Many people who first meet a witch may not understand at first what they mean, until it finally sinks in the gravity of what that person had just told them. Ghosts, psychics, Tarot, faeries, some god named Anubis, magic, and witchcraft? Say what? “You’re like a real witch? You cast spells and do magic? Do you curse people? Are you gonna curse me if you get mad at me?" I don’t think I would be presumptuous to say that many witches have been there. What some people (muggles, hehe) may not know is that witches are people just like you.
Thanks to the media and some religions, spellcraft and witches have been associated with dark stuff, satanism, demons, and bad energy. There is a social stigma about people who practice magical arts and have a pagan lifestyle mainly because it’s misunderstood and unknown. Some people are led to think that witches cast spells and do dark things because that’s just what witches do! To be honest, a spell in etymology was actually seen to be a negative bewitchment, so yes, witches casting spells may have been a negative thing at one time, but now-a-days, spells are common as any magical art where one intends to manifest a result. Charms, however, were seen as more benevolent forms of magic working and still are seen as that way today.
spell (n.1) Look up spell at Dictionary.com
Old English spell “story, saying, tale, history, narrative, fable; discourse, command,” from Proto-Germanic *spellam (see spell (v.1)). Cf. Old Saxon spel, Old Norse spjall, Old High German spel, Gothic spill “report, discourse, tale, fable, myth;” German Beispiel “example.” From c.1200 as “an utterance, something said, a statement, remark;” meaning “set of words with supposed magical or occult powers, incantation, charm” first recorded 1570s; hence any means or cause of enchantment.
The term ‘spell’ is generally used for magical procedures which cause harm, or force people to do something against their will — unlike charms for healing, protection, etc. [“Oxford Dictionary of English Folklore”]
Also in Old English, “doctrine; a sermon; religious instruction or teaching; the gospel; a book of the Bible;” cf. gospel.
People who find out someone is a witch are appalled and shocked, like we’re unfortunate hedonists who worship a demonic entity giving chunks of our souls away to do weird “voodoo crap” on them. Some people find out their neighbor is a marine, does that mean they’re going to come over and shoot your home up because they could? No, that’d be absurd and insensitive. Witches are people. They simply follow an earth-based spirituality built on the principles of love, harmony, one with nature, one with the self, and one with the higher realms of consciousness and godly beings. Some are polytheistic, some are monotheistic. Some believe in psychic abilities, some do not. For some, it may even be a chosen lifestyle where they don’t practice magic at all but accept the idea of being one with the seasons.
Witches are awesome people,in my humble opinion. We get together on our sabbats and esbats, drink a bunch of mead, and jam out to Pink Floyd, Celtic music, and acoustic while building energy to put towards an intention that we know will come true. Witchcraft is a practice, and it derives from the same branch many religions use: Metaphysics, but we’re talking straight up Magic. We are the magicians of our universe and with that knowledge is power and it’s not anyone’s business who decides to be black, gray, or white about that magical power. I am a gray witch, I fall in line with the neutral side of reality for yin and yang balance. Some are white witches living a high-yang reality and some are black witches living a high-yin reality. The main principle behind these methods usually should have conscience and conformity to justice, karma, and doing no harm.
Prayer, hope, faith, luck, wishing, and manifesting are all methods of magic— yes, praying is a form of magic. You’re transmitting your thoughts to a higher realm (the god you pray to) and hoping for your wishes to be manifested back into your life. For example, you pray that you get enough money in time for rent, even though the odds are against you. The next day, you won $250 from a lotto ticket and recovered the situation. Was that a coincidence? Was it pure luck? Or did you actually manifest that to occur?
Perhaps a witch would use a different method, such as crushing some basil and cinnamon herbs into a bowl of sugar and sprinkling it towards their front door. This may not be as easy as thinking something true, but the herbs, the sugar, and the intention are viewed as going to increase the likelihood of that manifestation occurring. The basil represents money, cinnamon represent money abundance, and the sugar represents raw attraction. That in combination is a potent synergy of magical (metaphysical) properties. The gesture of sprinkling it towards the front door of the house is meaning to allow money to flow into your life.
Witches may not be society’s idea of “normal,” but what is normal but a facade people enact to follow the herd? Self-expression is key in a good society on its way to worldly breakthroughs. If you ask me, paganism is the art of keeping humble to the earth, expanding the intellect, heart, and psyche in the pursuit of knowledge, truly loving yourself, respecting the planet, loving your neighbors, maintaining your health, attaining a spiritual reality, and working on the shadow self to be a better human being. Imagine if these qualities were possessed by a great deal of people in this world, how quickly would we attain a Utopian world built on education, compassion, and technological and social advancement?
The practice of witchcraft and use of magic may not be one person’s chosen method of doing what they do in life to skirt by in this challenged world, but any method will seriously do that’s right for you and works. One of the things I’ve learned about paganism in this past decade is that there is no judgment for what another’s path is, or at least there isn’t supposed to be. People must get along and respect one another, and accept that they deserve their right to life so long as there is peace, coexistence, and harmony continually practiced. It’s a good way of living. I’ve noticed the early pagans must have derived this spirituality from observing animals. They too coexist in a challenged world and use their abilities to survive. Animals seem to be in flow with nature easier than we humans can be at times.
The social and societal acceptance of Wicca in the past decades has been big. I’m not saying we’re living in the burning ages, as you can walk into a variety of book stores now-a-days and find Lllewellyn strewn about. Heck, the Necronomicon can be bought at a Barnes & Noble outlet. People are coming to slowly accept witches, pagans, Wiccans, magicians, psychics, etc., but we’ve still got a long way to go about understanding these types of people. It’s not widely understood and there still are stigmas, such as, “You’re a witch? Are you gonna curse me?” Questions like that are just plain ignorant, insensitive, and mean. I guess the marine should shoot your home up just because he could. No, that marine wouldn’t be offended at all. “You’re a marine? So, you like kill people and stuff? Are you gonna kill me?”
All in all, people should accept others for how they choose to live their lives, even if they’re crushing up herbs in their altar room and listening to Hindu music on a full moon. You may not approve of their lifestyle, but you have to give them freedom to be as they are so long as they aren’t truly directly hurting you. A person existing as themselves shouldn’t directly hurt anybody. The emergence of open witches and pagans shouldn’t be a shock to anyone, but in some areas it’s still widely taboo. There are a number of crystal and metaphysical shops springing up everywhere, and even at the occult shop I do Tarot readings out of, I see many new faces who’re unfamiliar with it all but eager to learn. People are now beginning to accept the energies of crystals as being healing or attracting of certain desires. I see many women buying stones for fertility. Thanks to the widespread of Reiki, I think people are becoming fond of crystal energy. What many may not connect is that crystal energy in itself is magic.
But to say something really corny, in the witching world, all we see is the magic within everything. We all must truly live and let live for the betterment of ourselves. It seems in the society I live in, people only seem to care about one another when it’s Thanksgiving and Christmas time, but yet the latest Xbox and hottest iPhone is all people are really concerned over. If pagans and witches were such terrible people, why is it that on their holiday of Yule (December 21st) they seem to follow what that Christmas is supposed to be about? The first Yule I celebrated, my boyfriend and I had just moved into our first apartment together and we had no money. We thrifted all of our presents for each other minus a $16 trimmer set I could afford. It definitely wasn’t much at the time, but we did what we could with the intentions of love in our hearts.
Witches suffer and work hard just like any other person in life. Chances are, they celebrate the same holidays you do but in their own way. They believe in the same rights as you do. They go to work, raise families, have surgeries, lose houses, switch jobs, and pay taxes just like anybody else. So the next time you hear somebody being insensitive about somebody who is a witch or pagan, just know that they’re not a bad person and that they bleed just like you do. We’re all in this together and more hate in the world just isn’t needed.
Pagan rights are human rights.