What is a witch and what is witchcraft?
Well we all know the stereotype portrayed in films and cartoons – green skin, pointy nose, warts, big black pointy hat – and whilst some witches may have some of those (maybe not the green skin) it is most definitely NOT what we are about.
Witchcraft is a religion, a way of life. A witch is what you are, who you are and what you do. It is a truly beautiful and rewarding way of living your life. Witchcraft is an Earth based religion, meaning that it is based upon reverence for nature, respect of animals, and a respect of our environment and those in it.
It is a chosen path filled with self-discovery, learning, and growth as those who claim the title of witch will grow in knowledge and experiences for a lifetime and possibly more. Witchcraft is a generic term used to describe its many extensions and sub-categories.
There are no hard rules with witchcraft, you can tailor it to your personal beliefs, traditions and rituals.
Witches can be both male and female.
Witchcraft is a polytheistic religion, this means there is more than one figurehead, a Goddess of whom has many names and a God whom also goes by many names. I think of deity as many facets to a diamond.
Witches all know and live with the God and the Goddess. They are both entities of the great All. Each witch carries a part of the God and Goddess within them. We respect them, work with them, live with them. However, to each of us the God and Goddess may be perceived differently.
The God is the male entity, the Sky father, representative of the Sun. He goes by many names and many faces - Pan, Cernunnos, Osiris, Thor and Balenos to name a few.
The Goddess is the universal mother. She is representative of the moon and the earth. She too is known my many names and faces – Gaia, Hecate, Brigid, Cailleach, Kali to name a few.
They do not rule, but they do oversee, they are present, it is all according to your beliefs. They work together, forming a whole.
The true explanation of deity is within each witch’s own heart. We reflect them with our daily intent and deed.
Witches practice ritual observance of lunar events and the seasons. Rituals are split into two groups, Sabbats and Esbats. There are eight Sabbats in a year representing the cycle of birth and death of the God, these being Yule/Winter Solstice, Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Litha/Midsummer, Lughnasadh, Mabon and Samhain.
Esbats are moon rituals, celebrating the new moons and the full moons.
These rituals are performed within sacred or magick circles, and are used for the purposes of asking for guidance and giving thanks to the Goddess and God, and are often used for the performance of magick.
Some witches are members of a coven, in which there will be a High Priestess and/or High Priest. The other members will be witches of varying degrees of initiation. There are also many, many solitary witches.
Most witches conform to a moral code called the Witches Rede, it simply states 'An it harm none, do what thou will'. This means that as long as you do no harm to anyone or anything, including yourself, you may do anything that your heart desires and has the willpower to accomplish. A witch that performs magick for the purposes of harm, will ultimately be harming themselves. This comes about by the 'Threefold Law' that states that anything that you do will be returned to you three times. So if you perform good it will be returned to you threefold, likewise any evil will be returned to you threefold - so it makes sense to only do good.
Witches practice magick, especially magick involving herbs, stones, colours, the elements and the energy of nature. However, we do not perform animal sacrifices; the only sacrifices made are of a spiritual nature.
Magic is the use of a witch's will and energy to manipulate and alter the probability of things around them. The only tool necessary to create magic is a strong will and focused intention, however, many witches will use a variety of tools as they feel need for to create their desired effect. Magic works in accordance to natural law and will not create unlikely affects such as fireballs, bolts of lightening, or resurrect the dead, well not that I know of anyway ;-).