Basic Wiccan BeliefsWicca is a very interesting and popular religion in the United States and United Kingdom. Interest, however, is worldwide. But despite highly available resources, a basic understanding of Wiccan religion is not widespread.
Credit is given to Gerald Gardner for bringing the religion to modern light during the early to mid 1900's. Its origins and their validity are often debated, but it is more essential for the general public to be informed of Wiccan beliefs and practices first and foremost.
The Wiccan religion is dualistic; there exists both a God and Goddess. The female aspect of divinity, however, is often more emphasized than the male. Wiccan creation myths tell of the Goddess existing before everything. She is primordial, original, and universal. Her awareness made her sad and lonely and she therefore created the God of herself to serve as her consort and companion. He was beautiful and they made love, creating spark of life, and bringing forth the rest of the universe.
This story is reflected in the seasonal holidays and rites of the Wiccan "Wheel of the Year," though the tale varies according to sect or "tradition." It is a cycle of birth, sacrifice, love, and rebirth.
In one version, the Goddess gives birth to the new God on the dawn of each Winter Solstice. By May, the God has matured and the two join in union, bringing fertility back to the people. They are, after all, forces identified with nature. As autumn progresses, Her child and lover is growing old. He departs the physical world on Samhain in October. Winter is a time of darkness until the Goddess gives birth to Him once more on the Solstice Day.
What the Goddess and God are as well as how they exist vary between traditions as well as individuals. Some Wiccans view them in the same way a monotheist would; they are omnipotent beings to whom you pray. The difference is only in that there are two, one of each gender. Others view Them as representations of natural forces, perhaps lacking sentience but still a type of energy worth reverence. And then there are those that believe them to be sentient forces but lacking omniscience.
Some Wiccans adhere to something they call a pantheon or group of gods. These gods are representations of the Goddess and God. They are sometimes seen as different faces of the same two higher beings. Other times they are considered Their children. They can also be viewed as separate all together, with the Goddess and God representing the ultimate life force or universe with the pantheon being spirits or entities of some other kind.
Varying views and interpretations often seem confusing to outsiders, but Wicca is not the only religion within which theologies differ from member to member. One Christian may describe God as being the omnipotent force, a man, who is to be feared and obeyed while another may see Him as an unknowable being benevolent and faceless.
While Wicca does not have a Bible or other written work which all sects are required to follow, the majority of traditions adhere to advice and laws written by the religion's founders and teachers. The most notable of these is the Wiccan Rede. While a much longer piece of writing, it essentially dictates that "An it harm none, do what thou wilt." It is up to the individual to interpret what this means, whether it is strictly concerning magical practice, spellcraft, or if it is meant to serve as guidance in all areas of life.
The Law of Three or Threefold Law is the second to most commonly known Wiccan Law. It essentially dictates that that which we emit returns to us threefold. In other words, if we cast spells to hurt others, we will receive three times as much negativity in the end. The Charge of the Goddess, attributed to Doreen Valiente, provides a basic outline or structure for worship of the Goddess and God. Lesser known are The Witches' Code of Chivalry (which advises the witch in her place in society) and the Wiccan Laws (a series of laws and rules one should follow when making decisions across the gamut).
Wicca can be described as being a religious form of witchcraft. Both Wicca and witchcraft fall into the category of pagan or Neo-pagan religions. While pagans and Neo-pagans may not practice "magick" or magic, many individuals consider Wicca a magical religion.
Magic is often spelled with a "k" at the end to differentiate between stage magic and that which is performed in religious ritual. Wiccan magic typically involves ritual spell casting or prayer beginning with the construction of a magic circle. This is sometimes created physically as well, using a chord, salt, or writing impliment. Circle casting creates a place of power between the physical world and the world of the Goddess and God or spirits, one that is sacred and protected by the will and power of the witch. During the creation of the circle, assistance is petitioned of the gods, elements, or guardians prior to the actual spell, ritual, or prayer.
Spell work varies depending on the need. A very simple form of magic involves using the elements to bless and consecrate a candle, inscribing signs, symbols, or words into the wax, and visualizing or requesting a result. The forces used in the ritual are always thanked prior to the ritual being finished. The ceremony is essentially reversed when finished.
The elements are represented by the well-known symbol called the pentacle. A five pointed star surrounded by a circle, the pentacle represents earth, air, fire, water, and spirit surrounded by the universe, spirit, or magic circle. It is a symbol that represents harmony and therefore protection.
It should also be noted that the beliefs and opinions written here may not be those that you find upon further investigation. Some Wiccan traditions believe that things including practice, ritual structure, and worship be performed a specific way. Some traditions even require their members to subscribe to the same theological beliefs. Hostility between groups can occur, as is the case for most religions.
Readers wanting more information can find it in a number of places. Beginners should be prepared for many years of research before they discover the path that's right for them. While groups offer lessons to newcomers, it is best to learn more through books and websites prior to enrolling- you may come to discover that Wicca (or that type) is not right for you.