Wicca is a contemporary spiritual religion, based on and reviving the ancient pre-Christian pagan religions of Europe. Wiccans believe in a divine force or power as the source of all. It is both immanent and transcendent while encompassing the whole universe. Therefore the world and all aspects within the world, "nature" and "life itself" in particular, are considered sacred.
Wiccans use ancient and modern ceremonies, rituals and shamanic practices to attune themselves to the natural rhythms of nature, the world, and the universe in their efforts to commune with this divine force.
To communicate with the force, Wiccans believe it to be manifest in the form of a Goddess and God. As they emanate from the same source, both retain equal power, hence equal status. By manifesting the power in two deities (Goddess and God), the natural balance of opposites, cause and effect are retained, e.g. Summer/winter, light/ dark, life and death etc. Each opposite is essential to maintaining the balance and rhythm of life on earth.
During ritual ceremonies and while working with magick, Wiccans call on many other deities. All other deities (the names of which are endless) are in essence merely differently named aspects of the same Goddess and God.
Wicca has no high authority, no single leader, no prophet and no bible to dictate its laws and beliefs. Every witch is as important as another and all share equal status. Most wiccans are solitary practitioners known as "Hedge Witches", but there are also many “Covens”. Covens include groups of up to 13 people, which is equal to the 13 phases of the moon during the year. Covens are normally presided over by a Priest or Priestess who has had years of practice in magick and ritual techniques. The Priest or Priestess is respected as an Elder and teacher of the craft.
All Wiccans adhere to one overriding ethical precept as stated in the"Wiccan Rede":
"Though it harm none, Do what thy wilt".
This is not a license to do whatever they want, more that it allows them the freedom of thought and actions to ascertain the truth, to communicate with and experience the divine and to determine how best to live their lives, if by doing so they cause no harm. See "Wiccan Rede".
This can also be taken as a cautionary reference to the one fundamental law governing magick and its use.
"The Three-Fold Law".
This states that whatever they do - be it for good or for evil - it will be returned to them, but magnified three times over. Therefore witches accept responsibility for all their own actions and are especially careful about how they use their magick, for to hurt someone or to cause distress, a spell is returned to sender three times better or worse. See "The Three-Fold Law".
Wiccans celebrate 8 major rituals each year called "Sabbats" (see "Sabbats"). There are 4 major and 4 minor Sabbats. The major Sabbats include: Imbolc (February 2nd), Beltane (April 30th), Lughnasadh (August 1st) and Samhain (October 31st), while the minor Sabbats are: Ostara (Spring Equinox, March 21st), Litha (Summer Solstice, June 21st), Madon (Autumn Equinox, September 21st), and Yule (Winter Solstice, December 21st).
The Sabbats are solar rituals marking the points of the sun's yearly cycle, and make up half of the Wiccan ritual year. The other half is made up with "Esbats", the Full Moon celebrations. There are 13 full moons each year symbolizing the goddess, wisdom and the inner self of the individual.
Wiccans and Pagans are ordinary everyday types of people and come from all walks of life, from all spectrums of society and from all over the world. Most are individuals seeking a personalized practical religion that can be adapted to suit their own needs and criteria. Wicca is a wonderfully diverse religion that meets those needs.
There are many differing paths and traditions contained within Wicca, each with it's own brand of ritual and magick. But perhaps the single most common theme among all these traditions, is an overriding reverence for life, nature, and the environment, as seen through the Goddess and God.