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Witchcraft, Wicca and Paganism

Frequently Asked Questions


This list of questions and answers comes mainly from the old WADL (Witches Anti-Defamation League) website which, sadly, is no longer around.)
and The Witches' Voice.
Also, for more information, another good article is Witchvox's "So you wanna be a Witch?".

I've altered the answers to make this a little more personal, added my own opinions where I felt the urge to, and added a few other questions and answers that I feel they left out. Please feel free to contact me if I missed anything. Remember though that for the most part these answers are my opinion only (as well as those of a large number of my peers), but I am far from an authority on this, there are many other answers out there for anyone willing to take the time and effort to search them out.

Don't rely on only one source to base your beliefs on, read everything you can get your hands on and talk to other people in the craft. If anyone tries to tell you that their way is the only way run the other way fast!!

Don't spend too much time in front of the computer either, the world outside has so much to teach us if we'll only take the time to listen and learn!

Warmest Blessings,
Joelle


email me at joellessacredgrove@attbi.com


Another site that has good answers to frequently asked questions is Robin Wood's site (yes the Robin Wood!): http://www.robinwood.com/LivingtreeGrove/FAQs/FAQSet.html



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Q. What exactly is Wicca/Witchcraft/Paganism? (from WADL)

A.
Pagan: An umbrella term representing all Earth-based, positive, polytheistic faiths.

Wicca: A specific tradition within Paganism.
It is more specified ritualistically than other Pagan faiths.
Wicca is to Paganism as Catholicism is to Christianity.

Witch: A practitioner of the magickal arts; can be any spiritual path

Witchcraft: Roughly translated to: "The Craft of the Wise".


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Q. Are Wicca and Witchcraft the same thing?


A. Some say yes, and some say no. I say definitely not,
Wicca includes Witchcraft in it's beliefs but also includes Egyptian, Ceremonial, and other traditions in it's structure. The popular saying goes "All Wiccans are Witches but not all Witches are Wiccan." I suppose the only way to navigate this question safely is to point out what some may consider the main differences. In general, Wiccans feel free to review different belief systems, such as Celtic, Norse, Essene, Egyptian, Eastern Philosophy, Gnosis, or Shamanism, and then blend together any points that "feel" right into their own personal path. Pure Witchcraft on the other hand, may focus a little more tightly on using Magick and ritual to work with the elemental and spiritual forces in nature. Regardless, Wicca and Witchcraft both work to achieve balance and harmony within nature and self.

The basic truth to the matter is that Wicca, as an organized religion, only came into being in the mid-Twentieth century, while actual Witchcraft has been around as long as mankind. Wicca incorporated many of the traditional beliefs of Witchcraft into it's structure along with beliefs of several other of the "mystery" traditions.

Personally, I currently follow a predominately Celtic Witchcraft path. I'm trying to re-align my thinking with the three Celtic realms rather than the four elemental directions, so far it isn't taking, my brain seems to be hard wired with the four elements as a result of the time I've spent walking a Wiccan path. This may be one of the main differences between Celtic Traditionalists and Wiccans. While all Wiccans say that there's no one set way to believe there are strong guidelines as far as the elements go and I'm no longer comfortable with the Ceremonial and Ritual structure of Wicca, thus I've moved over to a path that more closely aligns with Traditional Witchcraft.

For more information here's a terrific article on some of the differences between Wicca and Witchcraft.

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Q. If I become a Witch will I be able to do all that cool stuff
I see in movies and on TV?


A. In a word, NO! The things you see on TV and in the movies are called special effects, not magic.

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Q.Who do Witches Worship?

A.There is a single power defined as the One or All, which is composed of everything it has ever created. This supreme energy force does not rule over the Universe, it IS the Universe. Since most find it difficult to talk to or call upon a faceless mass of Divine energy, this supreme power is personified into male and female aspects as the Goddess and God. This simply makes the concept easier for the human mind to comprehend and relate to. Some take this concept a step further and use actual names, like Astarte, Isis, Odin, Pan, Dianna, Cernunnos, etc., when invoking the Goddess and God. In the end, it is a personal preference and what a Witch uses depends on what "feels" right for them individually.

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Q.  How do Witches view Christianity. Are Witches Anti-Christian?

A.  Not necessarily. Witchcraft, overall, is very tolerant of other religious views, and does not engage itself in criticizing the beliefs of other people, providing that their beliefs do not violate the basic tenant of "Harm None." Witches do object to religions that attempt to suppress the religious beliefs of others, or every human's right to seek spirituality in their own way. This is why there is a slight rub between Wiccans, Pagans, Witches, and some Christians. Many of them feel they have exclusive rights to the divine. We also have a strong disdain for those who use religion as an excuse to commit mass genocide. The "Burning Times" are a clear historical example of one religious group attempting to exert its philosophies and beliefs upon others using extreme measures. As a rule though, most Witches and Wiccans respect and even, to some extent, follow the teachings of Christ, what we object to is the sometimes singleminded and bigoted attempts to force one's own interpretation of these teachings onto others.

Perhaps an over simplified way of describing our view is this: Imagine a beautiful meadow in the forest, and there are many paths leading to this meadow. It really does not matter which path you take to get there, the important thing is that you get there without intentionally harming anyone or anything along the way.


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Q.  Can I follow the path of Wicca or Witchcraft and be a Christian too?

A.  Again, some say yes and others maintain that they are completely separate religions. I believe that if one looks closely at the true teachings of Christ with an open heart, you will find some stark commonalities. It is only when one takes literally the sometimes frail mis-interpretations of those who misunderstood the intent or used the teachings to suit their own political agendas that one sees wide differences. Personally I know of Christian Witches, but I don't believe that one can give oneself totally to Christianity and to Wicca at the same time. The paths are too diverse. While some of the beliefs are practically identical, if one cannot give up on the concept of only believing in a male God while denying the feminine side there can be no joining of the two. It's a fine line, but the line is there none the less.

As a solitary you are free to choose any path you desire, or any blend that "feels" right to you. The important thing is to not allow a name or word to become a stumbling block. It is the intent of your actions and spirituality that matters in the end. I realize it is a poor comparison; Peanut Butter and Chocolate are two completely separate things. The fact remains, however, that they work pretty well when mixed together. Ultimately you must do what "feels" right to you...

Personally, I believe that Jesus was a perfecly evolved soul who chose to come back to the earthly realm one last time in order to teach others to follow his example. I rather think that if his original words could have been recorded on tape or film, rather than secondhand by those who had their own agendas to fulfill, we'd have a much different view of him as a man and of his beliefs, and there'd be no Catholic Church or the highly organized and dogmatic Christian sects as they exist today. He fought against organized religion during his life and I'm sure he's appalled at what the church has become and in what it's done in his name! Additionally, He revered women, but you notice that most of his disciples didn't hold them in as high a regard. It just seems to be such a shame to me that a perfect soul's lessons, such as his were, should have become so poorly passed down.


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Q.  The Wiccan Rede says "An it harm none, do as ye will." Does that mean a Witch can do anything they want and its okay if they can justify the action to themselves?

A.  An excellent question indeed, and one that's sparked countless debates among the pagan community! The answer is no, not necessarily... The whole premise of our belief system is based on living in harmony with all things that exist. This includes, but is not limited to the earth, trees, rivers, lakes, oceans, air, and all of earth's creatures, as well as other people without regard to race, color, religion, gender or sexual orientation.

This is not to say that Witches are perfect, never do anything wrong, or make mistakes. We are still human. We are aware of, or try to be aware of the karmic return of our actions, and are very careful not to send out negative energy in thought or deed.

Yes, sometimes a Witch will focus an energy form toward someone who needs a psychic 'zap'. This is only done however when a person is consistently doing something very wrong within society and causing a lot of harm to others. If and when a Witch does 'zap' someone, they do so with the full knowledge that it will eventually return to them and there will be a price to pay according to the Law of Three (what is sent out will come back x3). There are times when we simply must make a personal sacrifice for the good of the whole and shoulder this weight.

However, there are those that don't follow the Rede and don't acknowledge the Law of Three, claiming that these "rules" are strictly Wiccan in origin and don't apply to them. Well, they have that right, but personally, even though I don't consider myself Wiccan, I do know that what one sends out into the universe will find it's way back eventually. Negative thoughts and actions breed negativity into one's own life, no matter what an individual may personally believe, it's a law of Nature and thus affects every living creature.


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Q.  If Wicca and Witchcraft are not evil, why do you wear black robes?


A.  This is another baseless superstition, Witches wear clothing and robes of every color. Black is simply the combination of all colors (or the absence of all colors depending on your beliefs or your art teacher!) and all vibrational rates of light on the material plane. It is known that black is a very good conductor of energy, therefore wearing black would help one to absorb natural energy in order to increase the power of their spells, meditations, rituals, etc.

I believe that the tradition of Witches wearing black probably dates back to the time of the witch persecutions when rituals and meetings were held in secret at night, black blends in with the dark of night and thus makes the wearer less visible to unfriendly eyes. Personally, my own ritual robe is made of undyed cotton muslin which is off white in color. Seemed a natural choice to me (pun intended)!


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Q.  OK, so if Wicca and Witchcraft are not evil, why do you hold rituals and ceremonies at night hidden in the woods? (taken from WADL)

A.  This practice has its history in a couple of different things, none of which have anything to do with evil... In the old world, especially within the Celtic tribes, the day followed an entirely different schedule than it does in modern times. The new day for them actually began at sunset. This is also why most observances of holidays were celebrated on the evening before the actual calendar day. The second reason is that survival had an entirely different meaning during those times. Almost without exception, everyone spent their daylight hours tending the crops, their herds, or engaged in their trade. All daylight hours were vitally important simply for survival reasons.

OK, so that takes care of why we observed our rites at night during ancient times, and many of the reasons are the same in today's times. For one, most of us are busy working all day earning a living, so the evening is the only time we have to seek spiritual communion. Secondly, Wicca and Witchcraft are still largely misunderstood religions and we are still persecuted for our beliefs. Another reason which is important for me, and possibly for others as well is that I feel a special closeness to the Goddess and God at night. Yes I can, and do, enjoy the mountains and meadows during the daylight, or a sunrise and sunset, but I am truly more aware of the heavens and the great expanse of the Universe at night, so it just makes sense for me.

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Q.  What form does the practice of Witchcraft take? (from WADL)

A.  The form and context vary from group to group, individual to individual, and between each ritual, and may run the gamut from elaborate ceremony to spontaneous ritual to simple meditation.

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Q.  How do you see the Goddess and God?

A.  (from WADL) Wiccans believe that there are female/male aspects to the One or All and without the union and balance of these two aspects, nothing can exist.

(Joelle's answer) Many pagans identify with a particular deity, or deities, drawn from the various world mythologies. Some keep to a particular culture such as Celtic or Egyptian, but many draw on several cultures simultaneously. It's all an individual choice. Or, in the case of a true calling, the deity's choice of worshipper.

If you ask this question of a dozen different pagans, you'll get a dozen different answers. But it all boils down to one thing, Balance. For the Universe to exist as it is all things must be in balance. And balance requires both masculine and feminine aspects in equal amounts. Personally I believe in a higher consciousness that is neither male nor female, but an equal blending of both.

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Q.  Do all Witches practice their religion the same way?

A. (answer from WADL faqs) Yes and no. Wicca is a highly individualistic religion. Moreover, the number of different sects within the Craft may give the impression that no two groups practice the same way. Though practices may vary, most traditions have many similarities, such as the working of magick and a respect for nature. Most Witches find enough common ground for mutual support and productive networking throughout the Craft community.

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Q.  Do Witches have a bible?

A.  (from WADL) No, a bible is supposedly the word of a deity revealed through a prophet. Witchcraft is a Pagan folk-religion of personal experience. Witchcraft in the old times was much the same as the beliefs of the Essenes, Gnostics, Druids, and many other religions. The teachings were passed along by spoken word through long periods of one-on-one instruction with an Elder of the Craft. This approach was taken because the power and knowledge could be misused in the wrong hands. Therefore, by using only the spoken word, the old masters could ensure those who wished to follow the path had a true understanding and their hearts were in the right place as their knowledge of the mysteries grew. Unfortunately, when the medieval church began its attempts to convert and eliminate rival belief systems, the teachers were either killed outright or went underground resulting in much of the ancient knowledge being lost.

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Q.  If Witches don't have a bible, what do you use?

A. (from WADL) Most modern Witches keep a Book of Shadows, (BOS) or Grimoire, which is more like an individuals workbook, journal, or diary, meaningful to the person who keeps it. This book contains rituals, discoveries, spells, poetry, herb lore, etc. Covens almost always keep a similar group book. I am not exactly sure how the name "Book of Shadows" came to be, but I would assume that this also ties into the Burning Times when the church set out to eliminate all texts along with the followers of the old ways. The writings that existed were more than likely were taken into the shadows and hidden with the survivors.

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Q.  The word Tradition is used quite often. What is the exact meaning of this?

A. (answer from WADL) Here the word Tradition relates to the beliefs of a specific geographical region or culture such as Celtic, Germanic, Norse, etc., and is sometimes broken down into further subsets. Essentially it is much the same as the variety of denominations seen within Christianity, such as Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, or Catholic. They all have the same basic root origins but somewhere along the way they split from the "Mother Church" and started their own sect.

(Joelle's answer) Tradition refers to the particular type of religion one follows. Some of the pagan traditions include Wicca, Traditional Witchcraft, Golden Dawn, Asatru, etc... and each of these usually has divisions within itself as well. For more information on the different pagan traditions see the pages in this site.
Pagan Traditions, Celtic Pagan Traditions, Wiccan Traditions


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Q.  Do Witches cast spells?

A.  Some do and some don't. Spellwork should never be the focus of following this path and those who seek our ways only for this purpose are very misguided. A spell is a ritual formula, or series of steps, to direct psychic energy to accomplish a desired end. This energy is drawn from the Earth with the aid of elementals, concentrated and sent out into the world to achieve a positive goal. Since Wicca teaches that whatever one sends out is returned threefold, Most Witches are very careful to never send out harmful energy carelessly. The Christian word for this is "Prayer". The only real difference is that Witches also invoke the aid of spirit guides, familiars or other elemental energies to add strength to the process as well as using ritual tools.

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Q.  Do Witches worship the devil? (answer from WADL)

A.  No. Satan, or the Devil, has absolutely no place in Wicca or Witchcraft. The worship of Satan is the practice of profaning Christian symbolism and is thus a Christian heresy, rather than a Pagan religion. The Goddess and God of the Witches are in no way connected to Satanic practices. Satan, or the Devil, is a Christian creation and they are more than welcome to keep him.

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Q.  Are Witches only women? (answer from WADL)

A.  No, although women do seem to predominate in the Craft overall. In fact, some traditions have only women practitioners, just as others have only men. A male Witch is simply called a Witch, never a warlock and it is considered an insult to call a male Witch "Warlock". The word "Warlock" actually means "oath breaker". Some traditions of Wicca separate between female/male. The word "Wicce" pronounced (Wik-kay) designates a female Witch and "Wicca" pronounced (Wik-kah) designates a male Witch.

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Q.  How do Witches view Sex? (answer from WADL)


A.  Sex is part of nature and sacred to the Deities and Witches. The Great Rite at Beltane is a symbolic representation of the union between the Goddess and God resulting in the creation of all that exists. Very few, if any, traditions engage in sex as a part of group rites and there are no orgies during ritual. Many couples who have chosen each other, and jointly follow the path, do use sex in their private rites and rituals, however. It is a deeply intimate sharing of body, spirit and soul which bonds them together closer than anything else can.

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Q.  What is the purpose of performing ceremonies Skyclad?


A. (answer from WADL) The term skyclad means "Clad only by the sky". Not all Witches perform rituals skyclad, but there are those who believe that the absence of clothing allows energy to transfer to and from them more freely. Many simply feel closer to the Goddess and God while in their natural form without the bindings of human technology, insecurities or socially retarded inhibitions regarding the human form. Many wear a robe or some other clothing made of natural materials while participating in group activities and go skyclad only when observing rites alone or with their mate. Regardless, going skyclad during ritual is in no way a sexual act, it is a deeply spiritual one for those who "choose" to do so.

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Q.  Is Witchcraft a religion?

A. (answer from WADL) Yes, Witchcraft is a nature based religion and it has been recognized as such in the United States and Canada. In the U.S., Wicca has full recognition as a religion and is granted all rights as such under the Constitution. The American Heritage Dictionary defines religion as "a belief in and reverence for a supernatural power recognized as the creator and governor of the universe". So yes, it does qualify as such. Our definition differs slightly in that to us, the creator of the universe IS the universe. Witchcraft, or Wicca, is not something that can be followed once in a while or when it is convenient or we need or want something. It is a dedication made to nature, the deities and yourself. It is a way of life, and as such we are mindful of the balance between ourselves and all things within the universe at all times.


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Q.  How do Witches view death?


A. (from WADL) Many Witches believe in reincarnation and the Summerland. After passing over, Summerland is where the spirit awaits to be returned into a new physical form. We do not believe in an absolute Heaven or Hell where the spirit spends eternity as reward or punishment for ones earthly actions.

Joelle's Answer: The idea of a "summerland" is rather simplistic to me. I do believe in an afterlife and in reincarnation. I recently ran across a passage in a book ("An Excess of Love" by Cathy Cash Spellman) that stuck with me.

   (begin quote) "We know death to be a simple change of consciousness, Miss Gonne," replied Mathers smoothly. "The soul journeys through many lifetimes in its quest for knowledge."
   "Is there, then, no hell or heaven?" asked Tierney.

   "The soul passes through many stages after death, Mr. O'Connor" - he smiled - "that it may gain an understanding of the events of one's life. If one has done much evil, seeing it reenacted could be hellish. If one has done good, the experience may be quite heavenly. There is a period of tranquility between lifetimes - we call it "the Other Side", perhaps your churchman call it 'heaven'. "
   "And where does one spend that time of tranquility, Mr Mathers?" asked Con.
   "'The Other Side' is a realm of spirit, not matter, Mrs. O'Connor. One can construct it to suit oneself. Many people use the metaphor of crossing a great river and coming to rest in a gentle meadow." (end quote)

I always felt that we couldn't possibly learn all that we need to learn in a single lifetime. It makes much more sense to me to return again and again until we get it right. We choose the lives we are to lead in order to learn the lessons we need to. So when you're feeling sorry for your lot in life, stop for a moment and think about what your soul is supposed to be learning. Nothing happens by accident, and there is no such thing as coincidence!


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Q.  How can someone find out more about Witchcraft?


A. (from WADL, adapted somewhat by Joelle) Ours is not a missionary religion, and we never try to make converts. We feel that if this path is right for you, you will find your way to it. We are, however, becoming more visual and vocal in an attempt to educate and dispel myths and superstitions about the Craft. You need not worry about a Witch knocking on your door and wanting to come in and share passages from their BOS. For those who are interested there are many excellent books in my suggested reading list. Some Witches also teach classes or facilitate discussion groups. In this way, people may make contact with a like minded Coven, form their own groups or share thoughts and beliefs with others. There is also a growing number of superb craft sites on the internet, periodicals, and national and regional festivals through which a seeker can make contact with the larger Craft community.

There are thousands of sound resources on the internet and books on the subject of Wicca and Paganism available. More and more are surfacing every day. There are also quite a few very misleading sources of information so be alert for things that just don't ring true for you.

Wicca is also nicely summed up in the U.S. Army Chaplain's Handbook: Religious Requirements and Practices of Certain Selected Groups.

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Q. Why do you use a Satanic symbol if you don't worship Satan? (from WADL)


A. The Pentagram and pentacle are probably the most misunderstood symbols of our religion. The Pentagram is defined as an upright star with no circleand a pentacle is an upright star encircled. Both represent the four elements of fire, air, earth, and water, and the spirit (or soul). When a pentagram/cle is upright, it represents the spirit being placed above things on the earthly plane. The circle represents the unity of all five.

When a pentagram/cle is inverted (as is done by Satanists), it represents the earthly plane/flesh above the spirit. Satanistic or LeVayen Doctrine (which are different from Devil Worshippers) states that the flesh and earthly desire should be above all. Wiccan/Pagans believe that the spirit should be above earthly desire and should be unified with nature.

Satanists also use the inverted cross to represent their religion. Does that mean that the upright cross (of Christianity) is a Satanic symbol? Of course not. And neither is an upright pentacle.


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Q. Do Witches practice black magic and sacrifice animals?

A. (answer from WADL) There is no such thing as "black" or "white" magick. Magick is simply energy. It is how one uses the energy that determines whether it is negative or positive.

As for negative magick, no. Witches do not practice negative magick. We live by what is called "The Three Fold Law" (or "Law of Return" and "The Harm Ye None" law). The Three Fold Law states that what ever actions we send out are returned to us three fold (or three times as strong). The Harm None Law specifically states that Witches are not allowed to hurt themselves or others in any way, shape or form. Because of these two laws, no Pagan who is a TRUE Pagan will ever try to harm another person or living thing because the consequences of those actions are too great.

Pagans are very moral people. We are kind, compassionate, peaceful, and concerned for the greater good of mankind. It is for this reason that no Pagan or Wiccan will sacrifice any life (animal or human) in the name of their religion.

(Joelle's answer) I just want to clarify that the WADL answer reflects that of a primarily Wiccan point of view, while it is true that energy is just energy and it is the use that it is put to that makes it "good" or "evil", there are a lot of shades of grey in between. Some go to the extreme of even considering cut flowers to be a harmful sacrifice, while others don't see any wrong in shedding their own blood in order to raise energy. It's all a matter of perspective and how you view the world around you.

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Q. Do you worship God?

A. (answer from WADL) It depends on the definition of "God". In reference to the Judeo/Christian concept of "God". No. Most Pagans do not revere or worship the Judeo/Christian God. In reference to the definition that a "God" is an unmanifest supreme deity representing the archetypical concepts of Man. Yes. Further, most Pagans separate the idea of "God" into both a male and female essence. Even according to Christianity, their "God" is considered perfect. To be perfect, one must comprise all things: male and female, negative and positive, light and dark, etc... What Pagans do is separate those aspects into individual deities.

(Joelle's answer) Personally I subscribe to the idea that a god didn't create mankind, we created the gods. The closest I really come to worshipping anything is the reverence I have for our Natural world and the energy flowing all around us. I do believe that there is a higher collective consciousness, but I can't accept that there's any one singular being responsible for judging the entire human race. We're all responsible for our own actions and we will have to answer for them in the end by returning to learn the lessons that escaped us in previous lifetimes.


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Q. How do Witches view children?


A. (from WADL) Children are the future. They are our legacy. Pagans do not wish harm on any child in the world and revere them completely. We recognize children as individuals capable (upon the age of reason) to make their own decisions (with guidance, of course). Pagans are highly moral people and instill those beliefs in our children. Many Pagans parents do not force their beliefs on their children and often expose them to many religious ideals eventually allowing the child to choose their own path. This is done out of respect for the individual child and the belief that religion is a choice and should not be handed down from parent to child blindly.

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Q. Isn't Witchcraft a cult?

A. (from WADL) No. A cult is defined as (according to Webster's Dictionary) "A great devotion to a person, place, idea or thing; such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad". Further explanation of cults is defined in Grolier's Encyclopedia "Typically, cult leaders maintain power by claiming that they are the only authority to which members are accountable--by specifying precise rules for members' behaviors and proper attitudes, by controlling communication among members, and by punishing members for any rule breaking. The group's ideology justifies the leader's authority and facilitates the leader's inducing followers to tolerate their own exploitation."

Since there are no set "leaders" in the Wiccan/Pagan religions, it can not be defined as a cult. People are often drawn to the Wiccan/Pagan religions because there are no standard set of rules (other than the Three Fold Law and the Harm None Law) and individuality is one of it's prized doctrines. Wicca/Paganism revels in the Will of the individual, therefore has nothing in common with the definition of "cults".

Additionally, the number of Wiccans/Pagans is guesstimated to be some where between 60,000 and 5 Million. However, due to discrimination many Witches and Pagans stay closeted so an accurate census is impossible. It is however known to be the fastest growing Religion in the Western Hemisphere making it far too large a religious denomination to be considered a cult. In 1985, Wicca was recognized as a valid religion in the United States and won the right for fair administration under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

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Q. Aren't you going to Hell for your beliefs?


A. (from WADL) Hell, Heaven, and Purgatory are Judeo/Christian concepts. Wiccans/Pagans do not believe in an eternal resting place for the soul determined by the actions of one brief life cycle. Most Wiccan/Pagans believe in what is termed as Summerland. Summerland is a temporary respite for the soul after a life cycle has ended. From there, the soul is reincarnated into another body.

The majority of Wiccans/Pagans believe in reincarnation as a teaching tool. We believe that each person goes through many life cycles to learn "life lessons" and to purify. We continually return to this plane until we are pure enough to join with our deity and become a part of the universe.

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Q. If "Witch" evokes negative stereotypes, why do you still use the word?


A. (from WADL) There are many reasons that modern Wiccan use the term Witch. Some use the term in honor of those persecuted and murdered during the Burning Times. Some use the term out of tradition. Some, unfortunately, use the word for shock value. And some, simply choose to use the term because they feel comfortable with it.

Those that use the term "Witch" often capitalize it as "Witch" because it represents a spiritual religion. Just as it is good manners and proper English to capitalize Christian, so to with Witch.

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Q. But the Bible says "Thou Shalt Not Suffer a Witch To Live"...


A. (from WADL) This is one of the most misinterpreted and misunderstood statements in the history of Christianity. The original translation of this passage is "Thou shalt not suffer a poisoner to live". The history of this passage is steeped in intolerance and blood. A poisoner was one who would poison the common wells with disease or baneful substances. Most often, those of the Jewish Faith were falsely persecuted and blamed for outbreaks of death and disease as scapegoats.

However, during the Inquisition, King James (who produced the King James Version of the Bible) specifically had the passage changed to "Witch" to give him religious backing of the common people for persecution and continuation of the "Witch hunts".

One word has changed the course of history and condemned millions of men, women, and children to death. Unfortunately, most people do not know the truth behind the mistranslation and continue to use this passage to persecute Wiccans/Pagans in modern society.

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Q. Do Pagans/Wiccans witness their faith?
If not, how can I witness Jesus Christ to a Pagan/Wiccan?


A. (from WADL) No. Pagans/Wiccans do not witness our faith to others. We believe that all people are entitled to their own spiritual belief structure. We also understand that just because one worships differently does not make their religion any less valid than ours.

If an individual is interested in Wicca or Paganism, we will supply them with information or direct them to teachers, however, we do not evangelize or force our beliefs on others.

Pagans/Wiccans do not appreciate being witnessed to for any reason. Many Pagan/Wiccans chose their faith after leaving the Judeo/Christian religions they were raised in. Therefore, many already know about "God" and "Jesus Christ". Those who have made the conversion to Wiccan/Paganism from Christianity did so as informed and enlightened individuals and have no intention of converting back. Wiccan/Pagans do not wish be told they are "wrong" or are "going to Hell" because religion and spirituality is a personal decision and no one has the right to state whether they are right or wrong.

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Q. What is a Witch?


A. A practitioner of a nature-based religion which recognizes the feminine in divinity and follows the seasonal cycles. A Witch believes that the divine exists within her or himself as well as without, and therefore feels a direct connection with the God/dess self. Witches come from all racial, socio-economic and religious backgrounds. What we share is a loosely structured system of beliefs largely known as "Wicca".

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Q. Do Witches have holidays and holy days?

A. Yes. We have a number of "holy days". There are eight Sabbats which correspond to the Earth's seasons and rotation. It is on these days that Pagans attune themselves with Mother Earth. Additionally, there are 26 Esbats (ritual days in accordance with the new and full moons).
The Pagan Sabbats are as follows:

•January 31 or February 2 [Called Candlemas, Imbolc, Brigit, or February Eve],
•March 21 [Ostara or Spring Equinox],
•April 30 [Beltane, May Day, or May Eve],
•June 22 [Midsummer, Litha or Summer Solstice],
•July 31 [Lughnassad or Lammas],
•September 21 [Mabon or Autumn Equinox],
•October 31 [Samhain, Sowyn or All Hallow's Eve], and
•December 21 [Yule or Winter Solstice].

See also my pages on the Sabbats and Esbats, and a calendar of these dates.
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Q. How do I become a Witch?


A. This is probably the most frequently asked question in this category. There really is no simple answer. Everyone you ask will have a different answer, and a different perspective on what a Witch really is. What I believe is that you become a Witch when you make that first conscious and fully thought out decision to devote your life to the path of the Craft. Someone once told me that when you're ready to do this you should stand in front of a mirror and in a strong, confident voice, say, three times, "I AM A WITCH!!". Now I don't know of any historical or factual basis to this but it sure feels good and it really affirms in your mind the path you've chosen. What really clinched it for me is when I read "The Spiral Dance" by Starhawk. I found myself nodding my head and saying "this is about me, I've felt this way all my life but never knew what to call it!". If, when you find yourself doing this, and it feels like "coming home". There's a very good chance that you've been pagan all your life but only now understood what that really was.

Many traditions have the rule of "a year and a day" meaning that one year and one day after you make your decision to follow this path you formally dedicate yourself to the deity you've chosen. Then you have the right to call yourself a Witch and mean it. It has nothing to do with casting spells or wearing black, or reading minds or having visions. It has everything to do with the way you see the world around you and the way you choose to live your life. Remember, Once a Witch, Always a Witch. Once you've devoted yourself to the Goddess you're Hers for this life and the next and the next, ad infinitum. No matter what happens in the future She'll claim you in the end, and to me that's wonderfully comforting!

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Q. How can I find a teacher?


There's a saying among Pagans, "When the student is ready the teacher will appear". This is so true! When you feel you're really ready to take that next step, start asking around at new age/metaphysical stores about study groups, classes, workshops, etc. Attend local pagan gatherings and public rituals put on by local groups. Network and socialize with the local pagan community. When you're truly ready, a teacher will appear. Just be patient and continue learning as much as you can by yourself. Don't put everything on hold until you find someone to tell you what to do. If you do that you may wake up one day and be a very old pagan who never found a teacher at all!

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Q. Would you be my teacher?


A. Unfortunately No, I'd love to teach everyone who asks but the truth of the matter is that I don't feel qualified, and even if I did I simply don't have the time at this point in my life.

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Q. How can I join a coven?


A. Well, that's a tough one. Most people "luck" into finding their covens. Your best bet is to attend public rituals put on by local groups and socialize! Find out about joining any study groups in your area, the best way to do this is to visit any local new age stores and ask there about any classes, workshops, or study groups that might be going on. Just keep learning and you'll find what you're looking for, when you're ready to find it!

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Q. Do you have to belong to a coven to be a "real" Witch?


A. Absolutely not, the Solitary Witch is ever bit as much a "real Witch" as any of those that belong to covens, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise!

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Q. How can someone find out more about real Witchcraft?


A. In this day and age it is almost too easy to find information. The problem with that is finding the good information among all the junk out there. Check out sites like the Witches' Voice at http://www.Witchvox.com.
I've included quite a few good links here at my own site as well. Just start looking around, visit any new age/metaphysical store in your area and check into classes or workshops, ask if there are any study groups that you could join. There are so many more ways of finding information these days than there has ever been at any other point in history!

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