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Myths About Wicca

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Forums -> Wicca -> Myths About Wicca

Myths About Wicca
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 1

Wicca is an ancient religion dating back to pre-Christian times.

This is one of the most common myths about Wicca that people will come across. The reason for this is partially the fault of the founder and of Margaret Murray, whom he based some of his work on, and partially the fault of certain non-Wiccan modern authors who perpetuate such myths. The truth of the matter is that whilst Wicca may well have roots in older pagan practices, it is not an old religion in and of itself. Wicca has roots in Celtic practices and seeks to provide links to the past whilst simultaneously standing solidly in the modern world. However, the vast majority of Wicca is rooted firmly in the Western Occult and Philosophy traditions, such as the Golden Dawn, Thelema and the OTO (Ordo Templi Orientis). Certain aspects of Wicca have also been taken from the Clavicular Salomonis (Key of Solomon) and The Goetia (The Lesser Key of Solomon).

So, in essence, despite the links to older pagan practices, Wicca is very much a new religion.

Wiccans Were Persecuted and Murdered During the Burning Times and the Inquisition.

This myth links in very well with the previous myth of the age of Wicca. Unfortunately, this is another myth that has been perpetuated by non-Wiccan authors who feel a need to validate the religion in some way by linking it to two very unfortunate historical events. The truth of the matter is that yes, there were people killed during the so-called burning times, however the figures of nine million that have been cited are no where near accurate. The figure is more likely between 50,000 to 100,000, which is still a horrific number of people. The second point to be made is that of these people, it would have been very unlikely that a single one of them was actually a practicing witch and definitely not a Wiccan (Wicca not being in existence at the time these events occurred).

We often hear the Inquisition cited as an attack by the Catholic Church against witches and pagans and that the Church has twisted history to hide this fact. This is simply not the case. The Inquisition was actually the Churchs attempt to quash the rise in what they considered to be heresy, and was essentially an event that occurred during a time of religious upheaval and uncertainty.

You dont need to practice witchcraft in order to be Wiccan.

This is a rather difficult one and depends on how one defines witchcraft. However, Wicca is a modern religion and thus it is sensible to apply the modern usage of the word witchcraft in relation to it. In this context it is impossible to say that you dont need to practice witchcraft in order to be Wiccan. Everyone practicing Wicca in its fullest sense will, at some point, cast a circle, call the elements and practice invocations. In that sense, they are practicing witchcraft, even if it is just a basic form. So, all Wiccans practice at least a basic form of witchcraft and how far they take it beyond that is up to the individual.

Wicca is whatever you want it to be.

This is simply not the case. There seems to be a great deal of misconception that Wicca lacks structure or organisation. Whilst it might not be up there with the major world religions in terms of organisation, it certainly has a definite structure with its own beliefs, practices and tenets and if a person is not following these things then they are not practicing Wicca. Simply put, Wicca has unfortunately become a catch-all term for any general pagan or Goddess-centric religion, thus detracting from all the things that Wicca actually is.

Wicca can be an eclectic practice

This is one of the more bizarre myths about Wicca. Consider the facts: Wicca is an initiatory mystery religion, which means that in order to practice the religion in the fullest sense (i.e. an experiential, coven based religion), one must be an initiated member of a coven. Now, consider that a non-initiate will have access only to the public teachings of Wicca and that they will be unable to practice the religion in the fullest sense and thus are not truly practicing Wicca. Now, further consider the idea that a person takes only those public teachings, removes what they dont like and combines the remainder with teachings from other paths and their own personal beliefs. Does this still resemble Wicca? It is unlikely that it does, and thus the concept of eclecticism in the context of Wicca, or indeed any religion, is somewhat ridiculous. This is not to say that eclecticism itself is impossible. It is perfectly possible to carve out your own religious path from whatever teachings work for you, but to claim it to be Wicca, or any other specific path is incorrect.

The Wiccan Rede is a law

The answer to this common myth is actually in the title. The word Rede is an Anglo-Saxon word meaning advice. If one were actually to follow the Rede as a law then it would be virtually impossible to live a normal life for fear of causing harm to anyone or anything. In my experience, I have known many people, particularly those following a Wicca-inspired pagan path, to have taken the Rede to be a law (often seen shortened to Harm None); however it is clear that such a law would be impossible to follow. It is therefore a more sensible approach to look at the Rede as a guideline and an ideal to strive for rather than a hard and fast rule. I like to think of it in terms of the bumpers you have down each side of a bowling alley. The ball may veer off course but the bumper helps it back on track. This is how I believe the Rede works: as a bumper to keep us from veering too far from our paths.

For the Rede to be considered a law, every single person would have to apply the same set of ideals and beliefs to themselves. The Rede is not a string of laws, commanding Do Not but rather a more positive way of thinking, giving freedom of personal morality rather than imposing a set of strict rules.

If Wicca is an Initiatory Religion Then Who Initiated the First Wiccan?

In all honesty, this has to be one of the most ridiculous arguments we hear against initiatory Wicca; and we hear it often. Asking this question is akin to asking who initiated the first Freemason or who ordained the first bishop. The straight answer to this question is that Gerald Gardner, the founder of the Wiccan religion initiated the first Wiccan. His concept for the religion was as an initiatory mystery religion and thus, his initiation of the first Wiccan began the tradition of initiation and the continuation and expansion of the line from him.

Aleister Crowley wrote Gardner's Book of Shadows and created Wicca.

While it is true that Gardner was certainly influenced by Crowley's work and the early Book of Shadows adapted some of Crowley's work, there is no evidence at all that demonstrates that anything in Wicca was ever directly created by Crowley.

Crowley and Gardner did meet and are reported to have enjoyed each other's company, but their meetings were few and their occult involvement centered around the desire for Gardner to head up a chapter house of Crowley's O.T.O. It was thought by some that Gardner would have been Crowley's successor, at least in Britain, however Gardner chose not to pursue such involvement with the O.T.O, instead coming to focus on Wicca.

Nothing in Crowley's private diaries ever suggests that Crowley had any connection to Wicca or that he ever discussed such things with Gardner.

The two men were merely acquainted briefly before Crowley died.

From Wicca Explained: http://www.wiccaexplained.350.com/mythsaboutwicca.htm

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Re: Myths About Wicca
By: Moderator / Adept
Post # 2
First class posting!
Another point is that there was (and is!) a "breakaway" style of Wicca, formulated by Alex Sanders, who was first initiated by Gardner, but disagreed on some of the finer points. So, from around the 1940s, there were two versions of Wica (one C originally), the Gardnerian and the Alexandrian. (From the city of Alexandia, not the name of Sanders!)_
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