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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Nov. 17, 2002   This Page Viewed: 13,218,591  

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Question of the Week: 2 - 8/13/2000

How Do You Define Witch/WitchCraft?

If you were writing the definition (in an encyclopedia) for the word "Witch/Witchcraft" (in the modern sense) what would it say?

 Reponses:   There are 42 responses posted to this question. Reverse Sort 

To Me, A Witch Is A Person Who Chooses To Live A... Aug 20th. at 5:58:35 pm EDT

Jay (Amarillo, Texas US) Age: 26 - Email

To me, a witch is a person who chooses to live a magickal life (witchcraft) but it is not necessary to follow any spiritual path.

Witchcraft is very much a magickal way of life. Through the laws of nature and oaths taken, morals prevent many witches from performing the darker side of magick.

Magick is the concentration of natural energies and a persons will directed toward a specific goal.

Wicca is the religion of most Pagan witches. It involves a high reverence for nature, a Goddess as well as a God. There are as many paths in Wicca as there are Wiccans.

A Pagan is a person who I define as a person who is not Jewish, Christian or Islam. Usually the belief patern involves polytheism (more than one God/dess) and some sort of celebration, be it a ritual or a cookout, to the Gods.

I Would Write That Witch Is A Person Who Uses There Mental... Aug 19th. at 9:55:52 pm EDT

DRGNHRT (OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma US) Age: 28 - Email


A Witch Is One Who Believes That The Divine Resides In Everything... Aug 19th. at 8:53:24 pm EDT

Ravenwing (Lethbridge, Alberta CA) Age: 21

a witch is one who believes that the Divine resides in everything around us, and in each man, woman, and child. the use of herbs, and the natural energies in every plant , tree, stone, and within themselves, is the magik that we use, to harm none and for the benefit of all, and is what is called witchcraft by some.

a witch celebrates the changing of the seasons, and the wonders each season brings, in celebrations called Sabbats, and Esabbats.

I Feel That Pagan, Witch, And Wiccan Have Different Meanings. A Pagan... Aug 19th. at 7:59:22 pm EDT

Gawen LeFae (Kingwood, Texas US) Age: 19 - Email

I feel that Pagan, Witch, and Wiccan have different meanings. A Pagan is a person who sees the nature as Divine and is in touch with that aspect of Divinity. A Witch is a Pagan who uses magick and ritual as a part of their worship of Divinity. A Wiccan is a Witch who follows the dogma of Wicca, which is a re-creation of pre-Christian religion founded by Gerald Gardner. Wicca itself is a re-creation, it is not what the pre-Christian Pagans practiced, contrary to popular belief.

Wicca Is The Old Religion Of Prechristian Europe, An Earth Based Nature... Aug 18th. at 10:04:21 pm EDT

Gretchen Williams (Santa Rosa, California US) Age: 50 - Email

Wicca is the Old Religion of preChristian Europe, an earth based nature religion. After Christianity became the official religion of Rome in the year 313, concerted efforts to suppress the indigenous religion of Europe began and continued with varying levels of severity until 1951, when the last law against the practice of the Craft was taken off the books in England. So much of our original way was destroyed that we simply don't know much that our ancestors did in their sacred rites. For that reason, new attempts to recreate the spirit of Wicca are sometimes called Neo Pagan instead. The New Age religions have borrowed a great many of their concepts from what remains of Wicca.

It is amazing that even though the Old Religion was suppressed, you can still find little bits and pieces of it popping up in seasonal holidays today. Bunnies and a basket of colored eggs in spring, a festival of red and green lights at December 22, dancing the Maypole, a welcoming of ancestral spirits on Halloween, and even the opening of the county fair on August first... don't you love these things? They are all held over from the Wiccan calendar, which revolves around the Solstices and the Equinoxes. Ceremonial sharing of bread and wine was first performed as a Wiccan sacred rite. It is now thought that Stonehenge may have been an observatory built to predict the correct dates for the old celebrations, as well as the gathering place where those celebrations would be held.

Today the Craft is practiced in small groups called "covens, " or by individuals called "solitaries." Membership in a coven offers many advantages, not the least of which is that it is more fun. A Wiccan celebration includes solemn moments, too. Celebrations are held outdoors whenever possible.

There's not much more that can be said about what goes on at a gathering, because each one is bound to be different from the next. Leaders and followers might trade places, what we did last year may not feel right anymore so we might change it, there has to be expanding room for creativity and growth. Sometimes we have to make it up as we go along.

Certain things are so traditional that they will always be included in one form or another. These things are determined by the basic rhythms of our mother Earth, so they are not ours to change. We celebrate the eight points of the solar calendar, a never ending wheel of time created by the movement of the Earth within our solar system. We invoke the four corners, and the spirits that work in each of them. We invite the five elements familiar to alchemy: Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Akasha the spirit of infinite Life.

The pentacle is the sacred emblem of Wicca, symbolizing the five elements within the wheel of the year. It is traced with the hand as a gesture of protection, drawn in the earth to delineate sacred space, painted on houses to welcome fellow witches, shaped into lovely jewelry, even printed on business cards.

Undoubtedly you have heard terrible things about witches. The churches have made us out to be horrid, and Hollywood has made entertainment out of the fear thus aroused. This all has its roots in the Burning Times, when confessions extracted from witches under torture resulted in ridiculous powers of evil being attributed to the Craft. Some of these notions are still believed by the general public, and even by scholars who should know better. My 1994 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica states that our religion stems from "an inherent mysterious power of certain weird, aberrant individuals ...(who) aim to do harm to others." In fact, the Wiccan ethical code is rather strict! And the witch who would violate it is more to be pitied than feared.

Our ethical code is completely contained in The Threefold Law: the effect of each magical action returns to the mage with its powers magnified by a factor of three. This is a natural law, not merely a social law. Those who understand it will do only beneficial magic in accord with the free will of all sentient beings.
I know of and occasionally teach several spells of protection against evil magic. I teach no spells that will harm anyone or anything. Revenge is inadmissible. I don't even like having to mention it. The use of magic to do evil is malpractice. Such use rebounds against the evildoer, according to the Law of Three, therefore my love for the student prevents my teaching it. My love for myself prevents me from performing any such thing.

The true work of magic is life-affirming, expresses devotion to the Goddess and the God, and is infused with feelings of love, joy, contentment, gratitude, pleasure, and spiritual evolution.

Anyway, if you are lucky enough to be invited to a Pagan gathering, you will certainly be invited to dance!

Yes indeed, there are delicious results to be enjoyed from a successful magical rite! It has been my privilege to witness all kinds of problems being solved and blessings being bestowed by our helpers in the Unseen World.

If you would like to learn more about Wicca, you might enjoy reading Positive Magic, Occult Self-Help by Marion Weinstein. It is an excellent modern introductory text, thoroughly researched and written with compassion and humor. After that, you might want to look at Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler, a meticulously researched history of modern witchcraft.

I am honored that you have given your thoughtful attention to the ideas I've put forth here. Not many people will give Wicca a fair hearing, so it is evidence of your open mind that you have followed me this far. I wrote more than I intended to. I got in touch with my inner blowhard.

Witch -- Wizard Intuitive Tuned In To Nature Connected To The Spirit World... Aug 18th. at 9:33:38 pm EDT

Petra Poundstone (Baton Rouge, Louisiana US) Age: 38 - Email

Witch --
Tuned in to nature
Connected to the spirit world
Harnesses the elements.

Witchcraft --

The practical application of magick (both light and dark arts) for the benefit of the user.

There is a lot of truth in what the Britannica says. Many practitioners of the art of witchcraft are not connected to the Wiccan religion, and some are not connected to any religion. (i.e. Santerian witches, Christian witches, Taoist magicians) but the Britannica is one-sided in it's seemingly negative view. However, many so-called 'white witches' are just as one-sided in not seeing that the harnessing of the elements can be used for good or evil, depending on one's value system and one's perspective.

Craft Of The Wise. One Who Conducts Oneself In Perfect Harmony With... Aug 18th. at 6:47:28 pm EDT

Myrrdin (Lancashire, England UK) Age: 21 - Email

Craft of the Wise. One who Conducts oneself in perfect harmony with ALL nature. Humans and animals alike. Does not repeat the words of the craft to any other person other than those respected in the craft itself. Is an equally mixed religion with no sexist domination and has female and male Goddesses and Gods. Those of the craft strive to endure perfect love and trust with all living things and do not place any other religion under dogma or slander. A Witch IS love and peace.
Blessed Be xxx

Witch. In The Modern Day, A Witch Is A Female Or Male... Aug 18th. at 2:41:22 pm EDT

Adelandaya BirchGrove (DeKalb, Illinois US) Age: 27 - Email

Witch. In the modern day, a Witch is a female or male follower of a nature based religion, often also called a Pagan religion. There are many different religions encompassed in that definition, but the commonalities are as follows:

1. Belief that harm done to others returns to the Witch, and often returns increased in volume.

2. Belief that good done to others returns to the Witch, and often returns increased in volume.

3. Some sort of belief about deities is usually included, but seeing that doctrine tends to mean less than the practice of the Pagan religions, an argument can be made that a Witch could be an atheist and still be a Witch as long as s/he practiced the religion.

4. Celebration of and recognition of the major seasonal changes, usually celebrated on the eight major holidays. Cycles of the planet are important to the practitioners of Witchcraft.

5. No belief in a Satan/evil figure in the Witch's pantheon. In fact, evil may well be seen simply as a human creation, and have nothing to do with the God/dess(es) at all.

Of course, seeing that this religion has no formal hierarchy, no "one true book" which defines what all Witches must believe, and much encouragement of "solitary" is certain that one may be able to find Witches who do not fit the mold, who make their own way. But this is just a generalized overview.

The Word Witch In Dictionaries And Encyclopedias Are Wrong. However, I Am... Aug 18th. at 10:31:18 am EDT

Kathleen (Moonlight Morgan) (Windsor, Ontario CA) Age: 17 - Email

The word witch in dictionaries and encyclopedias are wrong. However, I am not really worried about it. There are a lot of words in the dictionary that are wrong. No matter what dictionary you look at. Not only that, has anyone ever bothered to look at what they define Christian as. I have a Funk and Wagnalls dictionary at home. This is what it says


1.Professing or following the religion of Christ.....
2. A civilized, decent or respectable person.

According to the dictionary, unless we are Christian, we are not civilized or decent. The words Buddhist and Hindu are okay and even the word Pagan is not bad. So how come Witch/Witchcraft's definitions in Dictionaries and Encyclopedias are so far off?

Because of when they were made/published. During the time that Christianity was dominant. Now, if you are getting the idea that I am against Christianity, I am not.

I do not own and Encyclopedia but I read what Britannica had to say.

Well, I am off topic here, the question was what would my modern definition for the word Witch/Witchcraft be?

My answer is simple, I would not change it.

If A Hard, Be-all And End-all Definition Were Needed, A True Definition... Aug 18th. at 10:07:24 am EDT

Autumn Silvermist (Manassas, Virginia US) Age: 20 - Email

If a hard, be-all and end-all definition were needed, a true definition of witchcraft could take many pages! It is a gentle, peace-loving tradition of people who love nature and all life. Who have absolutely no intentions of harming others. Just as we all have different personalities, Witches worship in our own ways. We may subscribe to a particular tradition, but we make it ours with our own personal touches. That is the beauty of Witchcraft. We don't follow a strict, do-it-this-way-or-no-way doctrine. We do as we feel is right and pure. There are some who want to abuse the power, but they cannot truly call themselves Witches. Anyone who is out to harm others is anti-Witch. And I must say that as a Witch, I am deeply offended at the defintion offered by what I thought was a legitimate source of information. My eyes are open now.

Blessed Be!

If I Were Writing The Definition - This Would Be A Draft! This... Aug 18th. at 3:51:33 am EDT

L Norton (Livonia, Michigan US) Age: 45 - Email

If I were writing the definition - this would be a draft! This would have to be a multiple entry. First, it should indicate that a Witch/Witchcraft is a nature based religion, which recognizes multiple gods and goddesses, whose believers practice ritual magic.... (not totally complete but you get the idea).
The second entry would indicate that an alternative definition was introduced by the Malordus ...(can't remember the name - Latin), a fictional book that was written to give the Christian Church a weapon against those who refused to convert to Christianity. In this book, the definition of a witch being someone who cavorted with the Devil ... etc, etc, etc, was developed. This was verbally acknowledged as truthful only by women who were tortured until they agreed with the definition. Those who did not agree died.

It needs lots of work! Feel feel to fix this!

Witchcraft/witch/wiccan- A Religion Of Balance-worship Of A Goddess And A... Aug 18th. at 12:58:10 am EDT

Bo'Wind Art Do'bhran (Nappanee, Indiana US) Age: 36 - Email

WitchCraft/Witch/Wiccan- a religion of balance-worship of a Goddess and a God, a back to the basics of nature religion, one that embraces and respects the elements of nature, and all her creatures, a religion that took alot of hard knocks, but keeps coming back stronger and wiser, this religion does not boast or brag about being better then the other, it needs no words, just look in the eyes of a Wiccan/Witch, and you can see the compassion for their religion, it is one that is positive. WitchCraft does not worhip a devil, or believe in any such place as "hell", but, they do believe that you can make your own "hell" here on Earth, your own personal "devil". The religion WitchCraft or a Witch can be be summed up in one sentence "Love is the Law"

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