So I watched and from the beginning and it didn't take long to get to the statement, " ... there are some Wiccans who practice wicthcraft, and then there are some people who practice witchcraft but not Wicca, and then there are some people who are Wiccans, but do not practice witchcraft."
I would agree that not all witches are Wiccan. I’ve met many witches who are not and never identified as Wiccan. I know a few Christian witches, more than a few Traditional witches, and one or two Satanic witches, but I have never met a Wiccan who was NOT a witch. Well, perhaps that isn’t completely true. I have meet individuals who were just learning about Wicca, who were Seekers or students that were just beginning to learn the foundations of a Wiccan practice so they do not feel comfortable adopting the label of witch until they had truly come into their power. And that is something I completely understand and encourage, but at some point in their knowledge gathering and learning, they will come to a point, which will be different for everyone, when it will be apparent that if they intend to mature and grow as a priestess or priest, they will be required to practice; even if that practice doesn’t include casting spells, but to casting Circle and holding ritual because these practices, which are essential components of living Wicca are in fact magickal practices.
Maybe the confusion about Wiccans being Witches stems from the definition or understanding of what magick and witchcraft is. I favor the definition of magick purposed by the ceremonial magician, Aleister Crowley. He said that magick is the Science and Art of manipulating Will, emotions, and energy in order to bring about change within an individual’s reality. Seems simple enough of a definition, yes? When a Wiccan casts a Circle they manipulate their own energy and the energy of the realms to create a space beyond space, a space beyond the bounds of time, a space separate from everything and includes only what the Wiccan has brought in with them. Doesn’t that sound like magick?
The definition of witchcraft is the Craft of the witch. So what is the Craft of the witch? Some define it as the practice of magick or magickal skills and abilities, which may include working with herbs, stones, and the energy of the natural realm and the spiritual realms. Magick and witchcraft are a HUGE part of being Wiccan. Many of the more “advanced” books on Wicca (when you can locate them) focus on psychic development and witchcraft because following a Wiccan spirituality or religion is the practical practice of your beliefs. Wicca is the way you live, it is something you do.
Even in the US Army chaplain's handbook, which established and recognized Wicca as a religion, indicates that magick or "The Craft" is practiced by Wiccans. That Craft that is being referred to is witchcraft. But while Wicca has been accepted as a religion, it does not remove the component of witchcraft from its foundation. Many religions have vital components in their doctrines or liturgies that if removed from them would change the religion and make it something else even if those members or followers of that particular religion continue to call themselves a member of said religion. For example, the Roman Catholic Church is very ceremonial in nature. Their liturgy is most definitely ritualistic as they perform Mass at least weekly, though at times more frequently depending on the time of year and purpose. When they hold or perform Mass they use a form of magick, whether they admit it or not. Do you recall the definition of magick? The Transubstantiation is when the priest consecrates the bread and wine during Mass changing it into the flesh and blood of Christ; this is a form of magick. And if you were to remove that from the liturgy, it would no longer be considered Roman Catholic; it would be something else, perhaps Protestant. If an individual claims to be Wiccan, but NOT a witch then perhaps they aren’t truly Wiccan and would better be identified as something else; some type of spirituality that closely resembles Wicca in many ways, but does not incorporate magick or witchcraft. Perhaps Pagan?
To align with a religion and not implement its teachings is strange to me, but I suppose people do it and this is what is meant when they say, “I’m a non-practicing Catholic.” Is that similar to believing in the philosophy of veganism, but still eating meat? But isn’t that not “walking your talk” or even more to the point, being a hypocrite?
In the early days when Gerald Gardner formed Wicca, he supplemented the New Forest Coven’s rituals with ideas he borrowed from numerous sources including Ceremonial Magick. Ceremonial what? Oh, yes, Ceremonial MAGICK. Wicca originally included a magickal practice some of which included things from Aleister Crowley, a magickian, one who practices, you guessed it, magick. The words Wicca and Witch were used interchangeably by Gardner himself because they were one and the same. There was no distinction because Gardner was a Witch. He practiced magick and therefore his religion, his spiritual practice included witchcraft. In my conversations with individuals who have been initiated into traditional covens who claim lineage to Gardner, they have explained to me that they never considered themselves anything, but a Witch and didn’t use the word Wiccan as a label. Wicca and Witch were interchangeable, but Witch was the common term they identified with.
While some may explain that over the years the Wicca Gardner created has gone through a transformation so that Wiccans today have completely disregarded the witchcraft and focused more on the spirituality evolving Wicca into a religion and not a practice, I adamantly argue that once the witchcraft is removed from Wicca it is no longer Wicca. It becomes something else entirely. Wicca is something you are. It is something you live. Not just something you believe.
It may be different now for the new Modern Eclectic Wiccan and she or he may not believe that it is necessary to practice magick or witchcraft to be Wiccan, but that doesn’t make it true. You see there is a line, a boundary for everything, a point when it stops being gray and becomes black and once you cross that line you may continue to call yourself Wiccan, but others will no longer perceive you as such. There are specific characteristics or traits that identify a spiritual practice as Wiccan and when an individual deviates from these they may align more with another spiritual path or religion even if they still insist on calling themselves Wiccan.
The following are tenets that create the foundation of Wicca and are found in most, if not all, Wiccan Traditions:
- Understanding unity (Goddess = eternal) and discord (God = ephemeral).
- Having a relationship with the land and nature.
- Having a relationship with: the Elements, Elementals, and Guardians.
- Have a relationship with: the Ancestors, Ancient Ones, and Beloved Dead
- Knowledge and practice of magick.
- Accepting personal accountability and responsibility.
- Having a sense of inviolate personal power.
- Having a relationship with the tools of The Craft.
- Celebrating the seasons as aspects of the earth cycle during a sabbat at its proper time.
- Celebrating the moon esbats at the proper time.
- Understanding the symbolism and power of ritual.
- Honoring the body as manifestation of The All.
- Understanding all levels of The Wiccan Creed / Rede.
- Understanding The Law of Return.
- Understanding The Witches’ Pyramid.
- Aspiring to The Eight Virtues.
- Understanding the lessons of The Charge of The Goddess.
- Understanding the lessons of The Descent of The Goddess.
- Understanding The Three Realms.
As I move forward with my blog, I will begin discussing each tenet in more detail so that through these posts perhaps those of you who many be interested in Wicca or align yourself with this particular spiritual path can define it better for yourself adn perhaps once we have completed the discussion of each point, you may find that you do not fit as well as you once thought with Wicca or perhaps you will confidently stand beside me on the Wiccan path. Regardless of what you label yourself, your Craft is yours and yours alone, and I support you.
Much love to each of you.