Carl L Weschke

"The Principles of Wiccan Belief"

Reprinted in Drawing Down the Moon in 1979 Written by Margot Adler

Neo-Paganism is a term applied to a number of related movements that have attempted to revive ancient polytheistic (belief in more than one god) religions of Europe and the Middle East during the twentieth century. This term is customarily used in place of such words as "pagan" and "witch" because of negative associations with the witch-hunts that took place during the Middle Ages in Europe and during the seventeenth century in New England. Yet many Neo-Paganists call themselves witches, or Wiccans, and they meet in covens (the ancient word for groups of witches). While covens differ in structure and ritual, they share a tendency to worship nature as a way to renew connections between human beings and the universe.

When Neo-Paganism began to emerge in the 1960s, most covens met independently and often secretly, creating a sense of mystery. There were complex reasons for this sepa-rateness and lack of openess, such as the wish to avoid being misunderstood as worshipers of Satan or to preserve the validity of rituals. By the early 1970s, however, a split had taken place among the diverse groups: some insisted on maintaining strict codes of secrecy and would not reveal the names of mem

Many covens now meet openly and celebrate their connections with the world around them.

Reproduced by permission of Corbis/Bettmann.

Timothy Sullivan Photography Biography

bers of their groups; others wanted to announce themselves and share their ideas with people in the mainstream society. Yet most groups accepted the central Wiccan creed, "An ye harm none, do what ye will"; that is, people are free to act as long as they do not harm others.

In an attempt to unify the Wiccan movement, the Council of American Witches was organized and met in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in April 1973 to draft "The Principles of Wiccan Belief." The statement was written by Carl L. Weschke, director of the council and owner of Llewelyn Publishing, which printed witchcraft documents.

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