Wicca - Some of the Basics
Our Tenet and Principles:
Although my beliefs may go by many different names including Witchcraft, the Craft, the Old Religion, Wicca and/or Neo-Paganism, I can only live one life at a time and this is how I choose to live it. On the contrary to the term many people from other paths may use to describe my Ways as “New Age”, Wicca is anything but new. However, it may be considered as a modern revival of ancient beliefs.
We are following the paths of our ancestors. Therefore, we are practicing the Old Religion in new Ways and, yes, in a new age. As our ancestors so willingly left us their knowledge, so too is it our responsibility to carry on this information and the traditions that go along with it, and to also add what we learn as we grow. In this Way, our children who choose to do so will also take on these responsibilities as the cycle has continued through our grandmothers and/or grandfathers, our mothers and/or fathers, on through us. It is an honor and a priviledge to do so.
My Great-Grandmother was a great healer as well as a far-reaching seer into the future. I was truly blessed to have had the opportunity to know someone so deeply spiritually connected that everything was magick. From this I learned to be me. I learned the names of every herb, weed, flower and tree. I learned the family history, our superstitions and traditions.
What may come as a great surprise is that all of this was learned from someone who attended a tiny, little Methodist church in the Virginia countryside every Sunday. That being said, it’s not hard to see why a Wiccan woman and mother of so many would have decided to attend church in her times. This is someone who was born in 1899.
During the Burning Times, men and women were burned at the stake or hung for the slightest suspicion of practicing the Craft. The Malleus Maleficarum, or “The Hammer of Witches”, was to become the infamous text used to educate magistrates on procedures said to find and convict Witches. Written in 1486 by Heinrich Kramer, an Inquisitor of the Catholic Church, it was first published in Germany in 1487. Because of this book and the ignorance of a fear stricken, uneducated society, somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 men, women as well as children were stripped of their right to live how they choose and brutally murdered.
Can you imagine burning alive at the stake? I would’ve probably sought to attend a church, too. Most especially considering the fact that if I was to become accused, my sweet children whom I adore so much as well as the love of my life would be forced to stand there with me. That, for me, is worse than burning alive at the stake. I would want to go to the Christian Hell for putting my family through that and I would die in hopes that everyone who made it possible went there as well. All of this for me gives new meaning to the words “Good Christian People.”
The exact opposite of these “Good Christian People,” I don’t need a book to tell me what my morals should be. All I need is eight little words, “An’ it harm none, do what thou will.” This, my friends, is the Wiccan Tenet. Simple.
We do have a set of Principles, adopted by the Council of American Witches in April 1974 in an effort to dispel many of the common myths about Witchcraft, to distinguish it from Satanism and other misconceptions in the eyes of the general public. The 13 Principles of Wiccan Belief are as such:
· 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 to life 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 the feminine. We value neither above the other, knowing each to be supportive of the other. We value sex as pleasure as well as the symbol and embodiment of life, and as one of the sources of energy 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, the 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 given so courageously 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 gathering of titles, degrees and/or initiations. A Witch seeks to control the forces within her/himself that make life possible in order to live wisely and 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 roles 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 Witches, we are not threatened by debates on the history of the Craft, the origins of various terms nor 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 suffering of others nor accept that personal benefit can be derived only by denial to another.
· We strongly believe that we should seek within Nature that which is contributory to our health and well-being.
These Principles have been incorporated into the army’s ‘Chaplains Handbook’ for use in the U.S. Army. Many practicing Wiccans still endorse these Principles today.