Oct 022011
 

Wicca 101 – a basic introduction for anyone interested in an overview of what wicca is about and what it means to be a witch. Links to other related Blissful Moon posts and other resources around the web are at the bottom of this page.

Meet Your Friendly Neighborhood Witch
by Lady Rose

When trying to explain what it means to be a witch or what wicca is, it is useful to have some overall definitions, a bit of historical perspective, and clear up some common misconceptions. I have put together this little introduction for those who are just curious, regular readers who are not wiccan or witches, or for any one who is interested in an overview of what is the foundation of this blog as well as the religious\spiritual path that we follow.

DEFINITIONS

  • Wicca or Wiccan: Refers to the “religion” or practice of the craft of the wise.
  • Witch: Wise one, practitioner of the wise arts; can be either male or female.
  • Pagan: Someone who practices a religion or spiritual tradition that is not based on Christianity. There are many, many traditions that are based on practices that pre-date Christianity. Not all pagans are witches, though Wicca is considered a “pagan” tradition.

Not everyone who uses the term “witch” is referring to someone who is Wiccan. Often people call someone (or call themselves) a witch because they read tarot cards, light candles for meditations, work with herbal remedies, do energy healing work or practice any number of various “occult” (hidden) practices.

However, for the purposes of this blog, the term “witch” is used to refer to someone whose spiritual practices are of the Wiccan tradition.

Historical Perspective

Wicca is not and never was a “formalized” religion in the days of old. Traditions were handed down mostly orally from family member to family member, or mentor to student. The wise woman or man was often the healer of the village who knew the healing properties of plants, had a way with animals, and served as a midwife, counselor or spiritual leader of the community. Before religion became “organized,” the traditions of Wicca were practiced widely and in many forms. Small villages and communities celebrated the seasonal changes together with large festivals and feasting, and ceremonies to bless the crops and animals.

Unfortunately, during the Middle Ages, as the Christian church chose to spread its influence and the medical profession began to be organized for men only, campaigns were waged to wipe out anyone who believed differently then they did. Laws were passed prohibiting women from being mid-wives. Sacred places were destroyed, and often a new church was built on top of the remains. Fear and hysteria were spread far and wide. Tens of thousands of innocents were falsely accused and sentenced to torture and death in order to stamp out any faiths that were different, and to terrorize others to follow the law and the religion of those in power. In some areas of Europe, the female populations of entire villages were murdered in the name of the conquering religion. Lies and fear were spread throughout many lands, until many traditions and practices were driven underground to be only practiced in secrecy. Many were lost forever.

Out of centuries of secrecy, fear and misunderstanding grew, and the Old Ways were forgotten by almost everyone.

Modern Day Witches

Witches today are an eclectic group that don’t fit into nice neat categories. They can work as a solitary or with a group. Traditions come from many different origins and ancient cultures. Often various traditions have been combined together to create new ways of celebrating spirit and honoring the Old Ways, the God and Goddess, and Nature. The practice of the Wiccan traditions continues to evolve today and will continue to do so far into the future.

Basic Wiccan Facts, Beliefs and Traditions

  • There are many different traditions of Wicca, so there is no one way or “right” way to be a witch.
  • “Harm none” is the guiding rule for all who follow the path of Wicca.
  • Wiccans strive to live in harmony with nature and others.
  • The Divine (Great Spirit) is viewed as being both male and female, or the God and the Goddess; however, in some traditions, there is more emphasis on the feminine.
  • What is referred to as “magic” is actually focused thought, will and emotions, often using symbols and various tools or items as focal points and\or to enhance the focused intentions.
  • The Earth (the Mother of all Life) and all the creatures of the Earth are honored and held sacred.
  • The soul continues to exist beyond the veil of death, and lives in an afterlife (Summerland) until it is time to be reborn.
  • The 8 seasonal changes of year are celebrated at the solstices and equinoxes.
  • The phases of the moon mark the times to gather to honor the Goddess and God.
  • Witches respect all positive, life-affirming spiritual traditions and religions.
  • Witches do not recruit others; those who come to follow the path of a witch or wiccan tration do so because of their own free will and inner spirit guidance.

What Witches Are Not

  • Witches do not worship the devil. The devil is a Christian concept and has nothing to do with Wicca (historically or today).
  • Witches are not evil. They adhere to the basic principle of “harm none,” as well as the belief that all you do comes back to you threefold.
  • Witches do not recruit or brainwash any one. Being a witch is a personal choice that has to come from heart and spirit, and is not something that is drummed into anyone. Witches have no desire to “convert” anyone.

Why I Am A Witch

Wicca is the spiritual tradition that resonates with my soul and with which I feel most comfortable. I enjoy the rituals and ceremonies, and my soul is uplifted by the connection with the Divine in Nature. For me, being a witch is also about honoring the Divine God and Goddess within each person and within myself. It is about healing the planet, connecting with the Web of Life, and helping to bring balance, harmony, and peace to my life and those around me.

So the next time you see someone dressed in a cape, pointed hat, and carrying a broom, you will know they are just dressed up as a fictionalized version of a witch for Halloween or a Harry Potter costume party because if they were a real witch they would be flying on the broom. (Kidding!).

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Wicca and real witches, who are just ordinary people who dance to the beat of a slightly different drummer, celebrate the holidays a little differently, and occasionally might hug a tree or two.

Bright Blessings, Lady Rose

Related Posts:
What Everyone Should Know About Wicca and Witchcraft, by Mama Kelly
I May Be A Witch – I’m Not A Bitch, by Mama Kelly
Blissful Moon’s Book of Shadows – pagan writings, chants, rituals, spells, etc.
Why I Chose the Path to Hell, by Lady Rose

Other Resources Around the Web:
Witch On The Go – good Wicca 101 section.
Circle Sanctuary – (Selena Fox) one of the largest resources of web for all wiccans\pagans

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(Cross posted On the Horizon written by Lady Rose as a guest post in two parts: Aug. 3 and 10, 2008, and excerpt posted on Diet Pulpit Nov. 1, 2008))

pixel Wicca 101   An Introduction

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