A little History - not too much though!
This is a VERY BASIC overview of Wicca and its history. For more information and education, please check out the Resources and Books page.
The religion of Wicca is very old. It predates Christianity. Wicca is based on Nature. Evidence of the belief in a God of Hunting and a Goddess of fertility go back to the Paleolithic Age. Religion grew as a way for humans to explain the unexplainable.
As time progressed and other religions came into being, those who practiced the older traditions were persecuted. The new rising religions (Christianity) was a religion more for the upper classes. They came in conflict with the old ways and began to state those who followed the old ways were in league with the devil. Please note, I am not trying to bash Christians, just trying to explain a little history. Throughout the eons, various religions have gone to war over who is right. Back to the history lesson...
The word Pagan comes from the old Latin Pagani which means of the county. Those who lived in the country still followed many of the old ways and were called Pagans. Heathen means "One who lives on the Heath." Both words described non-Christian practitioners and originally had no connection with evil. This came about later.
In the 1200's and 1300's, the Inquisition and other movements designed to force compliance with the new ways or to drive out those "heretics" who practiced the old religions started.
In 1484, Pope Innocent VIII wrote the single most influential work of propaganda against the old faiths. He had two Monks, Heinrich Kraemer and Jacob Sprenger create a guide for Witch-hunters: Malleus malificarum, or "The Witches' Hammer."
For centuries, this was the manual used in the Church's attempt to do away with the old ways.
Through a serious campaign to quell the old ways and have the new grown, the Wiccan religion was turned into evil by those who did not agree. Things that are completely natural in life - fertility for example - was warped and considered evil.
Over the decades and centuries, anyone who did not conform to the prescribed standard of the day could be accused of being a Witch and be executed. Just about anything could get you accused of being a witch! A birthmark, a speech impediment, a birth defect, having the wrong color hair - all could be signs of the devil and the person condemned. If your neighbor's crops failed and you had an argument the week before, you could be accused of being a witch and die. Politics played a big role as well. Owning the wrong color pet. Being outside at night. Basically anything could be used against someone and condemn them. Over the centuries, lies and fear were used to turn a once peaceful religion into the monstrosity many people assume it is. This is so far from the truth. As with many things, history, ignorance and the desire for power has done Wicca a great disservice. Many people accused and executed through out history were not Witches at all, they were victims of politics and hate. Many were devout Christians who would not lie and admit to being of a religion they did not practice. And what people said was true about witches were nothing but a pack of lies perpetuated by those who wanted power.
The old ways were based on respect and nature, not on worshipping the Christian Devil. "He" was not a concept way back when. A true Wiccan does not worship the devil. We worship, basically, nature.
From centuries ago in the Old World, to Salem Village in the New World to Modern times, Wicca has been corrupted for personal gains and various falsehood perpetuated. In this day and age, Hollywood poses a very big threat. Though witches are being portrayed more positively, we are still being portrayed as things we are not. I would love to be able to freeze things with a glance, especially when trying to cross a busy street. I would love to fly without having to use a plane. But at least we are being portrayed more positively. Now, if only they would get away from the hype and to the religion.
There are many people saying they are witches, but are they truly following the religion of Wicca or just doing it because they think it is cool?
The Religion - just a bit about it.
Wicca is based on two major principles within the Wiccan Rede:
An' ye harm none, do what ye will.
That which you do will come back threefold.
These are two very powerful laws, for lack of a better term. They are what should guide us in our daily life. Liken them to the ten Commandments - a guide for your life and a goal to strive for. Though being human, we sometimes falter. The goal is to try and follow them the best you can and learn from your mistakes.
There are many facets of Wicca and various Pagan traditions. No one is right and no one is wrong. We all have to chose our paths wisely and with thought. Some people choose to follow Roman traditions, others Celtic, some find all-together different paths. What binds us all is we are one under the Sky and on the Earth.
Wicca is NOT based on devil worship. As earlier stated, this is a Christian concept that was developed in part as a way to corrupt Wicca and insist that some of the deities must be evil. Therefore, all Wiccans are evil and must convert or die (or both). Yes, some Wiccan traditions believe in the Horned God. But he is not evil. He is the power and strength of the world and of us. He is often depicted as a great Stag in some traditions: the keeper and protector of the forest. As for the Goddess, she is an element missing from many newer religions. Where did the female element go? To have life you need male and female to come together (though some forms of lower life reproduce differently - but this is not the time or place for a biology lesson). Women were often viewed as evil by newer religions. Their status in communities lessened. In the old times, women could be leaders, teachers, medicine workers, etc. In the new, they were pariahs. Many religions to day still view women as property and atrocities happen all over the world based only on gender.
Please note, Wiccans can be either gender. Though we are most often thought of as women. Why? Well, again, look to history. The answer is there. Matriarchal societies became patriarchal. The role of women was dropped to a lower class - not much above servants. Most of the witch hunters in history were men. Why this drop for women? Again, changing times and politics under the guise of a rising religion. Wicca is a religion and nowhere does it state historically that only one gender can follow it. It is for us all.
Some Myths About Wicca
This is an excerpt from an article I wrote for the Crow's Calling magazine called "Questions":
Can you fly on brooms?
No, that is just a story started up by someone who saw people riding brooms like hobby horses over fields. It was a ceremony to ask the gods for good crops. There are many explanations for why people think we fly on brooms, but this is the one I was taught.
Do you cast spells to hurt people? Why do you cast spells?
Spells are similar to your prayers. We are asking the God or Goddess for guidance and help just like when you pray. Or we may ask them to watch over someone special to us. Do you ask God to hurt people when you pray? Are you supposed to? Neither are we. We believe if you do something good for someone, something good will be done for you. If you do something bad, something bad will happen to you.
Do you worship Satan?
No, we do not believe in Satan. Satan was developed when Christianity developed. Since we are not Christians, we do not believe in Satan.
Can you cast a love spell? There is a boy in my class and I want him to like me.
If I cast a spell on that boy to like you, I could be hurting him. It is wrong to influence some one's free will. I could cast a spell with you to help you find love in general, but to cast a spell directly on someone for another person is not right. What if he is not meant to fall in love with you? Or what if he turns out to be an abusive person? Would you really want that?
Do you believe in Jesus?
Yes. Jesus is a historical figure and a great teacher. He did live and teach wonderful lessons. However, we do not worship him as the Christians do.
Do all Witches have black cats?
No. I happen to have one black cat. I also have two dogs, a gray Persian cat, a calico cat and a white and orange cat. I know many Witches who do not even own cats. (since writing this I have added a third dog and a Himalayan cat a rabbit and two guinea pigs).
You don't look like a Witch.
What should we look like? I look like anyone else. Sometimes I dress in robes or different clothes. But I work (worked) for an important Environmental Engineering firm, show dogs, do volunteer work, go to country fairs and love to wear jeans and T-shirts. I am an average American inside and out. It is what one believes that makes him a Witch, not looks.
Can you change your hair like in the movies?
Yes I can! In the movies they really use makeup and hair dye. It takes about twenty minutes and a bottle of Clairol, but I can change my hair just like in the movies. Just remember, no one sees what happens behind the scenes so you won't see the dye being applied and the make-up artists at work. You only see what the directors want you to see.
For the complete article, please click here: