Wicca is an ancient nature religion that teaches respect for others as well as responsibility for one's actions. Conway emphasizes that it is not associated with cults, devil worship, or animal sacrifice. Wiccans believe in the sanctity of all life and recognize a dual deity, both a goddess and a god.
Wicca was used originally to distinguish the initiatory tradition of Witchcraft practised as a religion, but American popular television series have adopted the word to include what would once have been called natural magic or white witchcraft. When people in Britain describe themselves as Wiccan though, they generally mean that they are practising a form of religious Witchcraft. Media images often show Wiccans as teenage women, but it is practised by adults of all ages.
Wicca, sometimes called “The Craft" or “The Craft of the Wise" is one of many earth-based religions. The religion which is closest to Wicca in America is probably Native American spirituality. Traditional Wicca was founded by Gerald Gardner, a British civil servant, who wrote a series of books on the religion in the 1940's. It contains references to Celtic deities, symbols, seasonal days of celebration, etc. Added to this were components of ceremonial magic and practices of the Masonic Order. A more recent form is eclectic Wicca which involves a combination of Wiccan beliefs and practices, combined with other Pagan and non-Pagan elements. The various traditions of Wicca are part of the Pagan or Neopagan group of earth-based religions.
What about Wicca spells? Not all Wiccans practice witchcraft (which they call “magick" to set themselves apart from illusionists and magicians). Magick is to Wicca what prayer is to Christianity. Wiccans claim that the practice of magick is simply using their minds to control matter, while Christians call upon God to heal people and to intervene and work in their lives. Because the Rede forbids harming others and the Three-fold Law sets forth consequences for those who do, Wiccans view themselves as “white witches" or “nature witches. "
One Wiccan might consider God to be self-aware, another may not. It all depends on the angle that an individual Wiccan takes in his or her theological construction of what best works. It is a religion of self design. In Wiccan theology, because god can show different characteristics in different ways to different people, Wiccans can have different and even contradictory conceptions of God. This is not a problem to them because they maintain that it is only the limited aspects of individual perceptions of god that appear contradictory.
In modern days magick is used not only in ritual ceremonies, but also on a daily bases during spiritual communication with the Goddess and God. It is used daily for healing purposes and perhaps more frequently for personal purposes like reducing negativity, protection and improving the self. It can also be used for many other purposes as determined by the individual while bearing in mind The three fold law.
It should be obvious that Wicca is a religion of personal preference. In other words, you are free to invent, devise, and develop a religion that suits your personal wants and interests. Furthermore, in Wicca you may attempt to manipulate your surroundings and other individuals through spells and incantations. This combination of developing a religion that suits your personal preferences and trying to influence others is very appealing to a lot of people.
While modern Wicca is certainly not an exact duplicate of the ancient mystery religions, it does draw on some of the same methods and ideas. Every myth, every symbol, every ritual act, holds multiple layers of meaning, many of which are not easily put into words. The successive initiations within most Wiccan traditions expose the initiates to gradually deeper understandings of the teachings and lore of the tradition, thus encouraging spiritual growth.
Wiccans and Pagans are ordinary everyday types of people and come from all walks of life, from all spectrums of society and from all over the world. Most are individuals seeking a personalized practical religion that can be adapted to suit their own needs and criteria. Wicca is a wonderfully diverse religion that meets those needs.
Wicca is also a fertility religion, placing emphasis on sex as a sacred practice. This is one reason why the vast majority of Wiccans aren't brought into the religion until they are at least eighteen. However, there is nothing to stop younger people from exploring the religion until then and finding out if it really is for them.
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