Both practice magickal spellwork but only one is a religion

The words Wiccan and Witch have two very different meanings. Here is an explanation of these two commonly confused terms.

Too often, the words Wiccan and Witch are used interchangeably, but in fact they have two very different meanings even though these can be sometimes hotly debated. For those who are unfamiliar with or confused about the terms Wiccan and Witch, here is a basic overview of their meanings.

Wiccan

  • Wicca is an earth-honoring, polytheistic religion that was founded in the 1950s by Gerald Gardner. It is a mixture of reconstructed ancient Pagan beliefs and modern magickal practices. Wiccans celebrate the eight sabbats and utilize the energy of nature in ritual spellwork. There are a variety of different branches of Wicca called traditions which include Alexandrian, Gardnerian , Dianic and many others. Those who practice the Wicca religion are called Wiccans.
  • Wiccans believe that all things are interconnected and that all thoughts and actions can have a positive or negative influence, which is reflected in the threefold belief that all things that one does is returned to them threefold.
  • Wiccans believe in a duality of deity which essentially means that there is both masculine and feminine in deity, both God and Goddess. Deity may be referred to by many different names depending on a person’s personal preference or the tradition that they follow. There is also the belief that deity is immanent which means that the God/dess is within everyone and within all of nature.
  • Wiccans do not accept the existence of Satan (which is seen as a Christian creation) or in evil forces. They do know the existence of negative energy but recognize that it is part of nature and believe that there are valuable lessons to learn from both positive and negative energy.
  • Wiccans practice magickal spellwork but this is not done to manipulate or harm anyone or anything. It is a delicate art that takes knowledge, practice and patience.
  • Wiccans ethics and behavior are guided by the Wiccan Rede.
  • Wiccans practice their craft either in covens or in solitary. A coven is the name of a group of people who gather to for ritual, magick and celebration.

Witches

So what makes Witches different than Wiccans? Although both Wiccans and Witches practice magickal spellwork, that is basically where the similarity ends.

  • Witches practice magick and revere their gods and goddesses in their own way and do not typically practice ritual in the highly precise ways that are typical to many Wiccans.
  • There are many varieties of Witches including Kitchen, Hedge and Fairy Witches. Those who seek the real magick of Witchcraft may study for years before being called a Witch, but it takes more than study, it also requires a high level of practical knowledge. Many people who are Witches are Hereditary Witches, meaning that their knowledge and skills have been taught to them by a family member who is a Witch. However, a person isn’t automatically a Witch just because a family member is one.
  • People who are Witches are knowledgeable in the properties of healing herbs, spellwork, divination, working with spiritual and natural energies and many other things. The practice of Witchcraft is not associated with any religion so a person can be both a witch and a practitioner of any number of religions or they may not practice a religion at all.
  • In a nutshell, Wicca is a religion and Witchcraft is not.
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