The world of Wicca is something that is still a mystery for some. But is this mystery world really made up of and does it relate to the world of witchcraft that is portrayed today? Spotlight report Rebecca Edwards investigate the world of Wicca to find out what Wicca is.
WITCHCRAFT is often seen as a controversial topic given the history surrounding it. Looking at the witch hunts that took place in Britain between the years of 1450 – 1750 90% who were accused of witchcraft were women. Matthew Hopkins the ‘Witch finder general’ had put 68 people to death in Bury St Edmunds and 19 hanged in at Chelmsford. With this history tied to the image of witchcraft it has created a stigma around it.
However, this image started to change when Wicca was developed as a religious grouping in the early 20th century and started creating its own magical rituals in the late Victorian period and by the 1950s the idea that there was a separate group called Wiccan was being publicised. One example is Gerald Gardener who wrote books like Witchcraft Today and is usually named as the founding father. In these books he drew a lot of inspiration from other influential writers like Aleister Crowley, Doreen Valiente.
Marion Gibson Professor of Renaissance and Magical Literatures at the University of Exeter said: “They were all looking for a kind of religion that was more accepting of modern concerns for example environmentalism and freedoms with sexuality and modes of worship. Wicca allowed greater equality of men and women, celebrated sexuality, nature and fertility, allowed people to create their own cosmology, to worship a goddess as well as a god, and meant that people could act out their own interests and preoccupations in newly-written rites.”
Yet what is wicca and what makes up wicca. It falls under the massive umbrella of paganism and is a nature-based religion like paganism however, they practice witchcraft. These include works of Magick [wicca spelling to indicate that it is not the same as popular magic] rituals, spells that work at specific times in correlation to the moon and its cycles. Wicca also follows the energy and the power of the natural earth and the universe along with all the natural occurrences relating to elements such as the moon, sun and stars. With this they promote positivity, self-love and empowerment, while trying to diminish negative energy and behaviour making sure there is a balance between good and evil. When practicing Magick they incorporate it into philosophy to keep all the harmful factors out.
Alongside all of this, wiccans have morals and codes that they must abide by when practicing magick. One thing that some wiccans believe in is the three-fold law, which is whatever energy that you put out in the universe you will get back three times over. Yet others would say that this would affect three major parts of there being may that be physically, emotionally or spiritually.
Moral codes that some wiccans would follow would be the wiccan rede, but it is also a personal choice to follow these codes. One example of these codes/rules: “for tread the circle thrice about to keep unwelcome spirts out. To bind the spell well every time, let the spells be said rhyme.” (taken from the book Wicca: A Modern Guide to Witchcraft & Magick by Harmony Nice). These are written in a poem format and are written at the beginning of the book of shadows.
But what is the book of shadows. The book of shadows is a personal record for those embarking on the journey in wicca and is used to document everything you learn and discover, ranging from logging rituals, spells, potions to magick tools you’ve used. There are also different types of divination, which are methods that are used by wiccans to predict the future, to gain insight into the present and past. Also, this helps wiccans unlock and exercise their psychic abilities. Two tools that wiccan use are tarot cards and runes stones, in addition, to personal information such as your own deities and your path as a wiccan. These are used to reflect down the line that the book of shadows is viewed as sacred and should be kept as extremely private. However some view it as less protective and would allow close family members and friends to see it.
Looking at the multiple reasons on why you might want to find out a bit more about Wicca and maybe even embark on becoming a wiccan yourself, you might consider that becoming a wiccan has benefits for your mental health as well. It encourages you to go outside more and it allows you to look around at the aspects of the world, which helps you see the beauty in the world even when it seems like the world is disappearing when you are suffering from things such as depression. Wicca also provides you with a distraction and the whole journey of wicca gives you something to look forward to and discover each day. In terms of confidence it helps you gain a lot and helps develop your identity as well.
When it comes to finding out more about wicca there are many sources of information online as well as in books. For example: Wicca by Scott Cunningham Witchcraft, as well as youtubers such as Harmony Nice and Laura Daligan. Also, you can go to events such as Pegan Pride UK and there is a London Wicca Group which arranges gatherings where you can meet other wiccans.
Marion said: “You can find all sorts of Wiccan and Witchcraft groups online such as the Covenant of the Goddess or local Facebook groups to connect witches. Social media does allow people to experiment with different identities, connect with other people worldwide if the people in their physical community don’t have the same interests. It also means you can easily access research about your chosen faith.
“I think it is fairly mainstream in most British communities. Worldwide there’s a lot more variation, especially in areas of fundamentalist religion, Christian and others.”
Looking at Wicca overall, it has become more acceptable and more have dived into the world of wicca and the rituals and practices that are a part of it.