This post is a spin on a post I did for tumblr- “Understanding Witchcraft: What is it?” This post will be more about what it means to me. These are my opinions and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of others.
What is Witchcraft?
Dictionary.com defines witchcraft as “the art or practices of a witch; sorcery; magic” and as “magical influence; witchery” (x). I feel that this definition could be expanded upon to be a little more definitive and inclusive.
Witchcraft is the secular art (craft, practice) of magic, spellwork, witchery, sorcery, etc.
This is the definition I use for witchcraft.
Secular? What is that?
Dictionary.com defines secular as “not pertaining to or connected with religion” (x). This is the definition of secular that I am using in the definition of witchcraft. Because it is a craft or art, like painting, it is secular in nature, but can be mixed with religion or religious beliefs. Two of the most common religions that commonly use witchcraft are Wicca and Paganism. They are so commonly found together (Paganism+Witchcraft), that people tend to use them synonymous, and thus incorrectly. Witchcraft =/= (does not equal) Wicca or Paganism. You can have witchcraft with or without the lens of religion. Just like you can paint religious pictures or you can just paint.
This is the type of witchcraft I practice. I do not hold rituals involving prayers to deities and in my spells I do not ask for their aid. Do I sometimes feel a bit of envy when I see some of the close relationships people have with their deities? Sure. But I am still glad to be without the things those relationships bring.
Now, I see working with spirits, and working with deities through their religion to be different things. And of course you can work with the deities not through the religion involving them, if it is an open culture and open religion. I still simply choose not to.
Spellwork, Witchery, Sorcery? What is all of this?
These are common title that people give their practices or that are used instead of “magic.” Just like people paint differently, people practice witchcraft differently and thus give what some call “magic” other names. And that is perfectly okay, as long as the name or practice itself isn’t taken from a closed culture they are not a part of nor have permission to use.
I usually just call what I do: magic, witchcraft, spells, spellwork. For me, these terms are basic and can encompass many of the things I do and people generally have an idea of what they mean.
Can anyone practice witchcraft?
Of course! Because witchcraft is a craft like painting or masonry, anyone can learn and practice witchcraft. Some may have more of a talent for it than others, just like anything else, but anyone can learn and practice.
There are certain traditions that involve initiation and thus not just anyone can join up or claim to be a part of them. There are also closed cultural traditions that are not open to outsiders at all. But anyone can learn or practice general witchcraft.
But isn’t it evil?
Well, witchcraft by nature, is neither good nor bad. It is like a tool for your intentions, just like any other tool: knives, saws, cleaning agents, etc. When you want to use the tool, you filter your intentions, the tool itself, and possible outcomes through your moral filter. That is why you have to use your morals to decide for yourself where you draw the line in your practice. Others draw their own lines. They are not subject to yours, and you are not subject to theirs.
How do I get started?
I recommend reading what is available to you and using your critical thinking skills. Does it confuse witchcraft and Wicca? Does it use racists slurs or involve cultural appropriation? Does it tell you that you can only practice witchcraft their way and that their way is the only legitimate right way to practice? Where does their information come from? Do they cite their sources?
Online blogs by witches can also be a great resource, or they can be a really bad source. Again, I highly recommend using your critical thinking skills. Even if the source is great, think about what it means to you, how it changes your views or doesn’t change your views.
Do research, but don’t forget to practice too!
I started with research then started practicing. It took a few years for me to break the mold I was given and try experimenting with different things. I highly recommend you experiment to find out what works for you. Try a spell one way. Then change it and try it again. How do the effects compare? How do the desired results compare? It is basically like science class all over again but with magic.