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  3. Introduction

Lately, you might have noticed that the words Witch, Witchcraft, and Wicca pop up everywhere — on television and radio programs, in movies, at bookstores, in magazines, on the Internet, and even in casual conversations. These terms are not new, but they have finally lost their negative connotations. TV witches are no longer portrayed as ugly, evil crones — no more warts, wrinkles, and pointy black hats. Instead, the characters and people presented could live next door — and some probably do!

Surprised? Don't be. Wicca is among the fastest-growing religious systems in the United States; it is even recognized by the U.S. military. Similarly, witchcraft is a rapidly growing practice/methodology in which magick (manipulating energies) plays a key role.

Notice the important difference between Wicca and witchcraft: although the two are related, and share similar practices, the beliefs behind them are often different. To keep it simple, remember that Wicca is a religion, like Christianity, while witchcraft is a methodology. Wiccans generally practice witchcraft, but witches may not necessarily share Wiccan beliefs and therefore would not consider themselves Wiccan.

Confused? That's okay; sometimes even those who have been practicing magick for decades still have to pause and consider how to define themselves in easily understood terms. The Everything® Wicca & Witchcraft Book is one such pause for explanation and definition.

This book's goal is to provide you with a plethora of useful information. It is, in fact, a guide that will cover everything you need to know in order to better understand both Wicca and witchcraft, and even learn some magick to practice yourself. Here you'll discover where these two systems fit into the broad-based Neo-Pagan community, and you'll get an overview of their origins. You'll also find out how each system is practiced and who, exactly, is shaping this swelling spiritual wave.

Are you curious about elemental and planetary correspondences for plants and animals, or how to effectively construct a ritual in a truly magickal way? Would you like to know whether witches are psychic, what kinds of ethics Wiccans hold dear, what divinatory tools magickal folk prefer (and why), or if any of the superstitions about witches are true? The answers are all here!

In this book, as in most others on this topic, you will read about the many personalities (mentioned or quoted directly) who have contributed in one way or another to what Wicca and witchcraft are today. Who are these people, what walks of life do they come from, and why are they important to the Craft? To fully understand Wicca and witchcraft, you will need to get a good feel for the real people leading these movements.

As you read, keep in mind that Wicca and witchcraft are composed of many vision-based faiths and practices, shaped intimately by the individuals walking their chosen paths. This means that no book can be the “final authority” on Wicca and witchcraft. The information provided here is generalized — a picture painted with a broad brush, if you will, of what's common and popular in Wicca and witch-craft. It's quite possible that you could meet a witch or Wiccan who does things differently than what's portrayed in these pages. There's a lot of room for improvising, borrowing from other cultures and paths, and personalizing these practices. In fact, the ability to transform and adapt with the earth, society, and each person's individuality is among the cornerstones of eclectic witchery and Wicca, as well as of many Neo-Pagan traditions.

Having the option of adapting custom and heritage does not mean traditional concepts and practices should be tossed out with the proverbial bath water. Some witches and Wiccans only follow older or familial systems with specific rules and rites. They honor tradition, believing that it draws its power from use and refinement over generations. But nevertheless, even the most stringent of magickal traditions has room for spontaneity and ingenuity at suitable moments.

Finally, I should point out that both my perception of and my communication about Wicca and witchcraft are certainly influenced by my own experiences. I consider myself a witch and a magician. Magick is an intimate part of my everyday life, and I am very pleased and excited to be sharing its wonders and blessings with you.

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  2. Wicca and Witchcraft
  3. Introduction
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