While studying witchcraft online a few years ago I came across an essay assignment which I decided to do for myself, in an effort to sort out just how I felt about the topic… “What Witchcraft Means to Me”. I’ve always been interested in “weird stuff” but only relatively recently (2003) realised that my various interests, when considered as a whole, could be classified as “witchcraft”. I wrote this essay in early 2004, before I had joined any groups, online or otherwise. It’s been hidden away where no-one else could read it until now. I’m not quite sure why I’m putting it here for the world to see (hypothetically anyway – I don’t think many people ever read this page, LOL), and I know that not everyone is going to agree with my ideas, but here goes… While some of my ideas have evolved since then, it still pretty much sums up how I feel…
What Witchcraft Means to Me
Witchcraft, as the name suggests, is really more of a craft that is learned than a religion as such. It is the craft of shaping energy, shaping one’s own destiny, and of the many different techniques there are to do this. This is also known as using magick and, as with any other craft, takes practice, experience and learning. Magick is the practice of using the natural energies within yourself, along with the energies of herbs, stones or other elements and correspondences to make changes around you. It has been defined as the ability to create change by force of will and is very similar to the belief in the power of prayer. However, the witch believes that with magick or spell-casting it is the personal intervention which sets up a “field of intention”, the energy of which can create a change, and not the whim of some superior being as with a prayer.
Magick is ultimately about healing. The word ‘heal’ means to make things whole or sound, and trying to make things right, to make things whole, or at least a little better, is the witch’s aim when using magick. Witchcraft requires a respect for body, mind and soul, the world, and the powers of the universe, and seeing yourself in harmony with your surroundings and with fellow beings.
The practice of Witchcraft also involves an awareness of the cycles and changes in nature and the cycles of the moon and the sun, the changing of the seasons, the scents in the air; the comings and goings of other animals are all observed and understood as part of a vast integrated pattern of life. The witch also recognises the sacred, the Spirit of the Divine, the presence of both feminine and masculine aspects of deity or universal power, in all things whether mundane or miraculous, and celebrates this through ritual.
Witchcraft for me seemed to be a natural progression and an ultimate blending of all the ‘alternative’ things I have become interested in and experienced throughout my life. For me witchcraft consolidates my interests and experiences with parapsychology (psychic phenomena such as ESP, intuition etc …even synchronicity), the paranormal, Tarot and other forms of divination, healing with crystals, herbs, essential oils (aromatherapy), flower remedies, homeopathic remedies, Reiki, distance healing, nutritional healing, Feng Shui, interest in religions, studies in psychology, ecology, zoology, fascination with astronomy (the moon in particular), cosmology, astrology, and the strange feeling of recognising certain ‘looks’ about the sunlight at different seasons (especially Autumn) right from childhood. My efforts at recycling, worm farming, vegetable and herb growing using little or no chemicals, trying to care for my little patch of the environment by reducing the use of toxic chemicals around the house in general, and also eating and preparing ‘clean’ food (not genetically modified, organic where possible, and minimum amounts of artificial additives etc) all have a close affinity with the ethics of Witchcraft.
The ‘philosophy & psychology of Witchcraft’ seems more egalitarian and rational to me than the ‘philosophy & psychology of Christianity’ or any other religions I’ve briefly studied. Atheism doesn’t sit comfortably with me as one could never prove beyond a doubt that there is no god/creator, anymore than some ardent Monotheist, or Polytheist, could prove to me that there is. I’m probably an Agnostic Witch – I believe in possibilities, and think outside the square, so to speak. I don’t believe in a creator, as such, and have never been comfortable with the personification and worship of deity as in Christianity, and even in Wicca to some extent, but I do believe in the possibility that there is some sort of universal power, whether it simply be unrecognised human psychic ability or ‘forces of mind’ coming together to create change – Jung’s idea of the creation of archetypes is the closest I can get to being able to explain the existence of the many individual deities (which I prefer to respectfully acknowledge rather than worship) – or that the Universe itself is alive and is an entity or power yet to be understood. It is this ‘universal power’ which I think of as Goddess/God, and it is something I believe we can all have the ability to access and become part of to use for good (or evil if you’re so inclined) if we try. Another view I have read, which is close to mine, is that the God and Goddess are seen as the male and female aspects of Nature. They do not reign over the Universe; they instead are the Universe itself. Hmmm… maybe I’m a Pantheist Witch??
I have always believed in religious tolerance: people have the right to believe whatever they want, as long as it causes no harm, but they don’t have the right to force their beliefs upon others, or to vilify others because of their beliefs. Although Witchcraft is not a religion, Witchcraft and Wicca are often confused as one and the same. Whether I call myself Wiccan, Eclectic Wiccan, Witch or Pagan is of little importance in the long run. What is important is that I enjoy what I do and feel comfortable with the system of belief I have chosen and strive to uphold and live by the ethics and principles I can identify with, thereby empowering myself with the knowledge that, in my own small way, I am earnestly trying, and hopefully succeeding, to improve myself and my life and also make the world a better place for others. The universe is full of possibilities; one of them being, of course, that I may be totally misguided and wrong in my ‘witchy’ endeavours. But then, there’s also the possibility I may be right! So, live and let live…
An’ it harm none, do as ye will. So mote it be!