Witchcraft Vs Wicca
Witchcraft is an unusual `religion’ – in that, you can practise the Craft without necessarily working with the deities in any way. There are so many books written by Scholars who have researched the subject, and there are yet more – all of whom tend to claim that in the ancient times, people practised witchcraft and they also worshiped certain gods and goddess of the Witches. This approach has been deeply favoured and `built-in’ to Wicca – the actual modern religious pagan path that also has its roots in Witchcraft. So by saying `Witchcraft is an unusual religion…’ I was throwing a curve-ball, which I hope you caught on to immediately! It has that thought-provoking `gestalt’ feel to it- controversial, and pushing for a counter-rebellious response from you!
Let’s take it a notch or two down, and look at it in another way – from the gut, rather than through the eye-glasses of academics! The only way to understand Magic is to experience it by practicing it, and not by reading and talking about it!
What do we `know’ of Witchcraft from myths, here-say, fairy tales and medieval stories? I refer to the general perceptions of general public, when I use the term `we’ here.
- Witchcraft is practised by individuals called Witches.
- Witches are mostly women – either old hags / ugly crones, or nubile nymphs who seduce and entice (men).
- Witches work spells at Full moons, and Dark moons.
- Witches do spells, chants, curses, love-potions, animal sacrifices, boil lotions & potions in their pots, pans and cauldrons.
- Witches don’t like people’s company, and are rather solitary or reclusive. They live in small cluttered cottages, houses, make-shift huts or adapted caves.
- Witches have contracts with the devil or other dangerous unethical entities of supernatural make-up.
- There are no major initiation frameworks. Witches are `natural’ or are made by other Witches in cultish rituals.
What do we know about Wicca, as it has been popularised in modern media, written about in books, magazines and websites?
- Wicca is a neo-pagan religion.
- Wicca was `founded’ or put-together by certain key English persons in the 1950’s in UK, using components and aspects borrowed from other western, eastern and ancient / classical magical practices.
- Wiccans (people who follow Wicca) are also Witches, or practices Witchcraft.
- Both men and Women can be Wiccans.
- Wiccans mostly work and belong to covens.
- Anyone with commitment and connections can join a coven or be initiated into Wicca (by another suitably qualified Wiccan). People can also follow the path and declare themselves as `Wiccan’.
- There is a hierarchy in Wicca – Coven leaders and members.
- There is an initiation framework in wicca: Postulant, 1st degree initiate, 2nd degree Witch (High Priest / High Priestess), and 3rd degree Wiccan.
- Wiccans have a clearly set-out framework for rituals – Opening, consecrations, energy raising, elements, deity work, blessing & sharing.
- Wiccans worship Gods & Goddesses.
- Deity energies are invoked into chosen people (Male & Female) in the coven at any one ritual. This aspires to `see’ the divine in humans.
- Wiccans have rituals (or coven events) at Full moons, new moons, and 8 festivals around the year.
- Wiccans do not do animal sacrifices, nor eat children.
- Wiccans follow set-out ethics and rules which act to deter most wiccans from `abusing’ their magical powers for egotistical, harmful or extreme selfish causes.
This list is not extensive or exhaustive, but it serves to illustrate some of the main perceptions we have of the 2 concepts – Witchcraft and Wicca.
But a key point must be made – Olden day Witches were not Wiccans. It’s doubtful that most of them even referred to themselves as Witches (for far of persecution?). But modern day Wiccans do and are `qualified’ (or rather given a hierarchical validation at initiations) to call themselves Witches, as well as being Wiccans. It’s as if the more acceptable aspects of Witchcraft have been taken, and amalgamated with other pagan practical frameworks, and be now known as Wicca.
My view is that Wicca has parts of Witchcraft within it, but not all. And Witchcraft is a more nebulous raw practise of dabbling in spell-craft and magic, without so much of the contrived framework of Wicca that would either define or restrict it.
(c) Mani Navasothy. (Witch & Wiccan High Priest). 23Feb2012.