What is a Pagan? What is a Witch?

“Alyssa, why are you writing about all of this stuff?  This has nothing to do with flowers or floristry, and I had no idea that you were interested in witchy things.”

There are a lot of things we don't know about one another.

Nobody actually SAID that to me, but I thought I’d share my reasons for wanting to share about Paganism and witchcraft.  These are typically not topics found on the wedding blogs, and though this is not a wedding blog, I do lean towards the romantic from time to time.

I’ve been a practicing witch and some form of Pagan since I was in middle school. Yup, since I was about 11 years old.  After more than 10 years learning and reading on the topic (some good books, some horribly inaccurate books – you learn to approach skeptically as a result and ask for recommendations often), it’s hard to separate yourself from that particular topic.  And for a long time, I was unable to share part of my life with the people who were around me.  My job security would have been compromised (yes, that’s illegal, but let’s speak the truth here – people get fired for shitty reasons all the time), and my day-to-day would have been unbearably uncomfortable with my coworkers.  Things are better now, and I have the head space to continue my research and personal education.  I didn’t have that ability for a long time, and it’s nice to be “back” in this way.

So I’m writing because I’ve been recharged and there is revival in me in this way, on this topic.  This is really exciting! 

I’m currently working on some things personally, including not having to be right all the time (“letting go of the right to be right”), which is a daily practice of mindfulness.  I do not believe this conflicts with wanting to educate others.  You don’t have to believe me, and you don’t have to continue reading.  That’s your power and prerogative.  Myself, I’m a constant reader and since you’re already here reading this blog post, why not continue and get some definitions?  

I’ve actually spoke on this topic before, when I was back in college.  There’s a recording somewhere, which I have thankfully, never viewed.

When I see the #witchythings hashtag on Instagram, I absolutely side-eye you.  If we really want to talk about witchcraft and things that witches actually DO, then we need to delve in a bit deeper.  On the surface, I will say that witchcraft is a practice.  One component is magic, and another common (but not necessarily necessary) component to a practice of witchcraft is the cultivation of a skill set or traditional craft, relating back to the planet.  If you ask seven witches, you’ll get seven different opinions, but this, to me, is as bare bones as it gets.

There are Pagan witches, and Catholic witches, and Atheist witches, and more.  As I said, witchcraft is a practice, not a belief system.  The belief system that the witch may or may not follow surely influences their practice of witchcraft.

If you wish to delve further into Traditional Witchcraft definitions, I invite you to peruse the blog of Sarah Anne Lawless, here

If witchcraft is a practice, then Paganism is a religious belief system.  If you’re familiar with understanding that the umbrella term “Christian” covers many different denominations, then you can place “Paganism” on the same level.  Paganism is an umbrella term that includes many specific “denominations.”  A limited list of examples includes Asatru, Kemetic, Hellenistic, and Neo-Druid paths. 

Not all Pagans necessarily practice witchcraft, just as all witches are not necessarily Pagans.