Many people think of Wicca as just another word for Witchcraft. Some say that Wicca is merely the twentieth-century version of the Craft. Others call Wicca the "Old Religion." And some say that Wicca is completely a twentieth-century invention! Many proudly proclaim that Wicca/Witchcraft is the fastest growing religion in America, while others fear that it is.
Llewellyn publishes many books that have either of those words in the title, and authors use them pretty much interchangeably. I do like to define them differently, although I agree that the interest in both is growing fast, and that there are good reasons for this phenomenon. And I do mean "good" reasons.
Wicca: The Religion
It is easy to justify the claim that Wicca was "invented" by Gerald Gardner in the early twentieth century. Gardner himself claimed something different—that he had been initiated into a coven of Witches tracing lineage to a far past.
Others have written about the "old religion" of worshiping a Goddess, and a God, and traced practices of celebrations and rituals tied to the cycles of the Sun and Moon.
Many people today find Wicca to be a religion that fits their needs, provides a vehicle for their spiritual fervor, and functions as a guide to everyday living within the Natural World—even when that world feels and looks quite unnatural. And this religion works for them, whether participating in a coven or practicing as a solitary.
Witchcraft: The Craft of Magic
I'm not talking about magic with a k, but the magic inherent in life itself. Much of this magic involves the practice of herbalism and the use of other natural substances, mostly in folk remedies, for divination and for spell-working. While this magic works best in concordance with the natural cycles governed by Moon and Sun, its practice is not necessarily tied to the rituals and celebration of Wicca. These relate more to the inner world of spirit and psyche, while magical crafting relates more to the outer world of the body and of relationships.
Ancient and Modern
Both the religion and the Craft are as old as humanity, and derive from the origins of life itself. Their practices grew from instinct, flourished through tradition, and later grew through true natural science (or "philosophy," as it was once called). The "Craft" is natural magic, or the science of nature, the goal of which is such knowledge and understanding that we achieve a better life through harmony with all the forces, cycles, rhythms, and "purposes" of life and cosmos, which are themselves one.
All science is natural. We cannot separate into worlds that are natural and those that are unnatural. All technology is natural, too. Only human attitudes can be said to be unnatural—when people think of the natural world as merely a place of resource and disposal. When we abuse nature we hurt ourselves, our children, and our children's children.
The Renewal of Enchantment
We love our technology and all the material benefits of modern civilization. We should, because there is nothing unnatural in such materialism. And we are once again gaining respect for nature and accepting responsibility for living harmoniously with all evolving life and consciousness.
It is this renewal of humanity's love affair with the world that we live in that is reflected in the growth of both Wicca and Witchcraft. They are two sides of the same coin—humanity's conscious participation in the Great Plan that we also perceive as purpose: the continuing evolution of our planetary being, our solar being, and our cosmic being.
We are truly enchanted beings living in a world of enchantment. We are divine beings living in a divine universe. We love and are loved, for all is One and it is only blind egoism that separates any person from the real world.
People of all ages and all traditions are awakening to a realization that religion need not be an institution managed by persons proclaiming themselves as designated intermediaries between heaven and earth. Religion is realization of the holiness that is part of every being. Magic and science are ways to understand that holiness so that we become closer to the powers that be and fulfill that for which we are born. It can all be summed up with three simple words: Life, Love, and Law
Law is only that which we have learned to be the fundamentals for life and love within the purpose of existence. Does this make sense? If it does, then you understand why it is that Wicca and Witchcraft are indeed so attractive to more and more people. And, if you want, you can interchange these names with other words and movements. We live in very exciting times, and very challenging times. In fact, we live in very precarious times, but in finding our way back to these ancient ways we are also finding our way forward to revolving the most critical crisis of our times: the conflict between civilization and terrorism.
I wrote that there was good reason for the growth of Wicca and Witchcraft, for this is symptomatic of humanity's renewal of our ancient pledge to live in harmony and with purpose. God/Goddess is alive and is everywhere, magic is afoot, and we can all live magically and harmoniously with love, respect for life, and the acceptance of law.
—Carl Llewellyn Weschcke, Publisher