Wicca, Witchcraft, Paganism & Magick: The Differences - Gaining an Understanding of the Craft

Wicca: Book of Spells and Witchcraft for Beginners. The Guide of Shadows for Wiccans, Solitary Witches, and Other Practitioners of Magic Rituals - Arin Chamberlains 2018

Wicca, Witchcraft, Paganism & Magick: The Differences
Gaining an Understanding of the Craft

Without clear definitions and a clear understanding of the terms Wicca, Witchcraft, magick and Paganism, you cannot find your footing to start learning about the practices. Here we begin by explaining the differences among all these terms, to help you build a foundation of knowledge on which to build upon as you read the entire book. If there is one chapter you decide to read before skipping to the others, please make it this one.

Paganism: An Introduction

Let us first make it clear that the term Paganism is an umbrella term for several religions. The term envelopes a number or spiritual beliefs; it was a term used to describe people who believed in a number of gods, goddesses or deities. Basically, paganism refers to the pre-Christian religions that have stemmed from several ancient cultures.

Wicca and Witchcraft: The Differences

The terms ’Wicca’ and ’Witchcraft’ are often referred to and used interchangeably, but there are key differences between the two. The blurred lines between the two terms go way back, to as far back as the 1940s, when the origins of what is understood today as Wicca was actually considered Witchcraft. The term ’Wicca’ is actually rooted in Old English, and describes a ’diviner’ or ’sorcerer’, coming from the Anglo-Saxon Culture. In the Anglo-Saxon culture, magical skills were deeply valued and with the evolution of the English language, the term ’Wiccan’ and ’Witch’ became one term. Today, we understand where the differences are as well as where the confusion occurred, and it is accepted that Wicca and Witchcraft are indeed very different things.

Wicca: An Introduction

Wicca is a religion, an earth-centered, nature-driven religion. It is a system of spiritual beliefs around deities, the Goddess and God and the Wheel of the Year. Wicca thus consists of worship of and observance to spirits and deities and is regarded as a subset of Paganism. Wiccan Rede is the ’one Law’ principle of Wicca that can be summed up as ’harm none’. Wiccans believe in leaving karmic energy to take care of those who have wronged them, as their faith admonishes the harm of others, even those who have harmed or have the intent of harming them. Wiccans also believe that interfering with the free will of others is wrongful.

Witchcraft: An Introduction

Witchcraft, however, is a practice. Witchcraft is about harnessing the power in the Universe and using it to bring about changes in one’s life. It incorporates meditation, prayer and magic and several activities like divination, astrology and spirit communication. Casting spells and the use of magic, channeling and meditation are all goals in Witchcraft. It is not necessary to be a Wiccan or a Witch to cast spells or practice magic. Even without a belief system centred on spirituality, Gods or Goddesses, one can use herbs and spells for protection, healing and love etc. — which means that even atheists could practice Witchcraft. So because of this, one may actually be a believer in any religion or none, but still be able to practice Witchcraft as an art of using energy and the power in nature for an end goal. Many nations and cultures have their own methods in Witchcraft, and there is much encompassed by the term.

Practicing Wicca and Witchcraft

Unlike Wiccans, who are encumbered by the Rede, Witches are independent thinkers and have no predefined ethics or morals that they follow. Witchcraft can either be practiced with intent to heal or with intent to harm. There are many forms of Witchcraft that entail protection, love and healing using herbs, minerals, alternative science and harnessing of energy to perform. However, there exists Witchcraft involving demonic forces as well, like that of St. Cyprian or King Solomon. There are Satanic practices like that of Anton LaVey of The Church of Satan, or Santeria or Hoodoo practices. Witchcraft is as diverse as the many cultures and peoples across the globe and can be as good or as bad as the person performing it. Unfortunately, in the English language, there is only one word to describe a person practicing either healing or harming magick and that is a ’Witch’.

In essence, there is a difference in intent between Wicca and Witchcraft. Wicca’s intent is alignment with the divine and a spiritual journey, while Witchcraft doesn’t have to involve the divine or spirituality in any form since spells may be cast and meditation may be practiced or herbs used even without calling upon any divine spirits or deities. The bottom line is that not all Wiccan’s are Witches, and neither are all Witches Wiccans. This book offers an introduction to the principles of Wiccan belief as well as an introduction to traditional Witchcraft. It is interesting to see how traditional witchcraft can incorporate principles of Wicca and how they can overlap. However, it is easy to simply practice Witchcraft without any background in Wicca, beyond understanding the differences between the two.

As a result of centuries in history involving the persecution of Witches by Christianity, there is a stigma attached to the title of being a ’Witch’, and the term became more of an accusation rather than an accepted, respected title. During such trying times, those practicing Witchcraft wouldn’t even identify themselves as Witches or fear of their own safety, and while there is freedom to identify as a Witch today, the negative connotations that still hover around the term inhibit its proper use and obscure its true meaning. Most people are first introduced to the idea of Witchcraft or Wicca through Hollywood movies and the interpretation is a twisted one, not giving the entire true picture of the concepts. Wiccans and Witches are both alike in the struggles and challenges they face in their communities, where they are ostracized and even actively fought against for practicing.

Magick: An Introduction

There are several reasons for people being drawn towards magic. Some wish to understand their place in the vast universe, some are seeking answers to the questions they have about life and everything around it, and others are seeking a life of enchantment and heightened reality, which can be described as a life of wonder and mystery.

Let us first discuss why we sometimes come across the term ’magic’’ and how it is different from the term ’magick’. ’Magick’ is actually a term coined by Aleister Crowley, founder of a Pagan religion called Thelema. He used the alternative spelling to differentiate the magic of the occult from that performed on stage for entertainment. Other spellings have been adopted over time like “majick”, “majik” and “magik”, but for no specific reason. Thus the term ’magick’ is essentially unnecessary, and all forms are interchangeable, but we have adopted his idea in this book simply by preference.

Magick can be loosely described as the manipulation of the physical world via metaphysics by using ritual action. However, the definition is not all encompassing as in some cases, even actions that are not metaphysical may be described as magick. It is a profound, deep and sacred art of conforming change using the power of will; an art of using the forces of nature to evoke change. It is a neutral art form — neither good nor evil. Instead, the practitioner of the magick decides on the intent or the focus of his natural energy.

Prayers are not considered magick — they are requests for divine intervention. When the names of Gods or deities are used in magick, it can become confusing, but it is important to recognize whether the name is used as a request or as a word of power.

Black Magick vs. White Magick

White magick and black magick are concepts that have existed for time immemorial. White magick, according to Alice Bailey, author of Treatise on White Magic of 1934, is a practice of the Craft that can only be performed by a healthy witch of a pure heart. It is a practice that serves others and is selfless rather than selfish. Black magick, on the other hand, serves the magician, and the definition of it can be narrow or broad. In broad terms, one can define black magick as that which the magician believes is immoral, unethical or wrongful in some or other way. In no way is black magick necessarily malevolent, it simply depends on the intention with which the magick is performed.