The Wicce are the real “witches” of myth and legend. Among their number are Magicians, Seers and Mediums, and theirs is an ancient magical tradition that has endured for thousands of years. Rebels, questioners and healers, the Wicce are firm believers in balance: for every action there is a reaction or consequence, and no one should do anything if she is not prepared to face the consequences.
Wicce characters often belong to a family line of witches; the secrets of magic are traditionally passed from parent to sibling, usually at the age of maturity. The actual age of maturity varies widely, from fourteen to twenty-one, depending on the tradition of the particular family. While growing up, young Wicce children are taught the rudiments of Pagan beliefs, but are seldom instructed in any magical practices. Typical Wicce characters grow up in unconventional settings. Even before learning of the power of magic, they are raised to venerate nature, to question things, and to be responsible and self-reliant. At the age of maturity, they are trained in the ways of magic if they have the potential to do so. Not everyone has the natural ability to channel Essence, even amongst ancient witch bloodlines. Most “Mundane” Wicce know some Magical Rituals and Invocations. This knowledge allows even those without the ability to channel Essence to work Magic, although weakly and with unpredictable results. A few have no knowledge of Magic, and simply share the beliefs of the Wicce.
The Wicce (pronounced Wick,Witch or Wise; each Coven or sometimes each member pronounces it differently) are one of the oldest Covenants of Magic. The Wicce are the descendants of the witches who were vilified and persecuted by Church and State during the late Middle Ages and Reform periods. Although they are not truly organized and they have no leaders or established hierarchy, the Wicce are among the most powerful Covenants due to their mastery not only of Magic, but also of the Second Sight, which they see as two sides of the same coin. Individual Covens (gatherings of Wicce) tend to do as they please while remaining true to the tenets of their philosophy, which at its most basic can be summed up as: “If it harms none, do what you will.” Many of the members of the Covenant are rebels and non-conformists who live by their personal code of honor rather than by any rules imposed by mainstream society. Their untraditional lifestyles often cause them to be shunned by intolerant mundanes even if their magical abilities remain secret.
The Wicce are heavily attuned to the currents of Essence (the basic force of Creation) in Nature, although less so than truly Shamanistic Covenants. Their magic is inherently protective and nurturing, less suited to destroying or controlling things than that of the Rosicrucians. While the Wicce will rarely attack somebody outright, attacking a Wicce can prove to be a fatal error.
Some students of the occult date the Wicce’s origins as far back as prehistoric times, to the ancient practices of ancient shamans who conducted ceremonies in painted caves and worshiped the raw forces of Nature. The Wicce are believed to have been powerful and influential in Europe up until the time of the Roman conquests. They were sometimes allied to the Druid cults, but often were at odds with them. The Wicce were persecuted first by the Romans (although with limited zealousness), and later by the Christian Church, who labeled their gods “demons” and their practices “devil worship.” The truth was that the Wicce,or “Wise Ones,”belonged to a tradition older than Christianity. Theirs was a magical religion that believed in the existence of spirits and in reincarnation. They did not worship the Devil, as their opponents claimed, but a dual deity, a Goddess and God who represented the two sides of Creation. Despite the best attempts of Church and State, the Wicce managed to survive over the centuries, especially in small communities in remote areas of Europe. Many Wicce escaped to the New World, where they were able to continue their practices protected by the remoteness of their new homes.
To maintain their secrecy, many Covens developed their own code words,signs and handshakes, in some ways not dissimilar to the signs of secrecy used by Masonic lodges. Some of these signs are still in use today, allowing a Wicce to recognize and communicate with other members without giving themselves away.
Finally, although the Wicce have both male and female members, women hold most of the leadership positions. Some claim this is a cultural bias, from the original matriarchal cultures where witchcraft developed, while others see sound magical reasons for it.
As persecution culled the faint-hearted, the Wicce became a tradition of those who would not conform to the rules, who would not meekly accept what those in authority tried to force down their throats. The Wicce,in effect,became rebels. Women assumed positions of power and leadership during times when they were treated as little more than chattel. They examined all religions with a critical eye at a time when doubting the Church dogma could mean death. They dared to explore the worlds of mysticism and magic when such practices were strictly forbidden. This tradition of rebelliousness and individuality survives to this day.
The Wicce are not mindless anarchists, however. They strongly believe that everything they do has consequences, and that they will be held accountable for those consequences, be it in this life or the next. Causing harm to others will be repaid in kind by Fate. Any action that brings harm to others, except in self-defense or to save the innocents from wouldbe predators, brings about its own punishment. Harmony and Balance are central concepts of witchcraft; when one pushes that balance in one direction, a reaction in the opposite direction will follow.
The Wicce have an eclectic set of beliefs that combine a number of pagan religions into a mixture that varies from region to region and even Coven to Coven. Many Wicce follow a magical religion that worships Nature,often personified in a Moon Goddess and God, each one side of a process of death and rebirth. Some Covens worship a single Goddess instead, representing Earth and fertility. Some consider these “gods” to be symbolic manifestations of the power of magic,and are used to focus their inner power. Sometimes, disagreements on such matters have made Covens sever all ties with other Covens. Under no circumstances, however, has a Coven tried to persecute or impose its beliefs on another Coven.
Most Wicce are also believers in reincarnation, that many humans go through a continual cycle of death and rebirth that is similar to the cycle of the seasons, or of day to night. Reincarnation is often controlled by the Wyrd, or Fate, which some Wicce believe is determined by one’s actions in past lives, much like the Eastern philosophical concept of karma.
Finally, the Wicce believe in the power of magic. Magic is seen as a natural force that can be trained and taught much like any other art or craft. It is the power of Thought, which when properly focused can tap into the very forces of Creation. The use of magic is believed to be deeply linked to the magician’s intent and goals, and its use can bring about its own reward and punishment. Another precept (also used as part of some defensive rituals) is “What you do to others, you get back three times.” Wicce believe that those who do evil will suffer an evil end.
The Wicce have perhaps the loosest hierarchy among any of the other magical organizations, with the obvious exception of the Solitaires. The basic unit in the Wicce is the Coven, a group of witches who live in the same general area and who assist each other, both in magical and personal matters. The Coven should not have more than thirteen members (popular myths to the contrary, thirteen is not the requisite number for a Coven, but its upper limit); having more than thirteen members makes most rituals unmanageable. Some Covens have as few as three members (this is considered to be the smallest practical size). Covens are sometimes controlled by a High Priestess, who leads in ritual matters, although leadership in other matters is often shared with a male Priest, or is simply a matter of consensus within the group.
For most of the Wicce,the Coven is the only level of organization they have. A few areas have a Witch Queen who presides over two or more Covens. Witch Queens are fairly rare, however, and their role is mostly ceremonial. Other ranks exist, but vary from Coven to Coven. A few of the larger Covens will have a ranking system, but most Wicce ignore or scoff at such distinctions, respecting age, wisdom and experience on a case-by-case basis.
For much of their history,any contact between the Wicce and other Covenants was limited or accidental.
Many Wicce consider the Rosicrucians to be power-hungry exploiters and destroyers. The dislike between the two Covenants is greatest along gender lines; female Wicce and male Rosicrucians are the most likely not to get along, or to actually hate each other. During the Times of Persecution, it was not unknown for a Rosicrucian to throw off pursuit by leading his persecutors to a genuine “witch” and vice versa.
Some Wicce dabble in Necromancy, but most consider the spirits of the dead to be in a transitional state, one that should be terminated as soon as possible so the soul may reenter the cycle of life,death and reincarnation,which is the only real way for the soul to advance. The Twilight Order is considered to have a somewhat unhealthy concern for the dead, but their knowledge is respected, and generally the Wicce have little qualms about collaborating with them, especially the most mystically-oriented necromancers.
The Wicce have very strong ties to the Neo-Pagan and New Age communities, from which they often recruit new members. They also have connections with environmental organizations, from the Sierra Club and the Green Party to, in some cases, radical eco-terrorists. Often, Covens or single witches secretly help those groups achieve their goals. Such actions often put them at odds with the Combine, however.
The Wicce will attack any supernatural predator they encounter, considering them to be abominations that do not belong in this world. Groups, mundane and supernatural, who seek to upset the natural balance of things, be it by polluting the environment, restricting the freedom of the human spirit, or preying on the weak are also considered to be enemies.
Abilities and Skills
The skills of the Wicce vary with their background and profession. Occult Knowledge is common, as are outdoor-oriented skills. Many Wicce will have a knowledge of medicine, if only First Aid or herbal medicine. All members of the Covenant will also learn the Ritual skill. Thus, even Mundane Wicce can participate in magical ceremonies and add their Essence to them. Most also learn Wicce Theology.
To the Wicce,all the Arts are worth studying and mastering. A member of this Covenant is as likely to be learned in Magic as in Necromancy. Wicce with the Sight are also very common.
Some Wicce prefer quiet lives in farming and other pastoral occupations. Many are healers; they include conventional doctors, nurses and physical therapists, as well as non-conventional healers (herbalists, acupuncturists and so on). Like many Neo-Pagans, the Wicce enjoy getting involved in high-tech professions such as computer programming, engineering, and aeronautics. Their individualistic natures make them unlikely to work in corporations or for large companies, however; most Wicce prefer to work on a freelance basis or own small companies, making their own hours and being their own bosses. For the most part, the Wicce do not make a living by using their magical abilities, both to avoid
publicity and because the Craft is not meant to be used for selfish purposes. A small number do earn some money by writing books on the subject of the occult; most of these “public” witches are among the least knowledgeable of the Wicce, and many are frauds; their writings are sometimes misleading or inaccurate. Wandering Wicce prefer unorthodox professions; in cities, they can be found working as bouncers, exotic dancers, and private investigators, as well as social workers, journalists and paramedics. Whatever their actual professions, the Wicce are always alert to signs of trouble (both mundane and supernatural) and often get involved and try to deal with those situations.