Wicca is a modern Pagan mystery religion that was introduced to the public in the 1950s by Gerald Gardner. It combines traditional British folk magic beliefs with early 20th century hermetic ritual practices into a dynamic whole. Much of its folkloric history is based on the work of Archaeologist Margaret Murray. Wicca is a Witchcraft tradition, meaning Wiccans are taught and encouraged to practice Witchcraft as part of their spiritual experience and religious expression.
There are many Wiccan traditions, offshoots of the original that came into being as new covens were formed. Each Wiccan coven is an autonomous unit led by a High Priest and/or High Priestess and specific beliefs and practices differ between covens.
Generally, Wiccans are dualists and honor a God and a Goddess who exist cooperatively. In some cases these are two parts of the same being. All other Gods and Goddesses are different aspects of this God and Goddess. There are some variations on this. The Goddess is usually identified as the three part "Maiden, Mother, Crone" Goddess who advances through these three life stages as the year progresses. She is associated with the moon and magick. The God, often identified as the Horned God, is associated with wild places, animals and death. He is at various points throughout the year her child, then her lover and then he dies and the cycle begins again.
Wiccan moral and value system is summed up by The Wiccan Rede, though many people disagree on the interpretation of certain parts of it.
Wiccans gather at defined times during the year. An Esbat is a gathering that takes place on a monthly basis, usually during the full moon. A Sabbat is a special feast day, a holiday. Wiccans celebrate 8 of these. The Wiccan liturgical calendar is often referred to as The wheel-of-the-year.
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