Today’s topic came sometime last summer. A friend and I were discussing our different practices—she’s Norse-centered, I lean toward the Celtic, British, and American traditions—and she asked me, “Aren’t all Wiccans witches?”
Isn’t that a fun question? It’s one we’ve all probably heard at some point. I’ve briefly touched on this subject in the past, but thought I should take some time to discuss deeper the differences between Wicca and Witchcraft.
In order to discuss the differences, it’s important to make sure that we first understand what Wicca is. In ‘Wicca Done Wrong’, I offered my opinion on what makes a person Wiccan. That would be anyone who practices a “pure” form of Wicca—including Gardnerian, Dianic, and Alexandrian Wicca. That doesn’t really tell us what Wicca is, though, does it?
Another thing we’re bound to hear is that Wicca is a religion based on the idea of “if you harm none, do as you will.” While this is mostly true, it’s important to remember that there are more rules to Wicca that make it the religion it is. Both Gerald Gardner and Scott Cunningham included a section of “Laws” in their Books of Shadows which let us know the rules of their particular tradition.
Because Wicca is such a personal religion, there are likely hundreds of different traditions in the world. Despite that, Wiccans are held together by a few things. Of course, there’s the aforementioned “harm none,” which is a line from the Wiccan Rede. (This is also a line in the Witches’ Creed, which is not a strictly Wiccan text.) In addition, traditional Wiccans recognize Deity as a God and Goddess, and we tune in with that Deity through nature, meditation, and ritual.
While Wicca uses older practices and there is a focus on ancient knowledge, the religion itself is relatively new. Wicca became “famous” thanks to Gerald Gardner in the 1950s, and most of its modern practices date only as far back as the early 1900s.
Witchcraft, however, has been around much longer. Witchcraft is less religion and more of a practice that pretty much anyone can do. As in the name, witchcraft is a learnable skill.
I have often said that Wicca is a witchcraft religion. What that means is that Wicca the religion was born from a collection of various old craft practices mingled with modern magick.
What we call witchcraft today includes practices that date back to ancient civilization. Communing with ancient gods we’ve now revived—working with sun and moon—healing through nature. All these practices which are older than our minds can actually conceive are elements of the craft, and we still follow them today.
My friend’s question has a complicated answer. Yes, Wicca is a witchcraft religion. So by its nature, shouldn’t that mean that all Wiccans are witches?
Personally, I think it’s a choice. I think of it like the invention of pie. All pies are pies. They all have a pretty basic shape, similar ingredients, and can all be recognized as pie. However, a person who loves chicken pot pie doesn’t have to eat cherry pie. In a similar vein, a person who loves Wicca doesn’t have to love any other witchcraft practice.
It’s true that we practice magick by merit of being Wiccan, but if you aren’t making the active choice to practice and learn witchcraft, you’re not a witch. That’s my opinion, of course, and you’re bound to find plenty of people who don’t agree.
But tell me what you think? Does being a Wiccan automatically mean someone is a witch?
Let me know in the comments!
With infinite love,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA
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