While Wicca is not the oldest religion, it certainly has been inspired by ancient pagan practices and hermetic teachings. With rituals and spell work, this religious movement has its beginnings in the 1950s and has grown substantially over the last few decades. With no main authority or leader, Wicca has been a practice of many interpretations and unique groups, though with some similar practices.
Where does Wicca come from?
Though this is hotly debated in Wiccan circles, and in Witchcraft, Wicca is said to have been started by Gerald Gardner, a retired British civil servant. He outlined a series of rituals and practices that others could perform to celebrate holidays, rites of passage, and other turning points in the year. Along with Doreen Valiente, they developed a core structure for Wicca, one that is still followed to this day.
The beliefs of Wicca
The main beliefs and tenets of Wicca include:
In the practice Wicca, there is often a male God and a female Goddess who are worshipped. They are often referred to as the Lord and Lady, or as the Horned God and the Moon Goddess. And others refer to them as the Great Goddess and the Great Horned God.
Moon cycle rituals
As Wiccans, these practitioners will celebrate esbats, or the times when the moon changes its phase. This includes the full moon and the new moon, as well as the waning and waxing cycles of the moon. In doing so, one can tap into the energy of change, growing, and shrinking light.
Wheel of the year rituals
In addition, there are eight sabbats, or holidays, each year. They are in relation to the changes of the seasons and the growing cycles, and they include Imbolc (around February 1), Spring Equinox/Ostara (around March 21), Beltane (around May 1), Summer Solstice/Litha (around June 21), Lammas/Lughnasadh (around August 1), Fall Equinox/Mabon (around September 21), Samhain (October 31), and Winter Solstice/Yule (around December 21). These dates are for the northern hemisphere as those in the southern hemisphere would celebrate opposing holidays due to the travels of the sun across the sky.
There is also a core belief of ‘An it harm none, do what thou will.’ In this belief, which not all Wiccans ascribe to, you can do as you want so long as it does not harm others. It is meant to create a standard of morality and integrity within the community.
Magic and spell work – Some Wiccans will practice magic and spell work, but this is not the case for all Wiccans.
Though these are the main and most common practices, there are many others that are used in certain Wicca groups and covens.
Magic and Wicca
Many of the Wicca practitioners will believe in magic and make it a part of their daily practice. This might take place in the middle of a sacred circle in which energies are called in to help with the workings. In addition, the magic might be used to create change in the ritual participants themselves or in the greater world. Aleister Crowley, a ceremonial magician, once stated that ‘the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with will’ was the definition of magic. And this is something many still agree with today.
No matter what a Wicca practitioner does in their personal practice or with a group, this is a religious system that believes in deities, in spirits, and in using magic to create change. With the purest of intentions (‘in perfect love and in perfect trust’ according to some), Wicca uses magic to bring balance in the world.