A WICCAN HISTORY
Transfered from the Local Religion Echo in Nashville, Tennessee.
Wicca: Part I--Introduction, Etymology, and Overview
Wicca (sometimes called Wicce, The Craft, or The Old Religion)
is an ancient religion based on repect and love for both life and
nature. It has been in existance in one country or another, for
about 10,000 years now. It has eight holidays, which occur on the
sabbats and esbats(quarters, and eighths) of the seasonal year,
and these holidays celebrate both the turning of the seasons, and
honor historical events. The concept of deity is viewed as
immanent, meaning it's considered a part of the here-and-now, and
not transcendent (other-worldly). In most cases it is also
considered from male and female aspects, but more on that later.
The term Wicca, itself, dates back for a long, long, time. It
can begun to be traced in the Anglo-Saxon word 'wic', which means
to bend, shape, or change. It has been speculated to be connected
to the Old Norse word 'vitki', meaning wizard, derived from the
root words, meaning 'wise one' and 'seer.' In Old English, the
root word, 'wic,' remained basically the same, leaving 'Wicca'
(male form: one who...) and 'Wicce' (fem. form: one who...) and
'Wiccan' (neuter plural form: those who...), pronounced WICK-CHA,
WICK-CHE, and WICK-CHEN, respectively. Further corruptions of the
language produced the term 'witch,' meaning still, one who bends,
shapes, or changes. (Quick travel tip: 'Wiccans,' while it may
_sound_ nice, the the equivalent of saying 'witcheses,' so don't
use it.) Oh, incidentally, male witches are very rarely called
warlocks. This is because it's not a very descriptive term.
'Warlock' stems from the Old Norse word 'var-lokkur', meaning
'spirit-song,' (_not_ 'oath-breaker').
Wicca, like so many other religions, has many different
denominations, except that we (the witches) call them traditions.
Some of these include Gardnerian, Alexandrian, British
Traditional, Welsh Traditional, Dianic, Seax-Wicca, and Faery.
Groups of witches often come together to form a 'coven,' which is
a shortened form of the word 'covenant', which is a type of basic
oath each member swears to the others of the coven. Such
promises are usually centered around promoting harmony and peace,
and/or protection to the other members of the coven, and/or
secrecy. Be it known that this Age is more an Age of Darkness
in some respects than it has ever been. It is still not safe to
go 'round the streets calling oneself a witch openly. Each coven
is led by a High Priest/ess, who may be appointed by the others,
or it may rotate between members. In any case, the High
Priestess is essentially just a person who makes certain that
everything is in order. There are no other perks involved. Other
than that, Wicca has no real organizational structure, whatsoever.
Each person is considered to be his/her own priestess, and shall
need no intermediaries between themselves and Divinity.
Wicca: Part II--Perceptions of the Divine
Witches consider the Divine as having two aspects or personas
--the Goddess and the God. Some traditions emphasize the role of
the feminine aspect, some consider the male and female equally,
and some outright deny the divinity inheirent in the male aspect.
The Goddess has had many names down through the centuries, and
while some traditions use simply the term Goddess, others worship
her through a multitude of names by which she has been known to
the ancients: Ishtar, Diana, Cerridwen, Athena, Brigantia, Venus,
Amaterasu, Hecate, Isis, Demeter, and several others. She is
also considered to be of trifold aspect as the Maiden (youth,
self-sufficiency, and love), the Mother (nurturing and
fulfillment), and the Crone (wisdom, mystery, initiation, and
The God, also commonly referred to as the Horned God (for
reasons which if are not immediately obvious, consult your
Freudian psychology texts) of the wilds, is sometimes considered
to have a dual aspect as the Young Summer King and the Old Winter
King. He is also called by the names he had of old: Apollo,
Osiris, Dionysus, Odin, Pan, Freyr, Adonis, and Tammuz, to name a
The Gods are personified as two separate and distinct entities.
As such, neither are 'married' to one another, but rather, the God
is considered to be the Consort of the Goddess, and their
relationship is one of equal love, respect, and dignity. They are
considered to be handfasted, and the holiday of Beltaine
celebrates this in particular (just hold on, I'll get to the rest
of the holidays eventually), the time when this arrangement is
affirmed anew each year.
Neither of the gods are considered to be either omniscient, or
omnipotent by rights, and are merely as strong as the wind, and as
patient as the ocean. They are Man and Woman, Nurturer and
Warrior, Gatherer and Hunter, God and Goddess, and no more. We
are their sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, and their
Wicca: Part III--The Holidays and their Meanings
Witches have eight great festivals which are celebrated
either on or around the sabbats and esbats of the seasonal year.
While the exact meaning and name varies between traditions, the
following is a list of the more common names and meanings.
Imbolc, February 1st: Feast of Returning Light. Also called
Candlemas in honor of the Irish Brigid, Goddess of holy wells,
fire, healing, smithcraft and poetry. It is Brigid's fire
which warms the earth after winter according to legends.
Ostara, March 22nd: Feast of Planting and Rebirth. Named after
the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Dawn, this is the origin of the
English word 'easter.' This holiday marks the Vernal(spring)
Beltaine, May 1st: Feast of Fertility and Burgeoning Life. This
holiday is also called May Day. Marks the beginning of the
light half of the year as the first day of summer. One of the
more commonly associated things is the May pole, where people
dance around, festooning it with ribbons and whatnot. And yes,
the May pole is another one of those Freudian things. ;) This
is also the holiday on which is celebrated the handfasting
(more on this later) of the Goddess and Consort for yet another
Litha, June 22nd: Feast of the Sun on High or the Solar Hero.
This marks the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year.
Festivities are usually those associated with civilization and
culture, arts and music, especially.
Lughnassad/Lammas, August 1st: 'Feast of Lugh' or 'Loaf-mass.'
Feast of the Hero God Lugh, who undergoes a shamanic
death/rebirth initiation, and/or the Barley God, who dies and
is transformed into beer. Festival of the First Fruits, the
Mabon, September 22nd: Celebration of the Harvest. This holiday
also marks the Autumnal(fall) Equinox. This has an analog in
the American Thanksgiving.
Samhaim, November 1st: Feast of the Ancestors and the Witccan New
Year. Pronounced SAH-WHEN, this holiday is popularly known as
Halloween. Trick-or-treating evolved from pagan 'souling' when
children who were to represent ancestors collected food and
blessed the houses they visited.
Yule, December 22nd: Feast of the Rebirth of the Sun. The
longest night of the year, after which the days begin to grow
longer again. Winter Solstice. Many Christian customs have
pagan origins which stem from this pagan holiday: the Yule log,
the Tree, Evergreen Decorations, and Wassailing.
Wicca: Part IV--The Witches Themselves
You'll find witches practically everywhere in the world today.
Doctors, lawyers, maids, laborers and artists. They're just
normal people--no special powers need to be inheirited, you don't
have to be born with extra limbs or fingers, and there is very
little you can do to pick one out of a crowd (aside from ask
politely). For example, the reknowned musician Stevie Nicks is a
witch. Craft ties aside, only one thing has been shown as a
common denominator among witches, and this is something common to
most pagans; they are avid readers. Doesn't give one a lot to go
on, does it? Witches tend to gravitate to Greenpeace-type
organizations, due to a desire to preserve life for generations
to come (some personify the Lady as the Earth Mother, and this,
too, comes into play). Most new witches are attracted to the
Craft simply because it's what they've believed in all along, and
didn't realize that others felt the same way as well.
One unique thing about Wicca is that it is believed that there
are many different paths, and each individual should find his own
path to enlightenment. Thusly, no one condemns anyone else for
not having the exact same beliefs. To witches, it is the attitude
of the individual that is the most important, not whether one uses
the proper name of the Lady or other such technicalities.
Another thing is th so-called 'occult' practices of witches.
These include spellcasting, divination, meditation, herbalism,
ritual and ritual drama, and a whole slew of psi-oriented
phenomena. This is also another area of common misconception in
that witches do not have to participate in all or any of the above
to be a witch, even though the meaning of the word 'witch' seems a
little pointless otherwise.
Witches are beings in a perpetual state of becoming. We are
always trying to grow, always trying to learn, and always trying
to acheive greater aesthetic heights.
Oh, I almost forgot the inter-personal relationships of
witches, namely 'handfasting.' This is an agreement between a
couple, pretty much analogous to marriage. It is now a
arrangement recognized by the U. S. Government as well, I've
heard but I digress. In any case, it is a bond (commonly
accompanied by gifts of Significance between the two) of total
love that is to last for a year and a day. Whether or not it is
renewed is up to the two. Witches may also be married in the
usual manner (of course).
Wicca: Part V--What Witches Are Not, and Ethics
One quick way to learn what witches are _not_ is to consult
your local library for a copy of the Malleus Maleficarum (known as
the 'Hammer of the Witches'). This book was a vicious fabrication
by two medieval monks that was designed specifically for the
hunting down and extermination of 'witches.' It is the source of
almost 99% of the misinformaion about witches today. A forwarning
for the feint of heart, this book is extremely graphic. If you
thought that holocaust literature was disturbing, guess again.
Aside from that, witches do _not_ worship Satan or Lucifer in
any way, shape, or form, either actively or passively. They do
not perform blood sacrifices (except in the case where one's own
blood is offered, and while it is certainly disencouraged as being
unsanitary and a bit unsavory, it is a witch's own buisness what
one does with one's own blood) due to the strong belief that the
rights of others are considered to be just as sacred as their own.
Their beliefs do not include any of the Judean history/mythology
(Jesus, Moses, etc.), and they generally have very little to do
with Christianity, except in the cases when it comes knocking on
one's door in the middle of the night, bearing torches and
pitchforks, so to speak.
Witches are not without ethics. I know this is hard to grasp
since we don't use any bible, but bear with me. Each witch is
considered to be a responsible adult, capable of making his/her
own decisions, and answerable to the universe in general for the
results of those decisions. We have something called the Rule of
Three, which dictates that whatever you do will come back to you
threefold, at least. We also have the Wiccan Rede, which is a
formal (sort of) set of laws generally used by covens to cover
specific behaviours. There are many different versions of the
Wiccan Law, but a short one is as follows.
Bide the Wiccan Law ye must,
In perfect Love, in perfect Trust.
Eight Words the Wiccan Rede fulfill:
'An ye harm none, do what ye will.'
Lest in self-defense it be,
Ever mind the Rule of Three.
Follow this with Mind and Heart,
And Merry Ye Meet,
And Merry Ye Part.
Wicca: Part VI--Historical Notes for Understanding
In the Middle Ages, one particular religion, for reasons as yet
unknown, decided that it's power was threatened by those who would
improve their way of life, and thus violate the unwritten laws of
the Estates. This religion, for reasons, again, of it's own,
began a campaign to systematically wipe out all traces of such
ideas. Scientists, alchemists, mathematicians, and magicians
alike were forced to make a choice--either recant their beliefs,
or be killed. Thus entered the world into a new Age of Darkness,
and thus the period known as the Burning Times began. With time,
science won it's way into the favor of the Church, and medicine
and mathematics along on it's coattails, but witches, by merit of
disagreeing on basis of religion, never was accepted. Other
religions such as Buddhism, Islam, and a few others are tolerated
either because they pose no direct threat to the power of the
Church to dictate truth, or because earlier attempts to overthrow
them have failed, but never Wicca.
It is for this reason it was decided then that we should go
'underground' with our beliefs to avoid any more deaths.
Provisions were added into many Redes that no one shall speak of
the Craft to those who are not of it, nor shall any witch release
the name of any other witch, under any circumstances. Some Redes
even went so far as to add that if this provision were broken, the
witch would be condemned to spend eternity in the hell of the
Christians! In retrospect, we see that hiding was a grave error,
in that it allowed the seeds of fear and hatred towards us to
germinate and grow into an integral part of today's culture.
Attempts are now being made to come out of the Broom Closet, so to
speak, but the going is slow and arduous, indeed.
It is due to this bloody past that many witches have a sore
spot where Christianity is concerned, but we are working on making
things better. While we will not forget the past and it's
lessons, we are willing to forgive.
Wicca: Part VII--Addenum
I left out a few side notes when I wrote the first six or so
sections, both for the sake of brevity, and to reduce the level
of negativity that was reaching mammoth proportions, and some
things I have just now realized needed throwing in.
Part I--Brief Introduction, Etymology, and Overview
The origin of the word 'warlock,'--'spell song' comes from a
very long time ago, when male practicioners of paganism took their
roles as Warrior/Protector a bit more seriously in that their
primary bent of magick lay in the making of weapons and
metalcraft. Have you ever heard the legends of ancient pagan
blacksmiths singing to their swords as they hammered the hot
metal? You've got it...
Part II--Perceptions of the Divine
Z. Budapest (a born-name, if what I've been told is correct) is
a Dianic witch. This particular tradition is about as matriarchal
(if not more, in some cases) as the Christian denomination of
Church of Christ is patriarchal. So be forewarned, male
theologians, her writings may seem a little 'tinted.'
Part III--The Holidays and their Meanings
Of all these holidays, Samhain gatherings usually turn out to
be the largest by far. This is not morbidity, but like I said,
it's our New Year. The Chinese New Year is is not on December
31st, either. Look at how many people turn out for the Christian
New Year's Day in Times Square, New York!
Part IV--The Witches Themselves
Not much else to be said here, aside for a quick aplogy for the
sketchiness of the description of handfasting. I am a die-hard
bachelor-type, and as such, hold such ceremonies as things to be
avoided at all costs.
Wicca: Part VIII--More Addenum, and Final Comments
Part V--What Witches are Not, and Ethics
In the opinion of almost all witches, Satanism is a Christian
religion, and not a pagan one for two reasons. Taxonomically,
their deity, Lucifer, comes from the Christian pantheon, and most
of the doctrines of Satanism are merely contradictions and
confoundations of Catholicism. Again, Satanism didn't come from
the heath, so it really can't be called 'pagan,' which means 'from
the heath' or 'country dweller.' Neither do we consider sangreal
sodialists to be of either classification, but that's another
Sadly, a few misguided individuals have used the Malleus
Maleficarum as a guide to pattern their own vile behaviour after,
calling themselves Witches, but the differences between them and
us should be readily apparent.
On final thing. If someone wears a lot of black, or red, for
that matter, it doesn't mean that they're not a good witch (this
is getting cheesy-sounding, but bear with me). The colors used
to symbolize the Lady in her three aspects are White (Maiden),
Red (Mother), and Black (Crone).
Part VI--Historical Notes for Understanding
One thing which I have left out, is that the burning times are
not as far behind us as most of us would like to think. I know a
girl, my age, whose grandmother was burned as a witch. No joke.
This ends my series of articles on Wicca. The information
presented here represents both my own personal opinion, and
information gleaned from years of study from books, news articles,
and other pagans. Standard disclaimers apply.
If you have any questions further on the subject, please feel
free to ask! Standard disclaimers apply here, too.
I can also be reached on Who Am I BBS (615)/833-5322, or on
UseNet via email@example.com.
Blessed Be! *
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* Origin: The Homestead, Nashville TN (615)385-9421 HST (1:116/3000)