The Truth About Witchcraft |
Everybody knows what a Witch is. She’s a weird and wicked old woman with warts on her nose living on the edge of town, muttering strange incantations over a bubbling cauldron, with a black cat, who puts spells on everybody that offends her. Or if you’ve seen shows like “Bewitched” or “Free Spirit” or “Sabina The Teenaged Witch” you know there are “good “ witches too, even if they are in the minority!
This has been the popular conception of a witch for the past couple of hundred years-except that the “good” witch has only been around since Victorian times, when witches had faded from paranoia to fairy tale.
But in the past decade or two everybody has begun to be puzzled. There are people down the street, even in cities, living next door, maybe even writing for this media who claim to be Witches! The tabloid press has been latching onto them, usually with sensational innuendoes. Some of the more balanced media have even been interviewing them, presenting them as eccentric but harmless and even well intentioned. They seem to have no warts and use electric crockpots instead of cauldrons and drive BMW’s instead of brooms. Instead of peering into crystal balls they might be peering into computer screens.
Witchcraft is an immensely vast subject and at the end of this article I’ll give some very good books which I’ve found very helpful, but for now I’ll concentrate on it’s history and background and ethics and philosophy-in effect, what it is and what it isn’t.
The word witchcraft comes from the old English wicce or wicca, and these words derive from an Anglo-Saxon root-wic, or weik, which has to do with religion and magik. Many practitioners of Wicca will tell you that Wicca means wise and that the Wicca are seekers of wisdom. The root words also mean to bend or turn and a Witch or Wiccan is a bender and changer of reality.Witches were and are those who shape the unseen to their will-healers, teachers, poets, musicians, midwives, they have always been central figures in many communities in the past.
Magik is a small part of witchcraft, along with healing, learning, divination, herbology, astrology, and many other aspects. Magik is neither good nor bad, it just is. Magik is science that hasn’t been proven yet, the following of certain natural rules that result in a certain end. An example is the use of a powder from a certain tree called white willow, which relieves pain. This powder is now sold over the counter and called Aspirin (actually aspirin uses a synthetic white willow bark now-it’s much cheaper) but three hundred years ago a woman would be tortured, raped, hung, burned, or dismembered for making and using aspirin. Times have changed, or have they?
Witchcraft is a religion, perhaps the oldest religion in the world. Because of this, it is sometimes referred to as the Old Religion. It’s origins go back before Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, or Hinduism and it is very different from all of these- it is not based on dogma or a set of beliefs, nor on scriptures or a sacred book revealed by a great man. Witchcraft takes its teachings from nature, and reads inspiration in the movements of the sun, moon, and stars, the flight of birds, the slow growth of trees, and the cycles of the seasons.
The cycles of the seasons are an integral heartbeat of Witchcraft. This is shown by the holy days, or Sabbats, of the Craft such as Samhain, or Halloween; Yule, or Christmas; Beltane, May Day; the Solstices and Equinoxes, etc., all which revolve around The Wheel of the Year.
In love, the Horned God, changing form and changing face, seeks the Goddess. She is the Great Mother who gives birth to Him as the Divine Child Sun at Winter Solstice. In spring He is sower and seed that grows with the growing light, green as the new shoots. She is the Initiatrix who teaches Him the Mysteries. He is the young bull; She the nymph, seductress. In summer, when light is longest, they meet in unison, and the strength of their passion sustains the world. But the God’s face darkens, as the sun grows weaker, until at last, when the grain is cut for harvest, He too sacrifices Himself so that all may be nourished. She is the reaper, the grave of earth to which all must return. Throughout the long nights and darkening days He will sleep in Her womb; in dreams, He is the Lord of Death who rules the Land of Youth beyond the gates of night and day. His dark tomb becomes the womb of rebirth, for at midwinter She again gives birth to Him. The Cycle ends and begins again and the Wheel of the Year turns on and on.
This Wheel of the Year is one of the basic principles of Witchcraft, as is reincarnation, which just follows the Wheel of the Year on a human level.
Along with these beliefs, Witchcraft has two other principles which guide it: The Wiccan Rede, which says “An it harm none, do what you will”, and what is called the Three-fold Law: what you do returns to you three-fold, be it good or bad.
The Wiccan Rede is not a license to do anything a Witch wants. It is a binding responsibility to be accountable for all of your actions whether they affect others or just yourself. In this wording most Witches agree “none” also means yourself so following the Rede, or Law, things like drug or alcohol abuse (or cigarettes) would be against it"’ principle.
The Three-fold Law is self-explanatory and explains why most honorable, ethical Witches stay well clear of using magik to achieve materially selfish desires such as “money” or “love” spells. Stay away from people who profess to be “Witches” but practice the above type of magik- you might be caught in the middle of the returning repercussion- and it will return! If you stick your hand in a flame you will get burned.
Within the Craft are priestesses and priests. It is not a lazy person’s religion where you can sit back in your cozy pew for an hour once a week and drop your money envelope in the basket to soothe that aching guilt and emptiness in the pit of your being. All are participants equally and all share in the results equally. The rewards are potent. As Doreen Valiente, a Craft High Priestess states-“ I have danced at the Witches Sabbat on many occasions, and found carefree enjoyment in it. I have stood under the stars at midnight and invoked the Old Gods; and I have found in such Invocations of the most primevil powers, those of life and death, an uplifting of consciousness that no orthodox religious service has ever given me.”
In summing up: witchcraft is a mystery religion in that it deals with a mystery one can’t speak of- the very basic changes in the organism: birth, love, death. This is such a basic and fundamental fact that even if all Witches were stamped out in one generation, within 20 years Witchcraft would rise again.
The God and Goddess aspects of Deity continually offer us challenges, but knowing that They are within us as well as all around us, we find the strength to meet Them and thus transform ourselves from selfish, egocentric beings to caring, loving, compassionate humans who worship Deity with rituals of Love and Pleasure. The Goddess and God are no longer sleeping but are awake and rising, reaching out Their hands to touch us again. When we reach out to Them, They reveal Themselves to us, in the stones beneath our feet, in the whitewater rapids and limpid pools of our imagination, in tears and laughter, ecstasy and sorrow, common courage and common struggle, earth, air, water, and fire. Once we look into Their eyes, we can never lose sight of Them again, for They face us in the mirror, and Their steps echo each time we place foot to ground. Try to leap away and They will pull you back-softly and gently. You can’t fall away from Them-there is nowhere They are not.
It is no accident that this is the moment in history(and Herstory) when They arise and stretch. Great as the powers of destruction may be, greater still are the Powers of Healing. Call Them the Resilient Ones for They are the Circle of birth, growth, death, and regeneration. We as cells of Their body, if we listen to our deepest hearts, cannot help but serve the cycles of renewal.
“I am the beauty of the green earth, and the White Moon among the stars, and the mystery of the waters, and the desire of the heart of man, call unto thy soul. Arise, and come unto Me. For I am the soul of nature, who gives life to the universe. From Me all things proceed, and unto Me all things must return; and before My face, beloved of Gods and of men, let thine innermost divine self be enfolded in the rapture of the Infinite. Let My worship be within the heart that rejoiceth; for behold, all acts of Love and pleasure are My rituals. And therefore let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you. And thou who thinkest to seek for Me, know thy seeking and yearning shall avail thee not, unless thou knowest the mystery: that if that which thou seekest thou findest not within thee, then thou shalt never find it without thee. For behold, I have been with thee from the Beginning; and I am that which is attained at the end of desire.”
Suggested reading: Aug 1, 1999 LAMMAS
The Truth About Witchcraft - by Scott Cunningham
Drawing Down The Moon - by Margot Adler
The Spiral Dance - by Starhawk
Wicca: A Guide For The Solitary Practitioner - by Scott Cunningham
Circle Network News POB 219 Mt. Horeb , WI. 53572
Author Bio :
Written by Tristanwitch, http://witchinc.ning.com/
Number of comments for this article : 1