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Pagan, Witch, or Wiccan? What's the Difference?

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posted on Aug, 19 2004 @ 12:19 PM
Crash Course :.


To be Pagan, literally means to NOT be Christian. The very term "Pagan" is defined in the American Heritage Dictionary as..."pa-gan (pa-gn) n. One who is not a Christian, Muslim, or Jew," as these were the organized religions of the time. In the Magickal sense, Pagans usually are those who study the Old Ways. You do not have to be a Witch to be Pagan, but you do have to be Pagan to be a Witch.


To be a Witch is to be a Magick user; which means to utilize the Magickal energies within the Earth to affect a physical change within your or another's life. Witches usually follow a path such as, Celtic, Draconite, Norse, Stregheria, and yes, Native American, etc....

Witches are generally aligned to the Right Hand Path; ie, that of love and light, although there are dark witches out there, just as there are MEAN Christians. I Myself am a Kitchen Witch in My daily Magick. I principally utilize herbs, candles, stones and the like. However, I am also eclectic in My daily Magick, as I call many Gods/Goddesses to My spellwork. Although, for the major celebrations and rites, and in High Magick, I am heavily Draconite (a Magick User who "works" with Dragons, though I do also call the Deities to assist Me.

You do not have to be Wiccan to be a Witch, but you must be a Witch to be Wiccan. Now, before I am deluged in negative responses, let Me reinterate that a Witch is a Magick user, NOT a Satanist; although there are Satanic Witches out there. And if you are Wiccan, following Gerald Gardner's teachings - for to follow any other, you are studying an offshoot of Wicca which makes you more an eclectic than a Wiccan - you ARE a Magick user, and therefore, a Witch.

My argument for this point is this.... Gerald Gardner invented and developed the path of Wicca; therefore, if you are not following his path, you are not following the teachings of the one who created this path and are therefore encompassing the beliefs of others concerning Gardner's Path, that of Wicca. In order to be a true Wiccan, you must follow the Path of Gerald Gardner, the one who created it. No offense, if you are British Traditionalist Wicccan, but Gardner is the one who dubbed his path to be "Wicca." He did not create the word, as Wicka is "Wise One," however, he was the one to use that label. Saying British Traditionalist Wicca is like saying "We're following the Old Ways in a new way developed in the 1950's."

Example: When the Catholic Church split in to the Catholics and the Roman Catholics, they weren't both called simply Catholics. They were different, had differences in belief, doctrine and such. Therefore the offshoot group took the name of Roman Catholics, as the movement began in Rome. Therefore, if you proclaim yourself to be Wiccan, without following Gardner's teachings you are Wiccan in doctrine or belief perhaps, but you are an offshoot branch of Wicca. I personally know many who claim Wicca out of ignorance of what Wicca is....they simply come from a bloodline of witches and know nothing of their heritage and so mistakenly claim to be Wiccan. Which leads us to...


Wicca itself is an earth-based religion utilizing the forces in the universe to effect a change. As most other pagan religions do, it follows a belief in the Goddess and the Horned God, the Lord and the Lady, and so on.

A Wiccan adheres to Gerald Gardner's version of Witchcraft and Magick as the "set" path of their choice. And while its roots go far back, predating Christianity, most other Pagan religions do as well. Wicca is not the only "Old Path" as Wicca itself did not exist before Gerald Gardner's attempt to "organize" Witchcraft all those years ago. Before him, there simply WAS no religios path known as Wicca.

There are literally thousands of other "Old Paths" which are culturally structured much more firmly than Wicca; such as Asatru, Stregheria, Hinduism, Buddhist, Druidism, Far Eastern Ancestor Worship, the Native belief systems from every corner of the world, and the Egyptian, Roman and Greek belief systems.

Wicca is, however, a bonafide Pagan religion, and will probably be the catalyst for the American Government to recognize paganism as a whole as a genuine religion due to the large numbers gathering to the Wiccan fold. Furthermore, most Wiccans reject the terms Witchcraft and Witch, due to the negative dogma associated with these words. However, a Witch who is NOT Wiccan may embrace them as a part and definition of who and what they are.


Therefore, a Pagan is anyone who is not Christian, a Wiccan is a follower of Gerald Gardner's principles and ideals, and a Witch is one who uses magick associated with one or more of the Old Paths, the Old Ways.

A Word on Eclectics

A true eclectic Pagan is usually well-read and well-versed in the different traditions and has chosen to make their own path using what they have learned. I have discovered that true Eclectic Pagans are usually the most open-minded where other beliefs are concerned, as they have studied and exposed themselves to these different beliefs already and therefore understand more about the mindset of these paths. It is possible to call the Hindi Goddess of Love, Diana, Hecate, Aphrodite and Cerridwynn all to the same rite. Eclectics will do just that, and make their rite of love just that much stronger, as they have not limited themselves to one set pantheon nor one set path, but rather they have chosen all paths to enrich their magick and their lives.

...More On Eclectics...

[Edited on 19/8/2004 by Elswet]

posted on Aug, 27 2004 @ 02:57 PM
Actually the word "pagan" derives from the Latin word "paganus" (lit. "of the Village") i.e. those areas that clung to the "old religion" mainly in the outlying areas of any "converted" countries, such as the outer edges of northern Scotland even today who have never heard of Christianity and still practice Wicca ("the old religion")/

Judaiesm and Christianity and Islam, the so-called Monotheistic (i.e. one god) "religions" of the Middle East all come under the heading of : "US v. THEM" religions: you are either Jewish or Gentile (non Jewish), you are either Muslim or Infidel (non Muslim) you are either Christian or Heathen (non-Christian), and hence "damned to hellfire".

In many ancient societies this was the case as well: One was either GREEK or BARBARIAN (lit. "long haired" from "Barbaros", "hairy"), you were either CHINESE or "NON CHINESE", you were either BRITISH or FOREIGN,etc.

Time this nonsense stopped and people realise that there is more than one way to frame spiritual truths, and not necessarily in a monotheistic weltanschauung either....

Just a few thoughts...

posted on Aug, 27 2004 @ 06:30 PM

Originally posted by Elswet

You do not have to be Wiccan to be a Witch, but you must be a Witch to be Wiccan.

Not necessarily.

I know of wiccans who follow only the religious aspects of the tradition (ie they perform the religious rituals for sabbats/esbats) without performing magick at all. I, followed Wiccan teachings in the mid 80's and did no magickal working at all - and I am not the only one.

posted on Sep, 2 2004 @ 01:55 PM

but you do have to be Pagan to be a Witch.

you would have a hard time convincing my wife of this. she has found the
meeting place , the shared ground of christianity and Pagan beliefs.

the most exact definition of Pagan today is " any belief that is not exactly
as the speaker,writer, etc., believes. i have seen under this banner everything
from catholicism,protestantism, mormonism, SDAs, masons, boyscouts, yada,yada, yada.

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