Wicca vs Eclectic Neo Pagan Witchcraft AKA Solitary Wicca

Wicca or Eclectic Neo Paganism:
The differences and the similarities

There is much misinformation about Wicca out there these days. Much of that information is based on a book written by Scott Cunningham. Scott Cunningham was an initiate of Wicca. However after getting initiated he left the coven and created his own practice. He published that practice in a book that he titled Wicca: A guide for the Solitary Practioner. Cunningham’s book does not teach Wicca as he left after initiation. As such he was never exposed to the actual rites and rituals of Wicca or the mysteries which form the core that is Wicca.

One of the most important misunderstood facts in the History of Wicca is the founding of the religion. Many people say that Wicca is an ancient religion, or “The Olde Religion”. That just simply is not true. Infact they have not found any evidence of a single “Old religion” practiced by all ancient people in the early days of society. There are parts and pieces of Wicca that existed before but there was no religion called Wicca till Gardner came.

Gerald Gardner created Wicca. The religion he created was formed through various pieces of occult lore that he had learned during his travels as well as bits of witchcraft that he seemed to have learned from the NewForest area coven. Many people say that Gardner just popularized Wicca, when infact he actually created it.

I look at it this way. Say you are building a chair. The chair you build is designed based on styles you found appealing. After piecing together the design it may resemble something else that has gone before, but it is your own creation. Wicca is the same thing. The religion Gardner created did not exist prior to his creation in the late 40’s early 50’s. There may have been similar religions and practices about, but that it’s self is not Wicca.

Scott Cunningham’s book does not teach Wicca at all. Wicca can not be learned from a book or a website. Wicca is something that must be learned face to face and by a proper initiate. If a person is truly Wiccan they will be able to trace their training lineage back to Gerald Gardner or one of his priests or priestesses. This is because all wiccan lore and practices is oathbound. You can not learn Wicca until you have been initiated.

So what is Wicca? Well the shortest description of Wicca is: Wicca is a religion where every member is clergy. All initiates are priests and priestesses to the God and Goddess of Wicca. Wicca is also an:

  • *Inititory
  • *Lineage
  • *Oathbound
  • *Orthopraxy
  • *Mystery
  • *experiential
  • *fertility
  • *witchcult

Initiatory is plain and simple. You can not be a wiccan with out a proper initiation to a proper coven with lineage that traces back to Gerald Gardner or one of his High Priestesses. Initations are male to female and female to male. Lineage in this case means who initiated who back to Gardner or one of his High Priestess.

Oath bound means that much of the religion can not be discussed with people who are not initiated. For that reason books that claim to teach Wicca are not teaching Wicca but a form of eclectic neo paganism. Eclectic neo-paganism is free style with any ritual style you want, where as Wiccan rituals are only done in a specific way with specific words and actions.

Orthapraxic means that the rites and rituals can only be done a specific way. The rites can not be changed or altered. There are somethings that can be added, but the core can not be changed. I do not know what can be added as I am not Wiccan, and there is a possibility I may never become Wiccan. I do know from talking to many initiated wiccans (though e-mail and message boards) is that nothing can be removed.

Fertility is simple yet complex. The focus of Wicca is on fertility. The rites do have sexual symbolism and some sexual actions. For this reason they can not and will not initiate any one under 18. Most covens don’t initiate people under the age of 25 however 18 is the limit. While the rites contain sexual acts and sexual symbolism, the rites are not about pregnancy and what not (though they can be if that is what is asked for). They are about fertility in general. With out fertility nothing on this world would exist. It is not a nature religion.

Mystery and experiential mean that there are mysteries or things in the religion which can not be adequately described in words. In order to understand the Wiccan rites and rituals you experience these mysteries. The mysteries are the core of Wicca. These mysteries and experiences are unique to Wicca and only shared with Wiccans.

Wicca is Dithestic. The religion focus on the worship of two deities a God and a Goddess. The names of these deities are known only to initiates. To non initiates they are simply called the Lord and Lady. Wiccans are free to worship other deities outside Wicca, but the two practices must be kept separate.

Witchcult is probably the most “thrilling” of the factors that make up Wicca. Once one is initiated into Wicca they are made both a witch and a wiccan. All religions are cults, but not all cults are religions. Gardner himself refers to Wicca as a witchcult in his many books.

Priesthood is the simple. All initiates into Wicca are clergy to their deities. They all serve their God and Goddess. I do not know how all Wiccan’s serve their deities, but I know they do. It can be community outreach, teaching, or volunteer services of various sorts.

At first it may seem like Gardnerian Wicca is the only official and true Wiccan tradition. That is not true. There are only a handful of Wiccan traditions. These traditions all trace their core teachings back to Gardner. The initiations of the priests and priestess are traceable to Gardner. These traditions are:

  • *Gardnerian
  • *Alexandrian
  • *Mohsian
  • *Central Valley (a collective term for the traditions named below)
    • -Silver Crescent
    • -Kingstone
    • -Daoine Coire
    • -Assembly of Wicca
    • -Majestic

Any other religion or tradition that claims to be Wiccan are not Wiccan traditions. They are neo-pagan witchcraft traditions. Most of the books that you read out there on “Wicca” are about Eclectic-Neo-paganism. So what exactly is Eclectic neo-paganism? That is the most difficult thing there is to define as every one who practices ENP has a different practice and a different set of views.

Typically Eclectic-Neo-Pagans follow a simple witchcraft tradition. They are typically earth or nature worshipers with a strong focus on the Goddess. An example of these traditions would be Dianic Witchcraft or Seax-Wicca. These traditions on the surface may look like they are Wiccan, but there are substantial differences. For example Seax Wicca is a tradition where you can become a member simply by doing a self dedication ceremony and following the rites of that tradition as published by Raymond Buckland. In that tradition you can practice solitary.

So what is “solitary Wicca”? It’s a misnomer. In reality there is only one way a person could be a solitary Wiccan. A solitary wiccan would be a person who has gone through the proper process of initiation and has had to move from their coven or the coven disbanded. The member in that situation does not cease to be Wiccan. However the rites and rituals that they perform are not Wiccan as Wiccan rites can only be properly performed in a coven setting.

Solitary Wicca as the public knows it is also called “Eclectic Wicca”. Wicca is not eclectic and there can never be an eclectic tradition of Wicca. Wicca has specific rites and specific deities. Ecclectic neo-pagan witchcraft (solitary wicca or eclectic wicca) has no specific rites or rituals. There are many things that eclectic neo-pagans may share such as the rede and the like. However there is nothing that really unites them as a coherent tradition.

It seems to me that the people who call themselves Wiccan who have not gone through the initiation process and had those experiences are lying to themselves. The experiences one has with in a properly cast Wiccan circle are what makes one Wiccan. If you have not gone through those initiations then you have no right to use the title Wiccan.
Wicca is a religion that is elitist. Not everyone can be Wiccan. Not everyone is ment to be Wiccan. If you are not considered a proper person by the coven you approach then you are not a person for Wicca. Now what makes a person a proper person is different for each coven.

That may seem surprising. It’s not really. Any witchcraft tradition that has an initiation process typically has a way of screening their members. They want to make sure that you are going to fit in with the coven properly. They need to make sure that you can trust them and that they can trust you as trust is central to having proper coven performances and harmony.

So Wicca places you in a specific box. If you like most people who claim to be Wiccan prefer to be free and find your own way of doing things then you should not call yourself Wiccan. As an Eclectic you are free to worship which Gods you want (so long as the Gods do not belong to a specific culture that is closed to outsiders such as the celts and the Roma *Gypsies*). You can follow your own holy days and follow your own intuition.

It makes more sense to me that if a person was seeking a religion that made the most sense to them that they would follow their own path. It may be difficult to do so, but in the ends the rewards are fantastic. That doesn’t mean you can’t study other religions (including Wicca) but you shouldn’t label yourself anything until you know that you belong there.

I myself am a seeker. I am a dedicant in the Temple of Witchcraft tradition or the Temple tradition of Witchcraft. I am not Wiccan, and I may never be Wiccan. It was six years ago that I learned the truth about Wicca and started to really question that which I knew and that which was “popular”. I have contacted a few Wiccan Covens to see about training with them. At this point in time I am not a proper person in the eyes of those covens. That is fine with me. I respect Wicca and wish to learn as much as I can about the religion. However I do what I can to avoid questions that could lead to oath breaking.

In the end Wicca has a long future ahead of it. However if people continue to spread misinformation about Wicca I feel that what Gardner developed will come to be meaningless. It is not an anything goes religion. Wicca has specific guidelines. Wicca has specific practices. If you don’t have those practices then you are not practicing Wicca.

The final misconception about Wicca is that the only law is the “Rede”. The “Wiccan rede” is a simple two line poem. The lines are “An it harm none do what ye will”. In fact in Wicca, the rede is simply that advice. Which is what the word Rede means. The advice is basic. If it doesn’t harm anything then great, Go ahead and do the action full force. It does not mean that you can not do any action that causes harm to another person. In actuality the rede means that you can do whatever action you desire so long as you can accept understand and live with the consequences. To me that is how I live and work as well.

The rede is not the law of Wicca. Wicca has infact 151 or so laws. These laws are called the Ardanes. The Ardanes have been published online in various forms. My favorite resource would be: The Old Laws or the Ardanes From what I have been told by actual initiates of Wicca the ardanes mean something different to the initiates. For the uninitiated these ardanes are a simple way of looking into the laws of Wicca.

The only real similarities between eclectic witchcraft and Wicca are superficial. The rites that solitary “Wiccans” practice are similar in nature to the rituals practiced by Wicca. However they are not the rituals of Wicca as those rituals are only known to the initiates. The rituals published in the Gardnerian Book of Shadows may be the actual rites of Wicca. However with out the mysteries and proper context the rituals are useless and have no meaning.

Cunningham was only exposed to the “Outercourt”. The outercort is basically those rites and rituals performed by Wiccan covens with seekers and other non initiates. They are not Wiccan, but they,may have a Wiccan flair to the rites. These rituals are designed to see if seekers can work well with the coven and they also offer a community service (a group of worship). He mislabeled what he experienced as Wicca as he left the coven after his initiation and never saw the core or true Wiccan rites.

It is well known that Wiccan’s practice witchcraft. Initiation into Wicca makes one a priest/ess and a witch. To define what witchcraft is is difficult. In simpliest terms it is the practice of magic. Magic is the art and science of causing change in the world in accordance to ones will (desire) by manipulating subtle energies and directing those energies to your desired outcome. You may have noticed that I don’t use the term Magick. The reason is simple. Magick is a specific practice unique to the religion of Thelema. Magick has numerological significances that to me I don’t understand. As such I do not use magic. In most cases the context of the sentence will explain or show what type of magic you are referring to.

In the end one path is not better than the other. Both Wicca and eclectic neo-paganism are good paths. What is right for one person might not be right for another person. It is important to know that desire to become Wiccan is not enough. You must be called by the Gods. Wiccan high priestesses are typically able to tell if a person is a proper person and if they are ment to serve those Gods.

So where does this leave the beginner or the seeker? Well it gives them many options. If someone is seeking a path other than Christianity they have many opportunities. The first thing I would suggest is to figure out what they are looking for. Next I would ask them if they were attracted to any specific deities and cultures. If so I would suggest they read source texts on those myths (for example if you were interested in the Germanic deities you would use the Poetic and Prose Eddas as well as the Sagas of the Icelanders and other sagas). Finally I would suggest they read some reliable and good or accurate sources on that path. Research and practice.

My intent is not to push anyone away from Wicca. My intent is simply to inform people what Wicca really is. I feel that as a seeker for Wicca it is my job to help defend Wicca from false labels. That is one of the oaths a wiccan takes upon initiation. To Wiccans protecting, preserving, and defending the truth about Wicca is their responsibility. I feel that as a seeker I should do what I can to help clear the misinformation out there.

Buckland, Raymond. Buckland’s complete book of witchcraft.
Cunningham, Scott. Living Wicca: A further guide for the solitary practioner.
Wicca a guide for the solitary practioner. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print
Gardner, Gerald. The Meaning of Witchcraft. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
Witchcraft Today. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
Hutton, Ron. Triumph of the Moon.

Wicca for the rest of usWeb. 8 Dec. 2010.

  1. This is a topic I am quite passionate about. To be honest this is actually really the second version of an essay I wrote much earlier located on a different website. This essay was actually written in response to a chapter in a sociology book by a professor with a PHD is sociology specializing in alternative religion.

    The chapter in question was in a book written by that professor (whose name I forgot at this point as he was my philosophy professor’s son-in law’s father or something) which said that Wicca was basically an open religion.

    I wrote this essay in response. I figured that if he was teaching about the subject he might as well have some accurate information. When I gave the article to my teacher he sent it along to the sociology professor. The sociology professor was quite impressed with the essay and said that when the time comes to write the new edition he will investigate my claims even further and give me credit.

    That information is of course second hand, but still encouraging. Many people who know me from other websites may say that I am simply restating their views, but to be completely honest this entire essay is of my own writing. I took their own points and found out for myself that the documents they sourced were in fact stating what they had told me,

  2. I only post my thoughts based on my own experiences. When I am responding to specific people I cite their information and give my own thoughts. While I hope I do give people more to think about I never intend any one to take my word as gospel. I simply hope to provide one more voice out there for those who see guidance on their paths.

  3. In regards to the blasphemy: I can see where some people may get that feeling. To be honest seven years ago I felt that same way.

    There are many people out there who have said the same thing. It fits with history and it fits with the writings we have.

    You should not take my word for it. You should read my writing and see the sources I use. you should then read the sources I have used for yourself and come to your own opinion. If you agree with me then great. If you don’t agree with me then well if you can show me evidence to support your views I’ll listen.

  4. Thank you. If There is anything you would like me to discuss on my blog please let me know. I will always take my followers or those who read my posts into consideration when I post content in my blog. Yes my public plays a role in what you will see, though in the end if it is something I don’t have an opinion on you wont see it posted in my blog.

  5. I try and put a lot of effort into each and everything that I write about. For me if I dont put the effort into gathering the materials and putting together the research then its not worth writing about. Its not worth me putting out there. In the end I want to help provide information out there which can be useful to seekers. There is a lot of misinformation out there inregards to witchcraft and paganism in general. I hope that through my blogging and my articles I can help people out there find their own way.

  6. Please come back and visit again. There will always be more articles and more entries coming. The more I write and participate in the Pagan blog project, the more I realize I have to say.

  7. Are you looking for the sources I have used to write this essay? As I mentioned in my above reply to the comment there are several more books and websites I have accessed over the last several years that I should include. These websites and books will provide more information for other people. I also want to go in and reread my essay. I feel I may need to expand and prove my points a bit more through quotes from my sources. So I will be working on that over time as well.

    This is also the second version of my overall insight into this topic. The first essay I wrote was a lot simpler and less detailed. Like this essay it started out as a college paper for a class. However since then it has turned into my own views and reflections. I have gone beyond writing a simple assignment for school to writing something that means a lot to me and something that I want the world to see.

    The first essay was on a friends site of mine, but has been lost to the internet at this time.

  8. Thank you. I’ll ask you the same thing I have asked other people. Is there anything else you would like to see on this website?

  9. I’m a new blogger, too. Was nervous about putting my opinions out there, especially since my views tend to be a little bit different from others. I like that you state your views very firmly. It’s hard to do that in this day and age. It’s one thing to be open-minded to possibilities, that you’re opinion could be wrong. It’s another to not have an opinion or to have no boundaries. I’ve never been drawn to traditional Wicca. I think a lot of traditions have taken over the use of the name Wicca because they don’t know what else to use. You want some constructive criticism? I’m not sure if it was intentional or not, but there are places where you seem to mix and match eclectic neo-paganism and eclectic neo-pagan witchcraft. From my own research, Wicca, Witchcraft and eclectic or specific neo-paganism are, at minimum, three separate religions. Being a neo-pagan does not make you a Traditional Witch, although, many refer to themselves as Witches and do not mean that they are practicing Traditional Witchcraft. For this reason, I identify as an eclectic neo-pagan seeker. For references, see the page for the Trad I’m developing: https://sites.google.com/site/kindredofthedragonspirits/ and my Links page, specifically, http://www.shadowdrake.com/index.php.

    • Eclectic-neo-pagan witchcraft, and Wicca are two separate religious practices. Traditional witchcraft is a third religious practice associated with witchcraft. All pagans are neo-pagans as we are practicing new pagan religions. There are very few remaining pagan traditions that are intact. That is why neo-paganism is the title. The purpose of this essay was specifically to address who Ecletic neo-pagan witchcraft is not Wicca as Wicca has specific rituals and requirements that must remain intact for the religion to be Wicca.

  10. I enjoyed reading your post; it’s very thorough and well written.

    • Like I said on face book:

      I wrote it to provide a published sociology professor with an alternative view about Wicca and witchcraft. He had written a book on various “out cast” religious views and included a chapter on Wicca. The author of the book was the father of my philosophy teacher’s step-son in law or something (extended family relation).

      He read what I wrote and said that when he goes to write the new updated version of the text he will further research what I stated. It made me both proud and astonished. I didn’t think I could make some one with a published sociology text think about their works, but apparently he will.

      I can find the author and name of the text I am responding to if you would like (generally directed at any one who is curious).

      If you have any questions about what I have written please post them and let me know.

  11. I hardly leave a response, but i did a few searching and wound up here Wicca vs Eclectic Neo Pagan Witchcraft AKA Solitary Wicca | Seeker sight. And I actually do have a couple of questions for you if it’s allright. Is it simply me or does it give the impression like some of the comments appear like they are left by brain dead folks? 😛 And, if you are posting on additional places, I would like to follow everything new you have to post. Could you list of all of all your public pages like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

    • You can ask me any question you want. The point of this blog and the various essays I have posted here is to get people to ask me questions or even for directions on how to help themselves find their own path. This blog is named Seeker sight for a reason. I have found that I am a perpetual seeker of wisdom and knowledge from any and every philosophy, mythology, folklore, fairytale, history, ect. My path has changed immensely over time. This is because every path I have explored and every ritual I perform has given me experience and understanding from various points of view.

      I am a philosopher, a witch, amateur theology scholar, a priestess, a healer, and genuine seeker of wisdom. My current college degree is based on Liberal studies. It is an associates degree. I am torn between anthropology and Classics as a major or English and Philosophy as a major. Which ever combination I choose the others will be my minors. I apply my academic studies with my skeptical sides, some scientific theories, my experiences, faith, and belief to form my perspectives.

      I actually need to write a follow up article on Traditional Witchcraft and BTW, an article on Traditional Witchcraft and the modern eclectic movements, and finally an article on how they are all united. Actually that gives me an idea for my first book. I need to do some more research into history and witch trials and all that.

      So yes please ask any questions you have and I will answer them to the best of my ability.

  12. Unquestionably believe that which you stated.
    Your favourite justification seemed to be on the net the easiest factor
    to understand of. I say to you, I certainly get irked while folks consider worries
    that they plainly don’t know about. You controlled to hit the nail upon the highest as well as defined out the entire thing without having side-effects , folks can take a signal. Will likely be again to get more. Thanks

  13. I don’t leave a great deal of responses, however after looking at through a few of the comments on Wicca vs Eclectic Neo Pagan Witchcraft AKA Solitary Wicca | Seeker sight. I actually do have 2 questions for you if you don’t mind. Could it be just me or does it give the impression like a few of these remarks come across like they are left by brain dead individuals? 😛 And, if you are posting at other social sites, I would like to keep up with you. Would you list of all of all your social networking sites like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

    • You can find my facebook:

      Face Book

      I also post on Gaiaonline at the moment also under Loona Wynd, but thats a forum and not really a blog. You can find all my blogs and activities here or on Facebook.

      I will say right now that the facebook page is for both modeling and writing as well as any other business I desire to do under this name.

  14. If you would have done your research you would have found that Gerald Gardner rejected the Lable Wicca in favor of the Labels Witchcraft, The Wica, and the Witchcult. The 1st person in Modern History to use the Term Wicca to define the Modern witchcraft Movement was Charles Cardell who used it to mean Eclectic style Witchcraft Traditions… Really you people need to do research before writing these things, have you even read any of Gardner own books..

  15. The Gardnerian Tradition Rejected the Term Wicca in Favor of Witchcraft in its early history because of its connection with Charles Cardell who used the Term 1st, The Eclectic Neo-Pagan started using the Term,The Early Gardnerian Felt the the New Wicca movement was fake Witchcraft and they had the real thing, but in the 80;s and 90’s they started find the Wicca worked better for them and claimed that the only way to become Wiccan was Join them, I think Gardner was turning in his grave. The Ecletics used the Term to define there Religion long before, and most are very happy to share it with the Gardnerian, but please dont pass on lies as fact,.. it simply not true… you can find out more information here http://www.thewica.co.uk/

    • I’d like to see your sources for Wicca being reclaimed by the BTW rather than originally owning it through the word Wica (pronounced the same).

  16. Hi! I did notice one thing. Scott Cunningham was indeed a 1* initiate of the Central Valley Wicca Tradition, considered BTW by most. He was way past Outer Court. But I would point out that he did not violate his oaths even though he left the tradition.

  17. while this is interesting some of it seems to boil down to wica vs,wicca.are we maybe getting a little carried away ? ultimately,i think the universe is beyond our comprehension.

    • The point of this article was more to illustrate that there are two unique religions out there which are called Wicca. One that is very specific about what makes one Wiccan and one that is a little more free form. The two religions share a name and it is important to remember just how distinctly different the two are. The approach to worship, the practice, and everything else makes them separate.

      In reality they are probably even worshiping different gods as one religion known as Wicca has essentially a nameless triple goddess and a Dual faced horned Lord while the other religion worship a specific God and Goddess whose names are known only to initiates. The ritual structures are even different. If the rituals and the gods are different can they be the same religion?

      This is what I wanted this article to get people to think.

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