Witch, Pagan, Wiccan, Christian Witches — What’s the Difference?


What flavor are you?

“Christian Witches?!” my friend, Megan, stamped her foot. “No way! Somebody doesn’t have a clue about what a witch is!” She went on, “A witch can’t be Christian!”

There’s a lot of controversy and debate over the terms Wiccan, Witch, Christian Witch, and Pagan. Some people even suggest that Wiccans are not Pagans. Some Wiccans say they do not practice magick. What?!

Certain Wiccans even claim that they do not worship the Old Gods.

Name calling and criticism arise.

So who is right and who is wrong?

It’s more complicated than that.

Wicca is a term coined by Gerald B. Gardner. He used this term for a male witch. He employed Wicce for a female witch. But soon the term “Wica” was used to describe the new line of witchcraft that descended from him.

So Witchcraft and Wica were one and the same at that time. The spelling changed to Wicca some time later.

As the faith was spread, people used Wicca instead of the word Witchcraft to describe themselves. Apparently, they wanted to get away from the bad connotations that went along with the word Witch. Still, when you’re a practitioner, Wicca and Witchcraft are the same.

Wicca continues to be a spiritual/religious path that has incorporated the belief in the Old Gods and Magick. Witches (this refers to both male and female practitioners) are the high priests/priestesses of the Old Religion.

Wiccans use magick to create their magick-working spaces and to honor their Gods and Goddesses for positive change in their lives.

The older Traditions of Wicca still do this.

“What are The Witch Wars?” my friend, Megan, asked. It’s reported that things fell apart in the 1970-1990’s when a number of new people learned some of Wicca but then left before they were taught all of the secrets of the Craft (Wicca/Witchcraft). The term “Witch Wars” refers to the yelling and thrown insults between a number of groups. Were these actual wars, including violence? I have not seen reports of that. Still, the insults, gossip, and baiting did cause real trouble.

How did things go so wrong? The new people (without full knowledge of Wicca) thought they had all the knowledge. They started their own covens and began to teach many things that weren’t quite right or just downright wrong.

*  *  *

What Is the Difference between “Witch” and “Heathen”?

Witchcraft is a term that is very specific to the region of  European/English/Scottish/Ireland area. It is a geographic area where that term was and is used. And it applies only to the people that called themselves witches in that geographic location.

Heathens are not witches, for example. They do not call themselves witches. The Heathen path is generally northern Germany/Scandinavia/Sweden. These are the people of the “heath”, where heather grows in the colder European region—north of the European/English/Scottish/Ireland area.

The above is about the derivation of some terms. Anyone who practices the Wiccan faith is a witch. The religion is witchcraft. We’re not only referring to people from one geographic region of the world. Wicca is spreading, and all people can practice this beautiful path.

*  *  *

Is it true that there are Wiccans who do not practice magick?

Some people call themselves Wiccans and claim they do no magick.

Okay, wait, hold on here. How can they claim this?

Let’s go back to what Wiccans do. They Cast Circle—which, in itself, is performing magick. So if you cast circle, you do magick. You’re a witch.

(There are people who use magick in their religions and who do not call themselves witches, like the Voodoo/Vodoun/Hoodoo/Santeria religions.)

Let’s also take care about the spelling of “magick.” Magick is pretty much the wielding of natural forces to improve one’s life. (On the other hand, “stage magic” has the label, “magic” – with no “k.” Stage magic is the art of performing illusions—like the work of David Copperfield. No magick is taking place!)

“Wait a minute, what about ‘ceremonial magicians’?” Megan asks. Ceremonial magicians do not worship the Gods and Goddesses. So by definition they are not Wiccans.

*  *  *

So what is a Pagan?

Pagans form a larger group of individuals that do not practice the Abrahamic religions. The Abrahamic religions identify the patriarch Abraham, from the Old Testament of the Bible, the Torah, and the Koran, as the origin of their religion. So the Abrahamic religions are: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Paganism was a Christian term to indicate people who came from the country. Pagani is a Latin term for “country dweller” as opposed to city dweller. These country dwellers tended to keep their older religions alive (even after the arrival of Christianity or Islam). At the time, certain people referred to farmers, serfs and peasants as Pagans.

Pagans include Wiccans, Asatru, Heathen, Druids, Buddhists and more.

*  *  *

What about Judeo-Pagans and Christian Witches?

Sigh … Yes, there are the people who call themselves Judeo-Pagans or Christian Witches.

Stop! Above we just went through the actual definition of Pagan—in two words let’s all say it: “NOT Christian.” Thank you.

The Judeo/Christian God (as reported in their sacred texts) denounces Witches, Pagans, and Wiccans.

*  *  *

I realize that people can and do call themselves anything they want.

What we notice is that some people stop using definitions and language as others do.

What if people create their own new terms?

For example, I have a friend who coined the term “Catapult-Moment.” So he can define “Catapult-Moment” as he chooses.

Still, when we’re in conversation with others, let’s look back and see the definitions of what we’re talking about.

Sound good?

Blessed Be,

Moonwater SilverClaw

P.S. Thank you to my High Priestess Lady Elinore for her guidance.

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For more of Moonwater SilverClaw, consider some of her books:

Goddess Has Your Back

Goddess Has Your Back: How Wicca Can Help You Raise Your Self-Esteem and Make Your Life Magickal



The Hidden Children of the Goddess Book

The Hidden Children of the Goddess Embrace Wicca, Become Strong, Be at Peace with Yourself and the World Around You



Real Magick

Beyond the Law of Attraction to Real Magic: How You Can Remove Blocks to Prosperity, Happiness and Inner Peace



Goddess Walks Beside You: How You Can Listen, Learn and Enjoy the Wiccan Path

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