The Essence Of Witchcraft Is Therapy
The younger generation, that generation unfairly labelled Generation X, has an alarmingly dark cast looming over them. They are the first generation who are not expected to fare better than their parents. They are the depressed generation, with an alarmingly large percentage of these children on Prozac or other anti-depression drug, they have been warped by television, violence, illegal drugs and absentee parents. It is no wonder then, that many of these young people have turned to the Pagan religions for solace, turning Witchcraft and other Pagan religions into very quickly growing paths.
It is no puzzle why young people find the pagan religions attractive, they offer a degree of freedom and individualityuncommon to most other mainstream religions, they offer the practitioner strength and power. Because these religions integrate the magickal arts into their core theology, people who need a sense of empowerment are drawn to these religions. In Witchcraft especially, the practitioner is taught that they hold all the power, that will is all one needs to shape their fate and that we all have the ability to determine our futures. But Witchcraft also teaches that along with the power of independence comes responsibility, when we are forced to take responsibility for our actions, we become much more aware of them and this realisation is in itself a kind of therapy.
While many Craft leaders would be hesitant to accept the fact that Witchcraft is therapy, the truth is that any practice which advocates self exploration, self empowerment and self expression is therapeutic. The entire purpose of spirituality in its pure and unadulterated form is to provide a link between the individual and the Divine. Once this link is established and a firm relationship develops, the seeker becomes cleansed. A renewed understanding of self and a new-found self respect is instilled, thus the end result is the same result striven for in any kind of therapy. The re-connecting of the mind and body to the Earth and Goddess is the ultimate form of self affirmation therapy.
Unfortunately, however, the therapeutic aspects of Witchcraft are often masked not only by Hollywood facades which present Witchcraft as a fairytale practice, but also by many books that speak almost exclusively about magick and its application. While it is true that Witchcraft wouldn’t be Witchcraft without magick, it is also true that magick simply will not work without a deep understanding of self and a deep relationship with Earth, Universe and Goddess. Books that give guidelines for rituals and spells do nothing to add dimension to Witchcraft as a bona fide religion, though it appeals greatly to the younger generation. Yet watered-down Witchcraft can never feed the soul and when the young practitioner discovers that their magick does not work (because the books they read have neglected to inform them that they must transform themselves before they can work magick) they turn away from Witchcraft and never come to gain the very thing that they came in search of.
Because witches are very wary of those who proselytise, they are wary to do so themselves. Witches are willing to teach those who are sincere in their desire to learn and who are mature enough to discipline themselves in the manner required of true scholarship. The trouble however, is that most teenagers and young adults who encounter Witchcraft are not lucky enough to have a physical teacher. They read books, magazines and consult the Internet for their teachings. Yet precious little of these media offer valuable and accessible theological and/or philosophical information to the student. Most often, students are taught the Wheel of the Year and the Wiccan Rede without ever being taught why these things are sacred, how they are integrated into our daily lives and how the student is to interpret these guidelines for themselves. In fact, because many publications focus heavily on the eclectic side of Witchcraft, they often offer the student these empty words…Do whatever feels right to you. In some instances, such advice is favourable, but many times, the student has no idea what they should feel, let alone if that feeling is right.
Though teenagers and young adults come to Witchcraft for many reasons including a desire for control, love or for some rebellion against controlling parents, the reason these people stay with Witchcraft is because they feel a sense of coming home.While love and money spells may lure them in, those who are not willing to change for their religion will not stay. Witchcraft is first and foremost, a religion that advocates metamorphosis and self transformation and these things do not come from the wave of a magick wand. These things only come with perseverance, determination and discipline. Many books mention this fact, but most do not stress it enough. It is almost as though they are afraid of scaring away the reader. But why mask what our religion is? Why try to market it is as something that it is not? If we know that Witchcraft is a therapeutic religion that can reconnect the individual with Earth, why do we try to bury this beauty underneath magick spells and rituals? Why are we afraid to tell the student, If you want it bad enough, you can have it, but not without getting your hands dirty? In an age where we are losing a generation to drugs, violence and sexually transmitted disease, why do we deny them the exhilarating liberation that Witchcraft-as-therapy has to offer?
Perhaps writers are afraid that their work won’t be published unless they offer mass public appeal and the public wants magick. Maybe they are afraid that publishing a belief system is so close to proselytisation that they are afraid to cross that line. Yet if Witchcraft is to remain a bona fide religion, it must enculturate the younger generation and it must offer them something useful in return. Witchcraft is a truly beautiful religion, once one gets to the very meat of it and it is a religion truly fit for combating the decay of our young people. Unlike many mainstream religions, witches do not believe that they must rely on an outside source for fulfilment and happiness. Witches believe that the witch saves them self and in an era where self denigration and self hate is on the rise, it would be wise for the teachers of the Craft to make this information readily available to the student. The most valuable thing I ever learned from Witchcraft is that by the simple fact that I am, everything I do, say, feel and think is not only valid, but sacred as well. When we learn to accept ourselves as sacred, we come to understand that others are sacred and mutual respect is established and unity grows.
While it is never too late to teach these principles to anyone, it is much easier to integrate them into the teachings of the beginner, because they are so willing to learn. Instead of filling our bookstores with how-to books that may sell well but offer very little, we must teach and publish that which the younger generation needs to hear, which is that only through self discovery and understanding can we ever be truly successful, be it in work, love or magick.
Empathy’s Mystical Occult Site