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What is Wicca?

Wicca and Shamanism

Shamanism has been defined as the first religion. It existed prior to the earliest civilizations, before our ancestors took the first steps down the long journey to the present. Prior to this time the shamans were the medicine people, the power wielders, male and female. They wrought magick and spoke to the spirits of nature.

The shamans were the first humans with knowledge. They created, discovered, nurtured, and used it. Knowledge is power; women and men who possessed it in those "far-flung" days were shamans.

How did shamans capture or discover this power? Through ecstasy--alternate states of consciousness in which they communed with the forces of the universe. Early Shamans first attained this state through the use of such "tools" as fasts, thirsts, self-infliction of pain, ingestion of hallucinogenic substances, concentration and so on. Once mastered, these techniques allowed them to gain awareness of other, non-physical worlds.

Through such "awareness shifts", all magickal knowledge was obtained. Conference with spirits and deities, plants and animals opened up new vistas of learning. Among their own people, the shamans often shared some of this knowledge but reserved the rest for personal use. Shamanic Lore wasn't for public consumption.

Later, shamans advanced in the use of tools to facilitate these awareness shifts, making the advent of magickal rituals. Shamans around the world still use tools such as drums, rattles, reflective objects, music, chants and dance. Indeed, the most effective shamanic rites are those which utilize both natural and artificial tools-a sighing width, roaring ocean, flickering firelight, a steady drum beat, the hiss of a rattle. These combined with darkness and chants eventually over-whelmed the senses, forcing a shifting from awareness to physical world to the vaster realm of energies. Such are shamanic rites which exist to this day.

From these primitive beginnings arose all magick and religion, including Wicca. Despite current controversy as to the "antiquity" of Wicca, it is spiritually descended from such rites. Though refined and changed for our world, Wicca still touches our should and causes ecstasy-awareness shifts-uniting us with the Deity. Many of the techniques of Wicca are shamanic in origin.

Therefore, Wicca can be described as a shamanic religion. As with shamanism, only a select few feel compelled to enter its circle of light.

Today, Wicca has dripped the ordeals of pain and the use of hallucinogens in favor of chanting, meditation, concentration, visualization, music, dance, invocation and ritual drama. With these spiritual tools the Wicca achieve a state of ritual consciousness similar to those attained by the most brutal shamanic ordeals. Unlike some religions, Wicca doesn't view Deity as a distant. The Goddess and God are both Within ourselves and manifest in all nature. This is the universality: there is nothing that isn't of the Gods.

A study of shamanism reveals such of the heart of magickal and religious experience in general, and Wicca in particular. With ritual as a means to enter ritual consciousness, the shaman or Wicca constantly expands his or hers knowledge, and knowledge is power. Wicca helps its practitioners to understand the universe and our place within it.

At present, Wicca is a religion with many variations. Because it is such a personally-structured system, it is different from person to person.

Wicca, in common with many other religions, recognizes Deity as dual. It reveres both the Goddess and the God. They are equal, warm and loving, not descend or resident in "heaven" but omnipresent (in more then 1 place at the same time) throughout the universe.

Wicca also teaches that the physical worlds is one of many realities. The physical is not the absolute highest expression, nor is the spiritual "purer" than the base. The only difference between the physical and spiritual is that the former is denser.

As in Eastern religions, Wicca also embraces the doctrine of reincarnation, that much-misunderstood subject. Unlike some Eastern philosophers, however Wicca doesnít teach that upon physical death our should will reincarnate in anything other than human body. Also, few of the Wicca believe we begun our existence as rocks, trees, snails, or birds before we evolved to the point where we could incarnate as human beings. Though these creatures and substances do possess a type of soul, it's not the sort we humans have.

Reincarnation is accepted as fact by many millions in the East and West. It answers many questions: What happens after death? Why do we seem to remember things we've never done in this life? Why are we sometimes strangely attracted to places or people who we've never seen before?

Surely reincarnation can't answer all these questions, but it is therefore those who wish to study it. This isn't something that should be believed. Through contemplation, meditation and self-analysis many come to the point where they accept reincarnation as fact.

The Wiccan ideal of morality is simple: Do what you want, as long as you harm none. This rule contains another unwritten condition: Do nothing that will harm yourself. Thus, if you as a Wicca abuse your body, deny it necessities of life or otherwise harm yourself, you're in violation of this principle.

This is more than survival. It also ensures that you'll be in good condition to take on the tasks of preserving and bettering our world, for concern and love for our planet play major roles in Wicca.

Wicca is a religion that utilizes magick. This is one of its most appealing and unique features. Religious magick? This isnít as strange as it might seem. Catholic priests use "magick" to transform a piece of bread into the body of a long-deceased "savior". Prayer--a common tool in many religions- is simply a form of concentration and communication with Deities. If the concentration is extended, energies are sent out with the thoughts which may in time make the prayer come true. Prayer is a from of religious magick.

Magick is the practice of moving natural (though little-understood) energies to effect needed change. In Wicca, magick is used as a tool to sanctify ritual areas, to improve ourselves and the world in which we live.

Many people confuse Wicca and magick as if the two worlds were interchangeable. Wicca is a religion that embraces magick. If you seek only to practice Magick, Wicca probably isnít the answer for you.

Another fundamental point: Magick isnít a means of forcing nature to do your will. This is a completely erroneous idea, fostered by the beliefs that magick is somehow supernatural, as if anything that exists can be outside of nature. Magick is natural. It is a harmonious movement of energies to create needed change. If you wish to practice magick, all thoughts of it being paranormal or supernatural must be forgotten.

Most Wiccans donít believe in predestination. Although we honor and revere the Goddess and God, we know that we're free souls with full control and responsibility of our lives. We cant point at an image of an evil god, such as Satan, and blame it for our faults and weaknesses. We cant blame Fate. Every second of every day we're creating our futures, Shaping the course of our lives.

Scott Cunningham

Wiccans recognize and worship during the change of the seasons and the full and new moons. Wicca is considered a pagan religion, which means it is not Judeo-Christian in origin. Pagan simply means "not of the city" or "country-dweller" and should not be thought of as a negative term. Wicca is unique in that it has no dogmas, or set of rules. This can be confusing for new practitioners, because Wiccan practices are obtained from within, are personal, individual, and are not mandated by any one person, hierarchy, or "Bible". Many people brought up in an organized religion are not used to such an open and free belief system. It takes time to become comfortable in developing your religious practices from your personal experiences and knowledge, but inside lies the beauty of Wicca. Individuality is the best thing about Wiccans. There is not only one form of it there is many, some can be all mixed together and some can just practice one of the many Wiccan traditions. The Ethics of Wicca are The Wiccan Rede and The Three-Fold Law.

The Three- Fold Law is Whatever you do comes back to you Three times as good or Three times as bad ( Karma).

What Wiccans believe for the "After life" is reincarnation. Reincarnation can be many things, it means different things to different people. Reincarnation can be a philosophy, a belief system, a theory, or a way of life. Although there is no proof that reincarnation actually exists, the idea does explain things that cannot be explained any other way. For example, sometimes bad things happen to good people. Well, maybe this good person did something bad in a past life and are paying for it in this life. It's called Karma, and bad karma can have some nasty effects.

Most wiccans, not all, but most believe in reincarnation. The basic belief structure involves the idea that every person has a soul. The soul stays and lives in the astral plane where is learns and grows. The soul may choose to learn a specific lesson, so that it can grow. The soul will travel into the physical plane, there it will be born. Every person's mission in life is to learn the lesson their soul wishes to learn. The person lives, then dies, and is then reborn. It is thought that the soul will rest between lives, building up strength for the next. The soul can also live multiple lives at the same time, this is where the theory of "everyone has a double" comes from. Wiccans see reincarnation as a cycle, just as the goddess and the seasons have cycles. While the Earth is being born, dying, and being reborn... people are being born, dying, and being reborn.

We donít believe in Heaven and Hell wiccans do not believe in a Heaven or a Hell... so now all of those demons and devils and stuff are out of the picture. Some wiccans, however, do believe in a heaven called the Summerland. This is said to be the place where the old souls go to rest. Once a particular soul decides that it has learned all of the lessons in life, it may go to rest at the Summerland. Wiccan sometimes, also, believe in the Underworld. The Underworld is from ancient myths, especially those that originated in Europe and especially Greece. The Underworld is said to be located far below the Earth's surface and is where all the souls return once the person they occupied has died. There the souls wait and rest until they are reborn. Some ancient myths include a keeper of the Underworld (Hades), but these keepers did not, in any way, resemble Satan or the devil. It was until patriarchy took over and rewrote the myths to make them more "masculine", were the keepers of the Underworld portrayed as evil.

We practice rites to become closer to and steady ourselves with the natural rhythm of life forces marked by the phases of the Moon, and the seasonal Quarters, and Cross Quarters.

We recognize what we know about the earth and the respect we have for the earth gives us a very different and strong responsibility toward our environment. We seek to be one with Nature, in the natural balance offering fulfillment of life and consciousness within an evolutionary concept.

We have a lot of power a lot stronger than that the person who doesn't want to acknowledge that they do have it. Because it is far greater than ordinary, it is sometimes called "supernatural," but we see it as lying within everything and everyone.

We have the Creative Power in the universe as manifesting through polarity - as masculine and feminine - and that this same Creative Power lies in all people, and functions through the interaction of the masculine and the feminine. We value neither above the other, knowing each to be supportive of the other. We value sex as pleasure, as the symbol and embodiment of life, and as one of the sources of energies used in magickal practice and religious worship.

We recognize both outer worlds and inner, or psychological, worlds sometimes known as the Spiritual World, the Collective Unconsciousness, Inner Planes, etc. - and we see in the inter-action of these two dimensions the basis for paranormal phenomena, and magickal exercises. We neglect neither dimension for the other, seeing both as necessary for our fulfillment.

We do not recognize any authoritarian hierarchy, but do honor those who teach, respect those who share their greater knowledge and wisdom, and acknowledge those who have courageously given of themselves in leadership.

We see religion, magick and wisdom in living as being united in the way one views the world and lives within it - a world view and philosophy of life which we identify as Witchcraft - The Wiccan Way.

Calling oneself "witch" does not make a witch - but neither does heredity itself, nor the collecting of titles, degrees and initiations. A witch seeks to control the forces within her/himself that makes life possible in order to live wisely and well without harm to others and in harmony with nature.

We believe in the affirmation and fulfillment of life in a continuation of evolution and development of consciousness giving meaning to the Universe we know and our personal role within it.

Our only animosity towards Christianity, or towards any other religion or philosophy of life, is to the extent that its institutions have claims to the "the only way," and have sought to deny freedom to others and to suppress other ways of religious practice and belief.

As American Witches, we are not threatened by debates on the history of the Craft, the origins of various terms, the legitimacy of various aspects of different traditions. We are concerned with our present and our future. ~~Faded

This is something i got from a great web page made by Faded. I think its very good and explanatory for those of you who think you Wicca...but maybe your not--yet.

You Are Not A Real Wiccan If You...

... hurt people. This means physically, mentally, spiritually, or magickally.

... use "black magick". Wiccans don't believe in black magick for that matter, we believe that magick is neutral. This doesn't mean, however, that we use magick to cause bad things to happen.

... use illegal drugs. You don't need to be high to perform rituals or cast spells. Drugs will only make things more difficult for you and even lessen your inner power and energy.

... think you have "powers" because you are studying Wicca. Let's be realistic here. Wiccans do not fly (unless they are in an airplane) and they can't change their hair color in the blink of an eye. As for psychic gifts, these really have nothing to do with Wicca.

... sacrifice animals. That's just plain disgusting. Wiccans respect all living things. Besides, the Goddess does not wish blood to be shed in her name.

... tell lies to manipulate another person. Don't try to control people by making them think you have power over them.

... call yourself a warlock (for guys). Warlock comes from ancient covens... it means "Oath-Breaker". Isn't this an insult?

... take part in any kind of sexual perversions. This means no orgies or forcing someone to have sex with you. Any kind of magick that involves sex without love is a no-no. And if you are a teen, I think you're a little young to be experimenting with sex anyway. Wicca is not some excuse to have sex, it never was. So get that idea out of your minds right now.

... drink or use blood in magick. Ok, this is just sick... I'm not going to go here.

... take part in criminal activities.

... destroy or deface the symbol of another religion. Wiccans show respect for all religions. Our religion is not the only way, it is just our way.

... worship Satan. Sorry, Wiccans do not even believe in Satan.

... try to recruit people. Wiccans don't go around trying to get everyone they can to join Wicca. If someone wants to learn about Wicca, they will come to us. You came to my website in your own free will didn't you?

... think you have become a Wiccan overnight. Just because you read a book on Wicca does not mean you are automatically Wiccan.

... think you absolutely have to belong to some coven to be Wiccan. There are many solitaries out there... we perform self dedications to dedicate ourselves to Wicca. (yes I am a solitary) There are Wiccans who do practice in coven settings and they are initiated. There is nothing wrong with either way of practicing... they are just different and each has its own advantages.

... attack people. This doesn't mean you can't defend yourself if you are attacked.

... brag to everyone that you are a witch. Don't just walk up to people and say "Guess what! I'm a witch!". Sorry, this is just going to get you into trouble. Also don't brag to people about your magickal knowledge and tell them you can do all of these wild things (when you probably can't)... this too will also get you into trouble. Wiccans follow the Witches' Pyramid (a creed and structure of learning that witches follow) which states: To know, To Dare, To Will, and To Be Silent.

... charge money to help another person through magick or prayer. You should help someone who is in need because it feels good, not because you think you can make a profit from it.

... cast love spells that are directed at a certain person or persons in particular. A love spell is a form of manipulation and that is against the Wiccan Rede. Never, ever cast any spell to make someone fall in love with you or to break two people up. Wiccans do, however, work to bring love into their life... but this is not directed at any person in particular.

Wait! I thought Wicca was a free belief system. Why are you making all of these rules?

The statements listed above are not "the rules" of Wicca. They are examples of things that people who have claimed to be Wiccan, have done in the past... and said it was OK to do those things because of their religious choice. Sorry guys, but real Wiccans do not do any of those things. The examples above are all against the Wiccan Rede... the one rule that Wicca does have. Wicca is a free belief system, but that doesn't mean you can do immoral things. The free belief system lies mostly in the ritual techniques and worshiping methods.

Now I know that all of you have done at least one of the things in the examples above. But if you regret what you did and know it was wrong... then the God and the Goddess will always forgive you. Of course you might have gotten a little bad karma or three fold... but you probably learned your lesson. If you didn't learn your lesson and you continue to do immoral things due to your false belief that Wicca is a way to get what ever you want... well then, my friend, you are not a true Wiccan.

Also, on another note, if you do immoral things that are outside of your religion... then please let it be known that you are doing these things because they are your choice. Not because you "have" to do them because you are Wiccan. That's just spreading the misconceptions more. So if you're going to be naughty, don't use Wicca as a safety net.

What is Witchcraft?

The history of Witchcraft has been so tainted by historians throughout the years, in articles and books so blatantly filled with prejudice and fear, that it's hard to uncover the truth. But as more and more brave souls step forward and proudly proclaim themselves as Witches, we learn more about our ancestry. Tens of thousands of years ago, our ancestors lived close to the land. They hunted and harvested fruits and seeds from their environment, and their respect for the creatures sharing the Earth was a constant point of reference in their day-to-day existence. Because the world of our ancestors was a magical place filled with the spirits of plants and animals, and because their experience had shown them that cooperation was more efficient than working alone, it was only natural that a bond of cooperation with nature would be sought by them. Thus was born the world's oldest religion: Witchcraft. During the following centuries this religion developed naturally and easily to fit the needs of the People. As closer bonds were developed with nature, rituals became more complex and the ability to accurately communicate with nature spirits was designated to The Wicca - which means "the wise ones". These men and women held the secrets for the community, sharing wisdom and power and leading the rituals during the Sabbats - the holy days that mark the turning of the wheel of the year. With the advent of Christianity, several things changed and we feel those repercussions even today. This new, man-made religion focused on a single God as opposed to a pantheon of Goddesses and Gods that had developed naturally over hundreds of generations. According to Joseph Campbell, monotheism is the single most dangerous idea humans have ever had because this new God is a being we cannot relate to in any way. Rather than interacting with people, this God dictates from a position of formlessness and timelessness. This God has no personality to relate to, no idiosyncrasies to show us that our own quirks are acceptable. Is it any wonder that the monks, nuns, missionaries, bishops and priests of the early church were seen as erratic, pointless souls lost in a belief they could neither explain nor understand? The spread of Christianity was not as lightning fast as our history books would have us believe. Rather, women and men of power were converted first and the force of their will was imposed on the People - sometimes on entire countries. When the People refused to give up the Old Religion, Pope Gregory the Great issued an order to destroy the sites of worship associated with the Old Religion and replace them with Christian churches. The Old Religion was seen as a rival to the Christian march toward world domination, so the ugly rumors began in earnest. No one could have been more surprised at the accusations of "devil-worship" directed at the Pagans than the Pagans themselves. Until the moment they were cursed, they had no concept of a devil. Satan was a Christian import and the history books are full of examples of the "winner-take-all" philosophy of the Christians. Throughout history the Gods of the defeated become the devils of the victors, and so it was in this case. The Great One, the Horned God Herne (or, later, Cernunnos) became the epitome of Satan - horned, cloven hooves, etc., etc. By the time Pope Innocent VIII took office, the cards were stacked against our ancestors and the followers of the Old Religion. Pope Innocent issued a Bull against Witches in 1484. And in 1486 two German monks submitted a filthy, obscene, personally-conceived document against Witches that changed the course of history. This document is the Malleus Malleficarum, or "The Witch's Hammer" - a title that still sends chills up and down the spine of pagans and Witches today. The holocaust against Witches began in earnest with its publication, and this time of hysteria is called The Burning Times. (Ironically, their manuscript was rejected by the Theosophical Council as "crazy" and the monks forged the signatures of approval: a fact that was not made public for over 400 years.) During the Burning Times, an estimated nine million Witches were killed by their Christian brothers, sisters, spouses and neighbors. Even today you cannot publicly announce the fact that you are a Witch without fear of severe and often brutal repercussions, depending on where you live in the world. But the times are changing and the Goddess is re-awakening. The power of Herne is calling to us, children of the Earth, and many of us are answering, but not with vengeance or hatred. We are answering with the Witch's Rede:

An' it harm none, do what thou wilt. (Peace of Mind Books)