WHAT DO WITCHES BELIEVE?
|By: Dr. John Ankerberg and Dr. John Weldon; ©1999|
|What do witches believe? The broad answer is “pretty much whatever they want to believe.|
WHAT DO WITCHES BELIEVE?
- “And now, before we go to bed, let us sing the school song! … Everyone pick their favorite tune,” said Dumbledore, “and off we go!” (Headmaster Albus Dumbledore,Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, p. 127)
- An’ it harm none, do as ye will. (Wiccan Rede)
What do witches believe? The broad answer is “pretty much whatever they want to believe.” The Wiccan Rede (Creed) is “An it harm none, do as ye will.” According to the web site The Witches Voice, ” ‘Harm’ is defined as ‘physical or mental damage’ and to this we can add ‘psychic damage’ as well. To inflict harm on another is simply not a thing that a Witch would do.” (www.witchvox.com)
Other statements follow. Notice that some make a distinction between “traditional” witches and “Wiccans,” the modern revival of witchcraft.
- Traditional Witches are not monotheistic nor do they follow any revealed scripture (Torah, Gospels, Quran, Book of Mormon, etc.). Traditional Witches do not worship any entity as their superior, though they recognize the existence of other entities. They believe in the equality of all beings in the Universe, seeing them as different, separate, but never superior or inferior. This difference is often a source of confusion. A Traditional Witch may speak of the God and the Goddess, referring to the female and male aspects of Nature, but while they revere and respect Nature, they do not worship it or its representatives. Traditional Witchcraft is polytheistic and animistic, meaning that they incorporate a number of elements and spirits into a meaningful whole. (www.geocities.com/echo879/)
Wren Walker, writing at www.witchvox.com, defines witchcraft this way:
- What is Witchcraft? Who are these Witches anyway? A practitioner of a nature-based belief system or religion. Not all Witches follow the same belief system. Some practice what is called the “old religion” which has its roots in pagan pre-monotheistic folk ways and beliefs and usually follows the seasonal cycles. These belief systems or “traditions” of Witches are often based upon the particular culture from whence they originated. Many Witches believe in a polytheistic deity structure (usually based upon the local gods and goddesses of the area of origin), but some simply practice magick (sometimes spelled with a “k” to differentiate it from stage magic). Witches may practice alone as “solitaries” or in covens. There are also family groups or traditions which trace their practices and beliefs within the same close group throughout several generations.
Information from the web site “ghostdragon.net” says that:
- Wicca, pronounces “wick-ah”, is a modern religion, based upon the ancient Western European, pre-Christian shamanic traditions. It is fertility, earth-based and nature oriented; Wiccans recognize and worship during the change of the seasons and the full and new moons…. Wicca is unique in that it has no dogmas, doctrines (sic), or set of rules…. Wiccan practices are derived from within, are personal and individual and are not mandated by any one person, hierarchy, or “Bible”.
Robert S. Ellwood, Professor Religion, University of Southern California says,
- Many followers of the ecological and feminist movements found in Wicca a religion with congenial themes. Wiccans emphasized the sacred meaning of nature and its cycles and the coequal role of gods and goddesses and of priests and priestesses. Some Wiccan groups, called Dianic (after the goddess Diana), include only women and worship the goddess exclusively. (Encarta.msn.com)
Elwood goes on to say,
- “Wicca draws from many pagan traditions, with the result that the distinctions between witchcraft, occultism, neopaganism, and various strands thereof have become blurred. Modern witchcraft is entirely different from Satanism or the diabolical witchcraft imagined by the persecutors of past centuries. Major Wiccan themes include love of nature, equality of male and female, appreciation of the ceremonial, a sense of wonder and belief in magic, and appreciation of the symbolism and psychological realities behind the gods and goddesses of antiquity.” (Encarta.msn.com)
- The Council of American Witches In the fall of 1973 a group of contemporary witches from different traditions met in Minneapolis. According to group leader Carl Weschcke, a Wiccan priest, the purpose of the group was to formulate “a common set of principles and definitions [that] would help dispel myths about witchcraft and distinguish it from Satanism in the eyes of the public and press.” Their effort was called “The Principles of Wiccan Belief,” which was endorsed by a number of witches. However, “shortly after this landmark action, the Council disbanded, due in part to continuing differences among traditions.” (Rosemary Ellen Guiley,The Encyclopedia of Witches & Witchcraft, 2nd ed., p. 65)
- The principles of Wiccan belief are as follows:
- 1. We practice rites to attune ourselves with the natural rhythm of life forces marked by the phases of the Moon and the seasonal Quarters and Cross Quarters.
- 2. We recognize that our intelligence gives us a unique responsibility toward our environment. We seek to live in harmony with Nature, in ecological balance offering fulfillment to life and consciousness within an evolutionary concept.
- 3. We acknowledge a depth of power far greater than that apparent to the average person. … it is sometimes called “supernatural,” but we see it as lying within that which is naturally potential to all.
- 4. We conceive of the Creative Power in the universe as manifesting through polarity—as masculine and feminine—and that this same Creative Power lies in all people, and functions through the interaction of the masculine and the feminine. … We value sex as pleasure, as the symbol and embodiment of life, and as one of the sources of energies used in magickal practice and religious worship.
- 5. We recognize both outer worlds and inner, or psychological, worlds sometimes known as the Spiritual World, the Collective Unconsciousness, Inner Planes, etc.—… We neglect neither dimension for the other, seeing both as necessary for our fulfillment.
- 6. We do not recognize any authoritarian hierarchy but do honor those who teach, respect those who share their greater knowledge and wisdom, and acknowledge those who have courageously given of themselves in leadership.
- 7. We see religion, magick and wisdom in living as being united in the way one views the world and lives within it—a world view and philosophy of life which we identify asWitchcraft—the Wiccan Way.
- 8. Calling oneself “Witch” does not make a Witch—…. A Witch seeks to control the forces within her/himself that make life possible in order to live wisely and well without harm to others and in harmony with nature.
- 9. We believe in the affirmation and fulfillment of life in a continuation of evolution and development of consciousness giving meaning to the Universe we know and our personal role within it.
- 10. Our only animosity towards Christianity, … is to the extent that its institutions have claimed to be the “only way” and have sought to deny freedom to others and to suppress other ways of religious practice and belief.
- 11. As American Witches, we are not threatened by debates on the history of the Craft, the origins of various terms, the legitimacy of various aspects of different traditions. We are concerned with our present and our future.
- 12. We do not accept the concept of absolute evil, nor do we worship any entity known as “Satan” or “the Devil,” as defined by Christian tradition. …
- 13. We believe that we should seek within Nature that which is contributory to our health and well-being. (Guiley, pp. 65-66)