Witchcraft or Wicca
What is the difference between Witchcraft and Wicca, or, should it be Witchcraft vs. Wicca vs. Paganism. Most Witches are Pagans, but, all Pagans are not Witches. And most importantly, not all Witches are Wiccans. In other words, a Witch who practices Witchcraft does not necessarily mean that she believes in the religion of Wicca. A Wiccan involved in the religious practices of Wicca does not necessary practice Witchcraft and which makes them not a Witch. And some Wiccan Pagans feel that no magick should be practiced at all, as Wicca is a religion and not magick. As Scott Cunningham wrote in one of his books "Witchcraft: the craft of the Witch–magick, especially magick utilizing personal power in conjunction with the energies within stones, herbs, colors and other natural objects. While this may have spiritual overtones, Witchcraft, using this definition, isn’t a religion. It is just that some followers of Wicca use this word to denote their religion." So, according to Scott Cunningham simply being a Wiccan does not necessarily mean that you are a Witch. I have seen in many websites that they state "Wicca comes from the root word "wicce" which means to bend or shape." This is absolutely and positively incorrect. I have also seen some websites state that Witchcraft is "the craft of the wise." This is also incorrect. Wicca is a male term for a person practicing his craft whereas Wicce is a term used for a female practicing her Craft
But where does the word Witchcraft come from? Actually, no one really knows, except that it is a Christian word. The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that Witchcraft comes from the Old English word Wiccecraeft (also spelled wiccecraefte, wicchecrafte, wichecraft as well as wesch-craft and wicche craft) and that it literally means the Craft in the sense of art or skill of a practicing Pagan. The truth of the matter is perhaps the witch is a descendant of the ancient Goddess who embodied both birth and death, nurturing and destruction. Like Hecate and Diana, the Witch is associated with the Moon and lunar power. Like Aphrodite and Venus, she can make love potions. Each attribute of a Witch, once belonged to a Goddess. All over the ancient world, Goddesses were worshipped. These Goddesses represented womanhood distilled to its ultimate essence. But when religions' decay and Gods are replaced, there is a consistent dynamic: the gods of the old religion inevitably become the evil of the new and that is what happened to the Goddess and which spilled over into the bodies of all women and were called Witches...as someone to fear, hate and to destroy. Since the Goddess of birth is also the Goddess of death, women are accused of bringing death into the world as well as life. This is why the Witch is depicted both as young, beautiful and bedecked with flowers, and as a frightening crone covered with cobwebs. She represents all the cycles of life, and if she is terrifying, it is because the cycles of life terrify. The rejection of females' bloody cycles, mewling infants, and cthonic vendettas re-asserts itself in many cultures. Woman is made the scapegoat for mortality itself, for nature is red in tooth and claw, for the mutability that is human fate. Then she is punished, as if she were responsible for all nature's capriciousness, as if she were Mother Nature incarnate--which, of course, is partially true! So, what is a Witche's heritage? Her great, great, great, great, great ancestress is Ishtar, Hecate, Isis, Diana. Her father is man. Her midwife, his fears. Her torturer, his fears. Her executioners, his fears. Her malignant power, his fears. Her healing power, her own. So if the word Witch is a God of Abraham word and in a derogatory meaning, why call oneself a Witch? Why....because of the more than 6 million women who were tortured and killed because of the word Witch. For more information on the Burning Times, please visit Crone Turns Witch Surprisingly, today's dictionaries provide better definitions of Witch and Witchcraft.
Witches of yesteryear did not go around calling themselves Witches. People did. Just as Jesus did not go around calling himself a Christian. People did. More likely than not, the villagers went to a wise woman who attended to the birthing, attended to the sick and was even consulted in matters such as love and monetary matters as well as discreetly providing some villagers with potions and spell kits, but she did not necessarily call herself a Witch, because in the earliest days of "witchcraft", practitioners were actually the village healers, teachers, story tellers, and midwives. It remained this way until the late 1400s when the Inquisition swept through Europe and by some estimates, as many as 9 million "witches" were executed, most of them women and children. They talk about the Holocaust and what the Germans did to the Jews. What about what the Christians did to those pagan women and children in the name of Witchcraft.
The word "Wicca" is a male gender term while "Wicce" is the female gender. I have read that Gerald Gardner chose the word "Wicca," as he wanted to stay away from the bad undertones of the word Witchcraft. Now, this is very hard to believe for instead of Gardner trying to show the rest of the World what Wicca was truly about, his exploits in his introducing Wicca to the media almost sent the religion back behind closed doors. When one thinks of a Witch, they think of a woman, and they see her with her broom or bending over some cauldron. Even Halloween cards which has a Witch plastered on its front is that of a woman. There have been many fairytale stories of Witches and all of them are of women. One of the museums in Salem, Massachusetts has a manikin Witch flying on a broom, and it is a woman. When one thinks of a man performing magickal practices, he is thought of as a Wizard and/or magician. Rarely is a women depicted as a magician. Rarely is a Witch depicted as a man, and I do believe that that is why Gerald Gardner strayed away from the word Witch and its association with women and instead chose the word Wicca which is a male term. A man who so cleverly created the religion of Wicca could not have been so easily misunderstood in his spelling of the word and that is what some claimed happened. They call the pagan religion a Goddess religion, yet Gardner named it Wicca. In his book "The Meaning of Witchcraft", Gardner says "it may be because Witchcraft is a Moon Cult" yet he names this "Moon Cult," which the Moon is associated with the Goddess, Wicca...a male term. Doreen Valiente, High Priestess along side Gerald Gardner and author of "Rebirth of Witchcraft" and other books, did not like using the word Wicca for that very reason, as do many other female pagans.
There are many different practices of the religion known as Paganism and Wicca sits under that umbrella, just as you have Lutherans, Methodists, etc., sitting under the umbrella of Christianity. Wicca actively worships both the Goddess and her Consort and claim to follow the old religion. They see the Goddess triple in nature and the God Her child and lover who dies in order for us to live. Whereas many Pagans/Witches and Dianics, (while they recognize the existence of Her Consort), only actively worship the Goddess and actually do follow one of the oldest religions, as the Goddess religion is one of the oldest religions. Traditions of Wicca claim that to honor either the Goddess or Her Consort more than the other would be an imbalance and an injustice. However, simply honoring both equally does not make one in balance, because each of us carry more energies of the male or female in us and it is generally the male energy that we all carry too much of. In this modern technology world we live in today and using all that fire energy we need to rush around in our daily lives, we cannot help but carry too much male energy whether male or female.
More and more Pagans and/or Witches feel that Wicca, Druidism, and Strega are too male oriented for their liking. In fact, most feel that Strega is actually Wicca with the name Strega attached to it. Strega practices the 8 sabbats and below you will see that there is no one religion who ever practiced all 8 sabbats......only the man-made new religion known as Wicca.
In the Wiccan path, the celebrations of the Sabbats, She is supposed to be honored equally with Her Consort. However, with the Wiccan Sabbats and the Wheel of the Year, it seems as if things are centered more around the Sun God and his Wheel of the Year....Lord of the Dance.. He is born at Yule and then his growth is followed in the seasonal year. However, it is the Goddess who creates the seasonal year. It is She who moves to and from the sun. Wiccan covens tend to put more emphasis on Sabbats whereas Goddess followers and Witches put more emphasis on Moon rituals. Many Pagans feel the Sabbats are just celebrations without any formal circle, as it was in yesteryear times.
The solstices and equinoxes are about the Sun and are what Gardner called the Lessor Sabbats while the Sabbats of Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas and Samhain are more about vegetation and Mother Earth and are called the Greater Sabbats and which are the true Celtic Sabbats. No where in any one tradition did pagans celebrate the 8 Sabbats, yet the Wiccan tradition follows the 8 Sabbats.. See Gardner Unveiled for more information. Gardner pulled from the different traditions to form the 8 Sabbats. It also must be noted that no where can it be found that any pagan tradition celebrated the Spring Equinox. Gardner pulled the Spring Equinox in to keep the Sabbats more balanced and to have a celebration every six weeks. In fact, in his book "The Meaning of Witchcraft" he says "The four great Sabbats are Candlemas, May Eve, Lammas and Samhain; the equinoxes and solstices are celebrated also." It almost as if he put the equinoxes and solstices as an afterthought...why...because, once again, no one pagan path celebrated the 8 Sabbats.
In the Wiccan tradition, they believe that She would be nothing without the Sun, or She needs the Sun to keep Her balance, when it is She who created the moon, the earth, the sun and the stars. Pagans see the Goddess as much more than just the sexual union with Her Consort, just as we, as woman, are much more than just a mate for our husbands. She stands alone in Her own power, just as we, as women, stand alone in our own power, and that is what Goddess followers are honoring and worshiping which is Her inner strength, Her power, Her nurturing aspect and Her magick of life giver. She is the blade of grass, the gentle breeze upon our faces; She is the birds chirping and the bees upon the flowers. She is the earth that you walk on and the food in which you eat. She creates the seasonal changes, as She moves to and from the sun. The sun moves very little, while She dances the dance of life, for She is life itself. She is the moon with all its mysteries; She is the earth full of bounty.
Wicca feels that there must be a balance, but when one thinks about pagans of yesteryear, pagans were less concerned about balance and more concerned with survival. Pagans prayed to the Gods for a fruitful and successful harvest and had celebrations when their crops were successful.. There were no rituals at Sabbats...., no casting circles, no calling in the Watchtowers. They were farmers working the land and living off of it from the fruits of their labor. Life was hard and they worked from day break to sun set with no time in between for Sabbat rituals. Many Witches of today realizes this and therefore only celebrate the Sabbat by honoring the day and eating the food of the season..
Yesteryears' pagans, and most Witches today, realize that Nature is not about balance for where is the balance of floods, draughts, tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, wind storms, severe and destructive lightening storms, or excessive heat and or cold. In August, the Greeks prayed to the Goddess Hecate to not send Her destructive storms. Nature is beautiful, yet it can be harsh and cruel. Pagans lived in a world not of dreams but a world of reality wherein the very livelihood depended upon successful crops which could be destroyed by weather or by blight, diseases, insects, etc. There is beauty of the land and beauty of Her creatures, yet one predator can be another one's prey for the only balance in Nature is life and death. Paganism is a Nature religion and, while Wicca believes there is balance in Nature, most Witches know there is no balance in Nature and must learn to live with Nature with all Her ups and downs just as life has its ups and downs. The Goddess religion is about living in harmony with all Her creatures and respecting Her body....the land, something of which many do not do.
Besides a desire to get into touch with the Earth, another motivator of those who become Witches is a belief in the beauty, power, and holiness of womankind. The Pagan religion is a celebration of the feminine principle. Wiccans see it as a celebration of the wheel of the year of the Sun God and the sexual union between Lord and Lady.
Many Wiccans perform ritual skyclad. Many Pagans wish not to participate in ritual nudity. Not because they are ashamed of anything, but feel that it is not necessary. Nudity in ritual stems from Leland's Aradia, Gospel of the Witches wherein in the "Charge" it says "and ye shall go naked in your own right." It was never proven that the material Leland said to have received from a gypsy who claimed to be a witch and in which he created Aradia, Gospel of the Witches in 1890 was authentic. Leland was a writer whom published over seventy-three books. Most of those books were not on Witchcraft. No artifacts can be found, no written material other than what Leland wrote of a Goddess originating from Tuscany in the form of Aradia. In fact, there are no mythology books on any Goddess known as Aradia or of Diana giving birth to Aradia or even having a brother named Lucifer, unlike her cousin, Artemis, in the Greek Mythology whose brother was Apollo. I have a feeling that Leland's material is no more authentic than Gardner's Wicca which has been proven that Gardner's Book of Shadows of Laws, rituals and initiations came from various sources including Key of Solomon, The Golden Dawn, and Free Masonry, to name a few, and not from some ancient tradition to which he claimed he was initiated into. Gardner was initiated into ceremonial magick traditions but not Paganism and certainly not Witchcraft.
Unlike Wiccans, most Witches and/or Pagans also prefer not to honor the practices of the Great Rite, symbolic or otherwise, feeling that the sexual union between the Goddess and Her Consort is only one facet of who and what the Goddess truly is. Many Wiccan traditions put much emphasis on the Great Rite in its symbolic form in each of their Sabbat rituals by performing the athame to chalice in all their ceremonies. Many Pagans feel that only at Beltane would that be appropriate. As some may know, Aleister Crowley helped Gardner shape and form Wicca. He has been billed as the greatest magician of the 20th century but it is questionable whether he ever actually performed any feat of magick. In 1920, Crowley rented a villa and converted it into a sanctuary where he could explore all the nuances of sexual magick. According to one story in a London paper, life at Crowley’s sanctuary focused on "unspeakable orgies, impossible of description." Many Pagans feel that Crowley is another reason why so much emphasis is put on nudity and the Great Rite in the Wiccan tradition and many Witches and/or Pagans do not wish to have have any association with the infamous Aleister Crowley.
Wiccans put much emphasis on swords and athames wherein many Witches prefer using the wand or staff in their casting a circle. The sword is definitely a masculine trait. Some Witches even prefer using the sickle, as it is the symbol of the Crone--of harvesting and death. In hunter-gatherer societies, women were responsible for gathering and harvesting plant material. When cultivation began as a result of Demeter’s gift of wheat, it was the women who were instrumental in the harvest. Hence, the sickle is an appropriate (and ancient) women’s tool. I really do not believe that your average pagan woman of yesteryear had a sword hanging on her wall and if and when she drew a magickal circle on the ground, more likely than not, she used a branch from a tree and did not tote some sword through the woods. And she probably did not use a knife/athame to cast her circle either. The sword is purely a masculine invention, as it was used in wars to kill. Before there was a God and it was just the Goddess, there were no wars. That did not come until the Solar Gods came into play bringing with them war, chaos, rape, deceit, jealousy, and even eating of their own children.
More and more Witches are preferring to follow the Moon more so than the Sun and its Sabbat rituals. Many of today's Witches prefer performing Moon rituals and simply celebrating the Sabbats as pagans of yesteryear did. They feel no necessity of calling in the Sun God during Moon rituals for in Moon rituals it is in honor of the Goddess only. Yes, there are some Moon Gods but they did not appear until after the warring Gods came into play and took power away from the Goddess and given to the God from Zeus giving birth to Athena, depriving her of a mother to Gods being associated with the Moon. Women are on the Moon's cycle, bleeding every 28 to 29 days, not men. Women have more water in their bodies then men and therefore feel the Moon more. The Sabbats deal with Her interaction as Mother Earth with the Sun God. However, as Moon Goddess, She stands alone free and strong, independent of no influences of the Sun, and many Witches honor Her and only Her at Dark and Full Moons, not being caught up in the "balance." The Moon, after all is our closest neighbor. The moon influences ocean tides and blood tides. The Moon is intimately connected to the ancient worship of the Goddess. In Gardner's Book, "The Meaning of Witchcraft", he writes "but apart from these great Sabbats, minor meetings called Esbats are held." In other words, he is putting less emphasis on his own words "Witchcraft is a Moon cult!" If Witchcraft is a Moon Cult, why minor meetings during Esbats/Full Moons? In Wicca, much importance is placed on the Sun God and his wheel of the year. However, science knows that if it were not for the Moon, we would not be for it is the Moon who keeps the Earth from spinning out into space. It is the Moon who keeps the seasonal changes consistent for if it were not for the Moon, one day it would be cold and the next could be like a hot summer day. So, it is the Moon and the Moon alone who keeps things in balance and the earth spinning on her right course year, after year, after year. Therefore, it is the feminine Moon and the Moon alone who should be honored each month.
Regarding initiation, when it is a female wishing to be initiated into the Craft, according to the Wiccan tradition, a male has to initiate a female. There has been much controversy on this subject, as many Pagans and Wiccans feel that a female should do the initiating on all occasions, as it is the Goddess who is doing the initiating in the first place.
There are many women today refusing to call themselves Wiccans because of its male terminology. Once again, Wicce is a female term and Wicca a male term, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.. Women, throughout the ages, have fought for women's rights, fought for the freedom to vote, fought for their own freedom from man, fought for our rights from brutality of some men, fought for equal pay, fought for even the right to smoke out in public and even had to fight to wear pants. Yet, some of today's women have stepped backwards in calling themselves a male term of Wiccan and following a Goddess religion named after a male. All wise Witches know that words have power; names have power, if not, Witches, Pagans and Wiccans would not be choosing magickal names which represents their very soul. Some Witches and/or Pagans following the Dianic path call themselves "Dianic Wiccans," which is a contradiction in itself, as the Dianic path is centered solely around the Goddess in the Sabbats and in Moon rituals. It is a very female oriented religion, yet they call themselves Wiccans, which is a male term. If "Witchcraft is a Moon Cult", by Gardner's own words, why call it Wicca, when Wicca is a male term and paganism is a Goddess religion. That is why many Witches refuse to call the Goddess religion by a male name of Wicca. Many Pagans and/or Witches put more emphasis on Moon rituals and celebrate the Sabbats and not the other way around. Most of all, many Witches and/or Pagans do not wish to follow yet another man-made religion which is what Wicca is. Witchcraft is not a religion but a practice of one's Craft..... I do not care how many Wiccan practitioners protest that Witchcraft is a religion. It simply is not so..
You also see many groups calling themselves "Traditional Witchcraft." If their tradition is religious in nature, then it is not necessarily Traditional Witchcraft, as the old "traditional" Witchcraft was not a religion but one practicing solely the arts of magick and not a religion. They performed no rituals in either performing magick or for the Sabbats. Following a "tradition" and "Traditional Witchcraft" are two separate things. One can always tells when someone is claiming they are "Traditional Witches" or practicing Traditional Witchcraft, and they are not, simply by observing if they practice the 8 Sabbats, or they practice any religion at all. Traditional Witches have no claim, nor do they want to, on Wicca. Most Trad Witches have no connection with a Deity nor a religion. Instead, Trad Witches, as with all Witches, delve in the healing arts, divination and of magick with no interlacing of any kind of a religion and/or performing any kind of ritual. They know of no Book of Shadows nor Witche's Tools of the Craft and no "And Ye Harm None." These are ceremonial magician followings and one in which Gardner pulled into Wicca. The 8 Sabbats are clearly a Wiccan practice. However, and unfortunately, some disagree with this statement, but then again, they really do need to do some serious research on the matter.
I have received many emails informing me that because they choose not to walk the balance religion known as Wicca and do not worship the Goddess and her consort like Wicca does that they are told they are not a Witch. They are told this by Wiccans. What is disturbing about this is that it sounds all too familiar in the Christian Religion wherein Christians tell other Christians that they will not go to Heaven simply because they have not been saved, i.e., born again. There are Christians who disagree with other Christian paths and will put other Christian followings down. The Goddess Religion/Paganism is supposed to be a religion with no dogma, yet Wiccan members are doing just that as many Wiccans frown upon other Pagans who walk a different life than Wicca. What these accusers do not realize is that Witchcraft has nothing to do with a religion, has nothing to do with following a Goddess and God or simply the Goddess. Witchcraft is the practicing of one's Craft and not the practicing of a religion. What these people also do not realize is that no one has the right to tell another person that they are not a Witch. In order for this to stop, Pagans need to stand up for what they believe in and not be bullied by another simply because they wish to worship differently. Nature is not about balance for She does what She pleases. If an initiated Wiccan told another person who was a self-initiated Wiccan that they were not Wiccan because Wicca is an initiatory religion and one must be initiated into the religion known as Wicca by another initiated Wiccan, then they would be right. Since it has been discovered that Gerald Gardner made the entire religion known as Wicca up, including initiation, then the only way to be truly a Wiccan is to be initiated by a Wiccan and not self-initiation. Gardner's intent was to form something similar as in The Golden Dawn, Free Masonry, the following of King Solomon, all of which are/were secret societies which one has to be initiated into to be a member and sworn to secrecy. Please see Key of Solomon with comparisons between Wicca, Key of Solomon, Free Masonry and Golden Dawn. Wicca can be compared to the High Priests/High Priestesses of Egypt wherein members of the temple must be initiated. The practices of Egypt did not allow the common folk to step foot into the temples. Besides the High Priestess and High Priestess, Handmaidens, and initiated members, the Pharoah was the only one allowed into the temple for it was believed he was God. The "common" people worshipped on their own and worshipped how they wished to worship and whom they wished to worship at any given time and not necessarily both a Goddess and God.
If Paganism with all its paths is to survive and be recognized, everyone must respect how another Pagan wishes to worship the nature religion and the turning of the wheel of life.
©People wishing to use material from this website for
teaching purposes whether it be through a coven or website, permission must
first be given by me as well as linking back to
Hecate's Cauldron. Those wishing to use material for personal use only, need not request permission.
Home Witchcraft Hecate Trivia The Path of the Goddess Links About Me Jewelry By Hecate