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Wicca and paganism

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Arianna Valentine:
So I know a little bit it's either about Wiccan or paganism not quite a hundred percent sure write a lot of books but is there an actual difference between Wicca and paganism? I'm a bit confused so I'm trying to figure it out

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MaryT:
Wicca was popularised in the earlier part of the 20th century by Gerald Gardner and others, although its practitioners regard it as the continuation of an ancient religion.  Gardner wrote that the Wiccan gods were the gods worshipped in ancient Britain, which suggests pagan origin.  However, Wiccans primarily refer to a God and a Goddess and I have not read anything about Wicca embracing typical pagan gods such as a specialised god of war, etc..  Perhaps a Wiccan could tell us whether they regard their religion as a form of paganism.

There are, or were, pagan religions with no obvious or conscious connection to Wicca, e.g. the gods of the Scandinavians, Greeks and Romans.  The Greeks and Romans seemed to regard all pagan religions as essentially the same.  They took it for granted, e.g. that the gods worshipped by the British Celts were their own gods using different names.  They even created legends to expain why the Greco-Roman gods were depicted with animal heads in Egypt.  I personally have no doubt that the Greek and Roman pagan religions evolved independently and that when Greeks and Romans made contact, they just presumed, e.g.  that Zeus and Jupiter were the same god.

I would say that Hinduism, being polytheistic, is another pagan religion (I am happy to be corrected if anyone disagrees) with no connection to Wicca.


RoryL:
Wicca is like a particular flavor under the larger umbrella of neo-Paganism. It has the structure of a religion and many "traditions" which function similarly to denominations in Christian faith communities. Wicca is basically a reconstructed form of the craft as envisioned by Gerald Gardner, the Farrars & others. Their vision incorporated traditions of extant western occultism and the folk magic of their time.

It may be out of print (and certainly slightly dates) but Margot Adler's book, "Drawing Down the Moon" broadly outlines the different traditions within neo-Paganism, at least as they were seen in the late 1970s.

To complicate matters further, there is also the umbrella term "witchcraft" which may or may not refer to Wicca itself. I see the difference as Wicca being a recognized religion followed by many witches, and witchcraft being the various practices of folk magic that are tied to folkloric traditions earlier than that of the Gardnerians. For example, what is sometimes called Appalachian Granny Magic is more witchcraft than Wicca, though its practitioners may also be Wiccans as well.

Old joke I used to hear when first exploring neo-Paganism & Wicca in the 1980s -
Q:  How many Gardnerian witches does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Shhhh - it's a secret

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