The statement felt less like a revelation and more like a dismissal.
“She’s Wiccan . . . . so obviously she knows nothing and her Witchcraft is not authentic.”
“She’s Wiccan . . . . . and that immediately discounts her decades of knowledge and practice.”
“She’s Wiccan . . . . . anything she writes should be seen as suspect, if one bothers to read it at all.”
I think it says more about me than the person who wrote “She’s Wiccan” during an online chat, but reading those words made me instantly defensive. In my mind I read “She’s Wiccan” as a phrase dripping with contempt. There was probably no malice intended, but when I see someone labeled as a Wiccan today I instantly think it’s being done to discredit someone.
It’s possible that I’m tilting at windmills and everyone actually loves Wicca. “She’s Wiccan” could have been a term of endearment, or used to indicate intelligence and competence. As I wrote before, the contempt I heard in the phrase is probably more me than the person who wrote it. I sincerely hope that’s the case, but even when it is meant that way, it still feels like Wiccan is being used as an insult.
For some, Wicca has become the fake and exploitive form of Witchcraft.
Wicca’s history is false. Every person there at the start of Modern Wicca was a deviant (in the worst way).
Wicca is stuck in the past.
Wicca is not inclusive.
Everything about Wicca has been stolen from someone else.
From the sabbats to circles, I sometimes feel like everything I do disappoints someone in the greater Witchcraft community.
I’m fine with people “not liking” Wicca. We all have different practices because that’s how the world works. I practice Wicca because I like its structure. For similar but inverse reasons I’m not a Druid. I like Druids, but I’m not generally a fan of Druidry’s ritual structure. See how that works?
I’m saying Druidry is not for me, while recognizing that there are smart and dedicated Druids. There’s no need to say anything bad about them because most of the Druids I’ve met have been pretty great. Even though it’s not my path, some of the people I respect the most in the Pagan world are Druids, and I don’t dismiss their ideas (and brilliance) because our ritual systems are different.
Wicca comes with extra baggage, I get that. Wicca has been used as a synonym for both Witchcraft and Paganism over the years, and a lot of people are resentful of it. That’s a reasonable reaction. As a Wiccan, I sometimes resent it too. Some of the problems people have with Wicca come directly from people mistaking Wicca as the apex of the Pagan and Witch worlds.
As the most popular spiritual and magickal practice under the Pagan Umbrella, Wicca is an entry point for a lot of people, and a lot of those people move onto other traditions and practices. This is good. I’m a big fan of people walking the magickal path that’s most effective for them, but Wicca as a doorway is also why many people deride it.
Let’s say someone comes to Witchcraft through Wicca and decides that it’s not for them. There’s a tendency to then dismiss Wicca as “training wheels’ and not suitably “advanced” enough. I would agree that if one’s experience with Wicca is limited to Scott Cunningham that might very well be true. But Wicca is also more complicated than many believe.
The world of Wicca 101 books (and blogs, videos, TikToks, etc.) is a beginning, not an end. They teach the basics, but Wicca is a mystery religion. New ideas and experiences are constantly revealed when one progresses down a Wiccan path.
I’m not suggesting that everyone needs to run out and join an Alexandrian coven to experience those mysteries. They come to us when we journey through the Wheel of the Year, or participate in transformative rites such as Drawing Down the Moon or the Great Rite. (And despite what you might have read, the Great Rite is for EVERYONE.) Wiccan-Witchcraft has been an ongoing concern now for at least seventy years, that’s plenty of time to build up a long list of more advanced techniques.
There are no kids on my lawn, and I’m supportive of how anyone wants to practice their Witchcraft, but I’m always surprised by how often some want to categorize what others do. Why would it matter if someone is Wiccan in a discussion of Witchcraft? Does their being Wiccan disqualify them from writing books or giving advice? Are any of us truly just one category of Witch?
I’ve generally identified as a Wiccan-Witch over the last twenty-five years, but that hasn’t stopped me from doing other things. I’m heavily invested in the Witchcraft of Robert Cochrane for instance, and while most of my rituals don’t utilize his ritual style, some of them do. I love Gemma Gary’s work and think Gaby Herstik might be the fourth coming of Aphrodite. In other words, there’s always been more to me than just Wicca. I suspect a broad range of influences is true for most Witches.
Like my own varied practices, many who deride Wicca have obviously been influenced by it. Their terminology comes from books with Wiccan slapped on the cover, and many proudly have pentacles on their altar and follow the Wheel of the Year. Those things are free for anyone to use, but to turn one’s nose up at Wicca while using some of its gifts strikes me as odd.
In the world of online Witch Wars I’m continually amazed at how often we seem to squabble over the tiniest of differences. Most forms of Modern Witchcraft come from the same set of impulses and ideas. How those are assembled and utilized will differ, but the building blocks are generally similar.
Perhaps most importantly, every Witch I know shares a magickal worldview. No matter how they view deities, perform ritual, or engage with the divine magick is essential to their practice. We share so much, it’s so disheartening to feel that a particular magickal path is often easily and derisively dismissed.