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Author Topic: Witchcraft: "Witch" vs "Wiccan"  (Read 691 times)

Orbit

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"Witch" vs "Wiccan"
« on: June 16, 2019, 02:02:09 pm »
Hi all, stupid question here. What differences are there between someone who identifies as a Witch as opposed to someone who identifies as a Wiccan? What is implied by using one label instead of the other? Or are they the same?
TIA

RandallS

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Re: "Witch" vs "Wiccan"
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2019, 02:09:58 pm »
Hi all, stupid question here. What differences are there between someone who identifies as a Witch as opposed to someone who identifies as a Wiccan? What is implied by using one label instead of the other? Or are they the same?

Today, the general distinction between the two is that a Wiccan is a witch who is a practicing member of (one of the branches of) the Wiccan  religion. A witch is a person who practices the form(s) of magic called witchcraft.  One can be a witch without being a Wiccan, but generally a Wiccan will be a witch.
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Re: "Witch" vs "Wiccan"
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2019, 02:23:15 pm »
Hi all, stupid question here. What differences are there between someone who identifies as a Witch as opposed to someone who identifies as a Wiccan? What is implied by using one label instead of the other? Or are they the same?
TIA

People use the terms in a variety of ways, some of which are tremendously confusing.

I've got an essay on my website that breaks it down (and explains some of the different aspects) - for example, my own practice fits into what a lot of people will call Wicca, and because I think the tradition I'm part of does some specific things differently, I say what I do is initiatory religious witchcraft instead.

(You may find some of the other articles linked from the 'Beginning' page helpful with other terms, too: I am definitely not the one true source, but they're written from my experience hanging out with a bunch of Pagans and magical and witchy folk doing a bunch of different things, including here.)
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Orbit

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Re: "Witch" vs "Wiccan"
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2019, 03:43:10 pm »
People use the terms in a variety of ways, some of which are tremendously confusing.

I've got an essay on my website that breaks it down (and explains some of the different aspects) - for example, my own practice fits into what a lot of people will call Wicca, and because I think the tradition I'm part of does some specific things differently, I say what I do is initiatory religious witchcraft instead.

(You may find some of the other articles linked from the 'Beginning' page helpful with other terms, too: I am definitely not the one true source, but they're written from my experience hanging out with a bunch of Pagans and magical and witchy folk doing a bunch of different things, including here.)
Thanks, that was enormously helpful!

Jenett

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Re: "Witch" vs "Wiccan"
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2019, 10:47:41 am »
Thanks, that was enormously helpful!

Yay! I'm glad. (And yeah. It's a thing that's horribly confusing to a lot of people.)
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Failivrin

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Re: "Witch" vs "Wiccan"
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2019, 04:53:17 pm »
Hi all, stupid question here. What differences are there between someone who identifies as a Witch as opposed to someone who identifies as a Wiccan? What is implied by using one label instead of the other? Or are they the same?
Witch and Wiccan both come from the same Old English root. Pop culture usually defines a witch as a female magical practitioner, while a male would be called a wizard, but that is a fairly modern distinction. Certainly many "witches" burned at stake in the Old World were male. So in general, I think "witch" can apply to any magical practitioner.
Wicca is a modern religion which has ancient roots but is generally agreed to have been founded by Gerald Gardner in the twentieth century. Raymond Buckland helped introduce it to America, and Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft is still a great source for understanding Wicca. As a Pagan religion, it both incorporates and informs certain techniques of witchcraft.
This may be an oversimplification, but I think the best way to describe it is: All Wiccans are witches, but not all witches are Wiccans.

Klaw

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Re: "Witch" vs "Wiccan"
« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2019, 05:05:45 pm »
All Wiccans are witches, but not all witches are Wiccans.

Actually, you can be Wiccan and not a witch, even cast circles for the purpose of celebrating dieties or the moon. You do not have to do any spellwork, manifesting, etc. and be Wiccan following the Wiccan Rede.

Jenett

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Re: "Witch" vs "Wiccan"
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2019, 05:26:37 pm »
Actually, you can be Wiccan and not a witch, even cast circles for the purpose of celebrating dieties or the moon. You do not have to do any spellwork, manifesting, etc. and be Wiccan following the Wiccan Rede.

As discussed in the link I put up thread, this is one of those things which ends up being vastly confusing to people (on all sides of the conversation) so it's not something I generally recommend.

(I think that diluting the term 'Wiccan' that far makes it utterly useless as a word.)

There are of course, lots of people who are in fact Wiccan (even by the strictest definitions) much of whose practice does not include circles, or regular spellwork, etc. But the question is 'is this part of the practice, even if infrequent' or 'is this is a person who is saying they never do it'?

I will also note that around these parts, using Wiccan as broadly as you suggest generally leads to people blinking a lot, asking for clarification, and several steps before (hopefully) getting on to much more interesting and useful conversation.
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Re: "Witch" vs "Wiccan"
« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2019, 05:32:07 pm »
Wicca is a modern religion which has ancient roots but is generally agreed to have been founded by Gerald Gardner in the twentieth century. Raymond Buckland helped introduce it to America, and Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft is still a great source for understanding Wicca. As a Pagan religion, it both incorporates and informs certain techniques of witchcraft.

I personally don't recommend Buckland's book as a starting point - it is highly relevant to understanding the history and spread of Wicca, but people learn how to talk about things better over the years, and there are many excellent books about practice, history, and experience of Wicca that are less than 30 years old. (Our community has changed tremendously in that time, too.) In particular, Buckland includes some practices that can be exclusionist or have significant accessibility issues (on multiple levels) when there are plenty of viable alternatives these days.

More about why I don't recommend starting with some of the classic books here (and why I recommend reading them, but once you've got more current context), and some of my recs for early books to read, and why..
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Zlote Jablko

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Re: "Witch" vs "Wiccan"
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2019, 03:31:09 am »
Hi all, stupid question here. What differences are there between someone who identifies as a Witch as opposed to someone who identifies as a Wiccan? What is implied by using one label instead of the other? Or are they the same?
TIA

While it may seem like a minor distinction, being a witch is much less specific than being a Wiccan. You could be an African Diasporic witch in Brazil, for example. Or any other culture on earth that has some form of witchcraft. I’m sure even China has some form of traditional witchcraft. There are probably “witches” of some kind in every culture.

Wicca has very specific roots in the western, English-speaking neopagan movement.

Louisvillian

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Re: "Witch" vs "Wiccan"
« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2019, 03:11:12 am »
Hi all, stupid question here. What differences are there between someone who identifies as a Witch as opposed to someone who identifies as a Wiccan? What is implied by using one label instead of the other? Or are they the same?
There's overlap in the sense that Wicca is (broadly) a subset of Witchcraft.

Wicca has tended to be specific enough in its structure, practices, and beliefs to be a religion, albeit one with a great deal of variety. Wicca has been one of the oldest, largest, and most influential religions within the broader umbrella of the Modern Pagan movement, and a lot of baseline assumptions about Neopagan thought and practice can be rooted to Wicca and its parallel movements like Neodruidism.

Witchcraft is not, in itself, a religion; witchcraft in the modern sense is usually an array of folk magic practices bound together by an identity that reclaims the title and concept of "witch" from its preceding folklore. The modern Witchcraft revival is usually thought of as being part of the Modern Pagan movement, and certainly shares some intellectual roots in the late 19th century interest in folklore and traditions. But it does have some tendencies that are...multipartisan, so to speak. Because modern witchcraft primarily defined itself by redefining what was previously a disparate set of folk magic practices, that identification can vary widely, and include things that definitely do not self-identify as Pagan but nevertheless engage with traditional folk magic.

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Re: "Witch" vs "Wiccan"
« Reply #11 on: June 20, 2019, 12:10:29 pm »
Actually, you can be Wiccan and not a witch, even cast circles for the purpose of celebrating dieties or the moon. You do not have to do any spellwork, manifesting, etc. and be Wiccan following the Wiccan Rede.

Can you clarify a couple of things about this for me? One, I'm not sure if you mean, 'You can be Wiccan... and not even cast circles...,' or, 'You can be Wiccan, and even cast circles..., without being a witch.'

Two, what do you mean by 'manifesting'?

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