FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Since the Universal Life Church in general, and the ULC Seminary specifically, welcomes and encourages people of all faiths, we have specifically tried to encourage the understanding of all religions. To that end, the Universal Life Church Seminary has provided these FAQs about other religions to facilitate greater understanding of others' beliefs. Below are some frequently asked questions about Wiccans.
These faq's are compliments of Lord Starwalker, an experienced Wiccan.
We have a course on Wicca available through the seminary
1. So......what exactly is Wicca? Wicca is an earth-based religion having the belief in two Dieties: The God and The Goddess. They also honor them in their many forms, such as Isis, Astarte, Demeter, Kali , Pan, Apollo, Zeus, Mercury, and so on. We believe that all in the world is holy. From the proud eagle, to a rock on a trail, to a butterfly, and even trees. It is a peaceful path, stressing that you should not only show respect for others, but for yourself and our earthly mother.
2. How long has Wicca been around?
The Wiccan religion, sometimes incorrectly called the old religion, is also often incorrectly known to many as "Witchcraft". However, Wicca was formed by Gerald Gardner in the 1950s and witchcraft is a secular practice separate from the Wiccan faith. Although some Wiccans are witches, not all witches are Wiccans. Some poorly researched sources will claim that Wicca has existed since pre-Christian times. This is not true, although Gerald Garden did draw inspiration from old religions (some pre-Christian and some not) such as the faiths of the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Celts. He also based some of Wicca on Hermeticism. There is also no such thing as “The Old Religion”. There was never one unified faith that practiced “one true way” of witchcraft in ancient times.
3. What is the basis of the Wiccan religion?
Wicca is a nature-based faith that requires initiation by other initiated members (such as a High Priestess or Priest) of of the chosen Wiccan tradition. Eclectic solitary practitioners of Wicca are called Neo-Wiccans and some traditional initiated practitioners, such as those who are members of British Traditional Wicca, do not consider Neo-Wiccans to be true Wiccans. Most Wiccans are concerned with preserving nature's beauty and trying to solve some of the present problems of pollution. Wiccans have a deep appreciation for nature. Some Wiccans also follow the Wiccan Rede, its most prominent tenet being "harm none".
4. Do Wiccans believe in God?
Most Wiccans do not worship the Abrahamic God, and instead worship a Goddess and God, or sets of deities they are drawn to. Some don’t believe in the Abrahamic God at all. Some also consider all deities facets of a single creator or single pantheon. Some Wiccans call their God and Goddess the "Lord and Lady", some call them different names depending on the season or their chosen pantheon. Another common God and Goddess pairing is the Horned God and the Triple Goddess. With these deities in mind, Wicca doctrines are often highly gendered, attributing binary genders to many aspects of the faith.
5. What holidays do Wiccans celebrate?
Most Wiccans celebrate the moons phases (often called Esbats) and holidays that are called Sabbats, based on the solstices and equinoxes. Wiccans believe that these are times when natural Earth energies are at their peak. Sabbat gatherings are celebrational services acknowledging seasonal changes.
6. What are some of the holidays?
The Sabbats are as follows: Samhain (pronounced Sow-when or sa-when) is October 31st. It is sometimes considered the Witch's New Year. Yule is December 21st, or whichever day the Winter Solstice falls on. Imbolc (sometimes pronouned Im-bolg) is February 1st. Ostara (which is sometimes incorrectly cited as being the "Old Religion” holiday that Christians stole and turned into Easter) is March 21st, or which ever day the Spring Equinox falls on. Beltane is May 1st. Litha is June 21st, or which ever day the Summer Solstice falls on. Lammas (also called Lughnasadh, which is usually pronounced Lou-na-sa) is September 21st, or which ever day the Autumn equinox falls on.
7. What is Sympathetic magick?
For the Wiccans who practice witchcraft, sympathetic magick (the "k" is used to distinguish practices of ceremonial magick and witchcraft from magic tricks) is a form of magick that relies on creating a likeness of a target to achieve the desired outcome. Sympathetic magick has been used for centuries. It often utilizes the theory “like attracts like”. As an example, a figure (such as a poppet or doll or wax statue) of a person might be made with their hair and fingernails with their name written on it. The witch would perform a spell or ritual on the figure to put the effects on the actual person (such as for healing or protection). Sympathetic magick is used by many witches and people of faiths who are not Wiccan.
8. Are there other types of magick?
There are many! Some include petition magick, sigil and rune magick, elemental magick, color magick, candle magick, bottle or jar magick, knot or string magick and more. The type of magick usually describes the physical tools that the witch (whether Wiccan or otherwise) will use to create the desired outcome.
9. How does the moon relate to Wiccan ceremonies?
The moon can be used a magickal correspondence for witches of all kinds. Wiccans sometimes worship the moon as their Goddess (in which the Sun is the God or male counterpart) and sometimes celebrate the phases of the moon in ceremonies called Esbats which can be simple or elaborate, or similar or different to how they choose to celebrate Sabbats. When used as a magickal correspondence, the phases of the moon influence the energies of the earth and can aid magickal workings. For instance, when the moon is waxing (growing larger) spells for increase, beginnings, good luck and fertility are performed. During the time that the moon is waning (growing smaller) spells such as for decrease, endings, or breaking a bad habit are performed. New moons are sometimes used for new beginnings or banishing. Full moons are sometimes used as a "universal" or "all purpose" phase to perform workings or celebrate Esbats.
10. What do Wiccans use to do their spells?
Not all Wiccans practice witchcraft or perform spells, but those who do use a wide range of tools. Some regard tools as conduits of energy while some believe they are used to aid in visualization only. Common tools are the wand, athame (sometimes pronounced ath-a-may), cauldron, chalice, altar, divinatory tools like tarot cards or pendulums, brooms or besoms, censers, and pentagrams and pentacles.
11. What does it mean to ‘cast a circle'?
An invisible or physical circle is often drawn by witches, as well as Wiccans, to define sacred space that they may meditate, pray, perform ceremonies, or practice witchcraft inside. Many Wiccans and witches believe that this boundary will keep out all negative energies, and condense the persons personal energies. However, not all Wiccans or all witches cast circles. Some use visualization to cast a circle, some create a physical circle with candles, salt, chalk, or a consecrated circular rug.
12. Do Wiccans do animal sacrifices?
Wiccans do not perform animal sacrifices. Some witches do, but many do not.
13. The first law of Witchcraft comes from old English and states: "AN' IT HARM NONE, DO WHAT THOU WILT" Do Wiccans worship Satan?
There are no laws of witchcraft, because it is a blanket term for many practices across the world. This quotation, however, is the main tenet of the Wiccan Rede (which does not come from Old English; it comes from Doreen Valiente, one of Gerald Gardner's original initiates into the Gardnerian tradition of Wicca). Many Wiccans do not believe in Satan or the Abrahamic God at all. However, some witches are Satanists, but this does not necessarily mean that they literally worship Satan.
14. Do Wiccans try to convert people?
Some Wiccans do try to convert, but proselytization is not a requirement. Some Wiccans respect the fact that everyone has his or her own religious choices.
15. What is the difference between Pagan and Wiccan?
All Wiccans are Neopagans, but not all Neopagans are Wiccan. Pagan is an umbrella term for many non-Abrahamic religions, and Neopaganism is the modern practice of pagan religions. Wicca is a specific Neopagan religion. A similar comparison would be "what is the difference between Christianity and Catholicism?". Not all Christians are Catholics, but all Catholics are Christians because Catholicism is a branch of Christianity.
16. Do Wiccans have Church?
Wiccans meet in Covens, usually having 13 members in it. Neo-Wiccans sometimes have Covens and sometimes are solitary practitioners. Online covens are also becoming very popular.
17. Do Wiccans have funerals, baptisms and weddings and if so, how do they differ?
Yes. A wedding is called a handfasting, and may be legal or not. They may be very similar to Christian weddings or very different depending on the couple. Baptisms are called Wiccannings, and are done when the baby is newborn, and sometimes done again when the person is older if they chose to commit to Wicca. There are also funerals which may be very similar or very different from other religious funerals depending on the family and person who has passed. Some Wiccans believe in the Summerland and some believe in reincarnation.
18. Isn't this witchcraft?
As has been stated, some Wiccans do practice witchcraft, but witchcraft is a secular practice completely separate from Wicca which people of many faiths (and also atheists) can practice.
20. So you hate Christians right?
No. Some people hate other people, but it is not a requirement or doctrine of the Wiccan faith to hate anyone. For the Wiccans who do dislike Christians, their reasons vary but can include the prevalence of proselytization and intolerance.
21. If you don’t worship Satan, why are you wearing that Satanic symbol?
This symbol is a pentacle. It is a five-pointed star encased in a circle. A version of it is used by Satanists, but for Wiccans it represents the five elements (Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit). The Satanic version is the Sigil of Baphomet, which is an inverted pentacle (two points of the star are up) with a symbol of a goat inscribed in the star.
22. Are you Jewish?
No, a Jewish star (also called a Star of David) has six points, a pentacle has five.
23. Do you wear black everyday (is it required?)
No, some Wiccans do wear a lot of black and so do some witches. Some also belong to the gothic subculture, but this is not a requirement and not all Goths are Wiccans or witches. Some witches and Wiccans regard black as a protective color and may wear it for this reason. Some covens may require members to wear certain colors of ritual clothing or may ask members to perform rituals skyclad (nude). Similarly, some solitary practitioners chose to wear certain colors of ritual clothing or chose to perform skyclad.
24. Can you give me a love spell to make someone fall in love with me?
Many witches and Wiccans believe love spells are very dangerous because most love spells rely on controlling someone else's free will. For those Wiccans who follow the Wiccan Rede, manipulating another person's free will would be considered a violation of the Rede because it would be harming the person. However, some witches do practice love magick and some do offer their services for free or for a price.
25. What are the Burning Times?
The Burning times were periods of hysteria in England and America including the Salem Witch Trials. Much information that circulates about these times are highly incorrect and even more information is difficult to prove false or not. In "Witch Hunts in Early Modern Europe", Brian Levack estimates that anywhere from 40,000-60,000 people were accused and executed for witchcraft between 1480 and 1750. In the Salem Witch Trials, 20 people were executed. Other sources have much more conservative estimations of the number of people who were executed. Sources that claim the number were in the 100,000s or higher should be taken with a grain of salt. Many people who were accused and executed in these times were accused simply for being different, insubordinate, or for reasons as innocuous as having moles or birthmarks. Some witches and Wiccans treat "The Burning Times" as a great travesty that directly effects their way of life today. Although these were tragic events, most modern Wiccans, witches, and Neopagans who live in modern society lead lives free from fear of death for their beliefs and practices.
As a final note: Many Wiccans agree that the best sources of information on Wicca come from Gerald Gardner himself and his initiates. Others cite information from Scott Cunningham and Raymond Buckland as generally accurate. Sources to be wary of describe Wicca as "The Old Way", "The Old Religion", "Religion of the Ancient Ones" and similar terms (any source that does not give credit to Gerald Gardner as the founder of Wicca). Neo-Wiccan sources such as Silver RavenWolf and many works published by Llewellyn publications are commonly considered poorly cited and inaccurate and should be avoided as best as possible. Sources that are culturally approprative should also be avoided as best as possible.