The History of Wicca
Many people get confused between the term Wicca and the word Witchcraft. In turn, the words have become interchangeable and people think that they are the same thing. This is untrue, although there are some similarities between both Wicca and Witchcraft. One of the main differences is that Wicca is a religious practice (and is formally recognized as a religion) whereas Witchcraft is not. When it comes to the links between the two then it is easiest to think of Wicca as a modern-day religion that incorporates some traditions found in Witchcraft.
Wicca- Made Simple:
Put simply, Wicca is all about peace, balance, and harmony with nature. Unfortunately over the years this has become distorted by others who do not understand the faith and who think that this religion is based on negative aspects. Nothing could be further from the truth and Wicca teaches us about a sense of unity with a divine power and with our surroundings.
Some examples of Wicca would be enjoying and celebrating the amazing movement of day into night and back again through the rising and setting of the sun. It could also be enjoying a full moon, or appreciating the first flowers of spring. Wicca is deeply connected to nature so it can also be about noticing the perfect petals on a flower or dew drops on a leaf. It also teaches us to enjoy and notice the passing of the seasons, such as appreciating the crisp air that brings the advent of winter. Wicca also applies to fauna as well as flora so it can be found in animals and simple pleasures like birdsong. We must remember the importance and majesty of the world around us and give thanks for this daily. The Wicca religion emphasizes the importance of the Lord and Lady and their temple around us. It urges us to subdue our arrogant nature and to be mindful of how technological advances can affect us. Being a Witch means that you seek truth, healing, teaching, learning, and the protection of our earth. If you decide that this is indeed your life journey then you need to embrace Wicca with purity, integrity, and honor.
The History of Wicca:
Wicca is a system of beliefs and a lifestyle that uses traditions from Scotland, Wales, and Ireland that pre-date Christianity. Unfortunately throughout history, particularly during the medieval period, the church tried to get rid of these traditions and also banish them from history, so many have been lost over the years. In this sense, Wicca is a way of trying to piece these traditions and rituals back together using what we know of the past.
Fortunately there have been a series of archeological finds over the years that tell us about the how this religion started as well as some of the practices associated with it. We know now that it dates to the Paleolithic period and to people who would have revered the Fertility Goddess and the Hunter God. Much of what we have learnt stems from cave drawings that are said to date back 30,000 years. These show a male figure with a stag’s head as well as woman who is with-child. The figures are depicted in a circle formation in a group with eleven other individuals during a ritual. Evidence such as this shows us that Witchcraft is probably one of the first belief systems of our world.
These figures are thought, in the Wiccan faith, to be images of the God and Goddess who are supreme and divine forces. They date from around 28,000 years before Christianity.
If we go back to ancient times, we know that Witchcraft was called ‘The Craft of the Wise’ as many people involved in Witchcraft were also teacher, leaders, and healers in their communities. They believed in the importance of being at one with nature and usually had an understanding of how to use plants and herbs for medicinal purposes which they then shared with others. They also acted as mentors in their community and were known for their sage advice and knowledge. These people knew that nature is of paramount importance and that our world and all who live here should be celebrated. They also believed that humans are a part of a larger whole and that we are not the masters of the earth.
In ancient times people had a sense of balance between man and nature which sadly has become lost in the modern age due to the rise of technology and other factors. This is one of the reasons that the planet now has ecological issues.
In recent times (the last few centuries) Witches have been persecuted and have been linked to evil, the Devil, injustice, and heathen practices. If we look back through history, we can start to piece together how this negative image of Witches has formed.
One of the reasons why Witches have been portrayed unfairly through the ages is down to the medieval church through the 15th to the 18th century who were trying to convert people. As such, in order to persuade followers to change their belief systems, they painted a picture of Witches as being associated with the Devil and turned the figures of the God and Goddess into demonic symbols. Through creating a feeling of fear when it came to the old religions, missionaries were quickly able to convert followers and bring them into the church.
Another reason is that the advancement of medicine and science has developed at a rapid pace over the years. Unfortunately much of this work was done by men who failed to understand physiology, especially where women were concerned and this linked in with the churches’ efforts to convert followers. As such, when medicine and science started to develop, so did the rhetoric of speaking out against Wicca and Witchcraft.
This strategy worked well as the church and the medical profession worked together to project an image of Witches as evil and also stopped women healers from practicing medicine so that male doctors could take over their roles.
Over time this prejudice has stayed with us and superstition is still rife even now. This has meant that those who practice Witchcraft have made the move to using the name Wicca in order to lessen the association with persecution and prejudice. Even in popular culture Witches and Witchcraft has been used to cause fear around these practices which has not helped to end the unfair stigma.
What is Witchcraft?
Witchcraft is a belief system that works on the premise of free will whilst also focusing on continual learning and studying how nature and our souls are intertwined. It believes in the divinity of everything that has been created and attaches a spiritual importance to this. Another very important aspect is the sense of personal responsibility as it tells us that we are responsible for our choices and our actions. There is no opportunity in Witchcraft to blame external factors for our choices, or for any weaknesses in our nature or in our deeds. This means that if we make a mistake or act in a negative way, then we must take responsibility for this and may not blame others for our poor decisions. We then need to accept the consequences of these actions, knowing that we are the ones to blame.
Witchcraft focuses on the seasons, the phases of the moon, and the cycles found in nature. It encourages use to worship and celebrate our own spiritual feelings as well as the concept of the divine. In this way those who follow Witchcraft are not subordinate or subservient to any deities but are focused on spirituality, harmony, and balance with everything around them, including the divine.
In Witchcraft spells are used to promote harmony, balance, love, healing, guidance, and creativity. Some examples of spells or potions that may be used in Witchcraft include tonics to cure a headache or a cold, or other remedies to help heal the body. There is an emphasis on learning about the natural world and how to use elements found in nature for remedies. This is seen as being the natural order of things rather than using synthetic substances created by humans, unless the circumstances truly call for it.
In Wicca we believe in spirits called the One, Goddess, and God, which are present in everything around us. This means that their presence is felt in the earth, sea, rain, trees, flowers, and so on. As a result, we must respect everything on the earth as the divine. Both the seen and the unseen are equally important and we must honor both accordingly.
In Wicca we celebrate everything that is a gift from nature including the moon and sun cycles. In turn, we need to learn how the cycles of nature also connect to our inner selves. Only then will we find balance and harmony. We can learn how to find this inner peace from everything around us like seas, river, lakes, meadows, trees, mountains, and all the animals that share our world. One of the founding principles of Wicca is a respect for the earth that has sadly been lost in our world.
Another key concept in the Wicca faith is the importance of the elements- namely earth, air, wind, and fire. These elements are known to come together to create life and can teach us much about nature and the world around us.
One of the important lessons in Wicca is that freedom of thought is paramount. As a result there is no emphasis on conversion. We believe that people have the right to choose which path they wish to follow and that others may choose to live differently than us. After years of persecution, it is important that we extend religious tolerance to all those around us. Should we come into contact with those who wish to learn about Wicca, then we must use our wisdom and share everything that we have learnt. Wicca is a personal choice and a life journey, and the Goddess can appear to different people in different ways and at different times. We are respectful of all religions and any spiritual practices of others, if they also follow the premise of ‘Harm None’.
Some myths about Witchcraft:
Wicca and Witchcraft are not sects or cults. There is no emphasis on conversion and we do not speak on behalf of a divine being.
There is no worship of Satan or any respect for Demons. The figure of Satan was first mentioned in Christianity and does not apply to Wicca. There is no concept of an evil being who will punish us if we do not do good. Instead, we believe that we should live good, just lives because this is the right path, not because we are told to.
Wicca works on the concept of ‘Harm None’. As such animal sacrifice or any kind of sacrifice, goes against everything we believe in. Unfortunately, this is a nonsense stereotype that has been used in Hollywood movies and other forms of pop culture. Should you hear that Witches or Wicca use sacrifice then know that this is not true.
We do not try to harness the life force of other humans or control them through spells. All our energy comes from nature, the divine, and from our own spirit.
We do not hex or cast spells against anyone at any time. The entire concept of Wicca teaches us ‘Harm None’.
Witches or anyone who practices Wicca believes in the Law of Three. This means that for every action we make, it will be come back to us three fold, either in a positive or a negative way. As a result, anyone practicing Wicca would not wish to do anything to cause another person harm, such as cast a spell, as this would have a very negative impact on them and it would be three times as bad.
Of course, people who practice Wicca still do things to harm others at times due to poor judgment or simply as a mistake. This is because no one is perfect. It is also true that in every community there are those who do good and bad things, no matter what community this may be.
Most people who practice Wicca, however, do their best to adhere to the principles of harmony and balance and this also means weighing up decisions to make sure that they will not cause harm to others. This applies to spells, rituals, rites, as well as personal decisions. People who practice Wicca always try to carry the love of the Goddess with them in order to feel harmony and spirituality in their lives.
It is challenging to try to explain Wicca in its entirety in a short and concise way. One of the reasons for this is that this practice affects everyone differently and the meaning to be found in Wicca can depend on how the Lord or Lady appear and the path they show us. What is clear however is that Wicca has been used for centuries for a clear reason, and by using its wisdom and traditions it has much to teach us in the modern world.
If you listen to your intuition for guidance, you may realize that Wicca is showing you a better path for your life. Only by opening your heart to Wicca will you be able to begin to understand its practices and whether these are right for you on your life journey.
Blessings, Bree, Check out my ebook “Wicca; Something Different: A Simple Beginners Guide to Enhancing Your Power”
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