What is Wicca?

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WICCA, A Neo-Pagan, Earth-Centered Religion

Overview:

Depending upon how you look at Wicca, it is either one of the newest or one of the oldest religions in the world: Wicca is a recently created, Neopagan religion. The various branches of Wicca can be traced back to Gardnerian Witchcraft which was founded in the UK during the late 1940s. Wicca is based on the symbols, seasonal days of celebration, beliefs and deities of ancient Celtic society. Added to this material were Masonic and ceremonial magickal components from recent centuries. In this respect, it is a religion whose roots go back almost three millennia to the formation of Celtic society circa 800 BCE.

A follower of Wicca is called a Wiccan. Wicca and other Neopagan religions are currently experiencing a rapid growth in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. This is seen particularly among some teenagers, who are rejecting what they feel is the autocracy, paternalism, sexism, homophobia, and insensitivity to the environment that forms part of some more traditional religions. Many North Americans of European descent, who are keen to discover their ancestral heritage, are also attracted to this religion.

About deities:

Depending upon one’s point of view, Wicca can be considered a monotheistic, duotheistic, polytheistic, or atheistic religion:

Wicca is monotheistic: Some Wiccans recognize a single supreme being, sometimes called “The All” or “The One.” The Goddess and God are viewed as the female and male aspects of this single deity.

Wicca is duotheistic (a.k.a. rarely as bitheistic): Wiccans often worship a female Goddess and a male God., often called the Lady and Lord.

Wicca is polytheistic: Wiccans recognize the existence of many ancient Gods and Goddesses, including Pan, Diana, Dionysius, Fergus, etc.

Wicca is atheistic: Some Wiccans view the God and Goddess as symbols, not living entities. Depending upon which definition of the term “Atheist” that you adopt, these Wiccans may be considered Atheists.

Terminology:

Terms relating to Wicca are confusing, as they are with so many other religions:

Wiccans often refer to themselves as Neopagans. The term “Neopagan” includes all faith groups which are based on attempted reconstruction of ancient, extinct religions. However, not all Neopagans are Wiccans. The umbrella term “Neopagan” includes followers of many other earth-centered faith traditions, like Druidism, and Asatru. Wiccans often refer to themselves as Pagans. Unfortunately, this term has at least six different meanings, some of which are rather negative. “Pagan” is often used as a general-purpose snarl word to attack others. In its positive sense, Paganism includes Neopaganism as well as many other religions. Some Wiccans consider Wicca and Witchcraft to be synonyms.

Others differentiate between Wicca, which they view to be a religion, and Witchcraft, which they perceive to be the practice of magick. Under this definition, Witchcraft is not a religion and thus can be performed by members of any religion.

Most Wiccans practice magick. However, some do not and concentrate on the spirituality of the Wiccan religion.

Wicca and Satanism:

“It seems to be necessary to preface every discussion of Witchcraft with an explanation that, no, Neo-Pagan Witches aren’t Satanists. The Christian anti-God, Satan, has no place in Pagan pantheons, either mythologically or theologically.” (1)

Because of extensive religious propaganda dating from the late Middle Ages, Wicca has often been linked to Satanism. Wiccan beliefs and practices are no closer to Satanism than they are to Buddhism, Hinduism, or Islam. In fact, Wiccans do not recognize the existence of an all-evil supernatural being similar to the quasi-deity Satan. He is found mainly in Christianity and Islam.

However, there are three superficial points of similarity between Satanism and Wicca:

Both use a five pointed star as a symbol. Satanists align it so that two points are upwards. Wiccans orient their star with two points downwards, except in special cases. Both generally perform their religious rituals within a circle marked on the floor or ground. Most Wiccans and Satanists engage in magick; however, Wiccans are limited to non-manipulative, consensual, positive magick.

It is also important to realize that some conservative Christians consider all non-Judeo-Christian religions to be Satanic. They believe that when followers of these religions worship their Gods and Goddesses, they are really worshipping Satan and/or his demons. For this reason, they consider Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Wicca, and hundreds of other religions to be either Satanism or inspired by Satan.

References:

1. Otter and Morning Glory Zell Editors, GREEN EGG magazine, “Satanism vs. Neo-Pagan Witchcraft: Confusions and Distinctions.” Online at: http://www.holysmoke.org/wicca/satvnp.htm

2. Google listed 288 hits for the search term “duotheistic” and 29 for “bitheistic” on 2003-JUL-15

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