What’s the difference between a Wiccan and a pagan? Is there one? People generally use the two interchangeable, like Wiccan and witch, but those who take a closer look can see that people who identify as Wiccan and Pagan often have slightly different.

Wicca is a specific form of an earth- and Goddess-based faith that was brought to public attention in the 1950s by Gerald Gardner. Wicca is modeled after ancient, pre-Christian practices, though there’s a lot of controversy over how accurate today’s rites are.

Paganism however, is more of a broad umbrella term that encompasses a number of earth-based faiths, Wicca among them. By definition, paganism is a polytheistic faith, which means it acknowledges the existence of multiple gods and goddesses. The term itself is Latin in origin, derived from paganus, which translates roughly into “hick from the sticks.” The word was originally used to describe people who lived in rural areas, but as time progressed and Christianity spread, the word and the people connected with it were turned into outcasts, the last remnants of the old religions. Thus, in the early growth of Christianity, “pagan” came to refer to people who didn’t worship Abraham’s god.

So, a Wiccan may also identify as a pagan, and a pagan may also follow the Wiccan path, but being one doesn’t mean you automatically fall into the other.