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Internet Book of Shadows, (Various Authors), [1999], at

                   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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