Pagans, Wiccans and Witches, Oh My!
You’ve been combing through the vast internet, trying to find a spiritual path that suits you. You’ve stumbled on a few articles – one that describes a Pagan witch, another that describes all witches as Pagans, one that says all Wiccans are witches.
As your eyes boggle and you reach for the pain relief tablets for that migraine that’s starting just behind your left eyebrow, you close down your internet browser and vow that you’re never going to get the different between all these titles.
I’m here today to finally set the record straight. You’re welcome. 😊
I think it would be easier to work from the big picture down, so let’s get started! First, what is a Pagan?
A Pagan is technically anyone that doesn’t practice one of the “The Big 3,” that is, one of the three Abrahamic religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam. So, on a technical level, a Buddhist would be considered a Pagan.
Paganism is what many refer to as an “umbrella term.” When I’m first describing Paganism to people, I often use Christianity, actually, as an example. Christianity is another umbrella term and many different paths or denominations fall under it. Under Christianity you have Protestantism, Methodism, Catholicism, Baptist, Lutheran, etc. and so forth. So too, with Paganism.
Wicca is a branch, or denomination of Paganism, and would fall right underneath that umbrella term. There are many, MANY different paths underneath this umbrella, almost too many to list. Under this umbrella of Paganism, you have everything from Heathenry, Asatru, and Druidry, to Santeria, Voudon, and Candomble, over to Freemasonry and Thelema, right along with Buddhism, Hinduism and Sikhism.
Wicca itself is also a bit of an umbrella, which can also confuse some people. If you ever hear the terms: Alexandrian, Gardnerian, Dianic, or Celtic Wicca (not to be confused with Celtic Reconstructionism) then know that these are just different denominations of Wicca. Each has differences that the founders created to make Wicca more their own flavor – others happened to resonate with it and it became a path. Ta-da!
So, now, where does witchcraft fit into all of this? Witchcraft is a practice, not a religion. It happens to be present in many different Pagan paths, which is why there is often confusion.
Are all Wiccans witches? In short, yes. Part of the path of Wicca is performing magick (often denoted with a k, to differentiate from sleight of hand magic.) Although, I have talked to Wiccans lately who state that they don’t perform any witchcraft, and instead just use this faith to worship the God and Goddess. Times are changing and many people have many different approaches to their path. Classically though, yes, all Wiccans are witches.
So, to break it down. All Wiccans are witches (traditionally). Not all witches are not Wiccan. All Wiccans are Pagan. Not all Pagans are Wiccan. Not all witches are Pagan. Not all Pagans are witches.
I hope that cleared things up – if not feel free to comment down below and I'll see if I can help out!