Much confusion reigns about what constitutes the religion (or more properly the spiritual path) of Wicca. As the younger sister of Witchcraft, in popular thinking Wicca is still burdened with all the negative crap that the Abrahamic faiths loaded onto it so that they could use their Eternal Trinity, their three favorite sheep-controlling methods (guilt, shame, and fear) to increase their congregations.
In fact, today’s Wicca has two main ingredients:
1) From the elder sister it inherited rituals that were directed toward what is loosely called cosmic maintenance. That is, people prayed to maintain the cycle of nature and to ensure that (for example) the sun would rise predictably and the volcano wouldn’t destroy the worshipers. When people moved from the gatherer-hunter mode to settled communities, a period called the Axial Age began, tentatively dated as 800 BCE. (We use the terminology gatherer-hunter because most of the tribe’s nutrients came from gathering done by women.)
2) During the Axial Age, thoughts turned more toward attempts to understand self and spirituality. Questions arose such as:
Why are we here? and
What happens after “death”? and
What is god?
Rituals now began to concentrate on keeping the juju happy and benevolent. To do this, the maximum possible number of adherents had to praise the particular juju favored by the local priesthood and submit to the juju’s will as spelled out by the priesthood.
Wicca blends pre-Axial- and post-Axial-Age thoughts. It does cosmic-maintenance rituals as well as rituals aimed at understanding the reality of self and spirit. Today with the Green movement, many people are turning back to thoughts of cosmic maintenance; thus Wiccans find themselves at the forefront of religious and spiritual thought.
Blessed be Gavin and Yvonne