Wicca is one of the neo-pagan religions, and is one of the most popular and well-known. It shares many beliefs with other neo-pagan groups, but has many unique elements. On one hand the is one of the oldest religions because it is based in paganism, but it was revived in modern times starting in the 1940s. Virtually all Wiccan beliefs are based on the deities, beliefs and celebrations of Celtic society which flourished around 800 BC.
An Overview of Beliefs
Wiccan belief is based on rituals, seasonal observances, ethical precepts and magic. Wiccans practice a form of witchcraft, but they are very careful to make the distinction that it is not the kind of witchcraft that you might see portrayed in a Disney movie. They are very rooted in a naturalistic lifestyle and a desire to preserve the environment.
Wiccans believe that there is power in femininity and women take the leadership in the belief system. Wiccans are highly individualistic and believe that moral behavior should be dictated by the individual not by government or society. They have a very open view of human sexuality not found in most religions. Much of their worship revolves around nature and the passage of the seasons.
Individual Wiccans belong to a coven. Each must meet requirements for initiation. When initiated, Wiccans adopt a magical name to symbolize their acceptance into the coven. If an individual seeks to become a teacher than he or she must be admitted to higher degrees of acceptance before they can attain the title of "High Priest" or High Priestess." Only those who have attained the third level of initiation are allowed to establish new covens.
Views on Death and the After-Life
Beliefs about the afterlife vary widely among Wiccans although most believe in reincarnation. Interestingly, they do not believe that they were reincarnated from just anyone, but that they are the reincarnation of earlier witches. Wiccans are not reincarnated from body to body immediately and many believe that their soul rests between bodies in a place called Otherworld or Summerland.
Many Wiccans believe that they can contact the dead as spirit mediums or through the use of Ouija boards. Even though the Wiccan worldview embraces many such ideas, their focus is not on the afterlife. Their interest is in the present life. They don't believe in heaven or hell and think a person dies because they have learned all the lessons they could in this life and were ready to move on.
Mourning and Funeral Rites
Funeral rites can vary widely. Since they believe in reincarnation they see death as a rather transitory things and so mourning in the traditional sense is not appropriate. They do have a funeral rite which is open to all, and a Priest and Priestess, who are to be dressed in black and green, conduct a ceremony replete with altars and candles rooms and swords. The Priest and Priestess recite a liturgy which emphasizes the fleeting nature of this life and the permanency of Mother Earth.
In keeping with the free spirit associated with the Wiccan belief system, the funeral always ends with a party. Visitors are welcome to participate if they desire.
How to Express your Condolences
You may feel free to express your condolences in traditional ways, including an expression of loss and an offer of help to those surviving. A greeting card is appropriate as is a letter of condolence.
Important note: The statements made about beliefs and rites are general in nature and may vary by sect, denomination, country or ethnic group. The information provided here is intended as an overview, and if you have questions about specific matters you should contact the clergy or other person conducting the funeral service. If you read anything in this section that differs from the beliefs in your tradition, please contact usso we can update this page.