October 20th 2017
Wicca (or Modern Pagan Witchcraft as Ronald Hutton calls it) is one of the religions that sits beneath the umbrella of Paganism. At the moment, Wicca isn’t a recognised religion in the UK, but that doesn’t bother those of us who practice it – to us, it is our religion – it has community leaders or Elders, it has a community, a world view and recognised celebrants who can help others by performing public rituals like Handfastings (weddings)or funerals. What we don’t have is one single holy book, like the Bible or the Torah. And we don’t have one recognised leader, like the Pope or the Chief Rabbi. We are organised into small and very private groups, or covens that are accessible only through a process of training and initiation, and most of us don’t talk about this openly in public. Our coven leaders will sometimes come out into public to speak about certain topics. In the UK, we are divided into two main streams of Wicca, both named after their founders – Gardnerian (after Gerald Gardner, who began this whole tradition in the 1950s, following the repeal of the Witchcraft Act in 1951) and Alexandrian, (after Alex Sanders).
Wiccans will refer to themselves as Witches, but you don’t have to be Wiccan in order to practice witchcraft. Anyone from any spiritual background can practice witchcraft and work with magic, so you may find Christian witches, atheist witches, or any number of different strands of people practicing witchcraft in the world.