What is Wicca

 

Q. Are Wicca and Witchcraft the same thing?

A. Some say yes, and some say no. I suppose the only way to navigate this question safely is to point out what some may consider the main differences. In general, Wiccans feel free to review different belief systems, such as Celtic, Norse, Essene, Gnosis, or Shamanism, and then blend together any points that "feel" right into their own personal path. Pure Witchcraft on the other hand, may focus a little more tightly on using Magick and ritual to work with the elemental and spiritual forces in nature. Regardless, the differences are slight in that Wicca and Witchcraft both work to achieve balance and harmony within nature and self.


Q. Who do Witches Worship?

A. There is a single power defined as the One or All, which is composed of everything it has ever created. This supreme energy force does not rule over the Universe, it IS the Universe. Since most find it difficult to talk to or call upon a faceless mass of Divine energy, this supreme power is personified into male and female aspects as the Goddess and God. This simply makes the concept easier for the human mind to comprehend and relate to. Some take this concept a step further and use actual names, like Astarte, Isis, Odin, Pan, Dianna, Cernunnos, etc., when invoking the Goddess and God. In the end, it is a personal preference and what a Witch uses depends on what "feels" right for them individually.


Q.  How do Witches view Christianity. Are Witches Anti-Christian?

A.  Not necessarily. Witchcraft, overall, is very tolerant of other religious views, and does not engage itself in criticizing the beliefs of other people, providing that their beliefs do not violate the basic tenant of "Harm None." Witches do object to religions that attempt to suppress the religious beliefs of others, or every human's right to seek spirituality in their own way. This is why there is a slight rub between Wiccans, Pagans, Witches, and some Christians. Many of them feel they have exclusive rights to the divine. We also have a strong disdain for those who use religion as an excuse to commit mass genocide. The "Burning Times" are a clear historical example of one religious group attempting to exert its philosophies and beliefs upon others using extreme measures.

Perhaps an over simplified way of describing our view is this: Imagine a beautiful meadow in the forest, and their are many paths leading to this meadow. It really does not matter which path you take to get there, the important thing is that you get there without harming anyone or anything along the way.


Q.  Can I follow the path of Wicca or Witchcraft and be a Christian too?
A.  Again, some say yes and others maintain that they are completely separate religions. If one looks closely at the true teachings of Jesus with an open heart, you will find some stark commonalities. It is only when one takes literally the sometimes frail misinterpretations of those who misunderstood the intent or used the teachings to suit their own political agendas that one see's wide differences.

As a solitary you are free to choose any path you desire, or any blend that "feels" right to you. The important thing is to not allow a name or word to become a stumbling block. It is the intent of your actions and spirituality that matters in the end. I realize it is a poor comparison; Peanut Butter and Chocolate are two completely separate things. The fact remains, however, that they work pretty well when mixed together. Ultimately you must do what "feels" right to you...


Q.  The Wiccan Rede says "An it harm none, do as ye will." Does that mean a Witch can do anything they want and its OK if they justify the action to themselves?

A.  An excellent question indeed! and the answer is no... The whole premise of our belief system is based on living in harmony with all things that exist. This includes, but is not limited to the earth, trees, rivers, lakes, oceans, air, and all of earth's creatures, as well as other people without regard to race, color, religion, or sexual orientation.

Herne's interpretation of the Rede says that the creative force of the universe has given me an inner voice, or "conscience," which says what is right or wrong. It is also this consciousness that connects to the creator. By listening to this inner voice, try to analyze impulses and feelings to ensure they are not driven by greed, lust, envy, prejudice or anger. If they are, try to put them in perspective or discard them all together. Then use common sense and judgment in actions and accept full responsibility for them. This is not always easy to do, but try. By keeping these ideals of right and wrong foremost in mind, as well as seeking to obtain harmony and balance with nature and all living things, able to do best at following the Rede as go through day.

This is not to say that Witches are perfect, never do anything wrong, or make mistakes. We are still human. We are aware of, or try to be aware of the karmic return of our actions, and are very careful not to send out negative energy in thought or deed.



Q.  OK, so if Wicca and Witchcraft are not evil, why do you hold rituals and ceremonies at night hidden in the woods?

A.  This practice has its history in a couple of different things, none of which have anything to do with evil... In the old world, especially within the Celtic tribes, the day followed an entirely different schedule than it does in modern times. The new day for them actually began at sunset. This is also why most observances of holidays were celebrated on the evening before the actual calendar day. The second reason is that survival had an entirely different meaning during those times. Almost without exception, everyone spent their daylight hours tending the crops, their herds, or engaged in their trade. All daylight hours were vitally important simply for survival reasons.

OK, so that takes care of why we observed our rites at night during ancient times, and many of the reasons are the same in today's times. For one, most of us are busy working all day earning a living, so the evening is the only time we have to seek spiritual communion. Secondly, Wicca and Witchcraft are still largely misunderstood religions and we are still persecuted for our beliefs. Another reason which is important for me, and possibly for others as well is that I feel a special closeness to the Goddess and God at night. Yes I can, and do, enjoy the mountains and meadows during the daylight, or a sunrise and sunset, but I am truly more aware of the heavens and the great expanse of the Universe at night, so it just makes sense for me.


Q.  Is Witchcraft a cult?

A.  No. Cults are groups that trade a sense of salvation and belonging for the ability to think for oneself. They indulge in extravagant homage or adoration (Webster's Dictionary), usually of an earthly leader of some sort. If you know a real Witch, you'll quickly come to find the term "Cult" could not apply to us. Most Wiccans, Witches and pagans come to the Craft individually through reading and communing with nature. They often will remain solitary in their beliefs but other will also find like-minded people to celebrate seasonal cycles or monthly moons with. Witches are extremely individualistic, self sufficient and defend the right of free will without hesitation.


Q.  Do Witches have a bible?

A.  No. A bible is supposedly the word of a deity revealed through a prophet. Witchcraft is a Pagan folk-religion of personal experience. Witchcraft in the old times was much the same as the beliefs of the Essenes, Gnostics, Druids, and many other religions. The teachings were passed along by spoken word through long periods of one-on-one instruction with an Elder of the Craft. This approach was taken because the power and knowledge could be misused in the wrong hands. Therefore, by using only the spoken word, the old masters could ensure those who wished to follow the path had a true understanding and their hearts were in the right place as their knowledge of the mysteries grew. Unfortunately, when the medieval church began its attempts to convert and eliminate rival belief systems, the teachers were either killed outright or went underground resulting in much of the ancient knowledge being lost.


Q.  Do Witches cast spells?

A.  Some do and some don't. Spellwork should never be the focus of following this path and those who seek our ways only for this purpose are very misguided. A spell is a ritual formula, or series of steps, to direct psychic energy to accomplish a desired end. This energy is drawn from the Earth with the aid of elementals, concentrated and sent out into the world to achieve a positive goal. Since Witchcraft teaches that whatever one sends out is returned threefold, Witches are very careful to never send out harmful energy carelessly. The Christian word for this is "Prayer". The only real difference is that Witches also invoke the aid of spirit guides, familiars or other elemental energies to add strength to the process as well as using ritual tools.


Q.  Do Witches worship the devil?

A.  No. Satan, or the Devil, has absolutely no place in Wicca or Witchcraft. The worship of Satan is the practice of profaning Christian symbolism and is thus a Christian heresy, rather than a Pagan religion. The Goddess and God of the Witches are in no way connected to Satanic practices. Satan, or the Devil, is a Christian creation and they are more than welcome to keep him.


Q.  Is Witchcraft a religion?

A.  Yes, Witchcraft is a nature based religion and it has been recognized as such in the United States and Canada. In the U.S., Wicca has full recognition as a religion and is granted all rights as such under the Constitution. The American Heritage Dictionary defines religion as "a belief in and reverence for a supernatural power recognized as the creator and governor of the universe". So yes, it does qualify as such. Our definition differs slightly in that to us, the creator of the universe IS the universe. Witchcraft, or Wicca, is not something that can be followed once in a while or when it is convenient or we need or want something. It is a dedication made to nature, the deities and yourself. It is a way of life, and as such we are mindful of the balance between ourselves and all things within the universe at all times.


Q.  How do Witches view death?

A.  Many Witches believe in reincarnation and the Summerland. After passing over, Summerland is where the spirit awaits to be returned into a new physical form. We do not believe in an absolute Heaven or Hell where the spirit spends eternity as reward or punishment for ones earthly actions.


Q.  How can someone find out more about Witchcraft?

A.  Ours is not a missionary religion, and we never try to make converts. We feel that if this path is right for you, you will find your way to it. We are, however, becoming more visual and vocal in an attempt to educate and dispel myths and superstitions about the Craft. You need not worry about a Witch knocking on your door and wanting to come in and share passages from their BOS. Some Witches also teach classes or facilitate discussion groups. In this way, people may make contact with a like minded Coven, form their own groups or share thoughts and beliefs with others. There is also a growing number of superb craft sites on the internet, periodicals, and national and regional festivals through which a seeker can make contact with the larger Craft community.

(c) Herne, The Celtic Connection


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