Ragan © 1999
Pagan, Wiccan, Craft, Reconstructionist? Just
what are we? Such questions have arisen
increasingly over the
last months as the broader so-called "Pagan" community has suffered considerable turmoil. From our perspective, this
confusion of identification has in itself been a major
contributor of the chaos.
In retrospect, we have
created much of the problem ourselves. By we, we mean you, us
and whatever author has failed to properly define terms. Almost
daily, we receive a message from one or another reasonably
intelligent writer who uses the terms Pagan, Craft and Wicca
interchangeably. The terms are not necessarily synonymous.
The term "Pagan"
is derived from the Latin "paganus," meaning "of
the country, of a village, rustic, etc." Webster's New
Collegiate Dictionary confuses the issue by defining the word to
mean "country dweller, heathen, a follower of a
polytheistic religion" or "one who has little or no
religion" In common belief among the greater community, the
pagan label seems to include polytheism, new-agers, some
Christian, most non-Christians. No wonder we seem confused. We
The Wiccan label is as
confused as that of Pagan. The unenlightened Webster's doesn't'
treat the word "Wicca," but does give the definition
of Witch as "one that is credited with: malignant
supernatural powers," etc. The term "Witchcraft"
is defined as "the use of sorcery or magic: communication
with the devil, etc. Well, what did you expect?
Modern writers, who should
know, seem to be as confused as we are. They define Witchcraft
(or Wicca) as a religion (or religions) and sometimes "the
Old Religion." One noted Wiccan author asks the questions
"What is a Witch" on page one of a book. But only on
the final page does he provide a firm definition.
"Witchcraft is a living positive religion."
Our view is somewhat at
variance. In no way does this mean that we necessarily disagree
with any particular path or belief, as we believe all paths are
sacred. We simply view things in a different light. Here are our
Pagan: A person sensitive to his or her environment and nature. As
such, included may be Witch, Christian, Muslim, Hebrew and
members of many omnitheistic and poytheistic religions.
Witch: A Witch is one that follows the path of Witchcraft.
Witchcraft: Many consider the terms Wicca and Witchcraft to be
interchangeable. We disagree. Witchcraft is actually the
remnants of the pre-Christian religions of Europe that was
brought to these shores by early immigrants. Followers are
generally secretive with outsiders and have little contact with
Pagan or Wiccan communities. They do not parody Christianity and
they are not "Satan Worshippers!"
Wicca: We consider the term to be generally synonymous with Witchcraft
up until the turn of the century until the times of Pickingill,
Gardener, Crowley and other innovators in the 1950's. Thus,
Wicca is a relatively modern movement and can be rightfully
Neo-pagan: Those sensitive to the Earth Mother and seek to live in harmony
with nature. Many look to the old pre-Christian religions of
Europe, Native America and mystery religions as a source of
inspiration and symbolism. We would include such terms as
"neo-Wiccan," Neo Witchcraft, etc. A majority mix
symbols and pantheons of disparate cultures in their ritual and
Craft: A derivative of the term "Witchcraft," this term seem
to be redefining itself. There is a growing number of followers
of the old traditional schools of Witchcraft who wish to
distinguish themselves from the self-made "Witches"
and Pagans with little or no training. Thus they call themselves
"Craft." There are generally of a historical
tradition, usually capable of tracing their spiritual roots and
lineage back for centuries. They have stringent training
programs, strong codes of honor, duty and discipline.
Tradition: The word "tradition" is from Latin
"traditio," meaning to hand over. It means to hand
down information, beliefs and customs from one generation to
Eclectic: We would include Wicca and any group who uses the defining term
"neo." Such groups as the latter generally have no
historical tradition. Rather they borrow symbolism and pantheons
from various cultures and mix them generously with new-age
our view is not one of criticism. We respect and defend the
right of anyone to follow his or her chosen path. We also do not
consider any path, including our own, to be superior to another.
So what are we in the
Temple of Danann? Are we a Tradition, Craft or Wiccan?
Technically, we could be called Reconstructionists. For through
our own study and research we are reaching back through the
centuries to uncover the lore of our ancestors, whose traditions
we hold sacred. In the traditional sense we are not Wiccan.
Though we have walked that path, we have been drawn into
different dimensions. Though we have walked this path for just a
quarter-of-a-century, we are a tradition by definition. We are
teaching knowledge, lore and mythology that extends back over
five thousand years. Also, by definition, we teach ancient
concepts. We hold to ancient Laws, Principles and Code of Honor.
To us, this is not a "festival only" practice. We
believe in living by our beliefs, mores and codes on a day-in
day-out basis. Thus, we are Craft.