Modern Pagan religions might be more popular than they've ever been, but I've still found that most people have a lot of questions about my own Wicca faith. I've decided to address some of the most common queries in the hope that people can get a better understanding of my lifestyle.

Witching Hour on Female First

Witching Hour on Female First

1. Is being Wiccan the same as being a witch?

In a word, no. While many Wiccans do identify as witches, the majority of those who identify as witches aren't Wiccan. Witchcraft is an umbrella term for all kinds of magical practices all over the world, with Wicca being just a tiny part of the modern Western culture of witchcraft. However, many Wiccans do not practise witchcraft at all, preferring to devote their faith to the worship of Gods and Goddesses and connecting with nature in other ways.

2. Do you worship Satan?

Wiccans never have, and never will, acknowledge a Satanic figure within our faith. Satan is a Christian concept, and Wicca is a Pagan practice.

3. Is Wicca the same as Paganism?

Paganism is, by definition, an umbrella term for any non-Abrahamic religion; that is, any religion that isn't some form of Christianity, Islam or Judaism. Wicca, in its many variations, falls under this category, as do many other alternative religious movements such as Heathenry, Shamanism and Druidry. There is much debate over whether or not world religions like Hinduism and Buddhism also fall under the category of Paganism.

Some people classify themselves as Pagan alone, perhaps because they do not follow a traditional path of any particular Pagan practice, but they have beliefs very much centred on a variety of aspects that define Paganism; for example, polytheism and mysticism.

4. Do you believe in God?

The foundations of Wicca centres around the worship of a Goddess figure and her God consort. We believe in the divine gender polarity, separating us from monotheistic religions. Many Wiccans worship Gods and Goddesses from a variety of pantheons including Celtic, Greek and Roman, but, generally speaking, all the different Gods and Goddesses are seen as different aspects of the same two figures. So while we have many names for our God and Goddess, there are usually only two of them.

There are exceptions to the rule, of course. Some Wiccan traditions deviate strongly from this concept. Dianic Wicca, for example, recognises only the Goddess and shuns all male deities.

5. Do you have a priest?

Within a coven environment (that is, a group of initiated Wiccans), there will usually be both a High Priest and a High Priestess. They are responsible for leading the rituals and initiating new members. Traditionally speaking, you can only become a High Priest or High Priestess if you are initiated by one. Although that doesn't stop people forming their own unofficial covens and naming themselves High Priest or High Priestess.

6. Do you have holy scriptures?

Yes and no. Whatever branch of Wicca you follow, you generally follow the writings of the founder. Two of the most common writings Wiccans follow are the Wiccan Rede which states "An it harm none, do what ye will" (a derivation of Aleister Crowley's Law of Thelema which states "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law"), and the Rule of Three or the Three-fold Law which is usually interpretated thus: Whatever a person puts out into the world, it will return to them three-fold, be it positive or negative.

However, different covens (and indeed solitary practitioners) may have different interpretations of the same passages and this is completely accepted within the Wiccan community. In fact, covens and individuals alike usually possess what is called a Book of Shadows; a self-written secret journal detailing rituals, spells and other important information significant to the writer. The way these are laid out differs massively from person to person - indeed, individual interpretations and self-written rituals are encouraged in most Wiccan practises.

7. Do you pray?

Some Wiccans do pray to their God and/or Goddess in much the same way as any other religious person. Most of us even have a special place in our home devoted to worship and ritual called an altar. A Wiccan prayer is often called a blessing, and sometimes these are bestowed upon certain objects for luck and protection. A lot of Wiccans prefer to devote their prayers to full-blown rituals which may include the use of candles, incense and magical tools, and are generally very structured. Though, there's no reason why a Wiccan can't do both short, daily blessings and full organised rituals too.

8. Do you have a specific day of worship?

There isn't a specific day of the week that Wiccans en masse prefer to devote to their worship. However, most covens gather for rituals on the evenings of full moons and these are called Esbats. We also gather for special rituals on the eight sacred festivals of the year which are known as Sabbats.

9. Do you have religious ceremonies?

It won't surprise you to learn that we don't have ceremonies for baptisms, confirmations or weddings in the same way as other religions. When a child is born into a Wiccan family, they may be subject to a Wiccaning, which is similar to a baptism in that it invokes the divine protection of the God and Goddess and cements the promise of love and protection by their parents, and it even sees the giving of a new name. But it is different because it's not about bringing the child into the Wicca faith, but setting them on their way to find their own spiritual path.

Initiation is the closest thing to confirmation in Wicca and takes place later in life. They are brought into a coven after a year and a day's study of their own volition, gifted the secrets of that coven and reborn into their new spiritual persona. Solitary practitioners may choose to self-initiate themselves as a way of marking their new path.

Instead of weddings, Wiccans have what is known as handfastings. Traditionally, these ceremonies do not bind people either legally or spiritually. They marked engagements more than marriages; a promise between two people that they would stay together for at least a year and a day. After that, a more permanent commitment ceremony would take place. Nowadays, a handfasting is generally synonymous with a wedding and includes vows of lifelong devotion. Finally, we also have special rituals known as requiems to mark the death of loved ones.

10. Do you have a place of worship?

While there are such things as Wiccan temples (which may be just a single room or a stone circle, and is rarely a grand building like that of a Church), most Wiccans see their temples as being anywhere they lay their pointed hats. As it is a nature-based religion, being outside in a place that is special or convenient to us is what we consider our temple. There is no one place that is holier than any other until we as individuals devote that place to its holy purpose.

11. Do you still celebrate Christmas?

No. But do we still decorate our homes with a tree, wreaths, mistletoe and holly, eat our weight in fruitcake and turkey, and exchange gifts with our loved ones? Yes.

Just before Christmas Day, Wiccans celebrate the festival of Midwinter, also known as Yule. While we don't celebrate the birth of Christ, we do celebrate the re-birth of the Sun-God, as the days begin to get lighter. We decorate our houses with evergreen to remind us of the ever-changing cycle of nature, and that there is always life even when everything else has returned to the earth for another year. We feast as much as we do on every other Sabbat, and if we're lucky enough to own a real fireplace we may burn a sacred Yule log. If not, we're content in eating the chocolate variety.

We pretty much join in with all the typical celebrations of Christmas because it's all about joy and life renewed. The only things we're unlikely to do are include a nativity scene on our mantelpiece and attend a carol service.

The Author

Holly Mosley is a Wiccan witch who has been practising consistently for three years, enjoys monthly meet-ups in the Pagan community and spends her time studying Tarot which she first discovered at the age of 10. She publishes weekly Tarot readings on Female First, alongside her informative Witching Hour series about all things esoteric, and recently set up her own Tarot reading service under the moniker Mistress Wyrd.


by for www.femalefirst.co.uk