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  • Core Beliefs of Wicca

    I think that it would be interesting to hear what Wiccans think of as the core beliefs of Wicca. Please list those things that you feel or your tradition feels is central to Wicca.

  • #2
    I've done this a couple of times before here on MW, but here I go again. These are the things I was taught are basic to Wicca (as taught by Gardner). I have not had any reason to discard any of them nor add anything else in the last 17 years since learning these.

    The Rede - not core, just a basic guideline

    1. Law of Return / Law of Balance / Threefold Law (the concept of action=reaction)

    2. Belief in Polytheism (more than one divine form), possibly including Pantheism (divinity in all things) and/or Animism (all things have life energy)

    3. Celebrating the Sabbats (four or eight) and Esbats (recognition of the seasons/solar cycles and of the lunar cycles)

    4. Belief in Diety, generally both god and goddess energies (otherwise it's a practice not a Religion)

    5. Belief in the existence of Witchcraft/Magic (whether you actually practice it or not)

    6. Belief that Wicca is experienced, not simply taught

    7. The Great Rite or Sacred Marriage (whether actual or symbolic) and Creative Energies

    8. Taking personal responsibility

    9. Constant Improvement (learning, study, practice, etc)
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    • #3
      NOT exhaustive:

      Some acknowledgement of the Rede (just the eight words, not any long poem). Not necessarily followed to the letter, but some kind of recognition of it... as a loose guideline even.

      Worship of the God and Goddess of Wicca, AKA the Lord and Lady of Wicca. I think you can *believe* whatever you want about them, that they're real, that they're archetypes... so long as you serve them...

      Celebration of Sabbats and Esbats... different groups and traditions associate different mythologies with each, but the general timing is all about the same, and the general theme is about the same...

      Wiccan ritual structure-- cast circle, call quarters, invoke Lord and Lady, cakes and ale, dismiss and close circle. I think that basic formula is pretty standard...

      Fertility is celebrated. I've said elsewhere in this subforum what I think about fertility.
      Before you accuse someone of LYING, please read this first.

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      • #4
        Yes, basic ritual structure, something was niggling at the back of my brain as I was writing my list, I knew I was forgetting something, and that was it.
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        • #5
          I think what the others have listed so far fit perfectly with my own experience and personal understanding of what is common to all Wiccans. (Excluding of course those who call themselves Wiccans without even the most basic understanding -- for instance I would question someone who said they were Wiccan who had never heard of a Lord and Lady, or casting a circle, or the name Gerald Gardner.)

          And to elaborate a tiny bit on something important that Dhawa Lamo listed:
          Worship of the God and Goddess of Wicca, AKA the Lord and Lady of Wicca. I think you can *believe* whatever you want about them, that they're real, that they're archetypes... so long as you serve them...
          The way it was explained most eloquently in another thread many moons ago, and I think it was Deb Lipp who said it, is that Wicca is an orthopraxy and not an orthodoxy. What makes us Wiccan is that we do these core things, such as honouring a balanced pair of a male and female deity in our ritual circle, and not whether we believe any specific piece of philosophy or dogma. There's lots of room for variety.

          I guess a couple of other things that to me are core are:

          - that we are all Priest and Priestess -- we each have our own individual relationship with the Divine (Lady and Lord or however you name Them), without the necessity of an intercessor such as clergy to act on our behalf

          - autonomy of each coven, and indeed each Witch; we do not have a central Wiccan authority (whether Pope, Grand Council, or even a single Holy Scripture) which dictates to all Wiccans. (In the Laws that Gardner presented to his coven back in the 1950s there were clear statements that if coven members disagreed on something, whether practice or philosophy, it was acceptable for the coven to split into two covens. Both are still Wiccan.) Many see this as a severe problem in Wicca but personally I see it as one of Wicca's greatest strengths. It's definitely a double-edged sword!

          Great thread! I hope we can get this made a sticky one so it's easier to find. (I've long ago forgotten how to find the threads where Deb Lipp and others put the core list so eloquently. If someone finds it I hope they can post the link here.)

          Ben Gruagach
          MysticWicks forum guide in "Paths: Wicca", "Books" and "History"
          author of The Wiccan Mystic: Exploring a Magickal Spiritual Path
          visit my website at http://www.witchgrotto.com
          read my LiveJournal blog
          find me on Facebook

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          • #6
            I'm afraid those discussions are buried in one or two of those incredibly long threads. I would like to see those particular posts reposted here as well. I did find the link to Deb Lipp's webpage: http://www.deborahlipp.com/wicca.htm


            Good idea about sticking the thread. I don't know who the forum guide for this forum is, anyone else know? So I went ahead and stickied the thread. I'm okay with being overruled by the local forum guide or the admins.
            Last edited by Lunacie; February 24th, 2007, 10:32 AM.
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            If you make a customer happy, he'll tell 3 other people.
            If he's not happy, he'll tell 20 others.



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            • #7
              Lunacie's list is one that I've cross posted from another forum before, with permission of the compiler. So obviously I agree with what she's reposted here. A basic ritual structure that is recognized as Wiccan can be added, yes. Some other things are sheer window dressing, and will vary from tradition to tradition, and even from Traditional to Eclectic.
              Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither liberty or security ~Benjamin Franklin

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Elderbush View Post
                I think that it would be interesting to hear what Wiccans think of as the core beliefs of Wicca. Please list those things that you feel or your tradition feels is central to Wicca.
                Elderbush, I think this is a very intersting topic. I want to ask you, are you looking for what each of us, as individuals, think of as being important core beleifs to our own outlook? Or are you asking what we think are common beliefs among those who identify themselves as Wiccans?

                I ask because the answers may (and probably will) differ. I suspect every one of us has a point or two that we each think of as being important, but which may differ from what most self-identifying Wiccans may believe.

                For example, I think the Rede is a central part of Wicca / Witchcraft as I understand it. But I also am aware a) most people who call themsevles "Wiccans" do not understand the Rede in the same way I do, and b) many (I don't know if it's "most" or not) do not see it as central to their view of Wicca. So if I were to list my personal beliefs, they will differ from a listing of what i see as the most common beliefs that are most commonly held by others.

                Also, there may need to be some clarifications. As I mentioned, my own understanding of the Rede may be different from others. If I were to list the things I feel are central to Wicca, I would avoid mention of the Rede because I know it is interpreted differently. Instead, I'd try to get at what I see as its meaning. So I might say, for instance, "The right to do follow your true Will, since doing so does not cause wanton destruction" - which I suspect is very close to what Ben means by "autonomy". So we may agree on a core principle, but call it different things.

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                • #9
                  Actually, by autonomy I mean Wicca does not have a central authority structure -- I thought that was clear in my post but perhaps not.

                  I do think the Wiccan Rede concept supports and reinforces the autonomy concept but they are different things really. "An it harm none, do what you will" doesn't really say anything about authority structures.

                  Ben Gruagach
                  MysticWicks forum guide in "Paths: Wicca", "Books" and "History"
                  author of The Wiccan Mystic: Exploring a Magickal Spiritual Path
                  visit my website at http://www.witchgrotto.com
                  read my LiveJournal blog
                  find me on Facebook

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Ben Gruagach View Post
                    Actually, by autonomy I mean Wicca does not have a central authority structure -- I thought that was clear in my post but perhaps not.

                    I do think the Wiccan Rede concept supports and reinforces the autonomy concept but they are different things really. "An it harm none, do what you will" doesn't really say anything about authority structures.
                    As I said, I have a different understanding of the Rede. If you have the right to do as you will, then clearly there is no authority structure preventing you from doing it, and for me that is a vital part of what I see there. A religion that teaches its members to do as they will is not a religion that can have a central authority with power to define right and wrong, or conformity, or doctrine, etc. I guess I'm looking far along into the extended implications of what it means to do as you will.

                    But I understand your point, and we're cool. My point was really just that you and I actually agree on many of these principles, we just call them different things. So a listing of "core beliefs" should probably try to describe the beliefs in addition to using a shorthand word to point toward the belief. We may not all understand the shorthand phrases the same way, even though we may agree on some of the underlying beliefs.

                    So, as examples - even though there are some who do not follow "the Rede", I'd still wager that most of them agree we should each act in ways we think is proper.

                    I suspect also most feel we should not go out and thoughtlessly and wantonly commit destructive acts.

                    Though some do not follow the "Threefold Law", most would probably agreee that the things we do affect the world around us, and that we, being part of the World, are thus also affected by our own actions. If we make the world a more violent place, for instance, that means we ourselves are more likely to become victims of violence.

                    This was just a suggestion, take it or leave it - in addition to saying that you do (or do not) agree with something like the Rede or the Threefold Law, perhaps also say a few words about how you understand those things, because your interpretation may differ from that of someone else.
                    Last edited by Eran; February 24th, 2007, 01:38 PM.

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                    • #11
                      To paraphrase Elderbush, she wrote, "Please list those things that you feel are central to Wicca - or that your tradition feels are central to Wicca." [to use the correct grammar ]

                      So I listed the things I feel/believe/learned are central to Wicca, not what I think should be a concensus. As nice as it would be to have others agree with my own list, I know that it's not gonna happen.

                      And I did add a couple of words or a phrase on many of the things I listed to clarify what I meant. But I think the thread should hive if we want to get into a discussion or debate about what each of those things means to each of us and keep this thread mostly to compare our lists.
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                      If he's not happy, he'll tell 20 others.



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                      • #12
                        The stuff I posted is what, in my experience (and according to my understanding of what Wicca is), is the stuff that is most in common for all Wiccans or at least the vast majority.

                        But as Lunacie and others have pointed out there is always debate! Going over the details in discussion should probably be put in other threads devoted to those specific topics just to keep this one a bit clearer.

                        Ben Gruagach
                        MysticWicks forum guide in "Paths: Wicca", "Books" and "History"
                        author of The Wiccan Mystic: Exploring a Magickal Spiritual Path
                        visit my website at http://www.witchgrotto.com
                        read my LiveJournal blog
                        find me on Facebook

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                        • #13
                          And again, I think debate over which things are actually core could be done in another thread, leaving this one for the lists themselves, as I feel that is all Elderbush was asking for in the opening post. If I'm wrong, she will, no doubt, let me know.
                          ____________
                          If you make a customer happy, he'll tell 3 other people.
                          If he's not happy, he'll tell 20 others.



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                          • #14
                            Yes, Lunacie, got it right. Lists, please, and for each of the points that you want to further discuss please start a new thread where that point can be debated by those people who want to do so. This is a good place for people to compare their lists with those of others. We get so lost in the minutiae sometimes that it is helpful to look at the big picture, in my opinion. Plus we just may find out that we have a lot more in common than we think we do.

                            Thank you everyone who has posted their list. I hope others will be encouraged to add their lists if debate is held elsewhere.

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                            • #15
                              Good, I did understand correctly.

                              Perhaps Kea would like to share her list with us?
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                              If you make a customer happy, he'll tell 3 other people.
                              If he's not happy, he'll tell 20 others.



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