In 1974, the American Spring Witchmeet was held in Minneapolis, Minnesota and the American Council of Witches adopted the Principles of Wiccan Belief (the thirteen points below). I know, they're American, but the points are still relevant to we Southern Hemispherites (yes, that's a word); they don't cover the entire plateau that is Wicca, but they're a good explanation of the general structure of things. The additions in brackets are just small explanations of my own, not part of the points themselves.
1. 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.
(Witches celebrate Spirit through ritual, segments of which are called rites.
Instead of going to Church every Sunday, we worship on specific days of the
year, determined by the seasons and the Moon/Sun.)
2. We recognise that our intelligence gives us a unique responsibility toward our environment. We seek to live in harmony with nature, in ecological balance offering fulfilment to life and consciousness within an evolutionary concept.
(Because we're at the top of the food chain, we have a responsibility to look
after our planet and all the creatures on it. Be conscious of the effects your
actions can have on the Earth.)
3. We acknowledge a depth of power far greater than is 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.
don't use a lot of our brains, and it is from this unused grey matter than
clairvoyance, telekinesis and other 'supernatural' abilities unfold. Everyone
has these abilities, but Witches seek to reveal and strengthen them.)
4. We conceive of the Creative Power in the Universe as manifesting through polarity - as masculine and feminine - and that this same creative Power lives in all people, and functions through the interaction of the masculine and feminine. We value neither above the other, knowing each to be supportive of the other. We value sexuality as pleasure, as the symbol and embodiment of Life, and as one of the sources of energies used in magickal practice and religious worship.
(Wicca - like every other religion - has a supreme being: ours is Spirit, made
up of a female element (the Goddess) and a male element (the God). Men and
women, like the God and Goddess - two halves of the whole - are equal. Sex is
not sinful or 'bad', but the possible consequences should be carefully
5. We recognise both outer worlds and inner, or psychological worlds - sometimes known as the Spiritual World, the Collective Unconscious, the Inner Planes, etc.- and we see in the interaction 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 fulfilment.
(Witches know that energies exit in the world that are both seen and unseen. We
value the world we can see around us as much as the unseen world of the mind.
The Collective Unconscious is the connections between every thing on Earth and
Spirit. The powers of the mind are the Inner Planes. Paranormal phenomena and
magick begin in the mind and manifest in the Universe. Witches pay attention to
what we think and do - to think a thing is to create a thing.)
6. We do not recognise any authoritarian hierarchy, but do honour those who teach, respect those who share their greater knowledge and wisdom, and acknowledge those who have courageously given of themselves in leadership.
(Wicca doesn't have a structure like other religions - Christianity, for
example, has the Pope, cardinals, archbishops, bishops, priests and deacons.
Witchcraft has no central government - there are leaders and teachers, but each
Witch/coven can govern themselves as they see fit.)
7. 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 or the Wiccan Way.
(Magick, wisdom, mental power and faith in Spirit cannot be mutually exclusive -
all these things are entwined and function together. Keep an open mind and do
not turn a blind eye to what goes on out in the big, wide world.)
8. Calling oneself "Witch" does not make a Witch - but neither does heredity itself, or the collecting of titles, degrees and initiations. A Witch seeks to control the forces within him/herself that make life possible in order to live wisely and well, without harm to others, and in harmony with nature.
(You do not become a Witch by just reading the books, dressing in black, talking
up your 'magickal powers' or even by collecting degrees of initiation and high
status in a coven. You become a Witch when you live the path - how you deal with
others, how you live and how you incorporate Wiccan laws into your life
determine whether you are or are not a Witch.)
9. We acknowledge that it is the affirmation and fulfilment of life, in a continuation of evolution and development of consciousness, that gives meaning to the Universe we know, and to our personal role within it.
(Witches respect all life - all creatures great and small and plants from tall
trees to tiny wildflowers. Live and let live.)
10. Our only animosity toward Christianity, or toward any other religion or philosophy-of-life, is to the extent that its institutions have claimed to be "the one true right and only way" and have sought to deny freedom to others and to suppress other ways of religious practices and belief.
(Witches in general are sick of other religions judging and spreading lies about
us and everyone else that doesn't follow their 'true, right way'. This applies
to almost all religions - we don't hate Christians or Jews or Muslims or anyone
else exclusively or because they don't follow our path. We will not aggressively
go out to convert others, but will fight back should they try to rein in our
freedoms or if they attack us first.)
11. As 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.
(There is no 'right way' to practice the Craft - it is what you make it.)
12. 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 do we accept the concept that personal benefits can only be derived by denial to another.
(Witches do not believe in Satan. Therefore, by default, Witches cannot worship
the Devil or be Satanists. We believe that to give evil a name is to give it
power. Witches have no interest in working with evil of any kind - you cannot
gain power through evil.)
13. We work within nature for that which is contributory to our health and well-being. Not bound by traditions from other times and other cultures, we owe no allegiance to any person or power greater than the Divinity manifest through our own being. As Witches, we welcome and respect all life-affirming teachings and traditions. We seek to learn and to share our learning. We do not wish to open ourselves to the destruction of Wicca by those on self-serving power trips, or to philosophies and practices contradictory to these principles. In seeking to exclude those whose ways are contradictory to ours, we do not want to deny participation with any person who carries a sincere interest in our knowledge and beliefs, regardless of race, colour, sex, age, national or cultural origins, or sexual preference.
(Witches work with nature, not against it. Spirit is the supreme power in the Universe - no person or group of people is more powerful than the Divine. Witches respect all religions on the face of the planet and respect their practitioners' right to practice a positive faith. We do not teach our mysteries to fools and will not include anyone who is self-destructive or who we feel has the potential to or history of hurting others.)