Table of Contents
- History and Philosophy of Witchcraft
- Tools, Clothing, and Names
- Getting Started
- Covens and Rituals
- The Sabbats
- Meditations, Dreams, and the Minor Sabbats
- Marriage, Birth, Death, and Channeling
- The Power of the Written Word
- Getting Set Up
- Solitary Witches
You should never feel like you must subscribe to someone else’s philosophy or outlook on life or must compromise on your spiritual identity. Wicca, however, is a specific outlook and philosophy of life, as are other religions. We do have specific tenets that make us Wiccan, although how those tenets are interpreted may vary greatly.
The Philosophy of Wicca
As a nature religion, Wiccans must accept that not everything in the natural world is sunshine and rainbows: there is darkness and death and all sorts of unpleasant things. But as Wiccans, we do not dwell on them, like so many other religions do, but instead celebrate the joy and loveof the world. Fatalistic religions such Asatru and Christianity focus on the afterlife, seeing that as your reward for dealing with the terrible things of this world. Wicca instead sees the joy and wonders of this world as our reward, and accept the other parts as a necessity of growth and learning. Because of that, we do not separate ourselves from nature and see ourselves above it, but instead as part of is cycles. When earlier humans lived, they only saw themselves as another animal, and Nature both provided survival and danger. They were a part of the natural world, not separated from it.
Wicca seeks to reclaim that connection to Nature. While most civilizations strive to rise above the it and sever their ties with it, Wiccans seek to return to the cycles of the planet and retain the ties they have with it. Many of us do this by studying the local ecology or practicing herbalism. We know the power of modern medicine, but so few understand how that medicine is derived from the natural world, and therefore give little thanks to it. Rather than wear shoes and complain about the thistles in the yard, we walk barefoot on the soft grass and fallen leaves. We feel a deeper connection to the trees that provide us fruit and shade and have no qualms about thanking them out loud or speaking to our plants.
Just as important as the natural world to Wicca is the community, who by extension we also see as part of nature. We strive to help others when we can, to be welcoming to others and keep a look out for those in need, without trying to control their life. We enjoy living our own life and are not the kind to give up everything, take a vow of poverty, and give our entirety to others. Not enjoying life is not enjoying the gifts of nature, and antithesis to our philosophy of life.
The Wiccan Rede
We will discuss the ‘principles’ of Wiccan belief later on, but now we’ll go over the highest tenet of Wicca, the Wiccan Rede: An’ it harm none, do what though wilt. You are free to do as your like, so long as what you do does not harm others. While this may seem basic relative to the edicts of other religions, even some of those have boiled down their beliefs to a simple phrases such as the Wiccan Rede. When asked in the Bible what the most important of the laws are, Jesus replies “Love the Lord God and love you neighbor as thyself. On these two laws hang all others.” Wicca has a few principles that expound upon the Wiccan Rede, but they vary from one tradition to another. All of them, however, we hang upon the Wiccan Rede.
An’ it harm none, do what though wilt. Where did this idea come from? We might not know the exact origins, but it is very much a combination of Thelema (“Do what though wilt is the whole of the law”) and the Hippocratic Oath. It’s interesting to note that the Hippocratic Oath was, in its original form, very Pagan:
“I swear by Apollo the physician, and Asclepius, and Hygeia and Panacea and all the gods and goddesses as my witnesses, that, according to my ability and judgement, I will keep this Oath and this contract…I will use those dietary regimens which will benefit my patients according to my greatest ability and judgement and I will do no harm or injustice to them…”
I’ll note here that there is more to the Hippocratic Oath, but only the above part is applicable to the Wiccan Rede as a possible origin.