People who practice Wicca are often asked to explain our religion and beliefs to those who do not know, but would like to know, and are interested and curious. It’s easy to get our practices and ideas confused with other Pagan belief systems, or to have the completely wrong idea about it, in general. Many, many people have the completely wrong idea about us, but it’s not their fault. A staggering amount of wrong information and stigma exists out there in relation to Witchcraft, so it’s only natural that people should be misinformed.
When asking Wiccans this question about what their beliefs mean, chances are, you’ll get a very different response from each and every one of them. One overlapping characteristic of the religion is the encouragement of each individual discovering their own unique path, instead of blindly following what others say or what they may read in a book on the subject. Regardless of this characteristic, there are some general qualities that apply to all, or nearly all, forms of Wicca. In order to help shed some light on this subject, and to aid people in understanding what is known as a mysterious subject, I would like to explain what I know about this religion.
Wicca is considered an Initiatory religion which has roots in the Ancient Mysterious Religions. These religions are nothing like, for example, Catholicism where you need a contact agent in order to reach the divine. There is no one book, such as the holy bible, that is said to possess all of the “rules”, regulations, and guidelines for how best to connect to divinity. Wicca has no instruction manual, no short cut to becoming a more moral person. Instead of these more traditional religions which you may be more familiar with, a Mystery Religion focuses heavily on personal experience and control. It is up to the individual person who is practising to establish and maintain contact with the divine realm.
The reason why these beliefs are referred to using the term “mystery” is because those experiences of connection with the universe are often so ineffable, so indescribable, that mystery most aptly explains it. Eastern religions such as Buddhism or Taoism could be considered Mystery religions as well, but they differ from Wicca. Wicca is much more modern, and has a Western feel to it. For this reason, the average person in the West world will likely feel more comfortable with Wicca, than with other Mystery Religions.
It’s hard to sum up such a complex subject in just one book, but if one were to begin to attempt this task, one would have to point to the defining quality of Wicca, and that is self reliance. Wicca is an extremely personal journey. No one can walk your path for you, and though a few people may be there along the way to point you in the right direction, or give you some advice (as I hope to do), it’s ultimately what happens within yourself that decides your direction with the practice. This book will, ideally, point you in the right direction, as a complete beginner, and give you the tools necessary to get you started on your own unique journey. Nothing I say should be taken as law. I am only someone who has developed and maintained a passionate interest in this belief system, and wishes to spread some of that knowledge, and share my insights with those of you who are curious.
Never should you take one person’s words and assume that they are “the way”. If you are interested in becoming a Wiccan and practising Witchcraft, you must learn to listen to yourself, and to let your own inner-voice guide you. This book will help you learn how to do that, as I will be outlining very specific instructions on connecting with this divine aspect of self. We are equipped with all we need to thrive in this world, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Wicca is one way of connecting to this world, and feeling the connection that already exists.
So many humans are disconnected from their true power, and this belief system is a way of getting that back. When we were children, we never doubted our inherent power. We knew it intuitively. Now, we have to learn how to regain what is rightfully ours. This will be one of many guides on how to do that, and I enthusiastically encourage and implore each of you to seek out many different books on this subject, and not hold fast to just one.
Another name for Wicca is “The Craft”. Witchcraft also has a tendency to be used interchangeably with both Wicca, Paganism, and “The Craft”. All people who practice Wicca could be considered witches, but witchcraft does not automatically make you Wiccan. Many people refer to themselves as witches, but are not Wiccan by any stretch of the imagination. For this reason, relying on titles alone is not sufficient. To get an understanding of what someone’s actually beliefs are, you must ask them directly, and proceed from there. Odds are, the average Wiccan will be appreciative of your curiosity and more than happy to inform you about whatever questions you may have. On average, we are very open, accepting, and kind people who are happy to help a newcomer.
In order to clear up any confusion, we should discuss the misconceptions that surround this religion, of which there are many. First and foremost, Wicca has absolutely nothing to do with more traditional religious symbolic figures, such as the Christian God or the Devil, or the Islamic God named Allah. Instead, Wicca has both a god figure and a goddess figure, who are considered equal in importance and stature, and can take many different forms and several names. Although some groups of people call themselves Wicca and choose to worship only the male figure or only the female figure, this is not the traditional way. The traditional way puts a lot of emphasis on the equal importance of the god and the goddess figures.
These two figures are heavily linked with natural phenomena, love, animals, and all thing pure (such as children). This is a religion that makes a point to affirm all life and that which gives rise to it. We do not view sex as something sinful, as other religions do. We do not attach shame to the most natural thing that exists in this entire world. This act is what gives rise to each human life, so how can it be so demonetized? No, that is not what people who practice Witchcraft are about at all. You will find no shaming here, no condemnation.
This is extremely different than the more traditional faiths we are all accustomed to in the West world. We are typically taught that we should be ashamed of our bodies, that sexual relations are sinful and a subject of shame, that man is superior to woman, and that she should be subservient to him. This is not the way of Wicca. This religion affirms life and all of creation, and the acts that go into spurring this creation. Each gender needs each other, and the very life of our species depends upon this, not only for the physical, literal act of creating life, but for the purpose of flourishing as a species. We cannot survive if we fight each other, or believe one sex to be superior to the other. This is foolishness, and has no place in the craft.
Many Christians mistakenly assume that anyone who worships, but claims to worship someone other than the God of the Christian religion, is actually worshipping the devil. This is completely untrue and ridiculous, and an unbelievably arrogant assumption, as Wicca has nothing whatsoever to do with other religions, as stated above. One of the most important things to keep in mind if you being to practice this way of life, is that there are many ways of viewing the world, and to assume that you and those who agree with you are the sole owners of knowledge, is utter foolishness. To fully embrace the way of Witchcraft, you must do away with these erroneous assumptions at once. Open yourself to other ideas, and keep a curious and humble mind about the knowledge you receive.
Many people have assumptions about Wicca and Witchcraft, and in their minds, these belief systems are entwined with evil, darkness, and the devil. Images of Halloween may come to mind when you hear the word “Witchcraft”, of an ugly hag in black clothes flying on a broomstick and cackling evilly as she flies off into the night. This is all very silly and could not be further from the truth. We do not seek to harm others, and in fact, the religion advises against it. The devil is supposed to be a figure that thrives on suffering, manipulation, and negativity. This is the complete opposite of everything that Wicca encompasses; Connection with the divine, love of nature, and appreciation and respect for life.
Wicca in its traditional form focuses a lot on personal responsibility, and growing in a personalized way. Those who embark upon this path will accept an obligation to develop themselves, and to work toward achieving the best version of life that they can possibly imagine. This is called our “True Will.” This isn’t easy, and the work takes a lifetime, but needless to say, it’s very worth it to find your perfect fulfilment. Many people go through their lives feeling empty and purposeless, and this is the best possible antidote for such a thing.
Contrary to the ignorant depictions of the religion that have been contrived in our society, Wicca is a very positive and cheerful belief system. They have a lot of holidays specific to their beliefs, and hold parties and festivals. This will be hard to believe, especially for someone who grew up in a traditional religion, but a lot of holidays in the west world have their roots in paganism, which is what Wicca is based on. This includes Christmas, Easter, and even the custom we have become so familiar with, both as children and adults, summer break.
This isn’t some dark, scary thing, and it’s certainly not as serious as some people may assume. It’s about celebrating life, dancing, and loving existence. Instead of handing out a big rule book that is designed to tell everyone what to do and what not to do (as the bible does), Wicca has one single principal in regards to morality and ethics. This means that you, as an individual, are responsible for yourself. There is no big man watching you from the sky to smite you for disobeying. There are no fiery depths of hell waiting for sinners to be cast into when they disobey “God’s will”. This is a religion of adults, taking care of yourself and knowing that no one but you is responsible for your actions. We are not kids, we don’t need to be chastised by someone when we mess up.
The single principal that Wicca holds dear, in the best way that I can summarize and explain it, is, “As long as it causes no harm, do as you wish.” This can be likened to “the golden rule” about treating others as you would wish to be treated. It could also be compared to some Eastern religious views that outline Karma and its principals. This principle is really just common sense, and it is the foundation upon our beliefs.
In the following chapters, we will go over some more guidelines, as well as what to do to begin preparing to learn the ways of Wicca, some spells you can practice, and some methods for connecting with your inner being and the voice of nature.