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Exploring Wicca


By Paige Lysaght Religion 100 Yule December 21st A celebration of the longest night of the year, Yule is a time to notice the decline of winter. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Exploring Wicca

Exploring Wicca
  • By Paige Lysaght
  • Religion 100

  • "When one defines oneself as Pagan, it means she
    or he follows an earth or nature religion, one
    that sees the divine manifest in all creation.
    The cycles of nature are our holy days, the earth
    is our temple, its plants and creatures our
    partners and teachers. We worship a deity that is
    both male and female, a mother Goddess and father
    God, who together created all that is, was, or
    will be. We respect life, cherish the free will
    of sentient beings, and accept the sacredness of
    all creation."
  • -Edain McCoy

The Basics
  • The modern form of Wicca was founded in 1954 by
    Gerald B. Gardner, a British civil servant who
    published a number of books on the subject.
    Though it is still considered a new religion,
    many of its traditions and practices are drawn
    from the Old Religion (pre-Christianity
    paganism). Additionally, Wicca falls under the
    umbrella category of Neo-Paganism, which includes
    a number of other recent religious movements.

  • It is difficult to determine how many Wiccan
    followers there are, as many practice in private
    or do not draw attention to their beliefs.
  • It is estimated that there are 1-3 million
    followers, with the highest concentrations in the
    United States, United Kingdom, and Canada.

Organizational Structure
  • Wicca is not a particularly structured religion.
    Many Wiccans, known as solitaries, practice
    alone, and thus are in complete control of the
    way they practice and do much of their learning
    through personal research. Although they may do
    the majority of their work alone, they may still
    become involved in community events. Other
    Wiccans are members of covens. They interact
    directly with other members of The Craft, and
    thus are able to learn on a one-on-one basis.
    Regardless of which method is selected, it tends
    to be fairly informal.

  • There is no distinct set of beliefs in the Wiccan
    religion. It is frequently adapted to suit
    personal ideals and lifestyles, and there is no
    single official doctrine that dictates how one
    should behave. However, certain aspects are
    consistently practiced and can generally be
    attributed to Wicca.

  • Wiccans act with appreciation and reverence
    towards nature, searching for the divinity in all
  • Wiccans learn from nature, and honor the
    different cycles of the sun, moon, and seasons.

The Wiccan Rede
  • Wiccans follow the Wiccan Rede, which states An
    ye harm none, do what ye will. It is a strong
    guidepost for daily life, rituals, and

The Threefold Law
  • Some Wiccans acknowledge the Threefold Law,
    which states that a persons deeds will return to
    him or her three times over.

  • Though this isnt always the case, many Wiccans
    believe in reincarnation. They do not accept the
    heaven/hell theory. Instead, some believe that
    souls are only reborn until they have learned all
    of lifes lessons, after which they go to the
    Summerlands, a place of eternal rest. Others
    believe the soul is constantly reborn. Still
    others do not believe in reincarnation at all.

Divine Beings
  • Most Wiccans worship two major deities, a Goddess
    and a God. They believe that these figures are
    equally balanced, and that the spirit of these
    figures is embodied in everything that exists.
    Some Wiccans worship individual gods and
    goddesses as well, but its up to the individual.

  • There is a single power defined as the One or
    All, which is composed of everything it has ever
    created. This supreme energy force does not rule
    over the Universe, it IS the Universe. Since most
    find it difficult to talk to or call upon a
    faceless mass of Divine energy, this supreme
    power is personified into male and female aspects
    as the Goddess and God.
  • Wicca.com

The Goddess
  • The Goddess is celebrated in three forms
    (reflecting three stages of life) The Maiden,
    The Mother, and The Crone.
  • Each form is regarded as equally valuable.
  • The Maiden represents innocence and
  • The Mother represents compassionate love.
  • The Crone represents wisdom.
  • Each stage of the Goddess also corresponds with a
    phase of the moonwaxing, full, and waning.

The God
  • This figure is known under other names, such as
    The Great God, The Great Father, and The
    Horned God.
  • He is often symbolized as a man with horns or
  • This masculine force is seen as a symbol of
    fertility and nature.

Creation or Evolution?
  • There is no set theory that Wiccans are expected
    to follow, and most are fairly open-minded about
    the subject. Some followers are more inclined to
    believe in evolution, while others subscribe to
    one of various creation myths. The most popular
    is as follows

  • The Spirit created the universe out of
    nothingness, and with it a Great Goddess. The
    Goddess proceeded to create all nature and placed
    within it a rhythmic dance so that it could
    continue to move forth on its own. The Spirit
    then created a companion for the Goddess, and she
    and this God gave birth to all life together.

Sacred Texts
  • Wiccans do not have a single sacred text. They
    have several books that they may use for
    reference (such as the works of Gerald Gardner),
    but these books hold more historical significance
    than modern function. However, Wiccans do create
    their own spiritual books, known as a Book of
    Shadows, and incorporate them in their worship

Contents of a Book of Shadows
  • There are no specific guidelines regarding what
    goes into ones Book of Shadows.
  • They are typically looked at as a magickal
    journal, including significant writings and
    information, spells and rituals, dream
    interpretations, and so forth.
  • Generally each witch has his or her own book, but
    covens may create one which is utilized by the
    entire group as well.

Sacred Spaces
  • Most Wiccans create an altar, which is a personal
    sacred space. The altar frequently changesfor
    rituals, for sabbats, and for life. There are no
    strict rules for what goes on the altarinstead,
    altars are tailored to meet the needs of their
    creators. However, certain tools show up

  • Altar Cloth a piece of fabric used to cover the
  • Athame a ceremonial knife used for directing
  • Bell used in rituals to signal beginnings and
  • Besom essentially a broomstick, used to sweep
    away negative energies.
  • Book of Shadows the magickal journal, frequently
    used in making notes during rituals.
  • Candles used to represent the God and Goddess,
    and sometimes the five elements as well.
  • Cauldron utilized in a number of rituals and
    serving many purposes (scrying, burning, mixing),
    the cauldron is also a representation of the
  • Chalice used in rituals to hold certain spirits
    (usually wine).
  • Crystals used for healing, divination, and
  • Divination Tools including runes, tarot cards,
    pendulums, etc.
  • God/Goddess Statues used to symbolize each
  • Pentagram a star encased in a circle used to
    represent the elements.
  • Scrying Mirror a dark colored mirror used for
  • Wand used for directing energy during spells and

Possible Altar Set-Up
  • http//homepage.ntlworld.com/spiritwolf/altar_and_

Other Examples
The Eight Sabbats
  • Wiccans traditionally recognize eight holidays.
    They correspond with different seasonal changes,
    and are celebrated in a variety of ways.

ImbolcFebruary 2nd
  • A celebration of the beginning of Spring, this
    holiday celebrates a time of growth and renewal.
  • This date is often recognized through spring
    cleaning, exploring outdoors for signs of the
    warm weather to come, and the lighting of candles
    to acknowledge the return of the sun.

OstaraMarch 21st
  • Ostara is a celebration of the Spring equinoxof
    growth, renewal, and fertility.
  • Eggs are considered a fertility symbol and are
    incorporated into rituals. The coloring of what
    are now know as Easter eggs was developed.
  • This holiday is celebrated through planting of
    gardens, enjoying the outdoors, and utilizing
    bright colors.

BeltaneApril 30th
  • Beltane is a celebration of love, fertility, and
    self-discovery. Most of the rituals happen during
    daylight hours.
  • Some May Day traditions developed from this
    holiday (such as the May Pole).
  • It is a common time for Handfasting (marriage)
    ceremonies in pagan culture.

LithaJune 21st
  • Opposite of Yule, this holiday celebrates the
    longest day of the year. It is also known as
    Midsummer Nights Eve.
  • It is a time to recognize masculine energy, as it
    is a celebration of the Sun Gods time of great
  • Bon fires are often burned throughout the night,
    and may be accompanied by dancing and/or chanting.

LammasJuly 31st
  • Lammas (also known as Lughnasadh) marks the
    beginning of the first harvest. I
  • It is a time to reap the rewards of summer work,
    and to acknowledge the coming of fall.
  • Because this is a time of harvesting grain, those
    celebrating often bake bread to eat and include
    in rituals.

MabonSeptember 21st
  • Mabon is known as the second harvest festival,
    and is celebrated on the fall equinox.
  • It is a time to recognize equality and balance,
    to give back to the earth a portion of what was
    created during the harvest, and to enjoy what was

SamhainOctober 31st
  • Known as the Pagan New Year, it symbolically
    represents rebirth through death.
  • It is a time to recognize the spirits of family
    and friends who have passed away.
  • It is celebrated at sunset. Many modern Halloween
    traditions are based on Pagan rituals.

YuleDecember 21st
  • A celebration of the longest night of the year,
    Yule is a time to notice the decline of winter.
  • It is also a time of planning for the future.
  • Many old pagan traditions have been incorporated
    into Christmas celebrations, such as the symbolic
    Christmas tree, and the Yule log.

Wicca and Human Nature
  • Unlike many other religions, Wiccans generally
    dont believe that they are here to complete
    certain tasks to please or prove something to
    their Creator. Instead, Wiccans try to live good
    and fulfilling lives, keeping close in mind the
    Wiccan Rede and the Threefold Law, and still
    honoring the God and Goddess.
  • Wiccans believe that while humans may make
    mistakes, that is only in our nature. Therefore,
    we should learn from these errors.

Sin and Suffering
  • The Wiccan view of sin is significantly different
    from the Christian viewpoint.
  • They do not support the idea of original sin.
  • Wiccans believe that sin is generally the result
    of an imbalance between ones self and nature.
  • Unlike most Christians, Wiccans believe that an
    individual is born innocent, and then may be hurt
    by circumstances or conditions that cause the
    imbalance, resulting in harm to ones self or to

The Wiccan Mindset
  • Overall, Wiccans tend to be fairly open-minded
    about most controversial topics. They are
    incredibly accepting of homosexuals, celebrate
    womens rights, and feel abortion is a personal
    decision. For the most part, they stick to their
    idea of harm none. How each individual
    interprets this idea varies.

Are Wiccans Satanists?
  • No. Wicca is a peaceful religion that focuses on
    nature and the divinity in all things. Wiccans do
    not believe in an all-evil being, like the Satan
    of Christianity. Additionally, they abide by the
    Harm None mindset that is embedded in their
    religion. In no way are they affiliated with
    Satan or Satanists.

  • Pagan Theologies A Wiccan Perspective on Good
    and Evil. 12 October 2007. lthttp//pagantheologie
  • This insider blog offers an interesting (and
    well researched) summary of Wiccan ideas of good
    and evil in a Wikipedia-esque format. The article
    covers both historical and spiritual aspects, and
    also discusses the subject in relation to other
    religious traditions. Resources are listed at the
    bottom and can be easily used for further
  • Religion FactsNeopaganism. 8 September 2007.
  • Religious Facts is an outsider website that
    covers a number of religions, including Wicca and
    other branches of paganism. The sites factual
    nature is helpful, and it offers a nice
    comparison chart between Wicca and Christianity.
  • Wicca. 14 September 2007. lthttp//religiousmovem
  • This resource is part of a University of Virginia
    project. The information is extensive (if not a
    bit difficult to read because of the length), and
    it offers several other Wicca-related links as
    well. It covers many topics, including history,
    beliefs, and controversies.
  • Wiccaa Neopagan earth-centered religion. 10
    September 2007. lthttp//www.religioustolerance.org
  • Religious Tolerance has sections on many
    different religions. The Wicca section offers
    information on the history of the religion,
    modern-day Wicca, frequently asked questions,
    terminology, and Wiccas relationship with
    Christianity. The essays are informative and
    diverse. It is a very solid resource.
  • Silver Wolfs Lair. 20 September 2007.
  • This insider site is a personal website created
    by two individuals who practice Wicca. It has a
    wealth of information, covering ritual practices,
    sabbats, magick, basic information, and Wiccan
    lifestyles. The site is surprisingly extensive,
    and can answer a majority of questions on the
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