Today's topic is more informative and controversial than others I've gone over. But it needs to be discussed at some point, especially for those new to witchcraft.
There's a lot of confusion around what it means to be Pagan, to be Wiccan, and to be a witch. Whether they intertwine or not. Those questions will be answered today:
Pagan to Christians: anyone who's not Christian. Amusing, but far from the truth.
Paganism is a spiritual practice that is earth-based, as they believe the earth is sacred and created all things. Much closer to the truth. if you think about it.
Some Pagans worship the Earth itself and some worship specifically the Horned God and the combination of different Goddesses.
Paganism has no central organization, like Shinto, Hindu, or Muslim. So those religions, dispite being constantly lumped together with Paganism, are not Pagan.
Wicca is considered a branch of Paganism. Instead of naming or having a combination of multiple Gods and Goddesses, they simply believe in the God and the Goddess. Wiccans celebrate Sabbats an Esbets that correspond with the equinoxes and solstices of the year: the Wheel of the Year.
It starts at Yule (Winter Solstice) when the God is born from the Goddess and ends at Samhain (Halloween to everyone else) when the God dies and the Goddess is the Crone.
The spiritual practice of Wiccans includes casting circles to create a sacred space for space spell casting, inviting the elements into the circle, having the elements represented on an altar that's set up very specifically, and thanking the God and the Goddess for assisting them in the rituals performed.
Wiccans also believe in a rede, a code of ethics for spell work and practicing. This rede and the spell work that goes along with practicing can be done solitarily or with a coven. A coven will typically have a series of rites of passage, which they determine as a group, and don't often let new members in.
Pagans can celebrate the Sabbats and Esbets as well. But the key difference between being Pagan and being Wiccan is the use of the Wiccan Rede. You must follow that code of ethics in order to be considered Wiccan.
Now, here's the part everyone seems to get confused about whenever they hear the word "witch": not all witches are Wiccan.
You can be Wiccan and a witch.
But not all witches are Wiccan.
A witch can be Pagan, but there are Pagan witches.
Why? Witchcraft is a practice only. You do not need to worship a deity or have a code of ethics to practice witchcraft.
To make it even more confusing for you, witchcraft then has an incredible amount of branches and specializations. These extend into Paganism and the different kinds of witches you can be there, the specific type of witch that you are due to your practice, whether or not you work in a coven, and what abilities you possess.
In another post, as it gets quite lengthy, I'll give a list of the different types of witches you can be. It really is quite fascinating and empowering to look at.
But, in short, a witch can be pretty much anything.
Why can't a witch be Wiccan then?
A witch can choose a craft that does not go along with the Wiccan rede.
One of the biggest points I continually see Wiccans drive home is the "An it harm none, do what ye will" rule. This basically states that you'll do no harm to another being, no matter what.
Self-explanatory. Not hard to understand. But SO many debates spur up whenever a non-Wiccan asks about curses or hexes and a Wiccan is near by.
Cursing and hexing, as many people know in a sense, can involve harming another human being. There can be non-violent curses (ex: you will always trip over your shoe laces no matter how many times you fix them) but it doesn't matter. Cursing is bad.
Another big ideal of Wiccans is the threefold rule. This means anything you do will come back to you three times as you originally cast.
For example, if you do a prosperity or money-drawing spell, that wealth is supposed to return to you threefold. Chang ching, right?
Imagine if you cursed somebody. That curse would then, by their rede, come back to you threefold, harming you worse than the original subject of the curse.
For those who like dealing with the Earth and all her bounties, Paganism would be for you.
For those who like having a more structured approach to their spirituality while still loving the Earth, Wicca is for you.
For those who want to build their own practice, set their own boundaries, and worship/not worship whoever they want, witchcraft is for you.
The most important point in all this: create a practice or spirituality that fits you and your life style. With all of these spiritualities, except maybe Wiccan on a few occasions, you can be as fluid as you want with your worship. You determine what you want to do and practice. Definitely a difference from structured religions like Christianity.
If you want to explore some more information about these topics, check out this page, this page, and this page.
You can find me going into further discussion about this topic on The Lost Lemurian on YouTube! Cool huh?!
Check out the video right here!