Wicca is a modern-day, nature-based pagan religion also known as "The Craft Of The Wise". Though rituals and practices vary among people who identify as Wiccan, most observations include the festival celebrations of solstices and equinoxes, the honoring of the horned god and the triple moon goddess, and the incorporation of herbalism and other natural objects into rituals. Wiccans practice their religion according to an ethical code, and many believe in reincarnation. Wicca is a nature inspired religion where mother earth is a sacred entity.
Wicca is considered a modern interpretation of ancient practices like the druids of the past. It may be practiced by individuals or members of a coven. Wicca is growing faster than any other religion with 1000s turning their backs on traditional religions.
Rituals in Wicca often include holidays centered around phases of the moon; solar equinoxes and solstices; elements such as fire, water, earth, air and spirit; and initiation ceremonies.
Wicca was first given a name in Gerald Gardner's 1954 book Witchcraft Today, in which he announced it as "wicca,. According to Gardner,
the word was derived from Scots-English and meant "wise people."
Gardner, considered the founder of Wicca, was born in 1884, north of Liverpool in England. A world traveler with an interest in the occult, Gardner first heard the word "Wica" used in the 1930s when he became involved with a coven of witches and all female in Highcliffe, England. He was initiated into the group in 1939 in a wooded area where the witches danced naked around a fire thus entering Gerald Gardner into their coven as a male witch.
In 1946 Gardner bought land in the village of Brickett Wood to establish a center for folkloric study, that would serve as headquarters for a coven of his own. Gardner met famed occultist Aleister Crowley in 1947. When Gardner formally wrote out his Wiccan rituals, he drew strongly from Crowley's own, dating back to 1912. The two men had similar ideas. Crowley had, in 1914, proposed the idea of forming a new religion that would pull from old pagan traditions worshipping the earth, celebrating equinoxes and solstices and other hallmarks of nature-based worship. But Crowley turned towards more darker rituals "black Magic" thus worshipping Satan.
Gardener decided then to distance himself from Crowley.
Gardner"s novel High Magic's Aid, published in 1949, is considered one of the first standards of Wicca, but his Book of Shadows, a collection of spells and rituals, is central to Wiccan practice. The book is so valuable that it is held in a vault and to be worth over 1 million pounds.
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