What Exactly is a Witch?

There are lots of images and assumptions out there about witchcraft, but what is it?  When did it start?  Is it a really a bunch of atheist devil worshipers?

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Let’s step back into history, shall we?  I do love history.  Fifteen or more thousand, give or take, years before even Judaism was even around, there were people.  And those people had nature based theology.  No one taught them it.  No one scared them into it.  They weren’t called witches.  They were called things like mom, and grandpa.  I am speaking of the Celts, but nature based religion, wisdom keepers, speaking to gods and goddesses, manifesting, and the understanding of interconnectedness is the basis of every culture in the world pre-organized religion.

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In 50 AD the Druids (Celtic wisdom keepers) were wiped out by good old Caesar, who had a terrible power trip thing going on.  He didn’t want anyone more powerful than he.  It took until 1100 AD for the Christian church to finally take over the Celtic spirituality by changing the goddess’ and god’s names to saints (did you know that?) and turning pagan holidays into Christian ones.

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A woman who can speak to the wind or create powerful herbal medicines or who could change the fate of her family was considered pretty threatening, even by today’s standards.  If something goes wrong, there needs to be a scapegoat.  If a baby died during childbirth, the midwife was blamed.  If someone died despite herbal medicine, the herbalist killed them.  Fear makes people isolate others.  Fear creates violence and irrational behaviors.  Even now.

The Christian church began to portray witches-which means sorcerer- as devil worshippers.  Anyone who did anything that could threaten the church and possibly lead back to paganism was considered a heathen.  Witches (herbalists, midwives, nature lovers, beer makers, clairvoyants, intuitives, weather workers, and any number of other gifts) became feared.

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Anyway, Disney had a heyday with the whole witch thing.  There is still a lot of fear about anything unknown.  A witch is simply someone who works in the healing arts, loves nature, feels an interconnectedness with all beings, sees the Divine in trees and insects, and people, and in the wind.  A person whose eyes have been opened to what our original belief system was and feels that truth because it makes so much sense.  She can be any religion and any race.  Men can be witches as well.  There are no warlocks.  Men and women are both considered witches.

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I used to get offended when people would assume I was a witch because I was an herbalist.  “I am Catholic!” I would snottily reply.  What did I think I was doing every time I lit a prayer candle or smelled the incense in mass, or talked to Saints?  I was just borrowing traditions from my ancestors.

The phenomenon film and book, The Secret, is all about using the Universal Network to bring into place what we want in our lives.  Sounds like witchcraft to me.  Maybe it’s not as scary as we thought it was.  Maybe it’s really quite natural.  Maybe it is the innate spirituality in all of us that we understood as children.  It just didn’t have a name.

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Wiccan is an organized religion, you don’t have to be wiccan to be a witch.  Witches still believe in the Divine.  Perhaps God doesn’t look like an old white man to everyone.  Maybe the Divine is so much bigger than that.  Perhaps Spirit is in every cell of every organism and stretches past every universe we know and is present in tree bark and newborn babies and in Mother Earth.  Everyone sees differently.  So, don’t let that old Disney image of witches scare you.

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There is a little bit of witch in all of us.

 

 

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