Expert Research: Actually, What Does Wiccan Mean?

Christians are Christians because they believe in Christ. Atheists are atheists because they are a-theists – without god(s). But why are Wiccans called Wiccans? What does Wiccan mean, anyway?

Wiccan is an adjective referring to people, places, or objects related to the faith known as Wicca – a specific sect of New Age belief based on two British Wiccan traditions: Gardnerian and Alexandrian. Wiccans may identify as witches, pagans, or as following a specific type of Wiccan path.

The Origins Of The Term “Wicca”: What Wiccan Means

The origin of the word was the subject of much debate in the 1900s. Many believe that Wicca derives from an old British word of the same spelling (different pronunciation), and its meaning was “sorcerer.” Wicce was the female term. “Witch” is another word that derives from these two older words. Although “witch” as a concept has been around for centuries, the common use of “Wicca” is much more contemporary.

The term “Wicca” was popularized first in Britain in the 1960s, then again in the 70’s as the word and religion moved to the United States. It is often used by outsiders to refer to anyone involved in New Age or neopagan lifestyles, but inside the world of Wicca, it means a very specific thing. It means people that follow the Wiccan faith. Much like “transgender” is an umbrella term, and “trans guy” is a more specific term – “Pagan” is the umbrella term, and “Wicca” is a more specific definition. In its most specific way, Wiccan means people who follow either the Gardnerian or Alexandrian religious paths. So that’s why Wiccans are called Wiccans, and even, technically, what Wiccan means. 

What Else Does Wiccan Mean?

A man once told me that Wicca also means “wise teacher.” He told me that to be Wiccan means to be a role model in your community. To follow the laws of the land, respect your fellow human, and give advice and help where needed.

Turns out, that man was full of himself. But occasionally, he spouted things that seemed wise. This is one of them. Being a role model is important for Wiccans because we are very often the butt of the joke in popular news and shows. The Satanic Panic of the 80's and 90's was, in part, driven by fear of New Agers and Wiccans.

Wiccans have a reputation in popular media: tree huggers, goths, Satan worshippers. When Wiccans spout drivel about being attacked by mystical beings, being possessed or hexed, or even being persecuted by Christians… it looks bad. It does nothing for the reputation of Wicca.

How Should Wiccans Live?

Instead of being the person that your coworkers flock to when they “think they’ve seen a ghost,” why not be the person they ask for advice? Why not be the person that they can rely on when they’re ill? Be a role model. Be the person that is a leader without needing “god given authority” to do so.

The word, Wicca, is a reminder. It's a special word, meant to remind you that, if you choose to be Wiccan, you are set aside. You are held to a higher standard. You get to define that standard within your own realm of practice, but there it is: ultimate personal responsibility. It's the difference between doing a few Hail Mary's and actually trying to do right in your life.

What do you think Wicca means? Do you disagree?

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