Before 16-year-old Rebecca lights candles on the small altar in her bedroom each night, she says her prayers: "Hail, fair Moon, ruler of the night, guard me and mine until the light. Hail fair Sun, ruler of the day, make the morn to light my way." On her altar are four porcelain chalices representing the elements — air, water, fire and earth. Each contains rose petals, semi-precious stones, melted candle wax and dried leaves. They rest on the corners of a five-pointed star. A frog symbolizing "spirit" and "life" sits on point five of the pentagram. Here, in front of her altar, Rebecca performs rituals and casts spells.
Rebecca is one of the growing number of teenage girls who practice Wicca. For the past half-century, this religion has been growing by leaps and bounds in Europe and North America. Drive to the mall and you'll see cars with bumper stickers declaring, "The goddess is alive. Magic is afoot!" Flip on the tube or go to the movies and you'll find witches portrayed as young, powerful and glamorous. From "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" to The Craft, something is definitely "afoot" in American culture.
Wicca Goes Mainstream
For many reasons, including the positive attention they're getting in entertainment, paganism, goddess worship and witchcraft have a new crop of devoted followers. The book Teen Witch: Wicca for a New Generation has sold more copies for occult publisher Llewellyn than any other in its 95-year history. Also, the Christian-based Spiritual Counterfeits Project hotline in Berkeley, California, reports receiving more inquiries about Wicca in recent years than any other religion. The callers are nearly all teenage girls.
It's hard to deny that Wicca and other similar practices are exploding in popularity. Possibly you've experimented with these religions yourself. Or maybe you have friends who call themselves Wiccans. Whatever the reason for your curiosity, this article will help you discover the truth about Wicca, what its followers believe, why it's so appealing and how it's at odds with God's Word.
What Is Wicca?
Wicca is a complex religion that is often associated with witchcraft, occultism and neo-paganism. The way these words overlap can get confusing, so let's dive into the dictionary.
Wicca: From the Anglo-Saxon word wicce. It means to bend or shape nature to your service.
Witchcraft: The practice of magic or sorcery by anyone outside the religious mainstream of a society. This term is used in different ways in different times and places.Robert Ellwood, "Witchcraft," Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2000.
Occultism: Belief in practices such as astrology, alchemy, divination and magic that are based on "hidden knowledge" about the universe and its mysterious forces. Occultists try to tap into this unseen knowledge to bring about whatever effects they desire.Robert Ellwood, "Witchcraft," Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2000.
Neo-Paganism: The recent revival of ancient polytheistic European and Middle-Eastern religions. Neo-paganism is a loosely defined system of worshiping nature and the gods of nature.
These terms may seem as clear as mud. Since different people use them to mean different things, it can be hard to keep them straight. What's important to notice are the common themes of worshiping nature and using spiritual forces to get results. Most anyone who calls himself or herself a Wiccan, goddess worshiper or witch practices these things. Another important thing to remember is that Wicca is not the same as Satanism. In fact, most witches don't believe in Satan at all.
In addition, Wiccans live by one central rule called The Rede, which says, "Harm no one, do what you will." In other words, witches are free to do whatever seems right to them as long as they avoid harming others. A closely related rule is the Threefold Law, which instructs that "anything you do will come back to you three times over."
Other Wiccan Beliefs
Wiccans worship "the mother goddess" and her companion "the horned god." They say both of these deities manifest themselves in nature. For instance, Rebecca's prayer acknowledged the sun as the female goddess and the moon as the god. You may also have heard the goddess referred to as Mother Nature. Wiccans believe that the goddess is in everything — in rocks and in trees, the earth and the sky.
Sometimes, the goddess is represented by specific female deities such as the ancient Greek goddesses Artemis (the goddess of the wilderness) or Gaia (the goddess of the Earth), who was celebrated in the film Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Some Wiccans even claim that the goddess is Mary, the mother of Jesus. The horned god is often represented by the lusty Greek god Pan or the Egyptian god of the dead, Osiris.
Most Wiccans celebrate eight holidays or "sabbats" centered on the solar cycles and "esbats" centered on the lunar cycles. These celebrations are supposedly times of heightened interaction between the natural and supernatural worlds.Sarah Hinlicky, "Witch Path Would You Choose?" www.boundless.org, 1999.
Magic and spell-casting are an integral part of Wicca. Wiccans say that spells are symbolic acts performed in an altered state of consciousness in order to cause a desired change. There are spells to overcome loneliness, to attract money, to bring inner power and to bind an enemy, among others. Witches acknowledge that spells can be used to do good or harm.
Wicca has no central book (like the Bible) that spells out its beliefs, so witches practice their religion in different ways. Some witches meet in groups called covens or circles, while others practice alone.Vivienne Crowley, The Principles of Wicca (Thorsons, 1997), pp. 6-7.
We've already mentioned "Buffy" and The Craft, and then there are "Sabrina the Teenage Witch," "Charmed" and Practical Magic. Why are movies, television and magazines so obsessed with Wicca and witchcraft? And why are teens, especially girls, so enthusiastic about picking up the trend? Here are a few factors that might help explain this phenomenon:
Girl Power: According to its own myths, Wicca began more than 35,000 years ago within earth's very first civilization. In this culture, women ruled. Life was peaceful and prosperous, and people worshiped nature and the goddess. The serene existence was supposedly shattered when male warriors invaded the nurturing female-led communities.Starhawk, The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess (Harper, 1999), p. 27. Wiccans say that throughout history, they have been fighting to overcome the oppression of a male-ruled society. Today, Wiccans claim there is a goddess revival. They say women are reclaiming their power after living under male domination for too long. They call for women to usher in a new era of peace by throwing off the "shackles" of "male-dominated monotheistic religions" such as Christianity and follow the goddess again in all her forms. It's easy to see why this myth has huge feminist appeal.
Just Plain Power: The thought of being able to control spiritual forces sounds pretty good to many teens who otherwise might feel powerless. Wiccans boast that their religion gives even young witches a great deal of control. Also, the secrecy of rituals may provide a sense of power.Sarah Hinlicky, "Witch Path Would You Choose?" www.boundless.org, 1999.
Saving the Earth: Teens who have grown up hearing news about the rapid destruction of the environment are likely to feel compelled to do something to help stop it. Wicca seems to provide an opportunity to treat nature with great care and reverence.
Having It My Way: Wicca has no set rules or absolute standards. Think back to The Rede, which tells followers to "do what you will." In Wicca, each individual gets to decide on his or her own rules. As one Wiccan high priestess notes, "Within the circle there are no absolutes — no rights and wrongs."Vivienne Crowley, "The Initiation" in Jones and Matthews, Voices from the Circle, p. 82. Since most teens don't believe in truth or absolute moral standards, Wicca can appear to be the perfect mix 'n' match religion.
Unfortunately, though these things may sound good, they're deceptions that lead followers down a path to destruction.
In Over My Head: A Former Wiccan Tells Her Story
Kathy was raised in the church but rejected its teaching in her teens. She lived in Salem, Mass., a place with a history of witchcraft and many practicing Wiccans. "I was always kind of artsy, different and non-conformist," she says, "Wicca attracted my interest because it appealed to those facets of my personality. It was certainly non-conformist, and I liked the mystery surrounding it." So Kathy found a Wiccan high priestess who took her under her wing and taught her how to be a witch. "She told me it was all white magic, and that's all I was interested in."
But after a few years, things turned sour. "The more I learned, the more things started to spiral downward, deeper and deeper into darkness and black magic. I became very good at what I was being taught. My teacher never acknowledged Satan but did say there was something called 'the abyss' that we should avoid."
For Kathy, however, that proved to be difficult. "One hot summer night I was lying awake in my bedroom when all of a sudden the room became very cold. I started to shiver and broke out into a cold sweat, although it was the height of summer. A cold wind blew in through my windows, startling me. Now I was terrified. I hugged my knees to my chest and gasped as a legion of what can only be described as black demons encircled my head, all laughing at me. I started screaming out my Wiccan spells to rebuke them, hoping they would disappear. That only made things worse. The laughter escalated with each spell I tried.
"Then all of a sudden I remembered my days in Sunday school as a child and the teachings of Jesus. I hadn't thought about that in a long time. In a loud voice I called upon Jesus Christ to rid the room of this dark presence. Instantly they were gone, and my bedroom was once again calm and warm. My life was never the same after that."
The next day on the way to school Kathy told herself, You have some serious personal inventory to do. She walked into a church that afternoon and has never looked back. Kathy is a Christian now and warns women who think Wicca is harmless. "A lot of women think that by practicing Wicca, worshiping this so-called goddess, that they are celebrating their womanhood. I am here to tell them there is a lot more to it than that. Lots of them haven't had the experiences I have. But they can and will if they stick with it. It's like the warning on a pack of cigarettes: 'Wicca is dangerous and could be hazardous to your health.'"
What Does God Think About Witchcraft?
Since you're reading this article, you're probably curious about how Wicca measures up to the Bible. Can you be a Christian and dabble in Wicca? What does God have to say about magic and the supernatural world? Keep reading!
The spiritual world is real, and so is Satan.
One thing Wiccans have right is that there is a supernatural world that interacts constantly with the world we see, touch and smell. Unfortunately, they believe it's okay for humans to interact with spirits and spiritual forces any way we choose. To the contrary, the apostle Paul writes that the spiritual realm is potentially dangerous. Therefore, we need to treat it the way God tells us to and be prepared for spiritual battles of good versus evil.
The Bible says:
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Ephesians 6:12-13)
Many Wiccans say that Wicca is harmless and nature-loving — that it has nothing to do with evil, Satanism and dark forces. But that is exactly what Satan wants them to believe! Intent on deceit, "Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light," says Paul. "It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness." Paul says that if they don't turn toward God and repent, "their end will be what their actions deserve" (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).
We should worship God, not His creation.
Wiccans are also right to care for and appreciate nature. But they go too far when they start worshiping it. Jesus tells His followers in the Gospel of Luke, "Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only" (Luke 4:8). Creation is merely a reflection of His glory and is not to be worshiped.
The Bible says:
For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.… They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator — who is forever praised. Amen. (Romans 1:21-23, 25)
Don't try to contact or control supernatural forces.
Magic and spells depend on what Wiccans call a psychic link. Psychic development can involve training in divination — the attempt to obtain information about the past, present or future by occult means or one's own psychic abilities.Craig S. Hawkins, Goddess Worship, Witchcraft and Neo-Paganism (Zondervan, 1998), p. 21. The Bible is very clear that divination and any other form of supernatural contact (other than prayer, of course!) is forbidden, since it relies on a supernatural power apart from God. In other words, there is no such thing as "white magic."
The Bible says:
Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord, and because of these detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you." (Deuteronomy 18:10-12)
Do not practice divination or sorcery. (Leviticus 19:26)
Jesus is the Source of real girl power.
Many Wiccans are critical of the church's view of women. They claim that Christianity does not empower women, whereas Wicca does. While it's true that some Christians have distorted God's Word and not honored women, the Bible says that men and women are equally important in the eyes of God.
The Bible says:
So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:27)
Because God places a high value on women as bearers of His image, Christianity honors women in a way that's unique. That's why women were often with Jesus during His ministry. And in John 4 we see Jesus treating a Samaritan woman with utmost respect, even though men weren't supposed to talk to women, and Samaritans were considered outcasts in Jewish society.
We don't need to make up our own rules.
In Wicca, each follower is told to do as she wills. Their only standard is that no one should do harm. In other words, there is no absolute truth. But this presents several problems. First, how can one be sure that no harm is being done? Is there any way to know all the consequences of an action? No! And aren't personal feelings a wishy-washy method of determining right and wrong? After all, Alex Sanders, a well-known Wiccan who died in the 1980s, wrote, "A thing is good for me until I feel it is not right for me." Another witch named Stewart Farrar elaborated, "The witch's own conscience must be the final arbiter."Catherine Edwards, "Wicca Casts Spell on Teenage Girls," Insight Magazine, October 25, 1999. What if a witch one day feels that incest or murder is the right thing to do? Is there anything to stop him? Even though most Wiccans would say that these things are wrong, they have no firm basis for saying so.
Christianity, on the other hand, provides a powerful authority for denouncing racism, crime or any other moral wrong: God's holy character and His Word, the Bible.
The Bible says:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Wiccans do not believe in sin as Christians do. They see sin as an outdated, constraining concept. Therefore, they see no need for God. Wiccan high priestess Starhawk says, "We can now open new eyes and see there is nothing to be saved from, no struggle of life against the universe, no God outside the world, to be feared and obeyed."Starhawk, The Spiral Dance, p. 27. Through spiritual self-improvement, Wiccans hope to reach their equivalent of heaven, called the Summerland or the Land of Eternal Youth.
On the other hand, the Bible tells us that no amount of good work can earn us eternal life. Through Christ alone we are saved.
The Bible says:
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." ( Jesus in John 14:6)
It's Your Choice
God has made it clear that Wicca is dangerous and incompatible with Christianity. He made His creation for us to enjoy as a reflection of His character, but not to be worshiped instead of Him. Wicca may seem attractive, magical and different, but it does not give eternal life and a relationship with the God of the universe. If you choose Wicca, you cannot choose God as well, because He will not tolerate worship of anything but Himself. He is perfect and holy. Study God's Word and you will find that a life centered on the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who gave His life for us on the Cross is better than anything we could ever find here on earth.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations in this publication are from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION® NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All Rights Reserved.