The following is adapted from a chapter in “Occult Dangers Explained Safely” by Doug Harris and is available from Reachout Trust.
Witchcraft is one of those terms that is used of a spectrum of beliefs. It is often wrongly thought that everyone who uses the term witchcraft is into ‘Black Magic’ or Satanism. This is not true! There is a major difference between what is commonly called ‘white witchcraft’ or Wicca and ‘black witchcraft’ or Satanism.
It is important that we understand what such people believe and not accuse them of horrific acts that are unfounded. We will seek to show that there is an opening to the supernatural evil, and so we must sound a warning bell, but we should not malign the people as well.
Like Christianity, witchcraft has many ‘denominations’. Explanations given by ‘one camp’ are not always accepted by another. Wicca for instance is defined by many as being the old pagan religion of Britain coming from an Anglo-Saxon word meaning ‘the craft of the wise.’ Others say the original word meant ‘wicked’.
Kevin Logan describes Wicca in the following way:
This form of witchcraft is a religion of the earth. The worshippers prefer to be known as followers of Wicca; the wise ones who revere the natural life-force. They reject the Christian God whom they describe as ‘a Father God standing outside everything and everyone/. They prefer to personify the life-force as male and female, known variously as the God and Goddess, Lord and Lady, the Horned God and the Silver Lady among others. The female is always dominant as a Mother Earth concept, making witchcraft the matriarchal religion. They still retain animism, a belief which assigns a divine spark or spirit to every material thing. – Paganism and the Occult, pp.86/87.
One practitioner of the art called Lucy defined it, on her web pages, as:
Witchcraft is a religion. It is the oldest religion known to man. It is the worship of the primeval forces of nature. Our beliefs are based around the annual, monthly and diurnal flow of Earth and Cosmic energies. It is not illegal under any construction. We have the right in law to follow our beliefs and practice them in private or in public without hindrance or harassment. That we prefer to do so mostly in private reflects the worry we feel at the occasional misrepresentation of our beliefs by the media.
Many historians place the modern revival of Wicca in 1949, with the publishing of a novel in Britain about the craft called, High Magic’s Aid. The pen name used by the author was ‘Scire’; his real name was Gerald Gardner [1884-1964] and with the replacing of the 1736 Witchcraft Act by the 1951 Fraudulent Medium Act, meaning witchcraft was no longer a crime, he was able to follow this with two non-fiction works in his own name. One being called Witchcraft Today.
Gardner did not mind being called a witch, a title very acceptable today, but not in the 1950’s. He spoke openly about the ‘craft’ and opened a museum in the Isle of Man. This has since moved to Boscastle in Cornwall and is called the Museum of Witchcraft. This is featured in Reachout Trust’s video, Delight or Deception. This was, however, one of the buildings damaged in the 2004 floods.
Some other main ‘denominations’ of witchcraft (Wicca) include the Alexandrian, followers of Alex Sanders heralded by the popular press as ‘King of the Witches.’ This was not named after Sanders christian name, but the tradition he followed. There is a similar form of witchcraft called Kemetic after the ancient name for Egypt. We should also mention Dianic, followers not so much of a person but of the desire for feminism.
It is difficult to say how many witches there are in Britain today, as there are no accurate records. Some conservative estimates would put it at 50,000 but when all that lean towards the belief are taken into consideration it is probably nearer 500,000.
Witches are not always happy about the publicity they get because of preconceived ideas from Christians or indeed the media, as was true with the 1996 film entitled, The Craft.
Witchcraft organisations, including The Witches Public Awareness League in America and the Pagan Federation in Britain, are as concerned about The Craft as parents of teenagers should be. “It promotes the image that witches drink blood which is completely untrue,” says Kelly Dugery of the Witches’ Education Bureau in Salem… “Witches don’t perform curses against other people – only strictly in the area of self-defence. It didn’t promote a very positive image.” – The Express, Friday 1 November 1996, p.68.
We cannot stress enough how important it is for Christians to understand the basic differences between Wicca and ‘Black Witchcraft’. With few exceptions, those in Wicca would believe that they never get involved with curses that could harm people. One exception was the white witch on a Kilroy television programme on Witchcraft aired on 1 July 1999, who admitted that she did need to use curses.
An often-quoted claim, as in the above newspaper article, is that witchcraft has filled a void left by Christianity,
Michael Jordan a religious anthropologist, agrees. “What appeals about witchcraft, not only to young people, is that it fills the vacuum created by the loss of interest in Christianity.” “It’s the fastest-growing religion in the country,” claims Bill Pritchard, a witch.
We need to be aware that in some cases these claims may be true. Therefore knowing what the people believe, and learning to present Christianity in a way that attracts, is very important.
Today, there is an increase in those who call themselves pagans. The literally definition of the word ‘pagan’ is ‘a country dweller’ or a ‘heathen that has no particular religion’. The dictionary definition is ‘anyone who does not follow one of the main, ‘One-God’ religions.’
In popular thinking, pagans are usually identified with what they do not believe, but for many Pagans today this is not good enough; they have a positive belief.
Pagans seek acceptance as a religion and belief system and have made large strides in this direction.
The Rev Susan Leybourne a “white witch”, has been appointed as the country’s first pagan university chaplain. She will give talks and guidance to students at Leeds University in magic, rituals and worship… She was ordained as a pagan priestess at the Circle University of Springfield, Louisiana, and is a minister of the Congregational Church of Practical Theology – a religion that encompasses pagan believers. – The Times, 12 December 1994.
Paganism like Christianity has many ‘denominations’ but the worship, from the human perspective, is of ‘man-made’ pagan gods and not the true God of Christianity.
December 1994 saw Wiccans gain permission to worship openly in Milton Keynes.
Wicca witches in Milton Keynes have become the first in the country to be allowed to practise their religion in public. Now the worshippers say they want to be left in peace after being given the go ahead to use Elfield Park 12 times a tear for rituals – Milton Keynes Herald, December 1994.
To most in white witchcraft and paganism there is no personification of evil called the Devil. The Principles of Wiccan Beliefs states,
We do not accept the concept of ‘absolute evil,’ nor do we worship any entity known as ‘Satan’ or ‘The Devil’ as defined by the Christian tradition.
However, thereoes seem to be a slow increase in Theistic Wiccans; those who recognise there is a force for evil, external to man. Still, this view would be different to the Christian belief of a personal Devil, and would be more akin to a ‘darker force.’
Interestingly, there is no overall system of belief, and there are many traditions from different parts of the world, e.g., native American, aboriginal, shamanism. Most witches feel they should be free to choose their own path as, in their thinking, they all lead in the same direction.
This means that ‘experience’ is often more important than ‘dogma’. In Drawing Down the Moon, Margot Adler, writes:
By creating our own divinities we create mental steps for ourselves, up which we can mount toward realizing ourselves as divine . . . The lack of dogma in the Craft, the fact that one can ‘worship’ the Goddess without ‘believing’ in Her, that one can accept the Goddess as “Muse” and the Craft as a form of ancient knowledge to be tested by experience – these are precisely the things that have caused the Craft to survive, to revive, and to be re-created in this century. – p.173.
On her website Lucy says of worship,
We recognise and accept that there is a force in the myriad universes controlling all others, a great mind is behind such a force that is too great for our small minds to encompass. We therefore seek our worship in the individual powers of our own planet which we perceive and personify as Female and Male.
She further goes on to describe how they worship,
Whenever possible, we sit in silent contemplation seeking knowledge and understanding of our Goddesses and Gods. We meet in gatherings, small or large, to celebrate the natural changes of the year such as the monthly peak of the moon’s power, the solar changes at the solstices and equinoxes, and at the ancient agricultural and hunting festivals.
Gatherings and rituals in white witchcraft normally would not include prayers for the destruction of Christians or for family breakdown. Most are seeking to get in touch with their own powers not destroying the power of somebody else. They would not see this as the devil but as ‘their god or goddess’. Lucy adds here,
We use the powerful earth energies present in some plants to heal those in pain. We pray and use the earth’s own natural forces, such as magnetism, to help those in need.
Many rituals involve divination and magic which one occultist describes as,
The change in situations or events in accordance with one’s will, which would, using normally accepted methods, be unchangeable.
Gerald Gardner listed, in his book, eight ways to raise magical power. These were
“meditation or concentration : chants, spells and invocations : trance and astral projection : incense, wine and drugs : dancing : blood control by binding parts of the body with cords : scourging (but not enough to draw blood) : ritual sex.”
Witchcraft celebrates a number of festivals, geared mainly towards the seasons. Different groups would have different names for these festivals which are kept around certain dates in the year; they include:
2 February – Imbolc or Candlemas – celebrating the strengthening of the light
20 March – Spring Equinox – Eostre or Ostara – fertility and new life
30 April – Beltane or Walpurgis Night – a time for new projects and untried activities
20 June – Summer Solstice – Litha – a time of perfection but at the same time sadness as days will start getting short again
1 August – Lughnasadh or Lammas Day – time of growth and change and a time for introspection
22 September – Autumn Equinox – Mabon – a time for reflection on the transience of life.
31 October – Samhain or Halloween – originally it kept people’s spirits up during the winter months
21 December – Winter Solstice – Yule – festival of lights and feasting
What many understand as “Black Witchcraft” is more properly known as the ‘Dark Way’. Wiccans tend to refer to this as the ‘Left-Hand Path.’
What has been said of those who follow ‘white’ witchcraft, who would not consider seeking to destroy the power somebody else has, is unfortunately not always the norm for those who follow the darker expressions of witchcraft. Those who follow the ‘and harm ye none’ part of the rede (witchcraft ‘set of rules’) do not believe they follow Satan and, interestingly, the same can also be said of the majority of dark witches – who do not acknowledge, let alone worship Satan.
We read on the web site of one such witch,
“In the years since then I have time-and-again had cause to call on the energy of the Dark One; She has never failed to give me strength and the will to fight. I will always praise and honor Her.”
Many acknowledge that they seek power from a malignant source but would not necessarily agree that this in itself was pure evil. They tend to argue that it is a more powerful source to work magick from. You will find that those who view the spirits associated with dark magick, range from those who consider them to be simply misunderstood to those who consider them rather dangerous. Most occultists and Satanists hold the view that such spirits are dangerous to work with.
Given the continuing eclectic nature of witchcraft there are indeed a few groups who do refer to Lucifer. Many dark witches find that the dark goddess is unpredictable enough without adding in something they consider to be sourced from a modern religion.
“She (Lilith) use to symbolize uncorrupted, and undefiled wisdom and not self-deceit. But in the end she was all these things and more.” – Quote from a former occultist.
Many work as solitary practitioners and prefer to follow their own path without being hindered by others. Occasionally a small group may gather but this is rather ad hoc and mainly for a specific purpose that cannot be accomplished alone.
Dark witches tend to be power hungry. Those who do call on Lucifer see it more as a business transaction than worship as the only reason for dealing with such a spirit is for purely selfish reasons.
It is difficult to see clear distinctions between white and black magicks and light and dark witchcraft. The boundaries between the practises tend to blur depending on the practitioner and, as little, if any reliable archive evidence can be found within the historical document records, its history remains obscured.
Whilst the history of this distinction is exceedingly obscure, for the Christian, there can be no question that its practise today depends upon a sharp contrast between Good (benign) and Evil (malevolent) Spirits. A dark witch is drawn to malevolent as a source of power whilst a ‘white’ one finds such repelling.
It must be understood that many witches and the majority of wiccans choose not to become dark witches. They are aware that the costs to them personally would be very high. Many are aware that they may not like what they could become. The darker path is more attractive to those who have a mindset that is similar to that of an occultist. Those who enter it are seeking hidden knowledge and power to control and influence that which by ordinary means they cannot, but with little or no regard for others.
Each of the occult sciences was, however, liable to that species of abuse which is technically known as Black Magic… White Ceremonial Magic is, by the terms of its definition, an attempt to communicate with good Spirits for a good, or at least an innocent, purpose. Black magic is the attempt to communicate with Evil Spirits for an evil purpose. – The Book of Black Magic, A.E.Waite, 1999 (reprint), pp.27-28
Many would want to discount the existence of Black Witchcraft and, in a sense, the rather dramatic portrayal in films, and so on, is a distortion. There is, however, a reality, and for those few who do enter upon that path it is not a game but a very serious step. It is difficult to be certain of the facts of this subject as few will speak of it. The path of a dark witch, like any other occultist, is largely a solitary one and most prefer not to speak to those who do not share their explorations or experiences.
Any area of the occult will allow, those with an aptitude and a will to seek, and a willingness to pay its costs, access to what are commonly called the black arts.
Even dark witches are still just people. They are simply sinners like everyone else. In God’s eyes sin is sin regardless of what it is. Whilst dark witches tend to be very difficult, and for a Christian, rather challenging to deal with, let alone get to know, we should remember that Christ said,
“I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.” – John 12:46-48 NKJ
Until contemporary times Satanism has had much more secretive associations than at present. In the past, the anti-religious and anti-god aspect was prevalent in all aspects of Satanism. Although this is not true of modern Satanism today, traditional Satanism still is associated with black magic and ritualism. The worship of a personal and powerful devil is central to traditional Satanism. Those involved reject Christianity, yet choose Lucifer of Scriptures as their god. The ‘Occult Sourcebook’ comments: “Traditionally, Satanism has been interpreted as the worship of evil, a religion founded upon the very principles which Christianity rejects . . . the Christian devil becomes the Satanist’s god . . . – Understanding the Occult, J. McDowell.
A number of symbols are connected with Satanism today, among them are,
• The number 666
• The Pentacle with the point uppermost is ‘White’ and the point downwards is ‘Black’ magic.
• The Pentagram, a Pentacle in a circle represents a name that Stan has taken ‘The Morning Star’. Used often in various rituals, the circle is believed to confine the power.
• The Hexagram, the six-pointed star, is also known as the Star of David. It was first used in Egypt and the Jews started using it during the Babylonian captivity. Obviously, when used by the Jews there is no occultic connotation but when used in witchcraft it is one of the most powerful symbols.
More than anyone else modern Satanism owes its revival to Aliester Crowley, called one of the most diabolical individuals that ever lived. Crowley, who was actually an occultist rather than a Satanist, was born in 1875 and believed that he was the reincarnation of the occult author, Eliphas Levi. Thought to have made human sacrifices, he was often called the ‘Beast or the ‘Antichrist. ‘Crowley died in 1947 after publishing his most famous book, Magick in Theory and Practice in 1929.
Church of Satan
The modern Church of Satan, that is not always taken seriously by others into Satanism, lists nine statements in the Satanic Bible p.25.
1. Satan represents indulgence, instead of abstinence!
2. Satan represents vital existence, instead of spiritual pipe dreams!
3. Satan represents undefiled wisdom, instead of hypocritical self-deceit!
4. Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it, instead of love wasted on ingrates!
5. Satan represents vengeance, instead of turning the other cheek!
6. Satan represents responsibility to the responsible, instead of concern for psychic vampires
7. Satan represents man as just another animal, sometimes better, more often worse that those that walk on all-fours, who, because of his ‘divine spiritual and intellectual development,’ has become the most vicious animal of all!
8. Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they lead to physical, mental or emotional gratification!
9. Satan has been the best friend the church has ever had, as he has kept it in business all these years.
As can be seen however, if these rules are followed closely then there may well, at the very lest, be some negative behavioural problems produced; we would also suggest that it could lead to evil supernatural activity as well. This was the ‘brand’ of Satanism practised by the first member of the Royal Navy, in November 2004, to be allowed to follow his belief on board ship.
In this section we have given many clues as to the root of witchcraft and although we must be clear of the distinctions in White and Black Witchcraft, the root of the power the same?
Most arrive at the Black arts via one of the many forms of White Witchcraft. Those in white witchcraft deny the God of the Bible and so their power must come from another supernatural ‘god’. As already explained the fact that this power appears to do good is the ‘angel of light’ syndrome, which has an evil power as its root.
Anton LaVey, founder of the Church of Satan says in the Satanic Bible,
There is no difference between “White” and “Black” magic, except in the smug hypocrisy, guiltridden righteousness, and self-deceit of the “White” magician himself. In the classical religious tradition, “White” magic is performed for altruistic, benevolent, and “good” purposes; while “black” magic is used for self-aggrandizement, personal power, and “evil” purposes. No one on earth ever pursued occult studies, metaphysics, yoga, or any other “white light” concept, without ego gratification and personal power as a goal.
Others will say that witchcraft is the ‘Old Religion’, pre-Christian and therefore should be accepted above Christianity. But what do they really mean? Certainly many of the beliefs go back before Jesus Christ but of course none of them go back before the Creator Supernatural God. As you go through the Old Testament of the Bible, we see many instances of people turning away from the true Creator God to false idols of wood, stone, etc. Modern Witchcraft has done exactly the same.
Finally it is helpful to know that many in witchcraft have not knowingly turned away from the Creator, they have never really heard about Him. We need therefore to ensure that we do a good job of communicating who He is, in a way that they understand. They can then take a reasoned decision as to their future.