Wicca is a very old religion based on love for all living creatures and for the earth. Wicca is also know as Witchcraft and to those who don't understand what being Wiccan means, they may see it as being Dark and Mysterious. Wicca actually has nothing at all to do with Satanic Rituals or Devil Worship, but there are still those out there that fear what they do not understand and give Witchcraft a bad name.
The Wiccan rede is held in high regard as one of the governing rules of all Wiccan followers and practitioners. The Wiccan Rede simply states, "An ye harm none, do as ye will." In other words, do what you want as long as it harms no one. Another principal of Wicca is the three fold law, much like Karma, it tells us that whatever you put out will come back to you. All the good a person does will come back three fold in life, as well as all the bad.
The use of Charms and Spells in Wiccan practice is quite normal. A charm is an amulet believed to have magical powers that will ward off evil influences over the wearer, or bring them good luck. A spell is considered to be a spoken incantation intended to either help one self or others. Wiccans are prohibited from doing harm to others. Spells that seek to harm, dominate, manipulate, or control another person are prohibited. Before casting a spell the caster should think about the repercussions, what they do during their magical casting's are not to be dealt with lightly.
Most Wiccan's will keep their spells in a personal Journal, or Book Of Shadows. Spells are usually copied by hand into a Book Of Shadows and may be passed down to family members. Spells may also be copied by people the original owner is teaching the craft to. A Book Of Shadows may also contain feelings, experiences and thoughts on Wicca.
There are indeed many paths and many ways newcomers to Wicca can learn about Witchcraft. By reading books on the subject a person can find different thoughts and views as well as many paths. It doesn't take very long to discover that each author has a different slant on the subject. Many differing views may confuse a newcomer and make them stop looking all together. What you need to know is there are many paths and many ways of Wicca and it's up to you to find the right path for you. The first and most important thing to remember is to read. Read as many books on the subject as you can, in this way you will find you may like one path more than another or you may want to be a Solitary Witch instead of joining a coven. Doing as much research on your own is a very good way to approach learning Wicca.
As you read many different books, with many differing thoughts on the subject, some things may appeal to you right away and some things may not. That is fine, but keep an open mind and keep reading. Acting as if this is a research paper and gathering all the information you can will help to form the path that is right for you. A solid foundation is needed to build upon and the more you read the stronger your foundation will be.
There will never be one way of practicing witchcraft, no one has the one true answer and any good teacher of the craft will tell you that. Being a Solitary Witch means practicing Wicca by yourself. Often times Solitary Witches get together and exchange information or just talk about the craft and then go back to their solitary practice. So you can do a little bit of both, you don't have to join a coven or stay alone 100% of the time.
A few of the different Wiccan paths are:
Alexandrian Wicca- which is similar to Gardnerian wicca but tends to be more eclectic and liberal.
Celtic- this path is extremely earth based and sometimes uses runes. They get most of their practices from pre-Christian Celtic traditiions as well from Ireland, Scotland Wales, as well as Druid practices.
Ceremonial- emphasis on the art and science of magic. Ceremonies are generally complex and meant to be done with a coven.
Dianic-know as the feminist Wicca. It's a mix of many different traditions but focuses on the Goddess, especially Diana.
Eclectic- An eclectic Wiccan does not follow ant strict guidelines, instead practices the beliefs that suit them best. An eclectic Wiccan will mix traditions to find their own path, using the magic that fits with their beliefs and studying the parts of the religion that they are most interested in.
Faerie Wicca- is also referred to as Fae, Fey, Faery, Fairy or Faerie, this tradition is based around Faery Lore and beliefs.
Gardnerian- is the tradition founded by Gerald Gardner. He was one of the first to go public with information about the craft. Most modern Wicca has been derived from his books and teachings. This is an extremely tradional path that requires nudity during ceremonies and has a hierarchy structure.
Hereditary- this is a where a person can trace the craft back on their family tree and was also taught the craft by a relative.
Kitchen Witch- is a type of Wicca one may practice in the home for the home and work place. This form of Wicca focuses on practicality, convenient ritual writings, and spells that include ingredients that are readily available in the home or workplace. This is ideal for someone short on time and having a tight budget.
Pictish- Scottish Witchcraft with a very strong connection to nature in all it's forms. A mostly magical practice with little emphasis on religious aspects. This is practiced by Solitary Witches.
Shamanism- this path is generally connected with contact with the spirit world and all it has to offer. Through communication with Spirits the shaman can practice healing, divination, magic and talk with spirits to see the deeper meanings of life.
Solitary- are individuals preferring to work in private rather than with a Coven or other Wiccans. Solitary Wiccans can pick any number of traditions that fit well into their life and their path.
Cyber Wicca- uses the Internet to learn from and communicate with other Witch's.
While this is not a full list of the different paths there are, with this list you can see there is much information out there.