At the Spring Witchmeet of 1974 held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Council of American Witches adopted a document entitled 'Principles of Wiccan Belief' in an effort to inform, educate, and define for the general public, as well as new Craft practitioners, the central belief system of Wicca (Witchcraft). This document represents an overview of Craft law and theology, but does not contain the many nuances of the religious structure that most Witches may follow. As with any religious belief that has had time to grow and change, no single set of thirteen statements could completely define the faith. The Principles of Wiccan Belief serve well as a simplified explanation of the system.
Unfortunately, the Council of American Witches disbanded in that same year, but this does not mean the efforts they made were inconsequential--quite the contrary! Thirty years later, in 1994, the religion known as Witchcraft (Wicca) made history, when members of its belief system were invited to attend the World Parliament of Religions Conference in Chicago. Those attending included members of the Covenant of the Goddess (COG). Through their fine efforts, Wicca moved from what many thought of as a fad to find a definite place among the religions of the world.
The American Council of Witches'
Principles of Wiccan Belief
- 1. We practice rites to attune ourselves with the natural rhythum of life forces marked by the phases of the Moon and the seasonal quarters and cross-quarters.
- 2. We recognize that our intelligence gives us a unique responsibility toward our environment. We seek to live in harmony with nature, in ecological balance, offering fulfillment to life and consciousness within an evolutionary concept.
- 3. We acknowledge a depth of power far greater than is apparent to the average person. Because it is far greater than ordinary, it is sometimes called 'supernatural', but we seen it as lying within that which is naturally potential to all.
- 4. We conceive of the creative power in the Universe as manifesting through polarity--as masculine and feminine-- and that this same creative power lives in all people, and functions through the interaction of the masculine and the feminine. We value neither above the other, knowing each to be supportive of the other. We value sexuality as pleasure, as the symbol and embodiment of life, and as one of the sources of energies used in magical practice and religious worship.
- 5. We recognize both outer worlds and inner, or psychological worlds--sometimes know as the Spiritual World, the Collective Unconscious, the Inner Planes, etc.-- and we see in the interaction of these two dimensions the basis for paranormal phenomena and magical exercises. We neglect neither dimension for the other, seeing both as necessary for our fulfillment.
- 6. We do not recogize any authoritarian hierarchy, but do honor those who teach, respect those who share their greater knowledge and wisdom, and acknowledge those who have courageously given of themselves in leadership.
- 7. We see religion, magic, and wisdom in living as being united in the way one views the world and lives within it-- a world view and philosophy of life, which we identify as Witchcraft or the Wiccan Way.
- 8. Calling oneself "Witch" does not make a Witch--but neither does heredity itself, or the collecting of titles, degrees, and initiations. A Witch seeks to control the forces within him/herself that make life possible in order to live wisely and well, without harm to others, and in harmony with nature.
- 9. We acknowledge that it is the affirmation and fulfillment of life, in a continuation of evolution and development of consciousness, that gives meaning to the universe we know, and to our personal role within it.
- 10. Our only animousity toward Christianity, or toward any other religion or philosophy of life, is to the extent that its institutions have claimed to be 'the one true right and only way' and have sought to deny freedom to others and to suppress other ways of religious practices and belief.
- 11. As American Witches, we are not threatened by debates on the history of the Craft, the origins of various terms, the legitimacy of various aspects of different traditions. We are concerned with our present and our future.
- 12. We do not accept the concept of 'absolute evil', nor do we worship an entity known as 'Satan' or 'the Devil' as defined by Christian tradition. We do not seek power through the suffering of others, nor do we accept the concept that personal beliefs can only be derived by denial to another.
- 13. We work within nature for that which is contributory to our health and well-being. We are not bound by traditions from other times and other cultures, and owe no allegiance to any person or power greater than the Divinity manifest through our own being. As American Witches, we welcome and respect all life-affirming teachings and traditions, and seek to learn from all and to share our learning. We do not wish to open ourselves to the
destruction of Wicca by those on self-serving power trips, or to philosophies and practices contradictory to these principles. In seeking to exclude those whose ways are contradictory to ours, we do not want to deny participation with us to any who are sincerely interested in our knowledge and beliefs, regardless of race, color, sex, age, national or cultural origins or sexual orientation.