Wicca is a neo-pagan belief system that attempts to revive “The Old Ways” of European Witchcraft. Gerald Gardner (1884-1964) – in the late 1940s gave this new religion its name, it had been around for a few decades already, but not at all popular outside of its small circle. Gardner wanted to propagate this new religion with media attention, which he did by writing all about it in High Magic’s Aid (1949). Like wildfire, it spread throughout England and then through western Europe and North America. Historian Ronald Hutton called Wicca “The only fully-formed religion which England can be said to have given the world”.
History of Wicca
Before “Wicca” was adopted as the name to this religion it was often referred to as “The Craft” or “the Old Religion”. Not to be confused with Witchcraft, which is not considered to be a religion at all. Wiccans follow what is called the “Wiccan Rede” which specifically states to mind certain rules. “The Rule of Three” or the “Three-Fold Law” or the “Law of Return” states: “What you send out be it good or not, will return to you threefold.” Also; “Do as ye will with harm to none, unless in self-defense”. So Free Will is revered as a Power of Manifestation to the Wiccans.
Beliefs and Practices of Wicca
They believe in the duality of deity, God and Goddess. Some are duo-theistic and polytheistic, honoring many pagan deities, while still reserving their worship in the ritual a single Wiccan Goddess and the Horned God. Still, some Wiccans are monotheistic, believing in Goddess only, these are Dianic worshipers, their covens consist of only women, and they have little to no use for men. Dianic Wicca is based on Women’s Mysteries, the five blood mysteries of; birth and menarche or menstruation (Maidan), giving birth and lactation (Mother), menopause (Crone), and death.
Wiccans honor and respect all of Nature. Everything that has life has a soul, therefore it is no less a creation then is human. You will find that Wiccans are tree huggers, animal activists, recyclers, farmers, herbalists, naturopaths, homeopaths, aromatherapists, healers such as Reiki practitioners, acupuncturists, massage therapists, and any Complementary Alternative Medicine practice that does no harm to the patient or client, as does mainstream medical practices.
When Wiccans marry, they do what is called “Hand-Fasting”. Which is a neo-pagan and Wiccan ritual with its roots in ancient Celtic belief systems. A couple will bind their hands together before, during and after the recite their vows to each other during the wedding ceremony. The binding of hands or Hand-Fasting, which is short for Fastening, symbolizes their connection and devotion to each other.
Sacred Texts of Wicca
Where Witchcraft uses a Grimoire; a book holding general information that all witches can use, and that is passed down from generation to generation. Gardner modified the Grimoire, to also include information learned, recipes, spells, and personal experiences. It too could be passed down through generations, this was called the “Book of Shadows”.
Every succeeding receiver of this book would add their own experiences to it, to be passed down to the next generation of Wiccans. The Book of Shadows sits on the Wiccan Altar alongside candles, crystals, and plants. It is a sacred text and is as revered as is the Christian Bible, Jewish Tanakh, Hindu Gita or Islamic Quran. Within the Book of Shadows is all the incantations and rituals needed to Honor all the Sabots, Equinoxes and Solstices of the year.