The word "wicca" comes from the Anglo-Saxon word meaning "to bend". In Old English, the word "wicca" was used to refer to a male sorcerer or a male witch.
In popular culture, as seen on TV programs like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, tends to use words like "Wicca" and "Wiccan" as completely synonymous with the terms "witch" and "witchcraft" respectively.
Beliefs vary markedly between different traditions and individual practitioners. However, various commonalities exist between these disparate groups, which usually include views on theology, the afterlife, magic and morality.
Main article: Wiccan views on dieity
Wiccan views on theology are numerous and varied and there is no universally agreed-upon religious canon, but Wicca is traditionally a duotheistic religion that venerates both a "Triple Goddess" associated with the Moon and stars and fate, and a Horned God associated with forests and animals and the realm beyond death. These two deities are variously understood through the frameworks of pantheism (as being dual aspects of a single godhead), duotheism (as being two polar opposites), hard polytheism (being two distinct deities in a larger pantheon which includes other pagan gods) or soft polytheism (being composed of many lesser deities). In some pantheistic and duotheistic conceptions, deities from diverse cultures may be seen as aspects of the Goddess or God. However, there are also other theological viewpoints to be found within the Craft, including monotheism the concept that there is just one deity, which is seen by some, such as Dianic Wicca, as being the Goddess, whilst by others, like the Church and School of Wicca, as instead being genderless. There are other Wiccans who are atheists or agnostics, not believing in any actual deity, but instead viewing the gods as psychological archetypes of the human mind which can be evoked and interacted with.
According to the Witches Janet and Stweart Farrar, who held a pantheistic, duotheistic and animistic view of theology, Wiccans "regard the whole cosmos as alive, both as a whole and in all of its parts", but that "such an organic view of the cosmos cannot be fully expressed, and lived, without the concept of the God and Goddess. There is no manifestation without polarisation; so at the highest creative level, that of Divinity, the polarisation must be the clearest and most powerful of all, reflecting and spreading itself through all the microcosmic levels as well".
Wicca is traditionally and primarily a religion centred upon the idea of gender polarity and the worship of a Moon Goddess and a Horned God. (This core theology was originally described by Gerald Gardner, the founder of the religion; and Doreen Valiente, who wrote much of the original liturgical materials.) The Goddess and the God may be regarded as the Divine Feminine and the Divine Masculine. They are complementary opposites or dualities, bearing similarities to the concept of yin and yang in Taoism. The God and Goddess are generally seen as lovers and equals, the Divine Couple who together co-create the cosmos.
The God and the Goddess
The God and the Goddess are two prominent deities in the Wiccan religion. They are seen as the male and female aspects of a larger Godhead, which is called The One. The God is believed to be represented by the sky and the sun, while the Goddess is represented by the earth and the moon, giving them alternative names like "Earth Mother and Sky Father". All other male deities (e.g. Zeus, Osiris, Pan) are aspects of the God, while all female deities (e.g. Hecate, Isis, Ishtar) are aspects of the Goddess.