Wiccan or Witch?

What is the difference?

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The Difference between Wicca and Witchcraft

A Wiccan is a follower (of any gender) of the earth-based neopagan religion Wicca. A Witch is someone (of any gender) who believes in magick and practices Witchcraf.

For a Wiccan, the main goal is to get closer to the Deities, possibly through magick. Not all Wiccans are Witches, as not all Wiccans work with the Divine through magick. For a Witch however, magick IS the goal. There are also others who use magick without being Witches; ceremonial magicians and chaotes.

Since Witchcraft is a practice and not a religion, it means you can follow any religious path and be a Witch as well. Different religions may have some ideas about the morals of being a Witch, but that’s a whole different topic… It’s easy to become confused by these terms, as many books aimed at beginners interchangeably use the term Wiccan/Witch to mean the same thing.

Here are a few other things that differ between Wicca, general witchery and Traditional Witchcraft.

  • Cosmology

Wiccans believe in a God and a triple-form Goddess where as Witches can be anything from polytheistic to atheistic. The same goes with the idea of an afterlife. Wiccans believe in reincarnation and the Summerlands where the soul goes between births. In general, witches can hold any set of belief. (I personally don’t even believe in the concept of a soul.)

  • Magick Circles

Wiccans cast a magick circle, where as natural/traditional Witches mostly don’t use them. Wicca takes its inspiration for the magick circle from ceremonial magick where circles are widely used to create a sacred space. Traditional Witches tend to regard all space as sacred thus not needing a sacred place.

  • The Watchtowers

Calling the Watchtowers is a Wiccan thing, originating in Enochian Magick and possibly imported to Wicca via OTO. Traditional Witches do not call upon the Watchtowers to aid them in their magick but rather familiar spirits.

  • Ritual clothing

Wiccans use the term skyclad for being naked and Wiccans perform the most important rituals buck-naked, whereas the more traditionally inclined Witch make use of special robes or paint to cover the body.

  • Sacred Days

Wiccans and Traditional Witches mostly celebrate the same sacred days of the full moon, the Esbats, but the importance of the Sabbats are different. Wiccans hold the Sabbats as high days linking the manifestations of nature to a certain godform, where as Traditional Witches tend to honour the changing of the seasons by themselves.

  • Differences in magickal ethics

In Wicca you act according to the Wiccan Rede of “ye harm none” or the Three-fold Law. This moral code of “turning the other cheek” prohibits a Wiccan from seeking out revenge, such as hexing or cursing. Most traditional witches and other magicians do not adhere the Three-fold Law, nor the Wiccan Rede and will act out acts of what some might deem as Black Magick. But most witches, even Wiccans, agree that magick hold no colour and that the responsibility to use hexes, curses and other acts lies upon the individual crafter.

  • Books of magickal work

In Wicca the solitary practitioner, and the coven alike, use a Book of Shadows to hold all magickal information. In Traditional Witchcraft the practitioner often use a Grimoire. Where as a Book of Shadows contain ALL information related spells and rituals, such as correspondence lists and Grimoire is usually only filled with the magickal working of the ritual alone. How the books are treated also differs. A Book of Shadows is often (these days) not written in encrypted style but in plain native tongue – a Grimoire is more often than not written in deep symbolism and maybe even a crafted language or written by using runes; all to prevent unworthy eyes from feasting upon the contents. Another difference is that a Book of Shadows can be handed down to other members of a coven or to other Wiccans, whereas a Grimoire is not expected to be handed down in the same manner.

Well met,
Raven’s Eye

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