View Full Version : Witchcraft or Wicca ?

27-11-2010, 05:25 PM
This came up in the old SF but was never acted on. Put simply, there is a need to separate Witchcraft and Wicca because not all Witches are Wiccan. Wicca is just a recent development, coming along in the mid-1950's. Whereas Witchcraft or ,to give it it's proper name, the Craft of the Wise has existed in various forms for millenia. The present situation does lead to confusion at times as both are lumped together as one, which is like comparing chalk and cheese. Since SF is "new ", is it time to correct this before too many postings are made ?
To be quite plain, I do not belong in wicca but in the "other" :D

27-11-2010, 09:12 PM
There are also other kinds of paganism. I'm pagan but I'm not wiccan and I am do not consider myself a witch either.

What about the druids, the heathens, the hedgewitches, eclectics, solitaries, traditional, hereditory, and any of the other ways of expressing a nature based spirituality.

In the end, we are all pagan. We all have aspects of our beliefs that are similar and lots that are different. Why lump us all together in either wiccan or witch?

Me, I'm a pagan lightworker. Not by choice, my path was laid out for me, I am simply following where I am led. Just because it is not wiccan or witchcraft does that mean I am not pagan?

Some are wiccan, some are witches, some are both and some are neither.

I think the wrong that needs righting is for this forum to be titled "Paganism" and let us all be who we are rather than feeling that we don't belong because we are not wiccan.

28-11-2010, 06:44 PM
I have found my path and i keep trying to put a label on it and actually i find it impossible as the more i find out about the differing types of Pagan the more i think i am a mixture of all of these things :)

29-11-2010, 10:51 PM
I felt the need to post this as I think the majority of you lovely people are under the impression I am Wiccan. I am not Wiccan. I love Wicca for what it is. I personally feel its a bridge to The Old Ways.

Yes, I post alot on here in Wicca, solely because I feel Wicca is an excellent start for those who feel drawn to The Old Ways. Maybe those new to this path feel Wicca IS their chosen path and there is no need to seek anything else. If thats the case, Im delighted for you But I felt it was necessary to point out for those who seek further than Wicca, the distinct differences between Witchcraft and Wicca.

I guess I fall under the category of simply Witch. So with that said, hope you enjoy the read.

Is Witchcraft the same thing as Wicca?

No. Wicca and Witchcraft are two separate religions. Wicca was founded by Gerald Gardner in the late 1930's. It is comprised of Western European folk traditions, Eastern philosophy, and Cabbalistic mysticism. Although initially Wicca was based more in magickal pursuits, it has hence forth developed into a more spiritual religion. Today, Wicca can be seen as an eclectic system of beliefs with an underlying static ritual and ethics base. Although some traditions in Wicca may cater to a specific culture, the rituals and ethics will still have this commonality which identifies it as being Wiccan.

Witchcraft is heavily based in traditions. There is no Wiccan Rede, Watchtowers, or the concept of self-initiation. (Although I do believe The Rede should be adhered too and I firmly believe that The Watchtowers or your chosen Guardians should be invoked BEFORE any magickal workings) There is, however, some form of initiation or rite of passage, and a strong concept of the Homeland.

Some of the major differences between Wicca and Witchcraft are:

•Elemental Correspondence to the Cardinal Directions
•Ethics: Intent vs. the Wiccan Rede
•Grimoire vs. the Book of Shadows
•Guardians vs. Watchtowers
•The Homeland
•Rites of Passage: Initiation vs. Self-Initiation
•Ritual Clothing
•Secrets Within The Craft
•Triple Deities

Someone who practices Witchcraft will either refer to themselves as being a Witch, or will use another manner of description altogether. What they will not say, however, is that they are Wiccan.

Do all Witches practice magick?

No. Magick is a tool. As a tool, it can be used within any religion. Some people who follow the religion of Witchcraft do not practice magick, just as some people who follow the religion of Buddhism do not practice magick.

It would be inaccurate to say that magick has nothing to do with Witchcraft. However, there are those who choose not to practice magick. Foremost, Witchcraft is a religion.

Is Witchcraft a form of Satanism?

No. Satanism is a product of Christianity. Witchcraft has nothing to do with either the philosophy or anti-Christian religion of Satanism. During the medieval period, the Christian Church made many attempts to phase out Witchcraft, and thus promoted the idea of the Devil as having horns. Being as any deity which existed outside of the realms of Christianity was seen as being of the Devil, it is an easy assumption that the Horned God was the Devil himself. However, the Horned God has nothing at all to do with the Devil.

Are male Witches called warlocks?

In an attempt to ostracize those who followed the old religions from the realms of popular society, the Church categorized Witches as warlocks. The word "warlock" translates as the Scottish Gaelic term for a liar, oath breaker, back-stabber, or someone generally not to be trusted.

Many people use this as a term for a male Witch in contemporary society, but any Witch referred to as such will be greatly insulted by the term. Those who use the term should not be trusted for information because they are either ignorant of the term and not knowledgeable about The Craft.

Can I be born a Witch?

No. To become a Witch, one must become a practitioner of the religion. Different traditions have different methodology for becoming a part of their tradition. For most, this involves some form of self-dedication to the Gods. Even for those born into a family tradition, a conscious decision to follow the Old Ways must be made.

What are some common, basic beliefs in Witchcraft?
Witchcraft is comprised of many individual traditions that may differ greatly from one another at times. Take mine for example! However, there are some key elements which most traditions follow. One, is the keeping of secrets or mysteries. There are some things which have not been written in a book and never will be and will certainly not be found on the net. There is usually some form of initiation or rite of passage, although it may or may not be referred to as such. For some who are a part of family traditions, this is followed through certain rites which occur when an individual reaches specific times within their life cycle. For others, the rite of passage may be done after an individual has completed a a time of study along with specified tasks.

What Gods do Witches worship?

The God and Goddess are seen as the male and female aspects of Nature. They do not reign over the Universe, they instead are the Universe itself. Most of the early inhabitants of Europe followed one God and one Goddess, even though there might be many more deities in their particular pantheon. Often times the particular pair of deities someone followed would reflect some important aspect of their life such as their occupation, location, or path in life. The God is usually represented a protector or hunter, and the Goddess is often related to fertility or the land.

Who are the Ancestors?

Witches also look to the Ancestors, or those who have gone before. The Ancestors have different names in different cultures, but the concept is the same. Witches often consult the Ancestors for advice and help. Sometimes the Ancestors can also be called on as guardians as well as advisor's. We sometimes even offer them gifts and leave food out for them. The Ancestors, however, are not Gods but rather respected or honoured ones.

What is the Otherworld?

The Otherworld is a term used to refer to the realm where the Ancestors dwell. Most traditions within Witchcraft recognize the Otherworld, although the name used to identify it might be different. The realm of the Otherworld is often seen as being the place that lies beyond our senses, and just beyond the boundary of our dreams. In some cultures, it is seen as being the realm of the dead. There are places which are commonly recognised as being sacred loci where the two worlds might converge upon one another; these are trees, hills, lakes, rivers, caverns, wells, and even areas covered in thick mists.

What is a tradition in relation to Witchcraft?

A tradition is the system or variety of Witchcraft that someone follows. Sometimes a tradition will have a specific name, which usually is in the language of the relevant culture. More commonly, however, the name of the tradition is simply that of the culture from which that system of beliefs stems from.

A family tradition is a term used to refer to those whose tradition is followed and passed down within their family. Those who are family tradition have often grown up with Witchcraft as part of their everyday lives. However, this is not always the case as some families permit Seekers to come and learn their Ways.

What is a path in relation to Witchcraft?

A path is used to refer to the specific life goals that someone has within their tradition. A path can usually be defined by taking into account a person's interests, career choice, motivations, and goals in life. The Gods which a person chooses to follow are determined by their path in life.

What is the Homeland?

It was believed by the early inhabitants of Europe that the Gods they worshiped inhabited the land itself. Many were migratory people, and so as they traveled across the continent they took their Gods with them. As they traveled, though, these people often looked toward the North Star, Polaris, for guidance. It was a fixed point in the night sky that they used as a reference point.

When these early Europeans wished to honour their Gods, they created a connection between their homeland, where their Gods resided, and the land where they stood. In this way, the new land became a part of the homeland. The elemental correspondences to the cardinal directions act as a way of aligning yourself with the homeland.

What is the elemental correspondence to the cardinal directions, and why is it used?

These correspondences help to align the Witch to the homeland. Most early Europeans were migratory peoples and used the star Polaris as a reference point in the night skies. The exact set of correspondences differed from area to area, as each region differed in its geography, climate, and cultural beliefs.

Not all Witches use an elemental correspondence to the cardinal directions. Some worship their Gods at specific locations, and others have a different set of elements and relationships to those elements. An example would be those people of certain Celtic traditions who instead use Earth, Sky, and Water, and preferably worship on a cliff side near the ocean where the three worlds of these elements meet together as one. However, this is not as strange as it may seem, as the correspondences change when one is actually within the Homeland. When within the Homeland itself, the land is already around you.

What ritual tools do Witches use?

There are a wide variety of tools which Witches use. Each tradition, though, uses a different set of tools. Perhaps the ritual tool used the most is the ritual blade, also known in Wicca as the Athame. Some traditions use common items used in everyday life, where as other traditions demand that the tools be hand-crafted by the person for the specific use in ritual.

Some of the other more popular tools used are the stang or staff, the cup or horn, the cauldron, the wand, the cord, the bell, the besom, the stone, and the sword or spear.

The stang has two forms: the horned staff, and the scarecrow. The stang in it's form as a staff looks just like a staff that may or may not be topped with animal horns. The stang in it's form as a scare crow is a wooden cross with the skull at the top of some horned animal (ie cow, deer), wearing a white linen shirt. This is the stang which is often used within the sacred area. It's function is most often that of a boundary marker, and as a tool for connecting to the Homeland. It connects the two worlds together, and allows one to transverse them.

The cord in most traditions denotes those who have reached, for lack of a better term, the priesthood within Witchcraft. It is used for a wide variety of things such as handfastings. Sometimes there are even dances which are done with the cords linked together.

The llech, or stone, has several different forms and uses. Often it is used as a foundation, and is used to stand on, or is used as an altar stone. It can also take the form of a hag stone or god stone.

When are the Festivals celebrated?

Different traditions observe different Festivals. Some of the most common occur on the solstices and the equinoxes, and the times between them. Other observances take place on the new and full moons. Sometimes the major Festivals in some traditions are set to correspond to the new or full moon, and in other traditions they occur on specific days which are usually measured as being halfway between the equinox and the solstice. In still other traditions, the way in which the actual day by which a Festival takes place is particular to that tradition and they have their own method of calculating it.

The number of observances in a year varies according to the particular tradition. Regardless, the Festivals are set according to the seasons and act somewhat as markers. The year usually begins in early to mid November, although in some traditions the new year will start in mid to late March.

Rituals were determined by the position of the sun and moon and the agricultural year which is best displayed by the times when one should plant or harvest their crops, breed animals, or kill livestock. These times defined when the Gods should be worshiped. Because Witchcraft differs between traditions, the exact Festival days also differs. These Festival days are usually celebrated on the evening preceding the actually day, as the night was seen to belong to the next day. The length of a day is measured from sunset to sunset.

What is the ethical standard for Witchcraft?

Witchcraft teaches that you should follow your heart and take responsibility for your actions. This concept can be seen within a quote from a magickal tradition that says, "The whole of the action is the sum of its consequence." Energy is not constant. In terms of returned energy, this means that the energy can have many things happen to it along the way including: deflection, absorption, transformation, etc. Things are brought into the perspective of survival and intent of the individual.

How do I become a Witch?

Probably the easiest place to start would be by going to the nearest library. You should probably begin by reading the legends and folklore concerning the culture you are interested in. This will only provide an understanding of the beliefs within Witchcraft, though. The real question is something you must ask yourself, "What are my beliefs?" Your personal beliefs must correspond to those within The Craft. If they do not, then the best you can ever do in Witchcraft is to emulate the religion without ever really understanding and practicing it. It must be something that is already within your heart.

Most people who come to learn the traditions of Witchcraft already have some basis in the religion. Witchcraft is more than holding rituals and worshiping the Gods, it is a way of life. It is an understanding of seasons and an appreciation of life. It is learning to take responsibility for yourself and what you do.

After you have a basis in the beliefs, the next step would be to dedicate yourself to the Gods. From that point, you have decided to follow the religion of Witchcraft. You become a Seeker, which is someone who seeks the religion of Witchcraft. The next step would be to apprentice to a family as a Seeker. This is the point when you undertake a formallised apprenticeship to learn.

Most often a Seeker will be taught the tradition of a family which is set aside for Seekers, and a few might be actually adopted into a family and giving that occurrence would be taught the family's tradition. The term, Witch, is a title which is earned - it is the rite to teach others your tradition and a deeper understanding of your religion. It means that you have successfully gone through a successful apprenticeship and have passed through the rites to become a Witch and have received the lineage. This is not something which is done quickly, but is accomplished over many years of hard work and learning.

What are a 'dedication' and 'rites of passage' in Witchcraft?

Dedication is when a person decides to worship the Gods, and learn the ways of Witchcraft. A dedication ritual is something that is composed by the person themselves wherein they pledge themselves to the service of the Gods. Just because someone has gone through a dedication but not through a rite of passage does not mean that they are not devoted. Devotion to the Gods is personal, and that is why it is expressed through a self-dedication.

The Rites of Passage, or Initiation is a formal ritual wherein a person must has spent a period of study and has reached a certain point wherein they are given a set of tasks to complete. Some traditions have different stages, wherein other have certain points in the life cycle wherein this ritual takes place. One of the most important parts of the Rites of Passage or Initiation is when the lineage is passed down. The lineage is the line of essence which has passed from Witch to Witch for all the preceding generations. There are also sometimes Naming Ceremonies. These are sometimes included within the Rites of Passage or Initiation, although in some traditions they remain separate.

What are the major traditions in Witchcraft?

That is very difficult to say. Each family, village, and area had their own tradition. As time progressed, and the persecution began to become more severe, the various traditions began to condense and intermingle with other traditions. Many traditions merged with other traditions, and although the religion was preserved, it began to take many different shapes.

What is a grimoire? How do I get one?

A grimoire is a book of rituals and and lore which is usually handwritten by the individual. The name grimoire is used as a general term, as the actual name for this book is kept a secret in most traditions. Even when the name for this book is discussed, it sometimes varies from between traditions.

In most traditions, the grimoire is composed by the individual, and the rituals contained therein are sometimes even written in runes or pictures so as not to be understood by someone else. The rituals themselves are based in the traditions of the particular tradition, but also contain individual flourishes as well. On occasion, the contents of the grimoires may be copied from a main book.

What is a household and how do I join one?

The difference between coven and household are enough to warrant a distinguishment. For the Wiccan they might be considered to be the same. But for the traditionalist, there is a huge difference. A good definition of a household would be to compare it to the medieval households.

Within a Family there can be multiple households and within a Household there can be multiple covens. However, within a Household there are also solitary practitioners. Not everyone in a household is necessarily of Heathen religious beliefs, just as everyone within a family is not necessarily of the same religious beliefs. Within a household there may also be different branches set up for those which follow a specific path.

Do you call guardians into a sacred area?

Some traditions do, and some traditions don't. Guardians are often called to protect the sacred area. As many traditions do not have specific boundaries for their sacred area, the guardians can roam the area freely and protect the area from unwanted influences. In general, they are a good idea.

Guardians are often the spirits with whom a person feels comfortable with and has developed some form of a relationship with. Possible guardians might be one of the Ancestors, a "spirit guide," or other spiritual entity.

Do Witches believe in reincarnation?

No, or at least not in the typical sense. There are many beliefs regarding death, but usually there is some concept of the Otherworld where the soul goes to dwell for a time before it returns. Instead of being reincarnated, the person is transformed. Sometimes the transformation is into an animal form, and other times it is into a human, or even spirit form.

What is a hedge witch?

A hedge witch is someone who follows a specific path within a tradition that is somewhat shamanic in nature, for lack of a better term. There are many different titles that those who follow this particular path are called: Hedge-Rider, Hedge witch, Night Travelers, Myrk-Riders, Gandreidh, Badbh (name of a Goddess as well as a title), and Walkers on the Wind. These are the ones who engage in spirit flight, and journey into the Otherworld. It is this inner tradition which utilises such things as flying salves and potions in order to gain access to the Otherworld. There are certain pre-requisites which must be met before one can learn this particular path, however.

A hedge witch is able to go into the Otherworld, and call back the souls of those who are about to die. They can, in this capacity, be very powerful healers. They are also able to speak with those who have passed beyond. One of the rituals by which a hedge witch can cross over into the Otherworld is called the Ritual of the Raven.

A bird of one kind or another is usually associated with the hedge path. Two of the most commonly associated birds are the raven and the goose.

A mention should be made that the hedge signified the boundary of the village, and thus the boundary of the known world. Not all cultures had hedges, though. Some had stone wall, or earthen works. Regardless, this term is adopted as a way to commonly identify this particular path. It should be emphasised that not all Witches walk the hedge.

Storm xx

http://www.spiritwalkministry.com/tr...nal_witchcraft (http://www.spiritualforums.com/vb/redir.php?link=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.spiritwalkministry .com%2Ftraditional_witchcraft)

Hope this article clears up the differences between Witchcraft and Wicca and I really hope you guys found it a good read!

30-11-2010, 08:58 AM
Hi Storm, we differ in the details but not the overall distinctions. I expanded the Hedgewitch section in my post The Cunning Fire [ http://www.spiritualforums.com/vb/showthread.php?t=4753 ]

As I have mentioned in earlier posts, I am still uneasy about the word "witch" being a christian word, preferring Wise or Cunning Folk, also to be strictly correct Witchcraft ought to be written Witch Craft to show exactly what it is i.e. the working practices of a witch - much better however, is Craft of the Wise.
Not sure that I would call the Craft a religion though. Personally, I regard it as a system of ethics, principles - call it what you will but not a religion.

As you rightly say, within the Craft, there are many varieties. I follow a purely Earth-accented path and was called to this. My "apprenticeship" was decades learning about my Land - the old model of the Cunning Folk. So, I serve the Land, rather than people.
I hope you will agree with me when I say that there is a freedom in the Craft paths, freedom to follow your own inclinations and in not being bound by ritual and dogma.

30-11-2010, 11:02 PM
norseman well said mate I agree 100%. I think that when we follow a path within the craft the main thing is to follow the natural inclination of the soul..find your true will and be who you are..Many times we hear people saying ' just be yourself' ... In truth most of us dont know who we are. We need to think of ourselves as an onion and we have all these layers upon layers and its what other people have told us we should be, what other people have told us we are, what we tell ourselves we should be, what we tell ourselves we are, what we percieve society telling us we are and should be, and we have got all these layers and in the middle is the true self. You have to find out what layer and what combination of layers you want to be. Do Not hold on to dogma and false information. I hope this makes sense.

peace xxx


05-02-2011, 07:19 AM
Resurrecting the thread.

Personally, I call myself a "Witch," and I think the terminology of "Wicca" has been culturally distorted. Is there a difference now? Perhaps. But once upon a time (linguistically at least) I believe they were the same thing.

I wanted to share a great article on the subject: Mike Nichols's "A Witch by Any Other Name." (http://www.witchessabbats.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=8&Itemid=16)

Just sharing information, make of it what you will. :D

05-02-2011, 09:35 AM
THANK YOU ALL for addressing this issue. It clearly defines some aspects that should help seperate them.

05-02-2011, 11:26 AM
The problems actually arose in the 1950's with Gerald Gardner. He wished to revitalise the craft and open it up to new followers after the repeal of the Witchcraft Laws. He actually called his "new" path "New Witchcraft". This consisted of the old Craft [ the tools of the trade ] but then he grafted on all sorts of bits and bobs from mystic orders [ Rosicrucians, Masonic Orders, and the like.] To add a mystique, he made his "new" path initiatory and coven-based, thereby including the very thing he had not wanted i.e. exclusion . The "old" path, the Wise/Cunning Folk, was solitary and self-declared.
His new path did not take off to the extent that it did in the U.S. The reason being that the UK had a strong pagan tradition and an existing strong path in the Old Ways. Whereas the US, from it's very beginnings, was founded on christian principles. In the US many flavours and varieties of Wicca sprang up, based on different concepts - Norse, Faerie, etc, etc - and this was the beginnings of the so-called Witch Wars which [pardon the pun] became very cultish. This is how it remains in the US, whereas in the UK, the coven initiatory path is pretty well dead and buried with most followers firmly on the ancient, primitive path.
So, the Witch -v- Wicca thing is a very artificial distinction based on a mistake by Gardner. I assume that you all know that Gardner was an ordained christian priest in an obscure Celtic church and he was a bureaucrat in his profession, hence the rituals and dogma. At the end of the day, it matters little and nobody should be concerned about which path is more "true" than any other. The "true" path is the one that you are called to follow !

05-02-2011, 12:57 PM
I am a candle burning eclectic. (i love that phrase, i made it up) :D meaning i burn candles of certain colors for certain things along with saying the spell. and i take from other traditions what I can use for myself.

05-02-2011, 02:16 PM
"I am a candle burning eclectic."

I can match you on that one, Earthprowler. I have been called a Gaian Monk ! :D

24-02-2011, 12:49 AM
Resurrecting the thread.

Personally, I call myself a "Witch," and I think the terminology of "Wicca" has been culturally distorted. Is there a difference now? Perhaps. But once upon a time (linguistically at least) I believe they were the same thing.

I wanted to share a great article on the subject: Mike Nichols's "A Witch by Any Other Name." (http://www.witchessabbats.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=8&Itemid=16)

Just sharing information, make of it what you will. :D
I don't believe there is apparently to Dr.Hans Holzer parapsychologist that wrote witchcraft a 800 page book on the history.He says wicca is argued to be the oldest religion in the world.In witchcraft it discusses paganism as well as satanism.He groups it all as witchcraft but is non-judgemental in his writing.

24-02-2011, 06:11 AM
Resurrecting the thread.

Personally, I call myself a "Witch," and I think the terminology of "Wicca" has been culturally distorted. Is there a difference now? Perhaps. But once upon a time (linguistically at least) I believe they were the same thing.

I wanted to share a great article on the subject: Mike Nichols's "A Witch by Any Other Name." (http://www.witchessabbats.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=8&Itemid=16)

Just sharing information, make of it what you will. :D
I hate to be nit-picky but that link is very iffy. They are correct in some aspects of the etymology, but then they make very bizarre connections and conclusions. There is no debate that Wicca is a modern religion. There really just isn't. Unless the author considers Margaret Murray's Witch-cult hypothesis to be a firm source of information. Interchanging the words wicce, Wiccan or Wicca with witch, in a more boarder context does a great disservice to Wiccans and witches in general. And creates a great deal of confusion. Regardless of whether witch comes from the word wicce, they mean two different things now. Wicca = a form of religious witchcraft with it's own set of beliefs and practices that make it Wiccan, and not Jewish, Asatru, or Buddhist instead.

Again, my problem is with the link you posted, not with you ^^

24-02-2011, 03:00 PM
I have a "thing" about the word "witch". It is a christian word used to stigmatise and justify various cruelties.
Correctly, it should be The Wise or Cunning Folk, and witch craft [ two separate words, not one !] becomes The Craft of the Wise.

25-02-2011, 12:46 AM
I don't consider myself Wiccan but I do follow a kind of pagan Witchcraft. My main influence is the Feri tradition, which is different from Wicca in that it is not a fertility tradition, and the gods are not defined in terms of "maleness" and "femaleness", as the gods are all believed to be both male and female. The Goddess is imagined as feminine in function because she is the creatrix and birth-giver, while the God is conceived of in masculine form because he is was is born and dies, however neither deity is limited by physical gender.

Feri does follow the eight sabbats and lunar esbats, although there is no single interpretation of what these represent. A lot of Feri does overlap with Wicca, but there are significant differences. As Feri lineage comes from Victor and Cora Anderson rather than Gerald Gardner, they are considered distinct traditions, not to mention that Feri is an ecstatic path rather than a fertility tradition like Wicca.

01-04-2011, 07:55 AM
thank you so much stormdancer... it was a great read for me :redface: