This may answer some of the questions being asked about Wicca on
PODSNet. If you print it up nice, it may also help in answering
questions OFF PODSNet.
Mind you, it is only ONE possible rendition; opinions are GUARANTEED to
About three years ago, I did a little PR flyer to hand out when Wiccans
were doing public events (for instance, Beltane Maypole dancing in the
local park) and curious passersby would ask just what the heck was going
on. If you like the idea, use it -- and feel free to adapt it as
needed, for your own group.
Written 1991 by Raven. NO COPYRIGHT. This is placed into the public
What You Wanted to Know about Witches *
* (but were afraid to ask)
Q. Do you worship the Devil (Satan)?
A. No, for three reasons.
First, we don't venerate evil in any form: our chosen religion is
a celebration and affirmation of life and living things, as opposed
to their destruction or harm. As we believe that good or evil done
will return upon the doer, this does not encourage doing evil.
Second, Satan is a figure in Judeo-Christian beliefs -- originally
not even an opponent of Yahweh, but more like his prosecuting
attorney (as in the Book of Job). Those who do worship Satan
actually accept the later Christian theology, with Satan as
Yahweh's opponent, but choose to support Satan's side of the
battle. We are not Christians or Satanists, and do not accept
their theology or worldview, so we would no more worship Satan
than, for instance, Christians would worship the Aztec God
Quetzalcoatl; he simply has no place in our beliefs. (We prefer
the figure of Pan, who does have horns but is a much nicer fellow.)
Third, we think history shows that, if you invest belief and
emotion in any idea or thought-form, you give it strength and power
in your own life -- it becomes more real TO YOU. We have no wish
to invite hostile entities into our lives and give them such power
over us, which is why we don't venerate any form we consider evil.
That's also why we're shocked to see how much energy some
Christians invest in Satan.
Q. Then why do I hear those things about you?
A. "Devil-worship", baby-killing, cannibalism and all that? These
are typical accusations made by one religion against another.
The Syrians accused the Jews of ritual murders long before Christ;
then the Romans accused the Christians (who at least claimed to be
eating someone's body and blood every week); then the Christians
accused the Jews and Muslims and every other religion; today
different Christian denominations even accuse each other. Making
wild accusations not only sells newspapers, and books, and movies;
it helps drum up support for the Religion Of Your Choice. This is
a cynical use of hate, fear, and ignorance, but as long as it works,
it will be used. (And there will always be psychotics willing to
live up to the image -- then claim "the Devil made me do it.")
Q. If not Christian theology, what do you believe in?
A. Life. We see the entire Universe, all matter and energy, as
bursting with life, loving its own living parts -- including us --
and gathered in one eternal dance. We try to catch the tune and
dance to the beat.
Sometimes we call the leading dancers Light and Dark, or Sun and
Moon, or the Lord and the Lady, Cernunnos and Ceridwen, Pan and
Diana, or by other names. These represent the duality in all
things -- male and female, yang and yin -- neither side of which
can be denied or ignored, even within ourselves.
(We hope this helps us avoid the error that some worshippers of a
single deity have made, such as thinking that "since God is all
good and God is male, therefore anything female or feminine is
Our feeling about the Gods is that they are teachers, family
members, and fellow dancers: not some untouchable abstraction
infinitely distant, but an intimate part of our own lives. Our
feeling about other religions is that they, too, are part of the
universal dance: not enemies, but fellow strugglers seeking as we
do, to live and learn to keep time with the music.
Q. What is this ceremony you're doing?
A. It depends on the moment. You may be watching a circle dance, or a
Maypole dance, or a feast of "cakes and ale", or just a group hug.
(We like to have fun.) Possibly, since you were handed this, you're
watching us "cast a circle". That's one of our basic religious
When we "cast a circle", we mark off a space as dedicated and protected
for our use, rather like Christians consecrating a church. (The
difference is, we don't need a building, and we let the space go back to
normal after we've used it.) Within this circle, we ask for the
protection of guardians -- call them the four elements of Air, Earth,
Fire, and Water, or the four archangels Gabriel, Michael, Raphael, and
Uriel -- again, the names may vary. Then we invite the Lord and the
Lady to be with us for a time. We have a nice visit, a little snack of
cookies and wine (or fruit juice), and then everyone goes home. It's
Along the way, sometimes we ask for help with our problems, such as
healing an injury or illness; if you believe in the power of prayer,
it's the same sort of thing -- but we try to put our own energies into
the task, rather than asking someone else to do all the work.
Q. How will what you are doing affect me?
A. If you're not participating, then probably no more than any other
religious service you watch from outside. If you're shocked by other
religions, you might choose to be shocked by ours. (Ours is just out
where you can see it, instead of hidden by walls.) Or you might choose
to accept our part of the universal dance as valid if different from
your own. You might even choose to participate -- and people of good
will are generally welcome among us.
Even if you do participate, there's no reason to take any effect from
our services that you don't choose to accept. Since -- for our own
sakes -- we ask for nice things to happen, the biggest possible results
involve no danger. If we ask for more harmony in the world, and your
life becomes more harmonious, then you benefit from the same general
effect as if a church's prayer for world peace had worked. (After that,
if you don't like harmony, you could always work to make your own life
more discordant; whatever suits you.)
Q. Do all Witches practice the same way you do?
A. There are about as many "denominations" of Witches as there are of
Christians, and since no-one is forced to keep One True Orthodox Way,
even a single group may do things differently from time to time. The
two mottoes that apply here are "If it works, use it" -- and "AN IT HARM
NONE, do as you will."
Q. How can I find out more about you?
A. Ask one of us. We're easy to talk with. Or read some books. Good
books include Vivianne Crowley's WICCA: the Old Religion in the New Age,
Margot Adler's Drawing Down the Moon, Starhawk's The Spiral Dance, and
Raymond Buckland's Complete Guide to Witchcraft.
There's also a lot of shocking nonsense and pulp fiction out there
-- notably in movies, paperback thrillers, and the sort of newspapers
sold at supermarket cash registers; we can only ask you to take anything
you find there with a skeptical pinch of salt.
(This was written in May 1991 as a general information handout for
the use of the CUUPS group of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Please feel free to copy and adapt this for use by your own group.)
Next: Coven, The (Julia Phillips)