I've been asked a lot of questions in the short time I've been maintaining this website. This question, asked by a teenage visitor to the site, was one that gave me a second thought- "Is Wicca really a religion, and is it really an old religion?" Some readers will think it's a stupid question and say, of course it's a religion and why wouldn't it be? That was my initial reaction, and I thought, this person needs to open a book and stop bothering me. But if you look a little deeper, you might realize it's a great question.
Most people would describe the definition of "religion" as being, "an organized system of faith and worship as practised or followed by a particular group." So, with that definition in mind, are solitary and eclectic Wiccans really religious? No, I would say not. But, there are other acceptable definitions of religion according to some dictionaries. One is, "a personal set of beliefs and practises." (these definitions are from my Merrian-Webster Dictionary.) If a religion can be a personal set of practises, then can't we label solitary and eclectic Wicca as a religion?
To me, it isn't important to label your path or even worry whether it can be considered a true religion. The person who asked me if Wicca is really a religion told me that his "religion" was enduring some scrutiny from his friends and he was unable to defend his beliefs and say that, yes indeed, his beliefs were a religious path. It apparently was important to him to have that validation, and that is fine- though I don't understand his reason for being so worried about it.
WICCA- THE OLD RELIGION?
After all my research, I will tell you, as I did on my Wicca or Witchcraft? page, that Wicca is NOT an old religion. Some Wiccans and witches will tell you that Wicca and the Craft are the oldest religions in the world. This is completely untrue. Yes, Wicca is called "The Old Religion" but this label doesn't fit modern Wicca.
The word "Wicca" is certainly old and may have been used
by some people of the past- it originally meant "to bend"
and some say it was used as a word for "Witchcraft" in
the past. However, the word "Wicca" has an entirely different
meaning today- as it was used to label Gerald Gardner's religious
It is said that Gardner melded different practises- and created some of his own- and Wicca was his product. If you research, you will find that he used some of Aleister Crowley's spells and rituals as his own, and also was an acquaintance of Crowley's. Crowley, it is said, wrote many of the spells and rituals in Gardner's original Book of Shadows.
The late Aleister Crowley wrote, "Do what thou will shall be the whole of the Law, love is the Law, love under will." Remind you of another law? Sounds a lot like the line in the Wiccan Rede, "an' it harm none, do as thou wilt." Both mean, do as you see fit but harm no one. Some think the Wiccan Rede is an ancient text, but it actually is not.
I mentioned on my Sabbats page that the Sabbats are not Wiccan in origin. The Wheel of the Year is a festival of celebrations created by the ancient Celts. Wiccans cannot stake a claim to these practises. They have been incorporated into Wiccan practise, but are not Wiccan in origin. This is another reason many are confused about Wicca and say, "The Celts were Wiccans!" Such a stupid comment.
For more information about this, just refer to my Wicca or Witchcraft page so I don't keep repeating myself.
DOES IT MATTER??
Does it seem as if I'm trying to make Wicca look like a sham of some sort? I'm not at all, I'm simply trying to be honest about it. In it's entirety, Wicca is new. Is that a bad thing? I certainly don't think so. I was searching for my spritual path when I was a kid and felt that Wicca, for the most part, had what I was looking for at the time. I was never truly happy and comfortable with it, but back then, it was the only "religion" I knew that was similar to my own personal beliefs. Even so, I didn't care where the concept came from, I only cared about my connection to it.
As you search and research, learn the WHOLE truth- don't just read
Wiccan "how-to" books. I, personally, feel that knowing
the truth is important. I suppose that it's entirely up to you to
decide if the history of Pagan traditions are important to know.