Differences Between Wicca and Druidism
By Donata Ahern
Posted to the Druidism list on SpiritWeb. It was felt to have merit and is a well thought-out treatise on the subject. It is offered for your consideration, without further comment:
I'm both a Druid and a Wiccan. These are my personal feelings about the two pagan paths I'm on and don't reflect what anyone else may feel or believe. I'm a Druid in OBOD. I'm also a Traditional Wiccan, of Gardnerian and Alexandrian lineages. My views are my own, and reflect my training, so may not be the same as those of other Druids or Wiccans.
Both paths honor the Earth. Both recognize that we must care for the Earth if we are to survive. Both seem, to me, to see the divinity (however defined) in all beings on the Earth--humans, animals, trees and plants, and in less 'animate' beings such as stones and crystals.
Both paths recognize the equality of women and men, as partners. Both seek to view the world through intuitive inner knowing at least as much, if not more, than the more 'mainstream' linear analytic way. Both emphasize the importance of accepting personal responsibility for our choices in life. Most people in both of these paths believe in reincarnation and karma, and some version of the Wiccan Three-fold law--what you send out will be returned to you (3-fold, per wicca!).
Wicca is a religion as well as a spiritual path. It is non-dogmatic, but has definite ethical codes, the most prominent being the Wiccan Rede, "Do as ye will and ye harm none." Wicca believes in a Source and worships its emanations of God and Goddess. Our Circles are fairly structured, and honor the elements, the Guardians of the four Quarters (or directions) and the God and Goddess. In Wiccan Circles, these powers are strongly invited to join us. In traditional Circles, we have 'cakes and wine', which is seen as a sharing with the God & Goddess, and an offering to them. Wicca works with the polarity of the God & Goddess, as seen in the Priest and Priestess in Circle.
Wicca practices magic, in which we do positive work to change events/energies/situations according to our will. Magic should not be done when a clear, practical, pragmatic course of action is apparent--it is not a substitute for action, or for responsibility (remember the 3-fold law?) -- it WILL return to you! Magic should also never be done to manipulate the free will of another.
Wicca is usually considered to be more female-oriented, more lunar oriented. We celebrate the Eight Sabbat fire festivals, and the Full Moon (some of us also honor the Dark/New Moon. Although lunar, I find Wicca to be more outer-directed than OBOD Druidry! We do active work, and then send the results out to complete our will.
Druidry, as taught in OBOD, celebrates the same 8 fire festivals (Samhain, Winter Solstice, Imbolc, Spring Equinox, Beltane, Summer Solstice, Lammas/Lughnasadh, Fall Equinox) as Wicca, but not the moon cycles. The Circles are less structured, and less firmly inviting--there is no "I call you..." but rather, an invitation and waiting for the energy, e.g., of the quarters, to come into the Circle. Druidry (OBOD) is more a philosophy, a spiritual path, than a religion per se, as I see it. OBOD focuses on the Divine Child (the child we are all birthing) rather than on the polarity of the male and female. The OBOD course is very inner directed, an excellent way to get to know oneself and understand ourselves. Magic is not taught. Methods of personal growth are emphasized, including meditation and visualization. It is, in a sense, a gentler path.
Druidry (OBOD) is solar-oriented, yet I find it to be more inner, concerned with developing the intuitive, than outer, as in Wiccan magic work. Druidry (OBOD) is not a religion so is compatible with other religions. While most OBOD members are pagan, there are Christian members as well.
For myself, these two branches of western spirituality work very well together. They dovetail together and complement one another to make a harmonious whole. Both are very important to me, and make up the major part of my spiritual path.
ADF Druidism and Wicca
by Michael J Dangler
The Wiccan ("Neo-Pagan Witchcraft") movement includes the vast majority of the 100,000 to 250,000 people involved in Neo-Paganism in North America. About three-quarters of Our Fellowship are or have been followers of Wicca, and ADF is inclusive of their beliefs as well.
The two religions have far more in common than they have separating them. Wiccan covens can (and do) function as special interest groups within larger ADF groves, along with bardic, healing, ecological, divinatory, and other groups.
Because it's important that everyone know where the author comes from, I'd like to take a moment and tell everyone who I am, where I got my information, and to affirm that I'm not an "expert" on Wicca at all, though my research has led me to a pretty good understanding.
I'm currently the Senior Druid for Three Cranes Grove, ADF, and I have never been Wiccan. I have been involved in Paganism for 8 years (as of this writing), all of them as a Druid. These last four years, I've been involved in ADF, and when I talk about Druidry (especially in this essay), I'm referring explicitly to ADF Druidry, which is vastly different than the various British Traditions (such as OBOD and the AOD), and is even different than the American Druid groups, like the Henge of Keltria. Expanding on those groups is another essay entirely.
Because I have never been Wiccan, I have enlisted some help for this essay. A close friend of mine, SilverPeace (a Dianic Wiccan), sat down with me and we hammered out the basics of this essay. We used Silver's experience and Scott Cunningham's The Truth About Witchcraft Today as our primary source. I also had Karen Dollinger, an Irish Wiccan, proof the essay and make suggestions before making this public.
Again, I'm no expert in Wicca, and there is no way I could possibly cover all the various schools or traditions of Wicca. I'm hoping that with the use of Cunningham and two Wiccans of vastly different experience, I can prevent factual errors, but they sometimes slip through. Constructive criticism is very welcome. I want this essay to be the best it can be.
Finally, there will be a bit of an "Us-Them" tone to this article that I can't really avoid. When in doubt, go right back to the first two paragraphs of this essay. I don't want to pretend that there's some mythical, magical separation between the two religions, because there just isn't.
That said, let's dive into the differences (and similarities!) that Wiccans and Druids have!
According to Cunningham, all Wiccans hold the following beliefs:
Reverence for a Goddess and God
Belief in Magic
Reverence for the Earth
I think we should modify some of these things, since the movement has grown to a huge extent since Cunningham published this book, and then compare them to ADF Druidism.
Wiccans have many different ideas on reincarnation. Sometimes it's karmic, other times it's about learning lessons, and sometimes this life has no effect at all on the next. Some believe that they will rest for a time in the Summerlands and then come back, while others take a more Neo-Platonic view of it, but there is always some form of recycling.
People in ADF have a broad range of afterlife theories. Some believe in reincarnation, some in an afterlife where they don't come back at all, and some believe that nothing happens after death.
"Reverence for a Goddess and God" is also somewhat problematic. There are three big possibilities for what the nature of deity might be for Wiccans: all deities are one deity (usually a single Goddess); all deities can be seen as facets of a single Goddess and God pair; and a form of polytheism, where each deity is his/her own self, not part of a larger whole, but are perhaps aspects of a God/Goddess pair, or perhaps the Goddess and God are archetypes. Because of this, we're going to go with "reverence for a Goddess and God archetype".
ADF ritual sees each deity as an individual entity. The ritual assumes polytheism and deals with each deity in its own right, assuming that each one has her or his own personality. There is no single Goddess or God called in any ADF rite. Of course, most ADF rites have a section for praise offerings, and I have heard individual members call on the "Great Goddess", and this is acceptable, as well. The main difference is that ADF's liturgical structure is built around polytheism, where most Wiccan rituals are built around either a singular deity or a male-female pair.
When it comes to proselytization, belief in magic, and reverence for the earth, Druids and Wiccans generally agree. Individual politics might not make them agree all the time on the question of reverence for the earth, but a general reverence for nature is inherent in each religion.
Some other common ideas about the differences:
ADF has a Standard Liturgy that all Groves follow to some extent. Nothing like this exists for Wicca, though certain traditions may have either a basic outline, or rituals that are done exactly the same each time. Those rituals are not cross-traditional, though.
There is a very different view of source material, as well. ADF Groves all work in a strictly Indo-European focus, while Wiccan Covens often draw from various cultures and groups. Of course, just because one belongs to ADF does not mean that they can't worship who they wish, but the Grove rites must work in an IE cultural focus.
Some Wiccans cast circles or spheres, or create cones of power at their rites; ADF rituals do not use these things. Circles, spheres, and cones of power are sometimes used to contain energy in order to focus and fire that energy at a specific target, and ADF ritual builds energy in other ways, from opening Gates to creating a sacred center to attunements designed to pull on the powers of Earth and Sky, and this energy isn't contained in an impermeable barrier (people are free to come and go in rites quite often).
I've heard it described that Wiccans build a temple between the worlds, and that Druids do no such thing. A temple between the worlds is a place where the celebrant meets the deities "half-way", outside time and on a separate plane. The ADF liturgy consecrates the space and forms a focus for worship, but keeps the celebrants firmly in this world. This is possibly the prime difference between the ritual structures.
ADF is a church, built on local Groves (congregations). Each of these Groves has a multitude of things in common, including an Indo-European focus and a devotion to public, accessible ritual at least 8 times a year. Wicca does not imply an organization, and Wiccan Covens belonging to organizations (such as Covenant of the Goddess) do not necessarily build on similar beliefs or cultures. Some Covens do hold public worship, but the vast majority do not.
ADF does not profess any manner of dogma, aside from the "Doctrine of Archdruidic Fallibility," in which the Archdruid is allowed (if not expected) to make a few mistakes. ADF's structure isn't one of power hierarchies, but rather one of democratically elected leaders to help run the group and keep things running smoothly. It could be compared a bit to Coven structure, just "bigger."
Really, it's that simple. ADF and Wicca are not mutually exclusive groups, and we don't want to be throwing our weight around. Membership in ADF does not mean that a Wiccan has "converted" to Druidism, just as membership in a Coven won't mean an ADF member has "converted" to Wicca.
Druidry and witchcraft
(or why some witches are Druids and some Druids are witches)
by Ly de Angeles
It’s quite funny, really. To write about the strong link between Witchcraft and Druidry I feel the need, initially, to talk to you about the differences between Witchcraft and Wicca simply to round the whole thing off as there is so much misunderstanding about these two separate, if linked, ways of the sacred.
Currently many Druids realise that they are also witches (and vice-versa). This has probably always been so, but since the British Commonwealth laws repealed the Witchcraft Act in 1951, and the subsequent build-up and dissemination of relevant information that has allowed for freer dialogue on both topics on a public platform, a collective ‘Ahh!’ has been heard in the Deep.
And yet things are still strange and strained, because our freedom is still young. Some may not see it as such, but then I was born in thee same year that the laws ceased their ability to prosecute us for our affiliation to other than what was considered as mainstream. I had been an initiate of the Craft for 11 years when Neville Drury (author, editor and anthropologist) compiled Other Temples, Other Gods and I declined participation out of a very honest angst that going that public could bring harm to my child (this was the same year that a witch in the western suburbs of Sydney had her caravan (her home) burned to the ground because she had trusted that it would be okay to mention her way to others).
Gerald Gardner gave the public Wicca, along with an entire system that has been both emulated and transformed (in various ways) ever since. Wicca, in its more traditional sense, has clear boundaries of grade and rank, is a religion in the accepted sense, and draws heavily on the ways of both Witchcraft and certain aspects of Ceremonial Magick for both its ritual and its extra-curricular activities. There were, close to its inception, three schools of Wicca – Guardinarian (formulated by Gerald Gardner), Alexandrian (formulated by Alex Sanders) and Traditional Wicca (said to stem from Old George Pickingill). From them sprang Seax Wicca, Dianic Wicca, the Faerie Traditions, neo-Paganism and many variations of the same theme. Most schools incorporate the five-fold kiss and the laws of both ‘An it harm none, do what thou wilt’ and the law of the three-fold return. Many traditions of Wicca draw on certain of the practical workings of either/both Thelemic magick or the Golden Dawn ceremonial systems as an adjunct to their trainings.
What we have in common are Esbat (the lunar rites that honour the Night) and the eight seasonal Sabbats, certain sacred objects used in our rites and an alliance with the Déithe [day-ha] – gods (plural/multiple) including those of earth and air, fire and water.
Many Wiccans are also witches and many witches are also Wiccan. The differences between Wiccans and witches are in the structure, ‘religiosity’, hierarchical necessity and formality (or in the case of witches, the lack of the need for such) and the fact that whereas Witchcraft is a way, witches are a generic (I’ll get to that later).
Of course I’m generalising! With so many variations having sprung into existence since the 1950’s there are sure to be exceptions, but the need for public acceptance as an orthodox religious institution (particularly from the 1970’s onward) has led many down the path of becoming ‘ministers’ and to establish ‘churches’ which have absolutely no relationship to the Craft whatsoever as too much organisation and regimentation, too much public interaction, dilutes the Draíocht [dree-uckht] - magic and its attending mysteries leaving enactment in its place (which is a pretty dry and lifeless ‘thing’), let alone turning out white-as-snow, febrile, fluffy-bunny-rainbow, ‘goddessy’ wannabe-witches (excuse me if I offend those who are not like this!).
Moreso, in relation to the Druids that I know personally, it is actually the differences, at a core level, between Witchcraft and Wicca that are the alikenesses between Witchcraft and Druidry, although there are, also, differences between certain ‘schools’ of Druidry and those differences are similar to those between Wiccans and witches – namely grading, ranking systems, concepts of hierarchy, ideology and intent.
Witchcraft is not a religion in its contemporary interpretation as we do not worship, rather we align. The word ‘religion’ has as its etymological root the word religere (Roman), meaning to bind back. In the deeper sense, then, Witchcraft could be said to be one but only in the ancestral sense.
And Witchcraft is, primarily, animist, pantheistic, ancestral and totemic in its nature. Druidry is blest insofar as it actually has a word – Awen – to describe what Witchcraft doesn’t have a word for. The closest description we have for that which inspires awe and wonder is anima - the vital principle; source of energy and creative action; soul; life. The word ‘soul’ is an interesting one – in certain tribes among the Amazon the word soul is the same for the word child and that makes more sense than any nebulous Christian concept as it links us with the continuum of forever (but that’s another HUGE topic). Pantheism relates to the collective gods of a people (that’s actually very specific – I’ll discuss this in a minute) and for more detailed information regarding a witch’s deepest reverence – for the ancestors – please read the relevant information on my website www.lydeangeles.com
if you feel so inclined. Our totemic affiliations are based on each witch’s unique connectedness to whatever species: plant, animal, insect, reptile etc with whom they resonate at a deep familial level.
The Craft cannot be truly taught from books or by correspondence – a witch can merely be given guidelines from such – as its complexity lies in its realisation that each witch is individually, circumstantially and, most importantly, environmentally different and must be trained with this in mind.
The Craft does not consider that ‘All gods are one god and all goddesses are one goddess …’ (Dion Fortune), although, in terms of Anima Mundi that could be said to be so – and we don’t collect them (is this understood? If not please feel free to discuss the implications). After all, Herne is not the In Daghdha, In Daghdha is not Govannon, the Mórrígan is not Breosaighit and Breosaighit is not the Scáthach.
All witches are ‘solitaries’ ( in distinct difference to traditional schools of Wicca) insofar as they are not bound, nor obligated, to attend rituals with their Coven. The Coven is a ‘the gathering place’ much like a temple, a grove, a sanctuary, a nemeton. All of our interactive training takes place at the specified Covenstead which is always a home as the hearth, and all that is implied by that, is considered as most sacred, although many of our seasonal rites take place in relatively wild and remote places. The trainings in the ways of Witchcraft, other than in the workings or rite and ritual, are very much focussed on life-skills (which do involve sorcery) and what is learned is mainly learned by word-of-mouth. It is not necessary for us to agree on all things as one person’s ‘talent’ may be accessed very differently to another’s. There are many tasks required of each initiate but that’s no different to Druidry.
Witches are born witches. The rite of initiation is the individual’s decision to ‘walk-across-the-line’ and devote their lives, with guidance, to the way of either ‘priestess’ or ‘priest’ (for lack of a better word) because they have been called by Déithe and have answered.
Witches do not rely on a ‘belief system’. Inherent in the word belief is the concept of doubt (“I believe that to be true” implies that the person speaking is not 100% certain). In the Craft there is only ever one initiation. There are rituals that mark the journey of the witch through his or her training culminating as High Priesthood/Elder (always marked by a rite of transition), a place of honour amongst equals. This rite is always in recognition that the individual has trained to a degree that they are capable of passing on the learning to others. Many remain as Elders within our clan – a rare few leave to form their own Coven, usually because of distance and circumstance. Having strong Elders ensures the newer initiate a sound variety of opinion through the first several years of their training (the actual number of which is a variable). The work of High Priesthood is first and foremost that of responsibility and dedication to other initiates and to both clan and community.
Witches acknowledge the traditional eight seasonal celebrations of the solar calendar, and are aligned to our ancestral Déithe and do not consider those Déithe as ‘apart’ from ourselves, or omnipotent – and, at this particular phase of forever, are very much in need of our alliance due to the incalculable threat of that species of two-legged that we refer to as The Blind. We do not consider our goddesses as necessarily tripartite (i.e. maiden, mother, crone) as the Mórrígan and her Sisters would be dreadfully upset if we did so! Our gods are invariably associated with the earth and its immediate environmental conditions and the Déithe are not ‘made in our image’.
We do not have the three-fold law (‘whatever you do comes back at you three-fold’) to fall back on that can (and does) prevent many a justifiable geis or restraint.
We do not avow to the ‘An it harm none …’ theory as it is unnecessary.
Wicca does not recognise the profundity of the geis.
Witches do not believe in reincarnation in the commonly-accepted stereo-type.I can only speak for myself and for those with whom I am affiliated. Please understand that nothing of what I share with you is generalisation. What I am aware of is that the word ‘witch’ is a generic rather than a title, like the word ‘shaman’ or ‘sorcerer’ (pretty much the same species of practitioners). Just as the word ‘artist’ resonates a talent, and ‘poet’ resonates a talent, so also does ‘witch’.
Circumstantially the Covenant of WildWood Gate is a bunch of Celts (again, excuse me, a generic term), therefore it is the Celtic Déithe with whom we resonate and are, consequentially, aligned. We do not ‘work’ with the gods of Egypt, or the gods of the Maya, or the ancestral deities of the Koori, the Chinese, the Norse, the Hindu, the African, the Native American or the Maori. We know they are there and we honour them greatly and we learn, as an aspect of our training, as much about how they live with the earth, or amongst the stars and with whom they dwell as a matter of respect for both the differences and the likenesses of many of them. We also learn a great deal about the invasion of the monotheistic traditions into the common psyche as the thoughtforms invoked by this common psyche are very dangerous entities (such as the cruel god, the devil, the perpetual sacrifice and the obligatory virgin).
Living in Australia, and as a result of the originally invading hegemony, it is a mater of necessity to understand the sacredness of the pattern of this land’s immortals so that we do not disturb, or walk heavy-footed.
A momentary side-track: in the 1970’s I was sent a letter from an Englishman running a magazine devoted to paganism in one form or another who inappropriately proposed that as we lived in this part of the world we should ‘drop’ our association with ‘the European Gods’ and ‘work’ with the gods of the Aborigines. That was a sick letter. As Lupas, a tribal Elder now living in Canberra at the tent embassy, said to me several years ago “Haven’t these whities taken enough? Now they want our magic?” (this was in disgusted response to the trendiness of acquiring ‘all things Aboriginal’). The colonisation of Australia was a barbaric piece of history where a people gripped by poverty were enslaved to the gulags of a hostile land far from the hearth of their ancestors, in the name of the law and for mostly contrived crime (easy pickings, the poor!). Could anyone doubt that they brought the spirits of their ancestors with them? As such this land is peopled with the Déithe of many indigene … but a dog can be born in a stable – that doesn’t make it a horse!
The ways of Druidry that I have come to know over the years are not those practiced by the white-robed old men who have coerced the authorities into allowing them Stonehenge at the Midwinter Solstice – it is not a good ‘ol boys club invented in a pub in 1717 because generic Druids are alive now who know that they are Druids and who seek to train with those in whose eyes and principles they see themselves mirrored. What I know of Druidry is that its very sacredness comes from its connectedness and its determination to throw off the white-washed, christianised mediocrity that has remained, as with Witchcraft, its garment of both invisibility and self-preservation through the centuries of discrimination, bigotry and danger. What I understand of Druidry is its earthy richness, its lack of denial of the wild, ‘the mud and the blood’ (Bobcat, BDO), the seasons of life and death (which are one thing anyway), its artists and, no matter what the academics say, its ancientness.
Ly de Angeles
High Priestess of WildWood Gate
Author of Witchcraft: Theory and Practice (Llewelyn, 2001)
(WildWood Gate Coven is also known as a Covenant insofar as many of its members are not initiates, nor even witches but are, definitely, clan, and their affiliation is based on certain codes of honour and mutuality. The workings and trainings of the actual Coven itself are not shared with these people, neither do they want it to be shared. Our deep connection is based on mutual work within the world, spiritually, politically and/or environmentally.)
Apr 13, 2009 -- 7:18PM, Moonlightavery wrote:
Hi my name is Avery, Im 25, whats the difference between Wicca and Druidry, Im currently studying and Wicca. Been Pagan for 10yrs and am now writing about it, hopefully it may become a book, wanted to write about Druidry, but cant find a clear defination and outline what Druidry is. To me it sounds like basic paganism, just calling on celtic gods but thats Celtic Reconstruct. Could you help, thanks
Okay. Wicca is a mystery tradition religion started in the early 20th century by Gerald Gardner. There are essentially three types of Wicca: Core Wicca (Lineaged traditions going back to gardner), NeoWicca (Book taught traditions, non-lineaged) and Wiccanesque, generally eclectic, which usually incorporates some of the elements of Wicca. The answers you'd get from a Lineaged Wiccan are going to be different than a book taught or eclectic, as many of the core beliefs of Lineaged Wicca are oath bound, and only those who have been initiated into them may learn of them. Core Wicca is a mystery tradition with a specific pantheon of Deities.
NeoWicca, the much more common form of Wicca, tends to be duotheistic in nature, understanding divinity through gendered manifestations represented by a God and a Goddess. The ritual structure is similar to Core Wiccan, and that ritualistic structure was developed from combining folk and Ceramonial Magical ritual structures. There is a degree of eclecticism among adherants.
Wiccanesque, tends to adopt a similar duotheistic understanding of divinity, but tends to be a lot more eclectic and even more syncretic than neoWicca.
Now, there are basiaally three types of "Druidry". There are the historic Druids, the learned class of pre-Christian Celtic society. Very little is actually kniown about their religious practices and the accounts we do have were either written by foreign contemporaries (Greeks and Romans) or the accounts of Christian Scribes after the conversion of the Irish to Christanity. Its slightly more comlicated and there are methods of determining more specific aspects, but thats not important to your question.
There were the Druid Revivalists of the Victorian period, who reignited both a popular and academic interest in the Druids. Unfortunately, many of the conclusions reached were based less on the available sources and more on the predominant medeteranian model of mythology, where many of the Solar associations were developed and have stuck. The orders were fraternal and not overtly religious in nature as most members were Christians themselves.
During the first wave of modern Paganism, neoDruidism was developed as an alternative to other religio-magical traditions, like Wicca. Again a lot of the practices were based on the Victorian model, as well as other general neo Pagan ritual structures. The focus was on Celtic deities, as opposed to a God and Goddess, but there are numerous groups and traditions. The Order of Bards, Ovate and Druids (or OBOD) was one of the more wide spread groups who developed a leveled approach to membership. There are some more recent neoDruid groups who have begun to adopt the Celtic Reconstructionist methodology to their practices, but there are many neoPagans who call themselves Druids, and the term is a favourite of neoPagan authors to use to describe a whole plethora of syncretic practices and beliefs.
I'd advise you to also check out the CR FAQ section on Druidry and the section on CR differences from neoPaganism.
The Wiki on NeoDruidism is also a good place to start if you are interested in Neo Druidism.
I would also advise asking on the Paganism or Wiccan boards if you want a more detailed breakdown of Wicca.
Hope this is helpful.
* i looked into it a little for you maybe this will help answer some of your questions.