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                  An Introduction to Traditional Wicca 
         c. 1987,  Keepers of the Ancient Mysteries   ( .K.A.M. ) 
     Often Traditional Wiccans are asked to describe our religion and 
     beliefs for interested people, who may or may not have confused 
     us with other Pagan religions, with inversions of 
     Christian/Islamic religions like Satanism, or with purely magical 
     traditions with no religious base. There is a lot of flexibility 
     in the ways that we describe ourselves, and one characteristic of 
     Wicca is a large degree of personal liberty to practice as we 
     please. Still, there is an outline that can be described in 
     general terms. Many traditions will depart from one particular or 
     another, but groups departing from all or most of these features 
     are probably non-Wiccan Traditions attempting to stretch or 
     distort the Wiccan name to cover what they want to do. 
     Mysteries and Initiation 
     Wicca is an Initiatory religion descended from the Ancient 
     Mystery Religions. A mystery religion is not like Catholicism 
     where a Priest is the contact point between the worshiper and the 
     Deity, nor like Protestantism where a sacred Book provides the 
     contact and guidelines for being with the divine. Rather a 
     Mystery Religion is a religion of personal experience and 
     responsibility, in which each worshiper is encouraged, taught and 
     expected to develop an ongoing and positive direct relationship 
     with the Gods. The religion is called a "Mystery" because such 
     experiences are very hard to communicate in words, and are 
     usually distorted in the telling. You have to have been there in 
     person to appreciate what is meant. Near and far-Eastern 
     religions like Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and Shinto are probably 
     Mystery traditions, but Wicca is very western in cultural flavor 
     and quite different than eastern religions in many ways. 
     A Blend of Pagan Roots 
     Most Wiccan Traditions, .K.A.M. included, have particular roots 
     in the British Mystery Traditions. This includes traditions of 
     the Picts who lived before the rise of Celtic consciousness, the 
     early Celts, and some selected aspects of Celtic Druidism. 
     American Wicca is directly descended from British Wicca, brought 
     in the late 1950's by English and American Initiates of 
     Gardnerian, Alexandrian and Celtic Wicca. These traditions are a 
     little like the denominations in Christianity, but hopefully far 
     more harmonious. 
     While British Traditions are very strong in Wicca, or the Craft 
     as it is sometimes called, other Western Mystery traditions 
     feature prominently, including the ancient Greek Mysteries of 
     Eleusis,  Italian Mysteries of Rome, Etruria and the general 
     countryside, Mysteries of Egypt and Persia before Islam, and 
     various Babylonian, Assyrian and other mid-eastern Mysteries that 
     flourished before the political rise of the advocates of "one 


     What's In a Name 
     Wicca, Witchecraft, and "The Craft" are used interchangeably at 
     times by many kinds of people. It is fair to say that all Wiccans 
     are Witches, and many of us believe we are the only people 
     entitled to the name. It is important to know that many people 
     call themselves witches who are not in the least Wiccan, and that 
     Masons also refer to themselves as "Craft", with good historical 
     precedent. Carefully question people on the particular things 
     they do and believe as part of their religion rather than relying 
     on labels. Any real Wiccan would welcome such honest inquiry. 
     Traditions and Flavor 
     There are specific Wiccan beliefs and traditions, including 
     worship of an equal and mated Goddess and God who take many forms 
     and have many Names. Groups who worship only a Goddess or only a 
     God are not traditional Wicca however they may protest, although 
     they may be perfectly good Pagans of another sort. The Wiccan 
     Goddess and God are linked to nature, ordinary love and children 
     -- Wicca is very life affirming in flavor.  
     Because we have and love our own Gods, Wiccans have nothing to do 
     with other people's deities or devils, like the Christian God or 
     Satan, the Muslim Allah or the Jewish Jehovah (reputedly not his 
     real name). Christians often deny this fact because they think 
     that their particular god is the only God, and everybody else in 
     the whole world must be worshipping their devil. How arrogant. 
     They're wrong on both counts. 
     Traditional Wicca is a religion of personal responsibility and 
     growth. Initiates take on a particular obligation to personal 
     development throughout their lives, and work hard to achieve what 
     we call our "True Will", which is the best possibility that we 
     can conceive for ourselves. Finding your Will isn't easy, and 
     requires a lot of honesty, courage and hard work. It is also very 
     Wicca is generally a cheerful religion, and has many holidays and 
     festivals. In fact, most of the more pleasant holidays now on our 
     calendar are descended from the roots Wicca draws on, including 
     Christmas, May Day, Easter and Summer Vacation. Wicca is 
     definitely not always serious. Dancing, feasting and general 
     merriment are a central part of the celebrations. 
     Wiccan Ethics 
     Wiccans have ethics which are different in nature than most 
     "one-god" religions, which hand out a list of "do's and don'ts". 
     We have a single extremely powerful ethical principal which 
     Initiates are responsible for applying in specific situations 
     according to their best judgment. That principle is called the 
     Wiccan Rede (Old-English for rule) and reads: 
     "An (if) it harm none, do as ye Will" 


     Based on the earlier mention of "True Will", you will understand 
     that the Rede is far more complex than it sounds, and is quite 
     different than saying "Do whatever you want as long as nobody is 
     hurt". Finding out your Will is difficult sometimes, and figuring 
     out what is harmful, rather than just painful or unpleasant is 
     not much easier. 
     Initiation into Wicca 
     People become Wiccans only by Initiation, which is a process of 
     contacting and forming a good relationship with the Gods and 
     Goddesses of Wicca. Initiation is preceded by at least a year and 
     a day of preparation and study, and must be performed by a 
     qualified Wiccan Priestess and Priest. The central event of 
     Initiation is between you and your Gods, but the Priestess is 
     necessary to make the Initiation a Wiccan one, to pass some of 
     her power onto you as a new-made Priestess or Priest and to 
     connect you to the Tradition you're joining. 
     Women hold the central place in Wicca. A Traditional Coven is 
     always headed by a High Priestess, a Third Degree female Witch 
     with at least three years and three days of specific training. A 
     Priest is optional, but the Priestess is essential. Similarly, a 
     Priest may not Initiate without a Priestess, but a Priestess 
     alone is sufficient. Women are primary in Wicca for many reasons, 
     one of which is that the Goddess is central to our religion. 
     One Religion at a Time 
     People often ask "Can I become a Wiccan and still remain a 
     Christian, Muslim, practicing Jew, etc. The answer is no. The 
     "one god" religions reject other paths besides their own, 
     including each other's. "One-god" religions also do not exalt the 
     Female as does Wicca, and mixing two such different traditions 
     would water them both down. Besides, you'd have to ask how 
     serious a person who practiced two religions was about either 
     one. Being Jewish is an exception, since it is a race and culture 
     as well as a religion. There are many Wiccan Jews, but they 
     practice Wicca, not Judaism. 
     Magick and Science 
     People interested in Wicca are usually curious about the magick 
     that Wiccans can do. While magick (spelled with a "k" to 
     distinguish from stage conjuring) is not a religion in itself, it 
     is related to our religious beliefs. Wiccans believe that people 
     have many more abilities than are generally realized, and that it 
     is a good idea to develop them. Our magick is a way of using 
     natural forces to change consciousness and material conditions as 
     an expression of our "True Wills". Part of becoming a Wiccan is 
     training in our methods of psychic and magickal development.  


     Because we believe that everything a person does returns to them 
     magnified, a Wiccan will not work a magick for harm, since they 
     would pay too high a price. But a helpful magick is good for both 
     the giver and receiver! Wicca is entirely compatible with the 
     scientific method, and we believe all the Gods and forces we work 
     with to be quite natural, not supernatural at all. We do not, 
     however, hold with the kind of scientific dogma or pseudoreligion 
     that  sees everything  as dead matter  and neglects  its own  method
     trumpeting "facts" without honest examination of evidence. 
     Priestesses at Large? 
     Long ago the spiritual (and sometimes physical) ancestors of 
     Wiccans were Priestesses and Priests to the Pagan culture as well 
     as devotees of their Mystery. Now that a Pagan culture is rising 
     again, some ask if today's Wiccans could resume that role. This 
     seems unlikely.  
     Today's Pagan culture is very diverse and more interested in 
     exploring and creating new forms than in building on existing 
     traditions. A public role would either dilute our traditions or 
     force them on an unwilling audience. The neo-Pagan community 
     generally prefers "media figures" and rapid membership and 
     growth. This is  not compatible with our slow methods of training 
     and Initiation, the insistence that livelihood come from work 
     outside the Craft, or our needs for privacy. Our religion is not 
     accepted in the American workplace or political system, and may 
     never be. The most powerful Priestesses are often unknown to all 
     but their Coveners. While all Wiccans are Pagans, all Pagans are 
     not Wiccan, and it is best that it remain so. 


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