I am a practicing Wiccan, and have been since Mabon 2003, just shy of a year after leaving the Morg*. I actually started out looking up Wicca on the Internet because I was gunning for an ex-husband who claimed he had "connections" with covens and black magic practitioners and was thinly veiling threats of vengeance upon me for leaving him. I wanted to gain information on Wicca so I could protect myself from it. What an amazing journey it has been! I quickly discovered that what he had described to me was no where near what Wicca really is, and also, for every hate site there is against Wicca, there are 100 positive sites where Wicca is taught as a religion, and where "fluffy-bunnies" are discouraged (that means if you're looking for ways to gain control over others, entice someone to fall in love with you, or change your ex into a toad, Wicca is not for you). Practicing and learning Wicca is one of the hardest, most satisfying challenges of my life, and is something I will never fully learn throughout my entire lifetime. Wicca is a process of learning, and one can never learn to much!!! What a contrast from Mormonism, where they are constantly trying to limit everyone's knowledge to 'approved manuals' and 'scripted study guides' LOL!!!
I decided to consider myself Wiccan after voraciously reading on every website I could find, collecting books on every variation of Wicca (and there are hundreds of varieties of Wicca, even Christian-based), and lots of solitary time to sort out what I have been taught to believe from what resonates from inside of me. I use Wicca as a tool to bring out my own inner spirituality, I use Wicca as a format for developing my own spiritual consciousness, and I call myself a Wiccan, because it separates me from the expected 'norm' for a middle-aged white woman in Southern Iowa. I wear pentacle necklaces and medallions, I have t-shirts with pictures of Goddesses and pentacles on them, I attend meetings of like-minded Pagan folks who aren't necessarily Wiccan, but practice alternative types of spiritual progressive thought. (and no, drugs are not used to obtain this).
I'm often disappointed when I come across people who still think that Wicca is about blood sacrifices, killing kittens or goats (or worse, newborn babies) and wild orgies with strangers while tied up on a post. (that last one was from a TBM**) I am also a little saddened by people who believe that Wicca is a cult, and that I am under the control and direction of a coven led by a High Priest who can order me to kill someone at any moment and I must obey or suffer my own life to be taken (also from a TBM). All of these things are completely FALSE.
I have never taken a life, caused blood to be spilled, witnessed any harm on any living creature (or the mutilation of a dead one), or participated in any wild orgies (although if they are going on somewhere it sure would be nice to be invited at least...)
It pains me to hear these misconceptions about Wicca, especially coming from TBM's, because when I was a Mormon, I was told many times by those who had no experience whatsoever what Mormons really believe, what really goes on inside the temple, what kind of heinous acts were done to little children on the altars of the church, etc. It really pissed me off to be a Mormon and have others tell me what it is that I REALLY believe, even thought I say I don't believe them. Now, as a Wiccan, I am getting the very same attitude from TBM's (and others) that they get from those who wouldn't have any damn idea what the hell they are talking about. And it really infuriates me whenever some so-called former Wiccan/Satan worshipper goes gallivanting about "exposing" the atrocities of Wicca and claiming that these sort of things really do happen. Just like any other religion, Wicca has it's share of crazies, and it's not fair to judge the whole system based on a few weirdos, just like it's not fair to judge the entire LDS church based solely on what the Fundy Polygamists do. Although it's true that the LDS church used to do these things, there is ample evidence that they would still be willing practitioners of it if they hadn't promised to cease in order to obtain statehood. But, I digress....
Wicca is more about bringing out your individual spirituality, and connecting to the divine within yourself. Everyone on this earth has the ability to make change, and Wicca is a process of bringing out those energies to promote good, healthy changes without bringing harm to others. I call myself a Wiccan, because I practice the religion. Someone who calls themselves a witch may only be practicing and developing skills in spellwork and bringing about changes using ritual. They may not necessarily be Wiccan. And Wiccans don't necessarily call themselves witches unless they practice spellwork to effect change. Some just practice the religion, the meditation, the inner spirituality rituals and be done with that. It can be confusing at times, so all I can advise is read, read and then read some more. Becoming Wiccan does not happen in the blink of an eye. And, unlike being Mormon, if you decide to move on to something else, you don't have to apologize to anyone, or write a resignation letter, or sweat out what your family will think. You just move on to whatever suits your personal spiritual needs and desires.
I laugh about people assuming I'm in a cult because I say I'm Wiccan, when the real truth is I left a cult (Mormonism) and found Wicca all on my own, and practice it alone with no coven, no authorities to revere and no 'dues' to pay each week. I'm more free now to be myself than I ever was being LDS, and I wouldn't give up this freedom to change my point of view whenever I like, rather than being constantly chastised for exploring new ideas and "thinking too much".
* Morg---A combination of the words Mormon and Borg
**TBM---True Believing Mormon