Many people believe that Wicca and Witchcraft are the same thing. They two words are erronerously used interchangably. Not every Witch is Wiccan, and not every Wiccan is a Witch.
Much of the history of Wicca and Witchcraft has been muddied due to some authors completely making things up. In the 1920’s Margaret Murray wrote some books stating that Witchcraft had survived from prehistoric times and only died out through the “burning times”. She had taken evidence completely out of context and altered much of it to support her own theories. Her thesis has since been discredited by academics. However, some pagan authors are still promoting her work as fact.
Wicca was developed early in the twentieth century by Gerald Gardner. His influences included Freemasonry, the Golden Dawn, Eastern mysticism, and Margaret Murray. The religion he presented to the world in the 1950’s was based on a three degree initiatory system. He claimed that Wicca was an ancient religion that predated Christianity. This also has been proven to be false.
At the time it was unusual for any Western religion to acknowledge a goddess. But this is exactly what Wicca does. Wicca acknowledges both God and Goddess.
Many Wiccans choose to be eclectic. This means that they worship and work with dirties from a variety of different cultures. I choose to work with Celtic deities only. At the moment I am working with Cernunnos and the Morrigan, the triple Goddess of Macha, Badb, and Anu.
Degree systems are used within a Coven setting. I choose to be solitary (that is, I choose to fly solo) and so do not use a degree system. I also choose to call myself a “witch” rather than “Wiccan”. My life is more that of spontaneous magical workings rather than ordered rituals. I walk how I feel and I listen to my intuition.
I don’t worship deities. I choose to work with them to achieve my goals. I believe in the Gods and Goddesses in the same way that I believe in the chair that I am sitting on. We have a useful mutual relationship but I will not fall down and grovel at anyone’s feet.
Wicca is a religion. Witchcraft is a practice. Some witches are Wiccan, but many are not.
The Wiccan way can be summed up by the phrase: “And it harm none, do what you will.” This is part of a longer document called “The Wiccan Rede”. Some witches choose not to abide by this. I do abide by this. I think it’s important to treat others how you want to be treated. That doesn’t mean that you ignore those who wish to do you harm.
In future posts I’ll talk about the importance of protection, how to develop and incorporate a magical strategy into your life, and many other topics.
Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham (affiliate link)
“Wicca Revealed” coursework on Magicka School.
“History of Wicca” on Wicca For the Rest of Us.
The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft by Prof. Ronald Hutton (affiliate link)