Back in 1974, from April 11th through the 14th, a group of about seventy-three Pagans and Witches of varying traditions came together in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This Council of American Witches later the same year, not officially, mostly due to busy lives for the members. However, while they were convened they attempted to form a statement of common principles and definitions shared by Witches in order to dispel misinformation. These principles have been incorporated into one or more editions of the .
Clicking on the picture above will enlarge the image I made for you so you can read it better, but if you have a good internet connection, you might also like to see the huge 212kb version here.
Here follows the introduction that accompanied the principles, this explains them better than we can, and the thirteen principles themselves. Although most Witches embrace the Wiccan Rede, many embrace some of these as well. Not every Pagan or Witch will agree with each of these principles, but many agree on at least a few. Friday has included some comments in green italics and notations . These comments of course are not part of the original principles, they are simply notations for study or for fellow trivia freaks.
In seeking to be inclusive, we do not wish to open ourselves to the destruction of our group by those on self-serving power trips, or to philosophies and practices contradictory to those 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 preference.
Principles of Belief:
Also known as the Thirteen Principles of Wiccan Belief or The 13 Principles of Belief.
- We practice rites to attune ourselves with the natural rhythm of life forces marked by the phases of the Moon and the seasonal Quarters and Cross Quarters. Usually in the form of Sabbat and Esbat celebrations.
- 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.
- We acknowledge a depth of power far greater than that apparent to the average person. Because it is far greater than ordinary it is sometimes called "supernatural", but we see it as lying within that which is naturally potential to all.
- We conceive of the Creative Power in the universe as manifesting through polarity-as masculine and feminine-and that this same Creative Power lies in all people, and functions through the interaction of the masculine and feminine. We value neither (gender) above the other, knowing each to be supportive to the other. This next section of #4 is often omitted in recent copies, partly because of residual puritanical beliefs in the public and in some modern Witches, and partly because it is often misunderstood: We value sex as pleasure, as the symbol and embodiment of life, and as one of the sources of energies used in magickal practice and religious worship.
- We recognize both outer worlds and inner, of psychological, worlds sometimes known as the Spiritual World, the Collective Unconscious, Inner Planes, etc.-and we see in the inter-action of these two dimensions the basis for paranormal phenomena and magickal exercises. We neglect neither dimension for the other, seeing both as necessary for our fulfillment.
- We do not recognize 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.
- We see religion, magick 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-the Wiccan Way.
- Calling oneself "Witch" does not make a Witch-but neither does heredity itself, nor the collecting of titles, degrees and initiations. A Witch seeks to control the forces within her/himself that make life possible in order to live wisely and will without harm to other and in harmony with Nature.
- We believe in the affirmation and fulfillment of life in a continuation of evolution and development of consciousness giving meaning to the Universe we know and our personal role within it.
- Our only animosity towards Christianity, or toward any other religion or philosophy of life, is to the extent that its institutions have claimed to be "the only way" and have sought to deny freedom to others and to suppress other ways of religious practice and belief.
- 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.
- We do not accept the concept of absolute evil, nor do we worship any entity known as "Satan" or "the Devil", as defined by Christian tradition. We do not seek power through the suffering of others, nor accept that personal benefit can be derived only by denial to another.
- We believe that we should seek within Nature that which is contributory to our health and well-being.
References & Resources:
- Further reading into the basic principles and beliefs of modern Witches and Wiccan can best be found through the Covenant of the Goddess. They have summarized a good press release style synopsis here.