Some so-called 'Christians' berate Freemasonry because it accepts members who practice
the religious teachings of Wicca. Using inflammatory words like 'Devil Worshipers' and
'Satan', these anti-Masons employ a poison the well argument.
It's ironic from those who claim to follow a religious deity known for His love of all.
There are those who would argue that much of Christianity was derived from
Wicca, Druidism and other Pagan sources and that in order to gain a religious monopoly,
the Christian Church decided during the 15th century to hunt down and exterminate
believers in the Old Religion, and other heretics. They contend that the Church created an
imaginary evil religion, and argued that Wiccans were evil Witches who followed that
religion, kidnapped babies, killed and ate their victims, sold their soul to Satan, etc.
They claim that many were exterminated during these "burning times" which lasted until 1792 in
Europe and into the 1830's in South America and claim estimates which run as high as 10 million and
as low as 3,000. An accurate number (or the truth of these claims) cannot be
determined but it appears likely that between 100 and
300 thousand did suffer this fate. The Roman Catholic church preferred to burn witches; they were hung in
Protestant countries. According to legend as reported by Wiccans, they went underground, and stayed out of sight until the middle
of the 20th century.
Wicca emerged from the shadows in England in the 1950's with the
publishing of books by Gerald Gardner. It has expanded at a
fast pace in North America
and Europe. However it is little known
or understood by the general public because almost all Wiccans
keep their religious beliefs and practices
guarded. Those who allow their faith to be
known publicly are very heavily persecuted in North America; on a per-capita basis, they
may well be victimized more often than members of any other religious group. Many
assaults, arson, and economic attacks are reported yearly. There have even been shootings, one
public mass stoning and one lynching in recent years! Reports circulate frequently of
misinformed child protection officers seizing children from the homes of Wiccans because
they feared that they would be killed or abused in some Satanic ritual. The perpetrators
of this religious hatred are usually very devout, very concerned but terribly misinformed
people. They believe the misinformation that has been spread about Wiccans continuously
since the Middle Ages. It is only in Eastern Massachusetts
(home of the infamous Salem Witch Trials), Southern California and in a
few cities elsewhere in North America that most Wiccans feel secure while coming out of
the (broom) closet. In other areas, they tend to avoid persecution by keeping their
religious faith secret. Unfortunately, this policy can have negative results
speculate that because Wiccans remain underground, they must have something to hide. This
is a "no-win" situation with no obvious solution.
Here's what a U. S. Government source - the US ARMY CHAPLAIN'S
HANDBOOK: EXCERPT ON WICCA says:
(The US Army has prepared a book for the guidance of its chaplains when
dealing with a soldier of a non-traditional faith. The book is: "Religious
Requirements and Practices of Certain Selected Groups: A Handbook for Chaplains"
(1990) It can be ordered from: USAF Chaplain's Service Institute, Resource Division, 525
Chenault Circle, Maxwell AFB, Montgomery, AL 36112-6429. Pages 231-236 contain an
excellent description of Wicca.)
OTHER NAMES BY WHICH
KNOWN: Witchcraft; Goddess worshippers; Neo-Paganism, Paganism, Norse (or any
other ethnic designation) Paganism, Earth Religion, Old Religion, Druidism, Shamanism.
Note: All of these groups have some basic similarities and many surface differences of
expression with Wicca.
LEADERSHIP: No central leadership. The Covenant of the Goddess
annually elects a First Officer and there is a constitutional limit of two consecutive
terms, but in practice officers have almost always served for one year only. In 1991,
there are two co-First Officers, Phoenix Whitebirch and Brandy Williams.
MEMBERSHIP: Because of the complete autonomy of covens, this
cannot be determined. There are an estimated of 50,000 Wiccans in the United States (1).
HISTORICAL ORIGIN: Wicca is a reconstruction of the Nature
worship of tribal Europe, strongly influenced by the living Nature worship traditions of
tribal peoples in other parts of the world. The works of such early twentieth century
writers as Margaret Murray, Robert Graves and Gerald B. Gardner began the renewal of
interest in the Old Religion. After the repeal of the anti-Witchcraft laws in Britain in
1951, Gardner publicly declared himself a Witch and began to gather a group of students
and worshipers. In 1962, two of his students, Raymond and Rosemary Buckland (religious
names: Lady Rowen and Robat), emigrated to the United States and began teaching Gardnerian
Witchcraft here. At the same time, other groups of people became interested through
reading books by Gardner and others. Many covens were spontaneously formed, using rituals
created from a combination of research and individual inspiration. These self-created
covens are today regarded as just as valid as those who can trace a "lineage" of
teaching back to England. In 1975, a very diverse group of covens who wanted to secure the
legal protections and benefits of church status formed Covenant of the Goddess (CoG),
which is incorporated in the State of California and recognized by the Internal Revenue
Service. CoG does not represent all, or even a majority of Wiccans. A coven or an
individual need not be affiliated with CoG in order to validly practice the religion. But
CoG is the largest single public Wiccan organization, and it is cross-Traditional (i.e.
BASIC BELIEFS: Wiccans worship the sacred as immanent in
Nature, often personified as Mother Earth and Father Sky. As polytheists, they may use
many other names for Deity. Individuals will often choose Goddesses or Gods from any of
the world's pantheons whose stories are particularly inspiring and use those Deities as a
focus for personal devotions. Similarly, covens will use particular Deity names as a group
focus, and these are often held secret by the groups.
It is very important to be aware that Wiccans do not in any way worship or
believe in "Satan," "the Devil," or any similar entities. They point
out that "Satan" is a symbol of rebellion against and inversion of the Christian
and Jewish traditions. Wiccans do not revile the Bible. They simply regard it as one among
many of the world's mythic systems, less applicable than some to their core values, but
still deserving just as much respect as any of the others. Most Wiccan groups also
practice magic, by which they mean the direction and use of "psychic energy,"
those natural but invisible forces which surround all living things.
Some members spell the word "magick," to distinguish it from sleight
of hand entertainments. Wiccans employ such means as dance, chant, creative visualization
and hypnosis to focus and direct psychic energy for the purpose of healing, protecting and
aiding members in various endeavors. Such assistance is also extended to non-members upon
request. Many, but not all, Wiccans believe in reincarnation. Some take this as a literal
description of what happens to people when they die. For others, it is a symbolic model
that helps them deal with the cycles and changes within this life. Neither Reincarnation
nor any other literal belief can be used as a test of an individual's validity as a member
of the Old Religion. Most groups have a handwritten collection of rituals and lore, known
as a Book of Shadows. Part of the religious education of a new member will be to hand copy
this book for him or herself. Over they years, as inspiration provides, new material will
be added. Normally, access to these books is limited to initiated members of the religion.
PRACTICES AND BEHAVIORAL STANDARDS: The core ethical statement
of Wicca, called the "Wiccan Rede" states "an it harm none, do what you
will." The rede fulfills the same function as does the "Golden Rule" for
Jews and Christians; all other ethical teachings are considered to be elaborations and
applications of the Rede. It is a statement of situational ethics, emphasizing at once the
individual's responsibility to avoid harm to others and the widest range of personal
autonomy in "victimless" activities. Wicca has been described as having a
"high-choice" ethic. Because of the basic Nature orientation of the religion,
many Wiccans will regard all living things as Sacred, and show a special concern for
ecological issues. For this reason, individual conscience will lead some to take a
pacifist position. Some are vegetarians. Others will feel that, as Nature's Way includes
self-defense, they should participate in wars that they conscientiously consider to be
just. The religion does not dictate either position, but requires each member to
thoughtfully and meditatively examine her or his own conscience and to live by it. Social
forces generally do not yet allow Witches to publicly declare their religious faith
without fear of reprisals such as loss of job, child custody challenges, ridicule, etc.
against Wiccans is the result of public confusion between Witchcraft and Satanism.
Books about Wicca abound
and our website is created to discuss Freemasonry and anti-Masonry. One thing is
clear: at least some elements of Wicca have a commonality with the rituals of
Freemasonry. Did Freemasonry borrow from Wicca? It's highly unlikely and, in
fact, with the strong Protestant leanings of its original members seems nearly
impossible. There are, however, who believe that Wicca is simply a modern
'invention' and that its major proponent (Gardner) borrowed heavily from
Freemasonry. You can read a very succinct article recently published in the Atlantic
Monthly magazine which espouses that theory right here.
We'll repeat: we take no
position whatsoever on Wicca. We believe, however, that those
who practice this faith system have been subjected to
persecution similar in many ways to the persecution of
Freemasons and Freemasonry. Any similarity claimed or
alluded to between the fraternity and the faith is irrelevant for all intents and
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