What is a witch? Is it, as by common definition, a sorceress, a person bent on evil doings, who casts spells and worships the devil? Is it someone to fear and therefore ostracize, imprison and execute? My answer to these questions is both yes, and no.
Why am I qualified to answer these questions? Because I am a witch, and have been all of my life.
So let’s get those questions answered.
First, a witch is many things. She, or he, as men are witches too, may or may not be a sorceress. Some witches practice no spell craft, but choose only to focus on the worship of nature, and the Goddess and God, providers of all that we are blessed with on this earth.
There are those like myself, who practice sorcery, or magick. And you will find that among witches, those terms, along with numerous others, intertwine for many, while some insist that the term sorcery only applies to black magic. I do not agree, because to me there is no “black” or “white” magick. There is only magick, and it is the intent of the practitioner that determines the direction of the energy used.
When one decides to follow the path of the witch, they are making a commitment that holds many responsibilities, and will find that there is much to learn before any actual casting of spells should be approached.
To quote High Priestess Ly de Angeles, from her book “Witchcraft Theory and Practice”, “Once initiation has occurred, there is no turning back…you will quest all of your life; it is not a thing to do thoughtlessly.”
This is, in part, because our spiritual path, unlike others, states that we are immediately responsible for all of our actions and the results that follow. We cannot lay blame elsewhere for our harmful deeds, whether toward ourselves or to others.
Witches do not believe in the devil, so the idea of our worshipping one is meaningless. If we have acted in a baneful manner, we will not be judged after our body dies, before a single god, but will reap the sowing of our intent while in the present life, and sometimes beyond it, in accordance to the laws of the universe.
This is known among witches as the Threefold Law. It states that any one baneful act by a witch shall be returned upon them three times.
Some, myself included, do not hold strictly to the Threefold Law, but believe that negative use of witchcraft returns upon those liable however many times the universe deems necessary, in order to teach that which must be taught to the practitioner. Think of the old saying “What goes around comes around.”
So witches do have rules? Hell yes!
We abide by that which is known as the Wiccan Rede, a hefty list of guidelines. The most basic and important of these is “And it harm none, do what thou wilt.” Now, just what does that mean?
It means a lot.
We must take care with everything and everyone on this earth, be it the people, the animals, nature, and the planet itself. All is a gift from the Goddess. We must not lie, steal, cheat, or raise war, either with nations, or other people who would condemn us for our beliefs because they differ from their own.
We must work magick responsibly. This means we must prepare for ritual with great thought and patience, being precise, and making sure our efforts do not impose upon another’s will, as that would be baneful.
We must not use mind-altering drugs of any kind before or during ritual. To do so would be against the Rede, as we could bring harm to others and ourselves due to our lack of clear focus.
There are strict rules for summoning energies or “watchtowers”, as we in the Craft refer to them. They are called upon to join and assist in ritual, and must be dismissed at the ritual’s end, in a certain way. Failing to do this can, and most often does, result in negative occurrences long after the ritual is over and those in the circle have gone merrily on their way.
Being in a drugged state would leave those practicing within the ritual circle completely vulnerable to the energies and spirits that have been summoned. To perform spell work correctly, successfully and safely, one must have complete control over their faculties.
Now, how about our reputation?
It has taken hundreds of years for witches to partially recover from the labels placed upon us, and whether we like it or not, our chosen path is one which is looked at by others who still hold to the opinion that we are not following a true spiritual path, but one of pure evil. We must show them differently.
We must act responsibly, respectfully, and never fall into the trap of believing that we are “right” and others “wrong” in their differing beliefs.
We must not boast of powers, or play upon another’s fear of us, thus falling prey to the ego and thereby promoting our own demise, either through personal fault, or by those who would seek to destroy us.
As for that last question, I think I’ll let you, the reader, decide. You have heard from me, a practicing witch, concerning some or our basic beliefs and ways in which we live our lives.
So, what do you think? Should I be feared? Ostracized and imprisoned? Executed?
Some would still answer, “Yes.” My neighbor is one. She has stated on more than one occasion that anyone who practices witchcraft, or her idea of witchcraft, should, in fact, be burned at the stake, twenty – first century or not. With the giant wooden cross she has erected in her front yard, I guess she is preparing for her own ritual….
There will probably always be those who will hate us, out of ignorance and fear. Or perhaps just because we have the courage some of them lack, to follow our own path rather than go along with what is most acceptable in society for the sake of fitting in.
As for myself, I shall continue on the journey my Goddess has provided me, and I shall remain a responsible witch.