I will occasionally use the word “Wicca” in my diary. Due to the state of affairs in the world, I figured I should probably make it clear what I mean when I say this word. You see, I don’t use the word as it’s generally used in the general Pagan community. In fact, if you hear my say “Wicca” and you immediately start thinking about anything that’s been written in a book published by Llewellyn or a similar author, you’re on the wrong page. For that reason, I would like to give my explanation of what I mean when I say “Wicca” so we all stay on the same page when reading my diary.
I believe that Wicca is an Oathbound (that means it involves solemn vows which include vows to keep certain secrets), initiatory (“only a Witch can make a Witch”), mystery (the core of the religion must be experienced through ecstatic revelation rather than academically believed) religion that originated in the New Forest region of England. The Wicca (which is the collective term used to refer to all initiates of this religion) are those people who can trace their initiatory lineage back to that region (usually through Sybil Leek or Gerald Gardner).
Anything else may be a form of witchcraft (after all, there are other forms of witchcraft than Wicca). It certainly might be Paganism. But it is not Wicca. Silver Ravenwolf is not Wicca. Scott Cunningham was a Wiccan initiate, but his books are not about Wicca. They are about Paganism and witchcraft. And they have some great gems of insight in them. His “Guide for the Solitary Practitioner” was the first Pagan book I ever read and I still cherish where it brought me. But what it described has some remarkable difference from the Wicca I’m coming to discover and love.
I think it would also be good to point out that by my own definition, I’m not one of the Wicca. It’s my goal to eventually develop the necessary bonds with a coven and become an initiate, and I believe it will happen in the gods’ good time. But for now, I’m content to be a generic, non-Wiccan witch. (I bring this up just to hopefully mitigate the accusations of “elitist bastard” that will be coming my way.) Because of this, I try to be very careful when I talk about Wicca. Because I am speaking as an outsider. An outsider that’s trying to get on the inside, but an outsider nonetheless. As such, my statements about Wicca — while as accurate as I can make them in my careful research — should not be considered entirely authoritative. (They will also be apt to change as I get my butt kicked by the gods and/or those who are initiates and I learn my errors. Ah the joy of learning a path!)
For those who wish to know what Wicca is — and to get a close idea of how it differs from the Neo-Wicca that many authors write about these days — I would encourage you to pick up a copy of Gerald Gardner’s two books. They are “Witchcraft Today” and “The Meaning of Witchcraft.” These two books tell a lot about the Craft of the New Forest region than most other books combined. (I particularly encourage people to note Gardner’s descriptions and discussions of the God of Wicca and compare it to what most modern authors have to say. I sincerely believe that a careful reading of this will demonstrate one of the largest differences between Wicca and Neo-Wicca.) Another book I’d recommend is Vivianne Crowley’s “Wicca: The Old Religion in the New Millennium.” She’s written a delightful book on Wiccan ritual. In her writings, her education in psychology really shines through.
Now, I’m not going to argue with people who call themselves Wicca despite not meeting my definition. My intent is not to invalidate anyone’s beliefs (though I find myself wondering how calling one’s beliefs by a name that doesn’t fit in my opinion serves to “validate” those beliefs” anyway.) And I’m not here to start playing the “definition police.” However, this is my diary, and as such, I intend to use words as I understand them. And as such, I felt it important to make it clear what I mean when I talk about Wicca.