Religion, n.; An organized system of beliefs and/or rituals, centering on a supernatural being or beings.
Everyone with me so far? Good. I think we can all agree on definitions for "Beliefs" and "Supernatural", so the only sub-definition will be "Ritual": any ordered sequence of events or actions, including directed thoughts, especially one that is repeated in the 'same' manner each time, and that is designed to produce a predictable altered state of consciousness, within which certain magical or religious results may be obtained.
Now, by using these definitions, the astute reader may realize that one need not "believe" in anything in order to belong to a religion, although most 'established' churches do require that one has conforming beliefs in order to become 'accepted into' that Religion. One of the beauties of the Pagan/NeoPagan/Wiccan Religion is that the majority of the sects do not require one to have 'conforming' beliefs. One need not believe in the God/dess in order to worship them, and this is the key to being a New Age type religion.
New Age religions acknowledge that there are many paths to Godhood, and that each person should find his/her own way. Thus, while there is communication and discussion between the diverse ways of Wicca, there is generally no cause for religious persecution or Holy Wars. Also, there are very little 'missionary' type efforts, since there is no Prime Directive stating that everyone who does not believe a certain piece of dogma is wrong, and will burn in hell forever, unless saved, or made to see the light.
Contrary to most religions, it is not the shared set of beliefs, or similar dogma which holds the Wiccan religions together. Rather, it is the attitudes of the people involved, and their common heritage which provide the bonds of cooperation among the Pagan peoples.
Traditions/Branches/Gatherings/Sub-Groups/Interpretations/ect 1.Alexandrian 2.British Traditionalist 3.Celtic Wicca 4.Caledonii (Hecatine) 5.Dianic 6,Eclectic 7.Frost School of Wicca 8. Gardnerian 9,Pictish 10.Seax-Wica (or Saxon) Wicca 11,Strega 12.Teutonic (Nordic)
In April 1974, the Council of American Witches adopted a set of Principles which we personally believe in:
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.
2) 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.
3) We acknowledge a depth of power far greater that that apparent to the average person. Because it it far greater than ordinary it is sometimes called "supernatural", but we see it as lying within that which is naturally potential to all.
4) 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 above the other, knowing each to be supportive of the other. 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.
5) We recognize both outer worlds and inner, or 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…