Q. What is the Difference between a Wiccan and a Witch?
A. Many people who are unfamiliar with either witchcraft or Wicca will say that these words mean the same thing. They do not. Wicca is a religion where witchcraft is not. Witchcraft is a magical practice, but one that has no spiritual or religious connections. Wicca is a religion and those who follow it are called Wiccans. Practicing witchcraft is a part of being Wiccan, but they are not one in the same.
Q. Can I be both a Wiccan and another Religion?
A. In my opinion, you cannot truly blend Wicca and a second religion. Wicca has a dual Divinity (God and Goddess) whereas most others clearly have a single God. When you start to bend rules in order to incorporate a different religion, you change the nature of both religions. If you choose to do so, you should realize that using the other religion’s label is no longer valid. Some religions however could be mixed with witchcraft but even that could lead to serious problems. Wicca and witchcraft are not the same thing. Since witchcraft has no religious overtones, it is easier to blend with other beliefs. Unfortunately some religions still have many restrictions against sorcery, witchcraft, and divination. The one most people are familiar with is Exodus 22:18 (Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live). Bottom line, creating your own personal path from 2 (or more) different religions is perfectly fine. But you need to realize that you should not still refer to your path by its original names.
Q. Do All Wiccans Belong to Covens?
A. Some traditionalists say that you do need to belong to a coven in order to refer to yourself as Wiccan, but it's becoming more and more accepted that Wicca can be practiced alone. People who do not belong to a group are called 'solitaires'. Also, covens do not have to have 13 members, nor do covens always gather on full moons. Coven arrangements are quite variable and can range from a very structured group, to a loose and informal group.
Q. What Are the Rules/Commandments in Wicca?
A. We are not bound by some official list of commandments that tell us what is allowed and what is not. The last line of the Wiccan Rede is the closest thing we have to a commandment: "An it harm none, do what you will". Not all Wiccans follow this to the same degree, but it's generally interpreted that anything is OK as long as no one is harmed. Defining "harm is very difficult. I personally call it harm if you use magick or spellcraft to influence a person to do something that they have not agreed to. Love spells for instance are harmful if the spell intends to make someone fall in love with you. Harm also includes doing no harm to yourself as well. There is also the Rule of Three also called the Law of Three. Many but not all Wiccans believe in it: “What you send forth will return threefold” Not all interpret it in the same fashion. Some believe that the energy you send out will be returned multiplied by a factor of three (3x3x3) while others think it means on three levels, Spiritual, Emotional and Physical. While we may not always agree how it is returned, generally we do agree that it will be returned. Who needs more rules than that?
Q. Don't You Have Any Scriptures?
A. Unlike most other mainstream religions, Wicca does not have a central holy book or book of scripture that we follow or revere. We do not have a 'Bible' in any true sense of the word. There have been many excellent books written on Wicca (or other branches of Paganism) that are commonly looked at as valuable resources, but these books are not holy by any means. There is a book titled "The Witches' Bible", written by Janet and Stewart Farrar. This is not a Bible, but simply a thorough reference book. The closest thing we have to holy writings would be a few pieces of poetry and prose that have been written by prominent Wiccans over the years. Some examples are: The Wiccan Rede and The Charge of the Goddess.
Q. How do you know Which Gods to Worship?
A. This can be a difficult concept to grasp for anyone who is used to a monotheistic (one Deity) faith. What about when there are hundreds to choose from? If you find that numerous pantheons are too complex to work with, there is nothing wrong with simply worshiping the God and the Goddess as unnamed Deities. I believe that "All Gods are one God, and All Goddesses are one Goddess" meaning that all the various Deities really are aspects of the entity God/dess. Wicca is a very personal religion and many experiences are different from one person to the next. Take time and do some research the various pantheons (groups of Gods, such as Greek or Egyptian) and get a feel for them. Choose a God or Goddess or both that you feel would suit you. Learn everything you can about that God or Goddess, and then invite them to your rituals, add items to your altar that reflect their qualities, spend more time in meditation looking to connect with them.
Q. Do Wiccans Operate Naked?
A. Some do and some don't. The term we use is "skyclad", and it's not a universal practice among witches or Wiccans. Some Wiccans who are solitary go unclothed when doing rituals and covens may also do the same. It is not a requirement that you be naked during rituals. It may be a requirement of a particular coven, though. Our Coven does not work skyclad, but there are some good reasons why people choose to do it. Some believe that clothing blocks the movement of energy, others believe that if everyone is naked then everyone is equal. Nudity is usually restricted to formal rituals, rather than being a part of everyday Wiccan life. It also needs to be used with discretion, i.e. if doing ritual in the park in mid-day most areas would have objection to having a group of people running around without the clothes on.
Q. What Happens After You Die?
A. As with so many things in this faith, not all Wiccans share precisely the same concept of an afterlife. That said here is a general idea of what many Wiccans believe in. After we die, our soul goes to a resting place called the Summerland. This is not a 'heaven', since it is only a place where our souls reside until being reborn. We strongly believe in reincarnation. Each life brings us different experiences and situations. New lessons are learned every time. If we do not face the challenges and overcome them, we will likely find ourselves reliving the same problems over and over. Since we view life and death as an ongoing process or cycle, we don't see the afterlife as being a reward or punishment in the heaven/hell sense. It's all a growth process. Just because we don't have a 'hell' to worry about, doesn't mean we feel that we can get away with bad behavior. Each lifetime is balanced by universal forces (sometimes referred to as Karma). We don't consider negative experiences in our lives as punishments, simply that some lessons are best learned through experience.
Q. Do Wiccans Really Cast Spells?
A. Yes, we do. But keep in mind that the 'spells' you've seen on TV and in the movies are not based in reality. We are not like Harry Potter, who can make extraordinary things happen with a simple wave of a wand and a phrase in Latin. A spell provides a way for the practitioner to help themselves. It is a ritual where the caster can focus their will and intentions, to create a change in their lives. That said, not all Wiccans do much spell work. While it is an accepted part of our beliefs, spell work is not really any kind of requirement.
Q. What's a Warlock?
A. The term 'warlock' does not mean ‘male witch’. It has generally meant to mean an ‘oath-breaker’ and was used to describe someone who had betrayed their coven, depending on who you ask. In fact all witches are just witches whether they are male or female.
Q. Is Wicca for Women Only?
A. No, men are just as welcome to follow the Wiccan religion as women. There are more women who are Wiccan mainly because the Wiccan religion allows for female-oriented worship, where most other mainstream religions do not. Wiccans believe in both a God and a Goddess, so practitioners of the religion can focus on either one depending on their own needs. Women tend to worship the Goddess, and men tend to worship the God. Of course, this is not set in stone. We all relate to the Divine (either male or female) in our own way.
Q. Is Wicca Right For Me?
A. It may seem like an odd question to ask another person, but this is one I hear quite often via email. Wicca is just like any other religion, in that it will suit the spiritual needs of some people, but not everyone. Only you can tell if Wicca is the right path for you. There are no special skills or abilities required for you to choose this path, and no need to worry about whether or not you qualify. If you feel that Wicca is right for you, then pursue it. You can always change your thoughts and beliefs as you learn more and grow.
Ivy and Oak Club