The ethics of Wicca are notably different from those religions where admonitions of “thou shalt” and “thou shalt not” predominate. The most noteworthy ethical principal of Wiccans is called the Wiccan Rede (Old-English for rule), and reads:
“An (if) it harm none, do as ye Will"
This charge is more than merely an aspect of Common Law, where you can do anything you want provided you don’t harm others. Wicca has great reverence for the concept of individuals finding their “True Will”-- what might be thought of as their destiny. So when they say, “do as ye Will,” it’s far more than doing whatever appeals to one’s fancy. Instead it’s doing something in concert with why you’re here on the planet to begin with.
Given that as a basis, it must be added that Wicca (also Wicce, Witchcraft, The Craft, or even “The Old Religion”) is an ancient religion of love for life and nature. This does not necessarily imply a Pagan Religion (which modern day environmentalists tend to mimic, even if they’re unaware of the fact). Nor is Wicca involved with anything Satanic, or with purely magical traditions with no religious base. An typical characteristic of Wicca is the large degree of personal liberty to practice as each individual pleases. The degree to which one Wiccan group will differ from another is equivalent to different denominations of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Taoism, and most any other “ism”.
One common denominator is a descent from ancient, so-called “Mystery Religions”. As such, the religion is one of personal experience and responsibility (i.e. no intermediaries between the deity and the individual, and no sacred rule books to cover contingencies). Each Wiccan is encouraged, taught and expected to develop an ongoing and positive direct relationship with the Gods and Goddesses, for whom they hold reverence.
The “Mystery” aspect arises because experiences are very hard to communicate in words, and are usually distorted in the telling. It’s the whole language curse of the Kali Yuga all over again. Experiences are of the sort that “you had to be there” to appreciate its meaning and importance. Eastern religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and Shinto are some times considered to be Mystery traditions, but Wicca is very western in its cultural flavor and quite different from eastern religions in a variety of ways.
<http://www.witchway.net> is an excellent site for all things Wicca. It notes, for example, that, “Wicca is easily one of the most irrepressible religions in the world because it stimulates the intellect, promotes a simple, practical way of life and, most importantly, is emotionally satisfying. Our religion celebrates the Wiccan sabbats, which mark the seasons. A Witch, in coven or alone, uses Magic and herbs to bend time and matter in order to achieve psychic and spiritual satis-faction. Witches do not worship the Devil. Witchcraft predates Christianity and does not incorporate a belief in the Christian Devil.”
The presence of a pantheon of Gods and Goddesses is an important aspect of Wicca. This includes specific beliefs and traditions of a Goddess and God, who are equal and mated -- and who may take many forms and have many names. Both the Goddess and God are intimately linked to nature, such that Wicca is very life affirming. The rites and ceremonies are cheerful, pleasant holidays, and may include Christmas, May Day, Easter and Summer Vacation. There is an emphasis on dancing, feasting and general merriment as a central part of its celebrations.
Wiccans have no central authority or doctrine, and individual covens vary a great deal -- each coven consisting of three to thirteen members. [The 13 member coven denotes the number of full moons in a year.] Each coven may be led by a High Priestess or Priest (individually or as a team), or by a shared or rotating leadership. Some covens are highly structured and hierarchical, while others may be informal and egalitarian.
The purpose of covens is to perpetuate Wiccan ritual, celebration and magick (where the “k” in “magick” is to distinguish it from stage illusions). Wiccan magick thus operates in harmony with natural laws and is not designed to be spectacular -- the fact that guidance, healing, and other improvements derive from their efforts, notwithstanding. There is no cursing and “evil spells” -- the sort of thing Voodoo is afflicted with -- but instead a push for positive goals and agendas. Wiccans do tend to be strong supporters of environmental protection, equal rights, global peace, and religious freedom, and sometimes magick is used toward such goals. [Which is also why a lot of control-oriented vested interests would be open to a resumption of the Salem Witch Trials!]
Wiccans generally believe in a beneficent universe, the laws of karma and Reincarnation, and the idea that every individual and all of Nature has an inherent divinity. Original Sin and divine judgment do not figure into their creeds. Instead, the Wiccan spiritual goal is laughter, pleasure, singing, dancing, feasting, and love. One aspect of the Goddess is: “Let My worship be in the heart that rejoices, for behold -- all acts of love and pleasure are My rituals.”
Wiccans are individualists, drawing on their own inspiration, insights, and experience. As such, they recognize no central holy book, prophet, or church authority. They do not believe in “one true faith”, and instead support religious diversity as a necessity in a world of diverse societies and individuals. They are not prone to membership drives, and instead rest their faith on the assumption that anyone capable of benefiting from Wicca, will “find their way home” when the time is right. [And if the time is right for you, one source of contacts is The Covenant of the Goddess, P.O. Box 1226, Berkeley, CA 94704.]
It should be noted that many people, who show an interest in Wicca are often curious about Wiccan magick. While such magick is not a religion in itself, it is related to Wiccan religious beliefs. The gist of the belief is that people have many more abilities than are generally realized, and that it’s a good idea to develop them. Wiccan magick is, therefore, a way of using natural forces to change Consciousness and material conditions.
However, Wiccan magick also assumes that everything a person does returns to them magnified (often ten fold), and thus for a Wiccan to work a magick for harm, could entail a very high price. Helpful magick, of course, is good for both the giver and the receiver! [“Was it good for you, too?] Wicca also likes to believe that it is entirely compatible with science in that it believes the Gods and Goddesses -- the forces they work with -- are quite natural, and, in fact, not supernatural at all.
The earliest aspects of Wicca derive from a prehistoric respect for Nature, its seasons and the movements of the Moon. People of long ago, saw divinity in the sun and moon, in the Earth Herself, and in all life. The Gods and Goddesses were simply the creative energies of the universe. They were not abstract, superhuman figures set apart from Nature, but were embodied in earth and sky, women and men, and even plants and animals. The Triple Goddess of the Moon (Maiden, Mother, and Crone) was a particularly essential feature.
The Wiccan sense of individual responsibility -- vice priestly intervention -- was anathema to an early Roman Catholic Church bent on control. Thus began a concerted persecution by the Roman Catholic Church against all the Nature religions. Over a span of three centuries, millions of men, women and children were hanged, drowned or burned as accused "Witches,” allegedly for having practiced black magic and Satan worship. Such charges were completely false, of course, but every real or imagined enemy of the Catholic Church has been so accused (so the Wiccans were never any particular exception).
Wiccans being reasonably intelligent took their faith and went underground, practicing in small secret groups called “covens”. They stayed underground -- for reasons of continual persecution of anyone sticking their head above ground (e.g. the Salem Witch Trials), and only in recent times, in certain areas of the world, have they once again began to practice the Craft in the open.
The various Wiccan traditions of today derive from the Picts (preCeltic), the early Celts, portions of Celtic Druidism, ancient Greek Mysteries of Eleusis, Italian Mysteries of Rome, Mysteries of Egypt and Persia before Islam, and various Babylonian, Assyrian and Sumerian Mysteries that flourished before the political rise of monotheism.
Drawing Down the Moon
A significant aspect of Wiccan practices involves the Moon. There are, for example, a whole slew of Moon proverbs, intended in large part to predict the weather. Importantly, there is the belief the Moon’s phases are important to what actions might be taken. E.g., <http://www.witchway.net> notes that: “All spells of a constructive nature should be performed when the moon is bright, that is, waxing to full. These would include healing, sorcery designed to bring luck or success, fertility rites and charms, protection, counter magick, and Divination. All spells of a destructive or banishing nature should be performed when the moon is dark, that is waning to new. These would include banishment of negativity, binding, certain works of agricultural magic designed to ward off pests and disease.”
One of the most important Wiccan rituals is the Drawing Down the Moon, wherein it is believed that “the Goddess becomes incarnate in the High Priestess.” This is an attempt to accumulate and direct what are believed to be the “subtle forces of the moon.” The above referenced website* describes this in some detail:
“The use of Portals to gain access to the Lunar Realms, and the building of magical images there, is a very important aspect of Moon Magic. The actual ‘essence’ of the power used in Moon Magic, originates out among the stars. The Sun draws in the stellar influences and transmits them into our Solar System. The Planets within our System absorb this energy which then merges with their own vibrations or energies. The Planets, in turn, then emanate a composite energy within our Solar System. Each Planet's energy or vibratory pattern is unique, and influences other planetary bodies and forces, within each planet’s sphere of influence. This is the basis of Astrology and Planetary correspondences in Magic (this is how and why it works). The Moon is the focal point of power upon the Earth. The Moon absorbs, condenses, and channels all of these forces, which are then carried to our Planet, upon the Lunar Light Spectrum. [Henry Cornelius] Agrippa, a 15th Century magician, understood these principles when he wrote:
“...but the Moon, the nearest to the heavenly influences, by the swiftness of her course, is joined to the sun, and the other planets and stars, as a conception, bringing them forth to the inferior world, as being next to itself, for all the stars have influence on it, being the last receiver, which afterwards communicates the influence of all superiors to these inferiors, and pours them forth upon the Earth...”
“Therefore, her (the moon) motion is to be observed before the others, as the parent of all conception... hence it is, that without the Moon intermediating, we cannot at any time attract the power of the superiors...”
“What Agrippa spoke of, is what witches have known for Ages:
“The Moon is the focal point of power upon the Earth.
“Without the Moon we cannot make use of the Universal Forces beyond her. In Moon Magic, the ritual altar is the focal point for the Lunar forces which are drawn upon. Women are the vessels for Lunar Energy, receiving and directing the magical force. Men can also become lunar vessels, but women are much better suited (as their biology is more attuned to the Moon's Cycles, than are men's biology).”
This might sound just a bit far out, but such an opinion may derive from Assumptions of the Moon, which are not necessarily accurate. Which mainstream scientist, for example, would have expected the Moon -- when impacted by one of the lunar craft which was allowed to crash into the Moon in order to obtain seismograph readings -- who would have expected the Moon to “ring like a bell”? Prior scientific thinking of the Moon as just a rather large piece of rock, coincidentally in the neighborhood of Earth on a regular basis, might not have been any better than the theory presented above.
More importantly, the idea of the Moon being a focus of stellar energies has more than a few points in its favor. There is, for example, the ancient traditions of an uncommon worship, a Deification of the Planets, by people, who might, in the case of the Moon, best be described as Lunatics -- but lunatics in an illuminated sense of the word. There are also aspects of Sacredf Geometry and Astrology which make the idea of energy flows via geometry not that unreasonable -- even when the reductionist mechanism by which the energy flows is not readily apparent to mainstream science.
For example, Wiccans are particularly fond of drawing upon the Earth a five-pointed star. This is, of course, a reference to Sacred Geometry, with pentagons and five-pointed stars being the essence of the Golden Mean. The five-pointed star is thus sacred as well as potentially functional, undoubtedly possesses extraordinary (albeit subtle) powers, and is well represented in the proliferation of stars upon national flags (United States, Texas, and a host of other countries), as well as Corporate logos (such as Texaco). [Didn’t know that Texaco was into Wicca, did you?]
Then there is the undisputed fact of the Earth’s Moon being exceptionally large for Earth. This is one of the hints that perhaps the Moon is a recent addition to the Earth’s region of space, the time prior being When the Earth Was Moonless. Immanuel Velikovsky has provided food for thought in this regard. There is even the thought that the Moon might be artificial, and as such could have been specifically designed as a focusing lens for the so-called stellar energies.
Drawing Down the Moon suddenly takes on a whole new meaning
The good news is that, in such case, the practitioners are likely adhering today, as has always been practiced:
“Bide ye Wiccan laws you must, in perfect love and perfect trust.
Live ye must and let to live, fairly take and fairly give.”
2003© Copyright Dan Sewell Ward, All Rights Reserved [Feedback]