Skip to Main Content
UMass Chan Medical School, Lamar Soutter Library. Education. Research. Health Care. Empowering the future. Preserving the past.
UMass Chan Medical School Homepage Lamar Soutter Library Homepage

Cultural Approaches to Pediatric Palliative Care in Central Massachusetts: Wicca

This subject guide is a collaborative project with the Children's Medical Center Pediatric Palliative Care Team, the Lamar Soutter Library, and Interpreter Services.



*Historically have met in small private groups called covens, which are autonomous although many share common traditions


  • Polytheistic – many gods and goddesses
  • Principal deity is the Earth/Mother Nature
  • Concern for ecological issues
  • Reconstructs the ancient worship practices of pre-Christian civilizations such as the Greek, Norse, Celtic, Sumerian or Egyptian
  • Law of Nature; no action can occur without having significant repercussions throughout the world, eventually returning to affect the original actor

Daily practices

  • Individual study
  • Principal form of worship is usually called ‘ritual’ or ‘circle’

Dying and death

  • Beliefs and practices vary
  • No restrictions on autopsy

Facilitating practices

  • Make time and space for rituals; provides privacy and quiet
  • Consecrated items must not be removed from patient or handled by anyone but the wearer


  • May not desire various foods due to beliefs; ask for preferences


  • Patient may want to contact his or her coven to request a healing rite


Holy days and festivals

  • Various

Pregnancy and birth

  • Rituals for blessings of pregnancy performed by women of community and are held every three trimesters of pregnancy 
  • Ritual of naming and blessing of children

Rituals or ceremonies

  • Rituals are a large part of the Wiccan faith
  • Full moon held to be a time of great magical energy, a good time for putting a lot of effort into one’s spiritual life and work

Spiritual instruments

  • Written works and codes of conduct
  • Consecrated pendant in the form of a pentacle/pentagram (interlaced five pointed star within a circle) is often worn; don’t remove without asking
  • Various sacred objects including a wand, chalice, wine or juice, incense, candles, images of gods or goddesses, herbs, oil

Social Structure

  • Weekly worship and classes
  • Priests and priestesses perform special rituals


  • Five-pointed star inside a circle
  • Varity of symbols are used

Reproduced by permission from George Handzo, BCC at 

Dictionary of Patients' Spiritual & Cultural Values for Health Care Professionals were developed by the Pastoral Care Leadership and Practice Group of HealthCare Chaplaincy, New York, NY. (Revision and update of earlier work by the Rev. Susan Wintz, BCC and the Rev. Earl Cooper, BCC)