By Scire 1995©
The word "Witchcraft" dates back many hundreds of years and means literaly "The craft of the wise". This is because the Witches of old were the wise ones of their village, knowledgable in the art of healing, legal matters, and spiritual fulfillment. A Witch had to not only be a religious leader, but also the doctor, lawyer and psychologist of the village.
Today, people have reclaimed this word in their pursuit of Wiccan religion. A Witch is an initiate of Wicca, one who has earned the right to call themselves Priest, or Priestess, through study, self evaluation, and spiritual living. Wicca itself, is an attempt to re-create European (mostly) Shamanistic Nature Religion, adapting it to fit our modern lives.
Witches are worshippers of the Earth and it's many cycles. We believe that deity is found not only outside of our realm, or plane of existance, but that it is found within every living thing and all that supports it. Therefore, we attempt to live in harmony with the Earth, and each of it's creatures. Wiccan tend to involve themselves with ecological pursuits.
Wiccans observe the holidays of Pagan Europe: Eight festivals spaced evenly about the wheel of the year, at the quarters (equinox's and solstices) and the cross-quarters (midpoints between the equinox's and solstices). They are called: Yule (Dec 21), Imbolc (Feb 2), Lady Day (March 21), Beltaine (May 1), Midsummer (June 21), Lughnassad (Aug 1), Mabon (Sept 21), and Samhain (Oct 31). Actual dates vary slightly from year to year, as they are based upon actual celestial events. Many Wiccans also celebrate the Full Moon, of which we have 13 per year.
The basis for Wiccan moral conduct is found in the statement; "An Ye Harm None, Do What Thou Wilt." This is a mock archaic phrase, suggesting that any behavior that harms none, is morally acceptable. Harm is here defined by anything that takes away, or works against an individual's free will. It is, of course, impossible to exist, or even cease to exist, without causing harm, so Wiccans look to fullfil this as closely as possible. A Wiccan attempts to make choices based on what will cause the least harm, and promote the greatest overall positive effect.
Wicca teaches self discipline, personal responsibility, kinship with our planet and its creatures, open-mindedness and the virtues of diversity. Wiccans do not proselytize, as we believe that each must find the path that is right for them, and that all religions are different paths to the same truths. We draw our beliefs and practices from our own experiences, and that of others, understanding that age does not make a religion any more valid, nor does political support, numbers of followers, or material holdings of it's temple. Religion is a very personal thing, one which can only be validated by the experiences of the individual. Wicca provides a link for those who follow similiar paths to share their experiences.
Essay Copyright 1995© by Scire. This article may be distributed freely, so long as this notice remains and the article is in no way edited from it's original form. No fee may be charged for the distribution of this article in any form.
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