Basic Beliefs of Wicca and Witchcraft

An Introduction to “The Old Religion” of Europe and its Modern Revival
While not exclusive to every single tradition, the following are some of the core tenets found in most Wiccan systems:


The Divine is present in nature, and so nature should be honored and respected. Everything from animals and plants to trees and rocks are elements of the sacred. You'll find that many practicing Wiccans are passionate about the environment.
The idea of karma and an afterlife is a valid one. What we do in this lifetime will be revisited upon us in the next. Part of this idea of a cosmic payback system is echoed in the Law of Threefold Return.

Our ancestors should be spoken of with honor. Because it's not considered out of the ordinary to commune with the spirit world, many Wiccans feel that their ancestors are watching over them at all times.

The Divine has polarity -- both male and female. In most paths of Wicca, both a god and goddess are honored.
The Divine is present in all of us. We are all sacred beings, and interaction with the gods is not limited just to the priesthood or a select group of individuals.

Holidays are based on the turning of the earth and the cycle of the seasons. In Wicca, eight major Sabbats are celebrated, as well as monthly Esbats.

Everyone is responsible for their own actions. Personal responsibility is the key. Whether magical or mundane, one must be willing to accept the consequences -- either good or bad – of their behavior.

Harm none, or something like it. While there are a few different interpretation of what actually constitutes harm, most Wiccans follow the concept that no harm should intentionally be done to another individual.

Respect the beliefs of others. There's no Recruiting Club in Wicca, and the Wiccans are not out to preach at you, convert you, or proselytize. Wiccan groups recognize that each individual must find their spiritual path on their own, without coercion. While a Wiccan may honor different gods than you do, they will always respect your right to believe differently.
You don’t have to practice magick to be Wiccan, but most Wiccans do. Magick is part of the Wiccan world view. Wiccans honor teachers and leaders, but do not recognize authoritarian hierarchies because no one is intrinsically better than anyone else is. You can become a witch through hereditary, solitary study, or by joining a coven where you will be taught . Witches are not anti-Christian, nor do they harbor negative feelings about other religions.

In the 1970s, the Council of American Witches, an organization that no longer exists, drew up a list of basic principles. We’ll just paraphrase them here to give you an idea of what they sound like:

* We practice rites to attune ourselves with the natural rhythm of life forces.
* We recognize that our intelligence gives us a unique responsibility toward our environment.
* We acknowledge a depth of power far greater than is apparent to the average person.
* We conceive of the Creative Power in the Universe as both masculine and feminine. We value neither gender above the other.
* We recognize both outer worlds and inner, psychological worlds, and we see in the interaction of these two dimensions the basis for paranormal and magickal exercises.
* We do not recognize any authoritarian hierarchy.
* We see religion, magick, and wisdom-in-living as being united in the way one views the world and lives in it.
* Calling oneself a “witch” does not make a witch, but neither does heredity itself, or the collecting of titles, degrees, and initiations.
* A witch seeks to control the forces within him- or herself that make life possible in order to live wisely and well, without harm to others, and in harmony with Nature.
* We acknowledge that it is the affirmation and fulfillment of life, in a continuation of evolution and development of consciousness, that gives meaning to the Universe we know, and to our personal role within it.
* Our only animosity toward Christianity, or toward any other religion or philosophy of life, is that its institutions have claimed to be “the one true, right, and only way” and have sought to deny freedom to others and to suppress other ways of religious practices and beliefs.
* We are not threatened by debates on the history of the craft. We are concerned with our present and our future.
* We do not accept the concept of absolute evil, nor do we worship any entity known as “Satan” or “the Devil” as defined by Christian traditions.
* We work within Nature for that which contributes to our health and well-being.
* We believe that we are put on Earth to live in harmony with Nature, never to abuse it.
* While Wiccans don’t believe there is a hell to punish sinners, Wiccans do believe there is a universal law, called karma, that puts our behavior on display so that we can learn from it. Think of it this way: When a small child first learns to walk, you let the child stumble and sometimes fall so that he or she can learn balance. That’s what the Wiccan concept of karma does. Karma doesn’t punish us; it operates like a feedback system and makes us think about our past actions. Wiccans believe that people are basically good. A person’s behavior might be unacceptable, but that person is not necessarily bad. We are all made in the image of the Lord and Lady. Nobody is born evil. Some people may act that way or harbor those energies, but the evil or negativity is not inherent.

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