Welcome to Wicca – History Historical Background
Wicca, also known as Witchcraft, is a form of Paganism and one of the oldest religions in the world. The benevolent nature-oriented practices of Wicca date back many thousands of years. The word pagan comes from the Latin ‘paganus’ literally meaning ‘peasants.’ Paganism was simply the ‘religion of the people’.
It begins with Paganism
Pagan practices center around honoring the earth and celebrating the change of the seasons. It respects the duality of nature by worshipping both a God and Goddess. The many God and Goddess images are not thought of so much as separate entities, but of varying aspects of the Divine, just as there is God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in ‘monotheistic’ Christianity.
The early Church, movements like the Inquisitions and Salem Witch Trials are largely responsible for ‘demonizing’ the Old Religions. To promote their beliefs, the Church associated pagan symbols with those of the devil and widely persecuted pagans. It was not until after the spread of Christianity that the Great Horned God (the pan or bull symbol of masculinity of early religions) became a symbol for Satan.
Where the popular acceptance of pagan symbols was too great to undermine, the Church adopted these symbols as their own. All of our major religious holidays come from pagan roots and coincide with those pagan celebrations. They were so strong in public consciousness, they could not be eradicated. So they were accepted by leaders eager to gain converts and reinforce transition to Christianity.
Now we can clearly see that the men, women, and children tried and murdered in the name of Witchcraft were unjustly sacrificed. Yet still in our enlightened and educated age, there is some hesitance and resistance when encountering the ‘Occult’. Perhaps it is because we intuitively know that powers beyond our physical senses do exist. And as is human nature – we fear power, the invisible, and that which we cannot explain.
Resistance is reinforced by the negative publicity that Witchcraft has received through the years, from fairy tales to modern movies which perpetuate the ‘bad witch’ myth. Most recently Hollywood has projected negative images portraying Wiccans and Pagans as selfish evildoers who are to be feared and eventually blown up! Even on the old TV series, Bewitched, Samantha’s witch relatives were portrayed as people who were only interested in mischief and trickery.
Are you a Good Witch?
I am reminded of The Wizard of Oz when Glinda the Good asks Dorothy “Are you a good witch, or a bad witch?” It is not mentioned in the movie that in the original book Glinda herself was described as a Good Witch. It is determined that Dorothy is a Good Witch too, because she is wearing a blue and white checked gingham dress. White representing goodness or ‘white magic’ and blue (being the official color of Munchkinland) means she was a friend of the Munchkins.
As with everything in life, there are good Wiccans and bad Wiccans. There are always those who use any form of power they can get their hands on irresponsibly or for selfish gain. Some use paganism as a license for hedonistic activities. Unfortunately, a few bad apples often give all Wiccans a bad name. True Wicca is a nurturing and socially responsible belief system, having nothing to do with self aggrandizing or lascivious behavior.
The Goal is Balance
The Good Wiccan does not perform torture or practice human or animal sacrifices. Anyone who would do these things is psychopathic, not a Wiccan. Wicca simply seeks to balance the male and female aspects of the world and be in tune with the forces of nature and the seasons. By aligning with this balance, one can interact more freely with the unlimited energy of the universe.