The Wiccan Religion
The Wiccan religion as we know it in this digital age stems from a much older way of life, witchcraft. Gerald Brousseau Gardner released his work on Wicca and the structural setting he had created for the public in 1954. He published a book called Witchcraft Today which opened many people’s eyes to the ways of witchcraft despite the intense laws surrounding any forms of Witchcraft. In his book, Witchcraft Today, Gerald Gardner attempts to explain what witches are and what they are not. This was the beginning of his attempt to bring magic back into society despite the churches efforts to destroy it. This is a quote on how he explains what the people of the old ways truly were:
“They are the people who call themselves the Wida, the ‘wise people’, who practice the age-old rites and who have, along with much superstition and herbal knowledge, preserved an occult teaching and working processes which they themselves think to be magic or witchcraft. They are the type of people who were burned alive for possessing this knowledge, often giving their lives to turn suspicion away from others. At Castletown, we have a memorial to the nine million people who died by torture in one way or another for witchcraft.”
Gerald began his own coven, compiled his own Book of Shadows, (a book where a Wiccan or Witch keeps their permanent laws, recipes and ways of life that work.) He ran this coven together with a brilliant author, Doreen Valiente. She became his ritual architect and was a natural at structuring and setting up rituals in honor of the gods. Doreen Valiente is as important in the Wiccan Religion as Gerald Gardner is. Gerald Gardner also added 161 laws which detailed a strict structure of secrecy and great protection to the members of covens. Many of these laws are outdated and are not used within covens, it is, however, useful to know them and to understand the origin of the mind that created Wicca.
The entire structure of Wicca comes from Freemasonry, a secret society of only male members, who work together to strengthen and build a stronger community of those whose families belong to this society. The Lodges where Gerald claimed to be did not recognize him after he left them and began his path of bringing Wicca to the people. The only lodge that does recognize him is the Freemason lodge no. 107, Colombo, Ceylon. They do not mention the degrees that he attained, and this is peculiar indeed, for the Freemasons believe in transparency. It is surmised that they did not release this information on purpose since the Wiccan religion contained so many similarities to their own path.
The Wiccan religion believes in a single source of energy called The Universal. This source energy is the beginning of all life. It is from the Universal where the idea of duality stems, and this is the birthplace of the God and Goddess. Rituals are practiced at the eight sabbats of the Wheel of the Year. The Wheel of the Year is the attunement of the cycles of the earth. It is also the attunement of the individual practitioner to these cycles. In Wicca we find a threefold attunement in everything: the external, the internal, and the divine connection. Everything, from the relationships with the deities, to the relationship with nature and our surroundings, contain a threefold level. It is important to travel through the search for enlightenment with these three levels in mind, always.
The Goddess is revered as much as the God in Wicca. Many will argue that the Goddess is more important, but this is not the case. Wicca is, at its core, about balance. Each degree teaches a side of the scales and it is the idea that when the practitioner completes their degrees that they will have attained complete inner and outer balance. Wicca believes in what is known as the diamond theory. The diamond being the Universal source energy and the many facets of this diamond being the many aspects of the divine. There is also a great emphasis on the feminine triple aspect of the Goddess herself. She mirrors the stages of the female in human form to make it easier for the practitioner to find common ground with the divine. The three forms of the Goddess are: the maiden, the mother and the crone. The Wheel of the year tells the story of the God and Goddess going through the motions of these ages for all eternity.
The Wiccan religion combines the laws of nature with the laws of man and again, finds balance and harmony to create a wondrous life that provides a safe and secure platform to master both the mundane (human everyday life) and the spiritual. Wiccans are urged to study as much as they can about themselves and it is not peculiar to find many an avid reader within the Wiccan circles.
The Wiccan religion also places great emphasis on cleaning and looking after Mother Earth. They are urged within the different lineages and traditions to find a healing modality that works with their specific makeup, as well as various forms of divination. The different lineages and traditions in the Wiccan religion stem from the various teachers that followed Gerald Gardner. Some of these teachers whose works will be valuable to read on your path are Stewart and Janet Farrar, Alex Saunders, Zsuzsanna Budapest, Morgan McFarland, Doreen Valiente, Raymond Buckland as well as Helena Blavatsky. Each of these, and so many more have been great influences in shaping the world that Wicca encompasses today. Their work is a treasure to all Wiccans and collecting them will gift you great understanding within the universal content of Wicca and of yourself.
The traditions that form the Wiccan religion are among the thousands. They are far too many to list within this article, however, the main branches are Gardnerian Wicca, Seax Wicca, Alexandrian Wicca and Dianic Wicca. The path of the Wiccan religion must work completely with the practitioner and sometimes it does take a practitioner hopping between the traditions to find what works for them. Sometimes they do not find a workable tradition to suit their way of life and then they create their own version of Wicca. This liberty that the religion provides has allowed Wicca to survive into the 21st Century.
The one main element in Wicca is the relationship between this mundane world and the otherworld or what Wiccans call ‘the other side of the veil’. All creatures, spirits, elementals and entities are to be treated with respect and hexing or cursing is not something that belongs to Wicca. Wicca is a defensive art and a Wiccan practitioner would rather defend, protect and shield themselves from harm than cause any harm to another. The most important piece of Wiccan scripture are eight words that were borrowed from Doreen Valiente by Lady Gwen Thompson and added into The Wiccan Rede:
“an it harm none, do what ye will.”
Wiccans greet by saying Merry meet and merry part and merry meet again, and they always end a letter, a message, an article like this one or any other form of communication with the beautiful words of: