Mystic Magic: Wicca or Witchcraft?
Grace Cavanaugh ~ Co-Editor in Chief
This week, I decided to do a little research, because someone asked me what the difference between Wicca and Witchcraft was, and I did not know the answer. A quick Google search gave me 14 million results, but of course I only clicked on the first three.
From what I can understand, most people use Wicca and Witchcraft interchangeably, because they are both a form of Paganism. So, in comparison, it is like Christianity. You have the umbrella of Christianity, but you also have the similar branches of Christianity, like Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, et cetera.
Then it gets a little confusing, like geometry. The whole “all squares are rectangles, but rectangles are not squares” ordeal. Some Witches are Pagans and Wicca. Some Witches are neither. Some Wicca are Witches, and some Wicca are pagan. It is a mix-and-match situation, the way I understand.
One of my sources, The Gospel Coalition (TGC), attributed the creation of Wicca to a man named Gerald Brosseau Gardner in the 1940’s. TGC also stated that Gardnerian Wicca was influenced more heavily by Aleister Crowley, The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and Freemasonry more than older Witchcraft.
Another source, however, had a different point of view. A website called Learn Religions did not credit Gardner with the creation of Wicca, but more of a popularization of Wicca, which was founded on old traditions.
There is also the somewhat confusing argument that Wicca is a faith while Witchcraft is a religion. Personally, for me, both faith and religion mean almost the exact same thing. Perhaps that is because I was raised Baptist, so for me, faith was a very important part of my religion. I know you can have one or the other, or neither, but sometimes it is puzzling to me when both words are used in the same context.
Anyway, wiccaliving.com has a little explanation as to the difference between Witchcraft and Wicca. Namely, the practice of magic, which is considered a large part of Witchcraft, but not necessarily Wicca. There is also the continued stereotype around the word “Witch” that some Wicca do not want to associate with themselves. However, much like the other websites, wiccaliving.com concludes that it is really up to the practitioner on how they choose to identify.
My Pagan friend has an alternative view. They do not like Wicca, which they see as a patriarchal, sexist, and misogynistic religious or spiritual belief system, which makes sense considering what TGC said Gardner was influenced by — a bunch of men and male-led organizations. They also see Witchcraft as a practice that can be a part of any religious or spiritual belief or can stand alone. Out of all the definitions I have seen tonight, this one seems to be the most clear.
The general consensus, though, seems to be that there really is no difference. It is up to the practitioner to decide whether they are Witch, Wicca, or both, because there is no definite answer. So, until next time, merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again.