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Old 12-03-11   #131
SoulFire

 
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Default Re: Witch and Wicca, The Differences

I really like the perspectives that HRH and Michael have shared below:

Quote:
Originally Posted by HRH View Post
So, the question here is more than the difference between two things, Wicca and witch. It has become two questions: How do you define witch? How do you define Wicca? I don't think you can really properly contrast and compare without initially defining. I tend to use dictionary definitions, because I have a literal sort of mind.
I agree with this because I'm the same way.

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Originally Posted by HRH View Post
So, what's the difference between witch and wicca? The primary use for witch, and the one which has been used for nearly one thousand years, is to denote one who works with dark magic and evil entities, but is also sometimes used to denote practitioners of the Wiccan religion. Wicca is a religion formed in the twentieth century.

I'm not trying to anger anyone, and I hope no one takes offense. I simply think that much of our disagreement amongst ourselves is due to everyone picking their own definition to everything. So, if we explain to one another the definitions as we use them, even though they may not be dictionary definitions, we can end much of the disagreement.
This makes sense to me.

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Originally Posted by HRH View Post
Questions for Tom and Ben:

You know, on one hand, I love the purity of words. It's why I don't speak in slang. I don't normally use a common usage of a word, as I prefer to know and use the actual meaning of the word. I understand the viewpoint of those who don't like the co-opting of the label Wicca better than most outsiders, I think, because I am the same way about words. People think I'm a snob, but really, I'm just a nerd.
I too am a word nerd. (One of the companies I own, in fact, publishes books for writers, word lovers, and journalists.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by HRH View Post
I also realize that a language is a living thing. It grows and changes. New words are born, while others fade into time from lack of use. Religion is, I think, the same way. It is a living thing, with changes being made every day. Sometimes those are intentional, sometimes they are unintentional--a word substituted here, a subtly different personal preference that gets handed down.
Yes, that really sums up my view as well. While I'm aware that the meanings of words change, I still prefer to use words in their literal or academic sense rather than their colloquial sense. I was reading An ABC of Witchcraft, Past & Present by Doreen Valiente, and came upon this quote, which is relevant:

"The Old English forms of the word ‘witch’ were wicca (masculine) and wicce (feminine). This shows that a witch could be either a man or a woman. The old plural form was wiccan [not “Wiccans”]. Later, the Middle English form of the word was wicche, for both masculine and feminine.

"The word wiccan for ‘witches’ occurs in the Laws of King Alfred, circa A.D. 890. It is found again in Aldhelm’s Glossary in 1100. The verb ‘to bewitch’ was wiccian, and an Old English word for ‘witchcraft’ was wiccedom, a word that evolved into ‘witchdom’."

She reitterates this in The Rebirth of Witchcraft, which I'm currently rereading:

“One neologism which has become very widespread is the use of the word ‘Wicca’ to mean witchcraft. In fact, it means nothing of the kind. It is the Old English word for a male witch, as any good dictionary will show. The value of any claim to practice ‘Traditional Wicca’ may be judged accordingly. The feminine form of the word was wicce… "

There's also an article by Valiente in which she says:

"It will be seen from the above that 'Wicca' does not mean 'witchcraft' and never did, in spite of its widespread modern use. So how did this usage originate? In his biography, Gerald Gardner: Witch, it describes his initiation in 'Old Dorothy’s' house, and says, ‘It was half way through when the word Wica was first mentioned: 'and I then knew that that which I had thought burnt out hundreds of years ago still survived.' It will be seen that at this time Gerald didn’t even know how to spell the word. … Nor, unfortunately, does this account state in what context the word was used. It might have been that Old Dorothy’s coven was simply proclaiming Gerald a male witch, in which case this would have been an accurate use of the word.

"So where did Gerald get the idea that 'Wicca' meant witchcraft? I would like to advance a theory of my own. I must emphasise that this is just a theory, and I may be wrong. But I believe that this idea originated from his reading of a book which I know that he possessed, namely An Encyclopaedia of Occultism by Lewis Spence. This very valuable work of reference first appeared in 1920, according to the mention of it in the bibliography at the end of Gerald’s book, Witchcraft Today. … The entry referring to witchcraft begins: 'Witchcraft: (from Saxon Wicca, a contraction of witega, a prophet or sorcerer).' This could have been read and misunderstood to mean that 'Wicca' meant witchcraft, and this misconception has been carried on through the ranks of modern witches ever since."

Quote:
Originally Posted by HRH View Post
I agree, to some extent, that "Wicca" has become a bit of an umbrella term, much like "Protestant." But Protestants don't say, "I'm Protestant." They generally say their denomination. Do you think we could avoid confusion and disagreements if we used denominations more often? "I'm a BTW," "I'm eclectic Wiccan," "I'm on a Wicca-based Path," or whatever the case may be, might serve to eliminate some of the hard feelings, in my opinion.
I also agree that since Wicca (and Witchcraft) is sectarian today, it would be much easier if people stated which sect they belong to. It probably won't do much to stop the arguments, however, over which sect is "right" or "wrong," but we'll at least know where we're each coming from.

I would even clarify further by saying that "Gardnerian Wica is a religion formed in the twentith century," as we don't really know what the Wiccan mentioned in the Law Codes of King Alfred believed and practiced.

Personaly, I'm a Vicia Witch (i.e., Anderson Craft, a tradition of religious Witchcraft). I don't identify as "Wiccan" because Feri is not Wicca and I am not lineaged to Gardner. And I prefer the term "Vicia" because the word Feri is so fractured now, and much of what is labeled "Feri" publicly I do not agree with or recognize as the tradition taught to me by the Andersons.

I think it is redundant to even say "Anderson Feri," but today there are so many lines: Bloodrose Feri (which is the vast majority), BlueRose Feri (a descendant of Bloodrose), Vanthi/Vanthe, Firedrake Feri, Watchmaker, etc., so saying Anderson Feri helps to differentiate. Or at least it did, till everyone began using it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael View Post
Hard to find which part to jump in on after 12 pages, but with the politics of the use of the term Wiccan on hold for just a wee bit, the word witch is most recongised as meaning one who will cause harm through magical means, as is universal in nearly all cultures. Its use in the English language was used derogatorily to describe someone with an anti-social reputation. Therefore it is somewhat of a reclaimed term that we owe credit to Gardner for in identifying it in regards to our modern religious mystery tradition, and others, including supposed folk&family ones.
While I agree with this to some extent, interestingly enough, Valiente proposes an alternate theory in the article just quoted above:

"There is an older derivation of the word witch that may perhaps be worthy of consideration. This may be found in A Concise Etymological Dictionary of the English Language by the Rev. Walter W Skeat (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1901). This book discusses the above-mentioned derivations from wicca, wicce, etc., and then in turn connects these old words with the Norwegian vikja, which means firstly ‘to turn aside’ and secondly ‘to conjure away’. Thus, speculates the Rev. Skeat, the word witch possibly meant ‘averter’.

"He also mentions that the Anglo-Saxon word witega, a prophet or seer, comes from the Anglo-Saxon witan, to observe, which he says is ‘cognate with witan, to know’. We have seen that Lewis Spence regarded witega as the origin of wicca. So who is right? In spite of all claims, it seems to me that it remains a matter of opinion. One thing we do know is that the word came to Britain with the Saxons, who at the time of their arrival on these shores were pagans. I believe that to them, the word witch (or whichever of its forerunners they used), did not necessarily have any derogatory meaning. A witch was a seer, a knower, an averter of evil. The word only took on a negative meaning with the coming of Christianity, which taught that all the gods of the heathen were devils. So anyone who clung to the old ways and the Old Religion was a devil worshipper. …"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael View Post
From cunning-folk, charmers, sonsie-women, faery-men, e.t.c., there are already native cultural terms for people that craft magic, or practice traditions similar to one of our modern definitions of witchcraft. I know quite a few in Irish, for example. Back to the politics regarding the term wiccan, I've read a few articles regarding its origins&etymology(that I was glad to see Soulfire&HRH touch a bit on here), and will add that the original wicca was used in the genitive, and is pronounced "wisha," which thanks to a common misconception, separates it from those that now belong to our "wicka."
Kudos. I meet so few today who are aware of the Old English pronunciation (although I have read that they spoke a guttural language and witch was pronounced like "witch-ah" [wicca] and "witch-eh" [wicce], but who knows …).

I have enjoyed this discussion.
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Last edited by SoulFire; 11-07-15 at 08:00 PM. Reason: correct typo
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Old 12-04-11   #132
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Default Re: Witch and Wicca, The Differences

Quote:
Originally Posted by SoulFire View Post
"So where did Gerald get the idea that 'Wicca' meant witchcraft? I would like to advance a theory of my own. I must emphasise that this is just a theory, and I may be wrong. But I believe that this idea originated from his reading of a book which I know that he possessed, namely An Encyclopaedia of Occultism by Lewis Spence. This very valuable work of reference first appeared in 1920, according to the mention of it in the bibliography at the end of Geralds book, Witchcraft Today. The entry referring to witchcraft begins: 'Witchcraft: (from Saxon Wicca, a contraction of witega, a prophet or sorcerer).' This could have been read and misunderstood to mean that 'Wicca' meant witchcraft, and this misconception has been carried on through the ranks of modern witches ever since."
Sounds like a pretty good theory to me
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Old 12-04-11   #133
SoulFire

 
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Originally Posted by Ben Gruagach View Post
To me witchcraft is the practice of folk magic (or magick if you prefer) in more than just a casual way. And I would never presume to tell someone that they were a witch -- it's up to each person to claim that word for themselves.

Witchcraft can be practiced as part of any (or no) religious system, regardless whether the religion permits it or not. There are atheist witches, just like there are Pagan witches, and Christian witches, and Jewish witches, and Muslim witches, and Buddhist witches, and Satanic witches.

The archaic word Wicca (one of the etymological precursors of the modern English word witch) was reclaimed and used by Gerald Gardner to refer to a religion based on witchcraft that he was promoting. Since Gardner's time the word Wicca has come to become the name of Gardner's religion and similar religions based on Gardner's teachings.

Because Gardner promoted Wicca as a religion of witchcraft (and most of the time called his religion Witchcraft rather than Wicca or Wica) I think it's fair to say that by definition Wiccans are witches. But Wiccans are just one type of witch so it's not fair to say that the words witch and Wicca or Wiccan are merely interchangeable terms. Not all witches are Wiccans.

Does that make sense?
You make some good points. I think that's fair, though I'd add a caveat: If the Wicca or Wicce is not practicing magic, then to my mind they are not Witches. I have begun encountering Wiccan who apparently don't practice magic.

Technically speaking, I think it is fair also, however, to say that the words witch and wicca, and witches and wiccan, are the same because they are. To clarify, I would say: Not all Witches practice British 'Traditional' Wicca (e.g., Gardnerian, Alexandrian, etc.).

Just my 2 cents.
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Last edited by SoulFire; 11-07-15 at 08:01 PM.
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Old 12-04-11   #134
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SoulFire, I think I love you.
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Old 04-04-12   #135
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Default Re: Witch and Wicca, The Differences

Its nice to see that the discussion about Wicca carried on so long after I left it.

Im still alive. Mom died and I lost it for a long time, I lost my job and a lot of money because I started making bad decisions, started drinking, just let my life get out of control and then I met this great guy that I am still with and slowly Ive started to pull myself out of the dark hole I was in.

I have returned to work as a Psychic but Im not writing at all which is a shame.

Anyways, I wanted to see what had happened here after i had left, unfortunately I see a lot of misconceptions that I never had a chance to defend or clear up and i suppose they arent important any longer since the discussion has long ended.

No matter. I would like to say though that the reason I call what I was raised in 'Wicca' and not Witchcraft is because thats what it was, My dad died when I was 9 and my sister and I went to live with our aunt who was a practicing Wiccan. I never claimed to be a part of a family tradition that was hundreds of years old.

and I follow the core beliefs as I was raised with them, one of those beliefs that I have never seen another Witch follow is waiting for the doors to open and casting dice in the Sacred Texts so that they may open-That is a core teaching and has to be followed and yet most Wiccans I meet would claim to never have heard of that teaching, I think this is why I get so frustrated because so many core teachings have been lost but then again, Law #8 says that each Witch has their own path to follow and what may be true for you, may be wrong for me as per each cast lot and text. So....who am I to complain?

Well, time for bed! Carry on.
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Old 10-29-13   #136
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Originally Posted by David_2010 View Post
But, there are also Witches who were contemporary with Gardner, perhaps even drawing from older sources who saw themselves as distinct to Wiccans (for example, think of Robert Cochrane, and the traditions derived from them, or Andrew Chumbley (here's a good article by Chumbley, on different flavours of non-Wiccan Witchcraft).
Sorry for resurrecting an old argument, but I was just rereading some posts and saw this, when it occurred to me that Chumbley was not a comtemporary of Gardner. He was born in '67 and died in 2004. He was born after Gardner had died. Just sayin'.
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