Myths and Misconceptions: The Truth About Wicca and Paganism

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Many people become Pagans because it brings them spiritual well being. Image by Juzant/Digital Vision/Getty Images

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about Wicca and other Pagan religions, most of which are perpetuated by people who (a) don't know any better and (b) have never taken the time to learn the truth. Let's talk about some of the most common bits of misinformation people hear about Wicca and modern Paganism.

Is Wicca Some Weird Cult?

No, it's not, no more so than any other religion. Sure, there are some "weird" Wiccans, but there are also people in other religions who are "weird." Wicca is actually a religion, albeit a fairly new one, which is based on ancient practices. Although it was founded by a guy named Gerald Gardner back in the 1950s, it is still a legally recognized religion. Wiccans have the same religious rights as people of any other spiritual path. Some people do tend to get confused, though, because the word "occult," which means secret or mysterious, is often associated with the Wiccan religion.

Do Witches Worship the Devil?

No. Satan is a Christian construct, and Wiccans don't worship him. Even the Satanists don't actually worship Satan, but that's a whole other conversation.

You Guys Have Sex Orgies, Right?

Nope. However, most Pagans and Wiccans are pretty liberal when it comes to sexuality. We don't care who you sleep with, as long as everyone involved is a consenting adult. We don't care if you're straight, gay, transgender, polyamorous, or anything else. Who you have sex with, and how often, and in what manner is your business. We just hope that whatever you're doing, you do responsibly. There are some Wiccan groups who practice skyclad, or nude, but that's not really sexual in nature.

Why Do You Use that Satanic Symbol With the Star on It?

You mean the pentacle? That's a symbol, for many Wiccans and Pagans, of the four classical elements: earth, air, fire, and water, as well as a fifth element of Spirit or Self.

Do Wiccans Cast Spells?

Yes. In Wicca and many other Pagan paths, the use of magic is considered perfectly natural. It's not the same as the magic seen in Harry Potter, but for Wiccans, magic is part of the natural world. Some spells take the form of prayers to the gods, and others are based on direction of will and intent. Most Wiccans will tell you they use spellwork for a variety of things—healing, personal empowerment, prosperity, etc. Magic is a tool that is typically used in tandem with the mundane, or non-magical, world.

What's the Difference Between a Wiccan and a Pagan?

Nearly all Wiccans are Pagans, but not all Pagans are Wiccans. As if that wasn't puzzling enough, there are some people who are witches, but not Wiccan or Pagan. Confused yet? You're not alone. Basically, "Pagan" is an umbrella term for a group of different spiritual paths. For more on how this works, read What's the Difference?

Why Do People Become Wiccans?

The reasons are as varied as the people. Some find themselves drawn to Wicca because of a dissatisfaction with other religions. Others study a variety of religions and then realize that Wicca is the most compatible with what they already believe. A few people who are practicing Wiccans and Pagans today were raised in Pagan families. Regardless, nearly every Wiccan will tell you that they came to Wicca because they knew it was the right path for them.

How Do You Recruit New Wiccans Into Your Religion?

We don't. Although we'll happily share information with you and answer your questions, we're not interested in collecting new recruits

Aren't You Worried That You're Going to Hell?

Well, no. Much like Satan, the concept of Hell is a Christian one. It's not really even on our radar. However, there are a few people -- typically those who have come to Wicca from a Christian background —who do worry about this very issue. For the rest of us, we know that the future of our soul does not depend on salvation or acceptance of deity as a savior. Instead, we focus on doing good things, because we know that what we do in this lifetime will echo upon us in the next.

Do You Believe in God?

Wiccans and Pagans are typically polytheistic, which means we believe in more than one deity. If you look at "god" as a job title rather than a proper name, we believe in a variety of gods and goddesses, rather than One Single God. Most Pagans and Wiccans acknowledge the existence of thousands of deities, but generally, worship or honor only the gods of their own tradition.​

So What do Wiccans Do and Believe, Then?

Excellent question, and not a simple one with just a single answer. To learn about what Wiccans do and believe, read Basic Principles and Concepts of Wicca and Ten Things To Know About Wicca.

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Wigington, Patti. "Myths and Misconceptions: The Truth About Wicca and Paganism." Learn Religions, Feb. 8, 2021, Wigington, Patti. (2021, February 8). Myths and Misconceptions: The Truth About Wicca and Paganism. Retrieved from Wigington, Patti. "Myths and Misconceptions: The Truth About Wicca and Paganism." Learn Religions. (accessed May 30, 2023).