Basic Concepts of Wicca

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Wicca is arguably the largest pagan group in Europe and the United States.

The group prides itself on being a fully-fledged religion, and has been recognized as such in many countries.

Wiccans follow the practices and traditions of religions that existed before the Christianization of Europe. As such, they identify themselves as witches.

A common feature in all Wicca covens is the pentagram, the five-pointed star, the undeniable mark of this religion.

wicca-basics

What are the Origins of Wicca?

Wicca emerged with Gerald Gardner in the 1950s.

He had been touring the world searching for the meaning of life, and its connection to the spirit world – almost like Buddha did to come up with Buddhism.

Around 1950, he came across the word Wicca on one of his tours of Asia, and published a book on his spiritual movement in 1954.

This book lays bare most of the principles upon which Wicca is founded.

Although Wicca is a reasonably recent religion, it incorporates the original traditions and esoteric knowledge of some old beliefs.

These include British myths and legends, Kabbalah, and Eastern mysticism.

How Do You Become a Wiccan?

To join a Wiccan coven, you have to go through an initiation process.

This religion is structured in a degree system; the lowest tier comprises new recruits, while the chief priest and priestess hold the highest office.

You cannot attain the chief priest or priestess status unless you have achieved the rank of Third Degree.

Initiates undergo a rigorous training process before they advance to the next level. Usually, this only happens after a specified period is over.

Initiates are required to cover a well-spelled-out curriculum to be considered for promotion.

Once they graduate, new Wiccans are absorbed into the existing groups or covens, or they can opt for solitary practice.

Solitary Wiccans do a self-dedication ritual to identify the gods they want to worship and devote themselves to these deities.

Basic Concepts of Wicca

The polarity of the Divine

Wiccans believe in honoring both the male and female deities. The Horned God and the Goddess Mother are elevated above all other gods.

An exception to this is the Dianic Wicca. They emphasize female deities and give little time and consideration to male gods.

Most Wiccans bring the gods and goddesses of their former religions into Wicca. Others opt to ‘borrow the gods’ of ancient traditions that hold a particular appeal to them.

Wiccans are not uncommon to pay homage to Athena, Apollo, Herne, Osiris, and Isis. It is even becoming common nowadays to see Christian Wiccans.

Connection with the Spirit World

Most Wicca branches emphasize creating strong links with the spirit world. They strongly believe in the concept of the afterlife.

Reaching out to dead loved ones is quite common among Wiccans. Adherents hold séances and divination (astrology, runes, and tarot) or dumb supper to communicate with the dead.

Most Wiccans reach out to their spirit guides for love, care, guidance, and divine protection.

Magic Rules the Universe

Wiccans use spellwork and magic to improve their lives and the world around them. To Wiccans, magic is not something to be feared.

They view it as simply tapping into and redirecting the universal energies for constructive purposes.

Like candles, crystals, herbs, wands, and athame, magic is an essential tool. This tool is commonly used in rituals in almost all Wiccan covens.

In some cases, magic is not incorporated into rituals but is used as a practice on its own.

Wicca forbids the use of magic to create mayhem. Indeed, Wiccans believe in creating an enabling environment for everybody to thrive.

According to the Wiccan Rede, everyone is free to do as they please as long as they don’t interfere with the lives of others.

This is a classic example of live and let live.

Divine Lives in Nature

Nature should be respected and cared for because it is the home of the Divine. Therefore, everything in nature is sacred – people, animals, and living and non-living things.

Everything and everyone you encounter in life’s journey carries the imprint of the Divine; the Divine lives within them.

Wiccans believe that the Universe is one, and everything in it is interconnected.

Cause Harm to None

Most Wiccan traditions teach their members to avoid intentionally putting another person at a disadvantage.

One is free to do whatever one wants with their life and faith, as long as it does not harm another human.

Observance of the Eight Sabbats

The monthly Sabbats, or Esbats, are an important pillar of Wicca traditions and practice. These eight Days of Power are celebrated to mark the seasons’ cycles and the earth’s turning.

They are:

  • Imbolc/Brigit (January 31st – winter turns to spring
  • Ostara (March 21st) – Spring Equinox
  • Beltane (April 30th) – Spring turns to summer
  • Litha (June 22nd) – Summer Solstice
  • Lunasa/Lammas (July 31st) – summer turns to autumn
  • Mabon (September 21st) – Autumn Equinox
  • Samhain/Sowyn (October 31st) – autumn turns to winter
  • Yule (December 21st) – Winter Solstice

Wiccan covens also meet during the Full Moon to celebrate their way of life.  

Law of the Threefold Return

This concept is the Wiccan version of the Law of Karma. Wicca teaches that what you do in this lifetime will be revisited threefold in your lifetime.

If this does not happen while you are still alive, there will be a cosmic comeback to contend with in the afterlife.

It is noteworthy that Wiccans do not subscribe to the concepts of sin, hell, or heaven like some major world religions do.

Personal Responsibility

You are entirely in charge of your life. Wicca teaches that you are accountable for the actions you take – or fail to take.

Whether mundane or magical, your actions and behavior attract rewards or consequences.

Honoring the Ancestors

Wiccans believe in venerating their ancestors. They think that the spirit world is alive, and that their ancestors watch over them in good and bad times.   

How is Wicca Structured?

Structure of Wicca

One is initiated into the Wiccan culture through some rituals. It is also possible for individual Wiccans to self-initiate if they are going into solitary practice.

The organizational structure of Wicca is not overarching – it is simple, with everyone being regarded as a priest or priestess in their own right.

However, only a practitioner that has attained the third degree of practice can become a high priest or priestess.

Typically, covens are made up of between 5 and 20 members. If a coven grows too big, some members will likely hive off and form a new one.

The new coven operates under the stewardship of the parent coven until it is strong enough to support itself.

Usually, this happens when two of its members attain the status of High Priest and High Priestess. 

Wicca Covens

Covens are made up of individuals who have been initiated into Wicca. Upon initiation, everyone becomes a priest or priestess.

Covens are autonomous groups of people from the same demographic or geographical area.

Each grouping is headed by a Chief Priest and a Chief Priestess – a couple that has risen from the First Degree of initiation to the Third Degree.

All covens are of the same level, none is more prominent than another, and each coven is free to formulate its own rules and practices.

Different covens can believe in different gods and goddesses.

Training of New Members

Covens rarely advertise themselves in the community, nor do they carry out recruitment drives through ads and conventional media.

They’ll do so where they want their presence known through the appropriate pagan magazines.

One cannot be admitted into Wicca before attaining the age of 18. New initiates are inducted into the rules and ways of the coven through workshops, seminars, and organized courses.

The initiates’ progress is assessed by leaders, who are either second or third-degree holders.

New members get much love and guidance from the existing members. In addition, they are provided with everything they need to understand and embrace the ways of their particular coven.

The Place of Eclectic Wicca

The Eclectic Wiccans are usually not formally initiated into Wicca. However, neither do they follow the existing traditions and ways of Wiccans.

Instead, they choose to craft their own path, picking their beliefs from broader paganism and various traditions of the old religions.

Most Eclectic Wiccans are solitary practitioners of this religion. They may not come from any established lineage, and are therefore uninitiated by any coven or Wicca tradition.

Eclectic Wicca is also comprised of informal groupings that have never had the chance to go through formal initiation rituals and ceremonies.

This class of Wiccans arose in response to the rising demand for this religion, was growing too fast since the 1970s.

There weren’t enough priests or priestesses to attend to new initiates’ needs.

As such, people interested in this way of life started holding informal camps, and learned by inventing their faith as they went along.

They embraced practices they felt responded to their needs as Wiccans. The members of the groups contributed the ideas and practices they believed were Wiccan.

Most of these ideas were borrowed from the earth religions of Jews, Asia, Celts, Anglo-Saxons, Greece, and Egypt.    

Conclusion…

Wicca was founded in the mid-20th century as a religion that reveres nature. This spiritual movement borrows heavily from pre-Christian religions.

Wiccans strongly believe in the power and influence of the Father Sky and Earth Mother. They also follow gods and goddesses of ancient religions from all over the world.

Wicca also supports personal devotion to the deities of your choice. You can do this as a solitary practitioner or within a coven.

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