Witchcraft is a phenomenon that has arisen in many cultures around the world in a variety of formats.
In this article on the differences between Witchcraft and Wizardry, I will be concentrating on the European Model, which subsequently spread to North America.
What is the difference between Witchcraft and Wizardry? When people refer to Witches and Wizards, the Witch may well be a real person or a historical figure. A Wizard is more likely to be a legend or character in fiction. In the revival of modern witchcraft and the Wicca religion, both males and females will typically be referred to as witches, making the term Wizard redundant, except for practitioners of magic, who are not connected to the more mainstream Wicca.
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What is Witchcraft?
Originally witches (or wise women) were people who practiced healing using natural methods.
Just like Shamans in other cultures, they cloaked their healing in a layer of “magic” so that the population would believe it to be effective.
These witches were part of the Pagan culture, and once Christianity was established in Europe, they were seen as a threat.
That is when marginalization and persecution began.
By the middle of the 1400s, the persecution had stepped up when many witches were arrested and tortured to gain confessions that they had indulged in many evil activities.
Witches were frequently purged and following the confessions under torture they were hanged or burnt at the stake.
Women without the protection of a man were often targeted (widows, single women, and women who lived at the edges of society).
This persecution of witches spread to the New World and more torture and executions took place.
These “wise women” or witches were often used as someone to blame when things went wrong, like if crops failed.
This was ridiculous when you think that the most common activity carried out by witches was practicing what we would call “Natural medicine.”
This persecution served to make the witches go underground, which is what the early church wanted, as witches were seen as a threat.
In recent times, when the threat of persecution has gone in the west, witches have begun to resurface and are unafraid to call themselves witches.
This resurgence has been connected with the revival of Paganism, and many witches today subscribe to the Wicca faith.
The Pew Research Center did a survey in 2014 which showed there were around 730,000 Pagans and Wiccans in the USA.
Witches call themselves witches and many of them belong to covens.
These witches frequently will indulge in creating spells.
Frequently these are love charms, money related spells, protection from enemies, anti-anxiety, and healing.
People often turn to witchcraft when scientifically based medicine has failed to work.
Earlier in the revival the practice of carrying out rituals “SkyClad” (naked) was not uncommon, and Wicca gained a reputation as involving sex, and other activities that society was nervous about.
This attracted many people who were attracted by what they believed were loose morals and the opportunity to become involved in sexual activity.
While there are still a few covens that use sex and nudity in certain rituals, many covens have now moved away from that in an effort to become more mainstream.
So, to summarize.
Witches today rarely engage in anything evil or take part in rituals involving sex.
They are mostly just people with a belief in natural lifestyles and what we call alternative health.
They are simply a fringe religion that rejects many current western values.
What is Wizardry?
A Wizard is a “Wise Man” just as Witches originated as “Wise Women.”
The difference was that in ancient times that had patriarchal culture, where men had the power; Wizards were not persecuted as much as their female counterparts who threatened the male domination.
The first word meaning Wizard was Wys (which meant wise).
The term wizard appeared around 1550.
A Wizard would more commonly be a man, who was respected for his learning, who frequently might be studying alchemy (turning common metals into gold).
He would also know about medicinal herbs.
As a man, he would not be so vulnerable as a woman living on the fringes of society.
Since the Wizard may be a valuable asset, if he could indeed succeed in alchemy, he would be more likely to be taken under the wing of a powerful member of society rather than persecuted.
If a man is a follower of the modern Wicca religion he would normally refer to himself as a witch, not a wizard.
In truth, there were very few real Wizards compared to Witches.
If you “Google” the term wizard, you will have to look hard to find a reference that is concerned with reality.
Most Wizards are fictional characters that have stemmed from folklore or more recent stories.
The Book and Movie franchise “Harry Potter” has given the term new meaning and the terms “Witch” and “Wizard” are used as female and male versions of the same thing.
Difference Between Witchcraft and Wizardry
In more ancient times a wise woman (Witch) and Wys or wise man (Wizard) would really be very similar in reality.
They would be someone the Pagan society would go to for medical advice.
When persecution began, and the view of society began to change, men were far less likely to be accused of witchcraft and were established in society and able to reject these claims.
For a man to have special knowledge would be more acceptable than a woman to claim to be wiser than a man.
Wise Women were often outside normal society and much more liable to be persecuted.
Wizards slowly became scientists and stayed in the mainstream.
Witches were pushed underground.
If you’re interested in learning more about Witchcraft, you may struggle to find the right resource.
Well, there is a great online training that you can join even today!
This training was created with beginners in mind so you can join it even if you don’t have any previous experience.
Check this training and start learning today!
As we progress I believe that the term Wizard will slowly disappear from modern usage except as a term used in legend or fiction.
Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and other modern fiction has usurped the term, and I do not believe it has any real use in today’s world.
A man who might well have called himself a wizard at one time will today call himself a witch as a more accurate representation of what he is.