The Old Religion: Websites on Wicca
by Gail Wood
Celebration of nature is central to the practice of Wicca, a contemporary religion that reconstructs pre-Christian religions of Europe and combines them with the modern sensibilities of self-improvement and creativity. Often referred to as The Old Religion, Wicca is a life-affirming, polytheistic religion that borrows from many traditions, and one may find a number of diverse influences in the practice of Wicca, including New Age philosophies, Buddhist, Hindu, Native American, Christian, and other traditions. The central beliefs in Wicca are gender equality, reverence for nature, and a creative sense of the Divine that manifests itself as God and Goddess. There are no scriptures and laws in Wicca other than a guiding principle called The Wiccan Rede.
The Rede is "An it harm none, do what ye will," which implies both freedom and responsibility. Coupled with the Three-Fold Law - which states that every action good or bad returns to the person three-fold - the Rede guides the actions of Wicca practitioners.
There are as many traditions and practices of Wicca as there are Wiccans. The absence of scriptures and proscribed behavior creates a wildly diverse spiritual community that actively disavows codification. The term "witch" is also used for Wicca. Many Wiccans use witch and witchcraft interchangeably with Wicca, and others make distinctions between the practice of Wicca and the practice of witchcraft. Many Wiccans disavow the word witch because of the historical witch-hunts and the ugly old witch of Halloween. One of the more unfortunate things that Wiccans must do when explaining their religion and spirituality is to define what they are not, meaning that they must explain they are not Satanists, devil-worshipers, or baby-killers.
GENERAL RELIGION WEBSITES
Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Developed and Maintained by: Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, self-described as 2 Unitarian-Universalists, 1 Wiccan and 1 unaffiliated Christian
Last updated: 1997. [Editor's note: Site updated daily, per email from Bruce Robinson of the organization, 11/6/2005.]
A SourceBook for Earth's Community of Religions
Developed and maintained by : Joel Beversluis
These two websites contain information about all of the world's religions, including Wicca and the neo-pagan movement. Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance provides a well-organized, graphically pleasing website with articles on all religions. The article on Witchcraft and Wicca is divided into several parts including history, beliefs, practices, and questions. (Ancillary to this, the article on Satanism provides clear information on that religion, avoiding sensationalism.) All articles have very good bibliographies, using both print and Web resources.
A SourceBook for the Earth's Community of Religions provides entries on all religions, written by practitioners of those spiritual practices. The author of the article on Wicca is a prominent member of the Wiccan Community, past president of the Covenant of the Goddess, and her article is well-written and informative. There is contact information at the end of the article, but the listing is very small and does not reflect the diversity of Wiccan practice.
WEBSITES ON WICCA
Developed and Maintained by: Carrie Carolin
Last updated: 1988.
COGWEB: The Covenant of the Goddess
Developed and Maintained by: The CoG organization
Last updated: ??
The Witches' Voice: A News and Education Network
Developed and Maintained by: Wren Walker and Fritz Jung
Last updated: November 1998
Arachne's Web is a resource site, providing over nine hundred links to web pages on a variety of neo-pagan and wiccan issues. It is a simple, well-organized page that divides the information into clear categories, including Druids, Webrings & Other Information, Wicca Information and Education, Wiccan Personal Pages, Goddesses & Gods, Myths & Mythology, Holidays, Magick, and other topics. The page is well-maintained, with the links working effectively. Some of the links have a "recommended" note, but otherwise the websites linked to this page are not evaluated. The site is a very useful link to the diversity of the online Wiccan community.
The Covenant of the Goddess (CoG) is one of the oldest Wiccan organizations in North America. CoG is "an international organization of cooperating, autonomous Wiccan congregations and solo practitioners." The web page is easy to navigate and divided into six parts: What's new; Information about CoG; Special Projects; CoG Local Councils and Activities; About Our Religion; and Other Organizations. The section "About Our Religion" provides very good essays on basic beliefs, frequently asked questions (FAQ), general practices, holidays, and a selective bibliography. The FAQ, in particular, is very well done and informative. The bibliography is a good selection of the most influential books about Wicca.
The Witches' Voice is a very comprehensive web page with a much-needed site map. The page is designed to be a networking and education website for practitioners, with a great deal of information, well-written and well-researched. There is information on issues facing Wiccans, such as discrimination, child custody, religious education for teens, integrity, and more. A networking page lists groups, individuals, and shops by state. Another page offers a series of lesson plans for teachers. There's information for newcomers to the religion, as well as information for more experienced practitioners. All the links work effectively on the very well-organized links page. A White Page section carries sample press releases on a variety of issues including Wiccan awareness, child custody, and teens in Wicca. Some of the design and color choices make reading and printing a problem. Nevertheless, this is an extraordinary collection of information.
Naturally, this short review provides only a beginning introduction to web-based information on Wicca. The websites mentioned give an informative view of Wicca with links to many other places for information and networking.
[Gail Wood is the Director of Libraries at the State University of New York College at Cortland, located in Central New York. Her spiritual journey has included fundamental Christianity, goddess spirituality, and Wicca. She has been a practitioner and priestess of Wicca for fifteen years.]
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Mounted March 22, 1999.