There are a lot of terms that are sometimes used interchangeably when they shouldn’t be. Wicca and witchcraft, although similar in some facets, are very different things. Wicca is a relatively new religion, introduced to the public in the 1950’s and started by Gerald Gardner. Witchcraft, on the other hand, is not a religion, but a spiritual practice. Most witches are pagan, but a witch can have any religion – or none at all.
Wicca combines some elements of traditional witchcraft with other ancient pagan rituals, ceremonial magic and even some Eastern philosophies. Over the years, different ideas have been added onto it by many people. Although there are central ideas that are prevalent, Wicca itself has no specific central structure. There is no “Wiccan Bible” or equivalent.
Wicca is a duo-theistic religion, with a belief in both the God and Goddess. Many view it in a more pantheistic way – God, as an all-encompassing power, with both masculine and feminine archetype characteristics. Both the masculine and feminine are equally required for the whole of creation to be possible. Wiccans focus on their connection with the divine and their own spirituality.
Wicca relies heavily on ceremonial magic. There is typically a hierarchal structure in place, where initiates are given a degree or work into covens. There are some solitary Wiccan practitioners, but it is usually practiced more formally within a coven or group. The coven will adhere to core principles, but are flexible in many of their own ideas. Every coven is a bit different. For the most part, all Wiccans worship the god/goddess and celebrate the Sabbats and Esbats.
Witchcraft is different. It is not a religion, but a spiritual practice that does not require the belief in specific deities. Although some Wiccans do incorporate witchcraft into their practice, it is an independent thing. Not all Wiccans are witches, and vice versa. Not all witches use ceremonial magic and many who do cast spells do so without a lot of tools and ritualistic items more common to Wicca.
Witchcraft is a very personal spiritual path for every individual. It hails from old traditions, but is vastly different in how it is practiced depending on the person you talk to. Many witches are solitary practitioners, although some do practice their craft within a coven.
It is easy to become confused about the differences between Witchcraft and Wicca. Many books, especially aimed at beginners, will refer to Wiccans as “witches” for example. This makes the terms seemingly interchangeable, of course leading to even further misunderstanding. Many Wiccans also practice witchcraft and many witches have no interest at all in Wicca. So, if you’ve been confused, hopefully this clears things up for you a bit.by