Wicca is one of the most influential traditions of modern Paganism. Also known by the name Witchcraft, it began to emerge publicly in its modern form in the late 1940’s. It is an initiatory path, a mystery tradition that guides its initiates to a deep communion with the powers of Nature and of the human psyche, leading to a spiritual transformation of the self. Women who follow this path are initiated as Priestesses and men are initiated as Priests.
‘Wicca is both a religion and a Craft. ... As a religion - like any other religion - its purpose is to put the individual and the group in harmony with the divine creative principal of the Cosmos, and its manifestation at all levels. As a Craft, its purpose is to achieve practical ends by psychic means, for good, useful and healing purposes. In both aspects, the distinguishing characteristics of Wicca are its Nature- based attitude, its small group autonomy with no gulf between priesthood and ‘congregation’, and its philosophy of creative polarity at all levels, from Goddess and God to Priestess and Priest.’
Janet and Stewart Farrar, Eight Sabbats For Witches, Robert Hale, London, 1981.
Wicca is sometimes called the Craft of the Wise, or, more commonly, the Craft.
Those wishing to be initiated must be at least 18 years of age. Wicca does not seek converts and initiation is never offered. Initiation must be asked for and is only given to those who have proved themselves suitable. It is traditional to wait a year and a day before being accepted into the Craft, although in practice this varies.
In Britain, there are four main Wiccan traditions: Gardnerian, Alexandrian, Hereditary and Traditional. In other countries, other traditions have evolved based on these four branches. Gardnerians claim lineage from Gerald Gardner, who was most responsible for the revival of the modern Craft. Alexandrians descend from Alex and Maxine Sanders, who developed
Gardner’s ideas. Traditionalists claim their methods pre-date the modern revival and have been passed down from generation to generation. Hereditaries claim their traditions have been passed on by particular families through relations of blood and marriage. There are also those Wiccans who follow a solitary path.
Wiccans celebrate eight seasonal festivals called Sabbats. Wiccan rituals, like all Pagan rites, are often conducted out of doors and involve simple rites to celebrate the seasons and the gift of life. Wiccan ritual is a means of contacting the Divine beyond our individual lives, but also a way of understanding our inner psyche and contacting the Divine within.
The Wiccan way is a path of magic and love, the movement of a deep poetry of the soul, a sharing and joining with the mysteries of Nature and the Old Gods.
The ideal way to obtain training in Wicca is through a local teacher or coven. However, in reality there are insufficient covens to cater for the needs of all those who wish to learn more about Wicca. Below are some organisations in the UK which offer training and can help those who wish to learn more before trying to contact a local group, or for whom there is no local training available. Please send an SAE when writing to these organisations, and allow a few weeks for a reply.