It matters because there are so many questions and variances out there. The need for clarity is great, even if clarity can only be gain one individual at a time. I decided to write this post because questions are often asked about what Witches believe. Some even posed the question, “Can a Witch be an Atheist?”
To me explaining what I believe is easy and yet it is the hardest thing to do. Belief holds some form of obscurity. Belief is personal and individual. It is not always easily expressed. I am a Witch and I know what I believe, but I might not be able to express to you what I believe in a way that helps you clearly understand my point of view.
Also, I can’t tell you what other Witches out there believe. It simply not possible. There are too many facets and too many possibilities out there to generalize them all correctly. The discrepancies far outweigh the similarities.
I also think there is a whole lot of bickering out there about what constitutes being a Witch. Too often I find we are blinded to the possibilities because we are too far bent on forcing others to believe as we think they should. So let’s take a breath and act like mature intellectually permeable adults, shall we?
*I’m totally chuckling after writing that…
As best I can, I will explain my point of view and my beliefs on a few areas I can think to discuss at this point.
Deity vs Nature vs Energy vs Atheism
I do not consider myself Atheist, rather I am more agnostic in my beliefs. I do not confirm nor deny the existence of Gods and Goddesses. Personally, I don’t align myself with any one pantheon, rather I believe that all pantheon are made up of the same energy. Something far bigger than human likenesses and personalities. To me deities are humanized versions of a greater universal energy. I feel traditionally people need the human association of a face, name and personality, so they can better relate to the vastness of universal energy. Why not, the universe if enormous!
Dividing this energy up in to bite size pieces, placing a face it, and calling it by name makes an easier connection. A vision of a caring mother goddess rather and an omnipotent invisible energy is clearly easier to relate to. If you came across a woman holding a small child carved into marble you are more likely to relate to the image. She is a caring mother, a caring mother goddess. However, if you are come across a blob of energy carved into marble you might be very confused or mistake it for something demonic and horrible. YES! I get it.
Don’t get me wrong. I love mythology. There is real value in the stories told and the personalities of Gods and Goddesses. I find them inspiring, endearing, powerful, and more. There is real purpose in the practice. I just don’t necessarily call upon them as though they were a long distance friend.
With that said, I also believe energy will present its self as we can best conceive it. In example, if you are more attuned with animal spirits, this is how the universe will communicate with you. To me, it is all the same energy just manifesting itself in different ways so we can better understand or receive a message. I resonate best with Animal spirits. They come to me all the time. From birds staring at me through my bedroom window to foxes crossing my path while on a hike. They come to me because they are my direct link to the universe.
Another question I recently read is this, “Can a Witch be and Atheist?” To me I don’t think it is possible. In a recent forum someone claimed to be an Atheist to Satan. I feel like anyone who is throwing these terms around does not have a clear understanding of what it means to be Atheist. That or they are be funny. If they are being facetious, I get it. In the context is was presented it was funny. *chuckle*
Witches and Wiccan’s a like, tend to believe in some sort of higher power whether it be deity, nature, or the universe as a whole. There is something beyond us here in this world. In my studies of Atheism this is not the case. In my understanding of Atheism… This is it. There is nothing more. We are it and this existence is it. Most Atheist I know and those with whom I have spoken, follow this sort of belief. It is and remains my understanding that Atheism requires a mindful rejection of a higher power and all faith based traditions. Although, there could be many other sides to this philosophy out there. I have not yet encountered them personally.
Now back to my thoughts on Deity. If am a worshiper of anything, it is of universal energy and Nature herself. I believe there is something larger than life out there, and it is far beyond anything we could possibly imagine. I don’t believe it demands anything from us, except that we live by its natural laws. BUT this energy pays close attention when we ask and show dedicated interest. We are naturally attracted to one another, like magnets.
I believe it is neither male nor female. Rather, it is something far bigger than that. Incomprehensible is the best word I can use. We might scratch the surface of understanding, and we may even gain clarity of it for a brief moment, but in our state, as humans, we cannot fully grasp it. We can only respect and honor it as it is also a part of us. We are directly connected even though we have distanced ourselves from this energy over the past several centuries. It is the energy of nature, the trees, the animals, the minerals, and even Gaia herself.
The best allegory I can offer is that of the Red Wood Forest. It has been discovered that the enormous Sequoias of this forest are all connected to one another. Unlike most trees, the magnificent Sequoias do not have a large tap root that keeps them upright. Instead they intermingle their roots to prevent one another from falling over. This proves effective as some of these trees are over 3,000 years old. You don’t see this connected support, from the perspective of standing on the surface. It is just beneath the surface, unattainable except when you dig a little deeper. So perhaps we only need to dig a little deeper to find our connections to one another as well as the universe.
This one is a difficult subject because there are so many hard opinions out there. I am not one for accepting insult where insult is not meant. If you call me Wiccan fine, I am not offended. However, many others out there will absolutely take offense. Some will out right chew you a new asshole for making the assumption or generalization. As a community we should be helping spread understanding instead of hostility. So for me to jump down your throat because you simply don’t understand the differences, is wrong.
In my opinion, a label is just a label. To label ourselves is same, just a label. You can call yourself anything you like, your actions will speak the truth. Our actions and practices are what make us who or what we are. Our actions, values, standards, and reactions make us who or what we are. If you act like a bitch, guess what you’re a bitch. If you act professionally, you’re professional. If you act kind, you are kind. If you are a mix of it all, then you are eclectic. I do think labels are unfair at times, but they also help us relate to one another. Ultimately through our actions and reactions, we determine how the label is perceived.
I feel as a Witch you have free reign to do what you like with your practice. It isn’t mine or anyone else’s place to judge. Just do your best to know the terms and use them correctly. Be intelligent and correct. There is nothing worse that some ignorant asshole with a loud mouth.
In my practice, I define a witch as someone who practices the art and science of harnessing and using natural energy for a variety of reasons. This is done spontaneously as well as methodically. Witchcraft (non-Wiccan) requires no specific tools, rules, or association to a specific sect/path/tradition. The guidelines followed are related to the laws of Nature. There also is a very miniscule hierarchy. You might have an entire coven of Witches all viewed as equals, but respect is positioned toward the elders/most experienced within the group. A group like this will not meet often. Traditionally Witches seem to keep to themselves and only gather together when a great need is present.
In addition, Witches may not celebrate Sabbats as Wiccans do. In my practice I honor the lunar cycles more than I do the Sabbats. Not to say that I don’t revere or recognize Sabbats. I simply resonate better with the cycles of the Moon.
From my point of view and experience, a Wiccan is one who is methodical about every aspect of spell work, ritual, Sabbat, and deity. Most Wiccans gather in covens and teaching circles and practice/worship under a High Priest and Priestess. Although, there are quite a number who are solitary. Wiccan traditions rely on specific rituals and initiations. There are specific rules and bylaws one must follow, i.e. the Wiccan Rede.
Wiccans might also follow or associate with a specific path such as Alexandrian, Celtic, Dianic, Eclectic, and the like. Wiccan practices in my experience are highly ritualistic, like a catholic mass. Those who resonate well with ritual or require specific routine, probably link well with this type of practice.
A Wiccan can certainly adopt various aspect of Witchcraft. When we look into the history of Wicca we find that the origins of Wicca are deeply rooted within Witchcraft. Wicca was intended to be the revival of Witchcraft. A rebranding of an old religion if you will.
Wicca also make a wonderful starting point toward becoming a Witch. The rules, practices, and values help set one up for independence.
Spiritual But Not Religious
This also brings up the question of Spirituality vs religion. I don’t consider myself religious. I do consider myself spiritual. You’ve heard the term #SBNR (Spiritual But Not Religious). This ideal resonates well with me.
Why? Okay, here is how I see it. I don’t follow one sect, or religious structure. Conformity related to anything with a creative disposition is stifling to me. I pretty much do my own thing while following a simple philosophy based on what Nature teaches. I don’t follow or hail to one pantheon. I don’t abide by a written text, religious book, scripture, or the like.
To me, religion requires you to follow specific man made rules. In example, you must go to church every Sunday, you must read this book, wear these clothes, and follow these rules. You must give a certain percent of your income to the church or establishment. You must have a reverend, minister, or leader governing your life, actions, and interpreting to you what should be believe. There is always someone else calling the shots and telling you how to live and move in the world. I prefer to be more independent.
This however, does not keep me from having compassion and humanity. I am against injustice and I seek to live in a manner that honors my path. My personal values uphold the truths I know within. I am free to change my mind if an ideal no longer holds true in my life. I try to live well and be good. I seek balance and while seeking prosperity. I try to keep my actions in check, reminding myself that I am but a small spec in the universe. I practice humility, restraint, and kindness. I am a volunteer in the community and seek to make our world a better place. I do this because it is part of being human not because there is someone watching my every move, judging my worthiness.
Laws, bylaws, rules of a Witch (mine anyway)
I don not follow a rule book, a Rede, or doctrine. Although, I do follow the laws of Nature and society. Why society? Because I don’t want to get arrested. I say that half in jest.
I feel nature provides me with all the rules and guidelines I need in order to live healthfully, and practice Magick effectively. I also live two lives in a sense, my mundane and my spiritual. Many times they cross over or mingle with one another. In my mundane life people meet me before they meet my spiritual path. It is a rule I created for myself in order to cope with and somewhat fit into the world we live in today.
Nature is fairly simple, and here are the basics. You want something you must work for it. A wolf cannot eat without first tracking its pray and then successfully killing it. The pack is depending on the kill to survive. Same goes for the farmer. The farmer will be rewarded with thousands of seeds later if he/she first preps, plants, and properly cares for his/her current crop today. You and me, the people who need to eat, rely on the farmer to have a bountiful crop.
I believe nature will provide to us vast abundance as long as we put forth the effort to achieve what we desire. YES! That means you need to work first and get paid later. It also means you need to put forth you best effort every day. Half ass effort = half ass return.
Sometimes we don’t know where to start and we need guidance. This is where the universe is also very helpful. All you need to do is ask for guidance. Once you know what you need to do, it is time to get motivated. Get your mindset in check, align your values, narrow your focus, roll up your sleeves, and get to work.
The most basic law I follow is this: You receive nothing without equivalent exchange. OR Something must be given before abundance can be received.
This means I must first give up my time, money, talents, knowledge, etc. if I want something from the universe. It also to me means I must be a part of something bigger than myself. Remember the wolf hunting for dinner. Well the wolf is not just hunting for him/herself. The pack is depending on that kill and it is depending on the hunter to complete the task. That is not to suggest that the pack is laying around doing nothing. It is quite the contrary. The pack is either helping with the hunt or tending to other aspects involving the pack. This philosophy is also reflected in various tribes from Native American to Aborigine.
Picture a native tribe of people. Everyone is hungry. So a hunting party goes out get dinner because in order to survive and thrive one must eat. Back at home the tribe is preparing for this meal. Fires are stoked, blades are sharpened, and vegetables/grains are prepared. There is also a lot to do once the hunter return with what eventually be dinner.
The hunters do their part and the tribe does theirs. It is a community effort. Their mentality is not focused on the individual, rather it is focused on the whole. They know that when they all work together they all benefit. Much of this philosophy has been lost to us in modern times. We have come to believe that it is every man, woman, and child for their self. We forget we are part of something larger. Like the mingling roots of the Sequoia hidden beneath the surface. We all have an interconnectedness with one another.
Our actions effect one another. Perhaps not today or next week but they do eventually in one way, shape, or form. We thrive when we work together. Otherwise, we wonder around aimless and depressed, unfulfilled by products, gadgets, and gimmicks. Sound familiar?
I am not saying there is never a time to think of yourself. My caution is that we be mindful of the thin line between selfish and not.
If you have questions please feel free to message me directly or comment below. I am sure I did not cover it all and I will revise as necessary.