Monday, March 12, 2012

What Is Witchcraft?

Now that we've gone over how I got into witchcraft, let's talk a little bit about what witchcraft is. According to Dictionary.com the definition of witchcraft is:

1. the art or practices of a witch; sorcery; magic.
2. magical influence; witchery. 
 
Well that's not very meaningful, is it? Let's try what Dictionary.com says about witches, shall we? According to it, the definition of a witch is:

Noun
1. a person, now especially a woman, who professes or is supposed to practice magic, especially black magic or the black art; sorceress. Compare warlock.
2. an ugly or mean old woman; hag.
3. a person who uses a divining rod; dowser.
 
Verb (used with an object)
1. to bring by or as by witchcraft: She witched him into going.
2. Archaic. to affect as if by witchcraft; bewitch; charm.
 
Hmm, not very flattering, huh? Why in the world would anyone want to be a witch? They are perceived so badly! Well, the truth in that is we are not all old ugly mean women, nor do all of us practice the dark arts, although there are some people out there that just can't seem to stay away from the dark side... guess Darth Vader has a pretty good pull on people. 
 
However, most of us never hear the call of the darker side. Now don't get me wrong. I study curses, and I know some damn good ones, but that doesn't mean that just because a person looked at me cross-eyed I'm going to curse them and make the dead keep them from sleeping for the rest of their lives. No, I personally believe in the power of Karma. What's Karma you ask? Well my friends, Karma is this little thing that can make your life wonderful or miserable, but guess what... you have full control over that! You ever heard that old saying, "What goes around, comes around"? Well it's true, and that's how Karma works. If you put good things out into the universe, good things come back to you. If you put negative things out in the universe, negative things come back to you. It's as simple as that. 
 
So let's look at my definition of witchcraft shall we? And please remember this is only MY definition of witchcraft. To others it may mean something totally different. In the end what only truly matters is YOUR definition of witchcraft. After all my studies, my definition of witchcraft is this: I have the power to work in harmony with the God and Goddess, the elementals (earth, air, fire, water), herbs, candles, and more, to bring about changes in my life and the lives of my loved ones. Witchcraft to me is being a healer, helper, friend, confidant, and sometimes bully, to help people in anyway possible. Witchcraft is a practice filled with spells, rituals, and meditations; but, it is also a religion, filled with prayer, faith, and communing with the God and Goddess, walking with them everyday. 
 
To me, witchcraft is NOT: evil, hateful, over zealous, over bearing, over powering, or controlling. I do not believe in the Christian devil aka Satan, and I do not believe in dabbling in dark magick because I prefer to have good things in my life. I do not believe in Hell, because an all loving God/dess would not forsake us to a place of torture for all of eternity. However, just because I do not believe in the devil, or Hell, does not mean that I don't believe in evil. There is pure evil out there. I'm not sure where it comes from, but I have a theory that it comes from the darkest parts of our own minds. We create our own demons and evils, so if we create them, we also hold the power to destroy them as well. 
 
To me, witchcraft is a wonderful path. My path as a green witch goes a little something like this. I believe in a God and a Goddess because everything has to have a balance, i.e. male/female, sun/moon, night/day, yin/yang. Without those balances we would never truly know what happiness is, because we'd never known sadness either. I believe in living in harmony with the earth, and being eco-friendly. I believe that I hold a personal power, supplied by the earth and elements around me, to effect changes in my home, family, love life, personal life, and so forth. I believe in the power of universal healing, and I believe that everything on this earth and in this universe are all inter connected. In the end we are all part of the earth. Yes sometimes I have to remind myself of that. Think about that person that never really does anything wrong, and they've got a good heart, but somehow they always just seem to rub you the wrong way and you get irritated as all get out with them. Well, even though they are irritating me, I have to realize that we are one, we come from, and are part of the earth.
 
Witchcraft today is not some nut case cult, and if you ever find yourself in a situation that feels cult-ish, drop that cup of juice, step away, and think it through! Witchcraft is about making personal choices, and deciding what feels true and right to you, not because someone said it's right, but because you feel in your soul that it's right. Modern witches do not sacrifice animals (we love our furry children), we do not eat or sacrifice babies (what the hell would be the point of that!), and we do not sacrifice virgins. Actually human/animal sacrifices are kind of taboo, at least in most Wiccan, and Pagan views. Voodoo I'm not sure about ... I haven't studied enough of it to know, so if you know anything about Voodoo let me know if the chicken sacrifice actually happens or if that's just something I saw on Scooby Doo. I mean no offense by that, I'm actually ignorant of that, and would love to know more about Voodoo. 
 
So there you have it ... the bare basics of what witchcraft is. Now don't you feel better knowing we don't dance naked under a full moon, eating babies, and hanging cats or dogs in trees, while fornicating with Satan? Well the dancing naked part might happen ... some people just like being in their birthday suits! And yes, there are some witches that practice witchcraft skyclad (aka naked). I am not one of them, because I personally am not comfortable enough with my body to sit around naked while invoking a diety. Yes I know they see me naked all the time, and they love me anyway, despite the stretch marks, and the extra weight, but I am too distracted thinking about how bad I look naked to be able to focus enough to work skyclad. It just ain't happening for me sister! But, if you are comfortable enough in your own body to work naked, go for it! However, if you ever decide to join a group activity make sure to check out the rules beforehand. Most groups today prefer to work naked at home, and clothed in the group. 
 
Now, similar to Christianity, there are different sects of witchcraft, with different beliefs, and guidelines. There is Wicca, which is an organized religion believed to predate Christianity; however, there are lots of debates about whether that is true or not, and we won't get into those debates here. The point is Wicca is here, and it is a wonderful religion! It was popularized in the 50's and 60's by Gerald Gardener, and has set guidelines, and a pretty awesome moral code. It is a very ceremonial, and ritualistic religion, and most Wiccans practice in a coven, although there are lots of modern, solitary Wiccans as well! Wicca itself has many different facets to it, and all are worth at least a slight peruse. To learn a little more about Wicca here online, check out the Wikipedia entry on Wicca. And good books to learn more about Wicca include Teen Witch by Silver Ravenwolf (especially if you are a teen lol), To Ride a Silver Broomstick, To Stir a Magick Cauldron, and To Light a Sacred Flame all by Silver Ravenwolf. Some people are not big fans of Silver Ravenwolf, but she is who I learned with and I enjoyed her writings. Wicca, A Guide For the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham is very good as well, and I fully recommend Scott Cunningham as a wonderful, knowledgeable author. Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft by Raymond Buckland is also an amazing choice, and makes a wonderful workbook, and reference book! And Mr. Buckland is another author that comes highly recommended from me. There are other very good choices available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Just be sure to read at least a little of the book before buying to make sure you'll even be interested in it. 
 
Next we have Paganism which is basically a blanket term. It covers things like Greco-Roman Polytheism (which I am guilty of being a believer of :D), the polytheistic religions of Europe and North Africa, before Christianity, and in contemporary meanings it covers folk magics/religions, Eastern religions, and so much more. It is a very wide, and varied term. But the key note of Paganism is the lack of door to door Pagans trying to convert you to their religion or them telling anyone else that their religion is the only one true way to God and heaven. For more information from the web check out the Wiki on Paganism. For books on the subject check out Paganism Today by Graham Harvey, Pagan Spirituality by Joyce Higginbotham, and Paganism: An Introduction to Earth Centered Religions by Joyce Higginbotham. I've also heard that Spirited: Taking Paganism Beyond the Circle by Gede Parma is a good read, although I haven't had the pleasure myself. Currently I am enjoying A Book of Pagan Prayer by Ceisiwr Serith. Again, a search of Amazon or Barnes and Noble will bring up good and bad choices, just be sure to read reviews, and read some of the book to see if you are interested in what it has to say. 
 
Then there are the smaller sections of witchcraft, and while these are normally not religious, they can be. These sections are mainly just practices that you add your personal religious beliefs to. There is kitchen witchery; which is basically working your witchy trickery in the kitchen. But it isn't just about cooking or cleaning up. You can change lives just by making a simple tea. You can heal heartache by making a pie, and you can create harmony in your home by making soup. There are several things that go into kitchen witchery, and it is definitely something worth looking into. Books on the subject can easily be found. One of my favorites is A Kitchen Witch's Cookbook by Patricia Telesco. Patricia Telesco is one of my favorite author's on kitchen witchery, and she has several books on different subjects as well.
 
There is also green witchcraft which revolves around nature. Being out in nature, gardening, and so forth, but you don't have to have an amazing green thumb to be a green witch. I'm a green witch, and I kill every plant that comes into contact with me lol. Being a green witch is about being one with nature, feeling her rhythms, celebrating her changes, looking to her for all the things we need. My absolute favorite book on the subject is The Way of the Green Witch by Arin Murphy-Hiscock. I'm adding a link to it because there seem to be different versions of this book, and this is the link to my favorite version. Also Aoumiel aka Ann Moura is a good author on the subject of green witchcraft. Just search her name, or green witchcraft, and you'll find several books by her. 
 
Let's see here, next come garden witchery, cottage witchery, hedgecraft, and so many other folk practices and traditions. I just don't have the room in this post to continue with them! And these are just the different practices and beliefs. This doesn't come anywhere near covering the different forms of magick out there like candle magick, crystal magick, energy healing, ritual, spells, prayer, and so much more! So, I believe this is where I will end this post for today. We'll cover more tomorrow. For your homework this go around, read a little about the different sects and practices I just mentioned in this post and make a list of things that interest you that you might like to study more about. Or, for those of you that are already on your path, write down the reasons you found your path, and what makes you truly enjoy your path. Who knows, maybe you'll find there is more you would like to learn! 

3 comments:

  1. michaelle LancasterMarch 12, 2012 at 11:54 PM

    Another Great post, I love everything by Cunningham, his Gemstone and Herb encyclopedia's do not ever get put away. I also love Ann Moura her New history of Witchcraft book is fantastic, if you like history that is. I find myself picking bits and pieces from each area, I love to cook so kitchen witchery is fun and exciting, but I grew up on a farm in Iowa so being a green witch comes naturally, I chuckle when I read Ann Moura's green witch series as so much of it was daily life for us on the farm.

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  2. Thanks Michaelle :D I love Cunningham, and have several of his books. My Herb Encyclopedia went to another friend that had an interest in herbalism and disappeared surprise surprise lol. I'll be replacing it soon. I liked Ann Moura but the history stuff I had a really hard time getting through lol. My ADD would kick in and I would get super distracted and never be able to finish the books lol. So I skimmed them and got wonderful information that way :D

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