What is Wicca?
Wicca is a neopagan religion whose creation is commonly attributed to Gerald Brosseau Gardner (1884-1964). Originally introduced as Gardnerian Wicca in 1954. Nowadays, there are a slew of other Wiccan branches with their own ways of doing things.
The basics of Wicca can be broken down into a few straight forward principles:
- The Wiccan Rede
- The 3 fold law
- Respect and work with nature
- Honor the divine masculine and divine feminine
- Practice witchcraft
- Be part of a Coven
The Wiccan Rede (in short) is as follows:
“Bide within the Law you must, in perfect Love and perfect Trust.
Live you must and let to live, fairly take and fairly give.
Mind the Three-fold Laws you should three times bad and three times good.
These Eight words the Rede fulfill:
“An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will””
There is a much longer version of the Rede however this gets the basic point across; Be a fair and just person, do not cause harm, and mind the threefold law.
The threefold law states that whatever you put out into the world, will come back to you 3 fold. If you put out good energy into the world, you will get 3 times that good energy back. However, if you put bad energy into the world, you will get that bad energy back 3 times as worse.
Respect Nature: Wicca is a nature-based religion. Where you hold respect for nature in high regard and will frequently go out into nature and become “one” with it (as humans often forget, we are a part of nature itself). Many Wiccans will also use nature as their church. Going into nature and using it for their craft. However, if you’re going to use something from nature, it’s common for practitioners to ask nature for permission before just taking whatever they want.
God and Goddess: many Wiccan practitioners will worship the divine masculine and feminine, or god and goddess. Showing the harmony of yin and yang. However, nowadays, it is fairly common to “worship” specific deities, not following the masculine-feminine ratio. I place quotations around worship, as many Wiccans do not actually worship their deities. Instead, they work hand in hand with their deities in a sort of mutual relationship. You offer them energy by working with them, and in turn, they offer you energy and guidance when you ask for it.
Witchcraft In Wicca: most practitioners will consider themselves “witches”. This is because a major part of Wicca is practicing witchcraft and the occult. Communing with spirits, casting spells and performing divinations among many other things. This practice of witchcraft usually involves being part of a coven and keeping a book of shadows( A Book of shadows (BOS) is similar to a grimoire, though a BOS is more like a personal journal)
A coven is a group or faction of witches that practice their magic as a group. These covens are lead by a high priest or priestess. These individuals being the leaders of the coven, also lead the coven’s rituals. In covens when performing spells, it’s usually done in a ritual fashion, also known as a “rite”. Traditionally having a group of people casting the spell and a high priest or priestess leading the ritual.
So if you’re a Wiccan, you practice witchcraft, right? So what’s the difference?
Being a Wiccan generally makes you a witch, however just because you’re a witch, doesn’t make you a Wiccan. One of the main differentiating factors is that witches don’t care about the Wiccan Rede. Wiccans follow a code that says to harm none, whereas a witch takes no such vow of peace. Some even being quick to jump the gun and hex or curse anyone that gets on their bad side. Though this is not the majority of witches that you’ll find nowadays.
Witchcraft is a practice as old as most polytheistic religions themselves. Most pagan religions attribute their use and knowledge of magic to their deities. Like the Greek Hekate being the mother of magic. Or The Watchers from the Abrahamic religions coming down to earth and teaching mankind to use magic.
From Celtic druids to the Inyanga and Isangoma of south Africa. The practice of magic is present throughout time and history. Most practitioners of magic even being held in high regard. Many seek such practitioners for medicine and healing, wisdom and advice, and information on things that have yet to occur.
In conclusion: Wicca is a neopagan religion whos practitioners study and utilize witchcraft. Whereas witchcraft is a centuries-old practice seen throughout the world, far predating Wicca.
So, if you’re exploring Wicca and witchcraft this should give you a simple overview of the two topics and help you separate one from the other. you’ll find that especially useful if you wish to expand your knowledge on magic and witchcraft. Keep learning and studying, for your journey is never truly over.