The Craft (Wicca, Witchcraft) contains a large number of groups with
bonds to each other, for the most part, which are looser than those
you will find between Christian churches. Each has it's own
traditions, it's own beliefs, it's own pantheon, etc.
So just WHAT is it that, overall, a Witch believes in? The American
Council of Witches was formed to determine what it was that all Witches
have in common, belief-wise. In the early 1970's,
a paper was released with their findings, and gives a good
overall picture of it. The following is the text of that paper.
(editor's note: because the Craft is a tradition, as opposed to a religion,
it should be clearly understood that any such attempts as this paper to
define the Craft are necessarily flawed. The Craft is a way of life,
not a system of beliefs, and we should always be careful that we don't
start declaring certain Witches to be heretical, or unorthodox Witches.
This is, however, a fair summation of the basic principles of the Craft
in the modern Western world.)
BASIC PRINCIPLES OF THE CRAFT
1. The first principle is that of love, and it is expressed
in the ethic, "DO AS YOU WILL, SO LONG AS YOU HARM
a) love is not emotional in its essence,
but is an attribute of the individual as expressed in relation to other
b) harming others can be by thought,
word, or deed;
c) it is to be understood the "none"
d) the harm which is to be regarded
as unethical is gratuitous harm; war, in general, is gratuitous harm, although
it is ethical
to defend oneself
and one's liberty when threatened by real and present danger, such as defense
2. The Witch must recognize and harmonize with the forces
of the universe, in accord with the Law of Polarity: everything
is dual; everything has two poles; everything
has it's opposite; for every action there is a reaction; all can be categorized
either active or reactive in relation
to other things.
a) Godhead is one unique and transcendant
wholeness, beyond any limitations or expressions; thus, it is beyond our
understand and identify with this principle of Cosmic Oneness, except as
It is revealed to us in terms of It's
b) The most basic and meaningful attribute
of the One that we, as humans, can relate to and understand, is that of
of action and
reaction; therefore Witches recognize the Oneness of the Divinity, but
worship and relate to the Divine as
polarity of God and Goddess, the All-Father and the Great Mother of the
universe. The Beings are as
near as we can
approach to the One within our human limitations of understanding and expression,
though it is possible
the divine Oneness through the practices of the Mysteries.
c) Harmony does not consist of the pretty
and the nice, but the balanced, dynamic, poised co-operation and co-relation.
3. The Witch must recognize, and operate within the framework
of the Law of Cause and Effect; every action has it's
reaction, and every effect has it's
cause. All things occur according to this law; nothing in the universe
can occur outside
this law, though we may not always appreciate
the relation between a given effect and it's cause. Subsidiary to
the Law of Three, which states that
whatever goes forth must return threefold, whether of good or ill; for
our actions affect
more than people generally realize,
and the resulting reactions are also part of the harvest.
4. As Above, So Below. That which exists in the Macrocosm
exists, on a smaller scale and to a lesser degree, in the
Microcosm. The powers of the universe
exist also in the human, though in general instance they lie dormant.
and abilities can be awakened and used
if the proper techniques are practiced, and this is why initiates of the
sworn to guard the secrets from the
unworthy: Much harm can be done by those who have power without responsibility,
both to others and to themselves according
to the Laws of Cause and Effect and of Threefold Return.
a) Since our philosophy teaches that
the universe is the physical manifestation of the Divine, there can be
nothing in the
does not partake of the nature of the Divine; hence, the powers and attributes
of the Divine exist also in
though to much smaller degree.
b) These powers can be awakened through
the various techniques of the Mysteries, and, although they are only capable
in and of themselves, it is possible to use them in order to draw upon
the forces of the universe. Thus
be the wielders of the power of the Gods, a channel for Godhead to act
within It's own manifestation.
is further reason for the oath of secrecy.
c) Since the universe is the body of
the One, possessing the same attributes as the One, it's Laws must be the
by which the One operates. By reasoning from the known to the unknown,
one can learn of the Divine,
and thus of
oneself. Thus the Craft is a natural religion, seeing in Nature the
expression and revelation of Divinity.
5. We know that everything in the universe is in movement
or vibration and is a function of that vibration. Everything
vibrates; all things rise and fall in
a tidal system that reflects the motion inherent in the universe and also
in the atom. Matter
and energy are but two poles of one
continuous phenomenon. Therefore the Witch celebrates, harmonizes
and makes use of the tides of the universe
and of life as expressed through the cycle of the seasons and the motion
solar system. These ritual observances
are the eight great Festivals of the Year, referred to as the Wheel of
Further, the Witch works with the forces
and tides of the Moon, for this body is the mediator of much energy to
Earth and thus to ourselves.
6. Nothing is dead matter in the universe. All things
exist, therefore all things live, though perhaps in a different manner
that which we are used to calling life.
In view of this, the Witch knows that there is no true death, only change
condition to another. The universe
is the body of Godhead, and therefore possesses one transcendant consciousness;
things partake of the consciousness,
in varying levels of trance/awareness.
a) Because of this principle, all things
are sacred to the Witch, for all partake of the one Life.
b) Therefore the Witch is a natural
ecologist, for Nature is part of us as we are a part of Nature.
7. Astrology can be useful in marking and interpreting
the flow and ebb of the tides of our solar system, and thus of
use of those tides; astrology should
not be debased into mere fortune-telling.
8. Throughout the development of the human race, civilizations
have seen and worshipped many and various attributes of the
Divine. These universal forces
have been clothed in forms which were expressive to the worshipper of the
attribute of the
Godhead which they expressed.
Use of these symbolic representations of the natural and divine forces
of the universe,
or godforms, is a potent method for
contacting and utilizing the forces they represent. Thus the Gods
are both natural and
truely divine, and man-made in that
the forms with which they are clothed are products of humanity's
striving to know the
a) In keeping with the Law of Polarity,
these god-forms are brought into harmony by the one great Law which states:
Gods are one
God. All Goddesses are one Goddess. There is one Initiator.
This law is an expression of our
that all of the forces of the universe, by whatever ethnic god-form is
chosen to clothe and relate to
can be resolved into the fundamental polarity of the Godhead, the Great
Mother and the All-Father.
b) It is the use of differing godforms,
of differing ethnic sources or periods, which is the basis of many of the
various Traditions of the Craft. Each Tradition uses the forms, and
thus the names, which to that
express and awaken an understanding of the force represented, according
to the areas of
c) Because we know that differing names
or representations are but expressions of the same divine principles and
we require our
members to swear that they will never mock the names by which another honors
the Divine, even
names be different from and seemingly less expressive than the names and
godforms used by our
to the members of another Tradition, using it's names, ours may easily
seem equally less expressive).
9. A Witch refuses to allow her/himself to be corrupted
by the great guilt neuroses which have been foisted on humanity in
the name of the Divine, thus freeing
the self of the slavery of the mind. The Witch expresses responsibility
actions, and accepts the consequences
of them; guilt is rejected as inhibiting to one's self-actualization, and
by the efforts of the Witch to obey
the teachings of harmlessness, responsibility for the consequences of one's
the goal of actualizing the full
powers of the individual.
a) We refuse to believe that a human
being is born innately sinful, and recognize the the concepts of sin and
inhibiting to the human potential; the consequences of the Law of Cause
and Effect, called karma by
are not punishment, but the recurrences of situations and their effects
because the individual as not gained
needed to handle or avoid such situations.
b) There is no heaven except that which
we ourselves make of our life on Earth, and likewise there is no hell except
effects of our
unwise actions. Death is not followed by punishment or reward, but
by life and the continuing evolution of
the human potential.
c) One cannot damn the divine in oneself;
one can, however, cut oneself off from it through the rejection of wisdom
refusal to strive
for self-realization. This cutting off does not lead to personal
suffering in "hell", for there is no Self to
suffer if the
tie to one's own divinity has been severed; what remains is merely an empty
shell, a "personality" or
devoid of it's ensouling Spark of the Divine Fire.
10. We know of the existence of the life-force which ensouls
all living things, that is, all that exists. We know that a spark
this Divine Fire is within
each and every thing that exists, and that it does not die; only the form
of it's existence changes.
We know that this spark of
the life-force returns to manifestation again and again in order to fully
realize and actualize it's
potential, evolving finally
to the peak and essence of existence which is pure be-ing. In this
process of reincarnation
each form returns in the
same type of form, though it's ever-increasing actualization may lead to
higher levels of existence
of that form.
Man returns as man, cat as feline, mineral as mineral, each class of form
evolving as the individual forms of
that class evolve.
11. This process of evolution through successive incarnations
in manifest form works through the utilizations of wisdom
gained, the essence of the life-experience.
This essence of experience, or Wisdom, is an attribute of the spark of
itself, one and inseparable (see
12. We must care for the body, for it is the vehicle of the spark
of life, the form by which we attain. Thus we must heal the
body of it's ills and keep
it a tuned and perfected tool; so must we heal others (both physicaly and
psychologically) as far
as it is within our power
to do so. However, we cannot interfere with the life of another,
even to heal, except at their
request or with their express
permission; unless such non-interference would be inhibiting to our own,
and development -- and
even then the responsibilities and consequences must be understood and
accepted. This, then,
is one of the important
reasons for the communal life the Witches under the guidance of the Priesthood:
That the group
may be guided by wisdom
and experience, with the aid and support of one's peers; and that one's
actions may be guided
by the influence of the
ethical life of the group as a whole.
13. Harmony with, and utilization of, the great natural forces
of the universe is called magick. By magick we speak, not of the
supernatural, but of the superbly
natural, but whose laws and applications are not as yet recognized by the
establishment. The Witch
must strive to recognize these forces, learn their laws, attune her/himself
to them, and make use
of them. The Witch must
also be aware that power corrupts when used _only_ for the gains of the
self, and therefore
must strive to serve humanity:
Either through the service in the Priesthood, or by example and effects
of his/her life on
others. The choice must
be made in accord with the true nature of the Witch.