|England, they began to read books on the Craft and eventually to correspond with Gardner. They
traveled to the Isle of Man a number of times and were fully initiated, then began to form covens in the
Gardnerians worship the Mother Goddess and also the Horned God, symbols of the basic male/female
polarity of all nature. They seek the balance within themselves, and with their environment. Worship is
often done in pairs, masculine and feminine, and the power which is produced by magical ritual is
directed by the High Priestess for its desired purpose. While devotion to the Wiccan deities is the main
coven activity, magic, the control and use of natural cosmic forces which emanate from the human mind
and body, is the secondary activity of the coven. It is done for healing and for aiding members in various
endeavors. Most Witches believe in reincarnation; i.e., that the soul or spirit of the individual will
progress through a number of subsequent Earthly lives as it evolves. Retribution for acts in this life will
be returned threefold, good or evil, in this life. A reincarnated spirit starts afresh.
Contrary to popular media representations, the Wiccan neither worships nor believes in "the Devil,"
"Satan," or any other similar entities. They point out that "Satan" is a belief associated with the Judaeo
Christian Tradition, while the Wiccan beliefs are based upon a pagan mythos which predates the Judaeo
One book used by Gardnerian Wicca is authoritative: The book of Shadows, or book of ritual. In the
Gardnerian tradition, these are hand copied from High Priestess to High Priestess. Each High Priestess
then shares the information with her coven. They are part of the traditional teachings of the Craft, and
are available only to initiates. From coven to coven, the rituals vary slightly. The Gardnerian tradition is
an evolved and evolving tradition. Hence, each coven will start with the materials passed on to its High
Priestess, and then experiment with new emphases, magical formulas and rituals. The books of Janet and
Stewart Farrar (Eight Sabbats for Witches, The Witches' Way, The Witches' Goddess, and The Witches'
God) are the best currently available sources on Traditional Wicca. For eclectic Wicca, the best source is
Star hawk's The Spiral Dance. Margot Adler's Drawing~ Down the Moon is a useful survey of the
larger neo Pagan movement.
PRACTICES AND BEHAVIORAL STANDARDS:
Gardnerian Witches live by the Wiccan Rede: "An Ye Harm None, Do As Ye Will." Within this general
concept is the Law of Retribution, by which witches can expect to receive threefold return on their
Social forces generally do not yet allow witches to publicly declare their religious faith without fear of
reprisals such as loss of job, ridicule, etc. Rituals, many teachings, and even acknowledgement of
affiliation with the Craft are generally not discussed with non initiates. Ritual instruments are generally
hidden and protected.
Eight sabbats, or festivals, important for witches to gather and attune themselves to natural rhythms
and forces as the seasons change, are followed: February Eve (January 31), Spring Equinox (March 21),
Beltane or May Eve(April 30), Summer Solstice or Midsummer (June 22), Lammas (July 31), Autumn
Equinox (September 21), Samhain (October 31) and Yule or Winter Solstice (December 21).
Each coven is autonomous, headed by a High Priestess and her High Priest. Covens vary in size from
approximately 8 to 14 members. The High Priestess heads the coven. The High Priestess who trained her
is recognized as a Queen to whom she can turn for counsel and advice, thus maintaining a lineage of
High Priestesses throughout Gardnerian Wicca. Members pass through three initiations, each of which is
normally at least a year and a day apart.
ROLE OF MINISTERS:
The High Priestess and her High Priest are responsible for coven activities, serving both as leaders in the
rituals and as teachers for coven members. A High Priestess, or a woman she has delegated, can cast a
Wiccans usually worship as a group. Individual worship is possible, but not generally practiced.
Worship takes place in a private location in which a circle can be drawn according to prescribed ritual
formulas. Covens meet either weekly or bi weekly (at the full and new moon), always in the evening.
Worship in some (but not all) groups occurs in the nude.
Minimum items for worship include an athame (ritual knife), a bowl of water, a censer with incense, salt,
an altar and 6 candles in candlesticks. A sword and pentacle (talisman) are optional. All tools must be
ritually consecrated by a High Priestess.
DIETARY LAWS OR RESTRICTIONS:
FUNERAL AND BURIAL REQUIREMENTS:
None. Recognition of the death of a coven member takes place in the coven, apart from the "body" of the
deceased. Ritual tools or material found among the remains of the deceased should be immediately
returned to members of the coven. It is not necessary for a priest or priestess to be present at the time of
No restrictions, but Wiccans may want co-religionists to do healing rituals in the hospital in tandem
with medical treatment. So members of patient's Circle should be permitted ICU visits as though they
were immediate family.
With respect to attitude toward service in the armed forces, members include the full range from career
military personnel to conscientious objectors.
Wicca is open toward other faiths, recognizing that the Principles of the Great Mother appears in a
great many faiths under various names and symbolisms. Because of the persecutions of past years,
Wiccans take a guarded relation to groups which claim to possess "The Truth" or to be the "Only Way."
Wicca is only one path among many, and is not for everyone. Members are encouraged to learn about all
faiths, and are permitted to attend services of other faiths, should they desire to do so.
GENERAL SOURCE BOOKS:
Margot Adler. Drawing Down the Moon. Boston: Beacon Press, 2nd, ed., 1986. 595pp.
Janet and Stewart Farrar. Eight Sabbats for Witches. London: Robert Hale, 1981. 192pp.
The Witches' Way. London: Robert Hale, 1984. 349pp.
The Witches' Goddess. Custer,WA: Phoenix Publishing,1987. 319pp.
The Witches' God. Custer, WA: Phoenix, 1989. 278pp.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
1781 Riverside Drive, #3H
New York, NY 10034
|Black Rose Spiritual Center, Inc : Belief Systems
c/o Lady Rhiannon
New York. NY 10150
OTHER NAMES BY WHICH KNOWN:
Witchcraft; Paganism; Neo Paganism
No formal leader
Witchcraft or Wicca is a reconstruction of the Old Religion, the tribal
worship of ancient peoples based in magic, herbology, healing, and the
worship (primarily) of the Mother Goddess and (secondarily) her consort,
the Horned God. Witches believe they have existed throughout known
history in many parts of the world. The term "witch," more properly
"wicca," comes from the Anglo Saxon word for "wise." Wicca's marked
revival in the 14th Century is due largely to the work of such scholars as
Margaret A. Murray, who traced the existence of the Old Pagan Religion
in pre historic Europe. At the forefront of this revival was Gerald
Gardner, the famous witch of the Isle of Man.
After years in the East, Gardner returned to England in the 1930s,
located a Wicca group, and was initiated by "Old Dorothy" Clutterbuck.
He participated in the "Operation Cone of Power" during World War II,
in which English witches joined their magical energies with the prayers
of all other religious groups to turn back Hitler's invasion of England.
In 1949, he published High Magic's Aid, a novel about Medieval Wicca
based on his growing knowledge of 14th Century Witchcraft. After
repeal of the last anti Witchcraft law in Britain in 1951, Gardner
became publicly prominent. He opened a Museum of Witchcraft on the
Isle of Man, and in 1954 published Witchcraft Today in which he
attacked the idea that Wicca was the worship of Satan and declared
himself a witch, devoted to the Mother Goddess. As a result, many
witches associated with him and other people contacted him to join the
Craft. Those who associated with Gardner, who shared his views of
Wicca, and who started to use the rituals he used have come to be called
Gardnerian witchcraft was brought to the U.S. by Lady Rowena and
her High Priest Robat from England in 1962. Raised in the Church of