Attention other religions, sects and paths (including earth-based religions disagreeing with anything stated below) :
Let us not quarrel among ourselves.
Leave us be and we shall do the same for you.
Worship as you see best and allow us the same right.
This is the true Wicca way…and the free way.
What Is A Witch?
A witch above all worships the Triple Goddess and her Consort, The Horned God, in one form or another. A Witch works magick within a definite code of ethics. A Witch acknowledges and uses the male-female polarity in her rites. A Witch takes total responsibility for her actions, herself, and her future.
Witch comes from the Anglo-Saxon wicce (meaning witch), which in turn derives from an Indo-European root word meaning to bend or change or do magic/religion (making it related to wicker, wiggle, and even vicar). It is possibly also related to the Old Norse vitki (meaning wizard), derived from root words meaning wise one or seer. Warlock (rarely used, for male Witches) is from the Old Norse varlokkur, spirit song (NOT oath-breaker). Related words are Pagan, meaning a country dweller, and Heathen, a dweller on the heath, both of which peoples were the European equivalent of the Native Americans and other indigenous, nature-worshiping people.
Today, a Witch is a woman or man who practices a life-affirming, Earth- and nature-oriented religion, honoring Divinity in female as well as (or instead of) male aspects, and practicing magick (which some Witches spell magick, to distinguish it from stage illusions). There are many different traditions of Wicca, encompassing many beliefs in addition to these. Some traditions are practiced by women only, and recognize only the Divine Feminine, the Goddess. Others include men and recognize a male god in addition to the Goddess. Some traditions may date back to before the Spanish Inquisition, others have been in existence for only a few years. The strength of the Witches’ religion (also called the Craft or Wicca) lies in its diversity; it is a living, growing religious tradition.
Witchcraft today may be seen as the sum total of all a Witch’s practices, including but not limited to: spell casting, divination (fortune telling), meditation, herbalism, ritual and ritual drama, singing and dancing to raise energy, healing, clairvoyance and other psychism, creative mythology, and so much more.
As a religion, the Craft is a revival and/or reconstruction of the pre-Christian religions of Europe, especially Northern Europe (giving us Celtic or Norse traditions), sometimes elsewhere (giving us Greco-Roman, Egyptian, or Levantine traditions). Many of us have turned for inspiration to the still-living indigenous traditions of other lands, such as Australia, Asia, India, and the Americas. Some of us, recognizing that we are American Witches, work with deities and land-spirits of local Amerindian tribes, though we do not claim to be members of any Amerindian tradition. As Margot Adler, a Witchcraft authority, has written, The real tradition of the Craft is creativity.
What is Wicca?
There are many differences between the various sects, but on the whole Wicca is an ancient religion for love of life and nature. The word ‘Wicca’ can be defined as ‘the wise’ or ‘to bend’, from a much older word ‘Wicce’. The Wicce believe in duality and the laws of karma, celebrating life through the seasons and the old Pagan season festivals (see Sabbats).
What is Witchcraft?
Synonymous with ‘Wicca’ (although some traditionalists strongly disagree), the words ‘Wicca’, ‘Wicce’ ‘Witchcraft’ and ‘Witch’ all have the same basic meanings.
What is Magick?
Magick is simply the movement of natural energies to create needed change! Magick is not a supernatural process, it just uses energies that sometimes cannot be explained. Magick DOES NOT use powers derived from the “devil.” Magick is not anti-religious or anti-God, its simply NON-RELIGIOUS (though it can be used in religious ways). Magick is simply used to bring about needed change. The goal of magickal rites should ALWAYS be positive. ……..”an Ye Harm None.”
About the Energy…….
The energy used in magick is natural. We all have it… it’s within our own bodies as well as in physical objects… earth, water, sand, fire, air… just to name a few. Disregard people that claim to have “magical powers”, we ALL have it… we just need to accept that we have it and learn how to use it.
Are you really a witch?
That’s not an easy question to answer, so I’ll do my best. What I am is considered by most to be a Neopagan. Neopaganism is a beautiful and complex religion. We are not in opposition to Christianity, just different. However, many of the people that the Catholic church condemned and persecuted and murdered as “witches” were people who practiced the same beliefs I do. In identification with them and the suffering that they went through, many of us Neopagans call ourselves witches. Some of us are people whose ancestors were the village healers, herbalists, midwives, and so forth, many of whom had, or were to believed to have had, mental, psychic, or magical powers, which were passed down through the family in the form of oral tradition. These such people are most often called “Traditional Witches” I could go on about the different groups of witches, but for now I won’t. Maybe one of these years, as I’m proofing this page again, i will add a section on the different types of witches. For now, I’ll leave it at a list of a few other types, such as Feminist Witches, Neopagan Witches, Gothics, and Neo-Gothic Witches, among the long list of them.
Do Witches worship Satan?
No. ‘Satan’ or ‘The Devil’ is an ‘evil’ aspect of Christianity. Wiccans do not believe in divine good nor divine evil, as divinity is always reflected through each individual. The unfortunate claims that the male aspect of Wicca (usually in the form of The Horned God of the Wild) is the same as the Christian Devil, is a good chunk of the reason why many Christians and others harshly persecute and ridicule those of The Craft.
To be a Satanist, one must believe in Satan. Witches do not believe in Satan, as such. The popular image of the goat-hooved, pointy-horned devil is a deliberate corruption by the early missionary church of the European Pagan Horned God, who has been depicted in Greece as Pan, and in ancient Gaul as Cernunnos (who is pictured having a stag’s antlers). Making indigenous gods into evil beings was the early church’s most reliable method of gaining converts. Some missionary Christian groups continue the practice to this day, in areas that have retained their old religions.
Our Horned God is neither evil nor a source of evil; He is the energy of nature, of plant and animal life, which energy manifests for people in music and dance, intoxication and ecstasy, and all joyous activities, including lovemaking.
As one source of my information so eloquently put it once: “Devil worship, including Satanism, is a Christian heresy. If you don’t believe me, ask an expert – say, any well-read pastor or theology professor. In order to worship Satan, you have to believe in him – and there are no references to Satan outside of the Christian Bible. So to be a Satanist or a devil worshiper, you have to believe in the accuracy of the Christian Bible, then identify yourself with God’s Enemy, proclaim that you are ‘evil’, and then try to ‘fight against Jesus’ or similar nonsense. Neopagans do not accept the Christian Bible as the ultimate source of religious truth. As a source of some beautiful poetry, sometimes, or as a source of myth, and even a source of some wisdom and truth with some qualifications, but Neopagans do not accept it as the revealed word of God in the sense that believing Christians do. We are a separate, non-Judaeo-Christian religion somewhat in the sense that Hindus or American Indians have non-christian faiths.”
Is Wicca related to Satanism?
No, absolutely no affiliation. Once again ‘Satan’ is an aspect of Christianity worshiped by ‘satanists’. There are no similarities to join the two paths.
Who do Witches worship?
Everything in nature to a Wiccan is a true aspect of deity. However, the aspects most often celebrated are the Triple Goddess of the Moon (who is Maiden, Mother, and Crone) and the Horned God of the wilds . These figureheads represent the duality (in gender and every respect) of everything in nature.
Can a Witch also be Christian?
No. (Though I have 2 friends who swear they are “Christian-Pagans”. I am still trying to get them to explain that to me!) Craft folk believe in a beneficent universe, the laws of karma and reincarnation, and divinity inherent in every human being. Yet laughter and pleasure are part of their spiritual tradition, and they enjoy singing, dancing, feasting, and love. Where-as Judaeo-Christianity incorporates concepts such as original sin, vicarious atonement, bodily resurrection, and divinity inherent in the Godhead alone. Besides, you’d have to ask how serious a person who practiced two religions was about either one. Being Jewish is an exception, since it is a race and culture as well as a religion. There are many Wiccan Jews, but they practice Wicca, not Judaism.
Are witches opposed to Christianity?
Some Wiccans are ex-Christians, and I’m not going to deny that some may hold a grudge against the Church because of what they perceive as attempts to control their minds. I have to admit that I am not happy with many Christians or the Church for many of the prejudices that they hold. Further, many Neopagans are suspicious of the Church, I know I am, because it was in the name of Jesus Christ that as many as nine million of our kind were murdered. Neopagans oppose anyone who uses force to control the minds of others. Does that include you? If not, then it means Neopagans as such are not opposed to you. Do you work for the benefit of mankind, are you respectful to the Earth? If so, it makes us allies, whether or not either of us wants to admit it.
A little known fact: The Bible states that Jesus Christ says not to worship him, but instead worship his father, God. Yet the Christians worship Jesus as well as , sometimes more… religiously… than God himself.
How do I become a witch?
One is not born a witch, nor does calling oneself a witch make one a witch. Through attunement with nature, practice and ritual, one can learn the ways of the Wicce. The peace, joy and love for everything in nature are the only required quality; the knowledge, mindset and satisfaction through Wicca are LEARNED. Read a book, attend a festival, open your mind.
The Craft does not actively seek converts. We do not proselytize.
We are willing to inform when asked, and training is available in varying degrees of formality.
Some Witches believe that one must be born with the talent to become a Witch. Others believe that all people have the ability, and that becoming a Witch is simply a matter of training. Personally, I subscribe to the latter philosophy on the matter.
Some people know from an early age that they are Witches; others come to the Craft as adults. Most of us grew up in a tradition other than the Craft.
And there are many out there who do what we would call Witchcraft who have no idea what to call it, or even that there are others like them in the country or the world.
Being a Witch, like doing magic itself, is a matter of symbolism and intent.
Do We Pray? Who Do We Pray To?
Some Witches pray (in the popular sense of the word), some don’t . Some Witches regularly meditate on the deities of their choice; some only invoke deities to empower a ritual or work of Magic.
As to who or what our deities are, you will get nearly as many answers as there are Witches. Consensus opinion seems to be that there is a transcendent Divine, the sum of all that is and more, and that everything that is partakes of that Divinity. However, that Divinity is more than the human mind can encompass or experience. So the idea of Divinity is broken down into few or many mind-sized pieces. One cannot look at the sun but through a filter; one can only experience a piece of the Divine. These pieces are conceived of in many forms. One of the primary forms Divinity takes for us is the Goddess, the Divine Feminine. She can have many names and many aspects; some Witches worship only the nameless single Goddess, and others worship Her under all the names by which she has been known to the ancients: Ishtar, Diana, Ceridwen, Athena, Amaterasu, Brigantia, Venus, Hecate, Isis, Demeter, and more. In addition, the Goddess can be seen in three aspects: the Maiden (youth, self-sufficiency, often love), the Mother (nurturing, fulfillment), and the Crone/Wise Woman (wisdom, mystery, initiation, and death/rebirth). The Moon, the Sea, and the Earth can all be personified as Goddesses.
Some Witches stop there. Other Witches include the Divine Male, the God. Our God is not limited to the Father aspect, though there are Divine Fathers. The Sun is often personified as a God, as is plant life; the dying and reborn Grain God is common to nearly all agricultural myths. Some name Him merely the Horned One; others call him by the names he had of old: Apollo, Osiris, Dionysos, Odin, Pan, Freyr, Adonis, Tammuz, and many others.
When we invoke deities and/or manifest them in ourselves, where do they come from? Are they somewhere out there and do they come in? Or are they inside us, in our psyches, and do they come out? Do we put on a deity, or do we remove our shell of humanity to let the divinity show through? Nobody has the answer, nor do we pretend to. Deities may be archetypes , they may be nature spirits, they may be forces outside our ken. Who or whatever they are, they are. Our deities are both transcendent (out there) and immanent (right here).
What about Evil? What are our ethics and morals?
Okay, I have to say this first, before going on with this question. The beginning of the Wiccan Rede states: “Bide ye wiccan laws you must, in perfect love and perfect trust.” Evil does not love, nor does it trust. The end of that same Rede states: “Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill: An ye harm none, do what ye will.” Harm none. ‘Nuff said?
When I first met my ex-husband’s parents, they asked me this question. It didn’t’ go well from the moment I told them I was Wiccan. As soon as they heard that they did like most Christians do and closed their mind to learning anything else about me. From that moment on, I was no good for their son or their granddaughter.
We believe that life is essentially good, and creation and destruction are part of natural cycles. Clearly, though, there is evil in the world. We believe its source is not any kind of devil or demiurge, but human action (note: not human nature). Evil is also subjective: what is good for one may be evil for another and vice versa. For example, a tiger kills an antelope – the antelope’s death is bad to the antelope, but good to the tiger, who does, after all, have to eat. The deities of the Craft, if they have any inclination at all, incline towards the positive; most are neither good nor evil, they just are, in the same way any elemental force, like fire or the weather, is. Our deities give us power; how we choose to use that power is up to us.
That use is directed, first and foremost, by the Witches’ Rede: If it harm none, do what ye will. It is also directed in part by the Law of Threefold Return: what you give out returns to you threefold. If you work ill, threefold ill comes back to you. If you work good, threefold good comes back to you.
Witches (and members of other indigenous religions) have known all along what science is only beginning to acknowledge: that all systems on the planet are interconnected, all life is one. When imbalance is caused in one area, the whole system is thrown out of balance. Acts of evil cause imbalance. The works of Witchcraft are toward balance and harmony. We are healers, protectors; we will act swiftly and forcefully in defense against aggression, but we do not ourselves attack.
The writer(s) of the movie The Craft said it perfectly: “True magic is neither black, nor white – it’s both because nature is both. Loving and cruel, all at the same time. The only good or bad is in the heart of the witch. Life keeps a balance on its own.” I have believed this since even before i started learning about Wicca, magick, the Craft, and all that it entails.
Do We Do Animal or Human Sacrifice?
No. Never have and never will. Remember, “An ye harm none, do what thou will.” We cannot be any more clear on this. HARM NONE.
Our own internal life-force is sufficient to whatever task we may require; we have no need of stealing the life-force of another. As offerings to our deities, Witches may burn incense or candles, pour out libations, place sacred herbs or food in some outdoor spot, bury talismans or money. Some female Witches use their own menstrual blood in spells; other Witches may prick themselves (in these enlightened days, usually with sterile lancets) and offer a drop or two of their own blood. But the only blood a Witch has a right to offer is her/his own. The sacrifice of another’s is against the Rede.
Do We Have Gurus, Leaders, Priests, Etc.?
Every Witch is her or his own priest/ess. That’s part of the point of the Craft. We need no intermediaries between us and Divinity; each of us can have our own personal Revelation. Mostly, the Craft is too diverse to follow any one leader. We all partake of Divinity, and no one person has exclusive knowledge of the Divine or sole power to decide the directions of our lives. We have no infallible leader, no Grand High Exalted Poobah, no dogma. Nobody can have all the answers. So many of us have our own ideas about what the Craft should be and how it works, that we can rarely agree on points of religion – the idea of all of us agreeing to follow one person is manifestly absurd.
Each Circle or Coven may have a High Priestess or High Priest, or it may be democratic and operate by consensus. There will always be people with leadership tendencies; these are people who tend to do outreach work, networking between Wiccan groups or outside the Craft, or even teaching.
Do We Believe in an Afterlife or Heaven and Hell?
As it has been said, Witches don’t believe in life after death, we believe in life after birth. The emphasis of the Craft is on working to make this life good for as many people as possible, oneself included.
We do not believe in a hell, sin, or redemption. As mentioned above, evil is imbalance. But we have no concept of original sin for which we must be redeemed – indeed, that concept has been the source of oppression and even killing of women for centuries, since medieval Christian philosophy had it that woman was the source of all sin and evil. Witches are reclaiming Eve as the one who gave us self-knowledge through her courage and curiosity. Nor, for that matter, do we believe in a heavenly reward for good behavior. Spiritual bribery is not the way of the Witch; the results of good or evil acts are felt in this lifetime. No celestial carrot or infernal stick.
On the other hand, Witches have quite a few opinions about what does happen after death. Most believe in reincarnation of some sort or other. Some have it that between death and rebirth the soul undergoes some sort of transformation (for which there are a number of metaphors) to prepare it for rebirth. Others believe that the dead join the Blessed Ancestors, who watch over, protect and advise their descendants. Still others have it that the souls of those who chose pain or evil when they were alive may be trapped after death in a state of suffering because that is all they can understand. Most Witches are honest enough to say, We don’t really know, and there isn’t any way to know.
What is Our Magick - Does it Work?
There are a number of sayings about magick. It is the act of changing consciousness by Will. It is the science of coincidence. As the root word of Witch indicates, we are shapers and changers; what we shape and change is our own life force, our own consciousness, our health and that of the planet. We believe that we can change our lives be spiritual as well as physical means. Very little is preordained, except that we will die, some day. In the meantime, many Witches do divination to find out the possible directions their lives might take, and then act on the information accordingly.
YES … It works. We can’t turn people into frogs or levitate tables by mind-power; we can work healing, change our lives for the better, and discover the workings and balance of the whole system. Our Wills are our tools. Faith without works is meaningless, and we work in the world, too; we are active in our communities and for the environment, but we back up our actions with magical intent. It is a potent combination.
Do We Practice Black Magick?
No. Some of us do not even recognize black or white magic.
Magick is magick, and what its nature is depends on how we use it. Again I refer you to The Craft: “True magic is neither black, nor white – it’s both because nature is both. Loving and cruel, all at the same time. The only good or bad is in the heart of the witch. Life keeps a balance on its own.” I cannot say this enough.
Remember that we try to temper all our magic by the Rede.
Do We Cast Spells?
Yes. THAT’S part of being a Witch. There are those who wish merely to worship the Goddess (and God), observe the turning of the seasons with ritual, and honor the Earth. These are what may be called Neo-Pagans (to distinguish them from indigenous, aboriginal pagans). Nearly all Witches are Neo-Pagans (believe it or not, a few Witches are Christian or Jewish); not all Neo-Pagans are Witches.
For us, spells and rituals are a matter of arranging elements to encourage a frame of mind conducive to working magick. This may involve burning candles and/or incense, making talismans of stone or wood or paper, chanting rhymed formula, using herbs or essential oils, turning down the lights and playing some atmospheric music, or whatever the imagination of the Witch can devise.
The Threefold Return works powerfully here: if someone wishes to curse someone else, the curser must first build up the curse within her/himself – guess who gets to feel it first! Acts of healing, on the other hand, are acts of profound love, and the healer often finds her/himself healthier after healing someone else. It is always easier to cast a spell on oneself than on another. Only in very limited circumstances, if at all, should a spell be cast on another without that person’s knowledge and consent.