Thursday, February 1, 2018

Authentic Witchcraft: Common Misconceptions in the Craft

Authentic Witchcraft: Common Misconceptions in the Craft

Last November/December, Witch Way Magazine was asking readers, "What are misconceptions about witchcraft that you can't seem to escape?". Of course there was a flood of answers (307 comments within a few minutes), some completely valid and some that weren't actually misconceptions at all, rather personal differences within the craft. This got me thinking about being "authentic," a term we use a lot in the spiritual community and, strangely enough, in education as well. If I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times: witchcraft is personal and driven completely by the witch. So why is it, when asked about misconceptions, we end up focusing on personal beliefs rather than overarching misconceptions of witches themselves? I want to address differences in personal beliefs that are often stated as misconceptions and actual misconceptions facing witches in hopes that we all have a better understanding of each other.

Misconceptions About Misconceptions

One of the first comments that popped up was one of the most common, "That I worship the devil." Lots of likes and cheers all around for that one. Well that's all fine and dandy that you don't worship the Devil, but did you know there are a large number of witches that do? That's right, there are witches out there right now that have Satan, the Devil, Lucifer, the Fallen Angel as one of their deities. To say that all witches don't worship the Devil is an erroneous statement, one I actually made quiet often when I was starting out because I was told in almost every book I read that witches don't believe in the Devil. These same authors go on to explain how the Devil was born of the Pagan horned-god and blah, blah, blah, blah. A story we have all been told a thousand times and a story we often repeat ourselves in defense when we hear such statements from others. The overwhelming majority of witches feel the way the commenter did above. Most witches don't worship the Devil, but to say none of us do is actually a misconception in and of itself. If you want to include Lucifer, maybe the Tom Ellis version (so hawt), then go right ahead. If you don't want to include him, recognize that other witches do and it doesn't make them any more or less of a witch than you are. Furthermore, just as some witches believe in the Devil, some are Satanists as well. These terms are not mutually exclusive as many people would like to believe. Again, nothing wrong with being a Satanist who also practices witchcraft. Witchcraft is awesome! Everyone should practice it. Maybe we would all get along better if we did.

Many of those that commented on devil-worshiping also included animal sacrifice in their comments. Again, more cheering and applause all around. This may be true of your form of witchcraft, but there are still witches practicing today that ritually sacrifice animals or use animal blood during rituals. Generally this is a cultural difference. What you have to understand is witches can be found all over the world, from the US and Britain to the Amazon Rain forest to the shrub lands of Africa. Not all of these cultures view animal sacrifice negatively. Personally, I would never sacrifice and animal. Heck, I don't even eat meat, that's how much I value an animal's life, but not everyone feels the same way you or I do about animal life. Most witches in America and Europe don't sacrifice animals. Instead, we make sacrifices in other ways (symbolically), such as the offering of food, handmade goods, animal hair/claw, or even a pin prick of your own blood. However, it is false to claim all witches do not sacrifice animals.

While it wasn't explicitly commented on, I have found that many witches will claim we don't collectively participate in black magic. Ummm? Excuse me, but I do, and you probably do too without even realizing it. Black magic isn't evil magic. In fact, black magic is subtractive, meaning you are taking something away instead of giving something. Banishing magic is considered black magic because you are working magic to remove something. It is unfortunate that other cultures and religions have misrepresented this concept, turning black magic into something it isn't. Furthermore, many witches do curse and hex, without remorse, but more on this later. If you want to banish something, go right ahead and embrace the black magic. If you don't want to banish anything, fearing that you could screw things up even more, then so be it. To each their own!

True Misconceptions

So what misconceptions are "true" misconceptions about witches? Well, almost everything else you can think of. We aren't like the witches and wizards of fantasy worlds aka Harry Potter, Practical Magic, or Buffy. Do I love Harry Potter? Fuck yeah I do! Slytherin all the way, but I'm not casting Lumos to light the hallway; I am hitting the damn light switch.

By far the one that bothers me the most is if you are a witch you are either Wiccan or follow the Wiccan Rede. This is probably the biggest misconception about witches out there. When you tell someone you're a witch, most jump to "Oh! So you are Wiccan." When I say no they stare at me blankly. Some witches are even guilty of this one. Not all witches, my self included, are Wiccan. Many witches do not follow the Wiccan Rede or the Three Fold Law. When I first started out, every book I read referred to both of these. The longer I practiced, however, the more I understood that the world is not so black and white; there is a shit ton of grey in the world. It is the grey areas that demand we judge each situation differently. If someone tries to rob me, I am going to stand up for myself; I will fight back. If someone attacks me using witchcraft, I will fire back. I have no problem cursing and wishing ill on someone who has hurt me or my family. It's pretty obvious if you are a member of any pagan community on social media that not all witches understand this concept. Every single time someone asks about cursing or revenge, there are a slew of love and light witches to tell them how wrong they are, blah, blah, blah. Again, authentic witchcraft means practicing the witchcraft you feel most comfortable with. If you want to curse, go right ahead. If you want to live by the Three Fold Law, embrace that light. Do what works best for you!

Another misconception that gets me regarding witches is we must be mentally ill. This actually appeared a couple times in the comments on the Witch Way Magazine post. I'm not going to lie, there is some truth to this, but not entirely. I have found that a lot of witches are mentally ill in some way. Witchcraft gives us an outlet and a sense of control over our lives, something we don't feel we can find in another "religion." I know witchcraft has help me overcome serious depression and anxiety. Even if witchcraft isn't "real," it is real enough to give me a sense of purpose and control over my life I felt I was lacking. However, there are mentally ill individuals in every religion and practice and to assume all witches must be mentally ill is inaccurate and honestly disrespectful. It's in the same vein as telling someone who is gay or transgender they must be mentally ill. We are just different; that doesn't mean something is wrong with us.

The last misconception I want to address is this idea that we all have to love black and dark things. Ummm, no. Have you seen my blog?! It's pink, green, and grey! Nothing dark about this damn thing, and there is nothing that states that witchcraft has to be all black cats and dark colored robes with magic being performed at midnight. If black is your thing, then go for it! Many witches love the gothic look and prefer the mystery dark colors adds. A lot of blogs out there follow this same idea, using dark colors and night skies as their layouts. However, an increasing number of blogs, retailers, and subscription boxes are taking a lighter approach. I like bright colors; they make me feel good, so I use them in my magic for the same purpose. My witchcraft is bright, colorful, and very "girly." There isn't a specific look or criteria for being a witch. The "You don't look like a witch," misconception is prevalent both in and out of our community. While many witches embrace the darkness, not all of us do; it doesn't make you any more or less of a witch. Furthermore, many witches take a very traditional approach to the craft, using antiqued paper and dark colored bottles in their work. I covered my Grimoire in floral colored fabric. I use bright pinks and greens to decorate the stark white pages. It is just as magical as the antiqued burned pages with Old English lettering. Witchcraft is what you make it, and the more personal your craft, the more effective your magic. If you want unicorns and roses, use them! If you want black cats and mugwort, go for it. Whatever makes you feel good and your magic strong.

Authentic witchcraft is the most powerful magic out there. When you embrace your personal tastes, beliefs, opinions, and morals, your spells and rituals are infused with a piece of yourself, making them more effective. Furthermore, it is important to recognize that your witchcraft is what works for you, it may not work for everyone. Avoid making general claims about witches and instead speak for yourself. You'll avoid the drama of passing on incorrect information and people will appreciate your authentic candor.

Authentic witchcraft is the most powerful magic out there. When you embrace your personal tastes, beliefs, opinions, and morals, your spells and rituals are infused with a piece of yourself, making them more effective.

I know I didn't address all the misconceptions plaguing witches out there, especially hedge witches. There are a lot and it's hard to cover all of them in one post. If there is something bothering you, feel free to comment below.

Keep it real, witches!


  1. I love your posts. They are always quite fantastic and thought provoking. You challenge me to follow different trains of thought than I usually would, and I learn something new every time I read a new post!


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