Witchcraft for Beginners and ChristiansI was a Christian for most of my life. I went to church religiously (no pun intended). I was a lector and a Eucharistic Minister in the Roman Catholic Church for many years. In more recent years, I have left the church and I am currently a devout pagan, and a practicing witch. I have a sign on my front door that reads, "I have flying monkeys," and a cabinet full of herbs, crystals and oils. I practice the art of divination with a scrying crystal (crystal ball), a crystal pendulum made of rose quartz, and a deck of cards. I create and mix potions using natural and magickal ingredients that can be used by anyone, for many reasons.
I am not an expert on Witchcraft. Studying witchcraft is a life-long process. I know a Wiccan high priestess that cringes when anyone calls her an "elder" because she doesn't feel she is an expert yet in the art of witchcraft or the religion of Wicca to have earned such an esteemed title. So, again, I am not an expert, elder or the preemptive authority on Witchcraft, but I do have my own experiences upon which to draw.
This series of articles is written for non-pagans, and non-witches who might be pagan, and for Christians who may be dealing with a witch in their lives, or Christians who just have their own preconceived notions about the 'Craft. We will start with the misconceptions that many non-witches have about witches. Trisha Hodges, a writer for Yahoo! Associated Content, has written a great introductory piece about her own experiences. I mention that because it is always, always (can't stress it enough! Always) a good idea to get more than one person's take on every issue.
Misconceptions about Witchcraft
How many witches were burned at the stake in Salem, Massachusetts? The answer to this trick trivia question is "none". They were all hung (not burned), except for one who was crushed to death under a board with rocks stacked atop of it as a form of torture while authorities tried to make him admit he was a witch. That may be the intended answer, but it is still very misleading.
How many witches were "killed" during the Salem Witch Hunts? That's a question of a different color. The answer here is, "Nobody knows." None of the men and women persecuted during the Salem event confessed to being witches. Some of them may have been. I'm sure that most of them were not, and if they were, they were most likely every bit as Christian as they claimed to be.
The Puritans and many of the Christians in the world today, associate witchcraft with "black magick" and Satan worship. This is the first major misconception that exists in the religious and spiritual community today. If someone is a witch, they cannot possibly be a Christian. But this is not the case. I know several Christian witches. They are delightful people when they aren't turning their neighbors, ex-boyfriends, and unruly children into toads. (Just Kidding.)
All Witches Worship Satan
Satanism is a religious practice, yes. It is not witchcraft. Can a witch be a "devil worshiper"? Of course. A witch can also be a Christian, a pagan, an atheist or an agnostic. A witch can be Muslim, Jewish, Baptist, Mormon, and Catholic. So, of course a witch can be a Satanist. Witchcraft is not a religion at all. Witchcraft is a science and an art that is energy and spiritually based, but there are no covenants that must be followed to the letter, no dogmatic consequences for doing something wrong, and there is no hierarchy of power that one must obey.
All Witches are Wiccan
Wicca is a religion that has its own mysteries, covenant and dogma (for lack of a better word). I am not Wiccan. There are many, many books on the subject, and a person can read every single one. In addition to being very confused, they will also not be Wiccan. In order to become a Wiccan, one must study for a set period of time and they must be initiated. There is an entire ritual that takes place. (Before you freak out at the word "ritual", attend a Catholic Mass and you'll be front row center from one of the biggest rituals on the planet, practiced daily around the world.) There are secrets and mysteries that are not given to anyone who is not initiated. This information is not in the books published today, nor should it be. Wiccans are highly educated in their religion and they are entitled to their mysteries.
The opposite of this statement is also true. Not all Wiccans are witches. To be a witch, one must practice witchcraft, first and foremost. But it is also a feeling, a knowledge about oneself, that is impossible to describe.
Witches Must Wear Black All of the Time
As I write this, I am wearing black. I have black hair. I may sound like a "Goth" teenager, but I'm not. I'm a full grown woman who happens to be wearing a black T-shirt. My shorts, on the other hand, are white. The bigwigs on Madison Avenue say wearing color blocks is all the new rage. My ceremonial cloak is crushed velvet; green crushed velvet. I live in a condo with my wife and most of our children (the rest are grown). The house is not covered in cobwebs, and we don't sit around at night chanting by candlelight. We watch TV like everyone else. We don't watch shows like "Charmed", but we love the movie "Practical Magic". We also like NCIS, CSI, and Criminal Minds. We are normal, everyday people. Black is an option for daily wardrobe (so is red, white, blue, rainbow tie-dye and any other color you can come up with), but there is no uniform for practicing witchcraft.
The Bible Says Witchcraft is a Sin
I will most likely get into the misconceptions regarding the Christian bible later in this series, however, for now I simply say that it doesn't matter. At least, not to any witch who isn't Christian. You might be thinking, "Repent, you Sinner!" and I can only hope that Fred Phelps gets his hands on this article and sends a slurry of page views my way, but the fact remains that I don't believe in sin. I don't use the bible as my end-all-be-all roadmap, rule book or spiritual guide. The bible is a great book, don't get me wrong, but it is has nothing whatsoever to do with actual witchcraft, nor does it have any bearing on the life of a non-Christian. Christian literalists, who take every word in the book, mistranslated or not, as the rock-solid truth will always believe that witches are hell bound. And that's fine. It has no bearing on me or any other pagan's life because there is, simply put, no hell into which to be damned. Christians believe otherwise, and that is fine, too. I have respect for Christians and I believe that they believe. That's good enough for me.
Sources: Personal Experience
More from this Contributor:
First Person: I am a Pagan
Talking Shop: When Your Best Friend Comes Out as a Lesbian
Why You Can't Vote on Whom I Choose to Marry