Of basic beliefs and ethics . . .
That said, there are some fundamental beliefs that pull us together strongly enough to create the sort of loving community you see here. Wicca is a spiritual path, a way of seeing the world and Divinity, and our relationship to it. It is a very simple ethical principle. It is a way of life. And it is a way of tuning into the shifting energies of life around us and tapping into those energies to make the world a better place; this is what we mean by magic.
We believe that Deity/Source/God/dess is imminent in the world around us. Divinity permeates every living thing. . .and most of us define rocks, soil, water, air, fire, and the planet Herself as living things. Just look with an open heart at a dew-filled spider web or a lacework of bare winter branches covered with ice crystals, and you'll see what we mean. God/dess is IN there. S/He's in each one of us, too.
This idea has many ramifications.
First, it means every living thing is sacred. We don't believe in a hierarchy of God above man above animals above plants. We believe Divinity permeates everything, and so everything has an equal right to our love, reverence, respect, and protection. Witches tend to be dedicated environmentalists. But more than that, we let ourselves be guided by a very simple and powerful ethical principle:
"An it harm none, do as ye will."
Second, because we believe that Divinity is in everything we see, we don't create a hierarchy of values based on things of the spirit being of more worth than things of the body. Our bodies are rather miraculous gifts God/dess provides to allow us to live in and learn from on the physical plane. We see it as a spiritual imperative to take care of them. Every act that helps us maintain our physical existence thus takes on a spiritual dimension. When doing dishes or cleaning out the basement become sacred acts, life is a whole lot richer.
We also believe that our thoughts, actions, emotions, and prayers create energy. This energy goes out into the world and, in the process of being reflected by the other beings there, is multiplied before it returns to us. Some say threefold, others say tenfold; it may vary. But what we put out returns to us multiplied, whether that be love or fear, anger or compassion. So most of us work actively to try to diffuse our fears, express our anger cleanly and let it go, and to develop a greater understanding of the world around us.
Our lives are gifts, and if we need to protect ourselves, we do; generally through the most peaceful means possible. Often this takes the form of surrounding ourselves with light to reflect or deflect anything that means us harm. We do kill to eat; most creatures do. Some of us are vegetarian. Personally, because I see plants as people, too, and know that something must die so I can survive, I eat a variety of foods, expressing my gratitude for this food to the creatures who supply it.
Another belief that many of us share is that our souls cycle through many lifetimes. We will be back to enjoy the progression of the seasons again. Among witches, there are many different visions of the time and space between lives; most are joyful places where we meld more closely with our Gods. But because we know we'll be back again, we know that any mess we leave behind will be here when we return (possibly even multiplied in the interim). Another strong motivator to live in harmony and respect with all others in our world.
One of the things we learn, in deeper and deeper ways as we progress on this path, is that on the levels of spirit and energy, we are not only connected to, but literally ONE with all living things. Any harm we do another is, in the long run, harm to ourselves. We don't need a disciplinary God to judge us; we see the results of our actions. Harm harms us; love strengthens us. This is extremely empowering, because we know that if we make our own messes, we can also, with the support and loving guidance of the Goddess and God, clean them up.
Of the Goddesses and Gods . . .
Many witches see the Goddess as three-fold: Maiden, Mother and Crone. The Crone is the figure most often identified with witches in popular culture, as the warty old hag who flies on her broomstick and harasses Dorothy, Snow White, and trick-or-treaters. Witches see Her as a grandmotherly figure of great wisdom and compassion, who sometimes challenges us to grow by tweaking our fears, and who helps us face death when the time comes. The Mother is the nourishing aspect who births, feeds, supports, and loves us. The Maiden is the playful curious aspect who encourages us to explore our world with joy.
The God is often seen and the Lord of the forest and of the animals. Sometimes He is depicted as a laughing man with a luxurious beard of Oak leaves. He can be depicted as the warrior prince who inspires us with hope when we must defend something precious to us. . . our land, our loved ones, or our truths. Very often he is associated with virile male animals such as stags, stallions and rams. More on this later, as it is these images that Christianity has incorporated into their Lord of Evil.
Many of the ancient pagan dieties were gods and goddesses of fertility. This makes sense when you remember that survival depended on the fertility of crops and herds, and that a large family meant more hands to work the farms. In our overcrowded modern world, witches tend to focus on the fertility of our minds and creative work. It is a precious part of our faith to emulate Her creativity in our work, play, and households.
There are whole pantheons of Gods and Goddesses from different countries and eras of history. The Welsh Gods might appeal to people of that ancestry. Egyptian Gods and Goddesses might appeal to people with past lives in that time. It is neither right nor wrong to limit oneself to working with Divinities from one culture or another. Some witches might choose to work with Mother Goddesses from many cultures, for example.
My own way of seeing this is that Divinity is like a huge jewel with many, many facets that all direct and reflect light in their own ways. We all see different facets depending on the angle we look from. None is better or more correct than any other, although with the polishing power of many prayers, some of the facets get bigger than some of the others. The Christian God has a huge facet, and does put out a lot of light, but He is not the whole picture. We work with the Gods and Goddesses that call to us, and we develop relationships with them that help and support us in our evolution.
Of the Flows of Nature . . .
This principle is characteristic of many earth-based religions and also Buddhism, which calls it "going with the flow." We learn that there are times when action is appropriate, and times when we would better spend our time in reflection. There are times when we can build and accomplish much, and times when we can let go of habits we no longer need. Everything we do is a little more powerful when we harness the natural flows around us rather than fighting them.
Of Magic . . .
Beyond these processes of living well, yes, we practice the application of will to accomplish our wishes. We know from the outset that if we will something that will harm another, the chance of our work being successful are reduced. If what we wish is in harmony with Divine Will, our magic is simply a demonstration of our willingness to work within that Plan. We apply our focused will to the purpose we have in mind, at a time and in a way conducive to harnessing the energies of Nature that support our purpose, and then we let Divine Will determine the outcome for the highest good of all.
When we work in this way, spells, incantations, incense, candles, music, and ritual tools are used only as ways of focussing our intent and energy. The words of a spell are less important than the intent behind them, and the focus we have learned through discipline. This is why many witches do not like to teach spells to those who might use them to force an issue without being aware of the principles behind magic.
Of Our Past . . .
In the time since our religions were dominant on Earth, other religions have held sway over centuries of civilisation. These religions have misconstrued what we are about based on their own world views. It is tempting at times to protest what we are NOT in response to what others say about us. But the truth is that this merely drags us into trying to define ourselves by their frames of reference.
For example, we are not Satanists. Satan is a figure created many centuries after Christ's death. It was constructed of a Persian demon figure and those of our Gods endowed with horns and hooves. It was used by the Christians as a repository for the qualities of humanity that they considered sinful. It is almost as if, having taken all the good and loving qualities of humanity and deposited them in their God, the Christian Church needed to similarly externalise all the dark and fearsome qualities. Satan is actually irrelevant to the witch's world-view because we make a virtue of owning all our qualities, light and dark. Deity is within us, and so are our shadows. This gives us the power to explore, know, shed light upon, and heal our shadows rather than try to deny them and let them rule us in ways we are unaware of.
Since the early Christians thought we served their anti-God, Satan, they feared us. And in their fear, they sought us out and killed many of us; over nine million people are believed to have been killed in witch hunts in the Middle Ages. Many of these were not witches, but were women living alone, or healers and midwives. We honour these souls, and we pray for an end to the fear that led to their deaths.
Of our Present . . .
If you think you might be one of us, read on. If not, we respect your path and wish you well on your journey nonetheless. Regardless, be our guest for as long as you wish. We hope our information about healing will be of interest to you, and of course our hearts will be just as open.