What Wicca Is

One of the biggest misconceptions about Wicca among the general public is that Wicca is Paganism. The truth is. Wicca is one aspect of Paganism. The best analogy is that Wicca is to Paganism as Baptist is to Christianity. The Baptist faith is one sect in Christianity and Wicca is one sect of Paganism. Other sects include Asatru (Norse), Egyptian (Temple of Isis), Druidic and many others. Within Wicca, there are also subdivisions, such as Dianic, Traditional Wicca (not to be confused with hereditary witchcraft) and Blue Star, to name a few. Even among the Wiccan traditions, there are variations in practice, traditions and pantheons (deity groups). On the whole, however, most Wiccan traditions, circles or covens recognize the Wiccan Rede in one form or another.

The Wiccan Rede is a set of guidelines written in rhyme and rhythm to make them easier to memorize and remember. The word “rede” [OE origin] means advice or council given by one to another. Although it’s origins are unclear, the Rede began appearing in books on Wicca during the 1970’s(1). The Rede, though not considered cannon among Wiccans, describes basic moral, spiritual and social protocols and explains the sabbats and other sacred aspects of the path. Not all Wiccan or Pagan people or groups follow the Rede exactly as it is stated. Most do, however, align themselves with the often-quoted last line. The Rede is offered in its entirety below for your review and evaluation. I have also included comments in brackets.

Wiccan Rede

Bide within the Law you must, in perfect Love and perfect Trust.
Live you must and let to live, fairly take and fairly give.

[There is no true law among Wiccans or Pagans, with the possible exception that many traditions have their members swear to secrecy with regard to their inner circle work. When you are working spiritually with any group, especially a small group as most Wiccan circles are, it is essential that you trust your circle members implicitly. This is even more true if you are a member of a group that works sky clad.]

For tread the Circle thrice about to keep unwelcome spirits out.
To bind the spell well every time, let the spell be said in rhyme.

[The wiccan circle is drawn in such a manner as to allow spirits to be able to enter the circle and join in the magickal work. However, it is also constructed to keep unwanted spirits out. Not everyone works in rhyme for their spells, nor does everyone state their spells out loud, but doing so gives them greater power.]

Light of eye and soft of touch, speak you little, listen much.
Honor the Old Ones in deed and name, love and light be our guides again.

Deosil go by the waxing moon, chanting out the joyful tune.
Widdershins go when the moon doth wane, and the werewolf howls by the dread wolfsbane.

[In the traditions with which I am familiar, the circle is cast deosil and dismantled widdershins. None that I know of follow this advice literally for the waxing and waning moons.]

When the Lady's moon is new, kiss the hand to Her times two.
When the moon rides at Her peak then your heart's desire seek.

[This is a reference reminding one to honor the Goddess and to use the full moon for magick or spells of request.]

Heed the North winds mighty gale, lock the door and trim the sail.
When the Wind blows from the East, expect the new and set the feast.

When the wind comes from the South, love will kiss you on the mouth.
When the wind whispers from the West, all hearts will find peace and rest.

[These four lines teach the correspondences for the directions.]

Nine woods in the Cauldron go, burn them fast and burn them slow.
Birch in the fire goes to represent what the Lady knows.

Oak in the forest towers with might, in the fire it brings the God's insight.
Rowan is a tree of power causing life and magick to flower.

Willows at the waterside stand ready to help us to the Summerland.
Hawthorn is burned to purify and to draw faerie to your eye.

Hazel the tree of wisdom and learning adds its strength to the bright fire burning.
White are the flowers of Apple tree that brings us fruits of fertility.

Grapes grow upon the vine giving us both joy and wine.
Fir does mark the evergreen to represent immortality seen.

Elder is the Lady's tree burn it not or cursed you'll be.

[These are the sacred woods of the Ogham.]

Four times the Major Sabbats mark in the light and in the dark.

As the old year starts to wane the new begins, it's now Samhain.
When the time for Imbolc shows watch for flowers through the snows.

When the wheel begins to turn soon the Beltane fires will burn.
As the wheel turns to Lamas night power is brought to magick rite.

[These are considered the “agricultural” sabbats and although we celebrate them on specific dates, at one time, their celebration depended upon the weather and state of the crops.]

Four times the Minor Sabbats fall use the Sun to mark them all.
When the wheel has turned to Yule light the log the Horned One rules.

In the spring, when night equals day time for Ostara to come our way.
When the Sun has reached it's height time for Oak and Holly to fight.

Harvesting comes to one and all when the Autumn Equinox does fall.

[Sometimes the solar sabbats are referred to God sabbats and the agricultural sabbats as Goddess sabbats.]

Heed the flower, bush, and tree by the Lady blessed you'll be.

[Instruction to honor all earthly things and cycles.]

Where the rippling waters go cast a stone, the truth you'll know.
When you have and hold a need, harken not to others greed.

With a fool no season spend or be counted as his friend.
Merry Meet and Merry Part bright the cheeks and warm the heart.

Mind the Three-fold Laws you should three times bad and three times good.
When misfortune is enow wear the star upon your brow.

Be true in love this you must do unless your love is false to you.
These Eight words the Rede fulfill: "An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will"

[These are rules of conduct.]

Rule of Three

The Rede mentions what is known as the Three Fold Law or the Rule of Three. This law or rule says that everything you send out comes back to you three times, much like the admonition your mother may have made to you as a child when she said, “Every time you point at someone, three fingers are pointing back at you.” It is a reminder that everything you do ripples out and comes back to you and a means to warn especially those new to the Craft that there can be a terrible price to pay for the magick we do. Personally, I believe in an equal and opposite reaction to every action and there is great debate on the validity of the Rule of Three. However, it is always wise to consider and reconsider any work you do, as there, indeed is always a price to pay and you must be prepared, willing and able to pay that price.

Deity in Everyone and Everything

Wiccans recognize the presence of Deity in every individual, as well as paying honor to deities and/or archetypes “separate” from the individual. I have put the word separate in quotes, since most Wiccans see no seperation between mortals and Deity. They may descrbe it as everyone being part of Deity, the Universe or the Whole. They may see it as having the spark of Deity in every individual. In either case, they feel such an intimate attachment and connection to Deity that they have no need for an intervening individual between them and what they recognize as Deity.

Because they see Deity in all individuals, there is a great respect for each individual and a willingness to accept others just as they are, with no effort to make them something they are not. This does not mean that they see everyone as being without faults, however, because they recognize the Deity in all individuals, they are more inclined to make an attempt to understand, accept, guide, teach and advise before they judge. They also believe that each person is responsible for his/er own life, spirituality, morality, goals, etc. For Wiccans, it is not only possible, but necessary for each individual to pursue, research, meditate on and fulfill his/er fullest potential, physically, spiritually and morally.

They recognize that every person’s path to spirituality is a personal journey with an individual end and honor the diversity of spirituality among their group members and within the Pagan community as a whole. It is their intimate connection to Deity that assists them in this journey. Since some people come to Wicca or Paganism due to spiritual trauma from other religions, they sometimes have trouble extending this tolerance back to their religion of origin. Such an attitude may require a great deal of study, guidance and spiritual growth to overcome and it is important to allow these individuals the time they need for that growth. Within the EarthPath Tradition, we encourage and instruct our students to have respect and honor for non-Pagan religions.

In addition to seeing Deity in everyone, most Wiccans and Pagans recognize that all things created are also part of that Deity. They strive to honor and care for all things, whether they are animate or inanimate. They connect with living things on a deep level and often are aware of guiding spirits in many forms, whether animal, mineral, vegetable or spiritual.

Wiccan Perception of Sacred Space

For Wiccans, sacred space is built wherever they work magick., honor the Earth and/or Deities and perform their rituals. They have no requirement for buildings, though they often associate themselves with United Universalist churches as CUUPS groups. They can build sacred space anywhere they wish by casting a circle, creating a shrine or simply recognizing the quarter spirits.

Wccans build what might be described as an “organic” circle. By that I mean that the space they create is designed to allow within the space those Deities and/or gentle spirits with which the person or group wishes to work or communicate with at the time. This differentiates from groups that practice Ceremonial Magick in that in Ceremonial Magick, the circle is a “hard” circle designed to keep entities out.

Wiccan circles, when drawn properly, invite the quarter spirits and elements into the circle to assist in maintaining the boundaries, while in Ceremonial, Quarter Guardians are called to keep the circle closed. It is not uncommon, in public rituals where people volunteer to call quarters, to notice that some people call the quarter spirits and some call guardians. This creates an unbalanced circle, with some of the quarters blocked, so to speak, and some organic. When you cast a Wiccan circle, take care to make sure your quarters are balanced,  regardless of the style you wish to use.

The Wiccan circle is not simply a circular line drawn on the ground. In fact, it is a sphere, a bubble, if you wish, that surrounds the person(s) within the circle. The edge of the circle is permeable by friendly spirits and protected against malevolent spirits. This is usually monitored by one of the members of the circle, sometimes referred to as a Guardian (in EarthPath, this person is the First Knight). If you are working alone, you will want to request that your guardian spirit monitor the boundaries of the circle for you.

Once the sacred space is complete, the practitioner(s) are “between the worlds,” in a space that is fully in neither the mundane world nor the spiritual world, but connected to both. All rituals and magickal work is done within this sacred space. It may take several minutes to build it or, with practice it can be done almost instantaneously. Once the work of the circle is completed, this sacred space is dissolved or “taken down” so that the space is once again open to the mundane world.

Basic Ritual Structure and Outline

Every ritual needs to have certain elements. It needs to have sacred space, the presence of Deity and helping spirit(s),  a need or purpose (the circle work), energy work  a commitment, a conclusion and completion. Below is a basic ritual outline. This can be expanded upon, depending on the needs of the circle. These elements will be covered fully in the section on ritual.

Cleanse space, physically
Cleanse space, metaphysically
Cast circle
Call Quarters
Call Deities
State purpose
Do magickal work, including your commitment to complete your part
Raise energy to project magickal work
DIRECT the energy to the Universe (never let the energy simply dissipate)
Cakes and Wine (you do NOT have to use alcohol for this)
Release Deities
Release Quarters (in reverse order)
Ground circle
Closing statement


Write a paper on your thoughts about the Wiccan Rede and the Rule of Three

For one week, consciously recognize the God/dess in each person you see. Each time you take notice of someone, say to yourself “He/she is a manifestation of God/Goddess. This is especially important to do if the person you notice is offensive to you. Write down your impressions and any change of attitude you experience.

What is sacred space for you? Notice what kind of space speaks to your spirit and journal your response. How would you create sacred space?

Write a simple ritual from the outline.

Email your exercises to and discuss any questions or special experiences with your mentor.

(1) http://www.waningmoon.com/ethics/rede1.shtml

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