We all heard the stories when we were kids. About how witches stood before a big, round cauldron brewing up bats wings and toads legs, with some hair of dog and human eye balls. We’ve seen witches in the media—whether on hit TV shows (Charmed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) or on the big screen (Practical Magic, The Craft). Witches seem to be everywhere, we seem to have a good grasp on what they are all about … or so we think. You see there is a great divide between being a witch and being a Wiccan. They are two totally different aspects of the craft (And no I’m not talking about the movie this time!). There is a great deal about the old ways that I would like to inform you about. So if I have triggered you’re curiosity already, here’s where we get to the good stuff!
First let’s start with Wicca. Wicca is a modernized version of Paganism—one of the oldest religions in the world. It was brought forth to the light by a man named Gerald Gardner around the late 1950s. Wicca is a nature-based, polytheistic faith built to spiritually enlighten and empower all who walk its path. Wiccan’s revere nature and know that all things in the natural world inhabit spiritual vibrations that they respect and often communicate with. Wiccan’s celebrate the yearly cycles of the earth—known as the eight Sabbats and the Esbats. The Sabbats are known as Samhain, Yule, Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Summer Solstice, Lammas, and Mabon. Some of you will know Samhain and Yule better as Halloween and Winter Solstice. The Esbats are rituals that take place every full moon—sometimes every full and new moon. It is a time of personal female power, due to the fact that the Goddess is represented by the moon. Wiccan’s follow codes of conduct known as The Wiccan Rede and the Threefold Law. They both represent the universal codes of Karma. Basically, do unto others as you’d have them do unto you or whatever you send out will be returned to you threefold. Don’t harm anyone. Use your energy to help others as well as help yourself. Wicca is in NO WAY satanic. This is a common misconception made by many people who take a look at the pentacle (the Wiccan symbol, much like the cross is a symbol of Catholic faiths) and automatically think its a satanic symbol. Really, the pentacle (five pointed star with a circle around it) is a representation of the elements: earth, air, fire, water, and ether/spirit. It is a symbol of our faith and reverence for nature as much as a cross is a symbol of a Christian/Catholic faith in God. The reversed pentacle(the one you recognize as evil) was in fact used by Satanists because of the simple fact that when reversed, the head of a goat could be drawn within the points. Wiccans do not even acknowledge the existence of Satan or bring absolute evil into their practice. To sum it up, Wicca is one of the largest growing religions of today. Your next door neighbor could be Wiccan, your teacher could be Wiccan, even your own son or daughter could have a connection to the craft that they will later learn more about. Wicca is a beautiful religion based upon deep spiritual enlightenment and alignment with the earth.
Witchcraft on the other hand is not a religious faith—but rather a practice. Witchcraft is about the knowledge one must acquire to be adept in spell writing/casting, as well as the correspondences of herbs both medically and magically to be used in practice. Divination is also quite common among many witches, and they either have one divination practice that works well for them or they utilize quite a few (tarot, tea leaf reading, crystal ball gazing, runes, scrying, etc.). Witches do not necessarily follow the Wiccan Rede or the Threefold Law, because they already know that they account for their mistakes and will have to learn from them whether they like it or not. Witches do call upon the elements at times, as well as various Gods and Goddesses when working magic. But to be a witch, you don’t necessarily have to be a Wiccan. Being that it is not a religious faith, witchcraft can be applied to any faith you belong to. So basically, you very well could be a Christian, Catholic, Muslim, or Jew and incorporate a magical practice into it.
To sum it up; all Wiccans are witches, but not all witches are Wiccan. Nature-based religions and magical practices have been around since before the biblical times. Mysticism and superstition have made their way through each and every era and have never lost their luster. Just know there’s a little witch in everyone … and if you’re reading this article, you might have just realized that there’s a little witch in you after all.