Modern Wicca in America
Wicca, an alternate and often preferred name for the religion of neo-Pagan witchcraft; a religion based, in part, on ancient northern European Pagan beliefs in a fertility Goddess and her consort, a horned God. Although the religion is a modern creation, some of its sources pre-date the Christian era by many centuries. Most Wiccans do not believe that their religion is a direct continuous descendent of this earlier religion. They see it as a modern reconstruction. Wicca may include the practice of magick1, which is defined as the process of causing change through the focusing of natural powers. The Wiccan Rede acknowledges the right of all people to choose their own paths, as long as their choices do not bring injury to another. "The term Wiccan Rede is derived from the old english terms Wicca ("witch") and roedan ("to guide or direct"). Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill; An' it harm none, do what ye will. (Encyclopedia of the occult, 1990, p. 363)
Wicca is a recently created, neo-Pagan religion. It is based largely on symbols, seasonal days of celebration, and deities from ancient Celtic society, fleshed out with Masonic and ceremonial magickal components. A follower of Wicca is called a Wiccan2. Wicca and other neo-Pagan religions are currently experiencing a rapid growth in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Many North Americans of European descent, who are keen to discover their ancestral heritage, are being attracted to this religion.
Wicca has long been shrouded in secrecy. Anyone interested in learning "the craft"3 had to content themselves with hints from books and articles. Growing numbers today are dissatisfied with traditional religious structures. Many are searching for a personally involving religion; one which celebrates both physical and spiritual realities, in which attunement with deity is coupled with the practice of magick. Wicca's spiritual roots in antiquity, acceptance of magick and mysterious nature have made it particularly appealing. Until recently, the lack of public information concerning Wicca and its apparent exclusivity has caused much frustration amongst interested students.
Cunningham (1988) explains that "all religions are structures built upon reverence of Deity"(p.11). Wicca is no exception. The Wiccan acknowledge a supreme divine power, unknowable, ultimate from which the entire universe sprang. Wiccans manifest this power personifying it into two basic beings: The Goddess and the God.
"Wicca reveres these thin deities because of its links with nature. Since most (but certainly not all) nature is divided into gender, the deities embodying it are similarly conceived" (p. 13). When envisioning the Goddess and God many of the Wicca, see them as well-know deities from ancient religions. For example Diana, the Roman Goddess of fertility. The Goddess is the universal mother and the source of fertility. As the Wicca know her...