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Friday, January 6, 2012

What About Wicca?

Origins:
          No one founder.  Wicca has its roots in 19th century Britain.  It was partly inspired by Margaret Murray (1862-1963) and founded by Gerald Gardner (1884-1964) in 1939.  Some Wiccans believe it to be the oldest religion.  Wicca is a subset of Neopaganism, which is a revival of ancient polytheism and reverence for the forces of nature.  In both, nature is the model.  Wicca sometimes focuses more on the Goddess and has different rituals from other pagan practices.
Key Writings:
          No holy books; however, many groups use The Book of Shadows, first compiled by Gardner and later expanded by him and by other leaders.  Other popular works include The Spiral Dance by Starhawk (1979) and A Witches’ Bible by Janet and Stewart Farrar (1996).
Key Beliefs:
          Wiccans can be pantheists, polytheists, or both.  The supreme being is called the Goddess, sometimes the Goddess of God, or goddess and horned god (“Lord and Lady”).  The Goddess can be a symbol, the impersonal force in everything, or a personal being.  Jesus is either rejected altogether or sometimes considered a spiritual teacher who taught love and compassion.  Wiccans do not believe that humanity is sinful or needs saving.
          It is important for Wiccans to honor and work for the preservation of nature (which they equate with the Goddess).  At death one’s body replenishes the earth, which is the Goddess’s wish.  Wiccans generally state no specific belief about life after death, though some believe in reincarnation and others believe in going to a wonderful place called Summerland.
Occultic Practices:
          Wiccans practice divination and spell-casting, with most rituals performed in a circle.  Many Wiccans are part of a coven (local assembly), though many are “solitary.”  Covens meet for ritual and seasonal holidays, including the 8 major holidays (such as Vernal Equinox, Summer Solstice, and Beltane).  Wicca is an occultic “nature religion,” not Satanism.
Watch For:
·       Increasing popularity of books and products related to various kinds of witchcraft, paganism, and Goddess-worship.  These include do-it-yourself spell casting kits, candies, incense, lotions, and jewelry – often targeting young adult consumers. 
·       Wicca-themed web sites and chat rooms for adults and teenagers.
·       Pop-culture versions of witches and withcraft, as seen in mainstream films (like Practical Magic and The Craft), television programs (like Charmed, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and fiction (such as Teen Witch and Wild Girls: The Path of the Young Goddess).
·       Increasing acceptance of organized groups, such as pagan student unions on college and university campuses.
·       Controversies over Wiccans serving as chaplains in prisons, hospitals, and the military.
From the pamphlet: Christianity, Cults, & The Occult by Rose Publishing

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