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What is Wicca?
The Sabbats
Yule/Winter Solstice
Ostara/Spring Equinox
Summer Solstice
Mabon/Autumn Equinox
The Pentacle


An Introduction to "The Old Religion" of Europe and its Modern Revival

by Amber K, High Priestess
Our Lady of the Woods
P.O. Box 176
Blue Mounds, Wisconsin 53517

(This leaflet may be reproduced and distributed exactly as in, without further permission from the author, provided it is offered free of charge. Changes in the text, however, must be approved in advance by the author. Thank you!)

WICCA (sometimes called Wicce, The Craft, or The Old Religion by its practitioners) is an ancient religion of love for life and nature.

In prehistoric times, people respected the great forces of Nature and celebrated the cycles of the seasons and the moon. They saw divinity in the sun and moon, in the Earth Herself, and in all life. The creative energies of the universe were personified: feminine and masculine principles became Goddesses and Gods. These were not semi-abstract, superhuman figures set apart from Nature: they were embodied in earth and sky, women and men, and even plants and animals.

This viewpoint is still central to present-day Wicca. To most Wiccans, everything in Natures -- and all Goddesses and Gods -- are true aspects of Deity. The aspects most often celebrated in the Craft, however, are the Triple Goddess of the Moon (Who is Maiden, Mother, and Crone) and the Horned God of the wilds. These have many names in various cultures.

Wicca had its organized beginnings in Paleolithic times, co- existed with other Pagan ("country") religions in Europe, and had a profound influence on early Christianity. But in the medieval period, tremendous persecution was directed against the Nature religions by the Roman Church. Over a span of 300 years, millions of men and women and many children were hanged, drowned or burned as accused "Witches." The Church indicted them for black magic and Satan worship, though in fact these were never a part of the Old Religion.

The Wiccan faith went underground, to be practiced in small, secret groups called "covens." For the most part, it stayed hidden until very recent times. Now scholars such as Margaret Murray and Gerald Gardner have shed some light on the origins of the Craft, and new attitudes of religious freedom have allowed covens in some areas to risk becoming more open.

How do Wiccan folk practice their faith today? There is no central authority or doctrine, and individual covens vary a great deal. But most meet to celebrate on nights of the Full Moon, and at eight great festivals or Sabbats throughout the year.

Though some practice alone or with only their families, many Wiccans are organized into covens of three to thirteen members. Some are led by a High Priestess or Priest, many by a Priestess/Priest team; others rotate or share leadership. Some covens are highly structured and hierarchical, while others may be informal and egalitarian. Often extensive training is required before initiation, and coven membership is considered an important commitment.

There are many branches or "traditions" of Wicca in the United States and elsewhere, such as the Gardnerian, Alexandrian, Welsh Traditional, Dianic, Faery, Seax-Wicca and others. All adhere to a code of ethics. None engage in the disreputable practices of some modern "cults," such as isolating and brainwashing impressionable, lonely young people. Genuine Wiccans welcome sisters and brothers, but not disciples, followers or victims.

Coven meetings include ritual, celebration and magick (the "k" is to distinguish it from stage illusions). Wiccan magick is not at all like the instant "special effects" of cartoon shows or fantasy novels, nor medieval demonology; it operates in harmony with natural laws and is usually less spectacular -- though effective. Various techniques are used to heal people and animals, seek guidance, or improve members' lives in specific ways. Positive goals are sought: cursing and "evil spells" are repugnant to practitioners of the Old Religion.

Wiccans tend to be strong supporters of environmental protection, equal rights, global peace and religious freedom, and sometimes magick is used toward such goals.

Wiccan beliefs do not include such Judeao-Christian concepts as original sin, vicarious atonement, divine judgement or bodily resurrection. Craft folk believe in a beneficent universe, the laws of karma and reincarnation, and divinity inherent in every human being and all of Nature. Yet laughter and pleasure are part of their spiritual tradition, and they enjoy singing, dancing, feasting, and love.

Wiccans tend to be individualists, and have no central holy book, prophet, or church authority. They draw inspiration and insight from science, and personal experience. Each practitioner keeps a personal book or journal in which s/he records magickal "recipes," dreams, invocations, songs, poetry and so on.

To most of the Craft, every religion has its own valuable perspective on the nature of Deity and humanity's relationship to it: there is no One True Faith. Rather, religious diversity is necessary in a world of diverse societies and individuals. Because of this belief, Wiccan groups do not actively recruit or proselytize: there is an assumption that people who can benefit from the Wiccan way will "find their way home" when the time is right.

Despite the lack of evangelist zeal, many covens are quite willing to talk with interested people, and even make efforts to inform their communities about the beliefs and practices of Wicca. One source of contacts is The Covenant of the Goddess, P.O. Box 1226, Berkeley, CA 94704. Also, the following books may be of interest: (Ask your librarian.)

POSITIVE MAGIC by Marion Weinstein
WHAT WITCHES DO by Stewart Farrar

(Copyright 1987 Amber K, see top of file. All rights reserved)

  The Wheel of the Year

Wheel.jpg (23559 bytes)

Artist:Joseph A. Smith (from the book "Witches" by Erica Jong)

Samhain (October 31st)
also known as: Halloween, ShadowFest, Martinmas, Old Hallowmas

Samhain is the Witches' New Year's Eve, November 1st is the first day of the new year, it marks the end of one summer and the beginning of winter.
Yule/Winter Solstice (around December 22nd)
   also known as: Yuletide, Alban Arthan

Winter Solstice marks the longest night of the year.

Imbolc (February 1st)
   also known as: Candlemas, Imbolg, Imbolgc brigantia, Lupercus, Disting
Spring Equinox (around March 21st)
   also known as: Vernal Equinox, Ostara, Alban Eiler, Esther

The Spring Equinox, second in the trilogy of fertility festivals, is the exact moment when day and night are equal.

Beltane (May 1st)
   also known as: Mayday, Walburga, Bealtinne

Beltane is the last of the three spring fertility festivals, and the second major Celtic festival.

Midsummer/Summer Solstice (around June 21st)
   also known as: Feill-Sheathain , Alban Hefin

Midsummer, is that point when the Sun strength is at its apex. It is the longest day of the year. From the moment of Midsummer, the Sun begin immediately to wane. The journey into the harvest season has begun.

Lughnasadh (around August 1st)
   also known as: Lammas, Cornucopia, Thingtide

Lughnasadh is the first in the trilogy harvest festivals. It marks the beginning of the harvest season, and the decline of Summer into Winter. It is the turning point of the earth's life cycle.

Mabon/Autumn Equinox (around September 22nd)
   also known as: Alban Elfed, Winter Finding

Once again we find ourselves in the time of balance, for day and night are once again equal.


The Pentacle

The Pentacle consists of two parts...

The first is the Pentagram... its five points represent the five elements. Earth, air, fire, water and spirit.

The circle around the Pentagram represents the never ending cycle of life.

Thus forming the Pentacle