|8 years ago :: Aug 28, 2009 - 11:09PM #1|
If you call yourself a witch (or Witch?), what do you feel gives you the title?
If you don't, why?
I have read the "defining witch" thread further down the board, to see how people define witch--and it seems like there are as many different definitions as there are respondents.
Do any of you practice witchcraft and also identify with a more mainstream religion--Christianity, Judaism, or Buddhism, for instance?
Of course, this is an entirely personal question, based on my own thoughts. I'm trying to decide if I'm worthy of calling myself a witch--and if so, what it would really mean.
I also have no desire to deny or get rid of my Christian background. But many people in both faiths seem to think Paganism of any kind and Christianity are mutually exclusive. I don't see it that way. But it's hard to be right in the middle, in a way.
|8 years ago :: Aug 29, 2009 - 12:19PM #2|
Since the last format change here on Beliefnet, I seem to be one of the few Witches currently posting on this board. It has been a while since I looked at that Defining Witchcraft thread. I posted something along that lines awhile ago as well, which was carried over to the new forum. community.beliefnet.com/go/thread/view/3... As you pointed out, there are as many different definitions as respondents.
I use the same rule of capitalisation as with a title like religion. For example Wicca is often referred to by its practitioners as The Religion and therefore is capitalised as it is referring to a named faith. However if one is saying that Wicca is a religion, then the latter is not capitalised as it refers to a concept or definition that is not unique. So one can refer to a witch or witchcraft in the generic or to a Witch or to Witchcraft when one is being specific.
As for taking on one of the positive definitions that are found within modern Pagan Witchcraft Traditions, I can only answer IMO.
This title cannot be:
Given though it may be projected onto someone else.
Owned by anyone. There is no copyright and it has many definitions.
Conferred, only recognised in another.
This title can be:
Chosen by anyone (male or female) for whatever reason(s).
Taken on by anyone who Chooses to Name himself or herself as a Witch. This can be by Self- or Ritual-Naming.
Recognised as relating to a specific definition of the (Pagan) Craft by a descriptive adjective (i.e.: Wiccan Witch, Dianic Witch, Vocational Witch etc).
A Witch IMO is recognisable:
As one who practices any enact-able version of the modern 'Craft. (Pagan Witch, various adjectives)
As one who practices an indigenous belief system or magical system labelled by this English word.
As one who creates a unique definition of witchcraft that can be practised but may not recognised as such by anyone else.
As fictional or mythological characters who have been labelled by this English word.
A Witch IMO is not recognisable:
As one who reads about the 'Craft but does not enact or practice anything else.
As one who decides that he or she is a Witch simply by being (empathic, psychic, uses Tarot, is attuned to Nature) with no further attempt to study or enact the Craft or any system of witchcraft.
As one who believes ancestral stories of divination, herblore or psychic skills entitles them to be a Witch whose crafting is a matter of blood but not effort or skill.
In my case, I Choose to take on this honorific, Took on the Name originally through Self-Naming as a Vocational Witch and have been Recognised as a Dianic Witch (religious definition of the Craft).
Others will have to respond to this as I have practised no other religion in this incarnation. Oh, I could answer that yes, there are and that witchcraft variously defined can usually be aligned to most religious systems or has even evolved within such systems over time. But I suspect you want a personal example.
Where witchcraft or paganism are concerned, one will always be right in the middle, in a way. Like witchcraft, paganism has many definitions, all valid in at least one context, none valid in all contexts.
If Paganism is defined as being a religion, then that must have a core definition of the Divine. Usually that is mutually exclusive to Christianity's core definition. Paganism however is rarely defined as a religion beyond the individual's self-definition or by an autonomous group who uses the name for what they have agreed upon through consensus. Nor does one need to be Pagan to be a witch. Like witchcraft, Paganism is self-identified to and self-defined.
Witchcraft can consist of whatever one has decided it is enacted by. I can describe how a Pagan Witch decides he or she is worthy of taking on this honorific or how they determine what it really means. I can't do that for someone who is Christian because I have never been of that faith. Someone else who is a Christian Witch or a Christian who practices some form of witchcraft as well may be better suited to answering that specifically.
Otherwise, you are going to have to decide what you consider to be the nuts and bolts that make up being a witch to you. Which amongst the many practices (none copyrighted) that can be included in witchcraft that does and can align within your faith. Look over the list of nuts and bolts in that thread I linked and you may find some that make sense to you.
As well, you are going to have to decide what it means or would mean to you to combine a practice or wisdom walk of witchcraft within your Christianity. Part of that decision should be reconciling that you may not be recognised as being such by Christians or even other Witches. Another aspect of that decision should be why you want to do this in the first place. What is it in your life that provides a void or niche that becoming a Witch might fill?
Hope something in all that is helpful. I wish I could promise that other Witches would be responding as well but these days, it happens or it doesn't. I am a Host elsewhere in the Earth-based Forum so I get most days and as a result, seem to be the one that answers most questions right now.
No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.
|8 years ago :: Aug 30, 2009 - 3:17AM #3|
CH, Thank you for such a well thought out response!
Much of it resonates with me. The question of why I "want" to be a witch, though, instantly makes me think, it's not a question of what I want at all. It's a question of what I am, or might be.
Religiously, both Christianity and Paganism resonate with me. Not one to the exclusion of the other. But I've always held a very liberal sort of Christian faith. I believe the Bible is a set of sacred stories, as are all myths, so in that way, all of it is true--story true if not literally true. I don't believe the question of whether any of it is historical truth is important at all. No one ever tried to say Persephone or Osiris was a historical figure; why should it matter if Jesus was? As for God, the idea of a single, exclusive, patriarchal God may have been held by the people who wrote the Bible, but that certainly doesn't mean that's all God can be.
I do experience deities on a personal level. The most present ones for me are Jesus and the Dark Goddess. Both of them.
Having participated in both Christian worship and a Unitarian Pagan circle, I unquestionably feel that the Pagan ways of worship are much more meaningful. Direct participation means a lot more than being lectured to.
But the less I believe in a lot of the external structure of Christianity ("Jesus died on the cross for your sins" doesn't hold meaning for me anymore; the inherent patriarchal structure of the religion feels more and more alienating), the more I keep stumbling upon something very meaningful in Christianity. That makes me very hesitant to say I'm not a Christian, or not anymore. I always will be in some way, on some level. When it comes to actual practice, though, I'm much more Pagan now.
I know not all Pagans are Witches. But many do call themselves that. The ones I know irl give as varied answers to what being a Witch means as what I've seen here.
I'm not sure I have any right to claim the title as it is. But I'm not sure I can disown it either. So it would be very helpful to see more of what other people's takes on that may be.
|8 years ago :: Aug 30, 2009 - 12:14PM #4|
You are welcome. Glad something in that was useful.
Yet one can be Pagan without being a Witch. They are not one and the same. Perhaps that is how you might approach that question.
IMO, being a Witch is always a choice and therefore it is always about what one wants and/or needs. No one (again IMO) can be born a witch or be destined to be a witch or just 'is' a witch. Witchcraft and/or the Craft is made up of human-fitted nuts and bolts, nothing in itself that is ever included is intrinsically witchcraft. (or intrinsically Pagan for that matter...) Now there are a lot of authors out there who do believe that one can be born a witch or that it is someone's destiny to be a witch. They have their reasons. I just don't happen to think that these reasons are valid beyond gratifying a sense of superiority or inclusiveness.
Your understanding of myths is deeper than most people pursue. There is myth as aetiological, explaining how things happen or are caused or as nature, as an explanation of natural events. Not necessarily personifying nature but setting up the reasons why the seasons change or why an eclipse happens that makes sense within the overall framework of the belief context in which the myth is told. Most modern Pagans tend to incorporate science into their beliefs so myths such as these take on other purposes. Then there is myth as a charter, which legitimises how things are done (why we have this tradition or that) or as ritual, (we do this ritual because) or as creation where it glorifies a past era or time from which mankind has fallen. These certainly exist, the mythological histories of Paganism for example require these types of purposes in order to exist. There is also myth as psychological, explaining the value system of a specific belief context and human desires etc. This is prevalent throughout human cultures, inside and outside of Paganism. Myth is powerful, illuminating and very much part of storytelling which lies at the core of human communication. Many people do not appreciate its power or empowerment.
I would suggest that you consider becoming a Witch as one of the possible choices you can make in how to honor your relationship to your Gods and your wisdom walk. Some choices do change over time as you do but so long as any choice is made mindfully, meaningfully and with respect, it is wisdom upon one's walk experienced and gained.
If you believe you have sufficient nuts and bolts in place to create a version of the Craft, then Self-Name (three times) as a Witch to your Gods, continue to study and practice for a year and a day. By that time, you most likely know if the Craft is right for you or not or if you need to adapt it further. In the end, it is up to you to road-test this choice and any choice.
Have you read Demetra George's books on the Dark Goddess? You might wish to do so if you haven't.
I hope others will drop by AND post. Folks have been viewing threads but not stopping to contribute, which I would sincerely like to encourage them to do!
No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.
|8 years ago :: Sep 02, 2009 - 1:16AM #5|
i call myself a witchy christian. i see being a witch as being rather like a nun, a special vocation that involves providing a service to others. i haven't set up shop so to speak, so i wouldn't call myself a witch. on the other hand, i have served as a kind of "big mama" in my neighborhood, so you know... sort of one half dozen or the other.
i draw a dividing line between paganism and christianity in terms of beliefs about the divine and the natural world. i think there are practices, attitudes, approaches, and/or vocabularies that can make a christian seem pagan when that is not so properly speaking, so in this manner one can be a christian witch.
actually, in reality, i draw a line between faith and belief (which is a catholic thing). my stance on the nature of faith, as defined, is something that illuminates beliefs - even "non-christian beliefs." the result often enough is acceptance of what you might otherwise think would be unacceptable (catholics certainly have a lot of that; fungelicals lump us in with pagans).
it's interesting, tho. even if i did "go into business", i'd probably never put "witch" on my card. i suppose i find it somewhat presumptious sounding and my associations with it are all of silly people in crushed velvet buying themselves a lot of tacky jewelry.