Frequently Asked Questions with Answers
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General Practices Page, or
- Q. What form does the practice of Witchcraft take?
- The form and context vary from group to group and between
each ritual, and may run the gamut from elaborate ceremony to
spontaneous ritual to simple meditation. Generally the practice
is to consecrate a sacred space, the "circle" and then work magic
and worship the Goddesses and Gods within it according to
the forms agreed upon by that particular group of Witches.
- Q. How do you see the Goddess?
- As the immanent life force, as Mother Nature, the Earth, the
Cosmos, the interconnectedness of all life.
- Q. Do all Witches practice their religion the same way?
- Yes and no. Wicca is a highly individual religion. Moreover,
the number of different sects within the Craft may give the
impression that no two groups practice the same way. Though
practices may vary, most traditions have many similarities, such
as the working of magic and a respect for nature. Most Witches find
enough common ground for mutual support and productive networking
throughout the Craft community.
- Q. Is Witchcraft a "cult"?
- No. A cult is generally taken as a gathering of people who
owe blind allegiance to one charismatic leader who ostensibly
represents "truth". They indulge in "extravagant homage or adoration"
(Webster's Dictionary), usually of their leader, thus trading the
ability to think for themselves for "salvation" and a sense of
belonging. This is the antithesis of the Witchcraft experience.
Most Witches come to the Craft through reading and communing with
nature and later finding like-minded groups. Witches tend to be
- Q. Do Witches have a "Bible"?
- No. A bible is supposedly the word of a deity revealed through
a prophet, or more generally, "a book containing the sacred writings
of any religion" (Webster's Dictionary). Witchcraft is a Pagan
folk-religion of personal experience rather than transmitted revelation.
A Witch may keep a "Book of Shadows" which is more like an individual's
workbook or journal -- meaningful to the person who keeps it -- containing
rituals, discoveries, spells, poetry, herb lore, etc. Covens may
keep a similar group book. There is no one document taken by all
Wiccans as authoritative, as in Judaism, Christianity, or Islam.
- Q. Do Witches cast spells?
- Some do and some don't. Since a commonly-held belief is that what
is sent out is returned to the sender threefold, Witches tend to be
very careful with spells. A spell is a formula, or series of steps,
to direct the will to a desired end. Energy is drawn from the earth,
concentrated, and sent out into the world. It is believed that with
proper training and intent, human minds and hearts are fully capable
of performing all the magic and miracles they are ever likely to need,
through the use of natural psychic power.
- Q. Do Witches fly on brooms?
- No. Brooms were (in rural Europe) and sometimes still are ridden
astride in ceremonies. In one such ceremony, people ran through the
fields astride a broom to coax the grain to grow, or participants would
leap over a broom, telling the grain to grow to the height of the
highest leaping. Uninformed observations of such ceremonies could
lead to tales of flying on brooms.
- Q. Do Witches worship the Devil?
- No. The concept of "the devil", a personification of a supreme
spirit of evil and unrighteousness, is a creation of Middle Eastern
thought which is fundamental to the religions of that region, including
Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Worship of this
being as "Satan" is a practice of profaning Christian symbolism and
is thus a Christian heresy rather than a Pagan religion. The gods of
Wicca are in no way connected with Satanic practice. Most Witches
do not even believe Satan exists, and certainly do not worship him.
Historically, the gods of an older religion are often branded as the
devils of a newer one in order to promote conversion.
- Q. Are Witches only women?
- No, but in this country women do predominate in the Craft overall
(in Britain, men predominate). Some traditions have only women
practitioners, just as others have only men. Most traditions admit
both. Men are also called "Witches", and most take exception to being
- Q. With the bad mental image people get at the mention of Witch
and Witchcraft, why do you still use these names?
- Virtually every religion can look back into the dark corners of
history and find a period when it was held in disrepute. Some religions
were accused of crimes through ignorance and malice (e.g. Medieval
Christians were sure that Jews ate Christian babies). Other religions
face prejudice because their practices are different from those of
their accusers (e.g. the Mormons for their polygamy). Others defame
each other for being on the opposite side of some power struggle --
consider the many incidents from the Crusades through the Inquisition
to current affairs in nations such as Ireland or Iran. Just because
a group was or is persecuted and maligned is not a reason for it to
change its name. The practices of prejudice and scapegoating seem
to be universal human pastimes, and we have had our share of being
- Q. How can someone find out more about Witchcraft?
- Wicca is not a missionary religion and does not proselytize.
One must seek rather than be sought after. There are excellent books
available, and many Witches teach classes or facilitate discussion
groups. In this way, people may connect with a like-minded coven or
form a study group of their own. There are also many good periodicals,
networks, and national and regional festivals through which a seeker can
make contact with the larger Craft community. The Covenant of the
Goddess is one such group fulfilling all of these functions.
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