The Modern World of Witchcraft 1

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    "The Modern World of Witchcraft: Part One of Two" (an article from
    the Christian Research Journal, Winter/Spring 1990, page 8) by
    Craig S. Hawkins.
    The Editor-in-Chief of the Christian Research Journal is Elliot
    Miller.

    -------------

    *A threatening storm is brewing on the religious horizon: the winds
    of occultism are blowing ever more strongly across the land. In the
    past two to three decades, America and much of Western Europe have
    seen a resurgence of paganism and witchcraft. Paganism is
    attempting a resurrection from the dead, a revival of the old gods
    and goddesses of pre-Christian polytheistic nature religions and
    mystery cults (e.g., Celtic, Norse, Greek, Egyptian, Roman, and
    other traditions of the Western world). Additionally, Sumerian
    mythologies, extant tribal religions (e.g., Native American
    religions and shamanism), new religions largely inspired by science
    fiction and fantasy, and amalgamations of diverse occultic
    traditions join the list as well. Astaroth, Diana, Hecate,
    Cernunnos, Osiris, Pan, and others are being invoked anew, feeding
    an intoxicating discovery of and journey into a universe inhabited
    with gods and goddesses.*

    -------------------------------------------------------------------

    *Glossary of Key Terms*


    *Divination:* The attempt to obtain information regarding the past,
    present, or future through occultic methods, such as astrology,
    channeling, crystal balls, tarot cards, and so forth.

    *Magic:* The ability, real or imagined, to cause changes to result
    in conformity with one's will or desires by invoking or utilizing
    mysterious and/or invisible forces, and thereby influencing,
    controlling, or manipulating reality for one's own purposes.
    _Magic_ is synonymous with _sorcery,_ and, as used here, is to be
    distinguished from mere sleight-of-hand. In some occultic circles,
    it is frequently spelled "magick" to distinguish it from
    sleight-of-hand.

    *Coven:* Sometimes also referred to as _groves_ or _circles,_ a
    coven is the basic social unit of witches who regularly meet in
    groups (as opposed to solitary witches), numbering anywhere between
    3 and 30, with 13 being the ideal.

    *Metaphysics:* In the philosophical (not occultic) sense,
    metaphysics pertains to questions of ultimate reality -- in both
    the sensible and insensible realms. Such questions include: What
    actually exists? What is its nature or essence? What is its origin?

    *Occult:* From the Latin _occultus,_ meaning secret, hidden, or
    esoteric knowledge and practices. It is comprised of three basic
    categories -- divination, magic or sorcery, and spiritism. Though
    there are many theories today as to how or why it works, according
    to biblical theology it originates from, and constitutes
    interaction with, demonic spirits. Hence, it is expressly
    condemned.

    *Sex Magic:* The use of sex (e.g., intercourse -- actual or
    symbolic) within a ritual or spell-casting session to facilitate or
    augment the efficacy of a given magical rite. That is, sexual
    activities are used to accomplish the desired goal of the
    occultist.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------

    Although their practices and beliefs diverge significantly at
    points, many of these individuals and groups proudly identify
    themselves as pagans or neopagans. Among them can be found a
    diverse group of people who style themselves as witches or wiccans:
    followers of the "Old Religion" of the great Mother Goddess and her
    male consort, the Horned God.


    *THE PAGAN NEXT DOOR*

    Many of today's witches want to remove their traditional cloaks
    of secrecy, dispel the confusion that surrounds their religion, and
    address the hostility and suspicion they perceive as directed
    toward themselves and their craft. They desire that their views and
    practices be considered an alternative religion, a viable world
    view. At the very least they seek the right to follow their chosen
    path without being hindered, harmed, or discriminated against.


    *Pagan PR*

    Indeed, with increasing vigor, witchcraft is coming "out of the
    broom closet." Many witches are actively seeking public
    understanding and acceptance, cultivating an image as the "pagan
    next door." After all, they claim to embrace a life-affirming,
    family religion. From media materials to books for children, such
    as _The Witch Next Door_ and _The Witch Family_ (which portrays
    witchcraft in a positive family setting), the campaign is on.[1]
    The cover of one book on witchcraft has an attractive female witch
    dressed in a fashionable, well-tailored business suit -- as if she
    were walking down Madison Avenue.[2] This is far removed from the
    stereotypical image of witches as ugly old hags with warts on their
    noses, decked out in black capes and cone-shaped hats, riding their
    favorite broomstick on a moonlit night.

    This two-part series is presented with a view to (1)
    understanding, analyzing, and critiquing contemporary witchcraft,
    and (2) promoting biblical and thoughtful evangelism of people
    involved in this religion. It is not presented as a _complete_
    treatment and refutation of witchcraft, much less of the larger and
    more diverse neopagan movement. However, much of what is said about
    witchcraft herein can also be said of the neopagan movement as a
    whole. Likewise, the refutations applied to witchcraft doctrines
    apply to neopaganism as well. (The differences between witchcraft
    and the various other religions within neopaganism are important,
    but not so significant as to negate most of the critique presented
    here.)

    The background information on modern and contemporary
    witchcraft that will be found in this article is necessary because
    so few "outsiders" understand what it is. This material should
    clear away many misconceptions and help bring the issue into proper
    focus. We will not spend time on the disputed ancient or medieval
    history ("herstory," as most witches like to call it) of
    witchcraft, as this will not necessarily promote an accurate
    understanding of _contemporary_ witchcraft. Besides, there are
    numerous works available touching these concerns, and a world
    view's validity does not depend on its longevity (this is the
    fallacy of _argumentem ad antiquitum_); it depends on whether it is
    internally consistent and "fits the facts."[3] After giving a brief
    history of modern witchcraft, we shall proceed to examine its
    contemporary expression.


    *WHICH IS WITCH?*

    It is extremely difficult to define with precision the beliefs
    and practices of contemporary witches. This is because of the
    elasticity of the terms "witch" and "witchcraft" as they have been
    applied to people and practices both today and throughout history.
    It is also due to the great diversity that exists within the
    contemporary movement itself. Witches disagree among themselves as
    to what constitutes a witch.[4] Muddled thinking, misunderstanding,
    and confusion have been the result of Christians, witches, and
    others not adequately defining their terms. For instance, it is not
    just believing in and practicing magic and divination (the occult)
    that makes a person a witch. There are millions of people who do
    this but are not witches. Contemporary witchcraft involves these
    practices, yes, but others as well (e.g., the invocation and
    worship of the Mother Goddess).

    An oft-suggested definition for what constitutes a witch is,
    Anyone who is involved in some form of the occult (e.g., palm or
    tarot card readers, ritual magicians/sorcerers, Satanists, Voodoo
    practitioners -- everything from alchemists to xylomancers and
    astral projection to visualization). The primary reason for this is
    that the English words "witch" and "witchcraft" are variously
    employed in the most commonly used English translations of the
    Bible to designate different types of occultists and occultic
    practices. However, in accord with the meaning of these words in
    the original languages of Hebrew and Greek, and in light of the
    changing definitions of these words throughout history, we shall
    use the terms "witch" and "witchcraft" _only_ for the particular
    religiomagical belief system delineated below. (This should in _no_
    sense be seen as an endorsement of other types of occultism, as
    they are equally condemned in God's Word, the Bible.)

    Witchcraft (also known as _wicca, the craft,_ or _the craft of
    the wise_) is a generic term covering differing approaches to the
    subject. And the terms for followers of witchcraft -- "witch" or
    "wiccan" -- apply to both genders. The widely believed notion that
    a female is a "witch" whereas a male practitioner is a "warlock" or
    "wizard" is a misnomer.

    To help set the stage for our discussion of contemporary
    witchcraft, it will be beneficial to take a brief tour of the
    modern history of this fascinating phenomenon.


    *ONCE UPON A TIME*

    Many people contributed to the growth of modern witchcraft in
    Western Europe and America, such as folklorist and occultist
    Charles G. Leland (1824-1903) and novelist and occultist Robert
    Graves (1895-1985). As much as we might like to discuss these
    interesting personalities and their part in the forging of
    contemporary witchcraft, space compels us to limit our
    consideration to a few key individuals.


    *The Murray Myth*

    The ideas of anthropologist, Egyptologist, and occult dabbler
    (and perhaps witch[5]) Margaret Murray (1863-1963) were popularized
    in two of her better-known works, _The Witch-Cult in Western
    Europe_ (1921) and _The God of the Witches_ (1933). The latter
    eventually became a best seller in England.

    The "Murrayite theory" stated that witchcraft could be traced
    back to pre-Christian times, having been preserved through the
    centuries by witches. Not only does witchcraft predate
    Christianity, Murray affirmed, it was once the ancient pagan
    religion of Western Europe.[6] It supposedly survived in small
    scattered groups who practiced the "Old Religion." But by this time
    it was fragmented due to persecution from the dominant Western
    religion -- Christianity. Thus, the "Old Religion" was the
    surviving pre-Christian religion of Western Europe, still practiced
    by the faithful -- but only clandestinely.

    The history of ancient witchcraft and witchcraft in the Middle
    Ages (and Satanism for that matter) is a very convoluted and
    confused subject.[7] Still, there is little doubt that small
    pockets of various types of paganistic beliefs and practices
    persisted up through the medieval period, particularly in rural
    regions. Thus, by way of local familial agricultural/fertility
    traditions and superstitions, numerous folks really were involved
    in forms of occultic beliefs and practices.[8] However, these
    medieval remnants of pre-Christian paganism were not the remains of
    an elaborate, matriarchal Mother Goddess mystery religion, as many
    contemporary witches would have us believe. The Murrayite theory is
    thus unsupported by the facts.[9]

    Contemporary witchcraft is quite different from its medieval
    and "enlightenment" period counterparts. That is, the
    agricultural/fertility traditions that survived from ancient times
    through the Middle Ages and into the early modern era are not the
    same as modern witchcraft, except that they are both forms of the
    overarching category of occultism. Nonetheless, Murray's views
    influenced many -- including one Gerald Gardner, to whom we now
    turn our attention.


    *The Gardnerian Garden*

    Gerald Gardner (1884-1964) almost single-handedly revived
    (invented) and popularized witchcraft for the modern world. Based
    on his associations, experiences, extensive occultic background,
    studies, travels, and familiarity with magical texts (_grimories_)
    and Margaret Murray's works, he "crafted" modern witchcraft.

    Indeed, Gardner was a man with many occultic connections. He
    was a member of Freemasonry, the Rosicrucians, and a VII degree
    initiate of the Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.). He was an
    acquaintance of Mabel Besant-Scott (daughter of leading Theosophist
    Annie Besant) and of the infamous Aleister Crowley.[10]

    A British civil servant, Gardner spent much time in Ceylon
    (modern Sri Lanka) and worked and traveled throughout India and
    Southeast Asia, as well as visiting the Middle East. While in
    Ceylon he was initiated into Freemasonry and became a nudist. An
    accomplished amateur anthropologist and archaeologist, Gardner's
    interests gravitated toward the religions and religious
    paraphernalia of native societies. He even wrote a book on
    Malaysian ceremonial weaponry, and participated in an
    archaeological excavation in Palestine of a center of worship of
    the goddess Astaroth.[11]

    Upon his retirement and return to England, Gardner became
    involved with the Corona Fellowship of Rosicrucians, founded by
    Mabel Besant-Scott. Here he contacted numerous occultists and
    allegedly some witches, including Dorothy Clutterbuck ("Old
    Dorothy"), who supposedly initiated him into witchcraft (the "Old
    Religion"). He revealed some secrets of the coven to which he
    claimed to belong and its Mother Goddess in a novel entitled _High
    Magic's Aid_ in 1949. This was written under a pseudonym (i.e., his
    magical name, "Scire").

    Gardner's _Witchcraft Today_ was published in 1954, after the
    witchcraft laws in England were rescinded (in 1951). _The Meaning
    of Witchcraft_ followed in 1959. In _Witchcraft Today_ Gardner
    further unveiled his Goddess religion as he described the survival
    of this "old pre-Christian religion" (Murray's theory) and his
    initiation into it.

    In his writings Gardner drew upon his occultic experiences,
    travels, the writings of Murray, the help of Aleister Crowley, and
    his knowledge of Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, Theosophy, Western
    ritual/sex magic, magical texts (e.g., the _Greater Key of
    Solomon_), and various native Asian and near Eastern religions and
    their occultic paraphernalia. Borrowing from these and other
    sources, Gardner invented his own religion -- founding it upon the
    Mother Goddess. To this witches' brew he added the doctrine of
    reincarnation. Thus, rather than merely revealing and reviving an
    ancient Goddess religion as he claimed, the resourceful Gardner
    actually _created_ modern witchcraft.[12]

    Ironically, the purported purpose of _Witchcraft Today_ was to
    describe an allegedly _dying_ Goddess religion. Instead, it
    _birthed_ one, resulting in the rise of a generation of would-be
    witches who looked to Gardner for initiation. A new form of
    "Goddess worship," modern witchcraft (wicca) grew as people became
    familiar with and initiated into the teachings and rites of this
    exotic faith. From this concoction sprang what is now known as
    Gardnerian witchcraft, and with it all or nearly all of the
    contemporary witchcraft movement.[13]

    Among the early converts who fell under Gardner's spell and who
    became influential in their own rights were Alex Sanders (d. 1988),
    Sybil Leek (d. 1983), and Raymond and Rosemary Buckland.


    *Witchcraft Goes West*

    Sybil Leek was greatly influenced by Gardnerian witchcraft,
    although she modified his rituals and teachings. She brought these
    with her and popularized them when she moved to the United States
    in the late 1960s.[14]

    The persons primarily responsible for the introduction and
    growth of modern witchcraft in America, however, were Raymond and
    Rosemary Buckland. They traveled to England during the mid-1960s to
    be initiated into Gardner's Goddess religion, and after obtaining
    their desire, brought their religion back to America with them.


    *THE CONTEMPORARY CRAFT*

    Stemming from the ideas and persons described above (and, of
    course, other relevant persons and factors), witchcraft has
    proliferated into the variegated expressions and traditions that
    comprise the contemporary scene. It is a highly decentralized,
    eclectic, creative, mix and match (use what exists or make your own
    as you go) movement. This is evidenced by the numerous covens,
    associations, and types of witchcraft to which individual covens
    belong: Algard, Alexandrian, the American Order of the Brotherhood
    of Wicca, Church and School of Wicca, Church of Circle Wicca,
    Covenant of the Goddess, Cymry Wicca, Dianic (feminist),
    Gardnerian, Georgian, Seax-Wica, and the Witches International
    Craft Associates.[15] Some of these covens are feminist, others
    lesbian or homosexually oriented, and still others a mixture of
    males and females.

    The major spokespersons for witchcraft today are even more
    diverse than the types. Besides Raymond Buckland, predominant
    voices in the witchcraft (and neopagan) world include Margot Adler,
    Jim Alan, Jessie Wicker Bell (Lady Sheba), Zsuzsanna (or simply
    "Z") Budapest, Laurie Cabot, Scott Cunningham, Selena Fox, Gavin
    and Yvonne Frost, Judy Kneitel (Lady Theos), Leo Martello, Miriam
    Simos (Starhawk), and Doreen Valiente.

    Aside from the various covens and solitary practitioners of
    witchcraft, there are too many of the following to list
    individually: associations, centers, festivals and gatherings,
    newsletters, magazines, journals, books, bookstores, and shops. All
    of these are devoted to teaching, defending, and networking the
    ideologies of witchcraft (and/or neopaganism).[16]

    For various reasons, it is difficult if not impossible to
    assign a number to the witches in North America. "Ballpark"
    estimates on the conservative side, however, would place the figure
    approximately between 5,000 and 10,000. More liberal estimates
    range between 30,000 and 50,000 for witches, and upwards of 70,000
    to 80,000 for all neopagans. The actual number is probably at the
    lower end of the conservative scale. But witchcraft is growing at
    a steady pace, and unless something drastic happens to reverse the
    spiritual climate in America and the trend toward occultism, the
    witchcraft community will become an increasingly significant
    minority -- a sobering possibility the church cannot afford to
    ignore.


    *PAGAN PRINCIPLES*

    Witches do not view their religion as a reaction to or reversal
    of Christianity, as is the case with much of Satanism.[17] Rather,
    they prefer to see it as an independent tradition, an alternative
    religion or faith -- like Hinduism or Taoism. Indeed, they see
    witchcraft as being _pre_-Christian and not arising as a backlash
    to it. Witches view themselves as fun-loving, life-celebrating and
    affirming folk who worship the Mother Goddess (in all her many
    facets of revelation via creation) and her consort, the Horned God.

    Contemporary witchcraft is so diverse and eclectic (as we shall
    see presently) that it is extremely difficult to accurately
    identify and define. In fact, it is almost impossible to state that
    all witches believe "this or that." No sooner will this be uttered
    then someone will speak up and assert that they are a witch and "do
    _not_ believe what you just stated." There are, however,
    commonalities shared by most who appropriate the word "witch" for
    themselves. It is important to keep in mind that the following
    tenets do not necessarily apply to _all_ witches, but on the whole
    they are valuable _general_ guidelines for defining witchcraft.


    *The Creed of No Creed*

    First among the beliefs of witchcraft is the "creed of
    experience." _Experience_ is exalted dogmatically above, and often
    set in opposition to, creeds or doctrines. In short, experience is
    superior to doctrine. Aidan Kelly, who was formerly involved in
    neopaganism, noted: "What really defines a witch is a type of
    _experience_ people go through. These experiences depend on altered
    states of consciousness. The Craft is really the Yoga of the West"
    (emphasis in original).[18] The witchcraft experience is often
    expressed as a mystical experience, "that feeling of ineffable
    oneness with all Life."[19] Witchcraft is therefore a religion
    based first and foremost on the sense of being one and in harmony
    with all life.

    _Tolerance_ is another highly-touted value among witches.
    Diversity of belief and practice is viewed as not only healthy but
    essential to the survival of humanity and planet earth, and to
    spiritual growth and maturation as well. Independence, autonomy,
    and the freedom to experience, believe, think, and act as one
    desires are defended as if they were divine rights. Witches _do_
    become intolerant, however, when they perceive intolerance and
    authoritarianism in other individuals and faiths (which they would
    term "religious imperialism"). So we have statements like number 10
    of the Council of American Witches' "Principles of Wiccan Belief":
    "Our only animosity toward Christianity, or towards any other
    religion or philosophy-of-life, is to the extent that its
    institutions have claimed to be 'the only way' and have sought to
    deny freedom to others and to suppress other ways of religious
    practice and belief."

    These beliefs stem from the notion that ultimately there is no
    right or wrong religion or morality. Relativism in all areas of
    life, including ethics and metaphysics, is the rule. Truth is what
    is true for you; right what is right for you; but neither are
    necessarily so for me. The only absolute is that there are no
    absolutes. Thus, all have the right to believe and practice "what
    they will." In this context, one often hears the story of the three
    blind men who have all grasped different parts of an elephant
    (tusk, trunk, and tail), and, in describing it, each man thinks he
    alone has the truth.

    This view of life derives from an "open" metaphysical concept
    that "reality is multiple and diverse."[20] There is no single
    logic or view that is complete or adequate to handle the complexity
    and multiplicity of reality. Therefore, we should not limit
    ourselves to the narrow purview of one person or religion, but be
    "open" minded and tolerant of differing views. This understanding
    of reality is closely associated with three key concepts: animism,
    pantheism, and polytheism.


    *World Alive: Three Pillars of the Witches' World View*

    _Animism_ is an important pillar of the witches' world. As used
    by them, the word means that the "Life Force" is immanent within
    all creation: rocks and trees, deserts and streams, mountains and
    valleys, ponds and oceans, gardens and forests, fish and fowl; from
    amoeba to humans and all things in between. All is infused with and
    participates in the vital Life Force or energy, and therefore the
    _entire_ earth is a living, breathing organism. All is sacred; all
    is to be cared for and revered. The earth is a (or _the_)
    manifestation of the Goddess (and God). "Sacredizing" the world and
    animating nature, witches view all reality as a continuum of
    consciousness and being. Thus, they seek to live in harmony and be
    psychically in tune with nature. (Incidentally, whatever else
    witches may believe and do, because of these views they are _not_
    involved in animal or human sacrifices.)

    For many witches, the second pillar of their world -- implicit
    in their version of animism -- is _pantheism._ Not only is the Life
    Force pervasive throughout our world, but all the world is divine.
    Divinity is inseparable from, and immanent in, nature and humanity.
    Since most witches teach that we are divine (or potentially so), it
    is clear why someone like Margot Adler, a witch herself,
    approvingly quotes a particular neopagan group's greeting to its
    female and male members respectively: "Thou art Goddess," "Thou art
    God."[21] Most are not this brash but nevertheless hold that we,
    like nature, are divine.

    The third pillar is _polytheism._ As defined by many witches,
    however, polytheism is not _merely_ the belief in multiple deities
    -- a pantheon of gods and goddesses -- but also the belief that
    there are multiple levels of reality (i.e., the "open" metaphysics
    referred to earlier). According to this view, there are an infinite
    (or at least incomprehensible) number of levels of meaning and
    explanations about our world. These allow not only a multitude of
    gods, goddesses, and religions to exist simultaneously, but also
    views of reality that would otherwise appear to be mutually
    exclusive; all are true as far as they go.[22] Hence, witches can
    align themselves with a particular Goddess and/or God, or group
    thereof, and still grant the validity of other "alternative"
    religions.


    *The Mother Goddess and the Horned God*

    Most witches experience, believe in, invoke, or worship the
    Mother or "triple Goddess" and her male consort, the Horned God.
    Both are believed to be immanent deities accessible to humanity.

    The Mother Goddess -- whose three primary roles are mother,
    maiden, and crone -- is represented by and associated with the moon
    and its three phases: waxing, full, and waning. She is invoked by
    a variety of names: Aphrodite, Artemis, Astaroth, Astarte, Athene,
    Brigit, Ceres, Cerridwen, Cybele, Diana, Demeter, Friga, Gaia,
    Hecate, Isis, Kali, Kore, Lilith, Luna, Persephone, Venus, and
    more. She is believed to be eternal.

    The Goddess's consort, the male Horned God, is associated with
    the sun. According to most witches, he dies and is reborn every
    year. He too is called and invoked by many names, including Adonis,
    Ammon-Ra, Apollo, Baphomet, Cernunnos, Dionysius, Eros, Faunus,
    Hades, Horus, Nuit, Lucifer, Odin, Osiris, Pan, Thor, and Woden.

    Different witchcraft traditions and solitary practitioners
    diverge in the importance they attach to the Mother Goddess and the
    Horned God. Some emphasize the Goddess, some the Horned God, while
    many seek a balance between the two.


    *Differing Views of the Goddess(es) and God(s)*

    How do witches themselves view and experience the Goddess(es)
    and God(s)? Do they really believe they exist? As one might expect
    from an eclectic religion that highly values autonomy, there are
    multiple views as to who or what the Goddess and God are.[23] Be
    that as it may, there are some commonalities. Let's look at the six
    primary views.

    First (but not foremost) is the idea that the deities of
    witchcraft are simply _symbols_: the personifications of universal
    principles, or of the life forces and processes of our world (e.g.,
    the ebb and flow of life as seen in the seasonal changes), and
    nothing more. They are symbols used to help conceptualize the
    cyclical pattern of birth, life, death, and birth again.

    Second, they are _Jungian archetypes_: universal symbols of
    processes and events of nature _and_ of actual potentialities
    within all humans, springing from the common pool of the
    "collective unconsciousness" from which we all allegedly drink.
    Therefore, they exist in the sense that any archetype exists. They
    are more than "just" symbols, but do not exist externally to, or
    independently of, humanity.[24]

    Third, they are _dissociative_ or _dislocative psychological
    states._ That is, they are a split or spin-off from a person's own
    psyche or being (like a multiple personality state). They have a
    "life of their own" in that sometimes they can seemingly manifest
    themselves outside of the person: reason, talk, give advice, travel
    about, and so on. However, they are dependent on a given person's
    psyche for their existence.

    Fourth, and apparently the most predominant view, the Goddess
    and Horned God and/or other gods and goddesses are
    _personifications_ of the monistic, genderless, universal, and
    eternal _Life Force_ -- the divine primal energy or principle. This
    source of all life and consciousness, which in this life and mode
    of existence is unknowable and incomprehensible, is personified by
    the Goddess and Horned God. They are myths, legends, or metaphors
    that are used in an attempt to explain or grasp the ineffable
    absolute One that is all, and gives life to all. This ultimately
    indescribable Force is primarily manifested in polarities -- female
    and male, light and darkness, Goddess and God, and so forth. Scott
    Cunningham tells us that "in wiccan thought the Goddess and the God
    are the twin divine beings: balanced, equal expressions of the
    ultimate source of all....They are dual reflections of the power
    behind the universe that can never be truly separated."[25] Thus,
    according to this view, they can be described either as
    personifications of the ultimate Life Force or emanations from or
    manifestations of it, but they nonetheless can be literal conscious
    entities. (That is, as literal as you or me.)

    Fifth, _multiple combinations_ of the above views are often
    held, depending on the individual's orientation. For example, some
    believe that the above four views are all true at one time or
    another.

    Sixth and lastly, we have the agnostic "who cares" view. That
    is, in working magic or just in everyday life, invoking the Goddess
    and God _seems to work._ Thus, because of pragmatic and aesthetic
    reasons, some who are skeptical about (or even flatly deny) the
    Goddess's and God's existence still practice witchcraft.[26]

    In addition to these varying views of the Goddess and God, some
    witches believe in good and bad extra-dimensional or intermediate
    beings, including other goddesses and gods, higher life forms,
    spirit guides and teachers, elemental spirits, and departed human
    beings who exist as manifestations of the One and/or are individual
    literal entities in their own right.

    While some witches may be _skeptical_ about the existence of
    the Goddess and God, they all _emphatically deny_ the existence of
    the Devil and hell. Therefore, they vigorously reject the charge
    that they worship the Devil, which many Satanists would admit to.


    *MAGIC MAKES THE WORLD GO ROUND*

    Magic is another key component of the witches' world. The
    working of magic and diverse techniques of divination are
    part-and-parcel of their religion. Astrology, astral projection
    (out-of-body experiences), incantations, mediumship (channeling),
    necromancy, raising psychic power, (for many) sex magic, spell
    casting, trance states, and so forth, are all tools of their craft.
    Indeed, "psychic" development (i.e., training for proficiency in
    magic and divination) is a critical concern.[27]

    Altered states of consciousness are another integral part of
    many witchcraft practices and rituals; these are induced to
    facilitate the working of magic and divination. Much of a witch's
    training is with a view to enabling him or her to enter these
    states at will. This is done by means of chanting, (for some)
    drugs, ecstatic dancing, hypnosis, meditation, rituals, sex magic,
    visualization, or a combination of these and a host of others.[28]

    For many witches, trance states are the high point of their
    religious practice. Especially important are the type termed
    "drawing down the moon [Goddess]" or "drawing down" the Horned God.
    These involve the Goddess or God entering or possessing a priestess
    or priest respectively during a ritual with mediumistic utterances
    given or magic worked.[29]

    As elsewhere in the kingdom of the occult, the old occult has
    been given a new face-lift in witchcraft. The occultic realm is now
    described as simply _beyond_-the-physical, but still a part of
    nature. Thus, Sybil Leek is able to affirm: "I can see little
    difference in Magic and science, except to have the opinion that
    Magic is one step ahead of science."[30] Leo Martello says that as
    a witch he makes no claims to "supernatural powers," but he does
    believe in _super_ powers that reside in the natural.[31] Many
    witches share this view: divination and magic are not
    "supernatural," but _supernormal_ or _paranormal,_ because the
    processes by which they work are contained _within_ the nature of
    the universe. This is as opposed to the view that occultism works
    through the intervention of supernatural beings -- the Devil,
    demons, or spirits.[32] The current sentiment is conveyed in the
    attitude that "yesterday's occultism is today's science."

    Moreover, witches maintain that magic is a "neutral" power.
    Like electricity or a gun, it is not morally good or bad in itself.
    Its moral quality depends on how or for what purpose it is used --
    good or evil.


    *Working Magic*

    Just as there are many explanations as to who or what the
    Goddess and God are, so there are various views among witches as to
    how and why divination and magic work. We'll survey the four most
    common.

    First is the belief that the ability to work magic or perform
    divination is due to latent psychic abilities or powers that we all
    have. Some either have more of these natural gifts than others, or
    else they have developed them to a greater degree. Others may not
    even realize they have them. But they are nonetheless inherent
    within us all.[33]

    The second view of magic appeals particularly to those who
    espouse the fourth view about the Goddess and God mentioned above
    (i.e., the view that the Goddess and God are _personifications_ of
    the monistic Life Force). It holds that the working of magic is
    much like tapping into an electrical current. The "current" is the
    monistic universal energy or Life Force. Since this primal energy
    composes, interconnects, and flows through all (though manifested
    in myriads of forms), one merely has to learn how to "plug into"
    and harness some of this power for his or her own purposes. Thus,
    it can be manipulated toward the desired goal of the witch.[34]

    The third view is that divination and magic are accomplished by
    the intervention of interdimensional entities such as gods and
    goddesses, higher life forms, spirit guides, departed humans, and
    so forth. They can be communicated with, and will supposedly aid us
    in our quest for "spiritual" growth, knowledge, and all things
    occultic.[35]

    Fourth, the above theories can be found in varying
    combinations, such as one and three; one, two, and three; and so
    forth.

    In the second and concluding part of this series, we will look
    further at the beliefs of witches, including reincarnation, their
    view of sin, and their ethic or "Wiccan Rede," "An it harm none, do
    what you will." A critique of the witches' world view and practices
    -- on biblical, metaphysical, logical, and ethical grounds -- will
    also be presented.


    *NOTES*

    1 _See_ Raymond Buckland, _Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft_
    (St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1988), 210.
    2 Scott Cunningham, _The Truth About Witchcraft Today_ (St. Paul:
    Llewellyn Publications, 1988).
    3 References concerning this point are available on request.
    4 _See,_ for example, Margot Adler, _Drawing Down the Moon:
    Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in
    America Today,_ rev. and expanded ed. (Boston: Beacon Press,
    1986), 66-72, 99-107; J. Gordon Melton, "Witchcraft: An Inside
    View," _Christianity Today,_ 21 Oct. 1983, 24; and Marcello
    Truzzi, "Towards a Sociology of the Occult: Notes on Modern
    Witchcraft," in _Religious Movements in Contemporary America,_
    ed. by Irving Zaretsky and Mark P. Leone (Princeton: Princeton
    University Press, 1974), 633-45.
    5 Alleged by Leo Martello in _Witchcraft: The Old Religion_
    (Secaucus: Citadel Press, n.d.), 59.
    6 Actually, she was not the first to formulate and advance this
    thesis, but her views had the most impact.
    7 For information on the background and development of witchcraft
    and Satanism, see J. Gordon Melton, _Encyclopedia of American
    Religions,_ 3d ed. (Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1989), 142-47.
    Though we do not endorse all of his conclusions, he provides
    valuable background and bibliographical material.
    8_Ibid.,_ 142.
    9 _See_ Adler, 45-56, for a refutation of, and specific
    information on, Murray's theory; and 45-72 for other theories
    and general information on the history of witchcraft. For
    additional argumentation against Murray's theory and other
    pertinent information, see: Norman Cohn, _Europe's Inner Demons_
    (New York: Basic Books, 1975), 107-20; Mircea Eliade,
    _Occultism, Witchcraft, and Cultural Fashions_ (Chicago:
    University of Chicago Press, 1976), 57-58, 71-73; J. Gordon
    Melton, _Encyclopedia,_ 142; Elliot Rose, _A Razor for a Goat_
    (Canada: University of Toronto Press, 1962), 14-21, 40-53,
    56-79, 130-31, 200; Jeffrey B. Russell, _Witchcraft in the
    Middle Ages_ (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985), 36-37.
    10 Doreen Valiente, _An ABC of Witchcraft: Past and Present_ (New
    York: St. Martin's Press, 1973), 184-89.
    11 Melton, _Encyclopedia,_ 144; see also Melton's _Biographical
    Dictionary of American Cult and Sect Leaders_ (New York: Garland
    Publishing, 1986), 96-97.
    12 _See_ Adler, 62-66, 81-85, 93, 560; T. M. Luhrmann, _Persuasions
    of the Witch's Craft: Ritual Magic in Contemporary England_
    (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989), 42-43; Martello,
    69-71; Melton, _Biographical Dictionary,_ q.v., "Gardner, Gerald
    Brosseau," 96-97; Melton's _Encyclopedia,_ 144; and his
    _Encyclopedic Handbook of Cults in America_ (New York: Garland
    Publishing, 1986), 212; and Truzzi, 636-37. For even stronger
    charges, consult Francis King, _Modern Ritual Magic: The Rise of
    Western Occultism,_ revised (Dorset, Great Britain: Prism Press,
    1989), 179-80.
    13 Melton, _Encyclopedia,_ 144-45.
    14 _Ibid.,_ 144, 789; _Encyclopedic Handbook,_ 212.
    15 For additional information on various types of witchcraft, _see_
    Adler, 68-80, 113-30; Melton, _Encyclopedia,_ 777-801; and
    Buckland, 225-28.
    16 For a detailed list, consult Adler, 475-544.
    17 _See_ the author's article, "The Many Faces of Satanism," in
    _Forward,_ Fall 1986, 17-22. For instance, if a Jehovah's
    Witness believes what the Watchtower teaches, they cannot be
    saved. Likewise with a Mormon who subscribes to what Mormonism
    teaches. Nonetheless, the Mormon does not believe what the
    Jehovah's Witness does, and _vice versa._ The same is true with
    witchcraft and Satanism and/or other forms of the occult.
    18 Aidan Kelly, quoted in Adler, 106. For further material on this
    point and other beliefs, see 99-135.
    19 _The Covenant of the Goddess_ information packet, Northern
    California Local Council Media Committee, n.d., "Basic
    Philosophy."
    20 _See_ Adler, 25, 29, 172.
    21 _Ibid.,_ 25, 166.
    22 _Ibid.,_ 24-38.
    23 _Ibid.,_ 20, 112.
    24 _Ibid.,_ 28, 160, 172.
    25 Cunningham, 76, 117. Also _see_ 4, 62-64, 69-77.
    26 _See_ Adler, e.g., 169, 173.
    27 _See_, e.g., Buckland, 101-34, 155-74; Justine Glass,
    _Witchcraft, The Sixth Sense_ (California: Wilshire Book Co.,
    1974), 20, 94; Starhawk, _The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the
    Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess_ (San Francisco: Harper &
    Row, 1979), 37, 108-58.
    28 _See_, e.g., Adler, 106, 153-54, 157, 163; Starhawk, 7, 18,
    46-53, 110.
    29 _See_ Adler, 109, 142, 166, 168-69; Buckland, 101; Cunningham,
    91; Farrar, 67-68; Leek, Diary, 151, 159-60, 202-206; Starhawk,
    46-54, 139-58.
    30 Sybil Leek, _Diary of a Witch_ (New York: Signet Books, 1969),
    144.
    31 Leo Martello, 12.
    32 _See_, e.g., Adler, 7-8, 102, 153-75; Cunningham, 23-24; Leek,
    13-14; Truzzi, 630-32, 635-36; Simos, 132.
    33 Buckland, e.g., 101; Cunningham, 19.
    34 _See_, e.g., Cunningham, 3, 17-25, 105, 109, 111; Simos, 108-38.
    35 _See_, e.g., Buckland, 155, 157; Stewart Farrar, _What Witches
    Do: The Modern Coven Revealed_ (London: Sphere Books Limited,
    1973), 81-84, 141-43, 151-52, 156, 158-63; Leek, _The Complete
    Art of Witchcraft_ (New York: Signet Books, 1973), 43, 45;
    Valiente, 152-58.

    -------------

    End of document, CRJ0064A.TXT (original CRI file name),
    "The Modern World of Witchcraft: Part One of Two"
    release A, April 20, 1994
    R. Poll, CRI

    (A special note of thanks to Bob and Pat Hunter for their help in
    the preparation of this ASCII file for BBS circulation.)

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