This is an archived entry. It is relevant, but no longer updated.
See also our newer resources on Witchcraft
Witchcraft, or Wicca, is a form of neo-Paganism
. It is officially recognized as a religion by the U.S.
This is a diverse movement that knows no central authority. Practitioners do not all have the same views, beliefs and practices.
Note that while all witches are pagans
, not all pagans are witches. Likewise, while all Wiccans are witches, not all witches are Wiccan.
Wicca. A generic term for modern and contemporary witchcraft. It includes all the various types or traditions of modern and contemporary witchcraft, such as Alexandrian, Algard, Dianic, Gardnerian, Georgian, Seax-Wica, and so forth.
Witch. Individual who practices or concurs with the views or experiences of witchcraft. Most witches view divinity as immanent in nature, seeing all life as sacred, thus denying any sacred/secular distinction. They are nature-oriented and also see no ultimate distinction between matter and spirit - the material and the spiritual. They may believe in or invoke a pantheon of gods and goddesses, but they primarily experience, and/or invoke, and/or worship the Mother or Triple Goddess and her male consort, the Horned God. Witches generally practice multiple forms of divination, participate in trance and other altered states, of conciousness, and perform magical spells and incantations. Most observe seasonal holidays and festivals (e.g. the summer and winter solstices). Most believe in some form of reincarnation. The widely believed notion that a female is a witch whereas a male practitioner is a warlock or wizard is a misnomer. The terms witch or wiccan apply to both genders.
Witchcraft, (Also known as wicca, the craft, or the craft of the wise. ) An antidogmatic, antiauthoritarian, diverse, decentralized, eclectic, experience-based, nature-oriented religious movement whose followers are polytheists and/or pantheists, and/or panentheists, and in some sense believe in or experience and/or invoke and/or worship the Mother Goddess and generally here consort, the Horned God, as well. It is a generic term covering numerous perspectives on the subject.
As Craig Hawkin
s points out in Goddess Worship, Witchcraft and Neo-Paganism
, Wicca prides itself in being a diverse movement. Though neo-pagans share certain common beliefs and practices, Wicca knows no central authority, and practitioners do not all have the same views, beliefs and practices. The movement's primary ethical principle, referred to as the "Pagan Ethic" or "Wiccan Rede," is "If it harm none, do as thou will." (or ''wilt'').
This "create your own religion"
approach contributes to the movements's popularity, as does the media's portrayal of Wicca:
(...) Trayer and Haddad-Friedman are members
of a movement gaining an ardent following among teen-agers, mostly girls, who are in part captivated by the glossy new image of witches portrayed on television shows and in the movies. No longer the hideous, wart-covered crone of folklore and fairy tale, witches in hit television shows like ''Charmed,'' starring Shannen Doherty, and the
1996 movie ''The Craft,'' a favorite with teen-agers at video stores, are avatars of glamour, power and style.
Other youthful adherents of Wicca, seeking an alternative path to spirituality, are attracted by the craft's lack of structure and dogma.
The craft is ''especially appealing to the young people who want to be active participants in their own spiritual lives,'' said Wren Walker of the Witches' Voice
Witchcraft is also a magnet for feminists, who identify with its female deity, and for environmentalists drawn by the reverence for nature. It also exerts a pull on the eccentric, the sensitive and the socially disconnected. Wicca ''empowers the marginalized,'' said John K. Simmons, a professor of religious studies at Western Illinois University, who has studied contemporary witchcraft. ''It appeals most of all to the intelligent, poetic young woman who is not necessarily going to go out for cheerleader or date
the captain of the football team.''
Many serious practitioners of Wicca/Witchraft see the media's current fascination with their religion as a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it helps people to "come out of the closet." On the other hand, the media's version of The Craft is often criticized as inaccurate. The same is true for the ongoing discussion regarding the popular Harry Potter
Local Wiccans have come out against the claim the books promote their religion. They said the book is fiction, and does not represent their beliefs in any way.
''It really doesn't have anything to do with us,'' said Peter Mather, an initiated Wiccan priest who lives in Plymouth.
Mather said he has examined the books and found nothing having to do with his religion.
That said, "while witches are working hard at trying to shed their scary image"
, fact is that the religion isn't alway as benign as Wiccans claim it to be. See, for example, the items collected in our news articles database
. The database includes news reports covering a wide variety of Witchcraft practices - illustrating the wide diversity in this religion (and also documenting the differences between ''old'' and ''modern'' witchcraft).
Witchcraft is often erroneously confused with Satanism
. However, Wiccans do not believe that Satan exists, and thus they do not worship him.
That said, like Satanism, Wicca is a form of occultism
This is an archived entry. It is relevant, but no longer updated.
See also our newer resources on Witchcraft
» See also the articles in our news articles database
How To Share The Gospel With Pagans
This is a guest editiorial on the Witches Voice, one of the most prominent and popular Wicca sites on the Internet. The writer himself is a pagan
. He introduces his article as follows:
For starters, I am not a Christian. I am and have been Pagan (Wiccan in particular) for several years now. So why am I writing this? Because I understand that believing Christians feel they have an obligation to share their religion with others (I was Christian once and participated actively in missionary work at that time). I have also observed over a number of years that believing Christians tend, however unintentionally, to ignore their own strengths, and to consistently put their worst face forward when dealing with those who do not share their faith. This is especially obvious when they are dealing with Wiccans, Druids, or other "pagan" religions. I have thus written this outline in the hope that it will help Christians understand better who and what Pagans really are, and, in the process become more effective in sharing their beliefs.
Interview with Craig Hawkins
Hawkins is the author of Witchcraft: Exploring the World of Wicca
. Interviewed by Apologia Report
Modern World of Witchcraft
In this two-part article, Craig Hawkins
looks at the history, beliefs and practices of Witchcraft, and provides a critique of the witches' world view and practices -- on biblical, metaphysical, logical, and ethical grounds.
Scrutinising craft of modern witches
Letter to the editor, by Professor Philip G. Davis, author of "Goddess Unmasked"
My Testimony - A Former Wiccan Speaks
By Donalyn Vaughn
Reviews: Charmed, I'm sure :
"TV shows and books aimed at young people are building up the latest fad: pop-culture paganism." A World Magazine article.
The Scholars and the Goddess "Historically speaking, the ''ancient'' rituals of the Goddess movement are almost certainly bunk"
By Charlotte Allen, who writes:
In all probability, not a single element of the Wiccan story is true. The evidence is overwhelming that Wicca is a distinctly new religion, a 1950s concoction influenced by such things as Masonic ritual and a late-nineteenth-century fascination with the esoteric and the occult, and that various assumptions informing the Wiccan view of history are deeply flawed. Furthermore, scholars generally agree that there is no indication, either archaeological or in the written record, that any ancient people ever worshipped a single, archetypal goddess -- a conclusion that strikes at the heart of Wiccan belief.
A Community of Witches : Contemporary Neo-Paganism and Witchcraft in the United States (Studies in Comparative Religion)
A "ten-year participant observation study" by Helen A. Berger
Goddess Unmasked : The Rise of Neopagan Feminist Spirituality
by Philip G. Davis
A critical evaluation of the theological, anthropological, and historial claims of the "Goddess" movement. Philip G. Davis is a professor religious studies at the University of Prince Edward Island in Canada.
Goddess Worship, Witchcraft and Neo-Paganism
by Craig Hawkins
. Excellent overview.
Witchcraft: Exploring the World of Wicca
, by Craig Hawkins
. Baker Books, 1996, paperback, 227 pages. Forward by J.P. Moreland. Reviewed
by Rich Poll
, president of Apologia Report
found at the Witch's Brew web site
Frequently Asked Questions answered by Wiccans. Designed as an introduction to Wicca and to the alt.religion.wicca
newsgroup, as well as a reference for those investigating the religion of Wicca for the first time.
Witchcraft: From the Dark Ages to the New Age
An issue of S.C.P.
Journal. (Back issue, available for purchase)
YahooGroups directory of Wicca and Witchcraft discussion lists
» Witchcraft News
As tracked by Religion News Blog
» Find archives news items on Wicca
(Includes items added between Oct. 25, 1999 and Jan. 31, 2002. See about this database
: This archive includes news items that mention ''wicca,'' ''witchcraft,'' or related terms. Among other things, these items will reflect the wide variety of beliefs and practices associated with the religion. Keep in mind that practitioners do not all
have the same views, beliefs and practices.
(not in the searchable database):
(Sep. 9, 1999) Roswell school board votes to keep policy prohibiting pagan symbols
(Sep. 8, 1999) Roswell pagan fights against intolerance
(May 30, 1999) Witches brew up protest for Barr meeting
(May 22, 1999) Wiccan leader flies out of broom closet
(May 22, 1999) No Wiccan haters here, just a good Catholic boy
(May 19, 1999) Witchful thinking
(May 18, 1999) Barr blasts Army for allowing Wiccan celebration at Texas base
(May 18, 1999) Destroying our last vestige of sanity
(May 16, 1999) When teens venture to the Dark Side
(May 15, 1999) Students 'degraded' for 'spells'
(May 15, 1999) Witches get US Army behind them
(May 13, 1999) Caught up in the craft
(May 11, 1999) Practicing their old-time religion
(Apr. 25, 1999) Millennium Fever Casts Its Spell
(Apr. 24, 1999) Pagans prefer to say they're 'nature based'
(Apr. 18, 1999) Reformed witch hunters act out the error of their ways
(Apr. 18, 1999) 'Too old to be sacrificed'
(Apr. 21, 1999) Wicca in Detroit
(Apr. 19, 1999) Fears Of Witchcraft After Six Pupils Die In Four Months
(Apr. 18, 1999) Indian women fall prey to the witch-hunters
(Mar. 31, 1999) Safety at stake over witchcraft accusations
(Mar. 31, 1999) Plan To Eradicate Witchcraft Violence
(Mar. 29, 1999) Scrutinising craft of modern witches
(Mar 19, 1999) Why I gave it all up to be a witch
(Mar. 3, 1999) School keeps watch on symbols
(Mar. 3, 1999) School relents on anti-witch rule
(Mar. 3, 1999) Principal testifies on satanic prevention
(Dec. 9, 1998) Witches stew over dress code
(Oct. 13, 1998) Pop culture helps bring witchcraft out of the broom closet
(Oct. 3, 1998) Bewitched Weddings
(Sep. 22, 1998) South Africa - Government To Act On Violence Related To Witchcraft
Sep. 3, 1998) Pagan Passion - Local practitioners of the Wicca faith are doing a slow burn over a culturally insensitive Camel ad
(Sep. 3, 1998) She's Got That Old-Time Religion: Witchcraft