What is Wicca and Witchcraft?

Moon and smoke image on WhiteWicca

Reams have already been written about what it is to be Wiccan and/or a Witch and it is not my intention to repeat it all here, but to provide as simple an explanation as I can; if you want to know more, the information is out there!

Being Wiccan and being a witch is not the same thing.

Witchcraft is not based in one belief system, but focuses on the practical application of the Craft; there are witches who are not Wiccan, for instance, believers in Voodoo. The Craft is about training your mind and learning to be focussed. It takes a great deal of effort and perseverance, eventually enabling you to use your will and power to materialise change for good. It may also include learning herbcraft and other healing skills dependent on your tradition and inclination.

Modern Wicca is a nature/earth focussed belief system that has grown out of Witchcraft. There is no congregation in Wicca, all initiates are priests and priestesses and there is no hierarchy beyond that within a coven. Wicca involves ritual and there is debate as to whether it is an ‘initiation only’ religion or one into which one can self-initiate. Wiccan Covens meet regularly and celebrate the eight Sabbats, marking the turning of the year as well as Esbats, which follow the lunar cycle.

Wiccans believe in a female deity, the Goddess, who is worshipped alongside her male counterpart, the Horned God. Different groups draw their deities from a range of pantheons, but the essence is the duality of all things. The male and female energies defining and complimenting each other, just as light defines dark and dark defines light.

Wicca is a gentle and positive path, not intended to be proscriptive, but to respect and value all life, celebrating the cycles of nature and the Earth. The Wiccan Rede lays out the principle and that we must take responsibility for all our actions, so click the link to read the full version.

Bide the Wiccan Law ye must,
In perfect love and perfect trust.
Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill:
An’ ye harm none, do what ye will.
What ye send forth comes back to thee
So ever mind the law of three.
Follow this with mind and heart,
Merry ye meet, and merry ye part.
Blessed Be.

Suggested reading:

Living Wicca by Scott Cunningham

Lid Off the Cauldron by Patricia Crowther

The Goddess Changes: The Ninefold Cycle by Felicity Wombwell

Wicca: The Old Religion in the New Age by Vivianne Crowley

Check the Pages on the Wiccan Rede, Magic, Visualisation and Meditation to learn more.