In 1973, an independent group known as the American Council of Witches or sometimes the Council of American Witches was found. In 1974, during their Spring Witchmeet they set out certain principles of belief, entitled the "Principles of Wiccan Belief".
These principles were also incorporated into the United States Army's Religious Requirements and Practices of Certain Selected Groups: A Handbook for Chaplains in the section on Wiccan Religion in 1978.
The Principles of Wiccan Belief, as set out by the American Council of Witches,1974:
"The Council of American Witches find it necessary to define modern Witchcraft in terms of the American experience and needs.
We are not bound by traditions from other times and other cultures, and owe no allegiance to any person or power greater than the Divinity manifest through our own being.
As American Witches, we welcome and respect all life-affirming teachings and traditions, and seek to learn from all and to share our learning within our Council.
It is in this spirit of welcome and cooperation that we adopt these few principles of Wiccan belief. In seeking to be inclusive, we do not wish to open ourselves to the destruction of our group by those on self-serving power trips, or to philosophies and practices contradictory to these principles. In seeking to exclude those whose ways are contradictory to ours, we do not want to deny participation with us to any who are sincerely interested in our knowledge and beliefs, regardless of race, color, sex, age, national or cultural origins or sexual preference.
We therefore ask only that those who seek to identify with us accept these few basic principles:
We practice rites to attune ourselves with the natural rhythm of life forces marked by the phases of the moon and the seasonal quarters and cross-quarters.
We recognize that our intelligence gives us a unique responsibility toward our environment. We seek to live in harmony with Nature, in ecological balance offering fulfillment to life and consciousness within an evolutionary concept.
We acknowledge a depth of power far greater than is apparent to the average person. Because is it far greater than ordinary, it is sometimes called Supernatural, but we see it as lying within that which is naturally potential to all.
We conceive of the Creative Power in the universe as manifesting through polarity-as masculine and feminine-and that this same creative Power lives in all people, and functions through the interaction of the masculine and feminine. We value neither above the other, knowing each to be supportive of the other. We value sexuality as pleasure, as the symbol and embodiment of Life, and as one of the sources of energies used in magickal practice and religious worship.
We recognize both outer worlds and inner, or psychological worlds-sometimes known as the Spiritual World, the Collective Unconscious, the Inner Planes, etc.-and we see in the interaction of these two dimensions the basis for paranormal phenomena and magickal exercises. We neglect neither dimension for the other, seeing both as necessary for our fulfillment.
We do not recognize any authoritarian hierarchy, but do honor those who teach, respect those who share their greater knowledge and wisdom, and acknowledge those who have courageously given of themselves in leadership.
We see religion, magick, and wisdom-in-living as being united in the way one views the world and lives within it-a world view and philosophy of life, which we identify as Witchcraft or the Wiccan Way.
Calling oneself Witch does not make a Witch-but neither does heredity itself, or the collecting of titles, degrees and initiations. A Witch seeks to control the forces within him/herself that make life possible in order to live wisely and well, without harm to others, and in harmony with Nature.
We acknowledge that is it the affirmation and fulfillment of life, in a continuation of evolution and development of consciousness, that gives meaning to the universe we know, and to our personal role within it.
Our only animosity toward Christianity, or toward any other religion or philosophy-of-life, is to the extent that its institutions have claimed to be the one true right and only way and have sought to deny freedom to others and to suppress other ways of religious practices and belief.
As American Witches, we are not threatened by debates on the history of the Craft, the origins of various terms, the legitimacy of various aspects of different traditions. We are concerned with our present, and our future.
We do not accept the concept of absolute evil, nor do we worship any entity known as Satan or the Devil as defined by Christian Tradition. We do not seek power through the suffering of others, nor do we accept the concept that personal benefits can only be derived by denial to another.
We work within Nature for that which is contributory to our health and well-being."
To state these principles more simply one can say that:
The purpose of this text is to "define modern Witchcraft". Modern witches "are not bound by Traditions of any other times or any other cultures". Modern Witches don't owe allegiance to any entity other than those who manifest through us. Modern witches "welcome and respect all life-affirming teachings" and "seek to learn" these teachings from all so that we may share it amongst ourselves. By allowing people to know us and our practices, we do not wish to bring forth our own destruction. By excluding those whose practices are contradictory to ours, we do not "deny participation to any who is sincerely interested". We do not discriminate on any grounds including "race, color, sex, age, national or cultural origins or sexual preference".
Through Esbats and Sabbats, we "attune ourselves" with nature. We realize that our knowledge and our information places a duty on us "toward our environment". "We seek to live in harmony with nature" in a balanced ecological environment finding peace and joy in life and in mind whilst evolving. "We acknowledge" powers in and around us, that many may call "supernatural" but which is actually "naturally potential to all". The "Creative Power in the universe" manifests in masculine and feminine. Everyone and all things share both masculine and feminine energy, which "functions through [this] interaction". Neither is above the other, as we know that each is "supportive" and dependent on the other. "Sexuality" is pleasure, it is the "symbol and embodiment of Life" as well "as one of the sources of energies" used in witchcraft and "religious worship". We recognize different worlds, realms or dimensions, regardless of what they are called, and through the interactions of these worlds we see "the basis for paranormal phenomena and magickal exercises". We don't neglect one dimension or realm for the other, as we know that all are "necessary for our fulfillment". We don't recognize or adhere to "any authoritarian hierarchy". We simple respect those who teach, and share knowledge. We are grateful for those who give "of themselves in leadership". "We see religion, magick, and wisdom-in-living" as a philosophy of life, which is "identif [ied] as Witchcraft or the Wiccan Way".
- "Calling oneself "Witch" does not" make you a witch. But neither does "heredity itself, or the collecting of titles, degrees and initiations". A witch merely seeks to control him/herself in order to live wisely, without harming anyone, and to be at peace and "in harmony with Nature".
- The acknowledgement and enjoyment of life, within a continuous evolutionary and developmental process, "gives meaning to the universe we know, and to our personal role [s] within it".
- Our only bitterness to "Christianity or toward any other religion or philosophy-of-life" is only to the extent that they or their institutions claim to be "the one true right and only way" and where they "have sought to deny" freedom of religion to others.
- "We are not threatened by debates on the history of the Craft, the origins of various terms, [or] the legitimacy of various aspects of different traditions". We worry only about "our present, and our future".
- We don't believe or accept "the concept of "absolute evil," nor do we worship [or acknowledge] any entity known as "Satan" or "the Devil" [or any other name] as defined by Christian [s] ". We don't believe that we will benefit through the "suffering of others", nor do we believe that we will gain "personal benefits" through the denial thereof "to another".
- "We work within Nature for that which is" beneficial to "our health and well-being".
Even though the Council of American Witches disbanded in 1974, their principles of belief are still very important. They have been used by many since, and will still be used by thousands in the future. They are ethically, morally and within our communities socially just. If you are ever in a situation, where you are unsure what to do, read these principles, as they may provide you with guidance. Read these at least once every year, and reaffirm there principles of belief. Blessings!! :D
- To Ride A Silver Broomstick by Silver Ravenwolf
All information contained within quotation marks, is that which has been set out by the American Council of Witches in 1974 in their "Principles of Wiccan Belief". Other information given is my own opinion and merely an attempt to simplify the Principles of Wiccan Belief. This is not intended to infringe the rights of any others, but merely to educate others and to create awareness.
Note from me:
I hope you enjoyed reading this, and I wish all on their Wiccan path the very best :D Blessings!