Wicca Vs. Paganism Essay, Research Paper
Wicca versus Paganism
Wicca and Pagan are two religions, which have many similarities as well as many differences within each area. Wicca is a sect of Pagan in which each has their own variations on the religion. A good way to put it; all Wiccans are Pagan, but not all Pagans are Wiccan. Witch is a term used for any practitioner of Wicca. The Webster s II Dictionary defines witch as 1. A woman who practices sorcery or is believed to have dealings with the devil, 2. An ugly, vicious old woman; hag. Wicca is described by the American Heritage Dictionary as the cult of witchcraft. Pagan is the religion under which many different religions are practiced. Webster s II Dictionary defines pagan as one who does not acknowledge the god of Christianity, Islam, or Judaism; heathen. Most parts of these definitions are wrong.
Wicca is a sect of Paganism, in which different practices are learned, worshipped, and taught. One form of Wicca is Solitary Practitioners the other is Coven Practitioners. The forms of Wicca that are practiced vary in most uses. Solitary Practitioners usually pray , read, meditate, and cast magik and spells alone. Whereas Covenants practice these familiar things amongst a group of anywhere from two people up to thirteen people. In Pagan practices, these things are practiced normally within a group setting of anywhere from two people to hundreds of people. Both practices use a magik circle which is either drawn imaginary or with the use of a broom or sea salt. This is to keep out any negative energy from entering the circle while any type of practice is being done. This keeps the practitioner(s) from any harm or wrongdoing. Both of these religions are nature-based and usually have one of three belief systems in common: polytheism, pantheism, and animism.
Both of these religions use many objects in their practices or studies. Both Wiccans and Pagans will use what is called Magikal tools. These are known to include, incense, candles, athames; usually known as a black handled knife, the broom; used to sweep away negative energies, the cup or chalice; used to hold such things as blessed water, wine and other fluids, the cauldron; used as an instrument in which to cook and for brew making, also used for scrying, and most importantly, the pentacle. The pentacle is usually a flat piece of brass, gold, silver, wood, wax, or clay, inscribed with certain symbols. The most common and the most necessary symbol is the pentagram, the five-pointed star. This is used for protection. Both religions have holidays, otherwise known as Sabbats. There are eight Sabbats, four major and four minor Sabbats. These are Samhain, October 31, the New Year , Yule, December 21, the Winter Solstice, Imbolg, February 1, the welcoming of Spring, Ostara, March 21, Spring Equinox, Beltane, May 1, Lady Day, Midsummer, June 21, Midsummer Solstice, Lammas, August 1, Honors Mother Earth s wedding, and Mabon, September 21, Autumn Equinox. The four major Sabbats are practiced at the beginnings of the month, therefore, the Sabbats practiced during the mid-months are minor. Although the Sabbats are practiced on the same days, the names of the Sabbats may differ for each religion for example, the pagan name for Imbolg is Imbolc. Each religion uses a set of elements. These elements are also used to represent the points of the star within the pentacle. The elements are east, south, west, north, and center or spirit also known as akasha. In both parts of the religions, there are a basic set four rules; these rules are live, love, learn, and enjoy. The three laws accompanied within these are seek out wisdom, harm none, and the three-fold law of return. Both religions use the three-fold law of return. This incorporates that whatever you do, for good or for ill, shall be returned to you threefold, or three times the amount in which it was issued. It is basically the natural law of cause and effect.
Wicca practitioners use herbs in their practices and many use the light of the moon. The usage of the phases of the moon in Wicca is important to them. This is important to many of them due to the worship of the moon goddess, Diana. Many Wiccans see Diana as the mother . Many Wiccans have a power animal, which is the spirit of the animal, which helps them through rough times, or just makes them feel more powerful. Wiccans primarily worship goddesses, compared to Pagans whose primary worshiped is gods and goddesses as well as the worship of the pantheons of the gods and goddesses worshipped. The structures of Wiccan and Pagan practices vary, as do the structures of the covenant and the solitary practitioner. The solitary practitioner is usually deemed eclectic because they design their own faith, drawing on many others for ideas, and do not have a set Book of Shadows to pass along to the next of kin or the next group of worshippers. This Book of Shadows also changes with different witches, as this is a very personal book. A Book of Shadows is a book in which each practitioner would write down his or her own experiences with what they have practiced, as well as any new spells that they have encountered. This book may also be used to write down any and all feelings that have accompanied the witch while she has been worshipping, or meditating. Within the covenants, this book is passed down and nothing in it is to be changed. Wiccans also tend to use many stones or rocks. This would include crystals, gems, and soil. They use a wide variety of amulets, talismans, and symbolic charms in their daily life as well as in worship. Wiccans may also follow a Wiccan Rede. Which is a paragraph stating what the witch should and shouldn t do, how the witch should and shouldn t live. Pagans have something similar to this, which is known only as the rules or laws.
Pagans; however, worship not only gods and goddesses, but the pantheon of the deities as well. The pantheon of the deities can be compared to our homes, the land that we live upon, and the stories that go with it. The structure of the rituals is also different. Many Pagans prefer to worship within a coven or group. Each person would take on a different aspect within the group. Each person plays a different part within the circle. There is a group of teachers, called the High Priestess and High Priest. The High Priestess and Priest would control any and all worship sessions, much like the Christian churches. Each person thereafter might control a corner, or element, and the less powerful of them all would worship and watch the ceremonies take place. Pagans do not have a Book of Shadows, in which to worship. This religion is an oral based religion, passed down from mouth to mouth. Pagans may rely upon any natural force, such as a body of water, or a natural rock formation. They use these to help them focus energy upon their gods or goddesses.
Both, Pagans and Wiccans, have varying religious practices; however, many of them are also similar. Pagans focus more on the group aspect of tradition and the old times , whereas, Wicca is based primarily upon the needs and wants of the witch. This could even include practicing Christianity on the side. Both religions do; however, have in common many uses of tools, spells, and prayers .