Your browser does not support script
TWV Presents...

Articles/Essays From Pagans

[Show all]

Views: 21,996,916

February 1st. 2019 ...

Paganism and Witchcraft in the Media

September 25th. 2018 ...

Understanding the Unseen

August 25th. 2018 ...

A Little Magickal History

Men and the Goddess

Back to Basics Witchcraft: Magical Creativity for Small Living Spaces

Kitchen Magic and Memories

Magic in Daily Life

Why the Faeries?

Cernunnos: The Darkest Wood in the Moon's Light

On Preconceived Pagan/Wiccan Political Affiliations

The Wheel of the Year in Our Daily Lives

La Santa Muerte... The Stigma and the Strength

The Lady on the Stairs

July 26th. 2018 ...

The Importance of Unification: Bringing Together Community Members to Invoke Cohesivity

May 29th. 2018 ...

Wild Mountain Woman: Landscape Goddess

April 20th. 2018 ...

Nazis Made Us Change Our Name

November 15th. 2017 ...


August 31st. 2017 ...

The White Goddess: A Seminal Work in the Neo-Wiccan Movement.

July 31st. 2017 ...

Sin Eaters and Dream Walkers

July 2nd. 2017 ...

On Cursing: Politics and Ethos

A Distant Thunder: Should You Care?

June 1st. 2017 ...

The Sacred Ego in Mediterranean Magical Traditions

April 30th. 2017 ...

Tarot Talk: the Knight of Pentacles

March 30th. 2017 ...

Tarot Talk: the Ace of Swords

January 10th. 2017 ...

The Gray of 'Tween

Becoming a Sacred Dancer

December 9th. 2016 ...

A Child's First Yule

November 10th. 2016 ...

A Witch in the Bible Belt: Questions are Opportunities

What I Get from Cooking (And How it’s Part of My Path)

On Death and Passing: Compassion Burnout in Healers and Shamans

September 11th. 2016 ...

The Shadow of Disgust

September 3rd. 2016 ...

Nature’s Reward

August 12th. 2016 ...

Hungarian Belief in Fairies

Designing a Pagan Last Will and Testament

Past Midnight

July 13th. 2016 ...

What Every Pagan Should Know About Curses

Magic With A Flick of my Finger

An Open Mind and Heart

June 13th. 2016 ...

Living a Magickal Life with Fibromyalgia

My Father, My First God

May 15th. 2016 ...

Faery Guided Journey

Working with the Elements

Magical Household Cleaning

April 2nd. 2016 ...

The Fear of Witchcraft

Magic in Sentences

March 28th. 2016 ...

Revisiting The Spiral

Still Practicing

Spring Has Sprung!

January 22nd. 2016 ...

Coming Out of the Broom Closet

Community and Perception

December 20th. 2015 ...

Magia y Wicca

October 16th. 2015 ...

Sacred Lands, Sacred Hearts

September 30th. 2015 ...

The Other-Side

August 6th. 2015 ...

Lost - A Pagan Parent's Tale

July 9th. 2015 ...

The Magic of Weather

June 7th. 2015 ...

A Pagan Altar

A Minority of a Minority of a Minority

The Consort: Silent Partner or Hidden in Plain Sight?

May 6th. 2015 ...

13 Keys: The Crown of Kether

March 29th. 2015 ...

A Thread in the Tapestry of Witchcraft

March 1st. 2015 ...

Choosing to Write a Shadow Book

February 1st. 2015 ...

Seeker Advice From a Coven Leader

January 1st. 2015 ...

Manipulation of the Concept of Witchcraft

Pagans All Around Us

Broomstick to the Emerald City

October 20th. 2014 ...

Thoughts on Conjuring Spirits

October 5th. 2014 ...

The History of the Sacred Circle

September 28th. 2014 ...

Creating a Healing Temple

August 31st. 2014 ...

Coven vs. Solitary

August 24th. 2014 ...

The Pagan Cleric

August 17th. 2014 ...

To Know, to Will, to Dare...

August 10th. 2014 ...

As a Pagan, How Do I Represent My Path?

August 3rd. 2014 ...

You Have to Believe We Are Magic...

July 27th. 2014 ...

Did I Just Draw Down the Moon?

July 6th. 2014 ...

The Lore of the Door

Leaves of Love

June 15th. 2014 ...

Becoming Your Own Wise One

June 1st. 2014 ...

13 Keys: The Wisdom of Chokmah

May 25th. 2014 ...

Some Differences Between Priestesses and Witches: Duties and Trials

May 11th. 2014 ...

Breaking the Law of Return

NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.

Article Specs

Article ID: 15760

VoxAcct: 175302

Section: words

Age Group: Adult

Days Up: 1,852

Times Read: 5,761

RSS Views: 18,537
Manipulation of the Concept of Witchcraft

Author: Crick [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: January 1st. 2015
Times Viewed: 5,761

Whenever I hear the urban legend that one who declares him/herself a witch and/or studies the mystical arts, particularly here in the USA, is a Neo Pagan, I think to myself; "nonsense".
The premise is that paganism and witchcraft somehow fell to the wayside until a particular individual and the religion that he created miraculously revived such beliefs. However let’s move on to reality.

Witchcraft in its many forms has been amongst us since the first human took note of the many mysteries of life that abounded around them and wanted to both respect (perhaps out of a sense of fear) and develop a deeper understanding of such wonders. Over the centuries, witchcraft, both in function and perception, has been manipulated by those with ulterior motives and so the "Neo Pagan" stereotype is simply a new twist on an old concept: the manipulation of the knowledge and pursuit of witchcraft. One of the most well known manipulations of the concept of witchcraft for instance can be found within the history of the Catholic Church.

This manipulation took form over a number of centuries. Prior to the ninth century, it was considered heresy to even believe in the existence of witchcraft. There was a synod, which is erroneously contributed to St. Patrick, that states "'A Christian who believes that there is a vampire in the world, that is to say, a witch, is to be anathematized; whoever lays that reputation upon a living being shall not be received into the Church until he revokes with his own voice the crime that he has committed."

During the time of Charlemagne (775-790 CE) , there can be found an ecclesiastical ordinance from Saxony that, in part, states: "if anyone, deceived by the Devil, believes after the manner of the Pagans that any man or woman is a witch and eats men, and if on this account he burns [the alleged witch]... he shall be punished by capital sentence."

In 906 C.E., Regino of Prum, the Abbot of Treves, wrote the Canon Episcopi. Its purpose was to reinforce the church's teaching that Witches did not exist. It stated that "some confused and deluded women thought that they flew through the air with the Pagan Goddess Diana, but this did not happen in reality." It was explained away as some form of hallucination.

Circa 975 C.E., one finds that the penalties for Witchcraft and the use of healing magic were relatively mild. The English Confessional of Egbert states in part: "If a woman works witchcraft and enchantment and [uses] magical philters, she shall fast for twelve months. If she kills anyone by her philters, she shall fast for seven years." Fasting was understood to involve the consumption of bread and water only.

Moving on to 1227 C.E., Pope Gregory IX created the Inquisitional Courts to arrest, try, convict and execute heretics. In 1252 C.E. Pope Innocent IV wrote a papal bull titled Ad exstirpanda which authorized the use of torture during inquisitional trials. This was considered a turning point in the confessions of alleged heretics, though witches did not fall under the definition of heretics at this time. In support of this, in 1258 C.E. Pope Alexander IV instructed the Inquisition to confine their investigations to cases of heresy. They were to not investigate charges of divination or sorcery "unless heresy" was also involved.

A turning point in regards to the manipulation of the concept of witchcraft came in 1326 C.E. when the Catholic Church authorized the Inquisition to investigate Witchcraft and to develop "demonology." Demonology was introduced as the theory of the diabolic origin and nature of Witchcraft. Circa 1436, Johannes Nider wrote a book called Formicarius. The premise of this book, which was the second book printed on the topic of witchcraft at the time, was that a witch was uneducated and most commonly female. These revolutionary thoughts of the time were seen as a lead up the infamous Malleus Maleficarum and was included as an addendum to the Malleus Maleficarum.

The manipulation of the concept of witchcraft came to fulfillment in 1450 C.E., which is when the first major witch hunts began in many western European countries. The Roman Catholic Church, which up to this time denied the existence of witches, now stated that Pagans who worshiped Diana and other Gods and Goddesses were evil Witches who kidnapped babies, killed and ate their victims, that they sold their souls to Satan, that they were in league with demons, caused male impotence and infertility and so on. In support of this manipulation, in 1484 C.E. Pope Innocent VIII issued a papal bull Summis desiderantes which encouraged the tracking down, torturing and executing of Satan worshipers, a.k.a. witches. And then as many of us are aware of, in 1486 C.E. Sprenger and Kramer published the Malleus Maleficarum (The Witches' Hammer) . This infamous document brought the concept of witchcraft within the Catholic Church, full circle and resulted in the deaths of countless folks thought to be engaged in the practice of witchcraft.

However the transformation of witchcraft began to reverse course in 1563 C.E. when Johann Weyer anonymously published a book that was critical of the Witch trials. It was called De Praestigiis Daemonum (Shipwreck of souls) , and it argued that Witches did not really exist, but that Satan promoted the belief that they did. He rejected confessions obtained through torture as useless. He recommended medical treatment in lieu of torture and execution.

And yet in an attempt to validate the on going transformation of the perception of witchcraft by the Catholic Church, in 1580 C.E Jean Bodin wrote a rebuttal called De la Demonomanie des Sorciers (Of the punishments deserved by Witches) in which he stated that the punishment of Witches was required, both for the security of the state and to appease the wrath of God. No accused Witch should be set free if there is even a scrap of evidence that "she" might be guilty. Through the on going years this argument about the conception of witchcraft, both pro and con, continued. In 1584 C.E., Reginald Scot published a book, In Discoverie of Witchcraft in which he claimed that supernatural powers did not exist. Thus, there were no Witches. And then in contrast, in 1608 C.E. Francesco Maria Guazzo published the Compendium Maleficarum. In it, he discusses Witches' pacts with Satan, the magic that Witches use to harm others, and so on.

Are you confused yet? The whole point of this treatise is that the concept and the manipulation of witchcraft has been used by various religions for their own ulterior motives.

In my personal opinion, even though one may be new to witchcraft in general, he/she is entering a path that is most likely the oldest path on the planet. To me, the term "Neo Pagan" is a stereotype that insinuates that folks who are new to witchcraft automatically follow the basic concepts laid out by the fairly new religion that claims to be the learning curve for such an ancient discipline. And while some folks may use that basic platform as a starting point, there are numerous belief systems tied into witchcraft that have actually been in existence for many generations.

I personally believe that folks are becoming aware of this either consciously or subconsciously as evidenced by the many folks that break away from that particular religion. We know such folks as eclectics, solitaires and so forth. And in further evidence of this belief are the many so called "traditions" that have formed over the last 30 or so years.

Witchcraft to my mind is not a religion, for a religion shackles the mind to a particular dogma or set of beliefs as envisioned by one or a few individuals. Rather witchcraft is an attempt to understand truths greater than ourselves by way of trial and error. It is an on going process that at times is stagnated by the personal egos of some and at other times is expanded on a personal level through enlightenment and free thinking. To try and encapsulate the concept of witchcraft into a particular dogma is foolhardy and does the art of witchcraft a disservice.

And so if you have decided to step onto the path of witchcraft, be aware of the manipulations and, at the end of the day, that your contributions by way of trial and error are welcome to the ongoing process known as witchcraft...



Location: enHaut, Pennsylvania


Author's Profile: To learn more about Crick - Click HERE

Other Articles: Crick has posted 74 additional articles- View them?

Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE

Email Crick... (Yes! I have opted to receive invites to Pagan events, groups, and commercial sales)

To send a private message to Crick ...

Pagan Essays

Pagan Web
8,000 Links

Pagan Groups
Local Covens etc.

80,000 Profiles

Home - TWV Logos - Email US - Privacy
News and Information

Chapters: Pagan/Heathen Basics - Pagan BOOKS - Traditions, Paths & Religions - Popular Pagan Holidays - TV & Movies - Cats of the Craft - Festival Reviews - Festival Tips - White Pages (Resources) - Issues/Concerns - West Memphis 3 - Witch Hunts - Pagan Protection Tips - Healing Planet Earth

Your Voices: Adult Essays - Young Pagan Essays - Pagan Perspectives (On Hold) - WitchWars: Fire in the Craft - Gay Pagan - Pagan Parenting - Military - Pagan Passages

Pagan Music: Pagan Musicians - Bardic Circle at WitchVox - Free Music from TWV

Vox Central: About TWV - Wren: Words, Wrants and Wramblings - Guest Rants - Past Surveys - A Quest for Unity

Weekly Updates: Click HERE for an index of our weekly updates for the past 6 years

W.O.T.W. - World-Wide Networking

Your Town: A Link to YOUR Area Page (The largest listing of Witches, Pagans, Heathens and Wiccans on the Planet)

VoxLinks: The Pagan Web: 8,000 Listings

Your Witchvox Account: Log in Now - Create New Account - Request New Password - Log in Problems

Personal Listings: Pagan Clergy in Your Town - Adult Pagans - Young Pagans - Military Pagans

Events: Circles, Gatherings, Workshops & Festivals

Covens/Groups/Orgs: Local Groups Main Page

Other LOCAL Resources: Local Shops - Regional Sites - Local Notices - Global/National Notices - Local Skills & Services - Local Egroups - Political Freedom Fighters

Pagan Shopping: Online Shops Index - Original Crafters Sites - Auction Sites - Pagan Wholesalers - Pagan Local Shops

Web Site Content (including: text - graphics - html - look & feel)
Copyright 1997-2020 The Witches' Voice Inc. All rights reserved
Note: Authors & Artists retain the copyright for their work(s) on this website.
Unauthorized reproduction without prior permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Witches, Pagans
of The World

Search Articles

 Current Topic
 Editorial Guide

NOTE: The essay on this page contains the writings and opinions of the listed author(s) and is not necessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.

The Witches' Voice does not verify or attest to the historical accuracy contained in the content of this essay.

All WitchVox essays contain a valid email address, feel free to send your comments, thoughts or concerns directly to the listed author(s).