Something that I think is very important to understand when learning about paganism/Wicca/witchcraft etc is that each other these three terms mean something totally different, yet sometimes they can be used interchangeably.
When I first started learning about Wicca all three terms were used as if they meant the same thing, then again later on as if they were totally separate. It was incredibly confusing and I couldn’t understand why people were doing that. I ended up simply looking up the difference between the terms. It took a while but eventually I was able to wrap my head around it, so. I’m hoping I’ll be able to summarise it here simply yet effectively. In order to do that I’ll have to go into a bit of detail about each one then begin to summarise later on.
Let’s start with Wicca.
A simple Google Search will provide the definition of Wicca being:
A form of modern paganism, especially a tradition founded in England in the mid 20th century and claiming its origins in pre-Christian religions.
There are some disagreements about the origin of Wicca because done say it is an old religion, yet other say Gerald Gardner stole ideas from various authors and old religions to create Wicca in the mid-1900s.
Either way Wicca I’d an interesting religion that has grown and adapted from just ‘Gardnerian’ Wicca and has shifted from a sexist pro-man delusion to one of feminism. There is a lot to be said about the origin of Wicca but perhaps now is not the time.
The important thing to take from this is Wicca is a pagan religion that incorporates witchcraft.
Let’s move onto Paganism.
Now a Google Search tells us that paganism is:
a religion other than one of the main world religions, specifically a non-Christian or pre-Christian religion.
So this means that paganism is what you would call an umbrella term meaning any religion other than Christianity, Judaism or Islam, would fall under paganism. However, there are some people who say the practice of paganism as a religion of its own as opposed to an umbrella term. But usually, that means they are either keeping it quiet what they worship, or they are keeping it simple. Many, myself included, find it easier to say I’m pagan than explaining my specific path and such.
Therefore, pagan is both an umbrella term and used as a specific path at the same time and Wiccans are pagans but not all pagans are Wiccan.
I hope this is making some sense to you because now it’s about to get even more complicated.
Because we’re now moving onto Witchcraft
Once again a Google Search tells us that witchcraft is either:
the practice of magic, especially black magic; the use of spells.
Or (this definition isn’t entirely correct and I’ll explain why later on):
(in a modern context) religious practice involving ritual, spells, and nature worship, usually within a pagan tradition
So we all know about witches and magic and such, so the first definition seems pretty standard. So why am I saying the second definition isn’t correct? Well, it is and it isn’t. To some witchcraft and magic is an essential part of their religion, like Wicca for example, but not all witches and people who practise magic are religious and not all religious witches are pagan. (Christian witches are more common than you might think – but I’ll explain that in a different post I think.)
There are of course issues with the first definition as well, black magic is one part of witchcraft and not everyone does it. This definition is likely based off of historical beliefs and views of witchcraft – which is fair enough for a simple definition.
There is so much to be said about witchcraft itself and how it “works” however, that would be going off topic for this post and I will likely go into much greater detail about witchcraft and magic in a separate post.
So to summarise:
- All Wiccans are pagans.
- All Wiccans are witches.
- Not all pagans are Wiccan.
- Not all pagans are witches.
- Not all witches are Wiccan.
- Not all witches are pagan.
Making some more sense now? How people use these terms really depends on them, their practice and their religious, or non-religious, beliefs. As always there is so much more to say and explain but I think this is enough for today.
I hope you enjoyed reading this and that everything made some sort of sense to you.