Brief overview of Wicca : What is Wicca (modern Witchcraft)?
Wicca is one of the modern pagan paths, based on several of the old nature worshiping religious practices in western countries (Druidism, Shamanism, Heathenism are some of the other paths!). Wicca is considered to be a religion by thousands of people, and it involves certain ideals, incorporates mythologies, male and female forms of the divine in the shape of a Horned God and Moon Goddess, and works with th energies of the Elements (Air, Fire, Water, Earth). It also includes divination work, psychic development, and the practise of Magical rituals and spells.. for attaining wishes, or seeking changes in one’s life.
Wicca was `founded’ or put-together by Gerald Gardner in the 1950’s in UK, using components and aspects borrowed from other western, eastern and ancient / classical magical practices. It is a mystery tradition (meaning that it has to be practised or experienced in an immersed and practical way to be fully understood! It means that no amount of theoretical reading, researching, dialogues & conversations with other people ..is going to give You that understanding! You simply have to do it, and live it.
Wicca is believed to be the modern equivalent of the old Craft of the Wise, or Witchcraft! And as such it also suffers quite a lot of discrimination… not the least from Christian and other religious (non-pagan) people.. who believe Wicca to be harmful, evil and so on.
Wiccan Ideals & Rules
Deeper exploration will show you that Wicca has some of the highest ideas – with `rules’ such as `As above, So below’ (whatever is in the outside world is reflected within), and `As within, So without’ (whatever realities you conjure within will permeate and manifest in the outer world). Practicing Wiccans, call themselves Witches, and follow another important rule – `An it harm none, do as you will’ – which means that as long as you are not harming anyone or anything, you may do as you like! This is easier said than lived!! (For example, say you attend a job interview. If you do well and get the job, perhaps 15 others won’t get that job.. so their families may suffer! And what of the simple walking in the field..where you might squash many an earth worm or insects? Pedantic? No!! The Wiccan rede is a guideline that tells Witches to always aspire to be better – especially in their practices of Magic!
Wiccan / Witchcraft Covens & Initiations
Wiccan Rituals often take place in private settings – in people’s homes, or in woodlands and other places – where Witches can practice their religious ceremonies in relative privacy and safety. These private groups are of course called `Covens’ – and to join one, you must have studied and explored Wicca under the guidance of mentors / teachers and then be initiated into their Coven, as a new Witch (first degree). After some years, you may reach adequate expertise to be recognised as a Second Degree Witch (High Priest or High Priestess) and be in a position to start your own group / coven..where you may train others and initiate them.
Rituals, naked rites and sexuality:
Wiccans magically and ritually mark full moons, new moons, and the 8 major seasonal festivals (Samhain, Beltane and Yule being the popular ones which the rest of the World pays attention to!). Public rituals are informal, where people can wear ordinary cloths and robes. but in initiated coven environment, Wiccans will often wear robes..or be sky-clad (that is to say, clad only in the sky.. ie naked). Wiccans celebrate the powers and cycles of nature – fertility, birth, coming of age, marriage, age, and death. Often the outside world tends to sensationalise the fertility & sexual aspects of Wicca (working with male & female polarities), but ignores so many other facets!
I have always said that “Wicca is best learnt experientially. It is gritty, muddy, wet & wild in untamed nature, and requires dedication & discipline. Working with *blood, bones, knots & spells are part of that, as well as the exploration of deities, transpersonal elements and cycles of nature.. from the fertile energies of spring to the solem shadows of Samhain, leading to the light of Yule & Imbolc”.
-Mani Navasothy (Wiccan High Priest, London, January 2014)