What is a Witch?

This is an introduction to witches in general, who we are, what we believe in, and little bits of information about us that you perhaps didn't know. It is designed to strip away the stereotyped images of witchcraft and its practitioners, and reveal the Witch of Today.

The Stereotyped Witch
It is a common belief that witches are ugly old women dressed in black with pointy hats and warts on their noses, flying on a broomstick or living secluded in a hut in the woods. I promise you, at least I'm not one of them, and so far, I've never seen one either.

What's in a Name?
The word wicca or witch originally came from the Anglo-Saxon language and means "wise one". This gives us an insight into a lot of things. First of all why the witch is often portrayed as an old woman - have you ever heard the wording "wise-woman"? She is the Crone, representing the oldest of the Triple Goddess, who is wise and understanding, strong and stern. She may dress in black and might live in the forest; and if she is unlucky enough, she might even have a wart on her nose. But if you think about it, that description might well fit anyone. As the word witch itself therefore suggests; we are a caring and wisdom-seeking kind.

A Piece of History
Being the "wise ones," as the name witch implies, has not always been to our benefit, however. You have perhaps heard of the Burning Times. This was a horrible era when witches were hunted and put to unjust trials. For example, the inquisitor sometimes tested whether a person was a witch or not by throwing them into the ocean and wait to see if s/he could swim. If they could, they were witches and were burned at the stake, if not, they were left to die in the water. And all this started because these people were considered too wise. They had considerable knowledge of natural medicine, and what others thought were special powers. Therefore they were blamed for various disasters of their time, such as plagues or a year of bad crop. Of course the witches never caused these misfortunes - they were natural occurrences. It would be against a witch's moral to do harm to others.

What is a White Witch?
In essence, all real witches are white witches. The famous Wiccan Rede's injunction to harm none is also important to most witches. We only do positive magick, and never set out to hurt anyone. Of course, if a family member or a friend is in danger, we might feel obliged to take measures of protection - which are not designed to harm others - but to keep them from harming us. And this is always done for the good of all as we often phrase it. Of course there are many witches who do not practise spells and the like. Witchcraft is NOT synonymous with spellcraft. It is foremost a religion. We are followers of the old pagan religions. Some witches perform positive magick to enhance their life. This is no more strange than Christians praying to their God for a better life. It is all about concentrating on your need and communicating with your chosen deity. The practise of black magick is not accepted in the pagan community, and there is no such thing as a satanic witch; simply because witches do not believe in Satan. The devil belongs to Christianity. He is NOT found within our religion!

What we Believe
We can not stress this enough - witches DO NOT believe in Satan. This is, however, the most common myth we have to fight against in order to be accepted. Once that is established, most people realise that we are no worse that followers of any other religion. Because above all, that is what witchcraft is - a religion. We are people very much in tune with nature. This is why we worship Mother Earth. Since we believe that everything has two sides, there obviously has to be a Father too, sometimes called Sky Father or Father Sun (as opposed to the Moon Goddess). These two are the Lord and the Lady, the Father and the Mother, the God and the Goddess. They are our principal deities, and generally, neither is more powerful than the other. There are several aspects of these two deities, and this is why most pagans have a whole pantheon of Gods and Goddesses, each representing different things. Some are war God/desses, some are known to have powers of healing, protection, love, justice and so on, to meet the needs of the people. But all Gods are one God, and all Goddesses are one Goddess - and together they are ONE. This One is the source of everything.
You can read more about this on the Lord and Lady page.

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