Wicca: A catalyst for confidence and self-growth

Isabella Russotti and her Wiccan wand.

Barbara Carbonell/Contributing Writer

Religion serves a multitude of purposes in society, and these beliefs often mean different things to different people. To some, they serve as a moral code. Others see their religion as a way to shape their worldview and to lead their lives. This is true of most religions, and contrary to popular belief, it’s no less true of Wicca.

To Ashley Rein, senior English major at FIU, being a Wiccan means cleansing and positivity. It means gaining the confidence to cut toxicity and negative influences out of her life, while still addressing and improving her own personal flaws.

Wicca is a relatively new religion, especially when compared to other religions like Judaism, which has been around for nearly 3,800 years. Modern-day Wicca began in the United Kingdom around the 1950s, but its origins date back to ancient practices of witchcraft.

Since its birth, Wicca has grown in popularity. According to the 2001 American Religious Identification Survey by the City of New York, Wicca was the country’s fastest-growing religion, with 134,000 adherents, compared with 8,000 in 1990.  

Isabella Russotti shows PantherNOW some of her Wiccan supplies.

At the very core of Wicca is the Wiccan Rede: “An it harm none, do what ye will.”

Followers of the religion have a karmic view of human interaction, and they believe that anything they do or put forth into the world will return to them threefold. This goes for both negative and positive actions, and using witchcraft in order to harm others is strongly discouraged in the community. Wiccans who practice magic at all usually practice white magic, as opposed to the more malevolent black magic.

“If we harm somebody, it’s not Wicca,” said Rein. “You’re breaking the one rule we have.”

Regardless of Wicca’s peaceful and positive nature, the religion has a bit of a bad reputation. People often mistake Wicca for devil worship, when in fact, the concept of the Christian devil doesn’t exist in Wicca at all. Wiccans believe in and pray to their God and Goddess, though many covens pray primarily to the Goddess, who takes the shape of maiden, mother and crone.

“It’s more female-oriented,” said Erin Weston, professor at the Department of Religious Studies in FIU.  “There’s the mother-maiden-crone, so [it is about] respecting and honoring the different ages and the different wisdoms that come through the female.”

This resonated with Rein, who’d always felt that her personal god was something feminine.

Isabella Russotti, an FIU alumnus with a BA in Religious Studies, feels similarly about the presence of a female deity in Wicca. When asked what she felt was appealing about Wicca, Russotti answered confidently.

“That it was female-centered…there was a feminine deity,” Russotti said.

The symbol on the stone and bag represent the Goddess.

Another aspect of Wicca that drew Rein in was the openness they found in the religion. Wicca is accepting of everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation and race. Rein feels that a lot of hate is associated with other more popular religions, and she wouldn’t want to be associated with that. She also found that Wiccans were more tolerant in contemporary socio-political issues.

“We don’t judge.  While it is nature that you are carrying a child, it is your choice. We’re pro-choice. We believe it’s your body; we don’t control it,” Rein said about the Wiccan view of abortion.

This open-minded view sets Wicca apart from other major religions, many of which were founded far before Wicca and have kept their policies relatively static since their very beginnings.

Several other features set Wicca apart from the more orthodox traditions of religions like Judaism and Christianity. One characteristic of Wicca is the importance it places on nature. Being a Wiccan means having respect and reverence for the earth.

Weston ties this into our current relationship with the environment.

“God is here with us, especially in nature,” said Weston.  “It’s a very nature-oriented religious path, and many people believe that that’s partly because we have lost that. So where indigenous groups around the world have maintained more of a relationship with nature, in the west, with the Judeo-Christian path, a lot of us living in cities have lost our connection to the environment.”

Another distinctive aspect of Wicca pertains to its attitude towards other religions. Religious institutions often shun rival belief systems, and it is not unusual for them to proclaim that their way is the true way to salvation, according to Weston. Wiccans have a different approach to religion.

“It’s not a path that says this is the only way to get there,” said Weston. “It’s a path that says ‘this is the way I want to get there.’” To her, it isn’t at all unusual to come across a Wiccan who actively practices another religion, and this is something that’s accepted within the community.

Finally, Wicca encourages its followers to pray and practice however they might prefer to do it. There aren’t really any strict rules as to how rituals must be carried out, and though certain materials can be used for the facilitation of these rituals, they are by no means a necessity. Prayers can be recited using something as simple as a candle.

Russotti attests to Wicca’s leniency.

“The thing about Wicca,” said Russotti.  “I like how it’s very much ‘make it your own’, because there’s no real wrong way to do it. It’s all about intention.”

On a personal level, Rein feels that practicing Wicca has helped her to gain confidence. She feels that her experience with it has been a cleansing one. When she notices toxic people or influences, she now feels confident enough to cut them out. Wicca has also helped her to work on her own defects, and she’s learned to accept them and work on them.

She’s come across people who seem interested in Wicca and ask questions about it, even while being devoted to a different religion entirely. Rein believes this to be a generational difference, and she feels that people in her generation tend to be more open-minded to different religions and belief systems.

1 Comment on "Wicca: A catalyst for confidence and self-growth"

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