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Home > Temple Questions > Wicca

That reminds me: what's Witchcraft? Are Wicca and Witchcraft the same thing?

The word "witchcraft" means a lot of different things to different people, probably even more so than the word "paganism". The word Wicca means "witch" in Old English, and some Wiccans do call themselves witches, but that doesn't mean that they are the only people who do. As with paganism, you could say that Wicca is one type of witchcraft, but not the only type.

When anthropologists use the term "witchcraft", they are usually referring any sort of magic that happens outside the accepted religious structure of a society — "practising magic without a licence", you could say. When historians use the term, they are usually talking about the witchcraft persecutions of the late Middle Ages, where "witchcraft" was more of a social invention used to persecute people who didn't fit in than an actual system of magic or religion. When storytellers and filmmakers use the word, they are usually talking about the image of the "witch" that we're all familiar with from fairy tales. And there are other magical systems that call what they do "witchcraft" as well.

There really isn't any one correct definition. Some Wiccans are very attached to the word "witch", and dislike hearing it used in other contexts, while others accept that it means different things to different people. And still others don't like being called witches at all, because they find that gives people the wrong impression of what they believe and do.

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