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A BOS and guide for the solitary beginner. General eclectic Craft principles and ethics. The Old Religion in the New Age. An excellent introduction from the perspective of a Witch who is also a Jungian therapist to British Traditional Craft. Harper San Francisco, l Principles, Rituals and Beliefs of Modern Witchcraft. Lord of the Dance.

Basic mythological background for Wiccans. This special expanded edition of the historic volume, reissued in celebration of its 50th anniversary, includes the original introduction written for the book by Dr. Margaret Murray, former president of the British Folklore Society and the author of influential books on Witchcraft. It also includes new material by contemporary practitioners and scholars.


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The Meaning of Witchcraft. The Aquarian Press, [] Green, Marian. The Elements of Natural Magic. Green provides an outstanding introduction to natural magic and solitary work. The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft. Facts on File, l Contains unique information not available elsewhere. How to Start and Organize Your Own. Group dynamics, adult education techniques and related issues, for coven leaders and people planning on becoming coven leaders. Gospel of the Witches. A classic collection of witch lore collected in Italy over a century ago.

Never Again the Burning Times.

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A study of modern Pagan belief systems, often used in anthropology or sociology classes. Pepper, Elizabeth and John Wilcock, editors. A yearly compendium of lore, legend, and practical information. Details how she began her own circle, which revolves around astrology. Original rituals and instructions on making robes and masks. That said, like Satanism, Wicca is a form of occultism. The writer himself is a pagan. He introduces his article as follows:. For starters, I am not a Christian. I am and have been Pagan Wiccan in particular for several years now. So why am I writing this?

Because I understand that believing Christians feel they have an obligation to share their religion with others I was Christian once and participated actively in missionary work at that time. I have also observed over a number of years that believing Christians tend, however unintentionally, to ignore their own strengths, and to consistently put their worst face forward when dealing with those who do not share their faith. This is especially obvious when they are dealing with Wiccans, Druids, or other "pagan" religions. I have thus written this outline in the hope that it will help Christians understand better who and what Pagans really are, and, in the process become more effective in sharing their beliefs.

Interview with Craig Hawkins Hawkins is the author of Witchcraft: Exploring the World of Wicca. Interviewed by Apologia Report Modern World of Witchcraft In this two-part article, Craig Hawkins looks at the history, beliefs and practices of Witchcraft, and provides a critique of the witches' world view and practices -- on biblical, metaphysical, logical, and ethical grounds. Scrutinising craft of modern witches Letter to the editor, by Professor Philip G. The Scholars and the Goddess "Historically speaking, the ''ancient'' rituals of the Goddess movement are almost certainly bunk" By Charlotte Allen, who writes: In all probability, not a single element of the Wiccan story is true.

The evidence is overwhelming that Wicca is a distinctly new religion, a s concoction influenced by such things as Masonic ritual and a late-nineteenth-century fascination with the esoteric and the occult, and that various assumptions informing the Wiccan view of history are deeply flawed. Furthermore, scholars generally agree that there is no indication, either archaeological or in the written record, that any ancient people ever worshipped a single, archetypal goddess -- a conclusion that strikes at the heart of Wiccan belief.

Season of the witch This World Magazine opinion item observes, "Witches are trying hard to shed their scary image, but the quest for empowerment apart from truth will lead to something wicked this way coming. A Community of Witches: Davis A critical evaluation of the theological, anthropological, and historial claims of the "Goddess" movement.

Baker Books, , paperback, pages. Reviewed by Rich Poll , president of Apologia Report. Witchcraft Dictionary found at the Witch's Brew web site. Designed as an introduction to Wicca and to the alt. Back issue, available for purchase. See about this database Note: Although not accepted by all Wiccans, a belief in reincarnation is the dominant afterlife belief within Wicca, having been originally espoused by Gardner.

Many Wiccans believe in magic , a manipulative force exercised through the practice of witchcraft or sorcery. Many Wiccans agree with the definition of magic offered by ceremonial magicians , [59] such as Aleister Crowley , who declared that magic was "the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with will", while another prominent ceremonial magician, MacGregor Mathers stated that it was "the science of the control of the secret forces of nature". Paul Huson [62]. During ritual practices, which are often staged in a sacred circle , Wiccans cast spells or "workings" intended to bring about real changes in the physical world.

Common Wiccan spells include those used for healing , for protection, fertility, or to banish negative influences.

Witchcraft, Wicca

Sanders also used the similar terminology of " left hand path " to describe malevolent magic, and " right hand path " to describe magic performed with good intentions; [64] terminology that had originated with the occultist Helena Blavatsky in the 19th century. Some modern Wiccans however have stopped using the white-black magic and left-right hand path dichotomies, arguing for instance that the colour black should not necessarily have any associations with evil. Scholars of religion Rodney Stark and William Bainbridge claimed in that Wicca had "reacted to secularisation by a headlong plunge back into magic" and that it was a reactionary religion which would soon die out.

This view was heavily criticised in by the historian Ronald Hutton who claimed that the evidence displayed the very opposite: Lady Gwen Thompson [67]. There exists no dogmatic moral or ethical code followed universally by Wiccans of all traditions, however a majority follow a code known as the Wiccan Rede , which states "an it harm none, do what ye will". This is usually interpreted as a declaration of the freedom to act, along with the necessity of taking responsibility for what follows from one's actions and minimising harm to oneself and others.

Wicca: Pure Spiritual Poison

Another common element of Wiccan morality is the Law of Threefold Return which holds that whatever benevolent or malevolent actions a person performs will return to that person with triple force, or with equal force on each of the three levels of body, mind and spirit, [69] similar to the eastern idea of karma. The Threefold Law was an interpretation of Wiccan ideas and ritual, made by Monique Wilson [70] and further popularised by Raymond Buckland , in his books on Wicca.

Many Wiccans also seek to cultivate a set of eight virtues mentioned in Doreen Valiente 's Charge of the Goddess , [71] these being mirth, reverence, honour, humility, strength, beauty, power, and compassion. In Valiente's poem, they are ordered in pairs of complementary opposites, reflecting a dualism that is common throughout Wiccan philosophy.


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  • Some lineaged Wiccans also observe a set of Wiccan Laws , commonly called the Craft Laws or Ardanes , 30 of which exist in the Gardnerian tradition and of which are in the Alexandrian tradition. Valiente, one of Gardner's original High Priestesses, argued that the first thirty of these rules were most likely invented by Gerald Gardner himself in mock-archaic language as the by-product of inner conflict within his Bricket Wood coven [72] [66] — the others were later additions made by Alex Sanders during the s.

    Although Gerald Gardner initially demonstrated an aversion to homosexuality , claiming that it brought down "the curse of the goddess", [73] it is now generally accepted in all traditions of Wicca, with groups such as the Minoan Brotherhood openly basing their philosophy upon it, [74] and various important figures in the Craft, such as Alex Sanders and Eddie Buczynski , being openly homosexual or bisexual.

    Many traditions hold a belief in the five classical elements , although they are seen as symbolic as representations of the phases of matter. These five elements are invoked during many magical rituals, notably when consecrating a magic circle. The five elements are air , fire , water , earth , and aether or spirit. Aether unites the other four. Traditionally in the Gardnerian Craft, each element has been associated with a cardinal point of the compass; air with east, fire with south, water with west, earth with north, and the spirit with centre.

    For instance, those living on the east coast of North America should invoke water in the east and not the west because the colossal body of water, the Atlantic ocean , is to their east. The five elements are symbolised by the five points of the pentagram , the most prominently used symbol of Wicca. The Neopagan researcher and High Priestess Margot Adler , who defined ritual as being "one method of reintegrating individuals and groups into the cosmos, and to tie in the activities of daily life with their ever present, often forgotten, significance" noted that rituals, celebrations and rites of passage in Wicca are not "dry, formalised, repetitive experiences", but are performed with the purpose of inducing a religious experience in the participants, thereby altering their consciousness.

    The Craft is a place where all of these things fit together — beauty, pageantry, music, dance, song, dream. The High Priest and Craft historian Aidan Kelly claimed that the practices and experiences within Wicca were actually far more important than the beliefs, stating that "it's a religion of ritual rather than theology. The ritual is first; the myth is second. And taking an attitude that the myths of the Craft are 'true history' in the way a fundamentalist looks at the legends of Genesis really seems crazy. It's an alien head-space. The practice of Wicca often involves the ritual practice of magic , ranging from the "low magic" or "folk magic" of shamanism and witchcraft to more elaborate and complex rites influenced by the ceremonial magic of the Western Hermetic Tradition.

    There are many rituals within Wicca that are used when celebrating the Sabbats , worshipping the deities and working magic. Often these take place on a full moon , or in some cases a new moon, which is known as an Esbat. In typical rites, the coven or solitary assembles inside a ritually cast and purified magic circle.

    Witchcraft: Exploring The World Of Wicca

    Casting the circle may involve the invocation of the "Guardians" of the cardinal points, alongside their respective classical elements; air, fire, water and earth. Once the circle is cast, a seasonal ritual may be performed, prayers to the God and Goddess are said, and spells are sometimes worked; these may include various forms of 'raising energy', including raising a cone of power for the purposes of sending healing or other magic to persons outside of the sacred space.

    The classical ritual scheme in British Traditional Wicca traditions is: These rites often include a special set of magical tools. These usually include a knife called an athame , a wand , a pentacle and a chalice , but other tools include a broomstick known as a besom , a cauldron , candles , incense and a curved blade known as a boline. An altar is usually present in the circle, on which ritual tools are placed and representations of the God and the Goddess may be displayed.

    After a ritual has finished, the God, Goddess and Guardians are thanked, the directions are dismissed and the circle is closed. A central aspect of Wicca particularly in Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wicca , often sensationalised by the media is the traditional practice of working in the nude, also known as skyclad. This practice seemingly derives from a line in Aradia , Charles Leland 's supposed record of Italian witchcraft.

    In certain traditions, ritualised sex magic is performed in the form of the Great Rite , whereby a High Priest and High Priestess invoke the God and Goddess to possess them before performing sexual intercourse to raise magical energy for use in spellwork. In nearly all cases it is instead performed "in token", thereby merely symbolically, using the athame to symbolise the penis and the chalice to symbolise the womb.

    One of Wicca's best known liturgical texts is "The Charge of the Goddess". Gardner's wording of the original "Charge" added extracts from the works of Aleister Crowley's work, including The Book of the Law , especially from Ch 1, spoken by Nuit, the Star Goddess thus linking modern Wicca irrevocably to the principles of Thelema. Valiente rewrote Gardner's version in verse, keeping the material derived from Aradia , but removing the material from Crowley.

    Wiccans celebrate several seasonal festivals of the year, commonly known as Sabbats.

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    Collectively, these occasions are termed the Wheel of the Year. In the rare case of the Ros an Bucca group from Cornwall , only six are adhered to. The names of these festivals are in some cases taken from the Old Irish fire festivals, [91] though in most traditional Wiccan covens the only commonality with the Celtic festival is the name. Gardner himself made use of the English names of these holidays, stating that "the four great Sabbats are Candlemass [ sic ], May Eve , Lammas , and Halloween ; the equinoxes and solstices are celebrated also.

    Subsequently, when Wicca was first developing in the s through to the s, many of the early groups, such as Robert Cochrane 's Clan of Tubal Cain and Gerald Gardner 's Bricket Wood coven adopted the commemoration of these four Sabbats as described by Murray. The other four festivals commemorated by many Wiccans are known as Lesser Sabbats.

    They are the solstices and the equinoxes , and they were only adopted in by members of the Bricket Wood coven, [93] before they were subsequently adopted by other followers of the Gardnerian tradition. They were eventually adopted by followers of other traditions like Alexandrian Wicca and the Dianic tradition. The names of these holidays that are commonly used today are often taken from Germanic pagan holidays. However, the festivals are not reconstructive in nature nor do they often resemble their historical counterparts, instead they exhibit a form of universalism. The rituals that are observed may display cultural influences from the holidays from which they take their names as well as influences from other unrelated cultures.

    Various rites of passage can be found within Wicca. Perhaps the most significant of these is an initiation ritual, through which somebody joins the Craft and becomes a Wiccan. In British Traditional Wiccan BTW traditions, there is a line of initiatory descent that goes back to Gerald Gardner , and from him is said to go back to the New Forest coven ; however, the existence of this coven remains unproven. In BTW, initiation only accepts someone into the first degree.

    To proceed to the second degree, an initiate has to go through another ceremony, in which they name and describe the uses of the ritual tools and implements. It is also at this ceremony that they are given their craft name. By holding the rank of second degree, a BTW is considered capable of initiating others into the Craft, or founding their own semi-autonomous covens. The third degree is the highest in BTW, and it involves the participation of the Great Rite , either actual or symbolically, and in some cases ritual flagellation , which is a rite often dispensed with due to its sado-masochistic overtones.

    By holding this rank, an initiate is considered capable of forming covens that are entirely autonomous of their parent coven. According to new-age religious scholar James R. Lewis , in his book Witchcraft today: She then becomes eligible to wear the "moon crown". The sequence of high priestess and queens traced back to Gerald Gardner is known as a lineage, and every orthodox Gardnerian High Priestess has a set of "lineage papers" proving the authenticity of her status.

    This three-tier degree system following initiation is largely unique to BTW, and traditions heavily based upon it. The Cochranian tradition , which is not BTW, but based upon the teachings of Robert Cochrane , does not have the three degrees of initiation, merely having the stages of novice and initiate. Some solitary Wiccans also perform self-initiation rituals, to dedicate themselves to becoming a Wiccan.

    The first of these to be published was in Paul Huson 's Mastering Witchcraft , and unusually involved recitation of the Lord's Prayer backwards as a symbol of defiance against the historical Witch Hunt. Handfasting is another celebration held by Wiccans, and is the commonly used term for their weddings. Some Wiccans observe the practice of a trial marriage for a year and a day, which some traditions hold should be contracted on the Sabbat of Lughnasadh, as this was the traditional time for trial, " Telltown marriages" among the Irish.

    A common marriage vow in Wicca is "for as long as love lasts" instead of the traditional Christian "till death do us part". Infants in Wiccan families may be involved in a ritual called a Wiccaning , which is analogous to a Christening. The purpose of this is to present the infant to the God and Goddess for protection. Parents are advised to "give [their] children the gift of Wicca" in a manner suitable to their age.

    In accordance with the importance put on free will in Wicca, the child is not expected or required to adhere to Wicca or other forms of paganism should they not wish to do so when they reach adulthood. In Wicca, there is no set sacred text such as the Christian Bible , Jewish Tanakh , Hindu Gita or Islamic Quran , although there are certain scriptures and texts that various traditions hold to be important and influence their beliefs and practices. Gerald Gardner used a book containing many different texts in his covens, known as the Book of Shadows among other names , which he would frequently add to and adapt.

    In his Book of Shadows, there are texts taken from various sources, including Charles Godfrey Leland 's Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches and the works of 19th—20th century occultist Aleister Crowley , whom Gardner knew personally. Also in the Book are examples of poetry largely composed by Gardner and his High Priestess Doreen Valiente , the most notable of which is the Charge of the Goddess. Gerald Gardner to his followers []. Similar in use to the grimoires of ceremonial magicians , [] the Book contained instructions for how to perform rituals and spells, as well as religious poetry and chants like Eko Eko Azarak to use in those rituals.

    Gardner's original intention was that every copy of the Book would be different, because a student would copy from their initiators, but changing things which they felt to be personally ineffective, however amongst many Gardnerian Witches today, particularly in the United States , all copies of the Book are kept identical to the version that the High Priestess Monique Wilson copied from Gardner, with nothing being altered. In the s through to the s, when the Wiccan movement was largely confined to lineaged groups such as Gardnerian Wicca and Alexandrian Wicca , a "tradition" usually implied the transfer of a lineage by initiation.

    However, with the rise of more and more such groups, often being founded by those with no previous initiatory lineage, the term came to be a synonym for a religious denomination within Wicca. There are many such traditions [] [] and there are also many solitary practitioners who do not align themselves with any particular lineage, working alone. There are also covens that have formed but who do not follow any particular tradition, instead choosing their influences and practices eclectically.

    Those traditions which trace a line of initiatory descent back to Gerald Gardner include Gardnerian Wicca , Alexandrian Wicca and the Algard tradition; because of their joint history, they are often referred to as British Traditional Wicca , particularly in North America. Other traditions trace their origins to different figures, even if their beliefs and practices have been influenced to a greater or lesser extent by Gardner. These include Cochrane's Craft and the Tradition , both of which trace their origins to Robert Cochrane ; Feri , which traces itself back to Victor Anderson and Gwydion Pendderwen ; and Dianic Wicca , whose followers often trace their influences back to Zsuzsanna Budapest.

    Some of these groups prefer to refer to themselves as Witches , thereby distinguishing themselves from the BTW traditions, who more typically use the term Wiccan see Etymology. Many traditions, including those of British Traditional Wicca, require formal initiation within an established coven for membership of their respective traditions. In this manner, all BTW's can trace a direct line of descent all the way back to Gardner. Other traditions, however, do not hold this to be necessary. Wicca has also been "customized" to the various different national contexts into which it has been introduced; for instance, in Ireland, the veneration of ancient Irish deities has been incorporated into Wicca.

    Lineaged Wicca is organised into covens of initiated priests and priestesses. Covens are autonomous, and are generally headed by a High Priest and a High Priestess working in partnership, being a couple who have each been through their first, second and third degrees of initiation. Occasionally the leaders of a coven are only second-degree initiates, in which case they come under the rule of the parent coven.

    Initiation and training of new priesthood is most often performed within a coven environment, but this is not a necessity, and a few initiated Wiccans are unaffiliated with any coven.