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 Wicca 101 Series - Second Installment: More categorical Definitions

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Join date : 2009-11-30
Age : 37
Location : Minneapolis, MN, USA

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PostSubject: Wicca 101 Series - Second Installment: More categorical Definitions   Wicca 101 Series - Second Installment: More categorical Definitions Icon_minitimeMon Dec 07, 2009 3:48 am

The series continues, folks. As before, YMMV.

A. Pagan vs. Wiccan

All Wiccans are Pagan, but not all Pagans are Wiccan. Many use the Christian denomination model as a comparison (e.g.: all Methodists are Christian but not all Christians are Methodist), however this is a false analogy; Methodists and all other Christians conceive of and worship the Divine under the same name, and the other beliefs and the services of these various denominations share many additional similarities. The same cannot be said of the full spectrum of Paganism. Some follow a specific cultural pantheon, such as Celtic, Norse, Greek, etc.. Others do not ascribe to one pantheon, instead following whatever Gods call to them regardless of Their cultural origins.

Additionally, there is often variation in the ways in which these Gods are honored. Wiccans, for example, hold their rituals within an energy circle, calling on the four Quarters (compass directions) to watch over their sacred space and also utilize certain tools for specific purposes within their rites. In contrast, Asatruar (followers of Asatru, an attempt to reconstruct the original ways in which Norse Gods were honored) hold what are called "blots" (rhymes with "coats") in which they share food and drink and toast the Gods, without other formalities.

B. Pagan vs. Heathen, eventual blasphemy

Most Asatruar and some other groups, such as modern Druids, prefer the term "Heathen" to Pagan, but the two words mean essentially the same thing; the common people of the land. Pagan comes from the Latin paganus, which means "country-dweller." Heathen means "someone of the heath, the countryside." The words came to be derogatory with the Christianization of the Roman Empire. The soldiers used the word paganus to refer to those civilians living in outlying regions who still worshipped pre-Christian Deities. Eventually, to be a Pagan or a Heathen became an undesirable, and then blasphemous, thing as Christianity began to take a stronger hold over Europe, and it was decided that the pre-Christian Deities were false and/or demons in disguise. Additionally, "heathen" originally carried conotations of the land being uncultivated, which, when applied to people and their beliefs, became a negative rather than simply a descriptor.

C. Pagan vs. Neo-Pagan, and other divisions

This is becoming largely a matter of personal choice and opinion. There are those who would say that Paganism encompasses all religions and spiritual paths of non-Abrahamic origin (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, their direct predecessors, and any and all “off-shoots” thereof that still follow the God Yahweh/Jehovah/Allah), and that putting “Neo” in front of it just means it’s a more modernized take on something older. This definition of Pagan would then include Eastern Traditions such as Shinto, Hinduism and Buddhism; and Native Traditions like those here in the Americas, or in Africa, or the Aborigines in Australia.

Others divide the whole of Paganism into three levels: Paleopagan (those that have an constant and consistent line of followers back to their origins, such as the aforementioned Eastern Traditions), Mesopagan (attempts to re-create or revive otherwise Paleopagan religions that can sometimes blend Abrahamic teachings as well), and Neo-Pagan (any path whose origin seems to lie in comparatively modern times, specifically within the last half-century or so, but is usually influenced by pre-Christian belief systems and customs). By that definition, Wicca is usually considered Neo-Pagan, with the possible exception of British Traditional Wicca (see more about these distinctions here).

D. Witch vs. Pagan, Witch vs. Wiccan

All Wiccans are Witches, but not all Witches are Wiccan. Some Pagans are Witches, and some Witches are Pagan. The only requirement for being a Witch is that one practices Witchcraft, which is a skill set that generally includes working Magick and casting spells in some form. Some Witches are religious/spiritual/theistic about their Witchcraft, while others are not (yes, there are atheist Witches). One can even be a Christian Witch, or Jewish Witch. To be a Wiccan Witch, one must simply practice one’s Witchcraft within a Wiccan framework. All Wiccans are indeed Witches, because even the act of ritual is a Magickal act according to Wiccan teachings; Magick is integral to the practice of the religion.

As always, questions and feedback encouraged and appreciatied.
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