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Wicca Resource

Wicca is a collective term for a group of Neopagan religions that are found in many different countries, though most commonly in English-speaking cultures. The origins of Wicca are traceable to its alleged founder, a 20th century British civil servant named Gerald Gardner. In 1954 the first book about Wicca was openly published. However, there is some evidence that Wiccan theology was being developed as early as the 1920s. Since its founding, various related Wiccan traditions have evolved, or been adapted from, the original form, which is called Gardnerian Wicca. This is the name of the tradition that teaches the specific beliefs and practices established by Gerald Gardner. There are many other traditions of Wicca, each with specific beliefs, rituals, and practices. Garderian Wicca is perhaps the most popular today, excepting perhaps the practice of Solitary Wicca (those who are without "companions" in the religion, are physically isolated, cannot find a coven to be a part of, or prefer to work alone).


Definition

Gerald Gardner is credited with re-introducing the word 'Wicca' into the English language, although he himself used the spelling Wica in his published work of 1954. The spelling "Wicca" is now used almost exclusively, (Seax-Wica being the only major use of the four-letter spelling).

In Old English, wicca meant "A wizard, soothsayer, sorcerer, magician" (Bosworth, 1898 [1]). Its modern English descendant is the word witch, now used almost exclusively to describe women sorcerors, but formerly used for both sexes. Other (disputed) derivations are from the Old English roots wic, 'to bend', or wit, 'wisdom'. Wicca is often called the "Craft of the Wise", alluding to the latter derivation.
It appears that the word Wicca may be untraceable beyond the Old English period.

Though sometimes used interchangeably, Wicca and witchcraft are not the same thing. Most, but not all, Wiccans consider Wicca to be a form of witchcraft, however Wicca has a distinct set of beliefs, ritual system and organisational structure that distinguish it from other forms of witchcraft. Similarly, most Wiccans and witches consider themselves to be Pagans, but many Pagans are neither Wiccans nor witches.

Wiccans (initiatory or otherwise) worship the Goddess, with most also choosing to worship the God, her consort; they observe the festivals of the eight Sabbats of the year and the full-moon Esbats; they have a code of ethics that they live by. Wicca is thus distinct from witchcraft, which does not require any religious element, and may be practised by people of any religion, or by atheists. The term witchcraft refers to the practical arts of casting spells, herbalism, and performing magic, and does not of itself imply that these arts are used for good or evil, despite the popular negative connotations of the word. Wiccans see their use of witchcraft as positive and good, and black or evil magic is viewed as antithetical to Wiccan beliefs and activities.

Many practitioners of Wicca consider that the term 'Wicca' only correctly applies to an initiate of a traditional branch of the religion (such as Gardnerian or Alexandrian Wicca), however the term has increasingly come to be adopted by people who are not initiates of a traditional lineaged coven. These 'non-initiatory' Wiccans may undertake rituals of self-initiation, and generally work alone as 'solitaries' or in informal groups, rather than in organised coven situations. Thus 'non-initiatory' Wicca shares the basic religious principles, the ethics and the ritual system of 'traditional' or 'initiatory' Wicca (commonly termed 'British Traditional Wicca'), but not the organisational structure or the belief that Wiccan initiation requires a transferral of power from an initiator.

While The Craft, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Charmed contain references to Wicca, these are dramatic fiction and should not be taken as factual. The fictional character Harry Potter has nothing to do with historical or modern witchcraft.

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