The old religion, the old gods; Wicca draws from the Old Traditions of Witchcraft. This is true that Witchcraft and Wicca are similar in many respects yet they are not the same. One can be a Witch, without being a Wiccan, just as a person can be a Christian without being a Baptist. Wicca is a recognized religion, while Witchcraft itself is not considered more of a path. It’s best to describe Wicca as a modern religion, based on ancient Witchcraft traditions.
Contrary to what many believe, Wicca is a very peaceful, harmonious, and balanced way of life which promotes oneness with the divine and nature and all which exists.
Wicca is a deep appreciation of the sun rising or setting, or the forest in the light of a lustrous moon. It is light and shadow and all that lies in between. It is the balance. It is loving Mother Earth, Nature, and being humble. To be a Witch is to be a healer, a teacher, a seeker, a giver, and a protector of all things. If this path is yours, may you walk it with honor and integrity
This belief system is a reconstruction of pre-Christian traditions originating in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. While much of the information of how our ancestors lived, worshiped, and believed has been wiped out from history by the medieval church, we try to preserve those beliefs to the best of our ability with the information that is available.
Thanks to archaeological discoveries, we now have basis to believe that the origins of our belief system can be traced further back to the Paleolithic peoples who worshipped a Hunter God and a Fertility Goddess. Wicca is a fertility religion, contrary to popular belief of it being a earth religion. With these discoveries of cave paintings, estimated to be around 30,000 years old, depicting a man with the head of a stag, and a pregnant woman standing in a circle with eleven other people, it can reasonably be assumed that Witchcraft is one of the oldest belief systems known in the world today. These archetypes are recognized by us Wiccans.
Witchcraft in ancient history was known as “The Craft of the Wise” because most who followed the path were in tune with the forces of nature, had a knowledge of Herbs and medicines, gave counsel and were valuable parts of the village and community as Shamanic healers and leaders. They understood that humankind is not superior to nature but instead we are simply one of the many parts, both seen and unseen, of the whole. These wise people understood that what we take or use we must return in kind to maintain balance and equilibrium in nature. Clearly, modern man, with all his applied learning and technology, has forgotten this.
For the past several hundred years, the image of the Witch has been mistakenly associated with evil, heathenism, and unrighteousness. In my humble opinion, these misconceptions have their origin in a couple of different places.
To begin, the medieval church created these myths to convert the followers of the old nature-based religions to the church’s way of thinking. By making the Witch into a diabolical character, and turning the old religious deities into devils and demons, the missionaries were able to attach fear to these beliefs which aided in the conversion process.
Secondly, the women healers threatened the position of men in the medical community. Unfortunately these fears and superstitions have carried forward through the centuries and remain to this day. This is why many who follow this fertility- and nature-oriented belief system have adopted to hide, to escape the persecution, harassment and misinformation associated with the name of Witchcraft and Witch, not to mention the bad publicity the press and Hollywood has given us!
This is a spiritual system that fosters the free thought and will of the individual, encourages learning and an understanding of the earth and nature, thereby affirming divinity within all living things. Most importantly however, it teaches responsibility. We accept responsibility for our actions and deeds as a result of the choices we make. We do not blame an exterior entity or being for our shortcomings, weaknesses, or mistakes. We acknowledge the cycles of nature, the lunar phases, and the seasons to celebrate our spirituality and to worship the divine. This allows the Witch to work with the intent of living in harmony and achieving balance with all things. Some of the spells that we do are for healing, love, harmony, wisdom and creativity. The potions that we stir might be a headache remedy, a cold tonic, or an herbal bath.
Wiccans believe that the spirit of The One, Goddess, and God exist in all things. In the trees, rain, flowers, the sea, in each other and all of natures creations. This means that we must treat all things of the Earth as aspects of the divine. We also revere the spirits of the elements of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water, from which we obtain insight to the rhythms of nature and understand they are also the rhythms of our own lives.
Because Witches have been persecuted for so many centuries, we believe in religious freedom first! We do not look at our path as the only way to achieve spirituality, but as one path among many to the same end. We are not a missionary religion out to convert new members to think the same as we do. However we are willing to share our experience and knowledge. Anyone who is meant for this path will find it through their own search as the Goddess speaks to each of us in her time and way.
Wiccans practice the ‘Harm None’ Policy; the Wiccan Rede. Wicca is not a cult. We do not worship Satan or consort with Demons. Satan is a Christian creation and they can keep him. We do not need a paranoid creation of supreme evil and eternal damnation to scare us into doing the right thing and helping others. We do not sacrifice animals or humans because that would violate our basic tenant of “Harm None.” We have no need to steal or control the life force of another human to achieve mystical and supernatural powers. Wiccans have a very strict belief in the ‘Law of Three’ which states that whatever we send out into our world shall return to us three-fold, either as good or bane.
Remember to read with your heart, for it is when you see life and the world with your heart and spirit that you truly gain an understanding of what Wicca is.