What are Witches?
What do Witches Believe?
Are there different types of Witches?
Do Witches have a moral code?
If you accept that Witches still
exist, what sort of people are they and why havent you heard very
much about them. The popular image of the Witch is of an old bent woman
with a hooked nose wearing a tall pointed black hat and a long black
cape riding a broomstick in the company of a black cat. This is a stereotype
that has been perpetuated and popularised by such diverse media as fairy
tales, cartoons, fantasy fiction, TV, horror and comedy films. Examples
of a Witch portrayed in a good light in the media are unfortunately
rare, however there are a few examples, such as Samantha in the old
American TV series "Bewitched". Today with the exception of
the of Halloween night you are unlikely to see many Witches that conform
to this popular stereotype.
modern witches are perfectly ordinary looking people, who you may well
meet in your everyday life and not notice anything strange about them.
A few have occupations such as Tarot reading, Astrology, or spiritual
healing where it can be an advantage to dress in an outlandish style,
but this is definitely a minority. They work in a wide variety of occupations
and may be either old or young. Both men and women can be witches as
they were in medieval times, it is often forgotten that in some countries
more men were executed for witchcraft than women.
as a group of people do tend to have some similarities. There is a deep
regard for nature in all its forms in the religion so many are members
of a wide range of ecological and environmental groups. The respect
for nature and animals also means many are vegetarians. They are people
who believe that more exists in this world and beyond than can be easily
explained by science alone. This means they have a spiritual aspect
to them that is often missing in modern western society. Wicca has both
male and female deities and has a special respect for females. This
female bias has resulted in many crossovers with feminist organisations.
do Witches Believe?
or Witchcraft is a pagan religion, this means that its adherents worship
pre-Christian Gods and Goddesses of the land. This reference for ancient
deities may at first seem strange, but the message of balance in nature
and between the sexes is very relevant and modern. The old Gods and
Goddesses have it appears been merely snoozing the centuries away, awaiting
the time when they could return to their people at their time of need.
view that life, fun, love and enjoyment of almost every kind are sacred
and the divine gift of the Gods and Goddesses is one that Christianity
would find hard to accept. In most world religions including Islam,
Christianity, and Judaism there is a predominant view that the ultimate
spiritual goal is beyond this earth and all pleasures of this world
are attempts to corrupt your true purpose. In Wicca the divine is seen
in all the fun and pleasures of this life, the old Gods were not in
the least staid or boring.
has made many mistakes regarding the environment, poisoned landscapes
and long lists of recently extinct species bear silent witness to this
fact. Many Wiccans believe that the loss of respect for the natural
world is a direct consequence of the patriarchal religions that have
dominated history for the last thousand years. This may be true, the
facts certainly support the theory, but it is undeniable that Wiccan
philosophy could not allow many of the historic environmental mistakes
to have occurred.
there different types of Witches?
Witches can be grouped into
two basic types, the coven or group Witch often referred to as a Wiccan,
and the solitary Witch or Hedgewitch. There are further subdivisions
within these broad definitions that I will not attempt to explain here.
Very generally some find the company, support and advice others can
give a vital part of their Craft. Others find satisfaction and enjoyment
on the solitary practice of their beliefs. Neither is right or wrong,
each just suits different people, and people may change over time with
solitaries joining covens and Wiccans opting for the solitary path.
Witches have a moral code?
a deceptively simple positive morality expressed in a mere eight words
"An it harm none, do what you will".
When this philosophy is followed correctly, it encourages you to think
about the effect your actions (whether magical or mundane) have on others.
You are responsible for the consequences of anything that you do, whether
good or bad. When combined with the "Law of Threefold Return"
which states :
Anything you send out, returns to you threefold
it is clear that it is important to avoid doing harm to others and doing
good will actually improve your own life.
is a very individualistic religion, so all the views expressed below
can only be one persons view. Many would agree with much stated here,
but some may have different views on some subjects
create sacred space in the form of a circle each time they work.
This is in contrast to many other religions that permanently consecrate
a place. There are many ways of constructing a circle, varying
from the very complex to surprisingly simple. The important ingredient
in all of them is you must have absolute belief that your circle
has been correctly cast. We have included a simple
circle cast suitable for beginners, or those with limited
time or space.
are many books available on the subject of Witchcraft & Wicca.
In fact the choice for a newcomer can be completely bewildering
with many similar titles to choose from. We have tried to locate
some of the best books, with an emphasis on UK based authors on
our book pages. If you can't find what you want there try our
book search engine.
still exist in the modern world?
Many people assume
that witchcraft disappeared after the witch-hunts of the middle
ages. Witchcraft was driven underground by the persecution but
it was not eliminated. The surviving Witches had to be more
careful, but carry on they did. As late as the early twentieth
century the traditional figure of the old wise witch was still
in existence (E.g. Mother Redcap from Cambridge born in the
mid-nineteenth century died 1926).
Witchcraft & witches have
often been prominent in various isolated and third world countries
around the world. They occasionally are reported in European
papers, recent cases that found their way into the UK press
include Witches in the Ivory Coast, Mexico and South Africa.
These witches can trace their tradition back through the centuries
as they have been largely accepted by their cultures and have
not had to operate covertly. These witches of the third world
while some of their practices and beliefs are very similar owe
little to the heritage of the Witches who were persecuted during
the European and American medieval witch trials.
While the persecution of witches
and publicity the authorities and the church gave to it thankfully
disappeared in the middle ages, witchcraft has persisted in
Europe up to the present day. As there is little documentary
evidence regarding the craft in the intervening centuries this
is a very difficult statement to verify. This may be partly
due to the secrecy needed before the repeal of the Witchcraft
Act in England in 1951, and because Witchcraft in early Europe
was largely a verbal tradition.
Whatever the truth of its origin
Wicca and Witchcraft have now become a fast growing minority
religion since the revival in the 1940s. It possibly now has
as many followers in some western countries as other more officially
acceptable alternative religions such as the Sikhs. Wicca is
now even recognised by some government bodies such as the American
military, which recognises it as an official religion. Even
in Britain, the UK Home Office has authorised Wiccan prison
visiting priests and priestesses.