Wicca: a Study in a Modern Day Tradition

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Wicca: A Study in a Modern Day Tradition.
Jennifer Coleman
REL 212
June 6, 2012

So what is Wicca? Where does it come from? Is it as old as many people think? Do Wiccans worship the devil? These are just some of the questions many people ask or in the case of the last; believe. I will admit when I first chose this topic I had had a little bit of exposure to Wicca through a family member but didn’t really understand the basics until I started to do my research. I knew that the devil or Satan played no role in this nature-based religion. But did not truly understand the ties and appreciation a Wiccan has to nature. There is a lot more to this religion, and yes it is a religion, than meets the eye. I have found this subject to be fascinating and enlightening and am glad I had the opportunity to get to know one of its practitioners.

So what is Wicca? I had the greatest pleasure in interviewing Janie, an instructor and self-proclaimed Witch at the Mystic Moon in Norfolk. I must stress here that not all Wiccan’s are Witches. While Wicca is a religion, witchcraft is not. “Wicca might best be described as a modern religion based on ancient Witchcraft traditions.” (The Celtic Connection, Pg. 1) She explained that Wicca is “a peaceful and balanced religion that promotes a oneness with everything in existence and the divine.” Janie was saying that there are some who believe that Wicca is based on a way of life originating in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales that pre-dates Christianity by at least 20,000 years. These early Witches were the healers, teachers, and protectors of all things. I was not surprised by this since I had read earlier about some archeological discoveries in the form of cave paintings that were found in Ireland. These paintings are said to depict an image of a warrior God and a fertile Goddess. They also found symbols pertaining to people working with their surroundings in the form of farming, worship, and animal husbandry. From this one could draw the conclusion that early peoples of this time understood the significance of balance. “We do not own the Earth, we are part of it.” (Chief Seattle, The Celtic Connection) It is said that if we do not continue in the path of our ancestors there will be no Earth to be a part of.

According to Janie many Wiccans and Witches will meet in groups called covens just as we meet on Sunday as a congregation. Coven meetings include three main parts: celebration, magick, (the k is to distinguish it from stage magic), and ritual. The celebration part of the meeting is exactly what it sounds like. The celebration takes place before and after the ritual and magick. “Merry Meet, a Merry Part, and a Merry Meet again”, this is a warm happy time of greeting and friendship. It is a way to catch up and to let everyone know about any happenings that have taken place in your life. This celebration is also done at the conclusion of the meetings and then usually includes food. 

Secondly, Wiccan Magick is not at all like the instant special effects that are seen in movies. It operates in harmony with natural laws and is usually less spectacular, although effective. Various techniques are used to heal people and animals, seek guidance, or improve members’ lives in specific ways. Positive goals are sought; curses and evil spells are repugnant to practitioners of the Old Religion. Wiccans tend to be strong supporters of environmental protection, equal rights, global peace, and religious freedom, and sometimes magick is also used toward such goals.

Still others believe that Wicca is a modern tradition started by Gerald Gardner in 1939 when he was initiated into New Forest Coven in England. Many believe him to be a fraud, creating Wicca from his own fantasies, while some do not. Regardless of what you believe, I was pleasantly surprised that at the sole of the Wiccan belief one is to be a good steward of the Earth. There is also the belief that we need to be good...
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