Wicca-A Very Interesting-Yet Misunderstood-Faith

Upright pentagram-symbol of Wicca (NOT Satanism-see #1)

I may have mentioned this before, but I find religion absolutely fascinating. I myself am a Christian, but I go out of my way to learn about different beliefs and to meet those who follow a path that is different from mine. Truth be told, we are often more alike than we are different. Some things might be worded differently, but there are still basic principles in common. Since I've been given the go-ahead to talk about different beliefs in a non-judgemental way, I thought that I'd talk about a religion that is more popular but misunderstood these days-Wicca. I've learned a good bit about it through having friends who practice and from one of my favorite websites, ReligiousTolerance.org.

Exactly how long Wicca has been around depends on who you ask. Some would say that the faith as it is practiced today can be traced back to a branch that started in 1940s Britain. Others would say that, since many of the deities, beliefs and holidays observed come from the ancient Celts and other Pagan societies, it is thousands of years old. While exactly how many and which deities are recognized varies from person to person, there is a very strong focus on nature and the general cycles of life.

I guess I'm mentioning Wicca in a women's interest blog because it is a very 'woman-positive' religion. By this, I mean that it does not have the solidly patriarchal structure that religions such as Judaism, Islam and Christianity have. It actually doesn't have any 'central structure'-while groups known as 'covens' do sometimes gather, Wicca is largely a solitary faith. It also doesn't have any written scriptures, but the teachings are orally passed down from generation to generation. Wicca has a very positive view of female sexuality, seeing sex as a gift from the Goddess.  This isn't to say that Wiccans 'sleep around'-just that sex doesn't have the stigma seen in some other religions.
In Wicca, the feminine is seen as being equal to the masculine, if not 'above'. In the old days, women were the ones who were the doctors, wise people, teachers and leaders of the communities. While many in the world seem to have forgotten this, Wicca celebrates the contributions women have made to the world and gives special honor to the 'crones'-the older, wiser women who are everything from teachers to mediators to healers. In a coven, it's not uncommon for the person 'running things' to be a priestess. There's not any 'anger' or bias against men; it's just that many aspects of nature are referred to in the feminine sense because they follow the lead of the groups their beliefs are based on.
Some common misconceptions:
  1. Wiccans do not worship Satan. There is actually no concept even remotely resembling the evil being Christians and Muslims call 'Satan' It's kind of hard to worship something if you don't recognize that it exists!
  2. Wiccans are not evil, In fact, their primary ethic, the Wiccan Rede, expressly forbids doing harm to others. One English translation is, “Do as thou wilt, but harm no one.” Here, no one refers to other people, future generations, the environment and, in some cases, even yourself.
    In addition to the Rede, there is the three-fold law: "All good that a person does to another returns threefold in this life: harm is also returned threefold."
  3. Wicca and Witchcraft are associated, but not entirely interchangeable. Some Wiccans practice witchcraft, meaning that they use what is called magick (no, I didn't misspell it) to direct things in their lives. However, others are drawn only to the spiritual aspects. Technically, witchcraft isn't a religion and can be practiced by anyone. I've only known two witches-a man and a woman-though, so I'm not totally 'up to speed' on how it works.

As you can see, Wicca is a very interesting and feminine-positive religion. If you want more information, check out www.religioustolerance.org/witchcra.htm.

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