This has come up so many times in conversation that I thought I would do a more official write up. The problem is that some people have great difficulty understanding what it means to be Wiccan, and get quite upset when someone tells them they are not.
The root of the issue comes from the mistaken idea that Wicca is about following your heart and creating your own unique spiritual path as you see fit. That would be a fine way to view Paganism in general, but not Wicca.
Whether you like it or not, to say you are Wiccan requires that you follow the tenets and practices of that religion. Wicca is not a religious free-for-all. For example:
- Do you celebrate the 8 Sabbats?
- Do you worship both the God and Goddess?
- Do you belong to a coven?
- Do you practice witchcraft (magick, spellwork)?
- Do you cast a circle when you do rituals?
Some might question the coven membership, as so much information is now available through the Internet and books. That’s an issue for another article altogether.
I often hear about people who say they are Wiccan, but they don’t do magick or they believe in a single, non-gendered Supreme Deity (or no Deity at all). This is like saying your Catholic because you own a rosary but never attend mass and have never been baptized. If you don’t do Wiccan things, then you are not Wiccan. It’s not complicated.
This isn’t a case of nasty, elitist Wiccans trying to keep people out either. People want to prevent misinformation from being spread and simply want to clarify what it means to be Wiccan.
This is not to say that your personal path is wrong.
This issue is simply about the labels that we all use, not the underlying spirituality. When someone questions whether you are Wiccan, they are not necessarily questioning your beliefs.
Labels are only labels and spirituality goes much deeper, but as long as we must communicate with each other using labels, words, and terms , this will also be something to consider. Believe in whatever you want, but be as accurate as you can when putting a name to it. Not sure what to call yourself? Just “Pagan” is usually sufficient.