Most worship some form of the Great Goddess and Her consort, The Horned God.
Such duo-theistic forces are often conceived as embodying complementary
polarities, not in opposition. In some traditions worship of the Goddess is
emphasized, although in others the Goddess and God are seen as complementary
The Goddess and God may be seen as associated with certain things (such as
the Goddess with the earth or moon, God with sun and wildlife, etc), but there
are no hard and fast rules. Some traditions worship the Goddess alone while
others see Divinity as essentially beyond human understanding, with "Goddess"
and "God" simply a convenient shorthand.
Some ritual items are common to almost every Wiccan tradition, such as the
athame (ritual knife) and chalice (ritual cup). Others may be used by some
traditions but not others: bells, brooms, candles, cauldrons, cords, drums,
incense, jewelry, special plates, pentacles, scourges, statues, swords, staves
The meaning of these items, their use and manufacture will differ among
traditions and individuals. Usually a Wiccan ritual will involve some sort of
creation of sacred space (casting a circle), invocation of divine power, sharing
of dance/song/food or wine and a thankful farewell and ceremonial closing.
Rituals may be held at Wiccan "sabbats" or "esbats" or to mark life transitions
such as births, coming-of-age, marriages/handfastings, housewarmings, healings,
deaths or other rites of passage.
Most Wiccans mark eight holiday "sabbats" in the "wheel of the year," falling
on the solstices, equinoxes and the four "cross-quarter days" on or about the
first of February, May, August and November. The names of the sabbats may differ
between traditions, and many Wiccans also mark "esbats," rituals for worship in
accordance with a given moon phase (such as the night of the full moon).
Although there is no one source for all Wiccan liturgy, many liturgical items
such as the methods for casting the circle, the "Charge of the Goddess," certain
myths and expressions are common to many traditions.
Some common expressions include "hail and welcome/farewell," "blessed be and
the closing "Merry meet and merry part, and merry meet again."
There is no one bible or book of common prayer for all Wiccans, however, and
great value is placed on creativity, poetry and the artful integration of
different myths and ritual elements.
Some myths and associations are common to many Wiccan traditions, such as the
Goddess' giving birth to the Horned God, the theme of their courtship and His
death, the descent of the Goddess into the realm of death and others.
Another theological point held in common by many Wiccans is the immanence of
deity/divinity within the natural world, self and cycle of the seasons. This
places value on the earth and this world, as distinguished from views of
transcendent divinity and creation.
Wiccans as a whole are very much "into" cycles: of life, of the moon and
seasons. Cyclical change as an erotic dance of life, death and rebirth is a
popular theme in Wiccan imagery, ritual and liturgy.
Although it may be foolhardy to compare things as complex as religions,
people do. Many Wiccans distinguish themselves from Satanists, for example, in
preferring complementary views of divinity to adversarial ones. Others may note
their own comfort and embrace of ambiguity and polytheism (many gods).
Unlike the Jewish, Christian or Islamic traditions, there is little emphasis
on interpretation of "scripture" or a revealed text. Although many Wiccans may
believe in some sort of reincarnation, they may distinguish themselves from
Buddhists in seeing life as a journey or adventure without any desire to "leave
the wheel" of return.
Like Hindus, Wiccans may pride themselves on their tolerance for other paths,
like Buddhists they may value personal insight and like Taoists they may seek to
align themselves more perfectly with nature. Some Wiccans may separate
themselves from the "New Age" in their value for both "light" and "dark" aspects
of existence, a do-it-yourself attitude and a distrust of money or hierarchies
Can I be a Christian/ Jew/ Muslim/ Buddhist/ Taoist/ Astrologer/ Druid/
Shaman/ omnivore/ whatever and a Wiccan? Since much of Wicca is more world view
and ceremonial practice than anything else, there is no Wiccan proscription of
such things. Most traditions have no requirement to denounce any other faith
and, indeed, Wiccans often look askance at "one true wayism" which claim to have
a monopoly on truth, divine revelation or enlightenment. "Christian Wiccans"
probably face the largest skepticism, however, given the history and ongoing
reality of allegedly "Christian" persecution.
Prejudice (fear of job-loss, child-custody challenges, ridicule, vandalism
and even violence) may still keep many Wiccans "in the broom closet," with
concealment and dual observances a traditional Wiccan defense against
persecution. This may make contact with Wiccans difficult in some areas. Since
Wiccan worship is fairly active by its nature, non-participating observers are
rarely invited to Wiccan rituals.
Usually "dedication" ceremonially marks the beginning of Wiccan study, while
"initiation" may mark full membership in a coven/tradition (such as after "a
year and a day") or may indicate elevation in skill or to special clergy status.
Some traditions look on all initiates as co-equal clergy, while others have
grades or "degrees" of initiation, which may be marked by distinct sacramental
ceremonies, duties or expectations within the tradition.
Almost all Wiccans, however, have some sort of ceremony or psychological
practice to better attune themselves with divinity, encouraging insight and a
sense of efficacy. Others may cast love spells or other curses.
Some Wiccans call themselves "Witches," capitalizing it as a gesture of
solidarity with the victims of the Burning Times, but this is a personal
decision. Although many Wiccans today may cast spells and practice magick, these
are not considered an integral part of Wicca by all Wiccans.