The Wicca religion is a modern Pagan religion where followers engage in practices like witchcraft and worship. It is based on pre-Christian traditions of northern and western Europe. The origin of the Wicca religion can be traced back to the year 1884-1964 when Gerald Broussea Gardner, a British civil servant started it. During his career in Asia, he became familiar with different occult beliefs and magical practices. He founded a new movement after returning to England and become involved in the reverence of nature, the practice of magic and worshipping a goddess. He adopted practice from the western witchcraft traditions. He developed his first group of followers and with certain input from others, the modern witchcraft known as Wicca in the modern world. The religion spread widely in the United States when the search for a new traditional religion was in the process. This religion continuously stresses the significance of feminism and gender equality. Other important elements of Wiccan practice are magic, ritual and divination terms together as witchcraft.
The Wiccan community have a set of common beliefs and practices. They believe in the Goddess, hold polytheistic views and respect nature. The ethical code of the Wiccan religion is that if it harms none, do as you will. The Wiccans engage in meditation and take part in rituals throughout the year. It celebrates the new and the full moon, Halloween and the summer solstice. It invokes the deities and practices ceremonial magic. They believe in sharing a ritual meal. The country linked to the Wiccan religion is that their followers call themselves witches and the people with western identify or link it with Satanism. However, the Wiccans continuously deny connections with the Satan. The Wiccans attempts to establish ties with other polytheistic religion communities.
The Wiccan community gradually increased in numbers and by the year 1980s, an estimated 50, 000 Wiccans were present in Western Europe. However, the growth rate decreased by the end of the decade. The Wicca community again started gaining social acceptance and their teachings and rituals changed drastically, gardnerians set new Wiccan group independent, among which one was led by Alexander Sanders from 1926-1988. Wicca was regarded as a women religion by Dianic Wiccan and the Neo-Pagan movement, who also worshipped the Goddess and worked out several practices like witchcraft but avoided the witch designation. In 1960s and 1970s a major controversy broke out in the United States , when a group of Wiccan broke against the Gardner’s law of magical working inhibited by clothes and the Wiccans chose not to follow his law of worshipping in the nude. In contrast, they believed in wearing the ritual robes and called themselves as Traditionalists.
When the second generation of Wiccans entered the religion, they believed that they had a set of witchcraft rituals and practices that is constantly passed on with tradition. In support the belief, they identified that Wicca began with Gardner and his associates. Thus, on the whole Wicca and witchcraft is often linked to one another. Wicca is a minority religion and they are part of the large contemporary pagan movement. The pagans link their practices to pre-Christian religions and cultures. The religion grew sometimes by leaps and bounds. It is estimated that around 1.5 million must be existing in the U.S.
The pre-Christian European religions was a religion that existed throughout the Europe for thousands of years. The Europeans should have been lost to history. During that time, the Greco-Roman polytheistic tradition was well recorded and the Nordic religion was documented by Icelandic historians in the first centuries. Some of the glimpses of polytheistic practices has been offered in the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf. The majority of information related to pre-Christian religion came from archaeology.
There was a time when complete loss of interest in the Wiccan religion was found. The early twentieth century authors such as Robert Graves and Margaret Murray played a role in the renewal of interest in neo-paganism. Gerald B. Gardner played a crucial role in popularizing movement by declaring himself a witch. In 1962, The Gardnerian witchcraft was also disseminated by his two students namely Raymond and Rosemary Buckland. As the Wiccan religion is focused on nature, they are mostly vegetarian out of respect. However, followers have personal choice and there is no force in following non-vegetarian options. In the area of medical and health requirements, there are no medical restrictions in the Wiccan religion. Mostly Wiccans engage in spiritual and psychic healing. They also have the belief that the healing energy can be sent over long distances. Unlike other religions, there is no sacred text for Wicca religion. Mostly, one of the book written by Gardner called the Book of Shadows contains religious texts and instruction linked to the religion. Different cohens came up with the Book of Shadows for their members. Each of these books is distinct and separate from one another.
The Wiccan religion follow specific traditions too. The first step is the rebirth of a person as a Wiccan followed by the adaptation of a new name. A new baby is also welcomed into the Viccan craft. In case of death of any Wiccan, funeral ceremony is necessary. The coven acts as the godparents of Wiccan children. The moral code of Wicca is known as the Wicccan Rede and it means ‘If it harms none, do what you will’. In this religion, daily prayers are not required. The Wiccan tend to worship together in groups. There are a very small group which worship in nude. However, there are large numbers of Wiccans who are completely covered during worship. Due to their celebration of the nature, the Wiccans celebrates 8 types of festivals to celebrate different seasonal variations of nature. Examples of these festivals were Imbolc, Ostara, Litha, Lunasa, Mabon, Beltane and Yule. There are some covens and traditions who try to meet at each full moon or again at a new moon. However, there is no specific dress requirement for the Wiccan followers.
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