WICCA: CRAFT OF THE WISE by Merlana Hill Country Pagan Grove Austin, Texas, U.S.A. Publish
WICCA: CRAFT OF THE WISE
Hill Country Pagan Grove
Austin, Texas, U.S.A.
Published December 1982 by C.C.C.
Creative Cooperative Consolidated
12611 Research Blvd. Number 125
Austin, Texas 78759
First edition, December 1982
Second edition, revised, April 1983
Some have asked how this little booklet came into being. It's all very
straightforward: as the most visible representatives of paganism here in
Austin, Texas, I and my consort, Arnthor Phalius, are asked often to
appear in public to talk about witchcraft. The questions included here
are those most often asked, along with the answers we give.
Of course we cannot pretend to speak for all Pagans, only for ourselves.
But the little booklet has been well-received as a non-threatening
method of getting to know a subject like Wicca. Occasionally we will
find someone who has had negative experiences with persons who call
themselves Wiccans or Witches, and in those cases they expressed relief
on find that `other types' of Pagans existed than those which had given
them their initial bad impressions.
The Directory* is an individual effort at networking in the Sunbelt. Here
in Texas there are many traditions and varieties of Paganism, and if one
isn't to be alone, one must learn that there are more similarities than
differences in Paganism and the other major religions. Pagans have
always known this, but for various reasons, have not stepped forward as
representatives of this view.
I (Merlana) am a mystic who responds to the Universal Mind as it is
expressed in Nature. It is my deep belief that persons who reverence
these principles are unified at bottom, and separated only by the
illusion of words, which are not reality. Sometimes words aren't even
adequate representations of `Reality`!
It is my intention in this little booklet to re-define some issues and
terms in the way that my tradition sees them. It so happens that much of
the rest of Paganism falls within this general framework. (NOTE: A
`tradition' is a varietal type, like `denomination').
If you already know the subject and wish to differ, your comments are
welcome. If you are new to the subject, perhaps here you'll find some
questions answered, and (if wanted) fellowship with others who are on
similar paths. Directory* listings are free to those in the Sunbelt ofthe USA (South and Southwest.) New editions are published irregularly.
If you don't live in the Sunbelt, but have goods or services which
interest Pagans, you may also put an ad into the Directory.* Write for
1. WHAT IS WICCA?
`Wicca' (pronounced Wick-ah) is one name given to the Nature religions
practiced in Northern Europe and the Middle East from the times of the
ice ages. It is one spiritual path out of many in a group of spiritual
practices known as NeoPaganism. NeoPaganism is currently in a world-wide
revival, led by persons and groups in the United States and Britain.
2. HOW DO WICCA AND NEOPAGANISM FIT TOGETHER?
Wicca is one subsidiary form, or `tradition,' similar to the way
Christianity has many forms. One can be a Christian and still be
Baptist, Methodist or Roman Catholic. In the same way, one can be a
Pagan but ascribe to another, more specific, sub-variety of philosophy.
3. IS IT THE SAME AS WITCHCRAFT?
One linguistic theory has the word Wicca coming from Olde English
`Wicca-Craeft', meaning `craft of the wise ones.' Some followers of
Wicca (and most Pagans) prefer not to use the terms `witchcraft' or
`witch' because of the emotional connotations these words carry in our
Generally, one who calls him or herself a `witch' without further
qualifications is seeking notoriety and special attention. Those of us
who guard the portals of personal Power (like Carlos Casteneda's
character Don Juan) are normally hard to find or engage in discussion.
Our Mysteries are carefully hidden from the world, and from those who
might be tempted to misuse them.
4. WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE ABOUT GOD?
Although Pagans generally agree that one God exists and is the same
regardless of name, they vary in specific concepts about God, as in
[DMR Notes: The above line is not true.]
What an individual Pagan holds is strictly a matter of personal belief.
However, occasionally a tradition will teach highly-specific concepts,
structures and mythologies. If one finds oneself in disagreement, the
best policy is `voting with the feet', or withdrawing to find another
group who better agrees.
NOTE: Sometimes it may be easier to gather together a group of people
who believe as you do to form an entirely new group. That's the purpose
of networking, or what the booklet is designed for.
Most Wiccans divide the Godhead (generally conceived of as Mother
Nature) into two forces. One force is male and the other female. They
are called respectively: The God and The Goddess.
Between them, these two divinities create balance and harmony in the
Eternal Dance. They represent the forces of birth, death and
regeneration symbolized in the change of the seasons. Wiccans call 5this
cycle The Wheel Of The Year. Most rituals celebrate the Wheel Of The
Year and our deep, meaningful participation in natural cycles of change.
Because the male force has been in ascendancy for thousands of years due
to the Christian, Moslem and Jewish religions, there is presently a
tendency to emphasize The Goddess, especially by feminists (or by those
whose personal concept of God happens to be female).
We also believe in Magick, which is a partnership between humanity and
the Universal Mind. This partnership creates changes in what we normally
call `reality', i.e., change accomplished with prayer. These changes can
seem miraculous or merely coincidental, and always include personal
effort. Magick is not the same as `wishing.'
5. WHAT HAPPENS AT A WICCAN CEREMONY?
There are several types of get-togethers that Pagans of all traditions
attend. The most available and open is called a `Grove,' where those who
wish may study both spiritual and ceremonial topics. Most groves
emphasize fellowship and harmony of mind between their members. You
should choose one as much for how you blend with the personalities of
the members as for a particular brand of teaching.
Eight times a year, at the solstices and equinoxes, May Day, Halloween,
and other points on the lunar calendar, Pagans gather together (usually
outdoors under trees) to celebrate Nature and the turn of the seasons.
These celebrations consist of dancing, prayer, invocations, and rituals
passed down from the many traditions through the ages. We also urge
participants to develop and use their own original rituals and to share
them with others.
Because we dance and pray in a standing Circle (or sometimes a spiral),
and because we draw at these times from the Universe spherical energies
of protection and power - these meetings are called (appropriately
6. HOW CAN I ATTEND A GROVE OR CIRCLE?
Wiccans and Pagans tend to be very private, and do not advertise their
faith at publicly as some others might. This is mainly because of past
persecutions. However, for those who are sincerely interested, there
always exist persons with whom to visit and explore that interest. Check
the Directory* at the back of this booklet for names of others who are
open to contacts.
If you are sincere and rally want to set out upon the Pagan path, the
first step is to find a Grove to study with. After a Grove accepts you,
eventually you will attend Circles.
7. DO I HAVE TO GIVE UP MY OTHER SPIRITUAL PATHS TO BECOME A WICCAN?
That will depend on the tradition and the teacher. In general, Pagans
are most tolerant of any philosophical structure, and ask only that the
tolerance be returned. You will not be requested to do anything that
differs with your beliefs and spiritual needs.
8. DOES BEING PAGAN MAKE A PERSON SPECIAL OR DIFFERENT?
Well yes, of course. But the special qualities are available to
everybody. Everything that Pagans do with Magick is done in other
religions by other names. It is only that we have found that these
particular formulas, beliefs, and celebrations work best for us.
These are varying approaches to (and grasps of) personal Power. One way
of recognizing someone who is truly Powerful is to note whether he or
she seems to need control or influence over others. True personal power
is content to control only the self, and personal reality.
9. DO YOU CAST SPELLS ON OTHER PEOPLE?
The major law in our religion is: "Do what you will, an it hurt no
other." (The Golden Rule)
In other words, no one is prevented from exploration of God and GodSelf
as long as others are not harmed.
We do believe in directing the energies of the universe toward
accomplishment of certain ends, but magick is never effective on another
person unless the person specifically requests it and takes
responsibility for that request.
Attempts at so-called `black' magick, or use of the universal energies
for negative or harmful purposes, only result in karmic backlash
magnified at least threefold on the unfortunate would-be black magician.
Our tradition does not believe in the possibility of `psychic attack',
and hence does not teach methods for combating it. Our philosophy tells
us that to raise a force against `psychic attack' is only to create that
which you fear.
10. ARE PAGANS ANTI-CHRISTIAN?
No. But many Christians are anti-Pagan. Historically there has existed
an adversary relationship between Christianity and the Nature Religions
(largely created by Christians.)
It takes much universal love not to strike back when attacked, and
occasionally a Pagan might seem bitter or afraid as the result of
anti-Pagan treatment. This is only a personal reaction, not a
characteristic of the religion itself.
It is also true that Wiccans and Pagans have suffered dismissal from
jobs and worse simply from their religious affiliation being revealed.
Events like these lead to a certain caution and sometimes even an
attitude approaching mild paranoia.
11. WHO IS IN CHARGE OF PAGANISM?
Each person is in charge of him or herself, responsible totally to
Godd/ess. One might hear an individual called High Priestess, or Priest,
but this title has more to do with the role played in ceremonies than
with status in any formal hierarchy.
Groves and teaching groups sometimes have various levels of initiation,
but again, these are individual to each tradition.
12. WHAT MAKES WICCA DIFFERENT FROM OTHER PATHS THAT BELIEVE IN
We usually find that people most often comment on the robes and the
tools. Traditionally we wear special garments while engaging in
devotions, as a male Jew wears prayer shawl and skullcap. The garments
have symbolisms, and stand for beliefs of the person wearing them.
The tools are: a cup, knife, staff (or wand), and the pentacle, a
5-pointed star with 5th point (upward or downward), enclosed in a circle.
For those familiar with the tarot cards, this was the original source of
the tarot suits as well as many meanings and symbolisms in the tarot
13. WHAT IS DONE WITH THE TOOLS?
They are used, along with other objects, like candles, bells, and
incense to focus energies and influence Universal forces with our
prayers. If the format reminds you of Roman Catholic mass, that's
because much of the indigenous Nature Religion's mysteries were
`adopted' when Christianity moved into Northern Europe -- into England,
Scotland, Ireland and Scandinavia ... the lands of the Celts.
Also, if the tools and concepts seem to resemble elements in
Rosicrucianism, the Caballa, and the Masonic Temple, it is because the
latter paths drew and adopted Pagan rituals and forms for other uses.
Since ours was an oral tradition we gratefully acknowledge the role
these organizations played in bringing to modern times knowledge and
insights which have otherwise been lost.
Here's a bit of trivia: Although the Founding Fathers of the U.S.A.
generally held indifferent attitudes about Christianity they were all
thirty-third degree Masons. Obviously they sought to incorporate their
high ideals into writing our first constitution. This odd fact explains
to some people why fundamentalist Christians and the constitution
occasionally seem to be at cross-purposes.
14. HOW LARGE IS THE RELIGION?
Since Wicca, or Paganism, is an alternative religion uninterested in
power or clout, we measure our `size' usually only by spiritual growth.
There is a national newspaper published quarterly by which many Pagans
keep in touch.
See the Directory* at the end of this booklet for contacts in the
Sunbelt, and for persons who provide goods or services of interest to
15. WHAT ABOUT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY?
That's magick, too! Craft practitioners of old WERE the scientists ...
there was need for healers and herbalists, agriculture and astronomy
experts. The scientific method has now made teaching these subjects
respectable in universities. But in the process we have lost the lore's
former integration of the spiritual relationship between God Expressed
As Nature and ourselves.
Many of us are scientifically trained and hold technological jobs and
interests. This does not interfere with but only adds to a desire for
ritual celebration and union with Godd/ess. Also many of us are
ourselves practicing psychics, or are interested in extrasensory
perception (ESP) and its uses. Paganism makes available a philosophical
structure for all of these ends utilized effectively for millennia.
It urges individuals to develop their personal powers within that
structure and to use them thereafter in a responsible way.
16. THAT'S SOMETHING ELSE: WHY DON'T I EVER HEAR OR READ ABOUT PAGAN
CHARITIES OR GOOD WORKS?
Good news makes terrible press. News media and supermarket tabloids
would much rather print scandal and controversy. How many times have you
seen a headline that attributed a person's conduct to his/her belief in
Witchcraft? Do you ever see the same types of stories about Moslems,
Jews or Christians?
In addition, organized charity can only be accomplished under certain
forms of organized religious structures. That takes leadership,
delegation of powers, community resources and accumulation of money and
We focus instead on personal responsibility and the necessity of
reflecting Godd/ess in our characters and lives. Occasionally persons in
the Craft will join together to change a situation or to help someone,
but this is always done quietly and with the full knowledge and
permission of those for whom the help of change in requested. It is
always done without taking public credit. We feel that Godd/ess knows,
and that is all we need.
17. HOW CAN WE SUM THIS UP IN A FEW WORDS?
Wicca, a branch of the spiritual movement called Neopaganism (or
Paganism) is primarily a religion of personal, mystical relationshipbetween the Universal Mind as expressed in Nature and the individual. It
believes in Magick, or positive change wrought by prayer and ceremonial
ritual. It brings its practitioners the joy of union and harmony with
Godd/ess as expressed in Nature as well as fellowship with other persons
who are on similar paths. Personal responsibility and growth are
stressed, dogma and rigid beliefs are discouraged.
MAY GODD/ESS SPEAK TO YOU
IN THE VOICE YOU HEAR BEST.
* EDITORIAL NOTE: The Directory referred to in the text has been
stored as a separate file. Please ask for it if you do not find
it on the bulletin board where you find this electronic form of
the booklet WICCA.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank