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What is Wicca?

In order to understand this podcast and the coven that I run, we should look at the beginnings of Wicca, where it came from and who was instrumental in its development. It is not my intention to take you on a historical journey. I am merely going to summarise here. If you want to know more about the history of Wicca, I can recommend the books by Philip Heselton and Professor Ronald Hutton.

Also, I strongly recommend you read the essay by Julia Philips, ‘History of Wicca’. In this article she summarises beautifully what we know about Gerald Gardner and the development of Wicca. This essay and other articles are available at geraldgardner.com.

What is Wicca?

Having read the above essay, it should give you enough information to understand the type of Wicca that we practice.

Since the days of Gerald Gardner, Wicca has developed in many forms, as more and more people take on board his teachings and apply it to their own practice. Wicca practices can have a Celtic influence, or a Norse influence; others practice solitary and others in a coven setting. In our view, Wicca is a practice and not a religion. Though, to some people it is a religion.

The Wicca that we practice is Initiatory Witchcraft, which has also been known as Traditional British Wicca in America, Traditional Witchcraft or, as most of us know it, as Initiatory Gardnerian Wicca. This is purely to distinguish it from Alexandrian Wicca, which is similar but with small differences or big differences, depending on your point of view.

What do we mean by initiatory?

Gerald Gardner developed a Wicca that was meant to be practiced in a group setting. It entailed a face-to-face initiation by a High Priestess or a High Priest. Which in turn had been initiated into the craft themselves and this is where the term lineage comes from. In Initiatory Wicca, all the priests and priestesses can trace their initiations back to Gerald Gardner and one of his many High Priestesses. This creates a direct line (or lineage) where all wiccans connect with each other, like a spider web.

Why is it not a religion?

Wicca has no dogmas and all covens are autonomous. Although most practices will be the same between all covens, most covens tend to change and create their own way of doing things.

Also, Wicca does not have a belief system. Wicca is meant to be practiced and experienced. You cannot simply read about it; you are meant to be trained in a coven setting. Not all initiates share the same beliefs, therefore making it difficult to classify it as a religion.

When you train with a coven, the training is designed to help you experience divinity without telling you what you should believe in. Coven leaders are there to create the space for you to encounter the divine on your own terms. Wicca offers you initiation into a priesthood where you will experience the Mysteries.

What do we mean by mysteries and the divine?

Our practice lies in the mysteries that we experience. In this context, mystery is what is hidden and we cannot see, is what we can only experience. This experiences that are ineffable, the ones you have to experience. Therefore, in order to reach the divine and connect with the rest of the cosmos we must experience the mysteries.

In Wicca we see the divine as being dualistic. In the divine there are two cosmic forces, two energies, two movements that create change. These two energies are opposite but part of a whole. Rather than repel each other, they complement each other. We see the divine as female and male, and we see how we need to have a balance of both. Hence why most covens worship a female deity and male deity, a Goddess and a God.

In order to understand our coven, we should look at the beginnings of Wicca, where it came from and who was instrumental in its development. It is not my intention to take you on a historical journey. I am merely going to summarize here. If you want to know more about the history of Wicca, I can recommend the books by Philip Heselton and Professor Ronald Hutton.

Also, I strongly recommend you read the essay by Julia Philips, ‘History of Wicca’. In this article she summarises beautifully what we know about Gerald Gardner and the development of Wicca. This essay and other articles are available at geraldgardner.com.

What is Wicca?

Having read the above essay, it should give you enough information to understand the type of Wicca that we practice.

Since the days of Gerald Gardner, Wicca has developed in many forms, as more and more people take on board his teachings and apply it to their own practice. Wicca practices can have a Celtic influence, or a Norse influence; others practice solitary and others in a coven setting. In our view, Wicca is a practice and not a religion. Though, to some people it is a religion.

The Wicca that we practice is Initiatory Witchcraft, which has also been known as Traditional British Wicca in America, Traditional Witchcraft or, as most of us know it, as Initiatory Gardnerian Wicca. This is purely to distinguish it from Alexandrian Wicca, which is similar but with small differences or big differences, depending on your point of view.

What do we mean by initiatory?

Gerald Gardner developed a Wicca that was meant to be practiced in a group setting. It entailed a face-to-face initiation by a High Priestess or a High Priest. Which in turn had been initiated into the craft themselves and this is where the term lineage comes from. In Initiatory Wicca, all the priests and priestesses can trace their initiations back to Gerald Gardner and one of his many High Priestesses. This creates a direct line (or lineage) where all wiccans connect with each other, like a spider web.

Why is it not a religion?

Wicca has no dogmas and all covens are autonomous. Although most practices will be the same between all covens, most covens tend to change and create their own way of doing things.

Also, Wicca does not have a belief system. Wicca is meant to be practiced and experienced. You cannot simply read about it; you are meant to be trained in a coven setting. Not all initiates share the same beliefs, therefore making it difficult to classify it as a religion.

When you train with a coven, the training is designed to help you experience divinity without telling you what you should believe in. Coven leaders are there to create the space for you to encounter the divine on your own terms. Wicca offers you initiation into a priesthood where you will experience the Mysteries.

What do we mean by mysteries and the divine?

Our practice lies in the mysteries that we experience. In this context, mystery is what is hidden and we cannot see, is what we can only experience. This experiences that are ineffable, the ones you have to experience. Therefore, in order to reach the divine and connect with the rest of the cosmos we must experience the mysteries.

In Wicca we see the divine as being dualistic. In the divine there are two cosmic forces, two energies, two movements that create change. These two energies are opposite but part of a whole. Rather than repel each other, they complement each other. We see the divine as female and male, and we see how we need to have a balance of both. Hence why most covens worship a female deity and male deity, a Goddess and a God.

As for what deities? This changes between covens.

The above is a summary of what Wicca is for me. As they always say, ask 3 witches and get 6 answers. Hopefully it gives you a basic idea of what Wicca is and a general understanding of where the podcast is coming from.

Lusete

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