Witchcraft Q. & A.
  1. What is a Witch?
  2. Are witches into devil worship?
  3. Do witches believe in God?
  4. What is a witch's ritual?
  5. Why do witches perform rituals and cast spells?
  6. Is spell-casting evil?
  7. Are you a good witch or a bad witch?
  8. So you are a white witch?
  9. Are there male witches? Are they called warlocks?
  10. You say witchcraft is a religion. Do you have religious holidays and festivals?
  11. Are witches psychic?
  12. I cast spells myself sometimes. Does that make me a witch?
  13. What is a pentagram?
Little WitchWhat is a witch?

That is a complex question and differs greatly depending on the witch in question! What witchcraft means varies from person to person. For those who know little about witches save what you may have learned from misleading movies or TV shows, I'd like to provide you with some general information. Or maybe you've done some reading about what the religion and practice of witchcraft entails and are interested in learning more. Either way, here are some answers to some of the most common questions people ask when they discover that I am a witch.

Kiss-o-shameAre witches into devil worship?

No. Satanists are into devil worship. The religion of Witchcraft is completely different and has nothing to do with Satanism per se, though there are a few witches who are interested in Satanism. I am not one of them and I don't know many of either.

In Ancient times, pagans worshipped different Gods, conducted rites, many of them related to fertility and lunar and solar cycles. When Christianity became the predominant religion in many parts of the world, the Gods and Goddesses of the pagans were demonized. Witchcraft is not demonic. It is a pantheistic religion that identifies spirituality and divinity with the forces of nature. We understand nature to mean, among other things, the earth, the elements, the seasons, plants, landscape and animals (including human beings).

Because witches believe that every living thing is a repository of the Divine, we do not believe in working evil spells—spells that direct harm toward our fellow creatures. We do not sacrifice animals or human beings under the light of a full moon (or any other light for that matter) as some people have been led to believe by misrepresentations of witches in films, books and television programmes.

Such practices are against all our moral and ethical codes. Witches believe in the Wiccan Rede, which states, "'An it harm none, do what you will."

Most witches also believe in the threefold rule: that anything you do, any energy you send out will come back to you in magnified form. Simply stated, this means, do good and good will return to you. Do evil and evil will return to you. Or as Christ said, "As ye sow, so shall ye reap" and "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you."

The Great GoddessDo witches believe in God?

Yes. Witches believe in a Divine power that encompasses all the forces of Nature: The Planets, The Stars, The Moon, The Sun, The Elements, animals, human beings, etc. Most witches believe in one omnipotent Divine force which is symbolized by The Goddess, the feminine principle and The God, the masculine principle. These principles are contrary but complementary. The Goddess (who is known by many names) is often viewed as being identical with Mother Nature. The God is also known by many names. He is the seed of creation, the initiating force behind life. Because witches celebrate the union of these polarities, we also celebrate sexual differences and sexuality. Sexuality is not something sinful but rather natural, the source of life and therefore Divine and sacred (and quite a bit of fun as well).

Chicken ChokersWhat is a witch's ritual?

The simple answer to this is that a ritual is the medium through which magick is practised.

Why do witches perform rituals and cast spells?

Some of the most common reasons are to put oneself in touch with the Divine by giving thanks to the Gods and celebrating natural cycles such as solstices, equinoxes and moon phases, to invoke Divine power, to bring about spiritual cleansing, healing, wealth and general good fortune, to enhance romance and psychic power and to celebrate significant events in our lives.

Is spell-casting evil?

It's amazing how many people think that casting a spell is evil but think that praying is virtuous. Forms of magick and spellcasting have always been part of religion, even mainstream religion. Nobody accuses someone who prays for a sick person's recovery of "practising the Black Arts" yet such a prayer is really nothing more than a spell to encourage healing.

Magick plays a big part in Christian, Jewish and Islamic religious practises though most adherents of those faiths would vigourously deny such a claim. In reality though, there is not much difference between magickal rites and mainstream religious rites. As the famous anthropologist Margaret Murray wrote:

"In all studies of witches and magic, one point must be kept in mind, that when anything regarded as out of the ordinary course of nature is brought about by human means, it is called a miracle if the magician belongs to the beholder's own religion, but is it magic, often black magic—if the wizard belongs to another religion."

Old-fashioned necromancy

Jesus told his followers to: "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils" (Matthew X:8) which is really the sort of work that witches do. Though I must confess, I have yet to meet a necromancer and have no real expectation of doing so in the near future.

There is a saying I like from the Victorian era children's book, The Secret Garden:

Call it magic, call it a miracle, call it a touch of the Hand of God.

Three witches attending a sick womanAre you a good witch or a bad witch?

People don't usually fit into such pat categories, but I guess I'm a good witch in that I try to be the best person I can be (though I more than occasionally fall a little short) spiritually, mentally and physically. I take my responsibilities to my fellow creatures seriously and try to be there as often as possible for those who need me.

So you are a white witch?

Well, I don't practise bad magic so I guess some might call me a white witch, but I don't particularly like the term because it implies that the colour white is good and black is bad, which is misleading. Black is actually a colour of great magickal power because it absorbs all light, thereby drawing in cosmic power. In Jewish Cabalistic tradition, black and white are the colours of knowledge. Black represents Wisdom, because it absorbs all light, and white represents Divine Light.

Lil DevilAre there male witches? Are they called warlocks?

Yes, there are male witches, and no, they are not called warlocks. "Warlock" is an archaic derogatory term used by the witch hunters during "The Burning Times"—the era of persecution and execution on a massive scale of people who were accused and convicted of witchcraft—to describe male witches. Warlock actually means "oathbreaker." A male witch is properly referred to as a witch.

You say witchcraft is a religion. Do you have religious holidays and festivals?

Witch DanceYes, witchcraft has its own holidays. The main ones are Samhain (Pagan New Year), Yule, Winter Solstice, Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Midsummer Solstice and Lugnassadh. To read more about these and the other religious festivals of witches and other pagans, click here.

Are witches psychic?

Many witches are more motivated than the average person to develop their psychic abilities. Also witch tend to concern themselves with unseen worlds and be open-minded to information gleaned through their sixth sense and less likely to dismiss such information as mere fancy. That said, I believe all people are naturally psychic though most have, through the conditioning of a society that places little value on that which cannot be measured empirically, have learned to ignore their inner voice. There are those who have a greater natural psychic gift than others but everyone can increase the degree of their psychic perception. To find out how, click here.

Ulrich Molitor's transformation sequenceI cast spells myself sometimes. Does that make me a witch?

Well, you are practicing the spell element of witchcraft, but witchcraft isn't just about casting spells and brewing potions. That is just a small part of it. There is a whole complex philosophical system behind it, as I've pointed out. If you work toward appreciating and worshipping the Divine force in the Earth and all Her creatures, celebrate life and keep your mind open to learning not just about witchcraft but to all knowledge, you are definitely on the right track!

What is a pentagram?

A pentagram is a five-pointed star drawn in one unbroken line which many witches have taken for their symbol. In the upright position, the way witches use it, it represents the human figure and also the elements with spirit taking precedence over the lower four elements.

Pentagram w/4 Elements + Spirit

A pentacle is a pentagram that is inscribed on a disc (generally circular) of parchment or metal or marked on the ground to form a magick circle.

Pentacle of Solomon Pentalpha


Text © 2000 Sheila O'Sullivan/The Electric Witch
Layout & Graphics © 2000 Kevin Andrew Murphy/Alphyn Press.
Permission granted to reproduce these texts and graphics
for inclusion in personal Books of Shadows
or for use in personal rituals only.
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