Not every Wiccan will subscribe to all of these points, but 
generally they are representative.

1.  The divine Spirit is present in all creatures and things:  
people, animals, plants, stones...

2.  The ultimate creative force manifests in both feminine and 
masculine modes;  therefore it is often symbolized as the Goddess 
and The God.

3.  In some covens, both are celebrated equally.  In others, The 
Goddess is given precedence or even celebrated without reference 
to the God.

4.  All Goddesses and Gods are aspects of The Goddess and The God.
  The aspects most popular in Wicca are the Triple Goddess of the 
Moon (Maiden, Mother and Crone) and the Horned God of death and 

5.  Reincarnation and karma are valid concepts.  Upon death one 
goes to a state of rest and reflection, and eventually chooses 
where and when s/he will be reborn.

6.  Magick is practiced for positive (helping) purposes:  
spiritual development, healing, guidance, safety, etc.

7.  Rituals are generally performed outdoors when possible, at the
New and Full Moons, and at eight Sabbat festivals which mark the 
progression of the seasons.

8.  Magick and celebration are performed in small groups, usually 
3 to 13, called covens.  These are basically autonomous -- there 
is no central church authority or hierarchy.

9.  There is no holy book, or prophet, no equivalent of the Bible 
or Jesus or Mohammed.  Individuals have access to the divine, and 
do not require an intermediary.  Every initiate is regarded as a 

10. The central ethic is "And ye harm none, do as ye will."  
Whatever energy you send out returns threefold, so it is wise to 
be kind to others.

11. We should live in harmony with the Earth and Nature, and not 
exploit them.

12. Though Wicca is a valid spiritual path, it is not the only 
one.  There is no recruiting, and people should be free to choose 
the path that best fits their needs.

13. The concepts of original sin, sacrifice, redemption, 
confession, the divinity of Jesus, sinfulness of sex, Judgment, 
Heaven and Hell, denigration of women, bodily resurrection, and 
the Bible as divine revelation are not part of Wicca.  Neither are
Satanism, the Black Mass, desecration of cemeteries, the sacrifice
of animals, etc.

EARTH-RITE / Mission San Jose, CA / 415-651-9496
Copyright (c) 1983 Amber K., Our Lady of the Woods. Used by

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                          A LITTLE LESS MISUNDERSTANDING

               (What Christians Don't Understand about Neopaganism)

                                 by J. Brad Hicks

     Q:   Are you a witch?
     A:        That's actually a tricky question to answer,  so  let  me  go 
          about  it  in  a  round-about  way.  What  I  am  is  a  Neopagan.  
          Neopaganism is a  beautiful,  complex  religion  that  is  not  in 
          opposition  to Christianity in any way - just different.  However, 
          some of the people that the Catholic church  burned  as  "witches" 
          were  people  who  practiced  the  same  things  that  I  do.   In 
          identification with them and the suffering that they went through, 
          some of us (Neopagans) call ourselves witches.  
               One expert,  P.E.I.  Bonewits,  says that there are  actually 
          several  kinds  of  groups who call themselves "witches." Some are 
          people whose  ancestors  were  the  village  healers,  herbalists, 
          midwives,  and  such,  many of whom had (or were ascribed to have) 
          mental, psychic, or magical powers, which were passed down through 
          the family in the form of oral tradition,  and Bonewits calls them 
          "Traditional  Witches." Some are people who have deliberately used 
          the term to oppose  themselves  to  Christianity,  are  practicing 
          "Satanists,"  and  practice  (deliberately)  most of the practices 
          invented by the  Inquisitors.  Bonewits  calls  them  "Gothic"  or 
          "Neo-Gothic  Witches."  Of  a  different  kind  are  some  radical 
          feminist groups,  who call themselves witches because they believe 
          that  the original Inquisition was primarily anti-female;  some of 
          these also practice magic,  many of them do not -  Bonewits  calls 
          them  "Feminist  Witches." But the vast majority of modern witches 
          are harmless people who worship God in many forms,  including  the 
          Lord of the Dance,  the Lady, and the Mother Earth.  These are the 
          people that Bonewits (and I) call"Neopagan Witches" - and this  is 
          what I am.  
               I hope that this helps more than it confuses.  

     Q:   Are you a devil worshipper?
     A:        I'm tempted to just say, "No!" and leave it at that, but that 
          probably isn't enough.  
               Devil  worship  (including  Satanism)  is  really a Christian 
          heresy.  (If you don't believe me, ask an expert - say,  any well-
          read pastor or theology professor.) In order to worship Satan, you 
          have  to  believe  in  him  - and there are no references to Satan 
          outside of the Christian Bible.  So to be a Satanist  or  a  devil 
          worshipper,  you  have to believe in the accuracy of the Christian 
          Bible, then identify yourself with God's Enemy,  proclaim that you 
          are  "evil,"  and  then  try  to  "fight against Jesus" or similar 
               Neopagans do not accept the Christian Bible as  a  source  of 
          truth.  As a source of some beautiful poetry,  sometimes,  or as a 
          source of myth, but not as a source of truth.  Emphatically, we do 
          not believe that God has an Opposite,  an  evil  being  trying  to 
          destroy God,  the world,  man, or whatever.  So it is non-sensical 
          to say that Neopagans worship Satan.  
               Of course,  many  people  insist  that  any  god  other  than 
          JHVH/Jesus  (and  his  other  Biblical  names)  is  a  demon or an 
          illusion created by Satan.  Well,  you're welcome to believe  that 
          if  you like - but over half of the world's population is going to 
          be unhappy at you.  Jews  and  followers  of  Islam  are  just  as 
          confident  that  they worship the True God as you are,  and resent 
          being called devil worshippers.  So do I.  

     Q:   What do Neopagans believe about God?
     A:        Neopaganism is a new religion with very,  very old roots.  It 
          harks  back  to the first religions that man ever practiced (based 
          on the physical evidence).  Neopagans worship a variety of symbols 
          from the Old Religions - the practices of the ancient  Celts,  the 
          Greeks,  the  Egyptians,  the  Romans - and differ with each other 
          over what  those  symbols  really  represent.  What  I  (and  many 
          others) believe is that they are all aspects of God (or maybe, the 
          Gods)  -  some  kind of beautiful,  powerful,  and loving being or 
          force that ties all of life together and  is  the  origin  of  all 
          miracles  -  including miracles such as written language,  poetry, 
          music, art ...  

     Q:   Do Neopagans have a Bible?
     A:        Not most of us.  The closest analogue would be a witch's Book 
          of Shadows,  which is a  sort  of  notebook  of  legends,  poetry, 
          history, and magic ritual which is copied by every newly-initiated 
          witch,  then  added to.  But on the whole,  even a Book of Shadows 
          isn't what Christians think of as a  Bible.  It's  not  infallible 
          (couldn't be, they've been brought to us via hastily-coppied texts 
          under trying circumstances),  it doesn't prescribe a specific code 
          of morality (except for a few general guidelines),  and it doesn't 
          claim to be dictated by God - except for a few, debatable parts.  
               Those  of  us  who  aren't witches don't even have that much.  
          Neopaganism  is  a  religious  system  that  relies  more  on  the 
          individual  than  on the Book or the Priest.  One of the principal 
          beliefs of Neopaganism is that no one,  not Pope  nor  Priest  nor 
          Elder,  has  the right to interfere with your relationship to God.  
          Learn from whomever you want,  and pray to whatever name means the 
          most to you.  

     Q:   Did you say magic?  Do Neopagans believe in the occult?
     A:        Cringe.  What a badly worded question - but I hear it all the 
          time.  Neopagans  as  a  rule  don't  "believe in the occult" - we 
          practice magic.  Magic  is  simply  a  way  to  focus  the  mental 
          abilities  that  you  were  born with,  and use them to change the 
          world in positive ways.  Magic can also be mixed with worship;  in 
          which case it differs very little from Christian prayer.  

     Q:   But I thought that you said that you weren't a demon-worshipper?
     A:        That's right.  Magic and demonology are two different things.  
          Magic you also know as "psychic powers" or "mentallics" or even as 
          "the  power of positive thinking" - in essense,  the magical world 
          view holds that "reality" is mostly a construct of the human mind, 
          and as such,  can be altered by the human mind.  That's all  there 
          is to it.  

     Q:   How do you become a Neopagan?
     A:        In  a  very  real  sense,  nobody every "becomes" a Neopagan.  
          There are no converts, as no conversion is necessary.  Neopaganism 
          is an attitude towards worship,  and either you  have  it  or  you 
               My  case  is  not  atypical.  All  of  my  life,  I have been 
          fascinated  by  the  old  mythologies.   I   have   always   found 
          descriptions  of  the  Greek  Gods  fascinating.   If  I  had  any 
          religious beliefs as a child,  it was that somewhere,  there was a 
          God,  and many people worship Him, but I had no idea what His name 
          was.  I set out to find Him,  and through an  odd  combination  of 
          circumstances,  I  because convinced that his Name was Jesus.  But 
          seven years later,  I had to admit to myself that Whoever God  is, 
          he answers non-Christians' prayers as well as those in the name of 
          Jesus.  In  either  case,  true miracles are rare.  In both cases, 
          the one praying has a devout experience with God.  
               After searching my soul,  I admitted that I  could  not  tell 
          that  I  was better off than when I believed in the Old Gods.  And 
          in the mean time, I had found out that other people also loved the 
          Old Gods -  and  that  they  call  themselves  Neopagans.  When  I 
          realized that what I believed was little or no different that what 
          they believed, I called myself a Neopagan, too.  
               The common element for nearly all of us is that nearly all of 
          us already believed these things,  before we found out that anyone 
          else did.  "Becoming" a pagan is never a conversion.  It's usually 
          a  home-coming.  No one ever "brainwashed" me.  I finally relaxed, 
          and stopped struggling against my own self.  

     Q:   I've heard about witches holding orgies and such.  Do you?
     A:        No,  that sort of thing doesn't appeal to  me.  Most  of  the 
          crap that you've heard about "witch orgies" is nonsense made up by 
          the National Enquirer to sell magazines.  
               But I shouldn't be flippant about this,  because it underlies 
          a serious question - what kind of morality do Neopagans hold to?  
                      "Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill:
                       An it harm none, do what thou will!"
                                   from an old Book of Shadows

               That about sums it all up.  Neopaganism teaches  that  it  is 
          harmful  to  yourself  (and  dangerous)  to  harm others.  It also 
          teaches that trying to impose your  moral  standards  on  somebody 
          else's  behaviour  is (at least) foolish - and probably dangerous, 
          as you run some serious chance of hurting that person.  Perhaps in 
          a sense Neopagans don't have morality, for as R.  A.  Wilson said, 
          "There   are   no  commandments  because  there  is  no  Commander 
          anywhere," but Neopagans do have ethics - standards for  behaviour 
          based on honor and mutual benefit.  

     Q:   I  saw  on the news that Neopagans use a star in a circle as their 
          emblem.  Isn't that a Satanic symbol?  
     A:        A pentacle (that's what it's called) is a Satanic  symbol  in 
          precisely  same sense that the cross is a Nazi symbol.  The German 
          National Socialist Party used an equal-armed cross with four flags 
          attached to it as their emblem.  (Yes, I know - that's a swastika.  
          Well, before the Nazis made the word common knowledge, people just 
          called  it  a  "bent cross" - it's an old heraldic symbol,  and it 
          means the same thing that a normal cross does).  That doesn't make 
          the Nazis good Christians,  and it doesn't  make  Christians  into 
               In  the  same  sense,  Satanists (and some rock groups) use a 
          type  of  pentacle  as  their  emblem.   That  doesn't  make  them 
          Neopagans,  nor does it mean that Neopagans are Satanists (or even 

     Q:   Are Neopagans opposed to Christianity?
     A:        Some Neopagans are ex-Christians,  and I'm not going to  deny 
          that some of them have a grudge against the Church because of what 
          they perceived as attempts to control their minds.  Further,  many 
          Neopagans are suspicious of the Church, because it was in the name 
          of Jesus Christ that nine million of our kind were murdered.  
               Neopagans are opposed to anyone who uses force to control the 
          minds of others.  Does that include you?  If not,  then  it  means 
          that Neopagans as such are not opposed to you.  
               Do you work for the benefit of mankind, are you respectful to 
          the  Earth?  Then it makes us allies,  whether or not either of us 
          wants to admit it.  

                               - - - - - - - - - -

          There  are many other misconceptions in the popular mind about the 
     Neopagan religion.  Unless  you've  studied  it,  read  about  it  from 
     sympathetic sources, then you really don't know anything about Neopagan 
     history,  beliefs, practices, customs, art, science, culture, or magic.  
     But it would take several entire books to teach you, and I already fear 
     that I will be accused of trying to win  converts  (despite  what  I've 
     said above).  If you are curious and willing to learn,  try some of the 
     following books: 

                       Margot Adler, _Drawing Down the Moon_
                            Starhawk, _The Spiral Dance_
                           P.E.I. Bonewits, _Real Magic_
                         Stewart Farrar, _What Witches Do_.