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The differences between pagan, Wicca and witch

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The differences between pagan, Wicca and witch

Postby SaorsaTess » Thu Apr 12, 2018 6:26 am

I hope this hasn't been posted already. I did so a quick search and couldn't find anything on this.

How do you define the differences between being a Pagan, Wiccan and or a witch?

So Far I seem to understand that pagan is an umbrella term for many faiths/practices. Am I right in thinking the difference between Witchcraft and Wicca is whether or not you undertake magick?

I have been researching this but find the terms have different meanings to many and there seems to be some crossover. I would really like to feel a little clearer on this.
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Re: The differences between pagan, Wicca and witch

Postby corvidus » Thu Apr 12, 2018 8:50 am

The term ‘Pagan’ is usually used in contrast to ‘Christianity’.

Wicca is a form of Paganism.

Witchcraft is one part of Wicca, the other part being Nature-oriented religion. A Wiccan doesn’t necessarily need to practice witchcraft.

Witchcraft is more a system of sympathetic magick, whether traditional or otherwise. It also doesn’t necessarily need to be practiced by a Wiccan or a Pagan. Witchcraft, especially the newer forms, can be practiced by Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Taoists, etc. though most of these religions have a specific name for it.
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Re: The differences between pagan, Wicca and witch

Postby YanaKhan » Thu Apr 12, 2018 9:09 am

I wouldn't call Witchcraft a part of Wicca. Wicca is a religion, while in Witchcraft one can be Wiccan or not, may have a religion or not, to follow a certain path, or create their own.
I once read (maybe here?) an explanation - paganism is like tree, where Wicca and other religions and practices are branches.
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Re: The differences between pagan, Wicca and witch

Postby SpiritTalker » Thu Apr 12, 2018 9:18 am

I think of pagan as a belief system that is non-Abrahamic, ie not monotheistic.

I suppose the definitions between WC and Wiccan blur depending on who you ask. Loosely I think the "craft" in WC does indicate a magical art, but then that would include Sorcerers, Magicians, Mentalists and Witches. What makes a witch different? WC is earth-based. To me the Earth connection and working with the energies of the Earth and Moon as part of their "craft" practice defines a Witch.

Wicca in my mind is an initiatory, Pagan religion working with the Hermetic Mysteries for Spiritual development & illumination.
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Re: The differences between pagan, Wicca and witch

Postby Siona » Thu Apr 12, 2018 9:26 pm

SaorsaTess wrote:So Far I seem to understand that pagan is an umbrella term for many faiths/practices. Am I right in thinking the difference between Witchcraft and Wicca is whether or not you undertake magick?.


You are correct that paganism is an umbrella term which can cover many, many different spiritual practices. At it's broadest, it can be said to encompass any non-Abrahamic faith. That said, there are a lot of religious people out there who practice say, Dharmic religions, or other indigenous religions, who probably aren't commonly self-identifying as pagan (which is not to say that there are none that do). So, the line does get a little hard to draw when looking specifically at the neo-pagan movement. Pagan religions are often lumped together because of what they are not (Abrahamic), and so can have little in common with each other. They might have different morals, views on deities, the afterlife, holidays, and so on. A lot of people use terms like earth based, nature religion, etc, but frankly that doesn't always fit in well with some reconstructionist movements.

As far as Wicca, I'm going to give you a bit of a more traditionalist view - Wicca is a specific mystery tradition of pagan witchcraft. Not all pagans are Wiccans, not all witches are Wiccan, but Wiccans, at least traditionally, are pagan witches. Gardner founded Wicca, and it's clear in his writings how he felt about his tradition being, well, witchcraft. (His book of shadows is available free online, worth a look if you're interested in Wicca, even if you don't want to pursue Gardnerian Wicca.) He viewed a lot of his rituals and practices as a sort of 'ceremonial' witchcraft and much of it draws heavily from ceremonial magic.

Obviously, Wicca has moved away from it's initiatory, oath-bound roots. It's changed and grown over the last few decades, as religions tend to do. Some Wiccans no longer feel they do practice witchcraft or magic, which is their business (that sounds snarky, but that's really not my intention, not trying to bash anyone, just giving a different view). But again, from the traditional view, that's not what separates Wicca and witchcraft, because in the traditional view, you cannot separate the two. What separates Wicca from other witchcraft and magical practices is that it is it's own tradition with a specific ritual structure, specific practices surrounding deities, tools used, holiday mythos, and so on. Other traditions of witchcraft may be similar, while others are quite different. There are many things that are not necessarily unique to Wicca, you might find the holidays celebrated by another pagan group, the tools used by a ceremonial magic group, but when it's put all together, that is what makes it Wicca. The whole is what makes it a separate practice from other pagan or witchcraft practices.

Witchcraft is also a larger umbrella term, much like paganism. Not all witches are pagan, but there is some overlap. (I am a pagan and a witch, for example, although at this point I am non-Wiccan) Witchcraft can encompass a huge variety of traditions and practices. Some are more religious/spiritual based (like traditional Wicca), others not so much. Two witches could have almost nothing in common with one another, just as two different pagans might be practicing very different things. Perhaps to make things more confusing, the practice of magic is not limited to witchcraft, either. I mentioned ceremonial magic earlier, practitioners of that don't necessarily identify as witches, it's yet another grouping that's out there. So you end up looking at several large umbrella groups, and there is some overlap, and sometimes there's not. It can make navigating it all very confusing in the beginning.
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Re: The differences between pagan, Wicca and witch

Postby SaorsaTess » Fri Apr 13, 2018 8:00 am

Thanks for all your input to date. I feel much clearer on the definition of Paganism at least. I think the differences between Wicca and witchcraft needs my continued research so I can get clearer. Thanks again, that was really helpful
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Re: The differences between pagan, Wicca and witch

Postby barker » Sun Apr 15, 2018 3:23 am

Witchcraft is sympathetic ego, Wicca is actual magical understanding. I would say the word "craft" represents that subtle difference. Imaginative vs collaborative truth of life...
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