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An Introduction to The Old Religion of Europe and its Modern Revival

[from ]

                             W H A T   I S   W I C C A ?

Subject: An Introduction to "The Old Religion" of Europe and its Modern Revival

                              by Amber K, High Priestess

                                Our Lady of the Woods
                                     P.O. Box 176
                             Blue Mounds, Wisconsin 53517

          (This leaflet may be reproduced and distributed exactly as-is,
          without further permission from the author, provided it is
          offered free of charge.  Changes in the text, however, must be
          approved in advance by the author.  Thank you!)

               WICCA (sometimes called Wicce, The Craft, or The Old
          Religion by its practitioners) is an ancient religion of love fo
          life and nature.

               In prehistoric times, people respected the great forces of

          Nature and celebrated the cycles of the seasons and the moon.
          They saw divinity in the sun and moon, in the Earth Herself, and

          in all life.  The creative energies of the universe were
          personified: feminine and masculine principles became Goddesses

          and Gods.  These were not semi-abstract, superhuman figures set

          apart from Nature: they were embodied in earth and sky, women an
          men, and even plants and animals.

               This viewpoint is still central to present-day Wicca.  To
          most Wiccans, everything in Natures -- and all Goddesses and God
          -- are true aspects of Deity.  The aspects most often celebrated

          in the Craft, however, are the Triple Goddess of the Moon (Who i
          Maiden, Mother, and Crone) and the Horned God of the wilds.
          These have many names in various cultures.

               Wicca had its organized beginnings in Paleolithic times, co
          existed with other Pagan ("country") religions in Europe, and ha
          a profound influence on early Christianity.  But in the medieval

          period, tremendous persecution was directed against the Nature
          religions by the Roman Church.  Over a span of 300 years,
          millions of men and women and many children were hanged, drowned

          or burned as accused "Witches."  The Church indicted them for
          black magic and Satan worship, though in fact these were never a

          part of the Old Religion.

               The Wiccan faith went underground, to be practiced in small
          secret groups called "covens."  For the most part, it stayed
          hidden until very recent times.  Now scholars such as Margaret
          Murray and Gerald Gardner have shed some light on the origins of

          the Craft, and new attitudes of religious freedom have allowed
          covens in some areas to risk becoming more open.

               How do Wiccan folk practice their faith today?  There is no

          central authority or doctrine, and individual covens vary a grea
          deal.  But most meet to celebrate on nights of the Full Moon, an
          at eight great festivals or Sabbats throughout the year.

                         Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD


               Though some practice alone or with only their families, man
          Wiccans are organized into covens of three to thirteen members.

          Some are led by a High Priestess or Priest, many by a
          Priestess/Priest team; others rotate or share leadership.  Some

          covens are highly structured and hierarchical, while others may

          be informal and egalitarian.  Often extensive training is
          required before initiation, and coven membership is considered a
          important commitment.

               There are many branches or "traditions" of Wicca in the
          United States and elsewhere, such as the Gardnerian, Alexandrian
          Welsh Traditional, Dianic, Faery, Seax-Wicca and others.  All
          adhere to a code of ethics.  None engage in the disreputable
          practices of some modern "cults," such as isolating and
          brainwashing impressionable, lonely young people.  Genuine
          Wiccans welcome sisters and brothers, but not disciples,
          followers or victims.

               Coven meetings include ritual, celebration and magick (the

          "k" is to distinguish it from stage illusions).  Wiccan magick i
          not at all like the instant "special effects" of cartoon shows o
          fantasy novels, nor medieval demonology; it operates in harmony

          with natural laws and is usually less spectacular -- though
          effective.  Various techniques are used to heal people and
          animals, seek guidance, or improve members' lives in specific
          ways.  Positive goals are sought: cursing and "evil spells" are

          repugnant to practitioners of the Old Religion.

               Wiccans tend to be strong supporters of environmental
          protection, equal rights, global peace and religious freedom, an
          sometimes magick is used toward such goals.

               Wiccan beliefs do not include such Judeao-Christian concept
          as original sin, vicarious atonement, divine judgement or bodily

          resurrection.  Craft folk believe in a beneficent universe, the

          laws of karma and reincarnation, and divinity inherent in every

          human being and all of Nature.  Yet laughter and pleasure are
          part of their spiritual tradition, and they enjoy singing,
          dancing, feasting, and love.

               Wiccans tend to be individualists, and have no central holy

          book, prophet, or church authority.  They draw inspiration and
          insight from science, and personal experience.  Each practitione
          keeps a personal book or journal in which s/he records magickal

          "recipes," dreams, invocations, songs, poetry and so on.

               To most of the Craft, every religion has its own valuable
          perspective on the nature of Deity and humanity's relationship t
          it: there is no One True Faith.  Rather, religious diversity is

          necessary in a world of diverse societies and individuals.
          Because of this belief, Wiccan groups do not actively recruit or

          proselytize: there is an assumption that people who can benefit

          from the Wiccan way will "find their way home" when the time is


                         Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD


               Despite the lack of evangelist zeal, many covens are quite

          willing to talk with interested people, and even make efforts to

          inform their communities about the beliefs and practices of
          Wicca.  One source of contacts is The Covenant of the Goddess,
          P.O. Box 1226, Berkeley, CA 94704.  Also, the following books ma
          be of interest:  (Ask your librarian.)

             DRAWING DOWN THE MOON by Margot Adler
             THE SPIRAL DANCE by Starhawk
             POSITIVE MAGIC by Marion Weinstein
             WHAT WITCHES DO by Stewart Farrar
             WITCHCRAFT FOR TOMORROW by Doreen Valiente

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