What Is Wicca? [An Atheistic Perspective]
I actually had a request to write about this topic. It’s not exactly my area of expertise, but I thought I’d give it a shot.
Now, I could go into a bunch of history, specifics as to what Wiccans believe and whatnot, but I think it would be a little redundant. There are plenty of sources for that on the internet. Wikipedia has a great article on Wicca.
My main purpose here is to give an Atheistic, or, maybe the more appropriate term might be Naturalistic, view of Wicca.
Wicca is referred to as a “nature-based” religion. What seems apparent are the common themes in Wicca that span many different religions. The idea of a trinity, for instance. Many Wiccans worship the “Triple Goddess;” the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone. We see this idea in Christianity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We also see this in Hinduism (the Trimurti); Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. (More info on various other trinities can be found here.)
Taking into account the very symbolic nature of these trinities, it’s worthwhile to mention that in its basic form, religion seeks to explain the world around us. As opposed to science, religion seeks to explain our world with decrees and absolute statements through divine revelation.
With that in mind, we can see that the Triple Goddess is symbolic of things such as the phases of the moon and stages of life. Attempts to anthropomorphize the world around us.
These religions were developed long before scientific inquiry was the standard for proof of a claim. Before we understood as much as we do today about physics, Newtonian mechanics, relativity and even that the world is round. The standard explanation for anything in those times was that a god was in charge of the workings of nature.
We can see how these symbols of Wicca reflect that idea. Things such as the phases of the moon symbolized by the phases of life of a goddess.
Essentially, by “nature-based,” this means that everything in nature is anthropomorphized and brought to a level where everything around us is somehow expressive of some human quality. It gives everything a more personal quality, and where the feeling of “connectedness” stems from.
We can’t relate with trees, or the moon, or any other species on this planet outside of a human context. But, when we attribute human qualities to them, they soon become more relatable and filled with a certain “energy” which is, in its most basic sense, an emotional attachment.
A large part of the Wiccan religion is magic. Be it White or Black magic, Wicca centers around this practice.
As with any claims of paranormal activity, be it ghosts, ESP, dowsing, or magic, there is a huge burden on those who make these extraordinary claims to show evidence that these claims are real.
The problem with magic is that there is absolutely no evidence to support the idea that it actually works. The people who propose that magic works use vague terms such as “energy” and “intention” or “will.” These terms are meaningless, for several reasons.
The most basic of these reasons is that “energy” is nothing more than the potential to do work. This can be either kinetic or potential. Energy is not an invisible cloud floating around waiting for someone to tell it what to do.
If the proponents of magic intend to claim that it is anything more than kinetic or potential energy, then it is up to them to provide the mechanism for how it works. To simply say that it is mysterious, or that science cannot understand it is meaningless. Let me explain a little further.
To claim that magic can have an effect on the physical world intrinsically means that this “magic” must consist of something physical. I liken it to when people claim that ghosts can move objects in a room, or that ghosts can walk through walls. If a ghost can walk through a wall, then it obviously does not interact with the physical world. This is also the same reason why ghosts cannot be visible. If it were visible, it would have to consist of some physical medium which could reflect light back into the eyes of the perceiver.
A ghost cannot walk through a wall, then in the same instance knock a cup off of a table. Those are two contradicting phenomena. It’s not just that I think it probably couldn’t happen. It is physically impossible, no matter what excuses you use. It violates the laws on which this Universe is based.
In this same way, magic cannot perform work and at the same time consist of something that is not physical. By necessity, any energy able to perform work is detectable by scientific instrumentation. At the end of the day, it all boils down to friction.
In order to perform work, or to actually affect the physical world, there must be friction. One surface against another. To open a door, there must be friction between your hand and the doorknob. To push a cup off of a table, there must be friction between your hand and the cup and the surface of the table. Even, as some magic spells claim, to affect emotions such as love, there must be friction in the brain, causing electric activity in the brain to be sparked by a transfer of electrons.
Any other use of the word “energy” outside of the realm of physicality and friction is simply a ruse to make a claim sound mysterious and beyond our comprehension, to bring the claim beyond the realm of questioning. The word “energy” used in this way is, again, meaningless.
While I am far from an expert on Wicca, there are some glaring similarities between it and many other world religions. The anthropomorphizing of nature, the idea of a trinity, forms of magic and spells and an overall manifestation of mystery around normal, everyday phenomena.
From a Naturalistic or Atheistic perspective, Wicca really is no different from any other religions except maybe for the fact that personal control over the environment is deemed possible through the influence of magic. In most other religions, this control over the environment is only possible through the influence of the godhead, or in the case of monotheism, the god of that particular religion.
Essentially, Wicca is another attempt to explain the world through supernatural means. A way to get easy answers to the complicated questions, such as the origin of the Universe.