What is Wicca & Why it is Perceived so Negatively?Lately, for the past month or so, I've gone around saying things like, "I think the best religion for me is Wicca." Or, "The up-and-coming modern religion is Wicca." I've been dropping these lines in conversations to family and friends, interspersing them between other somewhat unrelated sentences. Each time, the reaction is the same. Some people turn their noses up at the word Wicca. Others will give a flat-out rebuttal of, "If you don't mind worshipping the devil." What infuriates me about this is that nobody is willing to change their negative viewpoint on this non-meddling, almost refreshing religion.
Why do people turn their noses up at the word Wicca? Why do they think they "know" those types of people, who delve into witchery? For one, the stigma against Wicca and witchcraft are not new. Ever heard of the Salem Witch Trials? The classical period for witch-hunts took place in Europe from between 1450 and 1700. Members of the society went out searching for individuals displaying witch-like qualities. These unfortunate candidates were put through torturous tests, and when they failed, they suffered the wrath of God, handed down by the people of the society. This is not unlike the McCarthy era, where "communists" were hunted down, due to their overly communistic behavior, and then prosecuted by the United States government, as made popular by Arthur Miller in his infamous play, "The Crucible."
The practice of casting spells, and what could be called sorcery, has been branded as evil for thousands of years. Even the Code of Hammurabi, from ancient Egypt, gives the order to put any man accused of placing a spell on another man into the holy river. If the river overtakes him, the other man acquires the dead man's house. If the holy river supports the man in question, then his accuser is to be put to death, and the innocent man acquires his house. The Hebrew Bible also openly condemns sorcery, calling it an "abomination" (Deuteronomy 18:11-12) and contains many phrases, such as the one found in Exodus, 22:18, "thou shalt not suffer a witch to live."
Wicca was made popular in 1954 by a British civil servant, Gerald Gardner. He claimed that Wicca was a religion stemming from an old witchcraft religion, created in antiquity, dating prior to Christianity in Europe. Gardner's tradition became known as Gardnerian Wicca, and from that the religion branched out and bloomed in various directions. Today, there exist many types of Wicca, each one with slightly different focuses and beliefs from the next. One newer brand of the religion, calling itself Eclectic Wiccan, shuns the belief than any doctrine or tradition is absolutely necessary to practice Wicca.
The Wiccan tradition accepts any individual who is genuine and sincere about the religion. It has been termed as a personal spirituality, malleable and unique to everyone. Many mix other religious beliefs into their Wiccan practice. It is possible to hold almost any other belief, whether it would be Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, etc. The only problem Wicca has with other religious beliefs are those that declare themselves to be the "one and only" true religion, as beliefs like that are generally negative and can be destructive to others who may hold oppositional beliefs.
Wicca is a religion that respects nature and all of its creatures. Many who practice this religion are vegetarians or vegans, as they find it unnatural, disrespectful, and harmful to take the lives of nature's other living beings. The earth, the sun, moon, stars, the seasons, and every other aspect of nature are sacred to life. Wicca believes everything in nature is interconnected and can exist harmoniously in a holistic manner. In this regard for nature and life, Wicca might draw its closest similarities to a practice such as Buddhism. Since humans are an integral part of this life cycle, they are also sacred to the earth and nature, therefore giving credence to the belief Wicca holds concerning each and every individual's right to believe what they will, and to practice their beliefs in a non-harmful manner.
Unlike the expansive and intimidating canons of most other religions and spiritual practices, Wicca has only one single law: "An it harm none, do as ye will." As long as your beliefs do not harm another living being, then Wiccans believe you have every right to do whatever it is that you want to do.
So where does the Christian devil come into this? And why would everyone have you believe that he, Lucifer, loves the Wiccan tradition? It is hard to tell whether the stigma over witchcraft and Wicca has just carried over from antiquity. Wiccans generally participate in rituals, but this has nothing to do with the proverbial slaying of a young virgin, in order to spill innocent blood for the gods of the Underworld. Because the religion itself is so diverse, and has no stranglehold over what its members can and cannot believe, it is hard to depict what goes on in the average Wiccan ritual. Typically, incense is burnt, and candles are lit. Dancing, singing, and contemplation about the world and its creatures usually occur.
Wicca does have gods that are called upon in ritual. These gods are sometimes horned, which may fuel the satanic aspect that most people have connected with Wicca. The gods are fertility gods, depicting the "power and joy of life itself," as described by glasstemple.com, in explaining the basics of the Wiccan belief. As far as sacrifices are concerned, Wiccan rituals offer food and wine on occasion. The closest thing to what the general public has in mind about Wiccan sacrifices might be aimed at those members who eat meat; the roasted pig is the closest they come to sacrificial offerings, and most Wiccans frown on the taking of an animal life anyway.
It is important, as we all know, to get the facts about anything before we make a concluding judgment. Sometimes the people we hold in the most negative light are the people who deserve the most credit. Who cares about life, and the earth? Which individuals are making an honest attempt at living harmoniously within the network of other living creatures, including humans?