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  • #76
    Originally posted by Mouse
    by witch i mean someone who practices witchcraft. In the same way that someone who practices christianity is a christian or someone who practices wicca is a wiccan.

    By the definition that anyone who practices magick is a witch, then witchcraft is a practice that anyone can take up. Same as you can have xtian doctors, and pagan doctors...

    But there is different styles of magick, witchcraft being only one style of many..

    Is that a lil clearer?
    I think there is still a lot of confusion showing through in the definitions you've given.

    Witchcraft is the practice of magick. Ceremonial magick is also the practice of magick. They are both about magick, but they are different too. All magick is not witchcraft, just like all magick is not ceremonial magick. (It's kind of like the idea that Wiccans are just one type of witch; not all witches are Wiccans. Or the statement that Wiccans are Pagans, and not all Pagans are Wiccans.)

    Especially for Wiccans, witchcraft can be a very huge part of the spiritual practice. Doing magick can be central to your religious expression. But the witchcraft is still just a practice and not the religion itself. That's why it's perfectly alright to say there are Satanic witches, Wiccan witches, Christian witches, and non-Wiccan Pagan witches. Hey, there could even be atheist witches or agnostic witches! No single religion "owns" the exclusive right to the word witch or the practice of witchcraft. It seems to me that a lot of the animosity that has come up in the Pagan community has been over different religious groups thinking that somehow they were the only ones who had the right to call themselves witches and others didn't.

    Because witchcraft is a practice (the practice of doing magick) if you don't do magick then I don't think you can be considered a practicing witch. Maybe a nonpracticing witch. But if a person does not want to practice magick in any form then I would wonder why they would want to call themselves a witch at all in the first place? You can be a Christian, a Satanist, a Pagan, (and hey, maybe even a Wiccan) without being a witch. (Personally, though, I don't see the point of being a non-witch Wiccan since Wicca as a religion is all about witchcraft being a major tool for spiritual growth.)

    Ben Gruagach
    MysticWicks forum guide in "Paths: Wicca", "Books" and "History"
    author of The Wiccan Mystic: Exploring a Magickal Spiritual Path
    visit my website at http://www.witchgrotto.com
    read my LiveJournal blog
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    • #77
      Originally posted by Ben Gruagach
      Because witchcraft is a practice (the practice of doing magick) if you don't do magick then I don't think you can be considered a practicing witch. Maybe a nonpracticing witch. But if a person does not want to practice magick in any form then I would wonder why they would want to call themselves a witch at all in the first place?
      I agree with what you're saying, however, with this point, let's say someone was in the closet with regards to their family, and circumstances require that they have to move back in for a time period. That person may feel more comfortable not practicing their craft until they are back on their own. However, imo, it doesn't make them any less a witch

      It's interesting reading this :D
      Silverstar
      Silverstar Designs
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      • #78
        Originally posted by silverstard
        I agree with what you're saying, however, with this point, let's say someone was in the closet with regards to their family, and circumstances require that they have to move back in for a time period. That person may feel more comfortable not practicing their craft until they are back on their own. However, imo, it doesn't make them any less a witch

        It's interesting reading this :D
        I agree that you can still be a witch if you aren't actively practicing magick. But that means you're not a practicing witch, right? Practicing means you're actually doing it.

        Magick is more than just casting formal circles, using lots of incense, candles, ritual cups and knives. Books like Scott Cunningham's "Earth Power" (or any book about doing magick and spells) provide many ways to do witchcraft that can be done in all sorts of circumstances, including those where you are living with people who you don't want to know you're into witchcraft.

        And since the religion can be practiced separate from the witchcraft part, even Wiccans can be "practicing Wiccans" even if they aren't doing formal circles with all the props because of restricted circumstances. Christian witches have it easier though since it likely wouldn't raise many eyebrows if you were to openly practice a Christian religion (except in some parts of the world, of course.) As a Wiccan, though, I can say with certainty that you don't have to wear specific clothes, jewelry, etc. or have any visible things on you to be a practicing Wiccan. Many Wiccans blend in really well in mainstream society and are just as Wiccan as the most extroverted in-your-face Wiccan with pounds of jewelry and fancy clothes.

        Ben Gruagach
        MysticWicks forum guide in "Paths: Wicca", "Books" and "History"
        author of The Wiccan Mystic: Exploring a Magickal Spiritual Path
        visit my website at http://www.witchgrotto.com
        read my LiveJournal blog
        find me on Facebook

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        • #79
          Originally posted by Ben Gruagach
          I agree that you can still be a witch if you aren't actively practicing magick. But that means you're not a practicing witch, right? Practicing means you're actually doing it.
          Well, this can get amusing. I mean, how much time is allowed to pass between spells for you to still be "practicing?" Like, if you take weekends off, is that okay?

          Sorry, I'm being facetious, but I don't think we should examine too closely this "actively" issue, otherwise it's like there's a frequency rule. I am a witch because I practice witchcraft when the need arises.
          Please visit my blog!

          Nowadays, every girl with a henna tattoo and a spice rack thinks she's a Sister of the Dark Ones. —Willow Rosenberg

          If that which thou seekest, thou findest not within thee, thou wilt never find it without thee.
          www.deborahlipp.com

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          • #80
            Originally posted by DebLipp
            Well, this can get amusing. I mean, how much time is allowed to pass between spells for you to still be "practicing?" Like, if you take weekends off, is that okay?

            Sorry, I'm being facetious, but I don't think we should examine too closely this "actively" issue, otherwise it's like there's a frequency rule. I am a witch because I practice witchcraft when the need arises.
            Oh, I agree.

            But I do think that people who don't like magick and don't want to do magick might want to think about whether it's appropriate to call themselves a witch. That seemed to me to be part of what was coming through in the discussion.

            Ben Gruagach
            MysticWicks forum guide in "Paths: Wicca", "Books" and "History"
            author of The Wiccan Mystic: Exploring a Magickal Spiritual Path
            visit my website at http://www.witchgrotto.com
            read my LiveJournal blog
            find me on Facebook

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            • #81
              Originally posted by Ben Gruagach
              Witchcraft is the practice of magick and can be done in pretty much any religion. How can it be said then that Witchcraft itself is the religion?

              Catholics are not the only ones who use chalices, wafers, incense, chants, prayers (or even the combination of all of those) in their religion. Wicca certainly uses all those things (although our wafers are more often called cakes... but it's still ritual food.) Is Wicca therefore really just part of the religion of Catholicism? It seems to me that insisting the practice is the religion, rather than acknowledging the practice is conducted within a religious context (and can be part of many different religions) makes it very difficult to distinguish one religion from another.

              If witchcraft is the religion, then does that mean Satanic witches, Christian witches, and Wiccan witches, along with non-Wiccan Pagan witches, are really all practicing the same religion? Are the witches of ancient Babylon, Egypt, Greece, Rome, and the British Isles all practicing the same religion even though they might be in completely different cultures, with different deities?



              There is no question that witches usually (and I might venture to say, exclusively) practice their magick within the context of a religion. There are even common tools and methods that are found across cultures, just as there are for most religions. But that does not lead to the conclusion that witchcraft itself is the religion. On the contrary, it reinforces the logical statement that witchcraft is a practice that can be employed in pretty much any religion.

              Witchcraft has always focussed on the deities relevant to magick in whatever cultures we look at. The fact that these deities differ from culture to culture is pretty clear proof to me personally that there is no such thing as a universal Witchcraft Religion. Perhaps the followers of specific deities in specific cultures (for instance the followers of Aradia in Italy) were all witches -- this comes the closest to a cult of witches. But the devotees of Aradia are not the same as the devotees of Hecate, or the devotees of Brighid or the Dagda or Cerridwen, or the devotees of Kali or Thoth or Isis or Set.

              Groups like the Theosophists spent a lot of time looking at religious elements across different cultures and tried to claim the commonalities proved there was such a thing as "one true universal religion" behind it all. I suspect the attempts to find a universal Witchcraft religion is based on the same desire, if not the same intellectual groundwork.
              I think you've misunderstood some of my points. For example, you said - "Witchcraft is the practice of magick and can be done in pretty much any religion. How can it be said then that Witchcraft itself is the religion?"

              I'm saying that Witchcraft is a religion that incorporates magic. I'm saying that the earliest literary works depict it as a religion, hence the term "worship" when referring to Witches and a particular goddess. We know from ancient sources that the Greeks considered Witches to be practitioners of "illicit religion" (which is religion nonetheless). It's a modern notion that Witchcraft is magic first and foremost.

              You also seem to have missed my point about Catholicism. I was simply pointing out that there is a ritual component to Catholicism as well as a religious component, and that the two go together as inseparable in that system. My point was that it is the same in Witchcraft. In other words the magic does not exclude the religious foundation.

              I'm not sure of your intended point where you say - "If witchcraft is the religion, then does that mean Satanic witches, Christian witches, and Wiccan witches, along with non-Wiccan Pagan witches, are really all practicing the same religion? Are the witches of ancient Babylon, Egypt, Greece, Rome, and the British Isles all practicing the same religion even though they might be in completely different cultures, with different deities?"

              Witchcraft differs according to the region in which it evolved, and so each regional tradition will naturally have cultural differences. But what we find in Witchcraft trials and other sources throughout Europe is a widespread reference to "worship" AND to "magic" (and even the Church believed that Witches "worshipped" Satan, and so again we see a continuing religious element).

              Regarding your comment - "There are even common tools and methods that are found across cultures, just as there are for most religions. But that does not lead to the conclusion that witchcraft itself is the religion." - No, what leads to the conclusion that Witchcraft is a religion is over 2500 years of literature referring to Witches worshipping this or that deity, entity, or whatever.

              Best regards - Raven
              There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy...(from Hamlet).

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              • #82
                Originally posted by raven grimassi
                I'm saying that Witchcraft is a religion that incorporates magic.
                I think this is a problematic statement, because as you say, witchcraft evolved differently in different places. Witchcraft is also modern, having "evolved" in the 20th and 21st century in a variety of ways. Witchcraft is also a fictional conception, as in the Wicked Witch of the West or the tv show Charmed.

                The fact is, Witchcraft isn't "a" religion. There are many Witchcrafts, with many meanings. That's why it is best to use the word with a preceding modifier; "Stregha Witchcraft," "Wiccan Witchcraft," "Satanic Witchcraft," "Disney Witchcraft."
                Please visit my blog!

                Nowadays, every girl with a henna tattoo and a spice rack thinks she's a Sister of the Dark Ones. —Willow Rosenberg

                If that which thou seekest, thou findest not within thee, thou wilt never find it without thee.
                www.deborahlipp.com

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                • #83
                  Originally posted by DebLipp
                  The fact is, Witchcraft isn't "a" religion. There are many Witchcrafts, with many meanings. That's why it is best to use the word with a preceding modifier; "Stregha Witchcraft," "Wiccan Witchcraft," "Satanic Witchcraft," "Disney Witchcraft."
                  I just had this thought all of a sudden, reading this thread :

                  Witchcraft is becoming an umbrella term, encompassing many different belief systems and practices. Kind of like Paganism.

                  It means so many different things depending on who you talk to and what Dictionary or Encyclopedia you open. It's quite interesting, really...

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                  • #84
                    Originally posted by DebLipp
                    I think this is a problematic statement, because as you say, witchcraft evolved differently in different places. Witchcraft is also modern, having "evolved" in the 20th and 21st century in a variety of ways. Witchcraft is also a fictional conception, as in the Wicked Witch of the West or the tv show Charmed.

                    The fact is, Witchcraft isn't "a" religion. There are many Witchcrafts, with many meanings. That's why it is best to use the word with a preceding modifier; "Stregha Witchcraft," "Wiccan Witchcraft," "Satanic Witchcraft," "Disney Witchcraft."
                    Thanks, Deb. You put that really well.

                    I'll try and address a few of the other points in Raven's thought-provoking post.

                    Originally posted by Raven Grimassi
                    I'm saying that the earliest literary works depict it as a religion, hence the term "worship" when referring to Witches and a particular goddess.
                    There is no doubt that witchcraft is practiced the vast majority of the time within a religious context. That means that deities are invoked or prayed to and usually their aid is requested as part of the magickal work. This does not prove that the practice itself is the religion. It is merely confirmation that the practice is done within a religious context.

                    The key to this for me is that other practices such as prayer are also done pretty much exclusively in a religious context yet we don't claim prayer itself is the religion.

                    Another major reason why I have a hard time accepting the claim that witchcraft is a religion and not just a practice done in a religious context is that it exists in pretty much any religion we care to examine. It happens in a Christian framework, a Jewish one, in ancient Greece, in ancient Rome, in ancient and modern day central and south America. It existed in ancient and modern Africa. It existed in the various diverse cultures of Europe both ancient and modern. The deities, ethical structures, and even methods of doing witchcraft varied quite a bit across the religious contexts. How then can we say that witchcraft itself is a single identifiable religion?

                    Originally posted by Raven Grimassi
                    We know from ancient sources that the Greeks considered Witches to be practitioners of "illicit religion" (which is religion nonetheless). It's a modern notion that Witchcraft is magic first and foremost.
                    The idea of witchcraft being a form of "illicit religion" is an interesting point but it is misleading in the context of this particular thread. Ronald Hutton talks about this idea at some length in his essay "The New Old Paganism" in his book "Witches, Druids and King Arthur." Illicit religion has more to do with acting in a religious capacity outside the permitted institutionalized authority structure than with identifying witchcraft itself as a distinct religion. Witches were miracle-workers who competed with the officially sanctioned miracle-workers (authorized priests in the state-approved religion.) It's more about a turf war, and trying to demonize those who act in specific roles outside the approved structure. In the discussions about "illicit religion" particularly in the case of the Inquisition, it's important to remember that the label witch was just an easy way to mark someone as outside the mainstream and justify punishing them regardless what the victim's actual religious stance was. Catholics called Protestants heretics and undoubtedly executed some as witches, while in Protestant countries I'm sure there were Catholics who were similarly accused, convicted, and killed. Some of the victims might not have even been outside the mainstream religion for their area but were merely targets for other reasons, such as being an elderly woman, being wealthy (and therefore the object of jealousy for others), being young and attractive, having a visible mole, having a pet cat.

                    I also challenge the statement that witches have always been first and foremost defined as practitioners of a specific religion. On the contrary, all the etymology of the words witch, sorceror, etc. seem to point to "working magick" rather than "being a member of a specific religion." The etymologies such as those at http://www.agnosticwitch.catcara.com...ch-defined.htm point out that witchcraft is usually explained in terms of a religious context. That is different from saying witchcraft itself is a religion, but supports the statement that witchcraft is a practice that is usually done within one's religious context.

                    Originally posted by Raven Grimassi
                    You also seem to have missed my point about Catholicism. I was simply pointing out that there is a ritual component to Catholicism as well as a religious component, and that the two go together as inseparable in that system. My point was that it is the same in Witchcraft. In other words the magic does not exclude the religious foundation.
                    I understand that in the example of Catholicism specific practices are required to be a participant in that religion. Another example is Gardnerian Wicca -- to be a member of that specific Wiccan sect, there are certain practices which are followed and specific rituals you must enact. However, it is very possible to separate the practices themselves from the specific religion. The practices of Gardnerian Wicca, just like the practices of the Roman Catholic faith, are indeed practiced in other religions. The practices themselves are not the religion. They can be and are central to many faiths, but the practices themselves are not a religion.

                    Wicca in my understanding is a religion that is based largely on the practice of witchcraft within a specific religious context (reverence for both the male and female Divine, reverence for nature, explicit use of magick to better ourselves and our world.) Wiccans though are not the only witches out there. Our form of practicing witchcraft as central to our religion is not the only one that exists. Our religion of Wicca does not own witchcraft so we can't really honestly say that our religion is witchcraft.

                    Originally posted by Raven Grimassi
                    ...what leads to the conclusion that Witchcraft is a religion is over 2500 years of literature referring to Witches worshipping this or that deity, entity, or whatever.
                    There is a huge amount of literature stretching back through human history that documents the use of prayer within a religious context. If the logic is to hold, then we must say that prayer is a religion as well.

                    The fact that we can prove witchcraft is used most of the time within a religious context does not prove that witchcraft itself is the religion. If the proof showed that in all instances the deities were exactly the same, the actual methods were always the same, the ethics were always the same, and the self-professed religion was always called the same thing then I might think otherwise. I have a hard time, though, in agreeing that a Mexican woman praying to indigenous gods of magick, a Greek man carving a love spell on a lead tablet while invoking Hecate at a crossroads, and a Phillippine sorceror putting a curse on someone are all practicing the same religion, even with regional variations, as a Wiccan in the UK or in North America.

                    Whew! That was a long post.

                    I think this whole discussion shows that our community has some interesting topics which deserve a lot more research and serious scholarly attention. It's certainly not a cut-and-dried thing.

                    Ben Gruagach
                    MysticWicks forum guide in "Paths: Wicca", "Books" and "History"
                    author of The Wiccan Mystic: Exploring a Magickal Spiritual Path
                    visit my website at http://www.witchgrotto.com
                    read my LiveJournal blog
                    find me on Facebook

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                    • #85
                      Originally posted by Ben Gruagach
                      I also challenge the statement that witches have always been first and foremost defined as practitioners of a specific religion. On the contrary, all the etymology of the words witch, sorceror, etc. seem to point to "working magick" rather than "being a member of a specific religion."
                      I think it's important to take into consideration that the etymology of the English word Witch is different from say that of the Greeks. I mention Greeks only because they produce the earliest writings on Witchcraft. Many people tend to think of European Witchcraft as something uniquely of the British Isles, which is not the case. In fact we have no Celtic writings from the pre-Christian era from which we can really say anything about Witchcraft in this region.

                      This brings to mind two possibilities. The first being that, if Witchcraft ever existed there, it was something more akin to shamanism. If so, perhaps a religious element was never a formal apsect of Witchcraft itself in the British Isles. The second possibility is that the religious elements were there and over time decayed, leaving behind only its magical remnants.

                      Since the English words come at a relatively late period, when compared to Greek and Roman sources, they may not be the best etymologies to use in sorting out foundational origins.

                      Blessed be - Scarlet Witch
                      Last edited by Scarlet Witch; December 10th, 2004, 07:58 PM.

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                      • #86
                        Originally posted by Scarlet Witch
                        Since the English words come at a relatively late period, when compared to Greek and Roman sources, they may not be the best etymologies to use in sorting things out foundational origins.
                        I understand your point. However, the English word "witch" (and its predecessors, Wicce and Wicca) have a pretty long etymological family tree that scholars have traced back to Indo-European root sources. Check it out for instance at http://www.agnosticwitch.catcara.com...ch-defined.htm or do a Google search on "witch etymology" for more.

                        Ben Gruagach
                        MysticWicks forum guide in "Paths: Wicca", "Books" and "History"
                        author of The Wiccan Mystic: Exploring a Magickal Spiritual Path
                        visit my website at http://www.witchgrotto.com
                        read my LiveJournal blog
                        find me on Facebook

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                        • #87
                          Originally posted by Ben Gruagach
                          I understand your point. However, the English word "witch" (and its predecessors, Wicce and Wicca) have a pretty long etymological family tree that scholars have traced back to Indo-European root sources. Check it out for instance at http://www.agnosticwitch.catcara.com...ch-defined.htm or do a Google search on "witch etymology" for more.
                          Yes, it's true that English has long roots stretching back to Indo-European roots. This presents some problems because we're looking at the passing on of concepts from one culture to another throughout much of Europe. Each one absorbs and undoubtedly modifiies the application of the word along the way (if not the original meaning). With the Greeks we have something less so.

                          Blessed be,
                          Scarlet Witch

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                          • #88
                            Originally posted by DebLipp
                            I think this is a problematic statement, because as you say, witchcraft evolved differently in different places. Witchcraft is also modern, having "evolved" in the 20th and 21st century in a variety of ways. Witchcraft is also a fictional conception, as in the Wicked Witch of the West or the tv show Charmed.

                            The fact is, Witchcraft isn't "a" religion. There are many Witchcrafts, with many meanings. That's why it is best to use the word with a preceding modifier; "Stregha Witchcraft," "Wiccan Witchcraft," "Satanic Witchcraft," "Disney Witchcraft."
                            I would respectfully disagree that "The fact is, Witchcraft isn't "a" religion." - But I accept that such is your view. My view is that Witchcraft is a religion and a magical system with many denominations such as Celtic Witchcraft, Italian Witchcraft, Germanic Witchcraft and so forth. In these we find the cultural renderings that make them different and yet related.

                            Best regards - Raven
                            There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy...(from Hamlet).

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                            • #89
                              Originally posted by raven grimassi
                              I would respectfully disagree that "The fact is, Witchcraft isn't "a" religion." - But I accept that such is your view. My view is that Witchcraft is a religion and a magical system with many denominations such as Celtic Witchcraft, Italian Witchcraft, Germanic Witchcraft and so forth. In these we find the cultural renderings that make them different and yet related.

                              Best regards - Raven

                              Out of curiosity, what would your thoughts be on someone who is an athiest and yet practices withcraft, and by that I mean the magical system that I view it as? If no religion is entailed what label would you bestow on them from your own perception?

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                              • #90
                                Perhaps we need to define religion?
                                We're born in a prison, raised in a prison, sent to a prison called school. We cry in a prison, we love in a prison, we dream in a prison like fools. Wood becomes a flute when it's loved; reach for yourself and your battered mates. Mirror becomes a razor when it's broken; look in the mirror and see your shattered fate. We live with no reason, kicked around for no reason, thrown out without reason like tools. We work in a prison, and hate in a prison, and die in a prison as a rule. We live in a prison among judges and wardens, and wait for no reason for you. We laugh in a prison, go through all four seasons, and die with no vision of truth. ~ John Lennon

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