I have a deep affection for the path of the wise, or Witchcraft as it’s often referred to, as a road to independent spirituality I’ve found it initiatory and powerful. I trained as a priest in the Goddess Movement, which differed from Wiccan Feminism but certainly shared many of its ideas and practices.
Witchcraft is multi faceted and certainly doesn’t belong to Wicca exclusively, yet Wicca is probably the best known form of modern witchcraft and historically it’s easy to understand why it became popular with sections of the feminist movements from the 1960s onwards.
As part of our opinion piece series we are working with here on Magic Self and Spirit, I looked at a blog by Peg Aloi from the website Bustle called ‘Waking The Witch’ Author Pam Grossman On Why Witches Are Having Such A Huge Cultural Moment, she expressed it as follows:
“People are gravitating towards this archetype [the goddess] that represents the female experience in all of its complexity light and dark. More people are also wanting an alternative spiritual experience outside the framework of organized religion, and I think witchcraft provides that.”
If we were to only focus on the history of religion and spirituality, it would quickly become evident that the way women have been treated has been unquestionably intolerant,violent, oppressive and appalling. The systematic abuse of women by the patriarchal religions (particularly the monotheistic ones) is undeniable, and worse still is prevalent today on so many levels. As Peg Aloi puts it:
“...it inspired thousands of teenage girls and women to explore Wicca...Wicca is a religion and … witches aren’t devil worshipers.”
The draw of Wiccan Feminism is entirely understandable and empowering.
Witchcraft and Independent Spirituality
Peg Aloi’s blog focuses on the work of a practicing witch from New York City Pam Grossman and her research and analysis into why witchcraft is growing. The blog is excellent and provides great insight.
Yet there’s a tradition of witchcraft that doesn’t massively focus on the divine expression of feminism (the goddess) and works with the horned god and the balance of nature, or the survival of the fittest if you like.
The Wiccan Rede: ‘An’ ye harm none, do what ye will’ only applies to the more moralistic (or socially acceptable) Wicca, not Witchcraft per say. To quote Peg Aloi further:
“Do witches use magic to cause harm? The Law of Three [Karma, as you sow, so shall you reap] followed by many modern witches says any magical energy put out into the world returns on the witch threefold, so doing harmful magic is ill advised.”
Peg Aloi points out that despite the above there are still many narratives full of dark magic. This, to me, is obvious. Not all witchcraft is shackled by Wiccan moralism, the Wiccan rede quoted above makes no sense to me. If another person or magical practitioner were to threaten or worse still hurt my loved ones, I wouldn’t think twice about using magic or any other means to hurt them.
As stated above ‘witches don’t worship the devil’. For many witches however (myself included) we don’t worship anyone (god, spirit or man) we walk our own path of power and spiritual and magical growth. Yet we’ll work with the demonic as part of ourselves and nature to bring the magic and balance of all things.
I highly recommend Peg Aloi’s blog as a starting place for modern witchcraft and independent spirituality and finish this post with her words:
“The idea of a witch cackling is to me so joyous but also such a transgression, because women aren’t supposed to make noise.”
Long live the cackling witches!