The Truth About Witchcraft

1. Who here thinks they are a Witch? Well, aside from the atrocious grammar, this question is rather silly. For most of us, Witch is a religious identity, so asking if we “think” we are Witches is much like asking if someone “thinks” they are a Baptist, or a Methodist, etc. If someone tells you that they practice the religion of Witchcraft, they are a Witch.
2. Who here has the most power? Where do you get your power from? Witchcraft isn’t about power. It’s about the Gods, and service to Them. When questioners speak of power, what they generally mean is magick, not Witchcraft, though they do not realize it. We’ll get to the topic of magick in a few minutes.

3. Prove to me that you are a Witch. I no more need ‘prove’ that I am a witch than you need prove you are a Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist, etc. Witchcraft is a belief system, a religion like any other. It is simply what I believe, and it therefore requires no more proof than the statement “I am an Episcopalian” or “I am a Mormon” would.

4. Are you a good Witch or a bad Witch? There are good Witches and bad Witches just as there are good Christians and bad Christians. Witches are people just like everyone else. To me, a “bad” Witch is an inept one, rather like a Christian who breaks the 10 Commandments is a “bad” Christian.

5. Are you guys like those girls in the movie The Craft? Who was that Manot guy? No, we are nothing like those children. The only thing in that film which was remotely portrayed in an accurate manner was the theory of the Law of Three, where it was explained to the girls that what they sent out returns to them threefold. The rest, including the “deity” they attempted to invoke was Hollywood fiction. And by the way, the only “glamour spell” we know of that changes hair color involves invoking Miss Clairol, or the Goddess L’Oreal and an application of the sacred peroxide. Or a trip to a really good hairstylist and a major outlay of cash!

6. So you guys worship Satan, right? Satan is a Judeo-Christian-Zoroastrian concept which holds no meaning for Witches. There is no Satan in our deity structure, which predates the idea of Satan. Witches do not believe in Hell, Satan, or generally speaking, the concept of an absolute evil (except of course my ex-husband, but that’s a story for another day).

7. So you don’t believe in God? What do you believe in? Well, not the Christian concept of God. Most Witches are polytheistic or pantheistic, and believe in an immanent form of Deity. I believe that the Divine is too large for humans to grasp all at once, so we tend to break it down into something we can more easily understand. For Christians, this is the Trinity, or Jesus and God (and for some, Mary).

Most Witches worship the Divine in its Twin Aspects of God and Goddess. We see the God and Goddess as archetypal representations of the polarities of the Divine. Many of us break this down still further, by working with the aspects of Deity from one pantheon or another, such as Greek gods or Celtic, or Egyptian, etc. Some Witches work more with one polarity or the other. Dianic Witches, for example, tend to work only with the Goddess.

All these aspects, or faces of the Divine represent the same Source. That force in the Universe is the same Source that is worshipped by other faiths, including the Christian faiths. We believe that force manifests in myriad ways, and that all names for it are equally valid. By that respect, we all worship the same Source. Witchcraft is an earth-based nature religion. We recognize the hand of the Divine in the Universe around us, the trees, the wind, the sea, all of it. We see the interconnectedness of all things in the Universe.

All of the Web of Life reflects the beauty and power of the Divine. There are strong likenesses between this ideology and the belief system of Native Americans, in fact many indigenous peoples hold similar attitudes and beliefs. Witchcraft is also highly an individualistic and experiential pathway. We do not march in lockstep with one another. There is no hierarchy, no “Head Witch” as it were. If you ask ten Witches a question about what they believe or how to practice, you are likely to get a number of different responses. We are very unorganized (as opposed to disorganized); in fact it is often said that organizing Witches is rather like trying to herd cats.

8. What do Witches believe happens after you die? Witches tend to be more concerned about the here and now, but many of us believe in reincarnation in one form or another. I believe that between lives, we rest and plan for the next, choosing circumstances to be born into which will provide us with the greatest opportunity for growth and spiritual development. Some Witches call the place we rest between lives the Summerland.

This does not mean that I think your life is all planned out ahead of time, rather that you determine a few key factors based on the lessons you are trying to learn. For instance, you choose to be born into a poor family, or a rich one, or you choose to be born able-bodied or not, etc. What you do with those circumstances once you get here is up to you.

9. What do Witches do? Well, as you can see from the preceding, we worship. We also raise families, hold down jobs, shop (I am particularly good at that), have hobbies, pay bills, just like other people. What most people really mean when they ask this question is “tell me about magick.”

10. What is magick, and why do you spell it that way? We spell magick with a k to differentiate it from stage magic, the kind illusionists do. Magick is the focused and directed application of energy to a specific purpose. It’s that simple. The energy used is generally either personal energy (which can be draining if you are not careful) or that Universal energy which is part of the Divine. Witches are not the only people who can do magick, anyone can learn how.

Magick carries serious lessons about responsibility however, and is not to be trifled with. What you send out into the Universe returns to you. Most Witches recognize the Threefold Law. The Law of Three states that what you send out returns to you three times, like a pendulum set in motion. The three part tends to be metaphorical, but the principle is the same regardless of the number of times it kicks back at you…in my case it is often 4.6 rather than 3! Some feel that the intensity of the magickal working determines the number of times it returns.

This is Natural Law and unavoidable. It’s like gravity…it just is. When you do magick you are responsible for all possible consequences of your actions, whether or not you intended or foresaw those consequences. This is why many of the wisest Witches rarely practice formal magick. It carries serious karmic weight, and is reserved for those times when more mundane means have been exhausted, and when the practitioner is willing to accept the responsibility for whatever results the magick creates.

11. Do you practice black magick? Magick is inherently neutral. It has no color. The intent of the magickal practitioner “colors” the magick. Negative or manipulative magick is that which is generally understood to be “black” (though some Witches say black magick is that which uses personal energy, and white that which uses earth energy – remember I told you 10 Witches, many responses!).

When you think about the Threefold Law, you realize how self-defeating negative magick is. I’s is not very intelligent to send out negative energy, since you will get it back harder than you sent it. Fortunately, stupid people are not too adept magickally (it takes brains and skill), so by and large those who claim to run around casting “evil spells” on people are laughably inept. Never conjure up what you can’t conjure down. And remember that if you conjure it up, you clean it up!

12. What exactly IS a spell? Spells are merely a projection of intention and desire, a form of concentrated prayer…with props. The props are a focus and have little inherent power. Working at a specific phase of the moon which is conducive to your aims, or working with herbs which have some relation to what you are attempting can help you to focus and concentrate the energy, but magick, as I stated before, is all mental. You do not “need” props or external aids to cast a spell, the magick is in you!

13. What about love spells?? Love spells are the magickal equivalent of rape. They are about removing the free will of another; that is control, not love. They are manipulative and very negative magick. Do you want someone to love you, or a spell? Love spells definitely would fall under the category of “black” magick, and carry a very heavy price. I have never seen one work the way it was intended, and I have seen a lot of people hurt by them. No matter what the temptation, where love spells are concerned, just say no!

14. What is Wicca? Wicca is a modern interpretation of Witchcraft, based on the work of Gerald Gardner, et. al. Gardner took pieces of an older tradition and mixed them with aspects of ceremonial magick. Today Wicca is a lively and growing group of traditions in the Craft, though not, by far, the only traditions. Many Wiccans today also combine some New Age concepts and practices into their belief system.

15. Are male Witches called Warlocks? Not most of them! Male witches are called witches. The word warlock comes from waer loga which means oath-breaker, or traitor, and is therefore considered an insult by most witches. There are a few traditions within the Craft which use this term for male practitioners (again, many Witches, many answers), but on the whole you would be a lot safer referring to male Witches as Witches.

After all, we do not use two different terms for practitioners of other faiths. We do not refer to Catholics and Catholicesses, or Presbyterians and Presbyterianettes!

16. Can you be a Christian and a Witch too?? This is a very controversial question in the Craft community. It all depends on how you define the word Witch. If you define it as a magickal practitioner without reference to religion, certainly. If you define it as a religion, and you use God, Jesus and Mary as your deities, I suppose, though I personally have trouble reconciling the Witch’s concept of personal responsibility with that of a Divine Savior.

I do know people for whom this works, however, and they call themselves Christian Witches. If it works for them, that is all that matters. The point of spirituality is communion with the Divine; it’s a very personal journey and no one else can determine how the Divine should or does manifest to someone else.

17. Do you have to be born a Witch or can you become one? You can be born into a family which practices the religion of Witchcraft, but that no more makes you a Witch than being born into a family of Methodists makes you a Methodist. I was born into such a family; still I had to study hard and choose the faith I wanted to follow.

This is again one of those questions that tends to use the word Witch interchangeably with the idea of magick. One can be born with a flair for magick, like one can be born with a gift for music. Not everyone can be a concert pianist, but we can all learn to play the piano. Those raised in families with old roots in the magickal practices tend to be aware of those gifts and to have them nurtured at an earlier age than other people, but those gifts can be developed in anyone.

I will say that like musical gifts runs in some families, magickal talent can also be handed down, but just like a musical family needs to offer the child the opportunity to develop his or her gift, without hard work and commitment the magickal gifts will not develop to their potential. Whether you are born to a magickal family, or come to the path later, the same hard work and commitment is required.

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