Witchcraft and Wicca

Witchcraft or Wicca

What is the difference between Witchcraft and Wicca, or,  should it be Witchcraft vs. Wicca vs. Paganism.  Most Witches are Pagans, but, all Pagans are not Witches. And most importantly, not all Witches are Wiccans.  In other words, a Witch who practices Witchcraft does not necessarily mean that she believes in the religion of Wicca. A Wiccan involved in the religious practices of Wicca does not necessary practice Witchcraft and which makes them not a Witch.  And some Wiccan Pagans feel that no magick should be practiced at all, as Wicca is a religion and not magick. As Scott Cunningham wrote in one of his books “Witchcraft: the craft of the Witch–magick, especially magick utilizing personal power in conjunction with the energies within stones, herbs, colors and other natural objects. While this may have spiritual overtones, Witchcraft, using this definition, isn’t a religion. It is just that some followers of Wicca use this word to denote their religion.” So, according to Scott Cunningham simply being a Wiccan does not necessarily mean that you are a Witch.  I have seen in many websites that they state “Wicca comes from the root word “wicce” which means to bend or shape.”  This is absolutely and positively incorrect.  I have also seen some websites state that Witchcraft is “the craft of the wise.”  This is also incorrect.   Wicca is a male term for a person practicing his craft whereas Wicce is a term used for a female practicing her Craft

But where does the word Witchcraft come from?  Actually, no one really knows, except that it is a Christian word.   The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that Witchcraft comes from  the Old English word Wiccecraeft (also spelled wiccecraefte, wicchecrafte, wichecraft as well as wesch-craft and wicche craft) and that it literally means the Craft in the sense of art or skill of a practicing Pagan.   The truth of the matter is perhaps  the witch is a descendant of the ancient Goddess who embodied both birth and death, nurturing and destruction.  Like Hecate and Diana, the Witch is associated with the Moon and lunar power.  Like Aphrodite and Venus, she can make love potions.  Each attribute of a Witch, once belonged to a Goddess.  All over the ancient world, Goddesses were worshipped.  These Goddesses represented womanhood distilled to its ultimate essence.  But when religions’ decay and Gods are replaced, there is a consistent dynamic: the gods of the old religion inevitably become the evil of the new and that is what happened to the Goddess and which  spilled over into the bodies of all women and were called Witches…as someone to fear, hate and to destroy.    Since the Goddess of birth is also the Goddess of death, women are accused of bringing death into the world as well as life.  This is why the Witch is depicted both as young, beautiful and bedecked with flowers, and as a frightening crone covered with cobwebs.  She represents all the cycles of life, and if she is terrifying, it is because the cycles of life terrify.  The rejection of females’ bloody cycles, mewling infants, and cthonic vendettas reasserts itself in many cultures.  Woman is made the scapegoat for mortality itself, for nature is red in tooth and claw, for the mutability that is human fate.  Then she is punished, as if she were responsible for all nature’s capriciousness, as if she were Mother Nature incarnate–which, of course, is partially true!  So, what is a Witche’s heritage?  Her great, great, great, great, great ancestress is Ishtar, Hecate, Isis, Diana.  Her father is man.  Her midwife, his fears.  Her torturer, his fears.  Her executioners, his fears.  Her malignant power, his fears.  Her healing  power, her own.  So if the word Witch is a God of Abraham word and in a derogatory meaning, why call oneself a Witch?  Why….because of the more than 6 million women who were tortured and killed because of the word Witch.  For more information on the Burning Times, please visit Crone Turns Witch

Witches of yesteryear did not go around calling themselves Witches. People did. Just as Jesus did not go around calling himself a Christian. People did. More likely than not, the villagers went to a wise woman who attended to the birthing, attended to the sick and was even consulted in matters such as love and monetary matters as well as discreetly providing some villagers with potions and spell kits, but she did not necessarily call herself a Witch, because in the earliest days of “witchcraft”, practitioners were actually the village healers, teachers, story tellers, and midwives. It remained this way until the late 1400s when the Inquisition swept through Europe and by some estimates, as many as 9 million “witches” were executed, most of them women and children. They talk about the Holocaust and what the Germans did to the Jews. What about what the Christians did to those pagan women and children in the name of Witchcraft.

The word “Wicca” is a male gender term while “Wicce” is the female gender. I have read that Gerald Gardner chose the word “Wicca,” as he wanted to stay away from the bad undertones of the word Witchcraft.  Now, this is very hard to believe for instead of Gardner trying to show the rest of the World what Wicca was truly about, his exploits in his introducing Wicca to the media almost sent the religion back behind closed doors.   When one thinks of a Witch, they think of a woman, and they see her with her broom or bending over some cauldron. Even Halloween cards which has a Witch plastered on its front is that of a woman. There have been many fairytale stories of Witches and all of them are of women. One of the museums in Salem, Massachusetts has a manikin Witch flying on a broom, and it is a woman. When one thinks of a man performing magickal practices, he is thought of as a Wizard and/or magician.  Rarely is a women depicted as a magician.    Rarely is a Witch depicted as a man, and I do believe that that is why Gerald Gardner strayed away from the word Witch and its association with women and instead chose the word Wicca which is a male term. A man who so cleverly created the religion of Wicca could not have been so easily misunderstood in his spelling of the word and that is what some claimed happened. They call the pagan religion a Goddess religion, yet Gardner named it Wicca.  In his book “The Meaning of Witchcraft”, Gardner says “it may be because Witchcraft is a Moon Cult” yet he names this “Moon Cult,” which the Moon is associated with the Goddess, Wicca…a male term.  Doreen Valiente, High Priestess along side Gerald Gardner and author of “Rebirth of Witchcraft” and other books, did not like using the word Wicca for that very reason, as do many other female pagans.

There are many different practices of the religion known as Paganism and Wicca sits under that umbrella, just as you have Lutherans, Methodists, etc., sitting under the umbrella of Christianity. Wicca actively worships both the Goddess and her Consort and claim to follow the old religion.  They see the Goddess triple in nature and the God Her child and lover who dies in order for us to live.   Whereas many Pagans/Witches and Dianics, (while they recognize the existence of Her Consort), only actively worship the Goddess and actually do follow one of the oldest religions, as the Goddess religion is one of the oldest religions.  Traditions of Wicca claim that to honor either the Goddess or Her Consort more than the other would be an imbalance and an injustice. However, simply honoring both equally does not make one in balance, because each of us carry more energies of the male or female in us and it is generally the male energy that we all carry too much of. In this modern technology world we live in today and using all that fire energy we need to rush around in our daily lives, we cannot help but carry too much male energy whether male or female.

More and more Pagans and/or Witches feel that  Wicca, Druidism, and Strega are too male oriented for their liking.  In fact, most feel that Strega is actually Wicca with the name Strega attached to it.  Strega practices the 8 sabbats and below you will see that there is no one religion who practiced all 8 sabbats……only the man-made new religion known as Wicca.

In the Wiccan path,   the celebrations of the Sabbats, She is supposed to be honored equally with Her Consort. However, with the Wiccan Sabbats and the Wheel of the Year, it seems as if things are centered more around the Sun God and his Wheel of the Year….Lord of the Dance..  He is born at Yule and then his growth is followed in the seasonal year.  However, it is the Goddess who creates the seasonal year.    Wiccan covens tend to put more emphasis on Sabbats whereas Goddess followers and Witches put more emphasis on Moon rituals. Many Pagans  feel the Sabbats are just celebrations without any formal circle, as it was in yesteryear times.

The solstices and equinoxes are about the Sun and are what Gardner called the Lessor Sabbats while the Sabbats of Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas and Samhain are more about vegetation and Mother Earth and are called the Greater Sabbats and which are the true Celtic Sabbats. No where in any one tradition did pagans celebrate the 8 Sabbats, yet the Wiccan tradition follows the 8 Sabbats..    See Gardner Unveiled for more information.  Gardner pulled from the different traditions to form the 8 Sabbats. It also must be noted that no where can it be found that any pagan tradition celebrated the Spring Equinox. Gardner pulled the Spring Equinox in to keep the Sabbats more balanced and to have a celebration every six weeks.  In fact, in his book “The Meaning of Witchcraft” he says “The four great Sabbats are Candlemas, May Eve, Lammas and Samhain; the equinoxes and solstices are celebrated also.”  It almost as if he put the equinoxes and solstices as an afterthought…why…because, once again, no one pagan path celebrated the 8 Sabbats.

In the Wiccan tradition, they believe that She would be nothing without the Sun, or She needs the Sun to keep Her balance, when it is She who created the moon, the earth, the sun and the stars. Pagans see the Goddess as much more than just the sexual union with Her Consort, just as we, as woman, are much more than just a mate for our husbands. She stands alone in Her own power, just as we, as women, stand alone in our own power, and that is what Goddess followers are honoring and worshiping which is Her inner strength, Her power, Her nurturing aspect and Her magick of life giver.   She is the blade of grass, the gentle breeze upon our faces; She is the birds chirping and the bees upon the flowers.  She is the earth that you walk on and the food in which you eat.   She creates the seasonal changes, as She moves to and from the sun. The sun moves very little, while She dances the dance of life, for She is life itself. She is the moon with all its mysteries; She is the earth full of bounty.

Wicca feels that there must be a balance, but when one thinks about pagans of yesteryear, pagans were less concerned about balance and more concerned with survival.  Pagans prayed to the Gods for a fruitful and successful harvest and had celebrations when their crops were successful..  There were no rituals at Sabbats…., no casting circles, no calling in the Watchtowers.   They were farmers working the land and living off of it from the fruits of their labor.   Life was hard and they worked from day break to sun set with no time in between for Sabbat rituals.  Many Witches of today realizes this and therefore only celebrate the Sabbat by honoring the day.

Yesteryears’ pagans, and most Witches today, realize that Nature is not about balance for where is the balance of floods, draughts, tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, wind storms, severe and destructive lightening storms, or excessive heat and or cold. In August, the Greeks prayed to the Goddess Hecate to not send Her destructive storms.   Nature is beautiful, yet it can be harsh and cruel.  Pagans lived in a world not of dreams but a world of reality wherein the very livelihood depended upon successful crops which could be destroyed by weather or by blight, diseases, insects, etc.  There is beauty of the land and beauty of Her creatures, yet one predator can be another one’s prey for the only balance in Nature is life and death.  Paganism is a Nature religion and, while Wicca believes there is balance in Nature, most Witches know there is no balance in Nature and must learn to live with Nature with all Her ups and downs just as life has its ups and downs.  The Goddess religion is about living in harmony with all Her creatures and respecting Her body….the land, something of which many do not do.

Besides a desire to get into touch with the Earth, another motivator of those who become Witches is a belief in the beauty, power, and holiness of womankind. The Pagan religion is a celebration of the feminine principle.  Wiccans see it as a celebration of the wheel of the year of the Sun God and the sexual union between Lord and Lady.

Many Wiccans perform ritual skyclad.  Many Pagans wish not to participate in ritual nudity. Not because they are ashamed of anything, but feel that it is not necessary.  Nudity in ritual stems from Leland’s Aradia, Gospel of the Witches wherein in the “Charge” it says “and ye shall go naked in your own right.”    It was never proven that the material Leland said to have received from a gypsy who claimed to be a witch and in which he created Aradia, Gospel of the Witches in 1890 was authentic.    Leland was a writer whom published over seventy-three books.  Most of those books were not on Witchcraft.  No artifacts can be found, no written material other than what Leland wrote of a Goddess originating from Tuscany in the form of Aradia.   In fact, there are no mythology books on any  Goddess known as Aradia  or of Diana giving birth to Aradia or even having a brother named Lucifer, unlike her cousin, Artemis, in the Greek Mythology whose brother was Apollo.    I have a feeling that Leland’s material is no more authentic than Gardner’s Wicca which has been proven that Gardner’s Book of Shadows of Laws, rituals and initiations came from various sources including Key of Solomon, The Golden Dawn, and Free Masonry, to name a few, and not from some ancient tradition to which he claimed he was initiated into.  Gardner was initiated into ceremonial magick traditions but not Paganism and certainly not Witchcraft.

Unlike Wiccans, most Witches and/or Pagans also prefer not to honor the practices of the Great Rite, symbolic or otherwise, feeling that the sexual union between the Goddess and Her Consort is only one  facet of who and what the Goddess truly is. Many Wiccan traditions put much emphasis on the Great Rite in its symbolic form in each of their Sabbat rituals by performing the athame to chalice in all their ceremonies.  Many  Pagans feel that only at Beltane would that be appropriate.  As some may know, Aleister Crowley helped Gardner shape and form Wicca. He has been billed as the greatest magician of the 20th century but it is questionable whether he ever actually performed any feat of magick. In 1920, Crowley rented a villa and converted it into a sanctuary where he could explore all the nuances of sexual magick. According to one story in a London paper, life at Crowley’s sanctuary focused on “unspeakable orgies, impossible of description.” Many Pagans feel that Crowley is another reason why so much emphasis is put on nudity and the Great Rite in the Wiccan tradition and many Witches and/or Pagans do not wish to have  have any association with the infamous Aleister Crowley.

Wiccans put much emphasis on swords and athames wherein many Witches prefer using the wand or staff in their casting a circle. The sword is definitely a masculine trait.  Some Witches even prefer using the sickle, as it is the symbol of the Crone–of harvesting and death.  In hunter-gatherer societies, women were responsible for gathering and harvesting plant material. When cultivation began as a result of Demeter’s gift of wheat, it was the women who were instrumental in the harvest.   Hence, the sickle is an appropriate (and ancient) women’s tool. I really do not believe that your average pagan woman of yesteryear had a sword hanging on her wall and if and when she drew a magickal circle on the ground, more likely than not, she used a branch from a tree and did not tote some sword through the woods.  And she probably did not use a knife/athame to cast her circle either.  The sword is purely a masculine invention, as it was used in wars to kill.  Before there was a God and it was just the Goddess, there were no wars.  That did not come until the Solar Gods came into play bringing with them war, chaos, rape, deceit, jealousy, and even eating of their own children.

More and more Witches are  preferring to follow the Moon more so than the Sun and its Sabbat rituals.  Many of today’s Witches prefer performing Moon rituals and simply celebrating the Sabbats as pagans of yesteryear did.  They feel no necessity of calling in the Sun God during Moon rituals for in Moon rituals it is in honor of the Goddess only.  Yes, there are some Moon Gods but they did not appear until after the warring Gods came into play and took power away from the Goddess and given to the God from Zeus giving birth to Athena, depriving her of a mother to Gods being associated with the Moon. Women are on the Moon’s cycle, bleeding every 28 to 29 days, not men.  Women have more water in their bodies then men and therefore feel the Moon more.   The Sabbats deal with Her interaction as Mother Earth with the Sun God.  However, as Moon Goddess, She stands alone free and strong, independent of no influences of the Sun, and many Witches honor Her and only Her at Dark and Full Moons, not being caught up in the “balance.”   The Moon, after all is our closest neighbor. The moon influences ocean tides and blood tides. The Moon is intimately connected to the ancient worship of the Goddess. In Gardner’s Book, “The Meaning of Witchcraft”, he writes “but apart from these great Sabbats, minor meetings called Esbats are held.”  In other words, he is putting less emphasis on his own words “Witchcraft is a Moon cult!”  If Witchcraft is a Moon Cult, why minor meetings during Esbats/Full Moons?  In Wicca, much importance is placed on the Sun God and his wheel of the year.  However, science knows that if it were not for the Moon, we would not be for it is the Moon who keeps the Earth from spinning out into space.  It is the Moon who keeps the seasonal changes consistent for if it were not for the Moon, one day it would be cold and the next could be like a hot summer day.  So, it is the Moon and the Moon alone who keeps things in balance and the earth spinning on her right course year, after year, after year.  Therefore, it is the feminine Moon and the Moon alone who should be honored each month.

Regarding initiation, when it is a female wishing to be initiated into the Craft, according to the Wiccan tradition, a male has to initiate a female.  There has been much controversy on this subject, as many Pagans and Wiccans feel that a female should do the initiating on all occasions, as it is the Goddess who is doing the initiating in the first place.

There are many women today refusing to call themselves Wiccans because of its male terminology.  Once again, Wicce is a female term and Wicca a male term, according to the Oxford English Dictionary..   Women, throughout the ages, have fought for women’s rights, fought for the freedom to vote, fought for their own freedom from man, fought for our rights from brutality of some men, fought for equal pay, fought for even the right to smoke out in public and even had to fight to wear pants.  Yet, some of today’s women have stepped backwards in calling themselves a male term of Wiccan and following a Goddess religion named after a male.  All wise Witches know that words have power; names have power, if not, Witches, Pagans and Wiccans would not be choosing magickal names which represents their very soul.  Some Witches and/or Pagans following the Dianic path call themselves “Dianic Wiccans,” which is a contradiction in itself, as the Dianic path is centered solely around  the Goddess in the Sabbats and in Moon rituals.  It is a very female oriented religion, yet they call themselves Wiccans, which is a male term.   If “Witchcraft is a Moon Cult”, by Gardner’s own words, why call it Wicca, when Wicca is a male term and paganism  is a Goddess religion.  That is why many Witches refuse to call the Goddess religion by a male name of Wicca.   Many Pagans and/or Witches put more emphasis on Moon rituals and celebrate the Sabbats and not the other way around.   Most of all, many Witches and/or Pagans do not wish to follow yet another man-made religion which is what Wicca is.  Witchcraft is not a religion but a practice of one’s Craft….. I do not care how many Wiccan practitioners protest that Witchcraft is a religion.  It simply is not so..

You also see many groups calling themselves “Traditional Witchcraft.” If their tradition is religious in nature, then it is not  necessarily Traditional Witchcraft, as the old “traditional” Witchcraft was not a religion but one practicing solely the arts of magick and not a religion.  They performed no rituals in either performing magick or for the Sabbats.   Following a “tradition” and “Traditional Witchcraft” are two separate things.   One can always tells when someone is claiming they are “Traditional Witches” or practicing Traditional Witchcraft, and they are not, simply by observing if they practice the 8 Sabbats, or they practice any religion at all. Traditional Witches have no claim, nor do they want to, on Wicca.  Most Trad Witches have no connection with a Deity nor a religion.  Instead, Trad Witches, as with all Witches, delve in the healing arts, divination and of magick with no interlacing of any kind of a religion and/or performing any kind of ritual.  They know of no Book of Shadows nor Witche’s Tools of the Craft and no “And Ye Harm None.”   These are ceremonial magician followings and one in which Gardner pulled into Wicca.  The 8 Sabbats are clearly a Wiccan practice.   However, and unfortunately, some disagree with this statement, but then again, they really do need to do some serious research on the matter.

I have received many emails informing me that because they choose not to walk the balance religion known as Wicca and do not worship the Goddess and her consort like Wicca does that they are told they are not a Witch.  They are told this by Wiccans.  What is disturbing about this is that it sounds all too familiar in the Christian Religion wherein Christians tell other Christians that they will not go to Heaven simply because they have not been saved, i.e., born again.   There are Christians who disagree with other Christian paths and will put other Christian followings down.  The Goddess Religion/Paganism is supposed to be a religion with no dogma, yet Wiccan members are doing just that as many Wiccans frown upon other Pagans who walk a different life than Wicca.  What these accusers do not realize is that Witchcraft has nothing to do with a religion, has nothing to do with following a Goddess and God or simply the Goddess.  Witchcraft is the practicing of one’s Craft and not the practicing of a religion.   What these people also do not realize is that no one has the right to tell another person that they are not a Witch. In order for this to stop, Pagans need to stand up for what they believe in and not be bullied by another simply because they wish to worship differently.  Nature is not about balance for She does what She pleases.    If an initiated Wiccan  told another person who was a self-initiated Wiccan that they were not Wiccan because Wicca is an initiatory religion and one must be initiated into the religion known as Wicca by another initiated Wiccan, then they would be right.   Since it has been discovered that Gerald Gardner made the entire religion known as Wicca up, including initiation, then the only way to be truly a Wiccan is to be initiated by a Wiccan and not self-initiation.  Gardner’s intent was to form something similar as in The Golden Dawn, Free Masonry, the following of King Solomon, all of which are/were secret societies which one has to be initiated into to be a member and sworn to secrecy.  Please see Key of Solomon with comparisons between Wicca, Key of Solomon, Free Masonry and Golden Dawn.  Wicca can be compared to the High Priests/High Priestesses of Egypt wherein members of the temple must be initiated.  The practices of Egypt did not allow the common folk to step foot into the temples.  Besides the High Priestess and High Priestess, Handmaidens, and initiated members, the Pharoah was the only one allowed into the temple for it was believed he was God.  The “common” people worshipped on their own and worshipped how they wished to worship and whom they wished to worship at any given time and not necessarily both a Goddess and God.

If Paganism with all its paths is to survive and be recognized, everyone must respect how  another Pagan wishes to worship the nature religion and the turning of the wheel of life.

©People wishing to use material from this website for teaching purposes whether it be through a coven or website, permission must first be given by me as well as linking back to
Hecate’s Cauldron.  Those wishing to use material for personal use only,  need not request permission

History of Wicca

How much of Wicca can be traced to the Celts?

Wicca is a religion based, in part, on ancient, northern European Pagan beliefs in a fertility Goddess and her consort, a horned God. Although the religion is a modern creation, some of its sources pre-date the Christian era by many centuries. Most Wiccans do not believe that their religion is a direct, continuous descendent of this earlier religion. They see it as a modern reconstruction.

Joanna Hautin-Mayer has written:

“We know tragically little about the actual religious expressions of the ancient Celts. We have a few myths and legends, but very little archeological evidence to support our theories. We have no written records of their actual forms of worship, and the accounts of their culture and beliefs written by their contemporaries are often highly biased and of questionable historical worth.” 1

Ms. Hautin-Mayer is particularly critical of recent Neopagan books which she demonstrates to be largely fictional accounts of the history of Witta 3 (presented as an Irish Pagan tradition),  Faery Wicca  4 (presented as an ancient tradition), and 21 Lessons of Merlyn 5 (a somewhat racist and sexist account of Druidism).

Silver RavenWolf wrote in 1998:

“Wicca, as you practice the religion today, is a new religion, barely fifty years old. The techniques you use at present are not entirely what your elders practiced even thirty years ago. Of course, threads of ‘what was’ weave through the tapestry of ‘what is now.’ …in no way can we replicate to perfection the precise circumstances of environment, society, culture, religion and magick a hundred years ago, or a thousand.   Why would we want to ? The idea is to go forward with the knowledge of the past, tempered by the tools of our own age.” 2

Writings that formed the basis of Wicca:

Much of modern-day Wicca can be directly traced back to the writings of:

Charles Leland (1824-1903) published a book in 1899: Aradia: Gospel of the Witches. 8 Leland was the founder of the Gypsy Lore Society, editor of the Philadelphia Bulletin, and a prolific author and folklorist. Aradia deals mainly with the Goddess Diana. It is presented as an ancient document which recorded the doctrines of La Vecchia Religione (The Old Religion) — Italian witchcraft. Leland claims to have received the information from an Italian strega (sorceress) named Maddalena. How much of this is a valid account of La Vecchia Religione is anyone’s guess. However, the book played a significant role in the later development of modern-day Neopaganism.
Margaret Murray (1863 – 1963) authored The Witch Cult in Western Europe and The God of the Witches. 6 These books promoted the concept that some of the Witches who were exterminated by Roman Catholics and Protestants during the “Burning Times” (circa 1450-1792) were remnants of an earlier, organized, and dominant pre-Christian religion in Europe. Her writings have not been well received by anthropologists. However, they were very influential in providing background material for the Neopagan traditions.
Gerald Gardner (1884 – 1964), a British civil servant, who:
has written that he joined an existing Wiccan Coven in 1939, taking the (then) usual vows of secrecy
persuaded the coven to let him write a book in 1949 about Wicca in the form of a novel, High Magic’s Aid. He carefully revealed a few of the Old Religion’s beliefs and the historical persecutions that they endured.
added many rituals, symbols, concepts and elements from ceremonial magick, Freemasonry and other sources to “flesh out” the coven’s beliefs and practices, most of which had been long forgotten.
wrote Witchcraft Today in 1954 in which he described additional details about the faith. 7
wrote The Meaning of Witchcraft which described in detail the history of Wicca in Northern Europe. 7

Theories about the origins of Wicca:

There are many beliefs concerning the origins of Wicca:

According to Gardner, Wicca:
began in prehistory, as ritual associated with fire, the hunt, animal fertility, plant propagation, tribal fertility and the curing of disease.
developed into a religion which recognized a Supreme Deity, but realized that at their state of evolution, they “were incapable of understanding It” . Instead, they worshipped what might be termed “under-Gods”: the Goddess of fertility and her horned consort, the God of the hunt.
continued their predominately Moon based worship, even as a mainly Sun-based faith of priests, the Druids, developed and evolved into the dominant religion of the Celts. By this time, Celtic society had gradually spread across Northern Europe into what is now England, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Scotland etc. They never formed a single political entity, but remained as many tribes who shared a common culture and religions.
survived the Roman, Saxon, and Norman invasions by going underground
suffered major loss in numbers during the active Christian genocides, which continued into the 18th Century
reached a low ebb by the middle of the 20th century. Much of the theology and ritual had been lost; Wiccan covens had become so isolated that they had lost contact with each other.
was revived in the UK by himself, his High Priestess Doreen Valiente, (1922 – 1999) and others, who took the surviving beliefs and practices, and fleshed them out with material from other religious, spiritual and ceremonial magick sources.
Gardner has claimed that after he wrote his books, he received many letters from members of isolated covens who had believed that their groups had been in continuous existence for generations or centuries.

Other individuals discount this belief system and maintain that there was no continuous Wiccan presence from Celtic times to the 20th century. They maintain that present-day Wicca was created by merging a few ancient Celtic beliefs, deity structure, and seasonal days of celebration with modern material from ceremonial magick, the Masonic Order, etc.
Still others trace Wicca back to a little known faith group in New England in the early 20th century.

Recent Wiccan history:

There is general agreement that Wicca first became a mass movement in recent times in England during the 1950’s with the publishing of books by Gerald Gardner. It has expanded at a furious rate in North America and Europe.

Wicca is one of the largest of the minority religions in the United States. There are no reliable estimates of the number of Wiccans in this country. Our best  estimate is on the order of 750,000. That would make Wicca about the 5th largest organized religion in the United States, behind Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Hinduism. However it is virtually unknown by the general public. This is because almost all Wiccans hide their religious beliefs and practices. Those who allow their faith to be known publicly are very heavily persecuted in North America; on a per-capita basis, they are believed to be victimized more often than members of any other religious group. Many assaults, arson, economic attacks are reported yearly. There have even been shootings, one public mass stoning and one lynching in recent years! Reports circulate frequently of misinformed child protection officers seizing children from the homes of Wiccans because they feared that they would be killed or abused in some Satanic ritual. The perpetrators of this religious hatred are usually very devout, very concerned but terribly misinformed people. They believe the misinformation that has been spread about Witches continuously since the Middle Ages. It is only in Eastern Massachusetts, Southern California and in a few cities elsewhere in North America that most Wiccans feel secure enough to  come out of the (broom) closet in large numbers. In other areas, they tend to avoid persecution by keeping their religious faith secret. Unfortunately, this policy can have negative results; some people speculate that because Wiccans remain underground, they must have something to hide. This is a “no-win” situation with no obvious solution.

The above paragraph was written in the mid 1990s. Since then, the situation has improved greatly. Many Wiccans have come out of the closet and revealed their faith openly. The public has become much more aware of Wicca and other Neopagan religions. The frequency of violence has decreased greatly, although there are still occasional accounts of vandalism and economic attacks.

he following information sources . The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

Joanna Hautin-Mayer, “When is a Celt not a Celt? An irreverent peek into Neopagan views of history,” at: http://www.cyberwitch.com/wychwood/Library/
Silver Ravenwolf, Llewellyn’s 1999 Magickal Almanac, Llewellyn Publications, (1998)
Edain McCoy, “Witta: An Irish Pagan Tradition,” Llewellyn, (1993) Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
Kisma Stepanich, “Faery Wicca,” Llewellyn, (2 volumes; 1994-95; Out of print).
Douglas Monroe, “The 21 Lessons of Merlyn: A Study in Druid Magic and Lore,” Llewellyn, (1993)

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The Witch’s Code of Chivalry

– Chivalry is a high code of honor which is of most ancient Pagan origin, and must be lived by all who follow the Old ways.

– It must be understood that thoughts and intent put forth on this plane will wax strong in other planes, and return… bringing into creation, on this world, that which had been sent forth. Thus, you should exercise discipline, for “as ye do plant, so shall ye harvest”.

– It is only by preparing our minds to be as Gods that we can ultimately attain godhead.

– Above all else, you must be true to yourself.

– A witches’ word must have the validity of a signed and witnessed oath. Thus, give thy word sparingly, but adhere to it like iron.

– Refrain from speaking ill of others, for not all truths of the matter may be known.

– Pass not unverified words about another, for hearsay is, in large part, a thing of falsehoods.

– Be honest with others, and let them know that honesty is also expected of them.

– The heat of the moment plays havoc with the truth. To keep your head is a virtue.

– Contemplate always the consequences of your actions upon others. Strive not to harm.

– Different covens may well have diverse views on love between members and with others. When a coven, clan, or grove is visited or joined, you should always find out their practices and abide by them, or leave.

– Dignity, a gracious manner, and a good humor are much to be admired.

– As a witch, you have power, and your powers wax strongly as wisdom increases. Therefore, exercise discretion in their use.

– Courage and honor endure forever. Their echoes remain when the mountains have crumbled to dust.

– Pledge friendship and fealty to those who warrant it. Strengthen others of this path and they will strengthen you.

– You must not reveal the secrets of another witch or another coven. Others have labored long and hard for them, and cherish them as a treasure.

– Though there may be differences between those of the Old Ways, those who are once-born must see nothing and must hear nothing.

– Those who follow the mysteries should be above reproach in the eyes of the world.

– The laws of the land should be obeyed whenever possible and within reason, for the most part they have been chosen with wisdom.

– Have pride in yourself and seek perfection in mind and body. For the Lady asks “How cast thou honor another unless thou give honor to thyself first?”

– Those who seek the mysteries should consider themselves as select of the Gods, for it is they who lead the race of humankind to the highest of thrones and beyond the stars.

This information was taken from ‘Magical Rites from the Crystal Well’ by Ed Fitch.

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The 13 Wiccan Principles
The following set of thirteen principles was adopted by the Council of American Witches, in April, 1974.

— We practice rites to attune ourselves with the natural rhythm of life forces marked by the phases of the Moon and the seasonal Quarters and Cross Quarters.

— We recognize that our intelligence gives us a unique responsibility toward our environment. We seek to live in harmony with Nature, in ecological balance offering fulfillment and consciousness within an evolutionary concept.

— We acknowledge a depth of power far greater than that apparent to the average person. Because it is far greater than ordinary it is sometimes called supernatural, but we see it as lying within that which is naturally potential to all.

— We conceive of 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 feminine. We value neither above the other, knowing each to be supportive to each 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 Unconscious, Inner Planes, etc. ~ and we see in the interaction 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.

— Calling oneself “Witch” does not make a Witch – but neither does heredity itself, not the collecting of titles, degrees, and initiations. A Witch seeks to control the forces within her/himself that make 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 claimed to be “the only way”, and have sought to deny freedom to others and to suppress other ways of religious practice and belief.

— As American {Or World-Wide!} 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.

— We do not accept the concept of absolute evil, nor do we worship any entity known as Satan or the Devil, as defined by the Christian tradition. We do not seek power through the sufferings of others, nor accept that personal benefit can be derived only by denial to another.

— We believe that we should seek within Nature that which is contributory to our health and well-being.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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