Wicca 101: A Religion Based on Nature, Not Darkness
The pentacle, a pentagram within a circle, represents the 5 essences of life. (Photo: Courtesy of Pixabay.com)
Wicca is a pagan religion, meaning nature-based, which was founded less than a hundred years ago in England during 1954. According to The Celtic Connection, its practices are based in pre-Christian traditions that originated in areas such as Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Wicca has gained a great deal of its influence from early paganistic archetypes. Cave paintings can be found from the Paleolithic people depicting a “Hunter God” and a “Fertility Goddess” which mirror modern day Wicca’s model of the God and Goddess.
During the 15th and 18th centuries, the medieval church created myths about the pagan, nature-based religions, makings associations with the pentagram and Satan worship, in order to convince more people to convert. In reality, the pentagram represents the five essences of life: water, fire, earth, air, and, the top point of the star, spirit.
More negative backlash came from the very well known Salem Witch Trials. With the medical ignorance towards female physiology, regarding specifically menstrual cycles, combined with the sexist ideology that women’s femininity made them evil creatures designed to seduce men, the late 1600’s resulted in a hysteria that still has negative consequences to this day.
Wicca is different from many other religions because it has no bible. The only rule that Wiccans follow is the Wiccan Rede, “An it harm none, do what ye will.” This means that as long as you’re not hurting anyone, then you may do whatever you want.
However, many Wiccans do believe in the Three-fold Law, which means that whatever energy you put out into the world (whether it be positive or negative) will be returned to you three times.
For Wiccans, deities, or holy figures, are different for everyone. Some choose to honor the universe as a symbolic force, while others choose to honor a God and a Goddess to represent masculine and feminine energies. Wiccans can also use deities from existing cultures such as Greek, Norse, Celtic, and more.
Contrary to common belief, Wicca is not the same as Witchcraft. Although many Wiccans also identify as witches, there is a distinction. According to ThoughtCo, the distinction is that Wicca is a religious and spiritual belief while witchcraft is the practice of magic. Witches don’t have to follow Wicca just as Wiccans do not have to practice witchcraft.
While all Wiccans follow the broad concept, there are different types of traditions of study they may follow. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Wicca and Witchcraft by Denise Zimmerman and Katherine Gleason gives a comprehensive guide to these types.
Gardnerian Wicca originated from Gerald Gardner in the 1950’s. Members were initiated by the coven, ranked in a degree system, and adhered to traditional values. Alexandrian Wicca, founded by Alex Sanders, is similar to Gardnerian, but focuses more on ceremonial rituals.
Georgian Wicca was one of the first in the United States, originating in California, it began to move away from traditional practices. A few others include Dianic, Seax-Wica, Feri, Strega, Celtic, and Hereditary. There are also those who practice Solitaire, meaning independently, who to not have a coven but rather self-teach and self-study. The choice is up to the individual.
Because of the individual freedom Wicca promotes, the religion is flexible enough to fit the needs of many people. With it’s increasingly growing online community (especially YouTube) and its willingness to accept any gender, race, sexuality, ability, etc., it can foster themes of learning, discovery, empowerment, and most of all, self-love.