Wicca 101 / FAQ
or what do you worship?
Wiccans generally worship two gods, a god and a goddess. However, the
identities of these deities vary from group to group and even Wiccan to
Wiccan, which causes no small amount of frustration in non-Wiccans trying
to understand us. In monotheistic religions (Christianity, Judaism and
Islam), the deity’s identity is of prime importance because these faiths
generally hold that their god is the only god.
As polytheists, however,
we recognize the existence or possible existence of many gods, although
we’re certainly not expected to worship all of them. (The polytheistic
religion of Hinduism, for example, recognizes millions of gods. Imagine
trying to personally honor all of them!) So while each of us has specific
patron gods, our beliefs are not challenged by the fact that other people,
even other Wiccans, are following other deities.
Wicca can be divided
into two branches: Traditional and Eclectic. Traditional Wiccans worship
in small groups called covens, which are dedicated to a specific god and
goddess. Teachers within the coven teach new initiates about these deities.
Eclectics are most often solitary in their practices and follow whatever
god and goddess call them to service. Many times these are deities previously
followed by historical cultures such as Isis, Diana, and Apollo. Other
times it is deities whose identities are unique or nearly unique to Wicca.
Still others are devoted modern interpretation of historical figures.
does an Eclectic know which deities to follow?
Most serious Eclectics will tell you that their gods found them, not the
other way around. Some stories are dramatic, but many are not. For me
personally, it came in small stages. First was the sense that someone
was there for me. Over time I started to identify more distinct qualities
about them, and eventually I learned names for them. This process may
be totally separate from whom a Wiccan might simply like or identify with.
Throughout childhood, for example, I was always fascinated with the Greek
goddess Athena when we studied mythology in school. I liked what she stood
for, and I still do, but she is not who called me. Spiritually speaking,
there is no connection between Athena and me at all.
child has mentioned “the God” and “the Goddess.” Who are they?
Some Wiccans believe that all of the polytheistic gods are aspects of
one god and all goddesses are aspects of one goddess. These two beings
are addressed as God and Goddess just as the Christian god is commonly
addressed as God. For a variety of reasons, this view has become widely
popular in Eclectic Wiccan literature, giving many the erroneous impression
that it is the only view of deity that Wiccans have.
are the Horned God and the Triple Goddess?
Traditional Wiccans keep the names of their deities a secret to the wider
world. However, when publicly speaking or writing about Wicca, they often
describe those gods as the Horned God and the Triple Goddess. These are
descriptions specific to the gods of the Traditionalists which have also
been adopted as names for deities by some Eclectics. The Horned God is
generally depicted with horns or antlers springing from his head. He represents
both hunter and hunted and rules the winter, when food traditionally could
only be gathered by hunting. He is also lord of the underworld.
The Triple Goddess
is strongly associated with the moon, with the waxing, full and waning
moon phases associated with her aspects of Maid, Mother and Crone. She
is also tied to the earth and agriculture and rules summer, when the land
is in bloom and can provide sustenance.
are nature spirits and do you worship them?
“Nature spirits” is a very vague term. To me the term suggests localized
entities such as something that resides in a specific tree, rock or river.
Some Wiccans believe in them and some don’t. Those who do believe in them
may interact with them and show respect toward them, but neither of these
actions equate to worship. (After all, I interact with and show respect
toward my parents, but no one has suggested that I am worshipping them
by doing so!) The term might also be referring to elementals, non-corporeal
creatures composed entirely of one of the four elements (Fire, Air, Water
or Earth). Again, some Wiccans work with them, particularly in circle
casting, but they not worshipped. In fact, elementals are more often commanded
than asked to accomplish something.
you worship trees?
No. Trees are just physical shells. Worshipping a tree would make no more
or less sense than worshipping a toaster. (We don’t do that either, just
to be clear.)
you worship “nature,” and if so, how is that not worshipping trees?
Our culture thinks of nature as merely being those things that have not
been created by man. When we talk of getting “back to nature” we usually
mean doing away with some modern conveniences and spending time appreciating
trees, rivers, and clean air.
What we can see and
touch and smell, however, is just the outer shell of something greater.
Nature has a spirit and/or soul as well as a body: there is a spiritual
essence residing within the physical shell.
Many of us also hold
a much wider view of nature. Nature is all that occurs naturally, which
is everything: the planet, the stars, and universe. The motions of all
these things ultimately come from the will of the gods. The connection
between physical nature and the gods is intimate: the gods did not just
create the universe, step back and observe but continue to reside and
work within it.
So while some Wiccans
speak of nature as a goddess, they are ultimately speaking of a powerful
spiritual being, not trees.
heard that your god and goddess represent a dualistic view of the world.
Doesn’t that mean one of them is evil?
The most known dualistic worldview is Gnosticism, which historically held
that there were two great powers in the universe: one was material and
entirely evil, while the other was spiritual and entirely good. Christianity
certainly possesses shades of this theology even though it ultimately
rejected Gnosticism as a whole.
views differ sharply from this outlook in two ways. First, while the universe
is composed of opposites, those opposites work together to make a whole.
The Gnostic view pits good and evil, spiritual and material at odds with
each other. Where one existed the other could not. In Wicca, both halves
are both desirable and necessary. Spiritual and material work together.
Lack either part would leave the world incomplete. Likewise, creation
comes from destruction and vice versa. The species needs both male and
female to survive, and each of us carries some part of both.