The word Witchcraft” dates back many hundreds of years and means literally “The craft of the wise.” This is because the Witches of old were the wise ones of their village, knowledgeable in the art of healing, legal matters, and spiritual fulfillment. A Witch had to not only be a religious leader but also the doctor, lawyer, and psychologist of the village. Today, people have reclaimed this word in their pursuit of the Wiccan religion.
A Witch is an initiate of Wicca, one who has earned the right to call themselves Priest or Priestess through study, self-evaluation, and spiritual living. Wicca itself is an attempt to recreate European shamanistic nature religion, adapting it to fit our modern lives. Witches are worshippers of the Earth and its many cycles. We believe that deity is not only found outside our realm or plane of existence but also within every living thing and all that supports it.
Therefore, we attempt to live in harmony with the Earth and each of its creatures. Wiccans tend to involve themselves with ecological pursuits. Wiccans observe the holidays of Pagan Europe: eight festivals spaced evenly about the wheel of the year, at the quarters (equinoxes and solstices) and the cross-quarters (midpoints between the equinoxes and solstices). They are called Yule (Dec 21), Imbolc (Feb 2), Lady Day (March 21), Beltane (May 1), Midsummer (June 21), Lughnasadh (Aug 1), Mabon (Sept 21), and Samhain (Oct 31).
Actual dates vary slightly from year to year as they are based on actual celestial events. Many Wiccans also celebrate the Full Moon, of which we have 13 per year. The basis for Wiccans’ moral conduct is found in the statement An Ye Harm None, Do What Thou Wilt.” This is a mock archaic phrase suggesting that any behavior that harms none is morally acceptable. Harm is defined by anything that takes away or works against an individual’s free will. It is impossible to exist or even cease to exist without causing harm, so Wiccans look to fulfill this as closely as possible.
A Wiccan attempts to make choices based on what will cause the least harm and promote the greatest overall positive effect. Wicca teaches self-discipline, personal responsibility, kinship with our planet and its creatures, open-mindedness, and the virtues of diversity. Wiccans do not proselytize, as we believe that each must find the path that is right for them, and that all religions are different paths to the same truths. We draw our beliefs and practices from our own experiences and that of others, understanding that age does not make a religion any more valid, nor does political support, numbers of followers, or material holdings of its temple.
Religion is a very personal thing, one which can only be validated by the experience of the individual. Wicca provides a link for those who follow similar paths to share their experiences.