Let us travel down the rabbit hole and into the misunderstood mysterious world of Witchcraft. This can be a heated topic in some circles, so I may very well receive some backlash, but I felt it an important topic to discuss. If you were to ask a handful of witches this very question, your likely to walk away with a multitude of varying answers that will leave you more confused than you were when you first began. This is because witchcraft is a very personal path… Witchcraft has been around since the dawn of time and can be found in many cultures around the world and throughout history. Contrary to popular belief, witchcraft is not a religion; rather a spiritual practice that may or may not be a part of a person’s religious faith. It is a pre-Christian practice of “Free Thinking” and understanding nature and all its power.
It used to be that witches were thought to be only women, men were called something else entirely (wizards, sage’s, sorcerers, wise men). Witchcraft itself is gender neutral and does not discern the difference between man or woman. Eons ago, witches were seen as nurturers and healers, revered and often sought after for their knowledge and skills; having the ability to heal the sick and diseased, to assisting with the birth of children among other things. Later they were persecuted and condemned for that very knowledge. Christianity usually gets a bad rap for this, moreover, it is my belief that it began long before “The Malleus Maleficarum”, also known as the “Hammer of Witches”. This is the best known and the most important treatise on witchcraft. It was written by the discredited Catholic clergyman Heinrich Kramer and first published in the German city of Speyer in 1487 leading up to the witch hunt that leads to what we know as the “Burning Times” when many witches were burned at the stake or worse. Even before Christianity firmly took root, witches were often set apart from their community, their very abilities that were often called upon, were also feared by the masses. Man tends to fear that which they do not or cannot understand or control, needing something or someone to blame for their misfortunes or plight. So what has changed? Witchcraft or the world around us… Your guess is as good as mine.
The vast majority of witches and magic practitioners derive their powers from the very energy found in their environment; using the natural elements around them, herbs, stones, and other natural objects. Some of us call upon the aid of deities or spiritual guides, others do not. In short, Witchcraft is a neutral practice (neither good nor evil) where a person uses magic to manipulate energy with the intentions of bringing about change to manifest the desired outcome. This was often achieved through the use of rituals, spells, and incantations, however, you do not need to engage in rituals or cast spells to be able to perform magical acts or to be a witch.
“Witchcraft is about personal transformation; it is death and rebirth, power and belief, dedicated and active, adaptable and messy.”
Witchcraft isn’t all about pointy hats, black cats and flying brooms, although to fly on a broom would be rather cool. There are hours spent on reading and research, communing with our ancestors, deities or other spirit guides. Dirt under our nails and scraps on our knees from foraging in nature for the very items we need or simply tending the herbs that will later be used in our many tinctures, oils, and sachets. I don’t know about you… but dealing with tree sap, blood, bone and the many herbs that need to be crushed and blended is definitely messy work.
In all my research and years of being a witch, I have found that there is a lot of controversy over what is actually needed to practice witchcraft. Let me clear this up, You DO NOT need to spend money on specialized ritual tools or have an assortment of every color known to man for candles etc. Yes, fancy robes, embellished wands and silver chalices studded with crystals and jewels are nice to look at and may even help the witch who uses them but they are not nor will they ever be needed. You are not going to find any of those fancy things in my craft. My herbal apothecary is not filled to the brim with an eye of newt and tongue of dog (just to name a few) or 20 different essential oils and incense that I may never use.
The basics for me work just fine and you’ll come to find out that many herbs, oils, and incense are quite versatile… Does that make me any less of a witch or my craft any less powerful than the witch who has everything? The answer is NO! That does not mean that the witch that uses those very types of tools are any less real either, all that it means is that they just happen to have the money to spend on them or that it’s just apart of their quirky character and that’s fine too. My point is this, witchcraft and magic are all in your intentions and the “Will” that you put behind it. The “tools”, are just that… Tools… They are an extension of myself… Trinkets and baubles that I have personally infused with emotional, mental and spiritual energies to help aid me in the manifestations of my own personal desires. Don’t be fooled… Magic and witchcraft, no matter how you look at it is very personal and all about Desire… The desire to heal, to transform, create or destroy.
“Where there is Will, there is always a way… Without Will, the way remains forever closed”
No matter what, witchcraft is a personal path, shaped by our own intentions. There is no right or wrong way to practice, so respect yourself and do the research. Learning from other witches is essential and can be beneficial, but only you can decide which winding path to take or where your journey will end, so find what works best for you.
Brightest Blessings to the aspiring witchling and Happy Crafting