What Does It Mean To Be Wiccan?
To be Wiccan is to worship the Goddess and her companion the HornedGod, and to follow the philosophies, ethics and practices of the Old Religion. Originally rooted in Paganism, Wicca existed long before Christianity and long before the Church was founded.
Wiccans honour the Earth as their spiritual Mother (the Goddess) and the Sky and the wildness of nature as their spiritual Father (the Horned God). In practice, this means that they esteem nature and the planet on which we live. They venture not to harm anyone or anything, because to them, everyone in the world are their brothers and sisters with an equal right to exist. Wicca is a tradition that works to harm none in thought, word, or deed. Therefore, anyone who says they are a witch but works otherwise should not be considered an authentic Wiccan practitioner.
Witchcraft is still the only spiritual tradition that raises the female above the male, in contrast to patriarchal religions such as Christianity and Judaism. They venerate an almighty male deity, with little positive mention of the female at all. Because of its veneration of a Goddess, Wicca follows the moral values associated with feminine spiritual powers – such as love, peace, and joy – rather than the more masculine religious attitudes of domination, strength, and authority.
Witches work by peaceful means, seeking to unite rather than to divide, to be of service to our communities, and to be the healers, counsellors, and the guardians of all life on Earth. This is because they see themselves as the children of the Goddess and the Horned God that they honour. When this is a truth within a witch, they can only ever love and look after what has been so lovingly created for us.
Wicca in History
Wiccans have been persecuted throughout the ages, as well as thousands of innocent people. The Salem Witch Trials were arguably the most well-known trials concerning witchcraft. So many innocent people died due to fear of the unknown. And why the dreadful fear of witchery? Power. People are afraid of someone having power over their lives. Yet witchcraft is not a religion based on power, nor does it try to seize control over or turn other people.
Witches and accused witches were persecuted for hundreds of years, until, in 1951, the law in England was rewritten because of a Wiccan High Priest named Gerald B. Gardner. While employed as a civil servant, he decided to declare his religious preference – Witchcraft. He demonstrated a ritual to the Parliament and explained the nature of his worship so they would realise that his religion was not about demons, destruction and sacrifice. Wicca was portrayed in its nature: the peaceful worship of the Goddess and the Horned God, equality in all living things. The Parliament declared Witchcraft a legal religion. In 1953, Gerald B. Gardner petitioned his right to coven, and that right was also declared legal.
The Wiccan Rede is the philosophy that Wiccans follow:
Hear now the words of the Witches,
The secrets we hid in the night,
When dark was our destiny’s pathway,
That now we bring forth into the light.
This world has no right then to know it,
And world of beyond will tell naught,
The oldest of Gods is invoked there,
The Great Work of Magick is wrought.
And Do What You Will be the challenge,
So be it in love that harms none,
For this is the only commandment.
By the magick of old be it done!
The Wiccan Rede is the philosophy that Wiccans follow. Many variations of the Rede exist, but many are only slightly different. It was originally taught from generation to generation, but when Witchcraft was legalised, it was published in a number of places.
Basic Wiccan TermsATHAME - a ceremonial dagger.
BOOK OF SHADOWS - a journal of magickal workings.
COVEN - a group of Wiccans under the guidance of a High Priestess.
ESBAT - a Wiccan moon festival; sometimes known as a lesser Sabbat.
GAIA - Ancient Greek Earth Goddess.
GODDESS – the primary female deity of witchcraft.
HANDFASTING – a ritual which is the Wiccan equivalent to a wedding.
HANDPARTING – a ritual to mark the end of a relationship.
HORNED GOD - the primary male deity of witchcraft.
SABBAT – a Wiccan festival.
SACRED CIRCLE - a sacred area in which formal ritual working is to be performed.
The dates of the Sabbats vary each year, but they are usually celebrated within three days of the dates below. There are also variations on the spellings of the Sabbats, and even some variations on their names. Below are the ones I was raised with.
Samhain, October 31st
Samhain marks the end of the Wiccan year and the birth of a new one. It is the festival of remembering ancestors, and at this time, the veil between worlds is at its thinnest.
Imbolc, February 2nd
Imbolc is the dawn of Spring. At Imbolc, the Goddess is the virgin bride returning to Earth. Imbolc literally means ‘in the womb’ in Gaelic, and represents the awakening of new life.
Beltane, May 1st
Beltane is by far the most magickal festival of the Wiccan Wheel of the Year. This is the Sabbat that calls to celebrate magick and call for new relationships, for joy and fertility, and for the blessing of unions. Handfastings and Handpartings are best done on or around this Sabbat.
Lughnasadh, August 1st
Named after the warrior sun god, Lugh, it is the time for taking Oaths, signing contracts, showing feats of strength, playing games and celebrating.
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