pentacle altar.jpg

pentacle, a pentagram enclosed by a circle, is used by many adherents of Wicca. This symbol is generally placed on a Wiccan altar to honor the elements and directions. Commonly worn as a symbol of protection.

One of the best descriptions of Wicca is provided by Starhawk a prominent author, high priestess and founder of the Reclaiming tradition of Witchcraft.

She asserts that Wicca “is not a religion with a dogma, a doctrine, or a sacred book; it is a religion of experience, of ritual, of practices that change consciousness and awaken power-from-within. Beneath all, it is a religion of connection with the Goddess, who is immanent in nature, in human beings, in relationships.”

Major Beliefs:

Due to the decentralized nature of Wicca, it is difficult to make general claims about specific beliefs and practices which can differ widely among adherents. However, there are some broad generalities that apply to the majority of practitioners. As an earth-based or nature religion Wicca focuses on the connection between humanity, nature, and the divine. The general understanding is that the divine is present in humans and in all aspects of nature creating a web of mutual interaction. Most Wiccans conceive of the divine as being manifested as “two deities-Goddess and God-who appear in different forms in different seasons of the year.” Sometimes the Goddess and God are believed to be different aspects of a cosmic oneness. The divine does not exist in a different plane of existence, like heaven for example, but is fully present in the world at all times.If only one deity is worshipped, it is almost always the Goddess which is then reflected in an emphasis on the divine feminine.

Wicca advocates for celebrating personal identity and shared humanity. It is a creative and life-affirming practice. Some adherents are members of a coven, or small group. Covens maintain their own unique traditions and hierarchal structure. Most Wiccans are solitary practitioners, thus providing maximum flexibility in individualizing the religion. Wiccans are encouraged to adopt the elements that best suit their needs and to modify or discard others. It is seen as a living religion; thus, rituals and beliefs may evolve over time. There are, however, a few core tenants that are recognized by (almost) all Wiccans:

  • The feminine  being at least as important as the masculine
  • The importance of preserving the environment 
  • Moral behavior as determined largely by the individual
  • Positive attitudes towards human sexuality as a gift of the Goddess
  • Celebration of the passage of the seasons
  • Any action that makes an individual feel alive and happy, as long as it does not harm others, is considered positive

The Triple Goddess is viewed as three distinct aspects or figures united in one being. These three figures are often described as the Maiden, Mother, and the Crone, each of which symbolizes a separate stage in the female life cycle and a phase of the moon.


The symbol of the Horned God. In common Wiccan belief, he is associated with nature, wilderness, sexuality, hunting, and the life cycle. He is the consort to the Triple Goddess or other archetypes of the mother goddess.

Wicca has connections to ancient practices but also adapts to meet the current needs of practitioners. There are numerous books, articles, and websites that discuss the basic tenets of Wicca and lay out step by step instructions for various rituals and spell work. However, these simply offer structure and guidance; none of these are held to the level of scripture or taken to be definitive or necessary. While some other religions present their beliefs as monolithic and unchanging, lack of a textual history and centralized authority means that for Wiccans the emphasis is on individual interpretation and experimentation which allows for adaptation, so practices remain relevant.

Wiccan Ethics

One of the most widely accepted beliefs is to live in accordance with Craft Law which is summed up in the Wiccan Rede: “an it harm none do what ye will.” In other words, an individual may engage in any act that is pleasing to them. However, if doing so will negatively affect others, Wiccans are compelled to stop and weigh the consequences versus the benefits of doing so. There are no set rules for how to live in accordance with this creed; instead, individuals are empowered to make their own moral decisions based on their empathy for others. For Wiccans morality is not based on fear of divine punishment. Acts that other religions consider sinful or taboo, such as the use of mind-altering substances, nudity, sexual intercourse, and magick are viewed as a celebration of life and acts of worship.

The Wiccan Rede is related to another guiding principle, the belief in the Rule of Three, which states that whatever energy you put out into the universe will come back to you threefold. If you put out positive energy, you will attract positive things into your life. Wiccans interpret the Rede and the Rule of Three as advocating not just avoiding harm but actively seeking to help others, preserve the environment, and spread love. 

Wicca in Daily Life

Wicca can be understood as a practice of self-love as well as self-empowerment. Unlike other religions Wiccans “do not view release from the physical world as the goal of religious life. Rather than a burden, life in the body is viewed as good, and physical pleasure is a blessing that should be sought rather than avoided.”What is not sought is perfection. Many Pagans regard the gods not as perfect unchanging beings, but as evolving just like humans. People do not join Wicca because they see humanity as dysfunctional and the world as broken, yet they are also well aware of the problems of life. Hence many are active in social and political causes such as supporting feminism, ecological protection, tolerance, and human rights. Making the world a better place is seen as a spiritual act. Wicca does not claim to solve all problems through magick but engaging with the magicks of this world is a way to elicit positive change.

Starhawk. Dreaming the Dark: Magic, Sex, and Politics. Boston: Beacon Press, 1982 xii.

Crowley, Vivanne. “Wicca as Nature Religion.” In Nature Religion Today Paganism in the Modern World, edited by Joanne Pearson, Richard H. Roberts, and Geoffrey Samuel. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1998, 170.

Lewis, James R. “Introduction.” In Magical Religion and Modern Witchcraft. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1996, 3.