No matter where you turn these days it’s not hard to find frightening information on witchcraft these days. With the invention of the internet, the world has gained the ability to put information out to the public. At times this information can be helpful such as flower guides or instant pot tips. Other times information is downright dangerous or frightening.
More often, information can be based on personal beliefs and biases but may not truly represent the concept at hand. While it may be true based on the experiences and standards of one individual it may not be an accurate representation.
It can be a common defense mechanism to turn things we don’t understand into things that are negative. So many communities that are outside of “the norm” have seen this phenomenon first hand. Witchcraft, or the following of pagan religion, has been no stranger to this.
There are many misconceptions available when it comes to pagan religions. Nearly all of these come from sources whose information does not accurately represent the craft. Some are harmless. Others have lead to extremes such as violence against those who identify as pagan.
Join me as we look over a few common misconceptions on pagan life and witchcraft to find what truth lies in each of them. The more we know about things that are foreign to us the less chance there is for misunderstanding and misinformation.
Misconception 1: Witches Worship Satan
This is one of the most common things that I hear about those who practice witchcraft. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Satan, or “the devil”, is a creation of Judeo-Christian religion. It is generally a concept that many witches don’t follow or believe in.
There are concepts of good and evil in many religions as well as alternate versions of hell. Some may follow a tradition with these concepts and so may believe in a version of hell. There are also Christo-pagans who believe in both Christian religion and Pagan religion. Many of these individuals may also believe in a version of the devil or of hell. Even in Satanism and Luciferian traditions, it is important to remember that the concept of Satan or hell is very different. While the concept of evil, the devil or hell may mean one thing based on your tradition or beliefs it can mean something completely different to others. The representation becomes a completely different figure as it is a completely different set of religious views.
Paganism is a term that covers a wide variety of individuals who may or may not practice witchcraft. There are many different expressions of paganism and many different Gods and Goddesses that are followed or worshipped. Each within the Pagan religion is free to choose the diety that speaks to them. There are those who follow Norse deities such as Freya, Loki, or Odin. There are those who follow Egyptian deities such as Isis. I follow a Celtic path as my ancestors did and so I choose deities from the Welsh and Irish pantheon as they speak most to me.
For many of us, it is implausible for us to worship or follow a figure from a religion that we do not follow. Put simply, we cannot worship an entity that we do not accept the existence of.
Does this mean that there is no concept of good and evil?
Although many on a pagan path do not believe in the Christian representation of God and the Devil there are concepts of good and evil. It is just as important to many of us to do things for the good of those around us. Our morals can often be quite similar to those of many other religions. Many witches follow the Wiccan path which includes a rede to Harm Ye None. This rede includes all aspects of nature from humans to plants and animals. Some follow it diligently. Others adopt the parts that resonate or work for them.
Many witches believe in the three-fold law. Others take it a step further with a 10 fold law or belief that any harm you do can come back to you 10 times as strong. Others who are witches but not on the Wiccan path still hold strong beliefs of not harming others sharing the world with us. Although I do not identify as Wiccan I still follow a harm none rule based on my own personal morals.
Misconception 2: Witches Sacrifice Animals
Animals are definitely an important part of the practice of many witches. They are companions, they are muses, and they are members of our families. It is very uncommon to meet a witch who doesn’t love animals.
A large part of the belief system of many pagans is the view of plants and animals as an important part of our world. They are to be loved and protected as members of our earthly family. They are seen as just as important as our human family members and are often treated as such.
For this simple reason, it is not common to find a practice that involves the use of any animals. Many witches, as lovers of the natural world, choose to not use any animal products in their spells or rituals. Others choose to not consume animals or animal products and live more of a plant-based lifestyle.
There are traditions that make use of animal products such as eggs in their spellwork. However, for the most part, you would be unlikely to find animals harmed for our practice. It is just not something that goes along with the beliefs that many hold. (The same can be said about the old eating children thing lol)
Misconception 3: It’s Too Difficult to Get Into Witchcraft
I hear so many saying that they are interested in spells and witchcraft but it’s just so difficult to get started. There is so much to do from picking a name to setting up an altar and even choosing the right pantheon.
I suffered from this stagnation for a long time in my youth. It was as though I just couldn’t get started because I was sure I was doing it all wrong. The beautiful thing with many pagan traditions is that there is no way to do it all wrong. As long as you are doing things with good intentions and an earnest will to learn you are already on the right path.
It may take some trial and error to find a diety that truly speaks to you. You may spend way too much time trying to memorize what each tarot card means. There will be times that you are just far too distracted picking out a new crystal at the local bead shop. The dive into a tradition that has meaning to you is one that allows many pit stops and distraction points along the way. As long as you are willing to put in the time to read, and understand, and learn you are well on your way.
Thanks to the internet it couldn’t be easier to begin practice as a solitary witch. There are fantastic books out there to help you get a better understanding of a particular practice. Take the time to learn your path, know your correspondences, and always meditate. We will be going over simple correspondences in upcoming weeks so be sure to join our mailing list to help you along the way!
Entering a pagan tradition can involve strict ceremonies and requirements. This can be great for those who have the time, resources, and desire to take part in witchcraft in this way. For others though, it’s perfectly fine to practice within your own means. As long as you have the determination to learn, both about the world and about yourself, there should be nothing barring your path to become a witch.
A white candle can take the place of any other in a pinch. A clear quartz crystal can take the place of any crystals or stones until you have the time to build up your collection. There are many simple household herbs you can use in your spells if you can’t find obscure ingredients. All you need in your arsenal is the time and dedication to understand how to make substitutions and make the craft work for your situation. Almost anyone can begin a path to a pagan tradition these days.
Misconception 4: Witchcraft is Dangerous
I’m not going to lie here. There are elements of witchcraft that can be dangerous. More often than not the danger lies for the witch herself. It can begin to affect those around her as well though.
It is important to take the time to truly understand the concept of protection. This includes both inside and outside of a magical circle. Learning to properly cast and close a circle should be the forefront of your magical workings. Learning to protect yourself from the world around you, both seen and unseen, should not be far behind.
An often overlooked concept for those entering the pagan world is the idea of protecting your energy as well as the energy of others. While they can have an effect on us it is also possible for us to affect them. Each day as we come into contact with others their energy is influencing ours. Think of the last time you were around someone with really low depressing energy. Even if you weren’t aware of “energy” I would wager you left them feeling down in the dumps yourself. This is because the vibration of their energy mixed with your own to lower your vibration.
Unless you are wanting to attract negative energy ( which I don’t personally recommend) it is important to learn how to keep a high vibration through positive energy. This doesn’t mean bringing it with a fake happy each day. Rather, it is a practice of learning through difficult situations and of being thankful. To hold the idea that everything you need is and always will be provided for you. This concept is seen across a broad spectrum of religions. It is also a large part of the “power of positivity”. It can seem so cheesy when you are first trying it if you have spent a life with cynical low energy. You will be amazed in the changes you see in your life and yourself after just a short trial of practicing.
Really take the time to understand what you are doing and how it works. Learn yourself well enough to know your intentions well. The outcome of every spell and ritual you do will depend on the intentions you go into it with. It is best to avoid anything like summoning and working with spirits until you are familiar with those spirits most connected to you. These things can go wrong if you let in too much or let in something you can’t handle. Start with simple spells and daily rituals. These will help you to build a basis of knowledge on the spirit world. In time you will be ready to move to more difficult practices. However, getting in over your head is no good for anyone involved.
Do you have questions about witchcraft, either as a budding practitioner or a critic? I would be happy to help with information or point you in the right direction to find answers I may not have. I am definitely not an expert when it comes to the craft. I can only give information based on my own research and experiences. However, I am more than happy to share what I do know to those looking to learn more about this path. Be sure to leave a comment with any question and of course, join our mailing list for each week’s new #WitchyWednesday post as we help guide those new to the path with reference material, guidance, and support.
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