Wicca is a modern Pagan religious movement. Developing in England in the first half of the 20th century, Wicca was popularised in the 1950s and early 1960s by a Wiccan High Priest named Gerald Gardner, who at the time called it the "witch cult" and "witchcraft," and its adherents "the Wica." From the 1960s onward, the name of the religion was normalised to "Wicca.".
Wicca is typically a duotheistic religion, worshipping a goddess and a god, who are traditionally viewed as the Triple Goddess and Horned God. These two deities are often viewed as being facets of a greater pantheistic godhead, and as manifesting themselves as various polytheistic deities. Nonetheless, there are also other theological positions within Wicca, ranging from monotheism to atheism. The religion also involves the ritual practice of magic, largely influenced by the ceremonial magic of previous centuries, often in conjunction with a broad code of morality known as the Wiccan Rede, although this is not adhered to by all wiccans. Another characteristic of this religion is the celebration of seasonally-based festivals, known as Sabbats, of which there are usually eight in number annually.
There are various denominations within Wicca, which are referred to as traditions. Some, such as Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wicca, follow in the initiatory lineage of Gardner. Others, such as Cochrane's Craft, Feri and the Dianic tradition, take primary influence from other figures and may not insist on any initiatory lineage.
is a religious philosophy (referred to by some as a religion) that was established, defined and developed by the early 20th century British writer and ceremonial magician
, Aleister Crowley
. He believed himself to be the prophet of a new age, the Æon of Horus
, based upon a religious experience that he had in Egypt
in 1904. By his account, a possibly non-corporeal being that called itself Aiwass
contacted him and dictated a text known as The Book of the Law
or Liber AL vel Legis
, which outlined the principles of Thelema.
The Thelemic pantheon includes a number of deities, focusing primarily on a trinity of deities adapted from ancient Egyptian religion, who are the three speakers of The Book of the Law: Nuit, Hadit and Ra-Hoor-Khuit. The religion is founded upon the idea that the 20th century marked the beginning of the Aeon of Horus, in which a new ethical code would be followed; "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law". This statement indicated that adherents, who are known as Thelemites, should seek out and follow their own true path in life, known as their True Will rather than their egoic desires. The philosophy also emphasizes the ritual practice of Magick.
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.
An Athame or Athamé is a ceremonial dagger, with a double-edged blade and usually a black handle. It is the main ritual implement or magical tool among several used in the religion of Wicca, and is also used in various other neopagan witchcraft traditions.