I often see questions from beginners or even onlookers regarding the difference between Pagan, Wiccan, and Practicing witchcraft, so I wanted to touch on this subject briefly.

If you are lucky, when you approach a more public arena with these questions, you are humbled by the answers of a helpful bunch who share the knowledge they have with you. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. The tension from people who all claim “do no harm” is sometimes a little underwhelming in the helpful area and more a heated debate when it comes to pure answers.

Breaking It Down

The definitions are something most tend to overlook; just because a Pagan or self-proclaimed witch doesn’t write a standard dictionary does not mean we are always badly represented. While it simplifies a vast topic, it helps you manage a general understanding of where to start.

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Pagan

The definition for Pagan in the Oxford Dictionary is a person holding religious beliefs other than those of the main world religions. Merriam-Webster defines a pagan as a follower of a polytheistic religion (as in ancient Rome), one who has little or no religion and who delights in sensual pleasures and material goods, and an irreligious or hedonistic person.

Wicca

Oxford defines Wicca as a form of modern paganism, especially a tradition founded in England in the mid 20th century and claiming its origins in pre-Christian religions. Merriam-Webster defines Wicca as a religion influenced by pre-Christian beliefs and practices of western Europe that affirms the existence of supernatural power (such as magic) and of both male and female deities who inhere in nature and that emphasizes ritual observance of seasonal and life cycles.

Witchcraft

The definition for witchcraft in the Oxford Dictionary is the practice of magic, especially black magic; the use of spells. (Which is a slightly humorous generalization). Merriam-Webster defines witchcraft as; 

  • : the use of sorcery or magic
  • : communication with the devil or with a familiar
  • : an irresistible influence or fascination
  • : rituals and practices that incorporate a belief in magic and that are associated especially with neo-pagan traditions and religions (such as Wicca)

The Riddle Of The Pagans

Now that we have broken it down and simplified each term, yes, I know… definitions and labels written by others are not gospel, but they can help.

Even though these terms are debated and even complicated by those who fall under them, they are not as different as one might think.

FIRST OF ALL, none of these terms generally have anything to do with the devil or satanism! In fact, most pagans don’t even believe in the Abrahamic Devil as it is written in the bible, but that’s a whole new can of worms to dive into at a later date. 

We Will Start With The Terms Pagan and Wiccan

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To be Wiccan is to, by definition, be a pagan. Wiccan is a “practice,” or by all normalized terms, a religion that falls under Paganism’s definition.

But to be pagan does not mean you are Wiccan. Pagan is an umbrella term covering Wicca, Druidry, Heathenism (Asatru), and so much more.

So basically, if your Wiccan, you are a pagan, but if you are pagan, it doesn’t mean you’re a Wiccan. 

Witchcraft

Witchcraft stands alone when it comes to these terms. You can practice witchcraft no matter what religion you are; Christian witches are not hard to find. Pagans have deep roots in witchcraft, and Wiccans practice witchcraft under their own set of terms. 

Witchcraft should be considered a way to practice instead of as a stand-alone religion, in my opinion. Certain beliefs practice witchcraft, but generally under their own set of law. In fact, many people use witchcraft in their day-to-day activities without knowing. 

Witchcraft doesn’t have limits until you set them. Think of it as prayer (I know everyone hates comparisons) or meditation; many religions use prayer and meditation. It is not limited to one practice. Prayer is a universal name for communicating with your higher power, God, etc. 

An Honest Outlook

I am a pagan, not a Wiccan, and I practice witchcraft. With the stigma around that word due to Christian fear-mongering and Hollywood’s betrayal of evil or insanity, I don’t use that word often. I am a solitary practicer anyway, so while I don’t hide my beliefs, I also don’t have them tattooed on my forehead.

Witchcraft is, in essence, learning to manipulate energy and using the things around you in a routine. If you have ever sprayed lavender scent on your pillow to help you sleep, this is a form of witchcraft. If you have ever looked in the mirror and used affirmations, this is technically a form of witchcraft.

rdlh / Pixabay

No, you will not go to hell, even if you do believe in it. In fact, a prayer is a form of witchcraft to a point. Christians focus their energy and love on manifesting through prayer. So no, all you proud witches, that sage your home aren’t a lot different than the Christians that have prayer groups and manifest. 

I have seen miracles happen through prayer; the main difference is Christians give credit to God, whereas Pagans use the energy that surrounds them and the energy inside them. It’s all about manipulation of the things we already have. Proclaimed “witches” of the past are the reasons we know the power of plants to be used in medicines or lotions. 

Conclusion

Hopefully, I have successfully explained the similarities and differences of these terms. 

The main conclusion to draw from this post is the same as I hope you draw from the rest of my blog, the things that unite us are far more important than the things that divide us.

-The Un-Traditional Mother

If you are working to discover your path, I recommend reading “Finding Your Magick,” it helps bring things into perspective.

Categories: BlogPaganism

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