Witchcraft seems to be something that emerges organically within every spiritual and religious culture. It is not something you can ever destroy, hard as some may try. History has shown the attempts by any group to do so are never fully successful. Attempts at “killing off the witches” can never fully destroy the spirit of Witchcraft itself. Witchcraft is like a weed with strong roots. Here I feel the weed is the perfect illustration, a powerful plant often with overlooked medicinal or poisonous properties, that is rejected as unwanted. Cutting off the surface part of the plant will never be successful and will only make it regrow stronger.
While it is most likely true that Witchcraft is not a purely preserved tradition that is passed down through the ages. I think any notion of this defies the spirit of Witchcraft itself. The roots are always there, in our collective consciousness, waiting for the right environment, the right circumstances for it to re-emerge and to be reborn. It will always be channeled through a new person and woven together with the fragment threads of myths and stories of witchcraft from the past.
Witchcraft does not emerge from a vacuum. If you look at history and you look at the use of the word “witch” within these cultures you will see that Witchcraft appears as a balance to the predominant culture. Witchcraft is about power and maintaining a balance with that power. I believe that magick arises naturally within any culture and can be utilized and embraced by anyone or any religious tradition – but Witchcraft is another creature, it is the magick of otherness.
Even within Pagan societies, including those who embraced magick, there were still the witches – the outcasts, the heretics, those who would do what the priests wouldn’t. For example, the Greeks were a polytheistic society that embraced the magick of theurgy – yet there are still writings about the witches who performed rites and rituals that defied the cultural attitudes of the overarching religion. I believe that this explains the emergence of witchcraft traditions such as Satanism, in response to the growing power of the Christian Church. It also explains the emergence of Witchcraft traditions that are Earth-Centered practices in a world where we begin ignoring and destroying the Earth as a purely meaningless creation of a distant Creator.
In fact, I actually believe the Bible is spot on when it says “For rebellion is the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry…” in 1 Samuel 15:23. This is why the story of Aradia is so powerful as a myth – be it entirely fictional or reminiscent of older hidden myths. In the myth, Diana sends down Aradia to empower the oppressed with the power of Witchcraft. This myth is a central myth to my own tradition of Witchcraft, Sacred Fires. In short, Witchcraft is the gift of power to the marginalized. Any culture you decide to look at in history, you will see a theme of Witchcraft emerging as a response to the lack of power. It arises as a tool for justice, a tool to maintain balance and to level the playing field through rebellious spiritual practices.
In The Witch’s Book of Power, Devin Hunter refers to Diana as the Goddess of the Island of Misfit Toys. And this is a really powerful piece of insight if you meditate on it. Diana, as the Goddess of Witchcraft, empowers those who feel powerless, whom society has rejected, who feel broken and lost. I believe that it is this formula that creates the right circumstances for the roots of Witchcraft to begin regrowing.
The power of Witchcraft is the power of otherness and therefore, I do not believe it can ever truly be a large organized religion – though it may be the tools of what resembles a religion, because Witchcraft is a universal response to religion’s imbalance. It emerges to system-bust the institutions of dogma that begin threatening life, free-will, and personal sovereignty. As such, it is only natural to see the new generation of Witchcraft evolving and reemerging as more feminist, queerer, browner, and more gender-fluid – because it is these folk who are being made to believe by those in political and spiritual power that they are misfit toys. It is these folks – the marginalized, and those who sympathize with them – who will bear the mantle of the Spirit of Witchcraft until they are no longer marginalized or oppressed.
Witchcraft seems to be something that emerges organically within every spiritual and religious culture. It is not something you can ever destroy, hard as some may try. History has shown the attempts by any group to do so are never fully successful. Attempts at “killing off the witches” can never fully destroy the spirit of […]