Through an interchange with a non-Wiccan person recently, it occurred to me that many people in our larger culture automatically think of "religion" as being about "beliefs." Why wouldn't they? After all, most religions to which we are likely to be exposed in this culture are based on beliefs and on "faith."
When trying to explain to this person my reasons for writing certain things, it became glaringly apparent that when I make statements about what defines Wicca, it can be mistaken for me expecting others to share my beliefs. Nothing could be further from the truth. You see, Wicca isn't about opinions, but is defined by practice, which is what "orthopractic" means.
Wiccans don't have shared beliefs. They share a practice. It is very common in covens, for instance, to have members completely disagree on the nature of the Divine. Some members of my thriving, happy coven believe, for instance, that the Goddesses and Gods with Whom we work in our circles are individual Divine Beings that have nothing to do with one another. Others in our coven believe that the Gods and Goddesses are facets of the same energy. It doesn't really matter. It doesn't affect our ability to be a coven and it doesn't bother us that we disagree. The reason for this is that each Wiccan has her or his relationship with the Divine and it isn't necessary that we all accept the same "truths" because we don't need for there to be just One Truth.
That said, Wicca is definable. It isn't defined by me or by any other individual. It is defined collectively by various Wiccan Traditions and just as a duck has feathers and a bill, Wicca has earmarks that define it. Wicca is not "whatever you want it to be."
Wiccans do the following:
1. Celebrate the 8 Sabbats of the Wheel of the Year
2. Relate to the Divine as Male and Female, individually and/or collectively.
3. Recognize humans as part of nature, which is Divine.
4. Value authenticity, ethical behavior, truthfulness, and love over material pursuits that don't include such values.
5. Follow the Rede, which is *advice* that comes from a Tradition of Witchcraft begun by Gwen Thompson in the 1960's. Almost all Traditions of Wicca honor the Rede. However, the Rede is NOT law. It is "An it harm none, do what you will." No one can completely avert harming. We seek to do no unnecessary harm.
6. Recognize that in the case of Traditional Wicca, a Wiccan is a person who has undergone initiation after extensive training, having been deemed a "proper person, properly prepared." There are three degrees in Traditional Wicca. "Solitary Eclectic Wicca" is recognized by this High Priestess as a valid Wiccan Tradition, even though it does not include training nor initiation. This is not the case with some High Priestesses and High Priests.
If someone's practice doesn't fit the definition of Wicca, it isn't invalid. The Gods and Goddesses Whom we worship and work with are far older than Wicca, which is modern. The Gods are not constrained by the definition of Wicca and neither are Their followers. To have a self-made path that is not Wicca doesn't mean that Wiccans won't respect that path, either. The Gods will hear anyone who approaches Them. But Wicca is definable and if the path in question doesn't fit the description of Wicca as it is COLLECTIVELY defined by licensed, trained Wiccan clergy, it isn't Wicca.
A waterbuffalo is not a platypus is not a chocolate chip cookie. Hope that clears some things up.