Wicca is the modern form of an earth-based spirituality that pre-dates Christianity. This religion is indigenous to Europe with similar life-reaffirming spiritualities all over the world; it is both new and old. Wiccans experience the Divine as immanent, as embodied in the universe, the world in all its aspects and in humanity. Followers of the Wiccan path perceive all life and all forms of life to be sacred.
Modern Wicca incorporates ancient ways and modern liturgy in their practices and rituals. This is easy to see if you realize that the structure of Catholic Mass is Christianized rituals of the Old Religion. As a compromise, the Roman Church incorporated customary spiritual paths into Catholicism in exchange for accepting the Christian male Trinity. The Church Christianized all the major holidays or “holy days” of the Old Ways in order to pull these cultures under the reign of Rome.
Other compromises came into effect when Pagan gods and goddesses were made Saints, and the Catholic Church turned seasonal observances, known as sabbats, into special ceremonial masses. When one is given the option of death or merging one’s own spiritual belief system with Catholicism . . . well, history documents the outcome!
Wiccans believe that by attuning themselves to the natural rhythms of the earth and the universe, they can be one with nature, and ultimately experience communion with the Divine on a personal level. The Jewish Mystics as well as the Native Americans also practiced this type of attuning. Wiccans honor nature as the ultimate spiritual teacher and they contemplate wisdom inherent in the seasonal cycles of the earth.
Wiccans, like Native Americans and other indigenous groups, lived close to the earth. They planted and harvested crops by natures’ own signs and the changing of the seasons. They respected their relationship to nature as sacred, because this is all they had to live by and direct their life. Their food, clothes, housing and medicines were all taken directly from the earth. Wicca is a non-dogmatic religion. There is no ‘Wiccan Bible’, religious scriptures, or prophet. Instead, children learned an oral tradition by spoken word from their parents and grandparents. Wiccans follow the seasons (the Wheel of the Year) and follow the cycles of the sun and moon for planting, harvesting, gathering healing herbs, as well as their ritual observances giving thanks, praising and communing with The Divine.
Wicca is a system of techniques, dealing with spiritual insight achieved through living in harmony with nature; the mastery of which enables each individual to experience the Divine personally.
A basic Wiccan concept is that each individual has the capacity to experience the sacred mysteries of life that gives life true meaning. The Divine is experienced in prayer, meditation, ritual, and working with the development of psychism of which all humans are capable. However, unlike many modern religions, Wiccans feel the presence of the Divine in all aspects of their lives such as growing a garden, preparing a meal, working and providing for their families.
The Divine is present in the Wheel of Life for each individual: choosing their spiritual path, falling in love, building a family, giving birth, and growing old. Wiccans feel The Divine presence in the air they breathe, the water they drink, and the food they eat. Wiccans respect the Earth as sacred, as it nourishes and sustains human life as well as all the planet’s creatures and plants.
Wiccans have one fundamental ethical precept:
“An’ it harm none, do what ye wilt.”
This honors the great freedom that each individual has the right to ascertain truth, to experience The Divine directly, and to determine how to best live her or his own life. With that freedom, however, comes a profound responsibility that none may be harmed by one’s choices and actions. Harm includes not merely physical actions, but harsh words, aggressive and confrontational behavior that would cause mental or psychic stress, thus being harmful.
As with all religions, individual Wiccans may reach different conclusions when applying these fundamental concepts to modern problems. Political or moral issues such, as vegetarianism, abortion, or participation in war is an individual choice as are the perceived karmic repercussions, or the lack thereof.
Wiccan spiritual practices, often referred to as “magick,” are in fact ancient techniques for changing ones own consciousness at will in order to better understand and commune with the Divine. Wiccans coming from a Christian background may understand “magick” as an answered prayer, or a miracle. Any action perceived to be Divine after a spell, ritual, or prayer can be considered magick.
The primary purpose of these Wiccan techniques is the transformation of oneself to be closer to the God and Goddess. Developing the gifts from the Divine is a necessity to Wiccans; it is important to use the gifts to one’s full capacity in order to live a moral, ethical, joyous, and spiritual life. They also use these techniques for practical ends such as healing, divination, purification, blessing, and the raising of energy to achieve positive life goals. Some of these techniques, which may include prayer, meditation, ritual, drumming, singing, chanting, dancing, and journeying require wisdom, maturity, patience, passion, and an abiding commitment to the sacred.
Spellcasting is one of the most misunderstood aspects of Wicca. It is NOT a means of having power over people or nature by the use of supernatural forces. Spellcasting is actually a form of ritual and meditation which is very similar to prayer in other religions, except that, instead of beseeching the aid or intervention of an external deity, the indwelling Divine energy is drawn outward into the world through harmonious interaction with the Divine presence within. The idea of controlling others and having dominion over nature is alien to Wicca; Wiccans do not work with diabolic or supernatural powers nor do they seek to have power over others.
Wiccans do not actually believe in a “devil” or Satan, only the absence of good; they believe each person has the capacity within him or herself to be wholly good and spiritual, to strive for Oneness with the Divine. If a Wiccan chooses to do less than moral or ethical things, they do not blame it on Satan or any demonic supernatural forces, because each practitioner has the freedom of choice and freewill to live a positive or negative lifestyle. In other words, you do not hear a Wiccan claiming “the Devil made me do it.”
The essence of Wiccan spirituality is respect for and attunement with the natural energies of the earth and the universe. This attuning oneself with the Divine is each practitioner’s personal goal. It is unethical to engage in any form of spiritual work that seeks to control, manipulate, or have power over others. While work may be done on behalf of another, such as healing which is an important and ancient aspect of Wicca, even this is never done without the knowledge and consent of the person who is being assisted.
There are many different traditions (similar to denominations) within the Old Religion. Some reflect the particular practices of certain ethnic groups such as Celtic, Norse, Welsh, Greek, Italian, Finno-Ugric, and Lithuanian. Some are part of the initiatory traditions made public by such practitioners as Gerald Gardner of the Gardnerian Tradition and Alexander Saunders of the Alexandrian Tradition. Still other traditions practice with the guidance of published works and draw positive aspects from many traditions.
Some Wiccans work alone and are called solitaires; they search within themselves for inspiration and practice in solitude. They work alone either by choice or due to the lack of like-minded Wiccan groups in their area. Some practitioners work in a mutually agreed upon group structure. Many groups include men and women, however there are some men only and women only groups.
Some followers of the Wiccan way are strong believers in spell casting or “prayers with props”, while others are not interested in that aspect at all but instead favor the simplicity of the religion and its peaceful fulfillment. Some pagan traditions that Wiccans observe may date back for thousands of years, while others have only been around for only a few years.
Now looking in retrospect, we can see the common underlying themes and similarities between these three mystical belief systems: Wicca, Gnosticism, and Kabbalah. All three religions believe that meditation and psychic connection is the true way to commune with The Divine. One could conclude that the beliefs system of all these religions postulates that the true “Oneness” of the human spirit with the Divine can not be obtained by merely reading the ancient texts over and over. Taking on the love and adoration of the Saviour Jesus, the spiritual warmth of the Mother Spirit, and the respect of the Father God is also needed to become one with the Divine. At this point, I can easily see where the occult philosopher and Kabballist Dion Fortune defined the Great Law:
“All Gods are the Same God and All Goddesses are the same Goddess.”