Between Wicca & Witchcraft
- "What is
the Difference between Wicca and Witchcraft?"
This is a question I get all the time (almost on daily basis) and so
I figured I'd better add it to my website! First I would like to say
that most of the confusion lies in the term Witchcraft itself. Most
people tend to think of spellcraft when they hear Witchcraft, but Witchcraft
has developed into a religion unto itself that may include the practice
of spellcraft within it. Spellcraft is a collective term for magickal
systems, folklore, etc. It is not synonymous with Witchcraft. Of course,
some Witches take offence at calling Witchcraft a religion. I have no
hang-ups about the term religion. I look directly at the roots of the
word, which mean "to re-link." I consider religion a personal
experience between the practitionar and the Divine, as well as a means
for social celebration and growth. It is also a profession, lifestyle,
and spiritual system all rolled into one.
Please also note that I do make several generalizations below, that
may not apply to any other Traditions, and are often a quick description
of what we do and believe...Iin other words, this is for you to get
a general idea, but it's not the detailed, nitty-gritty low-down, word
of the Fates.
(most of below is taken from a brief article I wrote to the
Goddess News back in 2000) Now, for the difference between Wicca
and Witchcraft. Wicca is the faith made public by Gerald Gardner (firstly),
which combines supposed traditional Witchcraft with ceremonial magic,
Eastern philosophies, and many of the ideas and
thoughts of the Freemasons and Rosicrucians (basicly more ceremonial
magic). It was then added to by many people, from Sanders, the Farrars,
and Starhawk to nowadays Silver Ravenwolf, Scott Cunningham, Buckland
and many more. The ceremonial magic aspect is still heavily present,
even though many people have had their hands in making it something
else. You have very formal ideas, and certain ways of doing things (not
uncommon in anything actually), which leads up to a fairly collected
system. Not uncommon is the hierarchical structure of degrees and covens,
heavy use of magickal tools and formal casting of circles...also very
prevalent, the focus on the "Lord and Lady". This is a rough
generalization of modern day Wicca.
Now, for me, my own tradition that we lovingly call "Modern Traditional"
is of the religion of Witchcraft. You will rarely find ceremonial magic
in my circle, if I am casting a circle at all. We usually cast a large
informal circle for groups to create sacred space, but you won't find
longwinded rhymed speeches and the parading around of tools and such.
I do have magickal tools, but I collect them because I think they are
beautiful works of art, not because I use them for magick. Magick that
I do on my own is done almost always without any tools, or simply very
nature-natural oriented. We sometimes do more spellcraft-oriented exercises
in circle, but you won't see us making a super big deal about what exactly
is needed herb-wise, oil-wise, what colors the candle should be, is
it the right day of the week yadda yadda yadda. You use what you have,
and you do it when you need to. Within any group, meeting (of the Tradition
or public), one is respected for your behavior, input, and knowledge,
not for how long you've been doing something or what fancy paperwork
you may possess from some snazzy namesake. We are very pantheistic (all
things divine) and recognize "the God and Goddess in all things",
naming them as we wish and feel the need to do so, for all the deities
are distinct aspects of the same force, as well as being mindful of
the traditions of our personal ancestry. We are not dictated to by the
deities, nor vice-versa.
So that's my definition of Witchcraft. Some define Witchcraft as the
continuation of the native cultural beliefs and practices of the ancient
Europeans as named after the advent of the Christian religion. Basically,
this is the same idea as the ramble above, just less personal. We're
looking at a more naturally oriented faith, than one with the rigidity
of ceremonial magic and hodge-podge of New Age input.
One last thing I'd like to note is that some people use the word Wicca
because they think it has a better connotation for today's society.
Most of these same people would also be surprised to find out that wicca
is the masculine form of the word...wicce is the feminine (pronounced
"witchy")). I proudly call myself a Witch---I reclaim this
word for its true meaning (wise one, one who bends...) and as a woman,
I assert my power and make a statement about who I am.