Philosophy of Wicca as Embraced by Our Tradition
We regard Wicca as a diverse, spiritually rich and dynamic religion. To use more conventional terminology, we see Wicca as a major religious movement in the same context as the other major world religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or Taoism. Just as each of these religions have their own diverse denominations, we in Wicca have our diverse traditions. The Baptists, Catholics and Mormons all claim Christianity (although I doubt they would acknowledge each other as such). Gardnerians, Alexandrians, Dianics, eclectics, solitaires and a host of others claim Wicca. The difference between Wiccan traditions and, for example, the Christian sects mentioned above is that Wiccans generally practice more intra-traditional tolerance. Most (but unfortunately not all) Wiccans acknowledge traditions other than their own as valid and legitimately Wiccan. And so do we in the Sacred Well Congregation, and we encourage all others to do so. We regard the elitism and exclusionary attitudes of a few groups as counter-productive to the general Wiccan community.
Before we get into the discussion of the various traditions of Wicca, there is one point of confusion, contention, actually, that should be clarified. Are the terms witchcraft and Wicca one and the same thing? No. Witches and witchcraft were in existence long before recorded history. We find references to them in the Greek Classics, in the Bible, and in the myth and folklore of every civilization.
Witchcraft is the application of the magical arts to craft weal or woe. Witches are those who employ witchcraft and may or may not incorporate a systematized religious practice. Wicca is a term brought into popular usage by G. B. Gardner some fifty years ago and denotes a system of religion that incorporates the practice of magic. Wicca, then, is a proper subset of witchcraft, and most Wiccans commonly refer to themselves as witches, and refer to Wicca as simply “the Craft.” While we will use the term Wiccan and witch more or less interchangeably throughout this material, the subtle differences should be borne in mind.