person declares themselves to be a Wiccan. There
are other initiation rituals performed within a Wiccan group, which is often called a Coven.
Many Wiccans write rituals for themselves or for their coven to recognize life
passages, like the onset of puberty, graduation, marriage, purchase of a house, divorce, healing, death, menopause, etc.
Many Wiccans observe Esbat rituals at the thirteen or so full moons each
year, and occasionally on the new moons as well. There are eight seasonal days of observation, called Sabbats: four
minor Sabbats at the solstices and equinoxes, and four major Sabbats between the minor Sabbats.
Related essay on this web site:
The following information source was used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.
Image attribution: Wikipedia,
CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/
Copyright © 2002 to 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2002-APR-30
Latest update: 2017-APR-28
Author: B.A. Robinson