Sunday, August 21, 2011

"I'm not a Wiccan"

*Addendum: This is one of the few posts I have ever edited for content after it was posted. I removed two paragraphs in which I lauded and defended people who have since not acted in accordance with what I lauded in the first place. I couldn't let the post stand as it was and have removed it. Back to our regularly scheduled blogging*

I have heard this phrase a dozen times in the past week, and not from my own mouth, but unsolicited from others.

I work with Wiccans and study with Wiccans and celebrate with them too. However, I am not Wiccan. I also practice yoga, celebrate puja, use henna, and on occasion wear a sari but that does not make me Hindu either. However, a friend tried to tell me that I must be Wiccan because I joined up with a coven. (She didn't say I must be Hindu because I celebrate puja.) This friend is also often mistaken for a Wiccan and argues that she is not. Curious, that.

*edited content was removed from here. The original post is saved in a file*

Whatever the origins of the word "wicca," it has come to be a substitute for the word "Witch" when dealing with the muggles. It is used as a shield from the baggage and drama associated with "Witchcraft." However, amongst our own (and by "our own" I mean Pagans), I see a rising tide of defensiveness. Those of us who are not Wiccan are speaking up more often. I made a mention today about Wiccans and the person I was talking to thought I meant that they were a Wiccan. They got defensive really quickly. This actually happened many times today. It was volunteered out of nowhere as if the universe was spurring me to finally post this post. The tone of the talk implied that Wiccans aren't "serious" or are bound by the rede and therefore won't do the dirty work when it has to be done. Again, not true about all Wiccans, but those are the exception it seems. The McWiccans are giving actual practitioners of Wicca a bad name.

Honestly, I'm glad to know others get defensive as well. Nice to know it's not just me ;) Speaking of getting defensive and about Wicca, let's turn to one of my favorite topics: Wiccans who poo-poo Leland.

On page 66 of Gypsy sorcery and fortune telling by Leland, he notes:
"As the English word, Witch, Angle-Saxon Wicca, comes from a root implying wisdom, so the pure Slavonian word, vjestica, Bulgarian, vjescirica, meant originally the one knowing or well informed, and it has preserved the same power in allied languages, as Veaa (new Slovenish), knowledge, Vedavica, a fortune-teller by cards, Viedma (Russian), a Witch and Vedwin fatidicus."
He goes on and on about the different words used in different countries. This was published in 1889. Should we onlty call Ango-Saxon Witches "Wiccans?" is it as specific as the word "Strega" is to Italian? Leland continues:
"But it enrages the Witches so much to be called by this word that when they hear that anyone has used it they come to his house by night and tear him into four pieces which they cast afar into the four quarters of the earth... so intolerable is their wrath"
It wasn't my point to dissect the word "Wicca" or to threaten dismemberment should anyone call me that.  My peeve here is that the same people who cite Leland's work as evidence of the validity of this word are the same people who argue that Aradia, and the information he gathered on Witchcraft in Italy is bunk. You can't have it both ways!

OK, the soapbox is put away. For now. I've posed a question on our Facebook Page, please feel free to answer it here in comments or on the page itself:

Poll question for the Strega and other non-wiccans out here: Does it bother you when people assume you're a Wiccan? What do you say, if anything?


  1. It doesn't bother me if someone assumes I'm Wiccan. Depending on the situation, I explain what I am and how it differs from Wicca - and how it is similar... or I don't.
    In my opinion, we are all able to be "out" and open about what we do because of Wicca, the Wiccans have made it more mainstream and acceptable to be a witch/Strega/Wiccan/what have you - some folks like that, others don't.

  2. "McWiccan" that's awesome. lol.

    In my early twenties, I'd call myself a Wiccan, even though I wasn't, just so I wouldn't have to explain too much...though most people would just look lost. So, Nature Worshiper came out.

    Now when people ask, I say, "Shamanic Witch", and they often assume Wiccan. Funny how that works. It doesn't bother me either, but that doesn't mean I won't correct them, just not in a snarky manner. I'm on Wiccan sites to talk to, educate, and learn from others. There aren't too many people that I know of who share my path. Why not? Blessings. ~)O(~

  3. I should correct the question: Does it bother you when other *Pagans* assume you're Wiccan?

  4. I would not classify myself as Wiccan either. I am new to practicing earth centered religion. Though i have felt this way for long time. I have not conversed with any Pagans yet. But when i told my family it was not pleasant. and i did have to reiterate that i was not Wiccan.