Portal:Wicca

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The Wicca portal

A pentacle, a pentagram enclosed by a circle, is used by many adherents of Wicca. This symbol is generally placed on a Wiccan altar to honor the elements and directions.

Wicca (English: /ˈwɪkə/), also termed Pagan Witchcraft, is a contemporary Pagan new religious movement. It was developed in England during the first half of the 20th century and was introduced to the public in 1954 by Gerald Gardner, a retired British civil servant. Wicca draws upon a diverse set of ancient pagan and 20th-century hermetic motifs for its theological structure and ritual practices.

Wicca has no central authority figure. Its traditional core beliefs, principles and practices were originally outlined in the 1940s and 1950s by Gardner and Doreen Valiente, both in published books as well as in secret written and oral teachings passed along to their initiates. There are many variations on the core structure, and the religion grows and evolves over time. It is divided into a number of diverse lineages, sects and denominations, referred to as traditions, each with its own organisational structure and level of centralisation. Due to its decentralized nature, there is some disagreement over what actually constitutes Wicca. Some traditions, collectively referred to as British Traditional Wicca, strictly follow the initiatory lineage of Gardner and consider the term Wicca to apply only to similar traditions, but not to newer, eclectic traditions.

Wicca is typically duotheistic, worshipping a Goddess and a God. These are traditionally viewed as the Moon Goddess and the Horned God, respectively. These deities may be regarded in a henotheistic way, as having many different divine aspects which can in turn be identified with many diverse pagan deities from different historical pantheons. For this reason, they are sometimes referred to as the "Great Goddess" and the "Great Horned God", with the adjective "great" connoting a deity that contains many other deities within their own nature. These two deities are sometimes viewed as facets of a greater pantheistic divinity, which is regarded as an impersonal force or process rather than a personal deity. While duotheism or bitheism is traditional in Wicca, broader Wiccan beliefs range from polytheism to pantheism or monism, even to Goddess monotheism.

Wiccan celebrations encompass both the cycles of the Moon, known as Esbats and commonly associated with the Goddess (female deity), and the cycles of the Sun, seasonally based festivals known as Sabbats and commonly associated with the Horned God (male deity). An unattributed statement known as the Wiccan Rede is a popular expression of Wiccan morality, although it is not universally accepted by Wiccans. Wicca often involves the ritual practice of magic, though it is not always necessary.

Selected article

Title page of the original 1899 edition
Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches is a book composed by the American folklorist Charles Leland that was published in 1899. It contains what he believed was the religious text of a group of pagan witches in Tuscany, Italy that documented their beliefs and rituals, although various historians and folklorists have disputed the existence of such a group. In the 20th century, the book was very influential in the development of the contemporary Pagan religion of Wicca.

Leland's work remained obscure until the 1950s, when other theories about, and claims of, "pagan witchcraft" survivals began to be widely discussed. Aradia began to be examined within the wider context of such claims. Scholars are divided, with some dismissing Leland's assertion regarding the origins of the manuscript, and others arguing for its authenticity as a unique documentation of folk beliefs. Along with increased scholarly attention, Aradia came to play a special role in the history of Gardnerian Wicca and its offshoots, being used as evidence that pagan witchcraft survivals existed in Europe, and because a passage from the book's first chapter was used as a part of the religion's liturgy. After the increase in interest in the text, it became widely available through numerous reprints from a variety of publishers, including a 1999 critical edition with a new translation by Mario and Dina Pazzaglini.

Selected biography

Starhawk in a Sicilian workshop
Starhawk (born Miriam Simos) is an American writer and activist. She is well known as a theorist of Paganism, and is one of the foremost popular voices of ecofeminism. She is a columnist for Beliefnet.com and On Faith, the Newsweek/Washington Post online forum on religion. Starhawk's book The Spiral Dance (1979) was one of the main inspirations behind the Neopagan movement.

Starhawk lives in San Francisco, where she works with Reclaiming, a tradition of Witchcraft that she co-founded in the late 1970s.

She was influential in the decision by the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations to include earth-centered traditions in the UUA sources of faith. She led numerous workshops for, and was an active member of CUUPS, The Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans, Inc. (CUUPS) is an Interest Group of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) honoring goddess-based, earth-centered, tribal and pagan spiritual paths.

Selected holy day

Imbolc is one of the four principal festivals of the Irish calendar, celebrated either at the beginning of February or at the first local signs of Spring. Originally dedicated to the goddess Brighid, in the Christian period it was adopted as St Brigid's Day. In Scotland the festival is also known as Latha Fhèill Brìghde, in Ireland as Lá Fhéile Bríde, and in Wales as Gwyl Ffraed.

While in the Northern Hemisphere Imbolc is conventionally celebrated on 1 February, in the Southern Hemisphere it is sometimes celebrated on the calendar date, but those who see it primarily as a celebration of spring may move it to 1 August.

Imbolc is traditionally a time of weather prognostication, and the old tradition of watching to see if serpents or badgers came from their winter dens is perhaps a precursor to Groundhog Day.

Did you know...

...that because Wicca is a season based religion, many people in the Southern Hemisphere celebrate holidays in opposing times of the year, compared with the Northern Hemisphere?
...that Wiccans often identify as witches, but Wicca and Witchcraft are not necessarily the same thing?
...that Gerald Gardner is credited with re-introducing the word 'Wicca' into the English Language?
...that Wicca was previously an Old English word (pronounced: 'wee-cha'), meaning a male sage or shaman and 'wicce' was the female form?
...that Wiccans observe eight seasonal Sabbats of the year and 12–13 Esbats each year?

WikiProjects

Project Neopaganism
Defining Neo/Paganism at WikiPedia
When should Wikipedia use the term "paganism" as opposed to "neopaganism"? Should these terms be capitalized? Discuss at the project NeoPaganism talk page.

Selected image

The pentacle and the five elements of the cosmos
Credit: Nyo

The five elements are seen as symbolic as opposed to literal; that is, they are representations of the phases of matter. They are invoked during many magical rituals, notably when consecrating a magic circle. The five elements are Air, Fire, Water and Earth, plus Aether (or Spirit), which unites the other four.

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Selected quote

Call upon the Goddess and God to protect you and teach you the secrets of magic. Ask stones and plants to reveal their powers - and listen.

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