Below is from a pamphlet some of the members of my former coven compiled. The coven is no more, but I think they did a great job. I no longer consider myself Wiccan, but this is still good information.
The Religion that is…
It is an Earth-based religion. Incorporating nature into the beliefs to help protect and care for Mother Earth.
Wicca is a very diverse religion. It honors many deities mostly depending on the season or reason for ritual.
Rituals are in a sense the same as Christian’s worship, prayer, and singing in church.
When did Wicca become a religion you ask? Well, it has been around since the ancient times, but has not always been known by that name.
You may even have Wiccan neighbors and not even realize it. We come from all walks of life.. nurses, doctors, lawyers, cashiers at Wal-Mart, stay-at-home parents. You name it they can be Wiccan.
If you want to get legal about it, here we go… In the year of 1985, Wicca became a recognized religion in the United States. Dettmer vs. Landon which was heard in the District Court of Virginia ruled that Wicca is a legitimate religion and falls within a recognizable religious category. In 1986, the Federal Appeals court judge Butzner affirmed the decision of the District Court of Virginia.
Now, you may have heard the word Pagan or Paganism. Some people use Wicca & Pagan interchangeably, while some think they are two different things.
The term Pagan was originally defined as “country dweller” and was considered an insult to those who worshiped the old gods and goddesses as the Roman Empire converted to Christianity. Now, in modern times Pagan is an umbrella term covering all religions that are not monotheistic. Just because you are Pagan does not mean you are Wiccan, but all Wiccans are Pagan. Just like not all Christians are Catholic, but all Catholics are Christian.
Wiccans do not believe in the Christian devil. We do have a horned god, named Pan, which many mistake as the Devil with his horns and tail. However, our god does not punish people by making them spend an eternity in Hell.
We don’t sacrifice animals or little children. Those things would be against the law (both pagan and general) and most pagans do their best to follow the law. We believe the intent that is put into something will come back to you multiplied three times. This is called the 3-fold law. So, if you mean harm to someone or something, you will be harmed at some point three times as bad.
It has been pretty much accepted that Gerald Gardener is the “father” of the modern Wiccan movement. In 1954, he wrote a book entitled “Witchcraft Today” in which he said that he was initiated into a coven called the New Forest Coven.
However, many Wiccans today are not held to the rigid standards described by Gardener in his books. They are eclectic because everyone defines their own path. Some follow the Celtic path, some the Norse path, and some a Middle Eastern path.
So, why are so many people interested in Wicca? Well, a widely held belief is that people today are getting tired of being told that God is masculine. People have started to recognize that everything has a feminine side as well. Some groups do go to the complete opposite end of the spectrum and honor only female deities. The traditions associated with only female deities are usually Dianic covens. Most Wiccans generally choose to honor both aspects.
We also follow what is known as The Wheel of the Year. This usually starts on what some call the Wiccan New Year, commonly known as Samhain (sow-when). It is observed on October 31st. At this time, the veil between the living world and those who have passed is the thinnest. It is a time of honoring and receiving guidance from those no longer with us.
Then comes Yule. It is not observed on a specific day, it falls on the first day of winter generally. It also celebrates the longest night.
Next is Candlemas or Brigid’s Day. This is the time when we welcome the return of the light after the long nights of winter. This is always on February 2nd.
Ostara is celebrated on the spring equinox. This celebration welcomes Spring and the fertility of Mother Earth.
Beltane is a fertility sabbat that is held on the eve of May Day or May 1st.
Summer solstice is just that.. the first day of summer. You may also hear this referred to as Midsummer’s Eve.
Lammas is the celebration of the first harvest and takes place August 1st.
Lastly, is the autumn equinox. Mother Earth is giving of her last harvest and prepares to sleep for the winter.
Please note that four of the celebrations are “floating” days and they fall on the first day of each season. These are known as the Minor Sabbats or holidays. The other four are the Major Sabbats.
Wicca also looks at the two aspects of the day (day & night) much as we look at the two aspects of deity (goddess & god). We also can use the phases of the moon for spellwork or simply for connecting to nature.
Yes, we do cast spells. Nevertheless, we do not believe in taking away another person’s free will. That means we do not cast a spell to make John Doe fall in love with us even though he is married to Jane.
Our spells can be compared to a Christian’s prayer. We are simply asking the proper deity to hear our request and grant it if they so choose.
Now, this is a VERY simplified overview of what Wicca is. Most of us have studied for a long time and will continue to do so for a long time yet.
This lifestyle choice is not always easy and should not be done to freak someone out. It should be considered carefully.
If this sounds like something you might be interested in, we can help you. We do require that you be of age and willing to do some work. We do not just hand you a bunch of papers and say, “OK, you’re Wiccan.’’
“When Someone You Love Is Wiccan-A Guide to Witchcraft and Paganism for Concerned Friends, Nervous Parents, and Curious Coworkers” Carl McColman
“The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Wicca and Witchcraft” Denise Zimmerman and Katherine A. Gleason
Seekers of Gaea coven
102 E. 5th Street
Marshfield, WI 54449