A display of witchcraft materials
Modern witches use a variety of materials to practice witchcraft.

In July of 2015, local authorities in Pensacola found the bodies of Voncile Smith, 77, and her sons John and Richard. Due to the brutal nature of the killings, the coming blue moon (a second full moon in a lunar cycle), and the positioning of the bodies, the police concluded that there was only one culprit here: Witchcraft.

“It’s witchcraft, I’ll say that right now,” said a sheriff at the time, shocking the press. Prior to the capture of the killer, he was referred to in the press as the ‘Blue Moon Killer’. Local pagans were outraged and feared they’d be scapegoated. Voncile’s other son, David Hartung, was considered the primary suspect, mostly for his interest in the occult and his practice of Wicca. Ultimately, the police got the right man, but for the wrong reasons. Earlier this year, Hartung was convicted of the triple homicide, but his belief in Wicca had nothing to do with it. He was simply frustrated that he’d been left out of his mother’s will.

The ordeal highlights just how frequently witchcraft is unjustly blamed for society’s ills. Or how pagan beliefs are blamed for crimes, when, as in this case, the answer was simply good old fashioned greed.

Salem and Beyond

America has a long history of prejudice against witches, which often turned deadly. In fact, fear and hatred of witches predates America’s independence. During the spring of 1692 in colonial Massachusetts, two young girls accused three women - a slave, a homeless beggar, and an elderly woman - of bewitching them, setting off the Salem Witch Trials. In a desperate ploy to save her own life, one of the women, Tituba, confessed to bewitchment and accused others in the Puritan community of witchcraft, and soon accusations of witchcraft spread throughout Massachusetts, overwhelming the justice system to the point that the governor had to appoint a special court to oversee witchcraft trials and judgments. Few, if any, of those accused actually identified as witches. At the end of the mass hysteria, 20 men and women were executed for witchcraft, and at least five more died in prison before they could be tried. 

And if you think we’re long past those days, you’re mistaken. While no one is being executed for witchcraft any longer, fear of witches and the occult persists in the modern era. In the 80s and 90s, the United States underwent another moral panic - the “Satanic Panic” - which saw everything from heavy metal albums to Dungeons & Dragons to horror films scapegoated as ungodly and legislated against. And the Harry Potter series continues, to this day, to be ranked in the top 10 most challenged books list.

Taking Back ‘Witch’

Given biases against them that have historically turned violent, witches often hide their beliefs for fear of persecution. But modern witches are owning the word ‘witch’ in ways previous generations didn’t.

Witchcraft has been on the rise in the last couple of decades, the meteoric growth has even been dubbed a ‘witch Renaissance’. Growing interest in astrology and crystals can be credited in part, but feelings of disenfranchisement and lack of faith in traditional institutions like government and church are much larger contributors. Notable witch Pam Grossman told The Atlantic that “the more frustrated people get, they do often turn to witchcraft, because they’re like, ‘Well, the usual channels are just not working, so let’s see what else is out there.’”

Witches have even gone political, ‘fighting MAGA with magic’. In 2018, a “Magic Resistance” group that is 13,000 members strong held numerous binding spells against President Trump in an attempt to magically hinder his political agenda. And in a contentious election year, we’re sure to hear more about the Magic Resistance as we get closer to the November election.

Even as prejudice against witches continue, witches only grow more empowered. And with the internet, witches who, in years past, might have had no one to talk to now have thousands of fellow witches a click away.

With the witchcraft movement growing in influence every day, it’s hard not to see parallels between other marginalized faiths. And like other marginalized faith groups, in the face of adversity, witches aren’t standing down. 

What do you think about the burgeoning 'witch Renaissance'? At the end of the day, is there really much of a difference between witches gathering online and expressing their faith together, and traditional church services?

63 comments

  1. Reverend Cory's Avatar Reverend Cory

    It's another set of beliefs, no better or worse than any others. People fear what they don't understand,. They won't even take some time to try and understand.

    1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

      Witchcraft is sometimes confused with Satanism, even though Satan is not a Wiccan deity, but only a Christian myth.

    2. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

      Early on in my Wiccan training I asked my mentor what the difference was between being Wiccan and a Witch. To that he said "You have to be one of us to know the difference." With that I was enlightened. And that is the most concise explanation I can give. Blessed be!

    3. Ivette Garcia's Avatar Ivette Garcia

      Thank you, my thoughts exactly!

    4. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

      Wicca and Witchcraft is not only a set of beliefs, but a life path; a way of being, which makes it much more than a religion.

    5. Sandra Lent's Avatar Sandra Lent

      Very true.

  1. Krystina S.'s Avatar Krystina S.

    Having participated in Wiccan ceremonies, Buddhist chanting, training for Catholicism, Jewish education, brought up Orthodox Christian, etc. I understand the need to believe. That is why I am an interfaith Minister. I celebrate the Divine in each, the ability to transform a person into the best version of themselves. I also know these beliefs can be used to vilify one another, to disbelieve Science, to sow division. Wicca, Witchcraft, other spiritual beliefs are beneficial as they bring a person into alignment with the Holy Within. The celebration of the Earth and the Natural cycles of Earth, Moon, and stars is one of the original, foundational beliefs-- still practiced by the majority of indigenous peoples around the world, to their unique understanding thereof. Yes, Witchcraft has been reimagined for this day and age. And that is alright. Scapegoating of women, the aged, the infirm, disabled and poor has been a horrific legacy of Christianity. I remember that inane police obsession with kids who would paint a cross on a rock just to fool with them. It hearkens back, for sure, to a dangerous time in our past when "different" was evil. When beliefs were proscribed rigidly, when jealousy, fear, and disgust reigned. Are we so different now? Xenophobia is one face of this shameful "othering." And that it is so-called "Christians" who spout this hatred, and act on it, is shameful upon shameful, for it exactly goes against that which Jesus preached. Thank you to the Wicca, the Witches, the Pagans, all, including those Christians faithful to Jesus, who fight against this. Thank you, keep it up, Witches against MAGA!!! Use your Majik, your Spells, as others use their Prayers, their Petitions, their VOTES!

    1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

      Us Wiccans also pray, meditate, and vote. May the best Biden win!!!

      1. Amber Fry's Avatar Amber Fry

        Carl, I have to say I honestly about spewed my coffee everywhere reading that... but I agree! Vote blue!

      2. Lori Anne James's Avatar Lori Anne James

        So mote it be!

  1. Lori Mongillo's Avatar Lori Mongillo

    Neo-Paganism is different for each practitioner. No two will agree on specific beliefs, and yet when they do get together in an open circle they work well together in ritual. Some don't care for the word "Witch", perhaps because of the controversial drama the word evokes. Others love to use the term simply because it stirs hostility in people of other faiths. I consider myself a Pagan. I use the word "Witch" as a more humorous term. While many believe in the gods and goddesses of myths, I do not. My focus is based in science, experience and what I see in the natural world. The God and Goddess are the masculine and feminine aspects of the Great Mysterious Spirit and the connective web that allows all things to interact. I have met many "Witches" that live in a delusional world and I have also met many that are down to earth and practical. This kind of expanse is true in all faiths. Our growing numbers are a reaction to not wanting to be told how and what to think, as in many other belief systems. We are viewed as evil or crazy because we are a free thinking, complex community. Much of the mainstream religions don't really know what to make of us. I do know that many are taking a second look at their belief systems and seeking a more earth centered relationship with the Creator. They're finding that if we don't develop a spiritual connection with the Earth, we aren't going to exist much longer. Our planet is in trouble. If our only message to other faiths is one of controversy, we need to grow up, as they do too. Instead of playing the part of a bad ass witch, maybe we can bring a more grounded, loving message that can be viewed as resisting the negative impact to the Earth, rather than resisting what each other believes. Acceptance of our differences, and working together, are the only things that will help this world. It's time to wake up!

  1. T Kosse`'s Avatar T Kosse`

    Below are 16 examples of the different types of witches 1. Traditional Witch Traditional witches are witches who have a base in the history of witchcraft and the Old Craft that came before Wicca. They take a historical (traditional) approach to their practice and often will study their ancestors or other folklore attached to witchcraft. Traditional witches want to honor the “old” ways of practicing their craft, and will often focus on working with the local history and spirits of where they are or where they’ve come from. While these witches do old history and customs in high regard, there are absolutely contemporary traditional witches practicing today. 2. Gardnerian Witch Gardnerian Wicca is a practice of Wicca that came about in the 1950s and because of Gerald Gardner, often considered to be “The Father of Wicca”, spread across the world. Those who practice Gardnerian Wicca have strong ties to nature, challenge societal norms, and have many rituals that are the foundation of their practice. In order to be a Gardnerian witch you must be initiated, members cannot initiate themselves. There is also an incredibly structured system of advancing as a witch and with your practice as you grow and learn more about your craft. 3. Alexandrian Witch Founded in the 60s by Alex and Maxine Sanders, Alexandrian Wicca is a British derivative of Wicca and witchcraft. Alexandrian Wicca has a lot of similarities to its sister Gardnerian Wicca, but also pulls elements of ceremonial magick and Qabalah as well. Alexandrian Wicca is seen as “more eclectic” and is less structured than Gardnerian Wicca. They follow the belief of “if it works, use it.” Witches still must be initiated in order to practice, and there are degrees and levels of advancement that can be achieved as a witch moves along in their practice. Their covens meet on new moons, full moons and during Sabbat festivals 4. Correllian Witch Correllian-Nativist Tradition, or Correllian Wicca, was founded in the late 20th century by Caroline High Correll. She claimed to come from a line of hereditary witches, and was a psychic, spiritual healer, and herbalist. Heavily influenced by her supposed lineage and Aradian witchcraft, she was head of the church until her death in the 1940s. Correllian Wicca was not recognized as Wicca until the 1990s, and was seen more as eclecticism and universalism. Correllian Wicca is one of the most widespread practices still in existence today. 5. Sea Witch A sea witch has strong ties to water and the ocean and uses that element often in her practice. Sea and ocean magick will often use sand, shells, driftwood, or other elements that come from that place. Sea witches feel connected to water and anciet folklore involving sirens etc. 6. Kitchen Witch Also known sometimes as a hearth witch or a home witch, kitchen witches create most of their magick in the home or in the kitchen. They are very home-based, often incredibly nurturing, and love to make their home a truly special and sacred space. Kitchen witches love to cook and brew and use herbs, sometimes gathered from their own garden. When practicing they combine their own personal and individual magical energy with essential oils, herbs, food, and everyday objects to create their spells, rituals, and magick. 7. Hedge Witch Hedge witches practice what’s known as “hedge jumping” which is venturing out of this world and into the Otherworld. Hedge witches can communicate with the spiritual world and can send messages between both worlds. Hedge witches practice astral projection as well as work with herbs and Earth based magick. But what makes them specifically a hedge witch is their ability to cross the “hedge” aka: the boundary between this world and the spirit world. It’s thought that the “flying on a broomstick” legend was a misunderstanding based on hedge witches “flying” into the siritual realm. 8. Dianic Witch Dianic witches practice the most feminist of all witchcraft practices. Followers of the Cult of Diana are all women, so no men allowed. Dianic witches worship the Goddess through all three of her aspects—Maiden, Mother, and Crone. Rituals and worship can vary, but all have feminist aspects and come from a feminist standpoint.

  1. T Kosse`'s Avatar T Kosse`

    Below are 16 examples of the different types of witches (continue because of limited space of 5,000 words)

    1. Elemental Witch Elemental witches study and practice based on the four elements: earth, air, wind, and fire. An elemental magick is work based on and honoring each element. An elemental witch may have an altar for each specific element. Elemental witches call on the elements when casting spells and performing rituals, and may even have an element that they personally identify with and work towards finding.
    2. Ceremonial Witch Ceremonial witches have many practices, but ceremonies and rituals are practices that they hold in especially high regard. Ceremonial magick is worked into most of the elements of their practice. They likely work a ritual or ceremony into whatever they’re casting or trying to accomplish. Ceremonial witches often call on specific beings and spiritual entities to assist them with whatever they’re casting.
    3. Green Witch Also called garden witches or forest witches, green witches are highly connected to the earth the energy that it possesses. They may have their own garden where they grow their own herbs, but they also study their area and practice with local plants and their own environment. Green witches use plants/greenery in their spells and magic and sometimes, even their cooking and in their home. Green witches are often very natural and love to be in nature and near anything “green”—plants, trees, flowers, etc. They do this to be as close to Mother Earth, and the spirit she encompasses, as possible.
    4. Hereditary Witch A hereditary witch is a witch that was born into witchcraft. It is a part of their family and/or their lineage. Their magick and practice are passed down from previous generations, though they may work with their own individual practices as well or instead of their families. However, there is still choice. Hereditary witches must be born into witchcraft, but if you do not choose to practice witchcraft you won’t STILL be a hereditary witch.
    5. Cosmic Witch Cosmic witches are contemporary witches who look to the cosmos, astrology, and astronomy and work those elements and celestial energy into their practice. Also called “Star Witches”, these witches often follow the planets and the alignment of the stars and base their spells and rituals on the different placements.
    6. Secular Witch Secular witches still cast spells, use crystals, herbs, oils, and candles, but they don’t attach spirituality to their practice. Secular witches don’t worship a deity or higher being—their practice is entirely non-religious. They don’t believe in the power behind energy or that there is energy in their work. This isn’t to say that a secular witch CAN’T be spiritual, it’s simply that their work is not. The two are entirely separate.
    7. Solitary Witch A solitary witch can be any type of witch, but they choose to practice alone rather than with a coven. This could be by choice or because they haven’t found a group to work with yet. There are also legends that solitary witches are reincarnations of witches who have been practicing for generations and at puberty, their knowledge is awakened. Since they already remember and understand the craft, their need for a coven is less than a newer witch.
    8. Eclectic Witch An eclectic witch does not have one set religion, practice, tradition, or culture that they pull from. Their practice derives from many sources and, ultimately, becomes the witch’s own. They may worship a higher being, or their practice may be primarily secular, or it might be its own kind of spiritual. An eclectic witch ultimately makes their own “rules” with their practice—it is entirely unique based on the individual witch.
    1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

      I am a natural eclectic solitairy Wiccan of the old religion, and have been a Witch in some of my previous incarnations, but not straight through, so I don't claim to be a hereditary Witch. I have past life memories of being both a male Witch in some, and female in others. And was even once burned at a stake. My Witch name is Raven Apollo, and for you astrologers I was born at 1:00p.m., on February 14, 1963 in Galveston, Texas.

  1. Rev. Jonathan Peebles's Avatar Rev. Jonathan Peebles

    Most of the world was pagan (not so much neo-pagan but pagan still) until the old Catholic church turned there gods into saints so they would give in to there god now hopefully now the old gods/goddesses will gain more of what was taken from them (believers)...

  1. Brien's Avatar Brien

    Organized fictitious beliefs whatever they call themselves are proof that snake oil salesmen can still find employment 🤣🤣🤣🤣

  1. Ty Ford's Avatar Ty Ford

    Witchcraft, in this country, was a thinly disguised movement by men against women who owned property. My ancestor was one of those women in New England.

    A man sees the woman's land, wants it and convinces his wife or daughters to tell the village that this woman is a witch, OH HORRORS.

    She's taken into custody, tried, killed and the perpetrator takes her land. What a deadly, pernicious, disgusting, enterprise. Aren't you proud to be an American? If there is a Hell, I hope all who participated in it rot there.

    Best Regards,

    Ty Ford

  1. Rev. Pam Field's Avatar Rev. Pam Field

    I have been on both sides of this coin. Began a believer in God as a powerful loving, nurturing God who's Spirit was and is in everything created. Then religion poked enormous holes in my very personal relationship with God and because I was told they were the experts on God and I must trust and believe in them... I broke away from both my personal God and the church God. Learned and practiced many occult "ways" named myself a "witch" and sent spells and curses on those who pissed me off. I was born with a few supernatural gifts that helped me on that path, but after a while I got bored. A few supernatural, spiritual events occurred that brought me back to my beginning. I wanted the peace and love I felt from "my God" when I was young and wasn't told I was evil or unloved by the "experts" of God.

    Each person makes their own way, their own peace with God or a god and no one should judge or condemn them, but their God/god. Try just loving one another and accepting others as they are... just as my God does and taught me how...

  1. Alexander Clarke's Avatar Alexander Clarke

    It seems to me that mankind has always embraced some form of religious belief to help them deal with the unknown, fear, loss and any number of issues. Most religions preach that their brand is the one and only and all others are false prophecies. Religions teach hate and intolerance.

  1. T Kosse`'s Avatar T Kosse`

    Historically speaking the term Warlock was used by the Church as a derogatory term for male witches (who they saw as no better than their female counterparts). The Scottish custom was more positive, seeing warlock as simply a wise wizard, an occult practitioner or male witch. Here the label moved from social circles into fictional literature where it pretty firmly remains.

    Some male Witches may decide to use the term Warlock as a self-identification (Usually because they are uninformed and have no knowledge of what the term Warlock truly means). The majority, however, usually avoid this label. When we look at the Old English term which Warlock originate, we see it means traitor or someone who breaks sacred or legal vows. Another connotation is the Warlock became such because he was banished from oath bound traditions for revealing their secrets or ignoring coven strictures

    1. Thunder's Avatar Thunder

      warlock is most likely from a norse word for a song sung to spirits for various purposes and extended to those who sing such songs (usually women). for example in icelandic the word is vardlokkur and appears in this context in some extant literature. as with most words describing pagan spiritual practices, like the word "wicked" for example (the adjective form of "wicca"), it's been bastardized by the church into a term of derision,

      1. T Kosse`'s Avatar T Kosse`

        If you want to use it, and you can justify your use of the word to apply to yourself, then do so. Be prepared to defend your choice, but ultimately, it's your call

        Warlock - Meanings and Use of the Word Here are two definition of the word warlock. Warlock - Meanings and Use of the Word In many parts of the Pagan community, mention the word "warlock" and you'll be met with disapproving sneers and head shaking. Mention it to your non-Pagan friends, and they'll automatically think of movie baddies like Julian Sands, or the evil warlocks from Charmed. So what's the deal with the word warlock anyway? Why is it considered such a negative thing in modern Paganism? Did You Know? Some Pagans are trying to reclaim the word warlock, based on a theory that it's rooted in Norse mythology. In some oathbound magical traditions, a warlock is used to mean a binding or tying. Doreen Valiente claimed the word is of Scottish origins; other writers have said that the term was originally used in Scotland to mean a cunning man, or a male witch. Various Translations Let's look at the different perceptions of warlock. There's one variation in which it's alleged to be a translation of a Saxon word, wǣrloga that means "oath-breaker." Naturally, no one wants to be called an oath-breaker, so folks tend to get up in arms about the use of warlock. Consequently, a lot of Wiccans and Pagans tend to distance themselves from the word. In the book An ABC of Witchcraft by Doreen Valiente, the author states that the word is of Scottish origins, but goes no further in her explanation. Other writers have said that the term was originally used in Scotland to mean a cunning man, or a male witch, but that in recent centuries it has shifted to hold negative connotations.

      2. T Kosse`'s Avatar T Kosse`

        Warlock the two meanings (continue because of limited space of 5,000 words)

        The story being that it was what a witch was called who betrayed their coven, tribe, people, faith, etc. One version of this story says that a warlock were the witches who where really bad and gave the rest a bad name. The other says that a warlock was a witch who converted to christianity and ratted the rest of the witches out to the inquisition. Both of these stories however seem to make a lot of assumptions based on a very modern idea of what pagan culture (and christian culture) was like back then and doesn’t entirely match up to the instance we have of how the word was used. While it is true that christian authors around 900CE used the word and meant a traitor, they meant it as a traitor to christianity or to Jesus and in the region used to refer to anyone who was not christian. (This was one of the odder parts of christianity through much of Europe’s dark ages, the idea that anyone who practiced another religion was knowingly worshipping Satan. It was taken for granted that everyone knew Christianity and that it was right.) However the word Warlock is also described as being in common use by laymen at the time for a variety of uses many of which were positive. A person or nation would be described as warlocked to mean that they were enchanted to be protected from harm and there are several stories of people being warlocked against iron weapons, or a nation warlocked against invaders. Likewise to warlocke something could mean to tie it down*. And last of course the word could mean a person who practiced magic. To explain this another etymology is found. Warlock could come from waer-lac (oath-bound, one who has taken a sacred oath of service or one who officiates over sacred oaths such as weddings. Incidentally this is the same etymology from which we get wedlock). Another hypothesis links it to the norse Vardlokkur which is a magic song or the singer of such songs (note: Vardlokkur is seidr or feminine magic though some men (and Odin) practice it too against taboos). Yet another Old Norse source could be Varth-Lokkr, (one who locks or enclose) meaning someone who binds spirits. Yet another theory that can cite a couple references from ancient Scotland that imply that the Warlocks were a specific all male religious order in pagan Scotland. This group it was said to have the power to bind magic and/or spirits (ie “lock” them in). I never found a theory among this group to the first half of the word but it could be any, all, or none of the above. *The 1905 English Dialect Dictionary mentions that in Lancashire, Cheshire, and Somerset it is used both generally such as warlock’t (entangled) and specifically like wear-lock (true knot) a special type of knot used to achieve great compression and insure that it will not come loose or slip.

  1. T Kosse`'s Avatar T Kosse`

    What of the Wizard or Sorcerer? Are they witches or Wiccans?

    When we speak of wizards, we enter the realm of alchemical study. Here you find a blend of metaphysical philosophy and alongside scientific methods. The Wizard seek to use these tools to understand the complex nature of all things, and eventually put that knowledge to good use. In history, people regarded Wizards as one who wield mystical power and magic. In truth a true Wizard (vs. a charlatan) gained a lot of respect simply because he was a student of Nature who could explain these forces in simple yet supernatural ways. They indeed practice magic, and some may have elements of Wiccan beliefs or practices as part of their path. Its is really up to the Wizard to determine what other designation if any, he chooses to accept

    The word Wizard first appeared around the 14th Century (CE). Linguistics feel it came from the terms that equated to a person who is wise. The word “wizen” still remains in use for describing a person who is prudent, astute and judicious.

    As for the Sorcerer, this person master their arts thanks to being born into a magical family. Our ancestors saw the Sorcerer as one with power over the Spirit world and a refined diviner. The term appears in the early 1500s CE from French or Latin foundations. In both instance, the name implied a lot caster and fortune teller

  1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

    I once studied a good book by Deepak Chopra called The Return Of Merlin, on awakening the wizard within. I recommend that book to anyone who is seriously thinking about becoming a wizard. Also the Kybalion of Hermes Trismegistus, by Three Initiates. Some other books a potential wizard might want to study areThe New Hermetics by Jason Newcombe, and Wisdom Of The Mystic Master's by The Rosicrucians. And it wouldn't hurt hurt to also read John Cabot Zinn's book Wherever You Go There You Are.

  1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

    Nope I am sorry but the sheriff is wrong. The 1st amendment applies to all religions, not just specific ones. As long as they are not doing a human sacrifice then they are perfectly legal and should be left alone

  1. Tabitha's Avatar Tabitha

    For once, an article that generated some terrific and powerful discussion. I truly enjoyed reading this discussion. I, myself, identify as a Pagan. Not a Wiccan or Witch, but aimply Pagan; which in it’s purest meaning simply denotes someone who is NOT Xtian.

    Again: thank you for this discussion

  1. Master Wolf KSC's Avatar Master Wolf KSC

    In my lifetime, Christian-on-Pagan violence has been higher than the converse. Evangelicals led a Satanic Panic in the 1980s. They used Satan and Witchcraft as threats that their congregations had to react to. This is classic othering - making a minority into a subhuman enemy. I am happy that Wiccae are claiming their power.

    1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

      Wicca and Paganism have nothing to do with Satanism. Satan is a Christian myth, and was first mentioned in the Bible. The old religion of Witchcraft started long before Christianity and Judaism, far away, in and near the ancient British Isles. In the early days of Christianity they were rival religions, and christianity sought to be the dominant religion,as they still do,so they included parts of the old religion in Christianity, and distorted some Pagan beliefs. They stole the horns of the horned god, the god of the hunt, the consort of the goddess, and crowned Satan with them, who represents evil, nothing like the horned god. Some Pagan gods and goddesses became Christian saints, and others were distorted to represent minions of evil, for example the Greek god of light, Lucifer.It is no wonder that some christians still confuse Wicca and Satanism, but that was started by evil, deceitful leaders of their own religion.

      1. Ilmenheru Terikson's Avatar Ilmenheru Terikson

        Whoah whoah whoah now Carl, now I normally reserve my rambling history for the abrahamic faiths but hold on now there.

        Paganism is a term created by the urban central romans after the rise of the catholic church to belittle and insult the rural romans who still practiced the old roman faith which was ofcourse a largely greek born pantheon type faith system.

        And Wiccans, or more accurately New Wiccans such as yourself are a modern spiritual movement born in the last century, with no actual meaningful ties to the ancient people or their faith.

        Currently there is 1 man, just 1 in all of england who has been found with direct DNA links to the oldest human remains found in the UK. This is because wave after wave, starting with ancient celts invaded, and made war upon those ancient people we know very little about beyond things like them being the builders more then likely of stone henge and the other stone age monuments around the islands.

        And why we are on it, specifically the idea of elemental witches, I mean that is as willfully ignorant and archaic as anything we have all bashed on christains for here. We know that not one of those so called 4 is an element. Hell fire is a chemical reaction. So anyone in any culture/faith who still ignores the actual modern understanding of the elements in favor of some archaic nonsense needs to have that silliness pointed out.

        You are very much entitled to your personal faith, but do not conflate something modern with something ancient. The myriad faiths and cultures that sprung up from the ancient germaic tribes such as the celts are as varied as any, and in a waya re far darker, as the UK history is thick with wave after wave of people coming from the same region to make war on effectively their own kin who came before them.

        Celts, angles, saxons, vikings, franks they all derive from the same central european region and migrated west ending up in the same places. We might think the conflict between the northern and southern irish is odd, but inter tribal warfare for those people is more ingrained than in likely any other people on this world.

        Even in last century, german vs western europe, same thing all over again.

        Oh and even your talking about past life experiences. Reincarnation is a eastern thing. What we do know of the wiccan and druidic shaman traditions shows it to be very much more akin to tirbal practices seen in american tribes. Not surprising, just parallel development of peoples in similar enviraments and tech levels. New age spiritualism, which is what neo wiccanism is a part of adopted eastern aspects.

        I do try to be open minded about past life expeirences, but tend to be skeptical as most never seem to offer details beyond famous person or event and no real substance to make it sound like the phenomena I'm familiar with that came across as genuine.

        1. Thunder's Avatar Thunder

          dna evidence isn't a 100% accurate representation of one's ancestry. because each child receives 50% of their dna from either parent, and there is a limited amount of genes, it is quite possible for one to have actual ancestors of a not too distant generation whose genetic contribution has effectively been bred out of the modern person's dna.

          also, witchcraft is mainly a practice, rather than being limited by a specific belief system. it is adaptable in an almost arbitrary fashion to the beliefs of the current age. moreover, a lot of legacy of paganism still exists in britain. if you think of all the rural village may celebrations for but one example, and their continual (even into present times) conflict with the church over being of a pagan identity, it should be clear that lurking very close to the surface are many of the cultural elements and witchcraft practices of our forebears. it is no more inauthentic for modern people to grasp and reweave those threads together, than it is for any other indigenous people having suffered cultural genocide by the church, or for that matter the ancestors who understood the need and innovated our traditions from whole cloth in past ages.

      2. Robert Edward Szekely's Avatar Robert Edward Szekely

        This is a truly fascinating discussion! But I feel that I must clarify Carl Bernard Elfstrom's reference to Lucifier as the Pagan Horned God/the Greek God of Light. "Lucifer" comes from the Latin Vulgate. Often it is loosely translated as "Bringer of Light", when the more accurate translation is "The Morning Star" referring to the Planet Venus, as the brightest object in the sky between moonset and sunrise, seen by the reflected sunlight of the rising sun.

        Since "Lucifer" is Latin, it would be Romans, and not Greeks, that the name comes to us from: the Greek equivalent of "Lucifer" is "Eosporos". "Satan" comes to us from a Hebrew word meaning "Adversary". The horned Greek god described sounds more like Pan, the Satyr.

        Equating Satan and Lucifer doesn't even makes sense, once you translate their names.

        Christianity is full of thinly-veiled pagan adoptions. Ostara (Spring Equinox) becomes the resurrection of Jesus (whose name translates to Joshua in English, but the Bible already had one of those, so we refer to him by his Greek name.) Rabbits and eggs have nothing to due with resurrection, but they are symbols of fertility, and the Spring Equinox is nature's season of rebirth and growth. The best way to bring pagans over from their mystery cults into becoming followers of the Nazarene was to subsume their symbols and holidays, and give them a fresh coat of paint. Up until the Western Roman Empire under Constantine adopted Christianity as the state-endorsed religion (under the rubric of "Roman Catholicism), to be known as a "Christian" was reason for persecution and death: the term was an epithet.

        Yule (Winter Solstice) becomes the Birthday of Jesus, or "Christ Mass" (Christmas).

      3. Master Wolf KSC's Avatar Master Wolf KSC

        Agreed. Satan was a Christian deity, and only Christians believe in a literal Satan. Christianity borrowed heavily from the other religious traditions around them at the time. Jesus is a vegetation god heavily modeled after Adonis, Osiris and Mithras, all of which predate Jesus.

  1. William Waugh's Avatar William Waugh

    I am always happy to see the free expression of religious belief. The Judao/Christain/Islamic religions have certainly had their run. I would caution any seeker to avoid embracing anything they havnt fully vetted, just as an alternative to the above mentioned trifecta. Personally, I have come to believe that either the material universe is hell or some equivalent and "god" exists primarily outside of space/time, or the universe itself, both in and out of spacetime is "god". Like one of my favorite leaders liked to say; "The more you know!"

    1. Jack Gerber's Avatar Jack Gerber

      I totally agree with you.. I consider this planet to be hell and I am doing my absolute best NEVER to return here. I am fortunate in that I remember exactly why I am here and I am doing my best to do the most important thing I came here to do.

      1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

        Some people's Hell is other people's Heaven. [ In Wicca, we call our equivalent of Heaven the Summerland, or Luna. ] In the part of Heaven that I'm going to Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, and other unholy bands will be playing live throughout eternity, and I've got front row seats!!! Also, we can check out any time we want, but we can never leave. Cerberus will see to that!

      2. William Waugh's Avatar William Waugh

        Thanks Jack. If there is a bullet point or two you cqn share about remembering the past, I would appreciate it.

  1. Katelynne Shouse's Avatar Katelynne Shouse

    So mote it be!

    1. Thunder's Avatar Thunder

      some etymology...

      wicca is a noun referring to a male witch. a female is a wicce.

      wiccan is a plural noun referring to a group of witches. saying "I'm wiccan" is like saying "I'm many witches" and "I'm a wiccan" is equivalent to saying "I'm a group of witches". wiccans, is redundant, like saying mooses, mouses or sheeps.

      wicked is the adjective form of wicca. saying "I am wicked" is like saying "I am a witch".

      to wiccian is to practice witchcraft.

      wiccan are those who practice witchcraft. they are one and the same thing. prior to charles cardell, and later gardner, sybil leak and a few others using the term, everyone simply called themselves witches, or in some cases pellars, cunningmen, etc. the use of the term "wicca" really started to diverge once it left the context of traditional coven lineages and entered the unfettered mainstream via pop culture fluff books by folks like scott cunningham, etc, until it has in some circles been divorced from it's etymology to become a term for watered down newage woo with a veneer of halloween aesthetics on top.

  1. Stewart's Avatar Stewart

    Christians can not even agree what their god is there are what 200+ version of christian in the U S and counting as every week or so they split off another fringe . And that's without getting into Jewish and Islamic variants all based upon Genesis .

    Why within 20 miles there are 7 varieties of baptist 5 church of god and 3 church of Christ near me go 10 miles further and its logarithmic as you hit the edges of a city .

    They need someone to hate and feel better than mostly morally offended anyone wants to not believe as ordered too . After all its a christian country otherwise the money would not say in god we trust cause the constitution says so . Freedom of religion if they approve of it .

    1. Steven P Robinson's Avatar Steven P Robinson

      As I understand it, there are a little over 700 different Christian sects around the world.

      Even within my own Faith-way (modern Heathenry) there are upwards of a score as I see it.

      I subscribe to the worldview of No One True Way, so long as there is no Harm, Yes, a bit of that is a holdover from my days studying Witchcraft and Wicca over 40 years ago.

  1. Paul J. Fumero's Avatar Paul J. Fumero

    Many people have been murdered with an accusation of witchcraft throughout the ages. It is always led by zealous christians. If I did not know any better that the Devil does not exist but Evil does, I'd say it was led by the Evil in men's hearts. Having psychic abilities was enough to condemn some with those gifts.I've found great darkness and creatures in some churches I've visited. But they were easily dispatched. As with any religion, just claiming Jesus does not make them good and pure. It has to be in their hearts and follow his 2 commandments. Love God and Treat Others Well. It does say you shall know them by their works not their words.

    1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

      Wicca and Paganism have nothing to do with Satanism. Satan is a Christian myth, and was first mentioned in the Bible. The old religion of Witchcraft started long before Christianity and Judaism, far away, in and near the ancient British Isles. In the early days of Christianity they were rival religions, and christianity sought to be the dominant religion,as they still do,so they included parts of the old religion in Christianity, and distorted some Pagan beliefs. They stole the horns of the horned god, the god of the hunt, the consort of the goddess, and crowned Satan with them, who represents evil, nothing like the horned god. Some Pagan gods and goddesses became Christian saints, and others were distorted to represent minions of evil, for example the Greek god of light, Lucifer.It is no wonder that some christians still confuse Wicca and Satanism, but that was started by evil, deceitful leaders of their own religion.

  1. Brien's Avatar Brien

    As I sit here and catch up on some reading I am forced to conclude that as a species the human being will NEVER advance beyond the stone age. It simply will not happen. Mankind is fearful, suspicious, and permanently ignorant. It seems that no matter how much science, technology, knowledge, and discovery happen mankind still insists on believing in make believe deities and fictitious powers. Mankind spends so much energy promoting archaic ideas and beliefs, even when faced with science and knowledge. Technology was suppose to take mankind out of the stone age, was suppose to lay to rest petty superstitions and make believe deities and give mankind a greater understanding of what could be. Instead, mankind simply absorbed the technology and still spews hate pitting one fictitious belief against another. To be honest, I have simply lost any hope that mankind will ever be anything more than ignorant. I watch as grown people have discussions about absurd, make believe nonsense elevating it to the importance of true knowledge and discovery. So, I will sit and play ignorant too. Catholic bad, witches ewwww, my deity is the greatest. My deity will give me a full life...when I die. There, now I feel included. We are doomed to relive all the mistakes of our past, simply because we refuse to evolve. As always, any of your nasty, archaic, hateful opinions mean nothing to me. I will simply watch as all of you circle the drain. Peace...(if you are capable of it)

  1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

    Although now accepted as a religion by our government, more to the point, Wicca is a Pagan life path. I don't speak with authority, but only as a student on the well worn path, and one who the Goddess initiated into Wicca on January 1,1980, following my year and a day of training. I am a natural,eclectic, solitairy, and my mentor was a natural, hereditary Witch, and a Gypsy. Not all witches are Wiccan, but all Wiccans are Witches. And not all Pagans are Wiccan, but all Wiccans are Pagan. There is a sect within Paganism which only Practices Paganism, but otherwise it is like an umbrella which covers various polytheistic religions, and life paths, similarly to how Christianity is the umbrella religion covering it's many denominations. Within Paganism, and also Wicca, there are numerous sects, of which we of Wicca call Traditions. Some of those tradions practice various forms of neo - Paganism, and neo - Wicca, and other a practice various forms of the old religion, also known as Elder Wicca,of which is what I practice. Blessed be !

    1. T Kosse`'s Avatar T Kosse`

      Because witchcraft, wicca, and paganism are so closely tied together, there’s often some confusion about what separates each or whether they’re separate things at all. The narrow spectrum of pop culture references doesn’t do much to dispel this confusion!

      In a nutshell, a wiccan is a pagan and can practice witchcraft but doesn’t have to practice. A pagan doesn’t necessarily have to be a Wiccan and their faith may or may not practice witchcraft. Even more confusing, someone can choose to practice witchcraft, but may not follow any particular pagan faith. With so it’s no wonder people have trouble understanding the difference between each.

      Here are the main takeaways: .Paganism, Wicca, and witchcraft aren’t interchangeable terms as the mainstream has led many to believe. .Wicca and all of its subsets are pagan, but not all pagans are Wiccan. .Many pagan, including Wiccans, choose to practice witchcraft but not all do. .Finally, people completely removed from paganism can practice witchcraft

  1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

    P.S. In Wicca, we do not preach or seek members. Wicca is only for those who experience an inner calling to be Wiccan. Wicca is also not something that can be joined, like a club, or by reading a book on the subject, and calling yourself one of us. It starts with initiation, which means simply, to begin. And only the Goddess initiated. Blessed be !

    1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

      The Android poltergeist is back at work. In my above comment I wrote And the Goddess only initiates, not the Goddess initiated. If you want to know more about initiation there are plenty of books that describe it, and what it requires.

    2. T Kosse`'s Avatar T Kosse`

      Yes Carl Bernard Elfstrom you are correct, Wiccans do not proselytize and generally resent those who do. They believe that no one Path to the Sacred is right for all people, and see their own religious pattern as only one among many that are equally worthy. Wiccans respect all religions that foster honor and compassion in their adherents, and expect the same respect. Members are encouraged to learn about all faiths, and are permitted to attend the services of other religions, should they desire to do so. They believe that each person should decide for themselves what spiritual or religious path he/ she should take, and if that path lead them to paganiam , wicca or witchcraft then so be it.

    3. T Kosse`'s Avatar T Kosse`

      Comment has been removed.

  1. Brien's Avatar Brien

    Organized fictitious beliefs whatever they call themselves are proof that snake oil salesmen can still find employment 🤣🤣🤣🤣

    1. Matthew Mastrogiovanni's Avatar Matthew Mastrogiovanni

      Brien; Please contribute something useful, not just insulting or remain silent. Or If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all

      1. Brien's Avatar Brien

        I will put down in writing what I see. If you do not like the way it looks, maybe you should reconsider the belief in mythical baloney, whatever it may be at the time. Faith, is NOT a belief. Faith is what you keep in yourself. It keeps you centered, gives you strength, and provides inspiration. A belief is what a snake oil salesman convinces you that he has what you need. If you are a lemming, then you will follow the snake oil salesman. If you truly have faith, then you will trust yourself and follow your own path. Remember this, not you, nor anyone else tells me what to think, what to communicate, nor how to act. If you do not like it, perhaps it is you that should keep quiet. Peace

  1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

    Blessed be!, & Thank you so very much for sharing all that with us T Kosse. That took a lot of work, and you're descriptions are accurate, to the best of my knowledge. You even included descriptions of some Wiccan traditions that I am unable to recall. I once had a book on the traditions, and call me aunt Hagatha if you will, but for the life of me I can't recall where I put it. Thanks to you I can table that for later, and reference your postings whenever I want to know something about the things you mentioned. And with that knowledge I can visit other websites to learn more. I have too small of an apartment to have an extensive library of more than a hundred books,or so. Right now I'm trying to find my favorite book on the history of the Craft and old religion called The Wiccan Mysteries, by Raven Grimassi, so I can read it again. Perhaps I should cast a materialization spell. Thanks again, and Blessed be your feet that have carried you here... and all the way up. I'm sure you know the rest. Blessed be!

  1. Sandra Lent's Avatar Sandra Lent

    As a person who was never raised in any specific religion, I've spent a lot of time searching for a form of spiritualism to believe in and practice. The amount of intolerance and rigid rules found in most religions means they're not for me. So far, the American/Canadian Native spirituality seems to be the kindest. I have practiced some of the Craft, but finding no others to observe it with, has caused me to falter. In general, I find people have a tendency to ruin many things, at least as far as I can see. I'll probably die a person with no discernible set of beliefs. As to what is real and who is right? We'll never know.

  1. Amber Fry's Avatar Amber Fry

    If I understand tight that Pensacola witchcraft murder claim turned into a financially motivated case. They people involved happened to be Wiccan but the investigations made it clear that wasn't really part of it. I saw an article on it dated January the 3rd of this year.

  1. Amber Fry's Avatar Amber Fry

    Comment has been removed.

  1. Daniel William Fenning's Avatar Daniel William Fenning

    This is what it always has been... People blame dumping on what they don't comprehend

    Tsunamis in the Orient? Blame the gays Virus plaguing the planet? Blame the Witches

    Yo, most of them worship the Earth more than any other Faith system. This is a nonsensical conversation

  1. Eric Thomas's Avatar Eric Thomas

    "Witches have even gone political, ‘fighting MAGA with magic’. In 2018, a “Magic Resistance” group that is 13,000 members strong held numerous binding spells against President Trump in an attempt to magically hinder his political agenda. And in a contentious election year, we’re sure to hear more about the Magic Resistance as we get closer to the November election."

    Um? And how well did that work out? This fact alone should eleviate any concerns by non-witches about the effectiveness of any actions taken by Witches in pursuit of their agenda. ;-)

  1. John A Alves's Avatar John A Alves

    As a pagan myself I feel properly it would be better to have a central governing body like other religions do than to um have I everybody individually run their own covens and stuff but however if you really think about it no paganism as Is really evil It's used Like other religions there is those extremist and that's why even though other pagans may not agree with me I think there should be a federal governing council so all the pagans could be Monitored and this way I think it would get a rid of a lot of the misconception of the paganism if we had a acting council Just like every religion there are extremists

  1. Matthew Mastrogiovanni's Avatar Matthew Mastrogiovanni

    Witchcraft membership has ebbed and flowed since I converted in 1994. Also, I really haven't encountered any backlash against my faith in over 20 years.

  1. Beth Helene Hurewitz's Avatar Beth Helene Hurewitz

    Thank you for this thorough description. After 30 years of intense introspection through an organized metaphysical discipline, I find this information fascinating and calling.

  1. T Kosse`'s Avatar T Kosse`

    Warlock the two meanings (continue because of limited space of 5,000 words)

    Other writers have said that the term was originally used in Scotland to mean a cunning man, or a male witch, but that in recent centuries it has shifted to hold negative connotations. In recent years, dictionaries have expanded on its meaning, including the definition "liar" in the explanation. Some of this may have to do with misinterpretations of meanings by monks who were trying to convert the Scots from their early Pagan religions to Christianity. After all, if a clan's cunning man was referred to as a warlock, and his activities clearly went against the teachings of the Christian churches, then obviously the word warlock must have connotations of evil. Some Pagans are trying to reclaim the word warlock, much like the GLBT community has taken back queer and dyke. Partially because of this, a theory that has gained popularity is that warlock may have its roots in Norse mythology. In one of the poetic eddas, in The Saga of Eirik the Red, a sacred song called the Vardlokkur is sung, to ward off evil spirits during a religious ceremony. The idea is that the Vardlokkur, as applied to a person, is a "spell singer," rather than a liar or oath-breaker. Included as part of the practice of seidhr, the Vardlokkur was chanted not only to keep evil spirits at bay, but also to take the singer into a trance-like state for the purpose of prophesying. In a 2004 essay at WitchVox, author RuneWolf said he had recently begun to refer to himself as a warlock, and his reasons were simple. He says, "We are told by many modern Witches, particularly those involved with the various flavors of Feminist Wicca and Witchcraft, that we are "reclaiming the power and positive meaning of the word 'Witch' after centuries of patriarchal oppression and denigration." Cool - I am completely down with that. So why not do the same for "Warlock?" Jackson Warlock, who runs the Reclaiming Warlock blog, says, "Not all Pagan men—or other men who practice Witchcraft—reclaim Warlock. I in no way am promoting the use of the term to refer to men who prefer to be called "Witches." In my own case, though, I reclaim "Warlock" and tend to dislike being called "Witch" because of their connotations and individual vibrations. "Warlock" feels more "right" because it generates a more masculine power, something that appeals to me because my personal practice is so rooted in the sacred masculine." Finally, the word warlock is used in some oathbound traditions of Wicca to mean a binding or tying. The person who binds an initiate during a ceremony is sometimes referred to as a warlock, or the ties themselves are the warlocks. So, what does that mean for today's Pagans and Wiccans? Can a male witch or mage refer to himself as a warlock without a bunch of negative fallout from the others in his community? The answer is a simple one. If you want to use it, and you can justify your use of the word to apply to yourself, then do so. Be prepared to defend your choice, but ultimately, it's your call. For more information, there's an excellent analysis of the word's use in Scottish literature by Burns and others, over at the BBC H2G2 site. A definition of the word by another person. TIL: The History Of The Word Warlock Nicholas Johnson So a friend was wondering if modern pagans use the word ‘witch’ in a gendered way or not. Then I fell down the internets rabbit hole of information and here is what I found. First; yes, the word “witch” is gender neutral and has been as long as it has been in the English language. (Middle English wicht/witche were also gender neutral. Old Englsih did have two words which were Wicca/Wicce from which the modern religion gets it’s name.) I could not find any exact first reference to the idea that “witch” was female and “warlock” is male but the prevailing theory is that it is a Hollywood-ism. (A trailing secondary theory is that it was a Christian thing because they felt the need to impose some patriarchy onto the pagans). This leaves me with the question what exactly is a warlock, what does it mean and why does it sound so cool. We know for sure that the first recorded use of Warlock is from the early Christian writers in Scotland around 600CE. The most common theory in the neo-pagan community is that it means traitor or oath-breaker coming from the Gaelic woer/waer (truth, faith, pledge, oath) and loga (liar, breaker). The story being that it was what a witch was called who betrayed their coven, tribe, people, faith, etc. One version of this story says that a warlock were the witches who where really bad and gave the rest a bad name.

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