Wicca is a recently reconstructed Neopagan
religion based largely on elements of an ancient, pre-Christian Celtic religion.
It is thus both a very new and a very ancient religion. A Wiccan is a follower of Wicca. They form the largest single
religion within Neopaganism. These terms
are well defined and have single, unambiguous meanings. However, there are many
traditions within Wicca, just as there are many denominations within
Christianity. Each has its own unique beliefs, practices and rituals. All
share a recognition of the God and Goddess, a respect for nature. Most respect males and females equally.
Their main rules of behavior are the
Wiccan Rede, and the Three-fold law.
i.e. do what ever you want to, as long as it harms no one, including yourself.
"This belief constantly reminds us that there are many consequences to
our actions and we must consider all possible outcomes before acting. The Wiccan
Rede thereby binds Wiccans to do the right thing." 1,2
The Three-fold law states that any good that a person does to another returns
to themselves, magnified three times. Any harm also returns in the same ratio.
This heavily motivates Wiccans to behave ethically, and to avoid harming others.
These terms have so many conflicting definitions that
essentially meaningless, unless carefully defined in advance of use. Dictionaries sometimes define a Witch as:
A woman of such incredible beauty that she bewitches another person.
Other times, she is:
A woman of incredible ugliness; a hag.
These two definitions are, of course, mutually exclusive.
Other definitions for Witches are:
A follower of Wicca, a reconstructed aboriginal religion of the ancient
Celts. They do not recognize the existence of Satan,
the Christian - Muslim supernatural evil personality. Wiccans are
prohibited from harming others by their Wiccan Rede, or,
A person who worships Satan, has sold their soul to the devil, and devotes
their life to harming others.
These two are also mutually exclusive.
Still other definitions are:
A person who practices magick
A person who practices black magic, curses, harmful spells, etc. in
order to injure or kill others.
A person who is very competent in their field: e.g. "She is a
witch of a writer."
A person who locates underground sources of water often using a wooden
implement; a water witch.
A woman who does not obey her husband, or tries to dominate, manipulate
and control others.
Many Wiccans use the word "Witch" as a synonym for "Wiccan."
Others have abandoned the term Witch; they feel that centuries
of religious propaganda have given the term such a negative meaning that it
cannot possibly be salvaged. There is a common belief among Wiccans that to abandon the word is to
defame the memories of the tens of thousands of Witches and other heretics who were
accused of "Witchcraft," were individually tortured and executed during the Christian "Burning Times," circa
1450 to 1792 CE.
We advocate that the word be carefully pre-defined before it is used in a
speech or article that may be read by the general public.
Even then, the word will still be filtered through the reader's or listener's belief
systems. The latter may well have been influenced by centuries of Christian
propaganda, and decades of horror movies.
The words Witch and Witchcraft appear in some English versions of the
Christian Holy Bible. One verse that is probably responsible for more deaths of
innocent people than any other passage from the Hebrew Scriptures (Old
Testament) is Exodus 22:18. In the King
James Version, this reads: "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live."
These references are unrelated to Wicca. The original Hebrew term would better
be translated as "a woman who uses spoken curses to harm others."
It is generally translated as "sorceress" in modern versions of the
Bible. The original Greek word that is often translated as "witch" in
the Christian Scriptures (New Testament) means "poisoner." This
has been generally regarded as referring to murderers who use toxic potions to
kill other humans by stealth. A more recent explanation interprets the word
symbolically to refer to someone who goes around spreading dissention - that is,
one who poisons the minds of believers. Both practices, of
course, do not apply to Wiccans under the Wiccan Rede: Wiccans do not engage in
evil, harmful curses, nor do they proselytize. More
Wicca and Satanism:
Historically, Wicca has been incorrectly associated with Satanism. The roots of this confusion can be traced back to Europe during the Witch burning times
of the late Middle Ages and Renaissance. Witches were accused of worshipping Satan and
selling their soul to him. This false belief continues today, and is still being actively
promoted by some Christian individuals and ministries. Some conservative
Christians believe in the literal truth of some Biblical passages which say that
the gods and goddesses that are worshiped by non-Christians are really Satan or
one of his demons. They define all non-Christian
religions as forms of Satanism.
In reality, Wicca is unrelated to Satanism or to black magic. Their governing
principles, rules of behavior, basic beliefs about deity, humanity and the rest
of the universe, system of morality, etc. are quite different -- often
The main Wiccan symbol is the upright 5 pointed star (called a pentagram),
and a pentagram within a circle, (called a pentacle). One point of the star is
generally aligned upwards, except when it refers to the second degree initiation
or male principle . Satanists inverted both symbols and adopted them as their own
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.