What’s up, witches?!
Bright Blessings and welcome to yet another installment of the Any Witches Blog. Today’s episode is extra special, because it is the opening of our Witchcraft 101 series. In case you missed it in my last post, the Witchcraft 101 series is all about the basics of witchcraft. Throughout the series I will be touching on topics such as: herbs, crystals, colors, candles, deities, and “fortune-telling,” just to name a few. Much of the information you will find in this series will be, what I consider, commonly accepted knowledge within the wonderful world of Witchcraft (……and Wizardry *thanks JK Rowling and Harry Potter*)
What is Witchcraft?
“What is witchcraft?” Such a seemingly simple and innocent question, one that you would think had an equally simple answer, which it does. The simple answer being witchcraft is the practice of magic, but does that really answer the question? Witchcraft is many things. From a religion to spirituality, witchcraft can be practiced in as many ways as its practitioners.
Good vs. Evil
According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), witchcraft is an Old English noun meaning “magic or other supernatural practices; (the use of) magic or other supernatural powers, esp. for evil purposes or as used by witches.” A rather broad definition for the term, and although technically accurate, it gives a rather negative view of those who are witches. I would assume, and hope, that the later part of that definition is for Hollywood or time-period specific, otherwise I would take offense to their definition. Basically, at its simplest of definitions, witchcraft is the practice of magic. Witchcraft, itself is neither good nor evil, and neither are its practitioners, but a witch can use witchcraft with good and/or evil intent.
Now I am sure some of you are asking how witchcraft can be used for, but not be, good and evil. To answer this, I like to use Christianity as a reference. The majority of people view Christianity has inherently good, but history has proven that Christianity has been used for both good and evil. An example of good being programs and non-profit’s that cater to the less fortunate, whereas an example of evil would be the wars and mass slaughters done in the name of “God” or the church (i.e. the Crusades). In the same way witchcraft itself is neither good nor evil, but the person behind the witchcraft can wield its power for either good or evil reasons. Spells for protection would be an example of one-way witchcraft might be used for good. Whereas a blood-line curse or a hex could be an example of evil. In both cases the witchcraft, or magic, behind the spell, curse, or hex is neither good nor evil. Whereas the witch’s intent that fuels the spell, curse, or hex is for good or evil reasoning.
Religion vs. Spirituality
Witchcraft is also a religion and a spirituality but doesn’t have to be both simultaneously. As a religion, we see witchcraft as Wicca and the practitioners as Wiccans. The major difference between witches who are Wiccans (religious based) and witches who are spiritual based is that Wiccans are bound by a set of laws or rules, just like any other religion, known as the Wiccan Rede. As a spirituality, witchcraft, and the practice of, becomes a way of living unique to each practitioner, constantly changing and evolving with the practitioner’s growth and/or decline. It offers a freedom of choice to where once there was none. It allows an individual to create their own path and encourages the constant learning and relearning of different religions and/or spiritualities, and the choice to incorporate them into your path or not.
Witchcraft, as a spirituality, is many different things and rarely the same to two practitioners. You may have seen the term “eclectic” witchcraft, which in my belief is what the majority of witches practice today. Essentially, eclectic witchcraft is witchcraft as a spirituality, where the practitioner has taken bits and pieces of different religions and spiritualities and blended them together in a unique and personal way to form their own personal practice style. There has been some criticism of eclectic witchcraft, stating that it disrespects the cultures that get ripped apart and used by others. In a way this is true, but if done out of respect and used personally rather than as an attempt to dilute or otherwise lessen the culture from which it is taken from, than I, personally, do not see any wrong in it. An old proverb, made popular by Charles Caleb Colton, states that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” If that proverb doesn’t fit perfectly, I don’t know what does.
Witchcraft in its most broad of definitions is the practice of magic. The style, or form, in which the Witch practices is as unique as the Witch themself. Witchcraft can be just a spiritual journey or practiced as part of a religion (there is more than just Wicca, find out in part 2!).
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