Wicca is often mistaken for Witchcraft. The truth of the matter is, Wicca is a religious faith all of its own. What might surprise people even more is that Wicca is a very loving religious practice, one that demands its followers to adhere to strict ethics and high morals. Summed up, these ethics convey the Wiccan Law of "Harm None", which enforces those of Wiccan faith to be consistently mindful of their daily actions and resulting effects, and their interactions with mankind, animals, and the environment in which we live.
Wicca incorporates a combination of religious beliefs and practices in its studies. These include; Eastern Philosophy, Mystical Quabalah, and old European traditions. From Eastern Philosophy, Wicca derives its belief system of Cause and Effect, Karma and Reincarnation. The Quabalah lends its principles of Spiritual Evolution through 'path-working', as well as Esoteric Knowledges. And, from European tradition Wicca receives its passions and understandings of nature and many of its Deities.
What Do Wiccans Worship? The foundation of Wicca is based on the teachings and belief that there are many forms of 'Divine Spirit' which reside with us here on Earth, as well as in 'Heavenly' Realms, all of which are benevolent, and accessible by mankind to assist us with our needs - both physical and spiritually. Many of these Divine Beings are found in Nature - in the elements, the sky, and the Earth 'Herself'.
How Do Wiccans Worship? Wiccans base their primary observances on what is referred to as 'The Wheel of the Year'. This 'Wheel' contains eight times in each year where the changes of the seasons are celebrated by Ritual to pay tribute for the gifts and opportunities inherent in each season. Examples include the asking for protection and needs to be meet during winter months, the 'calling forth' of spring (seed and planting time), and giving thanks for crop abundances in the autumn.
What Are "Wiccan Tools" and Why Are They Used? During festivals, Wiccans use ritual tools to assist them with their performances. These include athames, wands, chalices, bowls, candles, and pentacles. Most all of these items correlate with an element of nature, and each has a specific purpose to aid in rituals - which are often performed to portray the roles which Divine Spirits play in interacting and impacting our daily lives. Wiccans also use divination tools, such as crystal balls, pendulums, and Tarot cards for seeking spiritual advice and gaining insight into the future.
Wicca and Magick: Much of the misconceptions about Wicca stem from its practice of performing 'magick'. This magick is often (wrongfully) attached to some type of devil-worship by those who do not take the time to research the facts. In truth, most Wiccans do not even believe in a devil. And, if they did, the Code of Ethics and Principles of Wicca would enforce its followers to stand clear of "him". Again, Wicca promotes well-being unto all.
The Origins of Magick: The art of performing magick dates back to prehistoric man, whereas tokens of appreciation were offered during semi-rituals by the tribes in hope of being granted particular blessings from the Gods of Old. The most common documented proof of the Gods that were believed in during this era were those of Fertility Goddesses and Gods of the Hunt, both of which were honored frequently in exchange for food and safety.
Magick Today: Today, much of the makings of magick in Wicca is based on the same platform: Celebrations, dances, and feasts are performed to pay honor to particular Divine Spirits in exchange for blessings which are bestowed. Crafts are made and tokens are offered in the same fashion. These magicks range from elaborate gatherings of wiccan multitudes, to the less casual practices of solitary wiccans, whereas an individual (or group of a few) will perform smaller rituals to gain more personal-type blessings.
Other Tools of Craft: It is believed by wiccans that most all natural materials, from stones to plants, withhold specific 'energies' which may be utilized in magick as additional aids for attaining specific results. The Most popular of natural materials is perhaps the usage of herbs. Herbs are incorporated into magick by way of making crafts by them for offerings and tokens of appreciation and honor. Herbs are a also incorporated into magickal workings for their large variety of pleasing fragrances, and for this reason are commonly used in incenses -- which are burned during all religious ceremonies in effort to attract and compliment the Divine Spirits.
Summary: Wicca, during the past many years, has done much in the way of promoting religious tolerance in the publics eye. It is not within the religious practice of Wicca to solicit new members or reform those of other religious creeds. But rather, to teach, by example, the many blessings bestowed upon those who abide by the Law of Love.
Each of the Great Religions of the World is based upon the teachings of making personal improvements and rising above our environments, helping those in need, and becoming more spiritually evolved. It seems impossible, therefore, that with so many similarities among various religions - that any particlar creed could be right or wrong.
With all of the struggles that separate mankind in today's world, I maintain that Religion should not be one of them. But in fact, should be a common ground that unites us all - despite a cultures 'name' for its God (or Goddesses) and the origins or mythic tales attached. I believe that "God" -- in any aspect, is most likely BI-LINGUAL (speaking many languages) and is present to all cultures.
I further suggest that any Almighty Being has better things to do than play monopoly among religious creeds. Education is the key to understanding, and there are many well-written informative and 'accurate' books on Wicca available.