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rialrees
12-31-2011, 08:07 AM
Well I've been working through the backgrounds I have set up for my four main characters, and remembered that one of them is a wicca (with some of the usual additions and embellishments which plague the fantasy genre XD). I'd like her character to be less flashy than many of the wicca/witches I read about in YA fantasy, so I'm on the lookout for some source materials. (Wikipedia only goes so far... *whistles*)

Where am I best off starting? I have a very basic knowledge of the Wiccan philosophy (The Rede, duotheism, etc.), but I think I'm going to have to really sink my teeth into it if I'm ever going to develop this character beyond 'cliche witch person'. :D

So I'd appreciate some reference material, or even first hand knowledge if anyone here is practising! (A quick search told me that there are a few Pagans on the boards, which makes me incredibly happy!)

Oh and if you know of any fiction which includes good portrayals of wiccan characters (Fantasy or otherwise!), I'd be interested in this too!

To make sure I'm not just asking you all to tell me everything about wicca (would probably take months...) i'd like to find out details on this sort of stuff (apologies if this list makes me sound incredibly ignorant/sheltered/dim!)


What sort of systems do covens operate upon? as in, number attending, events, leadership, and general purpose really
Is it uncommon for wiccans to practise in solitude, or is it even more common than participating in a group?
What purpose (if any) does magic/spells serve as a part of wicca? Is this just a misconception of my own?
It's hard to distinguish between the blurry lines of paganism in my (admittedly limited) research to date, but do Sun/Moon cycles bear any importance upon Wicca?
Is the rule of three an actual Wiccan practise/belief, or just a mish-mash of media influence & misconception?


I'm aware that this is a really open-ended topic, being as there are different forms of wicca itself, but some (reliable) research material would be very beneficial to me, and I thank you beforehand :)

Sea Witch
12-31-2011, 08:20 AM
For reference material I'd recommend reading a book or two by Scott Cunningham, like this one (http://www.amazon.com/Wicca-Solitary-Practitioner-Scott-Cunningham/dp/0875421180/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1). He's dead now, but many regard(ed) him as the "go-to" person for all things Wicca.

rialrees
12-31-2011, 08:37 AM
Thanks muchly Sea Witch - aha! and it's on kindle too, most useful XD

rialrees
12-31-2011, 07:43 PM
Updated original post, as the resource provided by Sea Witch has already answered these questions marvellously! So thank you very very much sea witch XD

I'd still very much appreciate people's thoughts / sources regarding covens and the rule of three, and still hunting more fiction to read around with too :)

Thanks!

Snick
12-31-2011, 10:31 PM
There are many flavours of Wicca. If Cunningham's version works for you, then try it. If you need more thanwalk into a god bookstore and look at the religion section and randomly grab something on Wicca.

veinglory
12-31-2011, 11:18 PM
For a contemporary character I would suggest lurking at one of the major forums. There is a lot of diversity of practice.

BunnyMaz
01-01-2012, 02:54 AM
I would recommend ecauldron and UKPagan as online forums with a varied membership. There's a lot of non-Wiccan Pagans on those sites, but plenty of Wiccans, too, and both sites have great starter sections full of resources and people willing to answer the sort of questions you're asking. Just be sure to specify you're researching for a character.

I'm afraid I'm not a Wiccan Pagan myself, so sadly I can't help much with your questions. Although my understanding is that for a lot of people, Wicca is a group practice. I think at least some branches of it are considered Mystery Traditions? Could some AW Wiccans confirm or correct me?

rialrees
01-01-2012, 07:34 AM
@Snick Thanks for the suggestion. Whilst I'd happily swan into a bookstore and pick up anything I could lay my hands on, The stores in my rural area tend to stock fiction and a very limited supply of non fiction. I'd happily buy every book on amazon, except I'd like to know if people know what the more reliable sources are. There's plenty of attitudes and approaches to wicca, this much I know, but I feel like i've been fumbling in the dark for too long now. hence this post. :)

@Veinglory & Bunnymaz - Forum lurking is a great idea, and one i honestly hadn't considered. Thanks for this, and the relevant recommendations :)

Snick
01-01-2012, 07:45 AM
@Snick Thanks for the suggestion. Whilst I'd happily swan into a bookstore and pick up anything I could lay my hands on, The stores in my rural area tend to stock fiction and a very limited supply of non fiction. I'd happily buy every book on amazon, except I'd like to know if people know what the more reliable sources are. There's plenty of attitudes and approaches to wicca, this much I know, but I feel like i've been fumbling in the dark for too long now. hence this post. :)

You might also look at how Wicca is being handloed in fiction. there have been some novels that went into great detail about various Pagan beliefs and ceremonies, etc. take a good look in the antasy section, and you might look at some author sites or bios to see who might have written something useful.

dirtsider
01-02-2012, 06:55 PM
Someone already mentioned Scott Cunningham. His books are good starting points. You should also look up Gerard Gardner's books on Wicca as he's the one who started Wicca as we know it. Raymond Buckland is another author you should look into.

Ronald Hutton is a good author you should look at for modern Witchcraft and Druidism. Particularly his Triumph of the Moon. He's a scholar on the subject. TotM traces the rise of the Wicca/Witchcraft/Occult scene from the 1800's to the early 21st Century.

Barnes and Noble has a neat series on various New Age / Occult topic. Try looking up the Element Encyclopedia series on BN.com. The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft is a good starting point. There are other books in that series but that might get you started.

rialrees
01-02-2012, 07:56 PM
@Snick: I've read fantasy involving wicca for a fair amount of time now, what's difficult is separating the fact from the fiction. Not that it's much of an issue as I'll be making up more of my own fiction anyway :P But still. Rest assured I'm already reading around on the topic as much as I can, just like to get some tips about who the 'go-to-guys' would be.

@dirtsider - Quite the list there! That's excellent, thank you very much :) Plenty of reading material to keep me occupied for the next few weeks ;)

rainsmom
01-02-2012, 11:41 PM
Regarding your questions listed above, covens tend to vary GREATLY. They are extremely influenced by their leaders and members, in both good and bad ways. You're honestly safe creating a coven the way it works best for your book.

The Rule of Three goes hand-in-hand with the Rede, and yes, it's a real Wiccan tenet. Those two tenets have a LOT of influence over the type of magic that Wiccans will perform. There are a fair number who won't do any practical (read: not spiritual) magic because they fear it violates the Rede. Others will do practical magic but almost NEVER do anything offensive, only defensive.

rialrees
01-02-2012, 11:53 PM
Great to know rainsmom, thank you very much :)

Karen Junker
01-02-2012, 11:56 PM
Hi, there!

I am Wiccan -- of the variety that derives its practice from the British Traditional Wicca based in the New Forest area of England. While Gerald Gardner is responsible for the increased visibility of Wicca, he is by no means the one who invented it.

PM me if you would like more information.

NicoleJLeBoeuf
01-03-2012, 06:17 AM
First off:

"Wicca" is the religion. Note the capitalization, just as you'd capitalize the name of any other religion.

"Wiccan" is the adjective form. "Wiccan" is also the noun you use when referring to a practitioner. Again, it's good form to capitalize these, just as you would "Christian" or "Muslim".

It's a good idea to read articles written by Wiccans so that the terminology we use to describe ourselves begins to come naturally to you, so that when you write your book you won't jar readers by having your characters say things like, "I'm a wicca, so I believe in the Rule of Three" or whatever.

Next:

Seconding the recommendation of Scott Cunningham's books as being great introductions to Wicca. They provide a good overview at an appropriate entry level. And they're not dogmatic; he constantly points out that different Wiccans do things differently. It was his The Truth About Witchcraft Today that gave me to realize "Oh, there's a name for what I believe! And other people out there believing it!"

Another good online resource is www.witchvox.com - The Witches' Voice. It's full of articles from diverse points of view. The website covers all things Pagan, but it's pretty clear whether a given author is talking about Wicca or something else.

DrZoidberg
01-03-2012, 05:54 PM
Here's a good forum for asking questions:

http://www.ecauldron.com/forum/

I found it helpful when doing research for my own WIP. One word of caution though. Be a bit careful with historical statements. Ancient paganism is a dead religion. Apart from odd practices and traditions, it never survived anywhere into modern times. Modern paganism should be seen as a wholly modern invention = anything goes.

Ancient pagan religion was big on mystery cults, which means that, not only didn't they write their practices and beliefs down, but actively kept them secret. Nearly everything about these religions died with the last member. The written sources we have are almost exclusively ex-pagan Christian converts slagging them off = not reliable. The best knowledge we have is stuff we've had to infer from archaeological finds, which is extensive. But pretty low on definite answers. Only piles and piles of circumstantial evidence. It isn't made easier by the fact that paganism was highly regional and evolved very quickly.

Different regions have different "magical" numbers. Seven was the big one in Bohemia. Three was big in north Germany. So depending on where your story is set, it'll have it's own magical number.

Thump
01-03-2012, 06:18 PM
Cunningham and witchvox.com were my main sources back in the days when I was Wiccan. Cunningham had some interesting tomes about the uses for herbs that I particularly enjoyed. I was always more of a kitchen witch anyway :)

If your character is young, s/he might be more into Silver Ravenwolf whose books tend to be more sparkly teen witch while still being Wiccan. Her stuff is a bit more cliche but also more 'practical magick'. I enjoyed her books as a teen but I grew out of them once the excitement of "OMG! I'm a WITCH y'all!" passed. Hey, I was young, okay? :) Group rituals were awesome although depending on who was running them, they could be of the fluffybunny variety but I've never felt so accepted and loved by strangers outside of the Pagan community.

As a group, Pagans are my favourite among all the peoples of faith. If I was told "You can't be an atheist anymore, pick a religion and stick with it!", I'd go with Non-denominational Neo-Pagan ;) That said, the fundies are just as weird...

rialrees
01-03-2012, 06:19 PM
Thanks again everyone - yet more really good links and resources. I'm thoroughly enjoying delving in to all of these :D

DrZoidberg
01-04-2012, 01:48 PM
An interesting factoid (I think) is that the last pagan European kingdom to be Christianised was Lithuania (then considerably bigger than today, and a major world power) in the late 14'th century. But Poland-Lithuania (the new name under Christianity) was religiously tolerant and the new religion spread slowly. In the 17'th century pagan cults were still active albeit dying. The last Christian convert with first hand knowledge of ancient paganism died sometime in the 19'th century.

I find it fascinating that we're not that far removed in time from having access to real first-hand knowledge.

Thump
01-04-2012, 04:59 PM
Anecdote:

I was in France over the holidays and opening some of my old boxes that I packed up when I was a teenager. I found my athame in one. My dad picked it up and did some swashbuckling motions with it. I haven't been Pagan in 10 years but I still cringed :D
I gave my wand to my little sister because it's very pretty (handmade too!). She's not Pagan, she just likes pretty fantasy things :) It was not as easy as it ought to have been. Interesting the bond we form with these things even after giving up on god/s altogether...