Understanding Wicca -- a basic overview.
Okay, what you find here is, as I stated previously, NOT the fluffy, fru fru stuff you might find on other pages. I will not sugar coat or try to steep in mysticism what something is or is not. However, again, I do not claim to be the end all know all expert on this subject, just well-educated and versed on the topic with over 30 years of study, and a couple of published books on the subject as well as a former teacher in this subject.
What is Wicca?
Wicca is a modern nature religion. It is as simple as that and as
complicated as that. Wicca is NOT an ancient religion. It was
actually created by Gerald Gardner in the 1950’s. Let me
expand on that a little. Gardner was actually a Traditional
Witchcraft Witch/Practitioner. He was initiated into a coven
of traditional Witchcraft in the area of New Forrest England in the
late 1930’s. However, you have to understand, the ban on
witchcraft was not lifted/repelled in England until the early 1950’s,
and so practitioners of Traditional Witchcraft or magic were very
secretive, in part for safety reasons alone, but also because
being quiet, secretive, had been a way of witchcraft for
centuries, and old habits die hard, especially when intact for
specific reasons. There were other logical, at least logical for
the time and level of education, back then as well for secrecy.
Anyway, Gerald Gardner was oath bound by his coven to
maintain some of those secretes, no matter what! So, in the
1950’s Gardner created Wicca. A new religion, yes, a religion
with roots in the old ways, but not the old way at the same
time, Wicca is not the same as Witchcraft, not in complete
practice, nor in historical foundation. Gerald Gardner is the founder/grandfather of Wicca, bottom line.
Please understand, that just because Wicca is a new religion, a modern religion, does not make it any less a viable and amazing as a religion! Don’t forget Christianity was the new religion at one time as was each and every other religion.
So, again, what IS Wicca? I like to think of Wicca as the NEW OLD RELIGION. How can that be you might ask, it is a paradox in and of itself? Well, since modern Wicca in most of its traditions tends to be very eclectic and barrows from actual ancient or old religions, such as Celtic or Norse or Greek even some add in elements of non-Pagan Christianity it has most often very old practices incorporated. With this being said, you will notice that I said most of its traditions, there are some traditions that are a more pure form of what Wicca was initially set out to be and taught as.
As I mentioned, Wicca was created by Gerald Gardner, a traditional Witchcraft witch, Gardnerian Wicca was what he created. Today, Gardnerian Wicca is still practiced stringently in its purest form. Basic and I mean basic overview:
- The High Priestess rules the coven.
- They do work most often skyclad (naked).
- Preservation of original teachings are highly important.
- They adhere to the basic tenets of the Wiccan Rede.
- They believe in reincarnation.
- There are three degrees, and one can only be a High Priestess if of a third degree.
- Coven comprised of both male and female practitioners.
Gardnerian Wicca is still very secretive and probably the purest form of being closest to actual traditional Witchcraft and ceremonial magic. Please note that Doreen Valiente is also a very prominent name associated with Garderian Wicca.
Alexandrian Wicca is very close to Gardnerian. The Alexandrian tradition was created by Alex Sanders, and no it was not named after him but more so thought to be believed named after ancient Alexandria. Two other important people you should know if when it comes to Alexandrian Wicca are Janet and Stewart Fararr who also authored several books that actually reveal much of the Alexandrian Tradition.
Dianic Wicca, founded by Morgan McFarland and Mark Roberts out of Texas is also one of the first traditions of Wicca. This tradition is more feminine oriented in practice. All traditional Wicca is polytheistic, meaning honors both goddesses and gods, Dianic does as well, just tends to focus more on the goddess.
Celtic Wicca as in the Church of Wicca was founded by Gavin and Yvonne Frost. This is not actually the same as what the ancient Celts practiced, so it is a little misleading. However, Gavin and Yvonne Frost are two prominent names in literature on Wicca as well as in more traditional Wicca.
Georgian Wicca, founded by George Patterson said 'If it works use it, if it doesn't, don't'.
There are dozens if not hundreds now, of different traditions of Wicca. The afore mentioned ones are some of the most prominent traditional forms of Wicca, honestly most everything else has become blended and very eclectic.
But WHAT IS WICCA?
To sum it up, Wicca is an extremely beautiful modern religion that is very nature oriented. Wicca as we now know it is actually derived from an eclectic conglomeration of ceremonial magic, plus an assortement of turn-of-the-century folklore, and yes some real vestiges of Witchcraft. It is most often a polytheistic religion that honors both goddess and god if not many. The main tenet of Wicca overall, is the Wiccan Rede – “An it harm none, do what ye will”. How it is practiced varies from tradition to tradition and even from coven to coven on down to individual to individual. Not to mention that Wicca within the past three decades alone, especially the last two, has changed from the teachings between teacher and student and coven and coven. Wicca has changed and reshaped even more so from its original teachings into a very eclectic nature or earth based religion. Some common practices include:
- In most covens the High Priestess does rule/control the coven and the governing of its initiates/practitioners. Sometimes solely she rules and in some covens she runs the coven with the High Priest as well.
- Many covens still adhere to a “year and a day”, this is a year and a day of study and practice before qualified to be initiated at the least. NOT all covens adhere to this practice though.
- Most covens honor a specific goddess and god and can honor others as well. Often referred to as Lady and Lord.
- Wiccan's may worship or practice in a coven or as a solitary practitioner.
- Most, if not all, covens and solitary practitioners both have a great respect of nature or our mother earth.
- Most covens and solitary practitioners as well, utilize magic in some shape or form.
- Most covens and solitary practitioners believe in reincarnation.
- Many covens and solitary practitioners celebrate eight Sabbats known as the Wheel o the year and Esbats or full moons.
- In most covens there are rites of passages.
- Many covens have a main Book of Shadows or Grimore that is followed and may be added too. Most solitary practitioners eventually create their own Book of Shadows.
- Most practitioners of the religion of Wicca call themselves Wiccans, but some do use the term Witch as well. Please note, NOT all Witches are Wiccans!
- Many, not all, but many tend to be very tolerant and very educated on several religious paths.
So, that is basically an overview, a glimpse at what Wicca is today. And I do not lump all into one great big pile, as you will notice I often said "many" or "most" there are exceptions to the norm. Granted it is only a skimming of the surface, and I cover much more in my books, and hope to get much more put back on this website as time allows, still blown away at the amount of information lost… but I still have it in my head and my notes and my own book of shadows. It will just take time to get back to an electronic form and on the website. Thanks for your patience. ~CC Wolfe.
Please feel free to find me on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter. Thanks for stopping by my site!