The simplest explanation of what Wicca is, is that it is a contemporary neo-pagan religion with spiritual roots in neo-shamanism, which stresses the need for reverence of nature. Though, to get more detailed, it becomes a little more difficult, as there is no central text in Wicca, the exact nature of beliefs vary from tradition to tradition, and even from individual to individual. There is a saying in Wicca that there are at least two beliefs on any subject for each Wiccan. For this reason, the purpose of this article is to explore traits that are commonplace among a wide variety of traditions (Wiccan denominations). Where they differ will be the subject for future articles regarding specific traditions.
In most forms of Wicca, the Goddess and God are revered. Though not all traditions recognize a God, they all venerate a Goddess figure. Wiccans also have a belief in reincarnation. This is one of the more commonly held beliefs, although, precisely how, when and why one incarnates several times is open to mystical speculation, and explanations can vary remarkably.
Wiccans accept both the practice of magick and its effectiveness. There is also a strong belief in the Threefold Law; which states that whatever you to will return to you three-fold (this includes both positive and negative actions). Precisely how this energy is returned has been a matter of great speculation and there is not one definite answer.
A reverence and celebration of Nature is central, the Earth as seen as representing the Goddess. The Earth is seen as a gift, not a tool that one can ruthlessly abuse. Ecological concerns are rather new in Wicca, but now pay an important role.
Wiccans aren’t evangelical. They do not believe they have the need to go out and ‘spread the word’. Some Wiccans believe that all the Gods are but one God and that all the Goddesses are but one Goddess; and that together, they form the (Mighty) One. Others allow that specific Gods and Goddesses are definitively different entities, but that there is room enough in the cosmos for every pantheon- and more. Therefore there is no need to go forcing one’s beliefs on people, and most hold that all paths are equally valid.
Wicca accepts members from both sexes, from every race, national origin and, usually, of every sexual preference. However, there are some traditions and covens which are exclusively gay or lesbian, as well as those that are adamant about male/female pairing in ritual observance.
Wiccan covens don’t usually charge for private lessons or for initiation. Physical objects and services can and should be paid for, and occasionally private instruction on a non-theological subject, but never for dedication or initiations. Donations may be requested for group circles or activities, but this is generally to maintain the cost of such events.
Wiccans do not cause harm to others. It goes against the Wiccan Rede: “An ye harm none, do what ye will”. This creed is generally accepted by most Wiccans.
First published on Suite101.com on 13 March 2006. (Unfortunately.)