“We should educate people that ‘Witch’ is not evil but ancient and positive. The first time I called myself a ‘Witch’ was the most magical moment of my life.”  –Margot Adler, Wiccan Priestess

Wicca, loosely defined, is a nature-based polytheistic faith that focuses on worship of a goddess figure. Wicca is an approach to life that focuses on harmony with others and the natural world, balance and oneness with self, all of the world and the divine. It is the appreciation of a sunrise, the nurturing of a tree, the kindness we show to others. Wicca is the attitude with which we approach situations and the respect we have for the forces of nature. It is a way of life.

I say loosely defined because there are literally thousands of ways to define Wicca. Each Wiccan defines the faith in terms of herself, so one person’s definition might differ from another’s. Neither is wrong, either. In addition to each self-identifying Wiccan’s description, there are more “standard” definitions, not all of which are accurate.

The New Oxford American Dictionary defines Wicca as follows:

n. the religious cult of modern witchcraft, esp. an initiatory tradition founded in England in the mid 20th century and claiming its origins in pre-Christian pagan religions.

This definition is inaccurate for a couple of reasons. One, Wicca is not a cult. It is a faith the same way Christianity or Islam is a way to believe. Second, Wicca and witchcraft are different. The two words are often considered interchangeable, but the truth is that they are two different practices that just happen to often be intertwined.

Dictionary.com’s definition:

–noun (sometimes initial capital letter) witchcraft, especially benevolent, nature-oriented practices derived from pre-Christian religions.

Again, this reflects a lack of understanding that witchcraft and Wicca are different, though at least we have acknowledged a few of the core values associated with Wicca.

What it comes down to, is that Wicca is what you need it to be, within certain parameters. Wiccans acknowledge the Rede (to be looked at in depth at a later date) as the main guide in practicing, and generally accept the three-fold law of karma (also to be looked at later.)

Next post: What Wicca isn’t.