*Author’s note: This article is not meant to offend any other faiths. Witches are accepting of all unless it is harmful to the individual or the community at large.
I am a witch.
The word Witch is said to have many meanings—Wise One, Wicked, Wicker (bent).
In ancient times, witches were the wise women and the healers of the community, using their knowledge of herbs, the stars, the forest, animals and their deep intuition to help and assist.
Witches were the gifted ones, and often the lonely ones. For being gifted has always been to be misunderstood.
It is surmised that the oldest religion was one in which the Great Goddess was worshiped as the giver of life, with the great gift of being able to bear children. Women were revered and honored for their strength and mysterious connection to the Moon. It was only much later in history that the Masculine gained power and Patriarchal religions overshadowed and eventually took over worship of the Great Mother.
It is sad then that in the advent of the early and well meaning Christians that the pagan holidays were eventually taken over by the new religion and made into their own. Our God Cernunnos, God of the forest, was taken and made into the Devil. Hence, witchcraft has been associated with Satanism. Which could never be true, since Satan is a Christian concept and not an entity that witches believe in at all.
Many of our feasts, holidays and symbols were stolen and warped. But slowly, we have begun to claim them back in an age which the Goddess is slowly reentering the collective consciousness. The feminine is being reclaimed as equal (and complimentary) to the Masculine.
I was blessed to have Wicca come to me. After a Tarot Reading by someone I was very close to, I was advised that the path of the Goddess—my femininity—was the key to my spiritual path.
Of course, I thought.
Since a little girl, I had drawn and redrawn the image of the Goddess in many forms. I went online and within 10 minutes, had found a group to study with. In Wicca, one has to study a year and a day before you get fully initiated.
Since the beginning I have had people fire questions at me such as, I’ve been asked if Wicca is a religion. If we sacrifice animals. If our gatherings are just one big orgy.
I want to reassure you we are neither animal sacrificers, nor are we Satanic. I know that much of the world has woken up and is much more accepting but there is still some mystery surrounding this beautiful path of being.
Here are the most common questions a Witch is asked:
1. Is Wicca a religion?
Yes, it is. We take vows and either initiate ourselves or get initiated into Wicca. It is a lifelong commitment but not one you can’t walk away from.
We don’t believe in punishment, except of the kind we bring upon ourselves through our own deeds. Witches are solely responsible and accountable to themselves.
I was initially resistant to the idea of organized religion, having rid myself of the chains of it a few years prior. But soon I realized that this is not a fear based religion as so many are. I could embrace it in all its freedom.
2. Do you worship only female deities? Are you feminists?
No. We worship both the Male and Female aspects of the Creator in whatever form they take. We believe in balance—the duality of everything.
Males or females can be witches—we don’t hold any bias’ (although there are some women only covens out there, mine is, but it just happened that way naturally).
I always felt wrong about believing in only a Male God. It made no sense to me and much of my life was spent apologizing to a stern father both spiritually and in reality. This new path brought my life into far more balance.
3. What is Magick and is it widely practiced?
Yes, we do work with Magick.
Magick is working with clear intent and using energy to manifest that intent. You can use visualizations—writing an intent down, thinking of an intent or saying one out loud. There are many ways to attract what we want.
With that said, as with any religion or spiritual practice there are people (who call themselves witches) who work with ill intent. We don’t condone or encourage this at all and often these are misguided souls new to the power that comes from being accountable to no one but yourself.
Admittedly, it was hard for me to understand the concept of Magick at first. It all seemed so kooky. But from my first few rituals, I realized that working with clear intent was extremely powerful and yielded surprising results.
4. Are there any rules?
We live by the Wiccan Rede, which is a guideline for how to live.
It states, “An ye harm none, do as thou wilt.”
This is the only rule we live by. As long we we harm no one, we are free to do as we will. We also believe in the Threefold law—whatever we do to others, comes back to us times three. Pretty much the same as Karma.
This was probably the best news I had ever heard. Only one rule? Karma?
Sign me up.
5. What about all the sexual stuff?
Witches believe that sex is sacred. Some of us do ritual skyclad (without clothes) as we believe in this way, we are most open and vulnerable to each other along with the Gods and Goddess. This doesn’t mean we have an orgy afterwards.
Some covens do re enact the sacred rites of fertility during Beltane, a festival that celebrates the Union of the God and Goddess. This is usually done by a Priest and Priestess. Witches don’t, so we use altar tools such as an Athame (a pointed object such as a wand or dagger) and a bowl to symbolize the sacred union.
Sex magic is powerful stuff, so I have heard. I’m not totally against it. But in my coven of 3 women we don’t see the need.
6. What is involved in a Wiccan Ritual?
Magick, of course.
We get together to work with intention at New Moon and with growth and completion at Full Moon.
We welcome in the God and Goddess and welcome the four elements. Within that space, we work with energy, visualization and intention. Afterwards, we drink wine and eat delicious food and discuss our lives, hopes and dreams. A coven is a tight brotherhood/sisterhood between people and you have to be ready to be 100% vulnerable with one another.
I love Ritual and have from the beginning. I am someone who never really has put my needs or wants out there, even within my relationships. To have the opportunity to truly understand what it is that I want is a great blessing. Better yet, I get to share that with others.
I see myself walking within Wicca for many years to come. Wicca has helped me to develop myself—to know my needs and desire and to be brave enough to ask for them.
It has brought me the gift of sisterhood and of reclaiming my femininity—curing the shame of my childhood, the shame of being born a woman. It has taken away the guilt of so called sin and replaced it with healthy self-love and respect for my sexuality. It has brought great balance into my life.
Wicca is a wonderful gift and I am joyful to see it come full circle in life and claim its rightful place in society.
Author: Margarita Stoffberg
Apprentice Editor: Carlene Kurdziel / Editor: Renee Picard