Why Wicca and What is it?
This is a question that should be asked by all teachers and mentors who first meet a potentially new student, but there is no one set answer to this question. However, a teacher should be looking for certain answers when asking it. I'm not saying that a teacher or mentor should deny teaching a person if they give an answer that may not be very encouraging to a positive outlook as to what they think Wicca is and can be in their lives. But maybe a person should be directed to reconsider what they expect to learn.
Wicca isn't to be just another way to defy your parents or authority figures in your life. It isn't a cool way to dress. It isn't an interesting way to intimidate those around you. It isn't a way to fit in with your new friends. It's not a way to look for a new love interest. And it certainly isn't a way to justify lewd or promiscuous behavior. It's not a path to get revenge on your enemies. It also isn't an excuse to be used to justify using substances that alters one's state of conscientiousness. And it isn't about the world of Harry Potter or any other Hollywood dream world. So, what is Wicca about? What should a person expect when they begin their studies and advance in those studies throughout the years to come? Let us take a closer look.
Wicca is a personal spiritual path. That means that much of the practice of Wicca is determined by the practitioner. But there are a few things that are distinct to Wicca and separate it from other Pagan paths. First and foremost, is that the Wicca worship at least one Goddess and one God. Some worship a whole pantheon of Deities or various Deities from various pantheons. You can't call yourself Wicca if you don't include this aspect into your practice. Even Dianic Wicca recognizes that there is a God as well as the Goddess, though they don't always worship the God in their rituals. Second, most Wicca recognize and follow The Wicca Rede and the Three-Fold Law; how they interpret these can vary though. Third, the Wicca believes in free will. Fourth, most believe in the Summerland and reincarnation. That one reincarnates human to human but can go from one sex to another. Fifth and this is also believed by most Pagan practitioners, you and you alone are responsible for your actions. You can't blame that you were influenced by some evil entity to do what you did. You did it and you must own up to it.
Something else you need to understand about the word Wicca, it doesn’t mean Witch. Wicca is a religion. A Witch is a person who performs magic. This can be any form of magic but it doesn’t have to have anything to do with any religion. A Witch can be of any religion they wish to be or of no religion at all. But if you are of a religion other than Wicca you can’t add the word Wicca to that religion’s name to signify that you are a person of that religion that does magic. So, you can’t say you are a Christian Wicca. You would say you are a Christian Witch though. However, all Wicca are Witches and thus you can assume that when someone says they are Wicca that they are also a Witch.
So, what should a person expect when they decide to follow the Wicca path? Well they won't suddenly have total joy and a perfect life. They can, however, expect to be subjected to ridicule and attacks from those that feel that they have stepped onto the path of the devil and things wicked and evil. On the other hand, they can gain a personal relationship with the Deities that they have chosen to worship. This is because the Deities live within us and all around us, so They aren't any further from us than our thoughts and nature. A person who chooses to follow the Wicca path can expect to have to study hard for the knowledge that is available to them, but they can also expect to have found an inner happiness because they have discovered that they have found their spiritual home.
Yes, you can do spells as a Wicca, but there are a few rules that most Wicca follows. As stated before, The Wicca Rede and The Three-Fold Law and the belief that everyone has the right to free will pretty much sums up those rules. There are others, but these are the important ones. What do they mean? Well, The Wicca Rede does say that we can do what we want, but it also says that we are to cause "No Harm" while doing it. The Three-Fold Law states that whatever action you put out, especially magical, will come back to you in like form only three times stronger. In other words, for good actions good will return and for harmful actions that which is harmful will return to you. That leaves the fact that all humans have free will. This means, in conjunction with The Wicca Rede and the Three-Fold Law, that you don't have the right to interfere with a person's free will to live as they wish. And yes, that means that casting that love spell on someone is interfering with their free will to love who they feel they should love. Also, before you cast a spell on or for someone you need to ask their permission first, because they have the right to say no. And yes, that applies to healing spells too.
Another aspect of Wicca is that many of us practice divination. Tarot and the Runes seem to be the most popular, but certainly not the only forms of divination that is practiced. Most believe that divination can be used to learn not only someone's future, but also to know what is going on around them but outside of their physical sight. It can also reveal to you things about your past as well as helping you to choose how to construct the right spell you should cast for a given circumstance. Most Wicca finds divination to be a very useful tool in their practice.
As stated before, Wicca believes that the divine is within nature and thus Wicca believes that all of nature should be respected and protected. So, you might find yourself involved in environmental issues as well as animal rights. However, you won’t be asked or told to become a vegetarian or vegan against your will. Some Wicca are but not all and as stated before, you have free will and can choose what you wish to eat.
The Wicca also believes in respecting our ancestors. That doesn't mean just those that have passed on, but also those that are alive and with us today. The Wicca recognizes that our ancestors have much wisdom to pass on to us. Many of the Wicca set up altars to honor their ancestors. The Wicca also celebrates not only the Esbats, which are the various moon cycles such as the Full Moon and Dark of the Moon, but Sabbats as well. There are eight Sabbats in a year and they are a reflection of the various seasons that they are celebrated in.
So, if you wish to become a Wicca then expect to work quite a bit in your studies and your spiritual growth. Being a Wicca isn't an ongoing party or fright fest. It's a serious and enjoyable celebration of life, the Deities and our spiritual self. If all you are after is creating fear or forcing your will on others, then think about choosing a different path.
For more information on beginner Wicca, I'd like to suggest a few sources. Scott Cunningham's books "Wicca: A Guide for Solitary Practitioners" and "Living Wicca" can be found in most book stores and libraries and even used book stores.
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