Difference Between Pagan and Wiccan

Pagan vs Wiccan

The difference between Pagan and Wiccan is not that hard to understand when one understands that pagan is an umbrella term, and Wiccan is a term that comes under pagan. The difference between Wiccan and pagan can be quite confusing for those who are followers of major religions like Christianity, Islam, or Judaism. That is because, for them, both sound the same. In a way, these are the same as Wiccan is a subset of pagan or paganism. So, in order to understand these terms, pagan and Wiccan, better let us pay more attention to each term. That will help us to understand the difference between pagan and Wiccan.

What is Pagan?

Pagan indicates that someone is a follower of paganism. For simplicity, paganism is defined as a religion rooted in the earth. Christianity came later and took roots in cities first. The people who were rustic and resided in rural, poor country settings had a desire to hold on to their polytheistic beliefs. These people were followers of all things natural with natural laws preceding and being above everything else. Pagans proudly ascribe their faith as being a pre-Christian faith.

It seems then that paganism is a rather generic term that includes all beliefs that precede major religions of the world. Earth-based spirituality is what paganism implies, and many of the followers of major faiths of the world, when they embrace paganism, have a feeling of homecoming within themselves. Christians often categorized pagans as rural people who did not worship Jesus as their God. For Christians, all including athiest (people who do not believe in God), monotheistic (people who believed in a single god though not the True God,) and polytheistic (people who believed in many gods) were all pagans. Hence, pagan is an umbrella term that includes within its fold many other sub groups. There are Asatru, Kemetic, Voodoo, shamanism, Wiccan, and many other beliefs under the generic term called paganism. So, Wiccan is just one of them.

Pagan was earlier considered as a derogatory term used by Romans, to refer to a country dweller who was not a follower of Christianity and rather followed a religion that was close to nature.

Difference Between Pagan and Wiccan

What is Wiccan?

Wicca as a term is rather new as it evolved about 50 years ago. It was used to refer to a religion that seems to have been reconstructed or follows the lines of religions followed by ancient witches. However, there are many variations within Wicca. Wiccans describe them as traditions.

Wicca is a duotheistic religion. That means they believe in two gods; a combination of a god and a goddess. The goddess is known as the mother goddess while the god is known as the horned god. The mother goddess is associated with the Earth, moon and stars. The horned god is associated with the sun, animals, and the forests.

Since Wiccan is a pagan religion, the traditions are bound with the nature. They have seasonal festivals that are known as Sabbats. They can follow magic if they want to.

Pagan vs Wiccan

What is the difference between Pagan and Wiccan?

• Definitions of Pagan and Wiccan:

• Pagan is an umbrella term that refers to pre-Christian religions, and it embraces many beliefs within its fold.

• Wiccan is a neo-pagan religion that evolved about 50 years ago. It is based on religions practiced by ancient witches.

• Connection:

• Wiccan is essentially a pagan, but not all pagans are Wiccans. It is like saying that you are a Christian if you are a Baptist.

• Gods:

• Pagan can run from believing a single god (monotheist) to believing many gods (polytheist). Sometimes atheist are also included as pagan as they do not follow the one True God of Christianity.

• Wiccans believe in two gods: mother goddess and the horned god.

• Traditions:

• Since pagan is an umbrella term, there are a number of traditions that belong to different pagan religions.

• Wicca too has a number of traditions as there is no central defining figure in the religion.

As you can see, Wiccan is a subset of Pagan. As a result, it is also based on nature.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Pagan handfasting ceremony by  XcepticZP (CC BY-SA 2.0)
  2. Pentacle by Midnightblueowl (CC BY-SA 3.0)