The Wiccan religion
FAQs about Wicca that people ask
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 religions. The religion which is closest to Wicca in
America is probably Native American spirituality. Traditional Wicca was founded
by Gerald Gardner, a British 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 is
eclectic Wicca which involves a combination of Wiccan beliefs and practices,
combined with other Pagan and non-Pagan elements. The various traditions of
Wicca are part of the Pagan or Neopagan group of earth-based religions.
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 a different concept of deity or
deities. Even among the main Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and
Islam, there are very different views of 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. They teach 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 comprehend 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 deities from the
past. Instead of "the Goddess," they might relate to Athena, Brigit,
Ceridwen, Diana, Hecate, Ishtar, Isis, Venus, etc. In place of "The God"
they may link to 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; they 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 over 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 not at all similar 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 Satan worshipers. Some
Christian denominations have not been particularly thorough in correcting
mistakes of the past. So, Wicca 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.
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, and ancient Egyptian,
Roman, Greek and other religions.
Do Wiccans have rituals like communion, baptism, etc?
Yes. However, it generally involves a direct encounter 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 decision about religion; an infant cannot make such a choice.
There are initiation rituals where a person becomes a Wiccan. Some are
self-initiation rituals where a person declares themselves to be a Wiccan. There
are other initiation rituals performed in a Wiccan group, often called a Coven.
Many Wiccans write rituals for themselves or 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 Sabbats: four
minor Sabbats at the solstices and equinoxes, and four major Sabbats each year.
What do Wiccan rituals involve?
Wiccan rituals take many forms. But they all generally include:
|The casting of a circle -- the consecration of a sacred space.|
|The invocation of a deity/deities.|
|The body of the ritual, which may involve magick, spell casting, a
community meal, dance, readings, singing, etc.|
|Closing or banishing of the circle -- restoration of the space to
ordinary usage. |
What does being a Wiccan involve?
Common to almost all Wiccans is the recognition of the existence of the
Goddess, and her consort the horned God. These may be viewed as real living
personal entities, or as symbols.
Wiccans follow the Wiccan Rede "A'in it harm none, do what thou wilt."
2 This means that as long as it harms no one, including yourself, one is free to
do what they wish. A Wiccan carefully reviews the implications of each action or
non-action in her/his life. Domination, manipulation and control are
particularly prohibited by the Rede.
Wiccans typically go through a dedication ritual at the start of their
training, where they declare their intent to study Wicca. If they choose, they
experience an initiation ritual when they complete their initial study of the
religion -- often a period of a year and a day.
Wiccans engage in rituals, either alone or within a coven of other Wiccans.
They are committed to personal spiritual growth.
How can I do a spell to make someone love me?
There are many "Witchcraft" web sites and booklets that lists spells of all
types. However, many of these are forbidden to Wiccans because they involve an
attempt to control, dominate or manipulate another person. Using such a spell
would conflict with the Wiccan Rede (see above). However, a
Wiccan could cast a spell to help make themselves more open to love. They could
cast a spell to help make another person more open to love, if that person
specifically asked for it.
How does Wicca differ from Christianity?
In many ways, the two are similar. For example, the have similar
ethics of reciprocity. The Wiccan Rede and
Christianity's Golden Rule both emphasize kindness to and consideration of others.
But there are many differences:
|On sexual and gender matters:|
|Wicca has generally accepted the equality of men and women. Christianity
has historically reserved positions of power in the church, the rest of
society and the family for males.|
|Wicca regards responsible sexual behavior as a gift of the Goddess.
Some committed Wiccan couples engage in private sexual rituals.
Christianity has tended to have a negative and
restrictive view of sexual behavior.|
|Wicca generally accepts all sexual orientations as normal and natural:
heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual.|
|Wicca is largely an oral tradition, and has no holy text that
corresponds to the Christian Bible.|
|Wiccans stress the cycles of life and look upon time largely as
cyclical. Christians mainly view time as linear.|
|Most Wiccans reject the concept of Heaven and
Hell, and embrace reincarnation. The concept that a person must
believe certain things or behave in a certain way to achieve
salvation and avoid being tortured in
all eternity is foreign to Wicca.|
|Wiccans feel close to nature and are highly concerned about its
|Wiccans do not proselytize. In particular, they do not usually
dedicate, teach, or initiate potential
converts unless they are 18 years or older.|
|Where possible, and where it is safe to do so, Wiccans prefer to perform their
Should I become a Wiccan?
This is an intensely personal decision. We cannot recommend whether a person
should or should not adopt a specific religion. Such a decision has to come from
the heart. If you are searching for a faith group that matches your
beliefs, you might find the
by SelectSmart.com and SpeakOut.com to be helpful.
If you find the following portion of the Charge of the Goddess to be particularly moving and
meaningful, then you might have the makings of a Wiccan. If it simply sounds
like gibberish, then Wicca may not be for you:
Hear ye the words of the Star Goddess; she in the dust of whose feet are the
hosts of heaven, and whose body encircles the universe:
"I who am the beauty of the green earth, and the white moon among the
stars, and the mystery of the waters, call unto thy soul: Arise, and come
unto me. For I am the soul of nature, who gives life to the universe.
From Me all things proceed, and unto Me all things must return; and before My
face, beloved of gods and of men, let thine innermost divine self be enfolded in
the rapture of the infinite. Let My worship be within the heart that
rejoices; for behold, all acts of love and pleasure are My rituals. And
therefore let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and
humility, mirth and reverence within you. And thou who thinkest to seek
Me, know that thy seeking and yearning shall avail thee not unless thou knowest
the Mystery: that if that which thou seekest thou findest not within thee, thou
wilt never find it without. For behold, I have been with thee from the
beginning; and I am that which is attained at the end of desire." 1
Becoming a Wiccan is not a simple path. Parents and friends might be very
distressed when they learn that you are not accepting their religion. If you
live in some areas of world, you have to be quite secretive about being a Wiccan
because of danger of physical assault. People's
reaction depends a lot on how tolerant they feel towards other religions, and
on what they believe about Wicca. There is still a lot of
misinformation being circulated about Wicca and other Neopagan religions.
Fortunately, an increasing number of Neopagans are coming out of the closet and
openly discussing their religions. Increasing numbers of non-Pagan web sites
which accurately discuss Neopagan religions are becoming available. Over time,
the hatred and misinformation should largely disappear.
How to I make contact with other Wiccans?
There are generally no Wiccan listings in the religion page of your local
newspaper. Individual Wiccans and covens tend to keep a low profile for
reason of security. It is safer that way. Many Wiccans start by attending a
local Neopagan gathering or festival. The Witches' Voice maintains an index of
Wiccans and covens worldwide. We urge caution when contacting an unknown Wiccan individual or group for the first
time. There are a lot of nut-cases and sexual predators in North America and Wicca has its share. We recommend
arranging the first meeting in a public place. More
Related essay on this web site:
- Doreen Valiente "Charge of the Goddess." Available in
Starhawk, "The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the
Great Goddess," Harper & Row, 2nd edition, (1989). Read
reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
- The term "Wiccan Rede" is sometimes used to refer to the short
phrase which defines Wicca's main rule of behavior. Other times it is used
to refer to a poem which includes the behavior rule and the Threefold Law.
Other Wiccan FAQs:
|"Witch, Wiccan Pagan F.A.Q.s," Witches' Voice, at:
|"Alt.Religion.Wicca Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)," at:
|"Witchcraft: Commonly-Asked Questions, Straightforward Answers,"
Covenant of the Goddess, at:
|"Wicca ~ Witchcraft: Frequently Asked Questions - Straightforward
Answers!," American Wicca, at:
|"Frequently Asked Questions," Silver Wolf's Lair, at:
Copyright � 2002 to 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2002-APR-30
Latest update: 2007-JUL-29
Author: B.A. Robinson