Updated: Oct 28, 2021
Wicca is a word that is found used in Old English language to mean "Sorcery", however, it is said to have also found its roots in old Germanic language to signify "bending" - the bending or transformation of one form or energy to another. To some sources, the practice of Wicca or Witchcraft also means the craft of the wise.
In medieval Europe, witchcraft became coined to fortune tellers, soothsayers, enchantress and the like. When one searches for being a Wiccan on the web, they normally see what is typical in Hollywood films or of sexist stereotypes of new-age religions that don't really display the true meaning of what it is to be a witch or what it is to be Wiccan. For me, Wicca is a way of life and not a religion. To put it plainly, the practice of witchcraft varies from one practitioner to the next. Some choose to practice alone, while others choose to be a part of a Coven. For many, the practice of witchcraft is alongside nature, making use of its many elements like herbs, essential oils, water, fire, candles, air, the sun, moon and the stars.
Regardless of what type of witch you are, the most essential part of the craft is the use of our minds, the intent or idea. The belief that everything is created twice, first in our minds and next through actions stands true for many things. Creativity, intuition and imagination are powerful tools that every human possesses within them. However, many of us choose not to listen to their inner voice and environment enough. Perhaps doing so is a result of the years of brainwashing by societal norms, backward beliefs and peer pressure. The practice of Witchcraft was demonized over the years particularly in the 1500s and branded as devil-worship. However, nothing is further from the truth. For a start, Wiccans don't believe in Satan, but more in the concept of both light and darkness being intertwined as a necessity in the Universe and celebrated just as much as the passing seasons.
The Social Stigma of Being a Wiccan
Wiccans practice the craft. It is an integral part of every Wiccan's way of life, and the practice of the craft goes back centuries. In the time of Emperor Charlemagne, young women were punished severely with their lives simply because they were collecting herbs in the forest. Laws against the practice of witchcraft date back as early as the 5th Century. St. Augustine believed that witchcraft was a work of the devil, while St. Boniface in the 8th century believed that to merely believe in witchcraft was "un-Christian" and that any believer was deserving of heavy punishment.
It is important to note that hunting witches was not only a phenomenon in the middle ages and apparently the witch-hunting hysteria peaked in the 17th century at a time when Protestantism and Catholicism were having a power struggle to get the most followers. The persecution of people believed to have practiced witchcraft ensued as Witches were the common ground that enabled both parties to gain popularity. In the Economic Journal article by economists Peter Leeson and Jacob Russ, the argument was that the two churches advertised their finesse at persecuting witches as evidence that they were the best church to follow in order to be protected from Satan. And so the stories went on this way for centuries.
In the 1973 book called "Witches, Midwives and Nurses: A History of Women Healers", feminist and environmentalist writers Barbara Ehrenreich and Deidre English argued that many of the women accused of being witches were actually midwives targeted by rival male physicians. Persecutions of witches still happen to this day sadly enough that not many Wiccans will openly say that they practice witchcraft. The concept is still very much taboo and the right to practice openly is still frowned upon by the major religions, particularly Western and Middle Eastern religions and so, many of us prefer to practice in secret.
"An ye harm none, do what ye will."
This is basically the Golden Rule of Wicca which can also be found in many other religions. Simply put, it means that our actions must not harm any being, not just fellow humans but also nature. It means that we should strive to live in harmony with nature as much as possible and be accepting of all creation in the world. Going back to the statement that Wicca is a way of life and not a religion means that a person does not need to be part of a coven for the magic lies within us. If you think about it, the human body and all things in this world are made up of energy, and witchcraft is the bending of energies through manifestation. It can start with a simple wish..
"What We Think, We Become.
What We Feel, We Attract.
What We Imagine, We Create."
I'm not quite sure where this quote originated from, but in my personal journey, these words hold true whenever we create something, whether it be a work of art, writing a book or a report and the like. I found that the many philosophies of Wicca, particularly respect for nature and the idea of manifesting your dreams has helped me to seek my higher self and be more in tune with my surroundings, less judging of others and more understanding.