Misconceptions of Witchcraft
First, please read this. Tempest Smith was only twelve years old when her classmates bullied her into committing suicide due to her faith. There are many vulnerable people in the Witch community, and there are kids and teens in this community too. The bigotry is unacceptable. Tempest Smith's Suicide If you are a new Witch or looking to become one, I also suggest you read the entirety of this page.
Here we go...
- First, I want to point out there are two Commandments in the Bible that apply here. They go, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor," and "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain." So if you are hearing any of the following from any source whatsoever, they're breaking their own rulebook. People like far-right pundits, certain radio talk show hosts, Steve Russo, Catherine Sanders, Focus on the Family, and other so-called experts are perpetuating the same age-old Blood Libel that got Witches burned at the stake. Other sanctimonious religious people, especially certain kinds of so-called Christian, like to claim all kinds of horrible stuff about people of other religions too - Islam, Santeria, Asatru, Druidry, Wicca, Native American religion, and pretty much everything that isn't exactly their denomination, even Catholicism (the irony). They often practice hatred in the name of Divine Love. It is not okay.
- "Witchcraft is terrifying and super powerful" - calm down. The Powers That Be, including any Divine Entity such as Thor, or the God of the Bible, or Allah, or literally any other Divine One, eat human efforts for breakfast and spit them out. Witches are human. No one and nothing can countermand the will of the Powers That Be. If you're worried about it and religious pray a bunch and try to have some more faith.
- "Witchcraft has one big Grand Grimoire, an equivalent to a religious text in some other monotheistic religion" - no. Witchcraft is experiential, which is why hearing people faff on and on about the Occult and about magical conspiracy theories when it's obvious the people rambling about that have never experienced jack shit in the Occult is so infuriating for many of us. You can't just read the books and pretend you understand the Craft. It's impossible, and actually experiencing the mysteries is impossible to describe. Kind of like adequately describing love. You can't do it. And the mysteries are the mysteries because you only experience them when you are ready. An old aphorism is that "the teacher appears when the student is ready to learn." That's why so many of the secrets of the Craft remain mysteries, not because they're bad or creepy, but because you wouldn't be able to handle the knowledge until you mature. I'll tell you one secret: the magic is in life itself, and in transitional times of your life, such as going to high school for the first time, going to college, graduating, and falling in love. Our rituals and initiation ceremonies are much like those transitional times.
- "Witchcraft is Satanism." No. I grew up Jewish and have the advantage of knowing that since Judaism has no devil or hell and Christianity is built off of Judaism (which itself has strong parallels to Ancient Greek religion), Christianity is the first religion after Zoroastrianism* that references a "devil," thus the devil is a Christian thing; probably a Christian invention. Witchcraft is older than all three, therefore has no "devil." As far as I know, most branches of Witchcraft are actually Goddess religion that pay homage to the Mother of all Life. For the vast majority of Witches, what we do is completely unrelated to Satanism. I can't really say if it's "opposites" because I don't know that much about Satanism, because guess what? It doesn't interest me. Unfortunately, some dishonorable cretins like to call themselves "Satanic Witch," dishonoring the Witches who died in the Burning Times by claiming they both work with something literally created by the medieval Christian Church to terrify Pagans into conversion (Satan) AND practice Witchcraft. That, in my opinion, makes them Satanists who work magic, not Witches. See here: LearnReligions and here: Religious Tolerance and here: Blood Libel. Also here: Golden Rule. What the medieval Catholic Church did was amalgamate the Horned God of nature, life, death, and fertility and Pan, the God of vegetation, wilderness, and play, into a caricaturized, blasphemed "devil" that was quite literally a scapegoat and intended to create mass hysteria so the faithful could steal the land and wealth of the Pagans. It worked quite well and the Catholic Church is extraordinarily wealthy and powerful to this day. They stole a whole lot more while they were at it, including the rituals of Easter, the Christmas tree, and many, many Pagan traditions. And then they decided to kill off most of the midwives, herbalists, and wise women, Witches or no. While they were at it they did a Crusade here, and an Inquisition there, committed genocide, and then later down the line committed lots of child abuse. Although the Catholic Church has a lot of good in it, it's got problems.
- "Witchcraft has no morality." No. There's no bogeyman in Witchcraft to blame all of your problems on. YOU are the human with all of the potential for the most horrible evil, and all of the most wonderful good, and it is YOUR responsibility to do the right thing or pay the price. You don't get to feel good about yourself if you are a horrible person because all of your 'bads' "can be blamed on external factors." You don't get to hunt down those you deem to be 'the evil ones in league with the Devil' you blame for all your problems in order to feel like some kind of superhero while avoiding personal accountability. You learn humility the easy way or the hard way but you are forced to via life lessons. And in the Craft, you fuck up, you pay dearly. This religion provides you with extra responsibility, extra power sure, but extra consequences as well. If you have the power to change things with magic, that power just as easily bites you in the ass. Why? Because actions have consequences and Witchcraft speeds up the 'actions' part. Translation: your life will fall apart if you don't do Witchcraft in a rational, sane, ethical way. I have seen people attempt to cobble together the life they wanted so desperately with "I'll get what I want no matter what" not-quite-ethical magic... and they were miserable.
- There are some who claim that Traditional Witchcraft; aka the oldest version of the Craft, gets its power from the Devil. They are helping to perpetuate the libel of the Catholic Church and to smear the Horned One, Cernunnos. The blood of our Witch forebears lies heavy on my heart and they would mock them. Shame! There is no way to describe their disgrace!
- For the record, even literal Satanism is in most cases not what evangelicals think it is. Most of the Satanists I've met have been extremely nice people. Really. I've known Satanists with happy, loving families who treated me (and everyone else) with respect and kindness when no one else would - and mind you this was in a very "Christian" place full of hateful jerks. Do I get it? Nope, and I probably never will. To my mind Cernunnos is the OG/superior, plus the devil has too many ties to Christianity - I don't have the time for that fearmongering bullshit. But don't think that just because someone is a Satanist that they are a bad person. In my experience most times that just isn't the case. Unless they also call themselves Witches or Traditional Witches, in which case yeah, they are bad people. In a world where being transgender or a minority is often a death sentence what do you think they'll do to us, huh?
- "Paganism is satanism/evil/goat sacrificing/creepy/exactly like what's in the Bible or Quran." Wrong! Wrong on every count! There are many different kinds of Paganism, most of which simply worship multiple Gods instead of just one. Important distinction from popular belief: the Gods of Pagan belief are NOT evil or human-made or even like humans at all. They are the Divine version of what force of nature they embody. For instance, Aphrodite is Divine Love. Ares is Divine, Just War. Yemaja is the Goddess of the Ocean and a Goddess of motherhood, which makes sense given the ocean is where all life on Earth originated. And so on. Most forms of Paganism also have a very strong emphasis on honoring the Earth, which is also seen to be Divine. That is my own experience dealing with a couple thousand Pagan people. You should also note that Paganism is not actually a religion because it is a blanket term for various different kinds of worship of the Gods.
- "Witchcraft is evil." Actually, it is a neutral term for working magic, generally from a Neopagan, Earth-centered, Female Divinity-oriented perspective. Some claim it has its origin in Europe, and some claim it is from everywhere. No one really knows where Witchcraft came from, or what it is exactly. What we do know is that the roots of the word "Witchcraft" may come from "Wit" and "Wisdom." Also, one's personality going into the Craft is exactly the same as it is in the Craft.
- "Witchcraft or magic is a way of making your life go exactly the way you want it to." Nope. People generally find this out from experience.
- "Magic is bad, or supernatural, or just plain weird." Incorrect. It is a part of everything and everyone in the universe. Falling in love, for instance, is magic. You could call it the Force, or vibes, or whatever; it's still magic.
- "There are no negative consequences for working bad magic." Let me make this clear: working bad magic is a crime in the eyes of the Universe and the Universe itself prosecutes it as such. There is such a thing as Universal Law. Screw up, and you won't like the results. Furthermore, any magic that causes harm, even in self-defense, is unfulfilling, unpleasant, and depressing to work. I speak from personal experience. I highly doubt that any Witch worth their salt is unwise enough to actively seek out such work. There are two kinds of Witches: good ones and stupid ones. There are no exceptions.
- "Working magic is bad or imaginary." Actually, it is a way of manipulating natural energies to create desired change. Ways of doing this have been passed down throughout the ages and refined so that they actually became effective. Magic is both sentient and linked to the forces that run through the Universe, including Deities. Anyone who misuses magic, such as by causing harm to the innocent, is severely penalized by the Powers That Be in various ways, such as karma, alienating allies through worsening personality, 'getting the wish you never should have wanted' and extreme dissatisfaction with life. These are the most minor consequences. Although Witches generally do not believe in hell, it is generally accepted that some fates are just as bad.
- People really like to take some things out of context and sensationalize them: usage of blood in magic, ritual ceremonies done in the nude, the ritual knife known as the athame, cursing/hexing, confusing fairy tales and Hollywood with the legitimate Craft, the belief that Witches are somehow 'The Biggest Baddest Awesome Glamorous.' like these guys One by one now: it is acceptable to use one's own blood, one drop, in spells for positive purposes only and with strict adherence to hygiene. Gardenerian covens tend to work in the nude; it's not necessary for a Witch to do their work in the nude. The athame is used to direct energy and never to cut anything. Cursing or hexing is acceptable if done in self-defense or for a just cause after much consideration, and never to harm the innocent. If it sounds like something that came out of a RenFaire, odds are it's probably got nothing to do with the Craft. Witches are literally just people; if they're trying to cultivate a mystique that just means they lack self-esteem. And of course the Witches depicted in the Bible are completely different from the Witches of today. They don't do the same things or believe in the same things.
- "Witchcraft has no rules." It has no WRITTEN rules. Experienced Witches have learned that there are rules indeed, ones you do not break. The most common one is "do not harm the innocent," thankfully I have never done that except by harming myself, which is dumb but hey, I learned (I think). Another rule is "create only positive changes." Any spell or working that is not specifically intended to create positive change only has, ahem, "side effects." Another is "common sense still applies in Witchcraft the same way it does in real life." Another is "do not break oaths to the Gods." Those who break their oaths are known as "warlock." In the Burning Times warlocks "outed" Witches to inquisitors. So anyone calling themselves "warlock" in the Witch community is looked at askance, to put it lightly. Breaking the rules results in Karma 2: Electric Boogaloo. It may also result in you losing all your friends, your job, and your sanity, simply because becoming a bad person tends to do that.
- "Witchcraft either doesn't work or isn't dangerous at all." False. One of many reasons why I do not recommend dabbling in the Craft before turning 18. Dangers primarily stem from the fact that little previous life experience prepares one for working magic and without expert guidance you are running blind. There is also the fact that Witchcraft by definition causes enormous, unpredictable life changes, often within a short period of time. If you aren't very wise and well grounded to begin with it's a recipe for disaster. However, the most practical danger in the Craft is the plethora of bad information on it. You can't learn the Craft from Tumblr, from TikTok (ugh), from most books on the market today, or even from a lot of people who claim to be "Witches." It takes something like five years to safely find and use the resources that help you without harming you, and that's if you manage to avoid the temptation to try things from questionable sources during that period. Bad information is worse than no information. If you have this dilemma, then you can hit me up on the MacRev Discord server and I can point you to some resources that don't suck. If I feel like it. You can also try www.pookapages.com and www.pentacle.swankivy.com.
- "Witchcraft is a low commitment way of life that doesn't involve exerting personal effort, or really any work at all." Some see it that way and then wonder why things go badly for them.
- "Witchcraft is not spiritual." Again, some believe that. It usually doesn't last long. Although each Witch tends to have a different take on spirituality, you can't stay in the Craft for very long without formulating some spirituality that works for you.
- "Witchcraft can be handled by anyone, and everyone is a Witch." Although people all have magical abilities, only a very small portion of the population is disciplined, ethical, and wise enough to handle the responsibilities of being a Witch without completely destroying their life in the process. Not only is it not for everybody, but even people who are called to the Craft as a spiritual way of life do not have an easy time of it. It is a full time job and a lifetime (or eternal) commitment. In fact, a lot of the time it isn't even that fun (but fulfilling for sure). It's a calling. That's it.
- "Witchcraft is homogenous. There is one book, one set of practices, one way of doing things." No. However there are some things that define Witchcraft to keep it from being lumped in with everything else: 1. The working of magic 2. The respect, reverence of, and acknowledgment of nature as a sentient force or forces - yes, it's animist 3. The acknowledgment of and acceptance that one's actions have consequences 4. The acknowledgment that Satan was created by Christianity and has nothing to do with the Craft. The last one is controversial for some social justice warriors who would probably say that I am gatekeeping. I hate them. Indeed, I think they are pretty close to a modern-day version of the warlocks of days gone past, though most of them probably swore no oaths to the Gods. What they claim to work with, Satan, is modern... and Witchcraft is anything but modern. If this is you, then I implore you to choose the Horned God and claim your title as a Witch or just go with Satanism and say you are a Satanist. You can't be both. As for anyone claiming the Horned God IS the devil, well, I don't have words vile enough for you. Is the genocide of the Burning Times not enough for you? Must you destroy the legacy of the Craft as well?
- "Witches are special/exceptional/insert-label-here." No. Just people.
- "Witches do Witch stuff all the time." You have any idea how freaking exhausting that would be? Yikes!
- Witchcraft is glamorous and cool. *laughs*
*Zoroastrianism referenced a bogeyman called "Ahriman" which was supposedly the bad guy. Other religions that referenced a "bad guy" with supposed big old powers included Egyptian (Apep), Babylonian (Tiamat), Mithraic (kind of unclear), and various other stuff that originated in Mesopotamia, Sumeria, Babylonia and the Fertile Crescent. However, historians often fail to realize that the Fertile Crescent, source of White People Beliefs, was not the center of the goddamn universe and that it was not the only source of religion on Planet Earth. Consider: Chinese (Taoist) pantheon, Native American pantheons, Japanese pantheon, African pantheons (Africa being the cradle of civilization as far as we know), Aborigine beliefs. It gets complicated. I don't know if the oldest religions referenced a "bad guy" but as far as it seems, nothing indicates that pre-Neolithic Revolution hunter-gatherers believed in any such thing. It seems to have been an invention of the Neolithic era for some reason. And for the record, no one knows where the Craft came from, just that it has definite rituals, traits, traditions, and beliefs which match up with beliefs older than Christianity, and for the same reasons is probably older than Egyptian religion. Archeologists, ya there?
Cultural Differences Between Witchcraft and Monotheistic Religions
- Witchcraft is not just a way of life, a practice, and a religion, it is also a bunch of cultural beliefs. Here is how they stand out.
- There is no central dogma. There is no sacred text, unless you believe that nature can be considered a sacred text. Witches often have an individual diary of their personal experiences with spirituality called a Book of Shadows. That's it. And of course, Witches do not believe in the sacred texts of other religions, including the Quran, the Bible, the Vedas, etc. Therefore there is nothing in the Craft that disallows being LGBTQ+, having respect for women and nature, valuing the Earth, being sex-positive, or working magic. Most notably there is nothing in the Craft that encourages fear at all, or blind obedience. In fact it seems many of the other religions' sacred texts were specifically written to terrify their adherents away from doing anything related to the Craft, and to encourage them to kill Witches, for reasons known only to the scribes.
- Witches tend not to worship or work with anything that is unethical but calls itself Divine. To a lot of Witches, what is written about in various sacred texts seems more like a demon than an infinitely loving Deity, mostly because a lot of Witches actually have had experience banishing demons, which is as unpleasant as it sounds. Other Witches believe that a perfect, infinitely loving Divine still works its will through those sacred texts and religions. And yet others don't know.
- A lot of Witches have been seriously traumatized by their experiences with other religions. The hurt runs deep. For extreme examples of this see High Magick by Damien Echols and Tempest Smith's Suicide. It really hasn't been that long since we've been burned at the stake - which by the way is a negative, harmful magic ritual and done to an innocent Witch is technically classified as black magic. And Witches do not have the monopoly on sending bad energy, oh no. Energy follows intention, and with enough intention, hatred can be felt and it can hurt, and it is evil. Now that you know, I hope you personally do not focus too hard on hatefully wishing someone ill. Witch or no, you can hurt someone that way... and you will reap the karmic consequences. Luckily the opposite is true and merely by being loving and positive you can create some good karma for yourself while blessing others.
- Historic activities associated with Witchcraft according to my research: midwifing, herbalism, honoring the forces of nature, healing, counseling, learning and literacy, serving the Divine in one way or another, gardening, bathing, housekeeping, general clergy duties such as handfastings and funerals. Many of the older folk magic charms that survived until the present day had to do with protecting one's family and home. If you have a family superstition that "just makes you feel better," it may be a relic of an older Pagan religion or of the Craft. For instance, an evergreen wreath on the door during Yuletide is placed there for protection and luck, and Easter eggs are also ancient charms for both protection and fertility.
- Witchcraft doesn't define magic as that "harry potter" explosions and fireballs stuff. Honestly it's more like "kissing a boo boo to make it better," "add a pinch of love to this meal," and "hugging trees" type stuff. Or sometimes banishing nasty ghosts. Or kissing your mate. Most magic is done with the help of the Divine. Actually, ritualistic prayers are a kind of magic. One good example of this is the wedding ceremony. Since magic is seen to be both real and important, and originating from one's mental state, Witches are taught to control their thoughts, intentions, energies, and mental health early on in order to prevent snafus.
- There is no intermediary between a Witch and the Divine; no priest or rabbi or clergyperson. The Witch IS the clergyperson. Usually this results in a daily large amount of both prayer and confusion. The nature of the Craft seems to require sincere communion with the Powers That Be, often. How, exactly, a Witch goes about it is their business. The Craft also requires deep introspection, at the very least so you can figure out what is sacred to you and what your ethical boundaries are.
- At heart Witchcraft is about one's own personal, spiritual truth, which is actually a lot harder to figure out than you'd expect. It is not dictated to you from outside of yourself. You have to figure it out yourself.
- Witches do not believe; they know from experience. Frankly if they blindly believe they're doing it wrong.
- The consequences for not working on yourself and doing your best to be a good person seem to be a lot more obvious in the Craft than they are in other religions. This effort has to continue day in, day out, 24/7, 365. Remember what I said about Karma 2: Electric Boogaloo? Yeah... that's why.
- Witchcraft welcomes psychics, especially those who were born with similar abilities. Monotheistic religion doesn't really have a way of dealing with that except to make psychics into clergy who can then put those talents to good use in communion with Deity. At worst, however, monotheistic religion can treat people with psychic abilities as if they are crazy or possessed, or it can claim that those abilities are imaginary. For anyone who has ever had any psychic talent, they can tell you it sure ain't imaginary, and it really isn't that convenient or fun unless you know how to deal with it!
- Monotheistic religions demand goodness. Witchcraft heavily suggests it, as a result of simple observation of the laws of cause and effect. It is often seen as both desirable and wise to do one's best to embody positivity, goodness, love, and one's highest ideals in the Craft.
- Monotheistic religions often stifle original expression in an attempt to prevent evil. Witchcraft actually has a habit of dragging its practitioners through something called "shadow work," where you face your worst tendencies head-on, learn from them, get rid of what you don't want and learn from what is good, and even gain power from your dark side. In the Craft, dark is not evil unless you make it that way. Also, shadow work is generally seen to be beneficial, creating both wisdom and a prevention of literal evil in the Witch. If you know someone who perpetually insists on "lace and kittens" everywhere but has the worst personality you've ever seen, or know a bunch of metalheads that are gentle and sweet when not headbanging, then you understand this concept.
- Have you ever heard of animism? Yeah, Witchcraft is an animist belief system. Herbs, crystals, the Earth Herself - these are believed to be sentient and deserving of the utmost respect.
- There is no concept of original sin in Witchcraft, nor of anything that saves you from the consequences of your actions. Therefore since there is nothing that forgives you or absolves you of the consequences of your actions, there is little tolerance for making poor decisions. Discipline and devotion to personal ethics are a must in the Craft.
- Neither nature nor women are seen as evil or inferior but in fact are considered divine. You must respect your mama in the Craft.
- Sex is not seen as evil, but as sacred. It is also approached with a serious emphasis on consent, informed decision-making, and making sure that no one gets hurt.
- Reincarnation and life after physical death are very common beliefs in Witchcraft, mostly because a lot of us can actually see ghosts, or have other psychic abilities. And a lot of us can remember our past lives. Tied into these are very often deeply held beliefs about Deity, and how that Deity relates to birth-and-death transitions. Therefore it's usually seen as important to honor and respect the Dead.
- It is not seen as good to subvert your will to a higher power in the Craft. Thinking for yourself is emphasized before "surrendering to a higher power" mainly because no one knows if you're actually surrendering to a higher power or to some spirit that wandered in and decided to interrupt your channeling. In the Craft it is generally supposed that we should think for ourselves and logically reason out how to do things; stand on our own two feet; instead of be slaves to an invisible force or being, even if it calls itself the master of the universe. Personally I have also noticed that the Gods and the Lord and Lady (female and male Divine; very close concept to God of the Bible/sacred highest power of the universe) don't seem to like it when you try to have them make all of your decisions for you.
- Monotheistic religions have all the answers; you do not need to experience anything, but just follow along with the one sacred textbook. Witchcraft is experiential. You don't understand it at all unless you experience the rituals yourself; call on Deity yourself; try things. Then you really know you don't have all the answers.
- Monotheistic religions are each the "one and only true religion." Witchcraft is decidedly not. In fact, it is forbidden to recruit anyone into the Craft and even people who wish to become Witches must first learn all they can about it for the traditional year and a day. Also, there is no sense of superiority for being a Witch, because it is not seen as the "best religion ever," just the best path for that particular person with their unique needs and quirks.
- Monotheistic religions have a large list of ways in which their adherents must conform. There is little relevance for or demand for personal freedom. Witchcraft's main emphasis is on personal independence, freedom, and choice. All of these are cherished core values.
- Truth is another core value in the Craft. Therefore, Witches generally get as much education as they possibly can, reading through libraries' worth of stuff. Dogma is anathema to the religion, particularly if it happens to be false, or a half-truth, or something like that. Skepticism comes with the territory.
- Monotheistic religion has a large emphasis on fear. Adherents follow the rules out of fear of punishment, as well as desire for reward. Although Witchcraft does have some emphasis on fear, it is based on practicality derived from personal experience, the experience of another Witch, or common sense.
- Monotheistic religions have a value system that defines morality for their adherents. Each Witch creates their own and adapts it to changing circumstances based on experience and hard-earned wisdom. For many Witches, their value system, or what they personally believe to be right, and/or what they personally cherish and hold to be sacred, is worth more to them than any threat of punishment or promise of reward. This is not always a bunch of guidelines created by personal experience; in fact sometimes it is straight up dictated to the Witch by a Deity or even a pantheon. There is also a very heavy emphasis in the Craft on rituals for personal improvement, which usually involves the Gods in some way. And any contact with the Gods will improve one's personality if you let it.
- Monotheistic religions often use magic and yet claim it is evil. Witchcraft uses magic and accepts it as an intrinsic part of the religion. Admittedly magic is not misused as often by those in monotheistic religions as it is by poorly-trained or ethically questionable Witches.
- Witchcraft sees divinity as something that pours through every other legit religion, and accepts other religious paths, and is a part of other paths in many ways. However, monotheistic religions recoil in horror from the Craft and claim it is evil, etc. for whatever reason they see fit to peddle today, usually in order to gain money. Hopefully that changes soon.
- In other words, yes, monotheistic religion is absolutely chock full of divine magic (see the bottom portion of Nondenominational Spirituality for an explanation of allowing the Divine to work magic for you aka miracles). People often come into the Craft because they want reassurance, safety, a little more power in an uncaring world, and so on, when that's completely unnecessary. Monotheistic religions already have all that if you actually follow their practices and delve into them a little more to understand the why and how. So does a lot of other stuff, such as (really) being very into science. Magic = miracles. Miracles = magic. Magic gets demonized, miracles get canonized, there is absolutely no difference, that's the way it goes.
All The Ways People Have Screwed Up Witchcraft
- Witchcraft is certainly not perfect. From historic crackpots like Aleister Crowley to Gerald Gardner's special brand of crazy to the tumblr social justice warrior Witch of your choice, it's been twisted and contorted too often.
- Craving Power and Control: This is not the way. Many years ago I got addicted to the notion that as a Witch I could have anything I want, and I wanted it all, right then and there. I was still Wiccan at the time (converted to Witchcraft only recently) and thought obeying the 'harm none' rule was enough but I pushed too hard for everything and got greedy for goodies; I was still working what was technically ethical magic. Well, the Universe threw me for a loop by getting rid of my desire to work magic for a good couple years, and if you're a Witch you know how disconcerting that can get since magic is a part of you. It was not good because I was human, not Divine, and I didn't know what I truly needed. In a word, the Craft is about the Sacred, not craving for power and domination and control, and if you become too imbalanced towards the latter, too focused on working magic for every little thing you want, everything will start to fall apart. There's a reason Laurie Cabot states that Witchcraft is a religion of enlightenment; you need to strive for wisdom in order to do it correctly. It took a lot of crazy stuff happening for me to realize that I wasn't such hot shit, and that the Craft is a spirituality first, a religion second, and a practice third. So if you don't figure out the spirituality and religion part first and - importantly - the ethical boundaries and foundation that comes with that - you won't have a foundation to stand on and the whole thing will go to shit. Better to not work magic at all than to try to do anything you aren't totally feeling that 'this is right' feeling about.
- Failing To Think Things Through: Because actions have consequences and with magic, those consequences are far-reaching, potentially devastating if you make a mistake. There is no room for error. NONE. See why I say the Craft is not for everybody?
- Playing Pretend and Saying It's Witchcraft: a major reason why no one takes the religion seriously. Indeed, you can LARP all you want, but that's not Witchcraft. It's the difference between imagining a change and directly causing a change. If nothing changes no matter how vividly you imagine something, you aren't practicing the Craft. You're just daydreaming.
- Power Tripping: yes, a lot of people join up because they think they'll get Ultimate Power Over The Universe. That's not how it works, but they are insufferable assholes until they learn that indeed, that's not how it works.
- Bloated Ego: this needs no explanation.
- Performative Witchcraft: because sharing your Craft on social media for the world to see can be done for one of two reasons 1. you want to help people and 2. you want to be praised. Attention-seeking Witches give us all a bad name, for heaven's sake, please stop it.
- Fluffy Bunnies and the Anti-Fluffy Bunnies: one side of the spectrum is the stereotypical New Age person that can't handle anything that isn't dainty and perfect, the other side of the spectrum is the person who is allergic to the first type and often enjoys being an insufferable edgelord, perhaps even fully embracing the stereotype of "big bad spooky Witch." They both give us all a bad name, for heaven's sake, please stop it.
- Social Justice Warrior: takes cancel culture to new and improved levels to the point of trying to bring about the world of 1984, complete with newspeak, censorship, and playing whack-a-mole with any person who isn't so 24/7 plugged into social media that they don't know about the new flavor of "woke" they're supposed to be today. They give us all a bad name, for heaven's sake, please stop it.
- Using Witchcraft as a replacement for mental health care: this is just sad. Witchcraft will guaranteed make any mental illness worse, unfortunately. I know from experience.
- Using Witchcraft as an excuse for criminal behavior: doubly stupid. 1. Karma will kick your ass 2. It proves that you really suck at magic, because using criminal behavior as a crutch for working magic means you don't know the real techniques for doing magic at all. I d i o t.
- Bastardizing the Craft by mixing it with other stuff that is incompatible or via excessive cultural appropriation: nope, it isn't a good idea to invoke a different Deity every day, nope, it is not compatible with Islam or most kinds of Judaism (Kabbalah is a notable exception but, having been raised Jewish, I question whether Kabbalah is even Jewish at all; I left Judaism behind out of respect when I converted to the Craft).
- Misusing the Craft: harming the innocent in any way, forcing someone to "love" you, or interfering with someone innocent's free will are all major reasons why the Craft has such a bad reputation in the first place. Also, it'll make every other Witch declare open season on you to force you to stop.
Little-known facts about Witchcraft
- New Age and conspiracy crap which revolves around magical thinking, "faith," "belief," and so on often has very distant ties to actual magic and thus to Witchcraft. The difference is that real magic takes hard work and effort, and most importantly TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE CONSEQUENCES OF YOUR ACTIONS. These dipshits think that if they believe hard enough, all of their wildest dreams will come true, all of their problems will be solved without any effort on their part, and nothing will ever be difficult again (usually with an "if only They would stop keeping us down" threat narrative). Real magic is the opposite. The more impressive the goal, the harder you have to work, and the more you have to give up (time, energy, bad personality traits, habits, even material stuff like incense and candles). Magic isn't your fucking free lunch. And even if you start out by doing it only for yourself, over time you come to realize it's not for yourself at all but for the benefit of the whole universe. That's a whole lot of responsibility.
- This is not so much a religion as it is a job.
- People who dabble in the Craft, either short term by trying to gain instant gratification or long term by not taking it seriously, are in for a whopper of a surprise: if you don't do this right, all kinds of stuff can go wrong in short order. For starters, doing anything intentionally with magic is wildly noticeable to spirits and attracts them. There's also the fact that everyone has a Guardian Angel and ancestors watching over them, plus a slew of Deities that have taken an interest in them. And when you start to work magic it alerts every Deity that exists and they start to take a very active interest in what you're up to. Mess up, and you answer to them. Plus of course there is karma, and then there are other X-factors such as the other people that are involved, and more. It's chaos. There's a lot more going on spiritually when you cast a spell than just follow a recipe and hope it works. Get greedy, be impatient or unwise, do the wrong thing - and pay the price.
If you read through all this because you have more or less been called to the Craft even before you knew there was a name for it, know that you are loved, you are appreciated, and you are not alone. There are many more of us, in places you would never expect, and many of us are proud of you. Keep your chin up and always be true to yourself.
Why I am a Witch: I never have to lie to myself. There's no cognitive dissonance. If something isn't true, I don't need to pretend it is. Here are two books that I recommend: Embracing the Moon by Yasmine Galenorn and Dancing with the Sun by Yasmine Galenorn; they'll tell you everything you need to know about the Craft. Understand: they are textbooks intended to be put to use, not scriptures, but do not do anything from them unless you have studied the Craft for a year and a day and then dedicated yourself to it. Practicing the Craft carries with it extreme responsibility and accountability. IT'S NOT FOR EVERYONE.