What is Wicca?

I don’t consider myself an expert on what is or what isn’t Wicca or what you should or shouldn’t do in your own practice. I do however consider myself to be Wiccan, though of a solitary, eclectic slant, and have since 1997. I am constantly examining my beliefs and practices, and really believe that is one of the core tenants of Wiccan beliefs and witchcraft in general – to discover what you believe and why you believe it. So, this is my current understanding of what it means to be Wiccan.

At its heart, Wicca is a religion and it is loosely defined by Principles of Wiccan Belief as set down by a group called the American Council of Witches in 1973/1974. While there are many people who claim traditions or lineages that go back however long, officially Gerald Gardner is considered to be the father/founder of the current religion of Wicca. Following the 1951 repeal of Britain’s archaic witchcraft laws, Gardner published Witchcraft Today (1954), founded his first coven of followers, and, with the assistance of high priestess Doreen Valiente (1922–99), developed what became known as Gardnerian Wicca. During the 1960’s and 70’s, following the civil unrest and social revolutions that were happening in the US, Wicca started to develop a following in the US.

From there, more books were published, people were more public with their beliefs, and media and pop culture began to notice. I know that for me, personally, the development of the world wide web had a huge influence, because when I started to have questions and was looking for support I was able to reach out in the early chat rooms of the mid-90s to connect with other people and practitioners. Books on alternative religions and beliefs were available in local bookstores. To Ride a Silver Broomstick by Silver Ravenwolf was published in 1994. Scott Cunningham actually passed away in 1993, but he was a very popular and prolific author through the 1980’s and 90’s. His Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs (1985) and Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem, and Metal Magic (1987) are excellent references that I still use today.

Groups and covens began to be a little more open in the late 90’s and Wicca as a religion started to show up more in pop culture. I also know several people who found paganism in general through this root. Wicca – the religion – wasn’t for them personally (Leland is one of these), but paganism as an umbrella of beliefs is what they were looking for.

Nowadays, Witchcraft and Paganism are popular book topics on Amazon. Witchtoks and YouTube channels about witchcraft and Wicca are common.

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