Insight to Wicca
Wicca is a growing religion within both the United States and the United States Military. Estimates of the number of practicing Wiccans vary greatly from the 50,000 Wiccans in the United States estimate found in the 2001 edition of the " Religious Requirements and Practices of Certain Selected Groups, A Handbook For Chaplains " to the estimate given by "WitchesVoice Newsletter(www.witchvox.com) of 1 million practicing pagans in the US out of a population of 300 million or as another estimate from the same source 3 million pagans world wide out of a population of 6.5 billion.
The religious sociologist Helen Berger in her book " Voices From The Pagan Census a National Survey of Witches and Neopagans in the US"University of South Carolina Press 2003 gives the estimate of 200,000-400,000 practitioners in the United States that met her definition of practicing witches/neopagans.
As you can see there is a wide variety of disagreement as to how large a portion of the population in the United States is Wiccan, or even Neopagan which would include a far larger segment of the population.
Myself I think the number of Wiccans is greater than supposed and is growing by leaps and bounds. Wicca is now a religion recognized by the Internal Revenue Service for tax purposes. It is also a very low key amp; hidden religion because its practitioners do not wish to be penalized by society for their beliefs. These persecutions could take the form of unemployment, having their children removed from their custody, to plain ostracism within their community. All of these things have happened as a direct result of a professed belief in Wicca/Witchcraft.
These things happen due to confusion, the confused perception that Wicca, Witchcraft,NeoPaganism and Satanism are all the same thing.THEY ARE NOT AND NEVER HAVE BEEN. Satanism with its ritual sacrifice,torture of animals (and supposedly people) its black masses amp; worship of Satan is just a rebellion or mirror image against Christianity amp; Judaism. There are Satanists who call themselves Wiccans/Witches but they are no more of that group than the terrorist types in the KKK are true Christians. Wiccans do not believe in Satan so they would certainly not worship him.
Wiccans do not believe that theirs is the "ONE TRUE WAY" in fact they grant all religions that are followed with a true heart the respect that they wish their own faith was given by others. Wiccans are encouraged in fact to study other religions so as to make an informed choice in their belief.
This study has brought to light some astonishing similarities between Wicca amp; Christianity particularly Catholic rituals amp; holidays.
Around the time of Pope Gregory the church started placing holidays amp; various Saints days around the time that before their conversion to Christianity the populace celebrated the pagan holidays. The eight sabbats on January 31- Oimelc,March 21-Ostara,Spring Equinox,April 30-Beltane,June 22-Summer Solstice, July 31-Lammas, Sept 21-Mabon, Oct 31-Samhaim, Dec 21- Yule Each full moon amp; each New Moon was also celebrated. The rational was the populace were already used to celebrating and donating to the priests of the "OLD RELIGION" at those times so it would be easy for the "new" faith to get the congregation to donate to the church at those times. In hindsight it has worked very well.
Wicca as a religion is not very old. It came into being in England in 1951,it is a reconstruction of nature worship as practiced in tribal Europe in times past amp; was heavily influenced by the still existing tribal nature worshiping being practiced in other parts of the world at that time. A good case could be made for the "Father of Wicca" being Gerald Gardner. His teachings reached the United States in 1962 with two of his students and have spread astronomically since then,see figures in beginning of article.
There is also confusion in the pagan community though as a lot of its members feel that Wicca can be traced back to the earth religions dominate thousands of years ago. While there are a few similarities this is just not the case.
It is true however that Wicca and Wiccans are a growing and increasingly visible group within todays society. Let us welcome them with these two basic tenets,
"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" - Golden Rule Christianity
"An it harms none, do as ye will"- Wiccan Rede- Wicca