One of the most misunderstood and maligned religions today is that of Wicca. When people don't understand something they tend to fear it and when people fear something they try to explain it away in terms that they understand. Wicca is a religion of duality; everything is composed of dark and light, good and evil, sweet and sour. Nothing is entirely evil or entirely good, completely black or white, sour without sweetness or vice versa. When Christians encountered our Horned God, they did not understand the meaning and decided that we worship Satan. Satan is NOT a Wiccan entity, he is entirely a Judea-Christian creation.
"We are not evil. We don't harm or seduce people. We are not dangerous. We are ordinary people like you. We have families, jobs, hopes, and dreams. We are not a cult. This religion is not a joke. We are not what you think we are from looking at T.V. We are real. We laugh, we cry. We are serious. We have a sense of humor. You don't have to be afraid of us. We don't want to convert you. And please don't try to convert us. Just give us the same right we give you--to live in peace. We are much more similar to you than you think." -author and radio personality Margot Adler
Wicca is a religion that strives to bring people more in tune with nature, as opposed to dominating it. We stress tolerance of other's beliefs and feel very strongly about the concept of community.
Want to learn more? Keep reading, and you'll find a list of Frequently Asked Questions concerning Wicca and Fire Dance Church. We hope that this section will answer all of your questions about Wicca and the Fire Dance Church of Wicca . . .or at least whet your appetite to learn more. Please use the "contact us" link at the bottom of the page if you have a question that is not covered here!
What is Wicca?
Wicca is a modern religion with a philosophical lineage in pre-Christian Pagan theology. Sometimes called "The Craft" or "The Craft of the Wise", Wicca is one of the many Pagan or Neo-Pagan earth-based religions. Wiccan beliefs are based on Divinity expressed in nature, gender equality, and the ability of individuals to have a positive impact on their environment. The religion which is closest to Wicca in America is probably Native American spirituality.
Do Wiccans believe in God?
Wiccans do believe in God, but not in the same way that most Christians do. Wiccans are generally pantheistic or polytheistic, and see Divinity expressed in both masculine and feminine aspects. In other words, we believe in both God and Goddess. Many Wiccans see the God and Goddess as eminently manifest in nature, and seek to honor the natural world as an expression of Divinity.
Is Wicca a new religion?
Wicca is a religion based, in part, on ancient, northern European Pagan beliefs in a fertility Goddess and her consort, a horned God. Although the religion is a modern creation, some of its sources pre-date the Christian era by many centuries. Most Wiccans do not believe that their religion is a direct, continuous descendent of this earlier religion. They see it as a modern reconstruction.
Is Wicca a form of Satanism?
Wicca is not in any way compatible with satanism. Satanists adhere to a group of principles that are completely at odds with Wiccan ethics. We, along with most other faiths, are diametricly opposed to the philosophy and practices of satanic groups and individuals. Satan in his many forms and heaven and hell are creations of the Judeo-Christian traditions.
Who are the goddess and god in Wicca?
According to David Barrett et al, editors of the "World Christian Encyclopedia: A comparative survey of churches and religions - AD 30 to 2200," there are 19 major world religions which are subdivided into a total of 270 large religious groups, and many tens of thousands of smaller ones. Each of the 19 world religions has a different concept of deity or deities. Even among the Abramic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, there are very different views of deity. Conservative Protestant, Roman Catholic, liberal Protestant, Islam, Reform Judaism, Orthodox Judaism, and Conservative Judaism all call their deity God, but conceive of their male God in different terms. They teach that he requires different behaviors and beliefs from his followers.
Many Wiccans believe in a deity that is largely unknowable -- sometimes called "The All" or "The One." However, they believe that they can comprehend the male and female aspects of the deity, whom they call the God and the Goddess. Sometimes, they commune with "The Goddess" or "The God." Other times, they link with specific Pagan deities from the past. Instead of "the Goddess," they might relate to Athena, Brigit, Ceridwen, Diana, Hecate, Ishtar, Isis, Venus, etc. In place of "The God" they may link to Adonis, Apollo, Dionysus, Odin, Osiris, Pan, Thor, Zeus, etc.
How do Wiccans worship the goddesses and gods?
Some Wiccans pray to their God or Goddess. More Wiccans probably feel that they have more of a partnership with the God and Goddess than the God/worshiper relationship found in Christianity and other world religions. They need the Goddess and God; the God and Goddess need them. They welcome communion with the God and Goddess; they don't really worship them in the same way as followers of other religions do.
Do Wiccans believe in the Devil?
Wiccan theology includes both God and Goddess, but no "devil". Satan in his various forms is a strictly Judeo-Christian entity. We don't polarize Divinity into good and evil. We don't deny that good and evil exist, or that evil should be opposed. We just see the primary forces of the universe differently. Rather than see the universe as a battleground for hostile, opposing forces (God and Satan), we see it as the meeting place for complementary, cooperating forces (Lord and Lady).
How else does Wicca differ from Christianity?
In many ways, the two are similar. For example, the have similar ethics of reciprocity. The Wiccan Rede and Christianity's Golden Rule both emphasize kindness to and consideration of others. But there are many differences:
On sexual and gender matters:
- Wicca has generally accepted the equality of men and women. Christianity has historically reserved positions of power in the church, the rest of society and the family for males.
- Wicca regards responsible sexual behavior as a gift of the Goddess. Some committed Wiccan couples engage in private sexual rituals. Christianity has tended to have a negative and restrictive view of sexual behavior.
- Wicca generally accepts all sexual orientations as normal and natural: heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual.
- Wicca is largely an oral tradition, and has no holy text that corresponds to the Christian Bible.
- Wiccans stress the cycles of life and look upon time largely as cyclical. Christianity largely views time as linear.
- Most Wiccans reject the concept of Heaven and Hell, and embrace reincarnation. The concept that a person must believe certain things or behave in a certain way to achieve salvation and avoid being tortured in Hell for all eternity is foreign to Wicca.
- Wiccans feel close to nature and are highly concerned about its preservation.
- Wiccans do not proselytize. In particular, they do not usually dedicate, teach, or initiate potential converts unless they are 18 years or older.
- Where possible, and where safe, Wiccans prefer to perform their rituals out-of-doors.
Why do you call yourselves 'witches'?
Witchcraft" is a word often used to refer to Wicca. A lot of the reason for this traces back to the twenties and a British anthropologist named Margaret Murray, who was a major influence on the work of Gerald Gardner. Murray believed that the pre Christian Pagan religion of Europe had survived by going underground. She believed that what the Inquisition had called "Witchcraft" had actually been the remnants of an ancient Pagan priesthood. Gardner drew heavily on her work during Wicca's formative period. Although much of her work has been contradicted by later research, the association of Wicca and "Witchcraft" remains.
Aren't witches evil?
Wicca is not the only practice to be called "Witchcraft". "Witch" has been used to describe everyone from satanists to superstitious grandmothers. This is where a lot of the confusion and misunderstanding about Wicca comes from. "Witch" is a word with so many meanings that it is meaningless without some context in which to place it. In the context of Wicca, "Witchcraft" is simply another name for our religion, and Wicca is not evil.
Do Wiccans have rituals like communion or baptism?
Yes However, it generally involves a direct encounter with the God and Goddess, rather than an indirect experience routed through a priest, minister or other clergyperson.
Many Wiccans observe a Wiccaning service for infants which is vaguely like a Christian baptism. It welcomes the newborn into the community. However, it does not obligate the infant in any way. Wiccans feel that a person must mature before they can make their own decision about religion; an infant cannot make such a choice.
There are initiation rituals where a person becomes a Wiccan. Some are self-initiation rituals where a person declares themselves to be a Wiccan. There are other initiation rituals performed in a Wiccan group, often called a Coven.
Many Wiccans write rituals for themselves or their coven to recognize life passages, like the onset of puberty, graduation, marriage, purchase of a house, divorce, healing, death, menopause, etc.
Many Wiccans observe Esbat rituals at the thirteen or so full moons each year, and occasionally on the new moons as well. There are eight Sabbats: four minor Sabbats at the solstices and equinoxes, and four major Sabbats each year.
What do Wiccan rituals involve?
Wiccan rituals take many forms. But they all generally include:
- The casting of a circle -- the consecration of a sacred space.
- The invocation of a deity/deities.
- The body of the ritual, which may involve magick, spell casting, a community meal, dance, readings, singing, etc.
- Closing or banishing of the circle -- restoration of the space to ordinary usage.
What does being Wiccan involve?
Common to almost all Wiccans is the recognition of the existence of the Goddess, and her consort the horned God. These may be viewed as real living personal entities, or as symbols.
Wiccans follow the Wiccan Rede "A'in it harm none, do what thou wilt." This means that as long as it harms no one, including yourself, one is free to do what they wish. A Wiccan carefully reviews the implications of each action or non-action in her/his life. Domination, manipulation and control are particularly prohibited by the Rede.
Wiccans typically go through a dedication ritual at the start of their training, and an initiation ritual when they complete their initial study of the religion -- often a period of a year and a day.
Wiccans engage in rituals, either alone or within a coven of other Wiccans. They are committed to personal spiritual growth.
How many Wiccans are in the U.S.?
According to the 2001 ARIS (American Religious Identification Survey) there are about 134,000 adult Wiccans in the US. In 1990 the same survey reported 8,000 Wiccans. This makes us one of the fastest growing religions in the world! In 2001 ARIS also reports 33,000 Druids and 140,000 other Pagans among adult Americans.