What is the difference between Wicca and Paganism?
What is the difference between Wicca, Paganism and Witchcraft? Can you practice magic without being Pagan? Does being Wiccan make you a Witch? Let’s approach this simply and peaceably, and leave Satanism out of it…
Paganism, Wicca and Witchcraft… What it all means
Something I’ve noticed amoung (younger/newer pagans especially) is the confusion when it comes to what exactly all these “labels” (for lack of a better word) mean and how they pertain to them as an individual. Here’s a handy little summary to help you sort all that out, though you’ll have to do a lot of personal research to get deeper into the subject. When it comes to paganism nothing is set in stone, and some might argue with what’s laid out here and have grounds for doing so. But it’s always important to start somewhere, and this little guide might well help you!
What is a Pagan?
Let’s start with Pagans here, since it’s the biggest umbrella term in this whole business. Pagans are followers of religions that have been influenced by ancient Earth-based religions. Notice that it is religions with an “s”, not “religion”. This is because there are many, many, MANY different religions that fit the term ‘pagan’ – it’s pretty vague and can fit so many. It means that you can be, for example, a Pagan Wiccan, A Pagan Witch, A Pagan Druid or a mixture of all those things and more! Paganism is an umbrella term for all kinds of things, and again, since it is so vague it’s almost difficult to decide what is what. Some people only consider Earth-based religions of Euroupe to be Pagan; some include the religions of Africa and still others include the religons of the Far East.
What is a Wiccan?
Wicca is a type of Paganism based on the worship of Nature as diety, the duality of deity, and gathers its practices from Pre-Christian beliefs and practices. Normally Wiccans tend to follow the Wiccan Rede, a set of guidelines to help us out (Not all do, mind you. Some still call themselves Wiccan and don’t). Something a lot of people misunderstand about Wicca is the use of magick. Magick is not a necessity for practicing Wicca. Instead it is a useful and awesome tool that you can decide to use or not. Some Wiccans may practice magick and some may just ignore that bit and stick to honouring the passing of seasons, cycles of the moon and sun, and Gods.
There are several different types of Wicca. Here are a few to explore further on your own:
- The Gardnerian Tradition
- Dianic Tradition
- Caledonii Tradition
- Celtic Wicca
- British Tradition
- Alexandria Tradition
And of course their are Solitary Wiccans who practice by themselves, and Eclectic Wiccans that have no set Tradition and borrow from whatever they feel right.
Witchcraft and Witches
Witches are people that use magic to manipulate the energy of the world to achieve a their goals. Witchcraft is not necessarily a religon so much as the use and knowledge of magick, and the world around you. You can be any religion you’d like (or none at all) and still be a Witch.