World Religion
What Is Wicca?

What Is Wicca?
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.76

     challenging words:    burning, controversial, healings, Imbolc, masculine, mysticism, occult, spell-binding, voodoo, supposedly, symbolize, stake, ritual, entertainment, prayers, sacred
     content words:    Wicked Witch, Harry Potter, Gerald Gardner, Gardnerian Book, United States, Wiccan Rede, Every Wiccan, Threefold Return, High Priestess, New Moon

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What Is Wicca?
By Colleen Messina

1     Witches have been around for a long time. Dorothy met the Wicked Witch of the West on her way to Oz. Today, Harry Potter has made everyone curious about magic and spells. Even though pointing wands and casting spells has been a part of movies and fiction for a long time, magic is a part of real life for a group of people who follow the practices of Wicca.
2     Wicca was popularized in the 1950s by a man named Gerald Gardner. He created The Gardnerian Book of Shadows. He was an occultist who combined beliefs from several ancient traditions to form Wicca. He used British legends and Eastern mysticism. He started a number of witches groups, or covens, in England until his death in 1964. Wicca came to the United States in 1963, and today, there are different kinds of groups. Wicca is sometimes referred to as Paganism.
3     Some basic beliefs in Wicca are common to many groups. Wiccans believe in respecting and honoring nature. They are often passionately interested in preserving the environment. They believe that the Divine is in everything. Their idea of god is not the same as a Christian god. They might see the wind in the trees or the rippling of a stream as divine. They honor different gods and goddesses since they also believe that the Divine has both a masculine and a feminine part.
4     Wiccans and Pagans do follow certain rules in their way of life. Most follow a rule called the Wiccan Rede. This statement says, "An' it harm none, do as you will." Every Wiccan can interpret this rule differently. Some believe that it means that you can't eat meat, swear, or join the military services. Another common Wiccan rule is the Law of Threefold Return. This rule means that whatever you do comes back to you three times as intensely. If you perform good works, you will receive three times the goodness in return. If you do bad things, you will suffer three times the consequences.
5     Wiccans and Pagans follow certain rituals and celebrations. While other religions hold services in temples and churches, Wiccans use a circle as their sacred space. Wiccans perform a ritual called casting a circle for this ceremony. Circles are often nine feet in diameter and have candles at the points that mark the four directions. Different color candles mark these directions. A green candle is placed at the North. It represents Earth. A yellow candle is placed at the East. It represents Air. A red or orange candle is placed at the South to symbolize fire. And a blue candle in the West symbolizes Water. A High Priestess then makes certain statements to complete the casting of the circle.

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