new age spirituality

Wicca for Beginners

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Wicca is a Neopagan religion and a religious movement found in various countries throughout the world. It was first popularized in 1954 by English civil servant Gerald Gardner after the British Witchcraft Act was repealed.

Gardner claimed that Wicca was a modern survival of an old witchcraft religion, which had existed in secret for hundreds of years, originating in the pre-Christian Paganism of Europe. Wicca is thus sometimes referred to as the Old Religion. The veracity of Gardner's claims cannot be independently proven, and it is thought that written Wiccan theology began to be compiled no earlier than the 1920s.

Various related Wiccan traditions have since evolved, or been adapted from, the form established by Gardner, which came to be called Gardnerian Wicca. These other traditions of Wicca each have distinctive beliefs, rituals, and practices. Many traditions of Wicca remain secretive and require that members be initiated. There is also a movement of Eclectic or Solitary Wiccans who do not believe that any doctrine or traditional initiation is necessary in order to practice Wicca. The 2001 American Religious Identification Survey estimated that at least 134,000 adults identified themselves as Wiccans in the US.

Because there is no centralized organization in Wicca, and no single "orthodoxy", the beliefs and practices of Wiccans can vary substantially, both between individuals and between traditions. Typically, the main religious principles, ethics and ritual structures are shared, since they are key elements of traditional teachings and published works on the subject.

Wiccans worship a goddess and a god; they observe the festivals of the eight Sabbats of the year and the full-moon Esbats; and they have a code of ethics that most live by. Wicca is thus distinct from witchcraft, which may or may not imply any specific religious, ethical or ritual elements, and is practiced in various forms by people of many religions, as well as by some atheists.

Wicca incorporates a specific form of witchcraft, with particular ritual forms, involving the casting of spells, herbalism, divination and other forms of magic. Wiccan ethics require that magical activities be limited to good purposes only.

According to Gerald Gardner, the religion derives from a secret but widespread witch-cult of early modern Europe, which incorporated all of the key religious beliefs and ideals and the distinctive ritual structures found in modern Wicca. However, this historical interpretation is now much criticized.


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It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Wicca".