The most common question about Paganism is now here. Many ask, "What's the difference between a Witch, Wiccan, or Pagan?" Sometimes explaining this to people can be very misleading and hard for them to follow. I even ask myself which label would best fit my practices and beliefs. We all run into this magickal confusion within ourselves, but I can unscramble the puzzle for us.
A Witch is a person that practices anything spell, ritual, or occult related. Depending on their individual belief, they can see Witchcraft as a general path of spirituality that does not need a religious background (Meaning a Divine Source, deities, worship, holidays, etc).
A Wiccan is a believer in the popular Neo-Pagan religion called Wicca, or "The Craft of the Wise". Many Wiccans are polytheistic worshipers. They celebrate the eight Sabbats, better known as the eight ancient holidays many Pagan traditions observed, or referenced as "The Wheel of the Year". Since nature is the Pagan "temple", many Pagans celebrate the turn of each season. The God and Goddess concept is usually seen as a duality-made force within in the Universe that brings about life in all forms of existence on Earth. Again, I can't depict what the Wiccan crowd as a whole believes; it is a very individualized faith and I can only accurately say what I believe, but this is the synopsis of Wicca I've learned in the past.
Hold your breath, now! At the count of three, the truth will be revealed about the term "Pagan". One, two, three! Paganism is famously called an "umbrella term" that sums up all all religions that are considered to be nature-based in spiritual terms. For instance, let's imagine an umbrella. Hell, even draw an umbrella on the scratch paper that is beside you. My explanation will become much more clear! The fabric part of the umbrella is the word "Pagan". Underneath that lies faiths like Wicca, Shamanism, Druidism, and every other Pagan tradition out there! See what I mean? Wicca, Shamanism, and Druidism all hold the basic belief structure of a Pagan. So, this is the time where one may ask, "What characteristics defines what beliefs fall in Pagan religion?"
Similar Concepts of Pagan Beliefs
1. Worship of nature as the gift of life.
2. Worship of pantheons; basically polytheistic (multiple) Gods and Goddesses from ancient history that are honored.
3. Life exists in inanimate parts of nature.
And, now for the challenging part...
What Am I?
This is a funny situation for me to be in. I've been compulsively practicing, reading, studying, and learning about Witchcraft for the majority of my life. I think I started out as a naive young Witch girl. Don't get me wrong--I was a child--I had every right to have no logical understanding of what Witchcraft was/is. I think it's fair to say that I started out as a "witch-curious" pre-teen who had no idea what she was reading about. Naturally, that changed when I had turned fifteen and learned about Wicca spirituality. I didn't jump into the spiritual belief in a Goddess because I was still learning the truth. Later, I was struggling with a personal crisis in a relationship I won't be talking about here, but it involved threats of me converting from the Lutheran church into a Solitary Wiccan, so fear held me back until that relationship was out of my life. I eventually stopped frowning upon making the religious change in my life. Witchcraft alone had always felt right. I listened to my own heart and began to follow that natural flow. While I do agree with some Wiccan concepts, I've definitely learned I'm not your average traditional Wiccan. I really like to involve science in my spiritual understanding. The afterlife theory is hard for me to blindly accept, so I like to look at pantheism as my practical belief combined with some sense of that duality of Goddess and God within the Universe. Confusing stuff, I know. It's hard for me to explain right now.
Overall, I may pass as an Eclectic Wiccan or a spiritually-puzzled Witch. Better yet, I think it's even more brilliant to title myself as a spiritually-baffled Eclectic Wiccan! I hope my magnificent antics to attempt explaining this common question will help you or someone you know to explain what they believe in easier! Cheers!