Wicca is a Pagan religion that combines spiritual practices from pre-Christian cultures and magick traditions. Wicca is both the old religion and a modern invention. It borrows from Prehistoric to medieval witchcraft, Celtic culture and other pre-christian traditions . Still some would argue that Wicca is no older than the 1950s when Gerald Gardner started the Modern Wicca movement. Some believe that the rituals and practices passed down from Gardner are a mixture of Masonic and Ceremonial magick and have nothing to do with the old religion. On the other hand, today many Wiccans( especially Eclectic Wiccans) are rejecting the formal Gardnerian style witchcraft and are researching and borrowing from a variety of Pre-Christian cultures.
Ritual practices of Wiccans may vary depending on the tradition they follow. For instance, some Wiccan Traditions may be earth-based while others have a more ceremonial magick styles.
The tradition a Wiccan follows will determine the spiritual laws she or he follows, their concept of Deity and the style they use for rituals and spells. Solitary Wiccans can pick and choose their spiritual beliefs and the magick practices that work best for them.
One thing that separates all Wiccans from any other group of Pagans is the Wiccan rule of harm none*. That means never knowingly harm yourself or others. Other Rules and beliefs that many Wiccan share:
* a belief in the three-fold law
* That magick should never be used manipulate others or interfere with free will
* Wiccans do not Curse or Hex
* Wiccans do not do animal sacrifices
* celebrate Full moons and Wiccan Sabbats
* believe in the balance and equality of male and female energies
* believe in negative and positive energies and the balance of those energies ( usually Wiccans don’t define things as Pure evil or Pure good)
* believe in magick ( though not all practice spell casting)
Contrary to popular belief, Paganism and Wicca are not necessarily Polytheism. Wiccans can be Polytheistic, Pantheistic, Pantheist or even Monist. Some Wiccans see the Gods and Goddesses as actual entities; Some think the gods are thought forms we created ( or gateways to certain energies) , and Some believe that creation stories and the gods are merely metaphors.
Wiccans Do tend to agree that THE Goddess ( the creating energy or spirit) dwells inside of everything that exists. Since Wiccans believe that we are all the Goddess and God; nature, animals, people and the deities are all seen as equals.
Most Wiccans tend to disagree with the idea of an “Actual “single creator, hell and the devil. The existence of the devil or hell ( when acknowledged) is seen as thought forms made by Christians . Therefore, they are of no concern to Wiccans who rarely believe in pure evil( if they do they would never give evil more power by naming it).
What is a Witch?
A Witch is someone who practices magick and is not necessarily a Wiccan. Under this definition a Witch doesn’t have to follow the rules of harm none and A Wiccan who does not cast spells is not a Witch.
What is important here is to remember that Wiccans should not purposely harm others with their magick. If they do they are not a Wiccan even if they call themselves one.*
All these definitions go out the window for hybrids like a Christian Wiccan ( yes, they exist- google it). A witch as a practitioner of magick holds true whether a person is a Jewish witch, practices Santeria and so fourth. Whether or not, they would call themselves a witch is another story. Remember just like The term “ pagan” some people hate the term “ witch” even some Wiccans. But rest assure that I am a Witchy Wiccan Pagan.. so call me what you like.
*Edit: Some Wiccans choose to relate to this as advice. Some say it is not necessary. I still stick to the hard line that a Harm none is a part of Wiccan practice. If you don’t take it as a rule, it should be a warning or guideline.