The Old English forms of the word ‘Witch’ were wicca (masculine) and wicce (feminine). This shows that a witch could either be a man or a woman. The plural form was wiccan. Later, the middle English form of the word was wicche for both masculine and feminine. The word wiccan for ‘witches’ occurs in the laws of King Alfred c. AD 890. It is found again in aldhelm’s Glossary in 1100. The verb ‘to bewitch’ was wiccian; and an old English word for ‘witchcraft’ was ‘wiccedom’, a word that evolved into ‘witchdom’. (from Doreen Valiente’s ABC of Witchcraft – Past and Present) Nowadays wicca is a neo-pagan religion with many thousands of followers worldwide, here are some comments on what wicca means to some followers - Here are some comments from people on what Witchcraft and Wicca means to them in particular THANK YOU: -
Joe Ayers: - I won’t try to lay down a definitive explanation of witchcraft. since the dawn of the New Age various traditions of spiritual practice have come out of the shadows. first i think it’s important to make a distinction between ‘witchcraft’ and ‘wicca’. ‘witchcraft’ i would say is less a system than a body of collected knowledge & experience regarding majik. ‘witchcraft’ is more akin to hoodoo than to ‘wicca’. ‘wicca’ is a system of initiation; it is inclusive of spells, divination, and the like but the primary aim is the apprehension of the ‘spiritual’ and the ‘material’ as one through majikal attainment. some may argue the point that the aim is formation of community and political action to protect gaia… another differentiation: wicca has become an umbrella for many “traditions”, witchcraft is witchcraft. i’m not sure gardner, starhawk and leek would see eye-to-eye about “witchcraft” or “wicca”. it feels easy to talk less about witchcraft, i think, in that it seems easier to understand/explain. i guess i would relegate witchcraft wholly to what Sagey Lee calls The Outer Circle. there is a general acceptance of deity, emphasis on the feminine. a greater interest in power( for some ), use of spells, divination, oils, gems, etc. to affect daily life outcomes. i think i sound pretty critical in my description of witchcraft. i really don’t mean to lessen the sanctity of this path. though i would make a final remark in this regard and say that ‘witchcraft’ deals primarily with what is commonly called “low” majik- not evil or bad just different in it’s aims when compared & contrasted with so-called “high” majik. at a time when the Mysteries were first being revealed outside the Temples of Initiation wicca seemed to be little more than some english folklore, a little superstition and a few G.D. rites in english dress. gardner and crowley were known to have collaborated on some of garder’s wicca material. now, going on more than 120 years since those days. practitioners have become more shrewd and with a dose of academia are reviving/reconstructing systems closer to their ethnic roots. what seem like ‘older traditional’ paths of wicca retain an adherence to structure and working the system to attain initiation. some other paths emphasize our personal direct connection to the divine and our ability to receive initiation through that. the western mystery tradition has had an indelible impact on, to my discernment, every occult practice in the west. given the synthetic ability of that jewel the tree of life, most systems will associate with it’s content and structure. that said, no knowledge or familiarity with western mystery tradition is by any measure a requirement for spiritual growth, attainment, connection through the various paths or ‘traditions’ of wicca or even a fulfillment through today’s witchcraft. the purpose of the Mysteries is constant Revelation!
All else flows from there. The Craft itself involves three main sections, or Circles. The Outer Circle includes all the various factions of the Craft that are (generally) motivated by Hope and Fear. The Magical techniques used in the Outer Circle rely on Belief, Worship and Faith in Deities, which are first created, named, and personified by the Practitioners, then projected and called real so that they can be Worshipped or called upon for assistance. This includes ALL religions that use these techniques. There are two more Circles beyond this that go deeper into the Study of the Craft, that no longer use Belief, Worship and Faith as tools. I define these Circles elsewhere.
Bill Barczak: – I don’t know what it means to a lot of people since I see folks running around playing dress up witch without understanding what they are actually doing. My opinion only, I’m sure most have the best of intentions but I am a traditionalist that believes the study of Wicca and Witchcraft is hard enough to explore in one tradition let alone explore so many one can’t count. I believe Witchcraft is the extension of the practitioner so they may change something in the universe. I think Witchcraft is an art form that needs to be taken seriously because there is cause and effect. All in all if Witchcraft was so easy then everyone would be doing it right? Well I know evryone does even if they think they don’t. Take for example a mild or lesser form of the Craft is performed by generally everyone on birthdays when a wish is made and candles are extinguished and the smoke from the candles carry the wish. Isn’t this practise taught at very early ages. Witchcraft is the power to change what seems impossible to change just like the birthday wish. Witchcraft users must in my opinion be very careful when it comes down to manipulation since it is not in our best interest to manipulate anyone even though the art of change could be considered manipulation. Witchcraft to me is a serious art form I suppose is my best answer.
Denyse Shorrocks: – Witchcraft and magic mean Everything to me.I have had the influence of Magic with me all my life. My Father,who has passed on,was a druid,my Grandfather, was a panthiest and my aunt was a Witch. I have been trained in Gardnerian and Alexandrian Witchcraft and have worked with some amazing Covens and Sisters and Brothers, some i still work with, but i now prefer to work with my partner or solo . I could no more stop being a Witch than i could stop from breathing. The power of the craft has opened my soul to far more than the average person, I feel, sense, and see far more in the universe around me, they they do . I feel the pain of my fellow beings that share this planet, all of them, from the largest Whale to the smallest insects, but i also feel their pleasure. So it could be said that the opening of ones awareness in Witchcraft,can be a Joy or a curse. It has also given me the confidence to walk boldly in this world, and to know without any doubt that when i shake off this mortal coil I will walk amoung the mighty!