No one knows when the religion of witchcraft began but its roots can be traced back to antiquity, probably much earlier. Witchcraft is known as the Old Religion, the traditional nature-based philosophy of life common in Europe before the population was made to convert to Catholicism.
Our ancestors worshipped a Mother Goddess and Father God, who are aspects of one universal creative force. A witch adores the creative force as the embodiment of all that is absolute perfection, love and intelligence that makes up all things, and which manifests as a female Goddess and male God, the duality emerging from one.
Here are a few basic things to understand about witchcraft and a few myths to dispel:
1. Magic is not that “magical” or glamorous
A witch is aware of the rhythmic passage of the seasons, the movement of the sun and moon, and sees nature and ordinary everyday things as sacred and part of daily ritual and ceremony. The training of a witch involves the study and practice of magic, but a witch understands there really is no “magic” at all. The word magic comes from the Persian word “magia”, which means “wisdom” or “seeing things as they really are”. Therefore, the study and practice of witchcraft is about learning to be wise, which is actually quite elegant and profound in its simplicity and not so out-of-the-ordinary or “magical”.
Witchcraft is much less glamourous and sensational than what the public have been led to believe through movies, books and religious persecutions. Even though persecutions now seem to have ended, some neopagan ideas are often opposite to the tenets of traditional witchcraft. This has compelled the traditional witches to be even more secretive about their practices and has contributed to the public misunderstanding of the true ancient tradition.
2. Witchcraft is not a crutch to escape from life’s responsibilities
Witchcraft is a simple nature-based religion is based on balance and our own personal search for the ultimate good. Before learning witchcraft, you need to get yourself and your life in order. Even if your life is relatively stable, you can expect to go though some changes with the practice of witchcraft. One of the main goals of witchcraft is to understand the mystery of our own being, as well as that of the universal creative force or consciousness present in all beings. The first steps of witchcraft are self-analysis and self-sacrifice, so that we may lead a natural joyful life on Earth.
3. A witch must lead a balanced life
A witch should have a balanced attitude in their personal life and not be predisposed to excess in anything, whether its sex, food or alcohol. As far as sex is concerned, it’s not about abstinence or celibacy but rather understanding that it’s a normal part of life. Although there is some fertility and sexual symbolism in magical ceremony, your sex life is your personal business. So contrary to popular belief, drunken drug-fueled orgies and dancing naked around a cauldron are not part of the serious practice and training of a traditional witch.
Balance can help increase your mental and physical energy and potential. If you are in balance within yourself, you can be in balance with the world around you so that you can find your way toward ultimate good. Of you waste your energy on strife and discord, you cannot easily be in harmony with nature and all things around you, which a foundational principle of witchcraft.
4. Reincarnation and karma are key principles of witchcraft
All religions are founded on the principle of life after death, as without this assumption, there is neither meaning nor virtue in trying to lead a decent human life. Most religions are founded on the principle of reincarnation, whether they be Indian religions (e.g., Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism etc.), Indigenous peoples’ religions, beliefs of the great Greek philosophers (e.g., Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato), various pagan religions (e.g., Celtic and Germanic pagans) and even some denominations of Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
One of the most fundamental aspects of witchcraft is the belief in reincarnation. Ancient teachings state that the spirit or soul exists before birth and continues after death. Our soul or spirit inhabiting every human body will continue to inhabit body after body until it has gained sufficient experience to ascend to higher planes of consciousness and merge with the universal creative force.
The body is just a temporary vehicle for spirit, which must be perfected through each incarnation. Our actions or karma, determine your spiritual evolution through the laws of cause and effect. We have to adjust our lives because of our actions, and this again brings us back to the principle of a harmonious and balanced existence.
We are all at different paths in our spiritual evolution, and each person’s place on their path and level of evolution is different and neither better or worse than anyone else’s in the grand scheme of karma and reincarnation. Some people have just not yet had the opportunity to evolve and profit from the lessons of past incarnations.
5. The whole point of witchcraft is to help other people or beings
As with the Hippocratic Oath in medicine, a crucial tenet of witchcraft is to “do no harm”. All living things evolve from the universal creative force and we are all children of the mother Goddess and Father God. Therefore, we should have empathy for all beings and respect their free will. Witchcraft is not about gaining power over anyone except yourself, so that you can better serve humanity and all beings.
Leave your ego at the door: Magic should be done for the right reasons and not for personal gain or power. The objective of magic is to complete the great work so that all beings can be free and happy to live according to their true will. Therefore, it is completely against the principles of witchcraft and dangerous to curse or hex people or interfere with someone’s free will, including targeting someone with a “love spell”.
A witch is able to balance their own individuality and understand the needs of the whole, so that we can contributing to the betterment of humanity and our world. Through witchcraft, we can study and understand ourselves, but the ultimate goal is the greatest good for greatest number of people above the individual.
References and further reading:
The complete art of witchcraft – Sybil Leek
Wicca – the ancient way – Janus-Mithras, Nuit-Hilaria and Mer-Amun