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3.3 Do I have to wear a pentagram and black clothing to be a Wiccan?
No you don't have to wear a pentagram and black clothes to be Wiccan,
although if you want to, by all means do so. The pentagram is symbollic
for Wicca because of its spirit over the elements, or power, and the circle
symbolising the Goddess and God and rebirth. The pentagram was said to
be the perfect shape by Pythagoras. Black is the color of everything,
every color and mystery, that's why people wear it, as well for its
fashionable qualities. Most Wiccans prefer to wear purple, green and
blue in natural fibers.
3.4 What are "dedication" and "initiation" in Wicca?
These things mean different things in different traditions. Usually
"dedication" ceremonially marks the beginning of Wiccan study, while
"initiation" may mark full membership in a coven/tradition (such as after
"a year and a day") or may indicate elevation in skill or to special
clergy status. Some traditions look on all initiates as co-equal clergy,
while others have grades or "degrees" of initiation, which may be marked
by distinct sacramental ceremonies, duties or expectations within the
Some people claim that "only a Witch can make a Witch," whereas
others say that only the Goddess and God or demonstrated skill can make a
witch. Doreen Valiente was initiated by Gardner himself, but slyly asks
"who initiated the first witch?" Valiente and others assert that those
who choose to "bootstrap" a coven into existence (by an initial
initiation) or to use self-initiation may do so, citing the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights. Self-dedications are also quite common among
new practitioners and solitary Wiccans ("solitaries").
3.5 Do all Wiccans practice magic/k?
That depends on what one means by magic. The occultist Aleister
Crowley helped re-popularize archaic spellings such as "magic", terming
his "the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with
Will." Others may think of magic as folk parapsychology or see the
changes wrought as primarily changes in consciousness. Ceremonialists may
distinguish between the "high magic" of ritual observance and the "low
magic" of practical spells (such as for protection and health). Almost
all Wiccans, however, have some sort of ceremony or psychological practice
to better attune themselves with divinity, encouraging insight and a sense
of efficacy. Others may cast love spells or other curses but no, we don't
do it for strangers on the net and no, we don't confuse this with stage
3.6 Is Wicca the same thing as witchcraft?
The short answer is no. Many cultures have a negative word like
"witchcraft," often viewing it as a malevolent, supernatural tool used by
the weak, old or malicious. Some people use the term "witchcraft" to
cover more general skills, such as counseling, the occult and herbcraft.
Some Wiccans call themselves "Witches," capitalizing it as a gesture of
solidarity with the victims of the Burning Times, but this is a personal
decision. Although many Wiccans today may cast spells and practice
magic/k, these are not considered an integral part of Wicca by all
Wiccans. Wicca is not traditional folk magic and all magic is not
necessarily Wiccan, anymore than all people who pray belong to any
3.7 What were "the Burning Times?"
"The Burning Times" is the term used by many modern Neo-Pagans and
feminists to refer to the great European witch-hunts of the early modern
period, coincident with the time of the reformation and seen by many as a
crucial step in Christianity's crushing of the Pagan religions, driving
these underground. Some authors claim as many as ten million people were
killed in these hunts, while more recent scholarship puts the number of
documented deaths at 20-100 thousands, 80-90% of these women. Sometimes
these numbers are doubled to account for non-judicial killings and deaths
from torture, suicide, etcetera. Whatever the numbers, however, victims
of these hunts are perceived as martyrs by Wiccans today, with the lessons
of intolerance, misogyny and religious terror clearly noted.
3.8 What are the origins of Wicca?
This is a matter of some debate within Wiccan circles. Some Wiccans
see their inspiration and traditions as coming directly from the gods.
Certain Wiccan mythology holds that Wicca has come down from the stone
age, surviving persecution in secret covens for hundreds of years. Others
say that their Wicca is a long-held family tradition (or "fam trad"),
passed down through villages and grandmothers. Aidan Kelly argues that
modern Wicca was largely pieced together by Gerald Gardner from Margaret
Murray, Charles Leland and other sources, with significant revisions by
Doreen Valiente (and others), beginning in 1939. Whatever its origins,
Wicca today is a vibrant, modern religion, open to change, creativity and
3.9 What are the major traditions in Wicca and where do they come from?
Aidan Kelly argues that all of Wicca derives from Gerald Gardner,
with some crucial editing and revision by his initiate Doreen Valiente.
Alex Sanders is widely thought to have acquired a Gardnerian book of
shadows, with which he started his own "Alexandrian" tradition, initiating
Janet and Stewart Farrar. Other well-known traditions include Raymond
Buckland's Seax Wicca, Victor and Cora Anderson's Faery Wicca and feminist
Dianic Wicca, which emphasizes the Goddess as put forward by such authors
as Zsuzsanna Budapest. There are also branches of Wicca identifying
themselves with various ethnicities and traditions such as druidism,
shamanism and so forth.
3.10 What is the "Book of Shadows?" Where do I get one?
The Book of Shadows (or "BoS") is sort of a customized reference book
for Wiccans, containing useful information such as myths, liturgical
items, one's own writings or records of dreams and magical workings.
According to Gerald Gardner, such a book should be handcopied from teacher
to student but in practice not every Wiccan has a "book of shadows" and
few are exactly alike. Sometimes only initiates are allowed access to a
tradition's book, or it may be called by a different name, such as "mirror
book," "magical diary" or "grimoire." There are many "books of shadows"
available in print and on-line (leading to the "disk of shadows" or even
"directories of shadows" several megabytes large). If you'd like to copy
from these sources for your personal use, you may assemble your own book,
but please observe copyright laws in your newfound enthusiasm.
3.11 What is a coven and how do I join one?
The coven is the basic, cellular "congregation" for some Wiccans, but is
often very formal, selective and closed, aiming for an ideal of "perfect
love and perfect trust" among members. Most Wiccans begin in less formal
ways such as attending festivals, public rituals, classes or more open
groups (often called "circles"). Many Wiccans probably begin and continue
practice as "solitaries," whether before, after or while a member of a
coven. Solitary practice is a valid "tradition" in the Craft, but some
good places to find other Wiccans are on the net, at public Pagan events or
through occult, political or "new age" bookstores.
3.12 How do I witness about Jesus Christ to a Wiccan?
First of all, please don't do it here. Alt.religion.wicca is
explicitly for discussions on Wicca and Wiccan practice: evangelical
posters are not welcome. Those posting and reading here are adults, many
of whom are or have been Christians, have read a bible, heard of Jesus and
considered their beliefs as seriously as you have yours. The more you
know about Wicca, however, the more intelligent you will seem and you are
certainly welcome here as long as you remain on-topic. Reading this FAQ
is a good first step, and in general it is a good idea to "lurk" and read
for a while before posting to ANY newsgroup. Please keep in mind,
however, Wicca's distrust of proselytization and its conscious lack of an
evangelical tradition. Posts which claim we are all going to hell or
blather about TRUE POWER!!! [IN ALL-CAPS!!!] are particularly
inappropriate, and may be answered with e-mail complaints to you and/or
your service provider.
3.13 How do I learn more about Wicca?
Sticking around and reading this group is one way, as are books and local
contacts. Below is a list of initial resources, beginning with the books
most frequently recommended, two historical books and a few well-respected
authors. At least a few of these should be available through your local
library, and most are easily ordered through any local bookstore. All
contain bibliographies and pointers towards other material.
4.1 Introductory books on Wicca
Margot ADLER, _Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers
and Other Pagans in America Today_ (Boston: Beacon Press, 1979). Second,
1986 edition, ISBN 0-8070-3253-0. Newest Arkana ISBN 0-14-019536-X.
STARHAWK, _The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the
Great Goddess_ (San Franciscso: Harper & Row, 1979). Second, 1989
edition, ISBN 0-06-250816-4.
Scott CUNNINGHAM, _Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner_ (St Paul,
MN: Llewellyn, 1992). ISBN 0-87542-118-0.
Stewart FARRAR, _What Witches Do: A Modern Coven Revealed_ 1983 (Custer
WA: Phoenix, 1989). ISBN 0-919345-17-4.
Silver RAVENWOLF, _To Ride a Silver Broomstick: New Generation Witchcraft_
(St Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1993). ISBN 0-87542-791-X.
Aidan A. KELLY, _Crafting the Art of Magic: A History of Modern Witchcraft,
1939-1964_ (St Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1991). ISBN 0-87542-370-1.
Ronald HUTTON, _The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles: Their
Nature and Legacy_ (Oxford: Blackwell, 1991). Paperback ISBN
Other authors who are generally well thought of include Amber K.,
Zsuzsanna Budapest, Janet and Stewart Farrar, Gerald Gardner, Jade and
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