Witchcraft is Not a Religion

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram:  @iseabail_witchwriter

Here I go again.  I’m not best pleased with what I find in my news feed regarding witchcraft for at least a second time.  I really do wish people could leave well alone and not try to pick apart the psychology of the “witch” or try to psychoanalyse why people are turning to witchcraft…and do they really have the time to sit and notice all these things they say are happening?  When EX-US president Donald Trump said “witch hunt” did the media misunderstand and believed it was upon them to go poke at cauldrons ’til they found witches? Then again, it has become a “thing”, I suppose, because the numbers are seeming to drop from organised religion – church goers to be exact – and it seems that it is so because they have all taken up witchcraft or so I keep reading.

Image Courtesy of Google Images

Why don’t I appreciate this sudden interest in the occult [particularly by  writers of magazines and other unknowledgeable media] and their assumptive reasoning as to why anybody does anything?  Well, that sentence holds your first clue.  Just why do they all assume everyone is jumping onto the witchcraft train simply because the churches do not have as many patrons these days?  Probably because they have done a little homework.  According to The Telegraph [yes, The Telegraph UK], “Witchcraft is thriving in the US with an estimated 1.5 million Americans identifying as witches – more than the total number of Presbyterians”.  I don’t imagine, however, that Presbyterians make up the largest sector of organised religions in the US.  I’m not going to get tied up in the numbers game but there are many other religions in the US – Catholicism, Baptist, Methodist, Muslim, Jewish, Quaker, and hosts of others so I would not go so far as to claim that witchcraft has taken over the Christian and non-Christian religions alike.  Still, it does make an interesting point about the world today…which is precisely why I feel compelled to read all the drivel and non-drivel about it sent my way by my Google News feed.  And, I’m still scratching my head in wonderment about why The Telegraph would be bothered about the upsurge in witchcraft in the US….

Just bear with this old curmudgeon crone, if you will.  Enter one self-proclaimed [well, we all do this] witch, Dakota Bracciale, co-owner of Catland Books in Brooklyn, NY, who told The Telegraph that “the rise in witchcraft among millennials speaks to their desire to find spirituality outside of traditional religion”.  Witchcraft is not a religion, however.  Does anyone else with a love for history, find in this a re-telling of an ages-old story? What happens when one finds oneself in a conundrum with the religion they have subscribed to for most of their lives? They move on to another.  If there is not another, as in the case of King Henry VIII, if you’re a King, you simply start a new religion – one that can give you what you want, like, say, a divorce.  And there have been many the new religion born from people feeling unsatisfied for numerous reasons with the old religions and from there came new religions such as Wesleyan, Lutheran, Quaker, and so on.  What seems to be happening is not exactly a new thing [like so many might have you think]. But when you think of new religions, witchcraft is not one of them.  Witchcraft is much more than I can spend time writing about, but in its very simplest terms, it comes from a desire to make changes, to conjure protections of all kinds for ones’ self and others – up and to creating hexes, if needs must, to heal, to learn, to bind power, to unbind power.  That description doesn’t half touch the sides nor does it scream religion of any kind to me, does it you?

Witchcraft does not need a “supreme being”.  It does not necessarily need any deity, unless the witch her or himself wants one…or two, or more.  Many witches believe in their own power alone.  Still, many a Wiccan witch will have two deities at the least, the God and the Goddess.  The old Pagans had multiple deities as was with the Northmen [Vikings] who honoured Odin, Frey, Freya, Loki, Thor, and many, many others.  Of course, Odin was/is the All-Father, so he is the one they wished to please most.  I’m not Wiccan, nor proclaim loads of knowledge, still, Wicca is a religion and is gaining respect and popularity as such. From dissatisfaction with religions offered us by our parents and communities as we grew and not finding answers that we needed has helped to give a huge rise to Wicca.  And, because it is so diverse, you do not need to believe in only a monotheistic God.  This religion has the added flexibility of worshipping / honouring however many deities you like – or none at all.

My point being is, you can be a Wiccan witch but you can’t call witchcraft a religion nor call it Wicca [definition: a form of modern paganism, especially a tradition founded in England in the mid 20th century and claiming its origins in pre-Christian religions.], nor treat it as such.  I wish these journalists who probably get all giddy about flying so close to the occult would calm down and learn a few things first.  The most recent article that has flown up my nose is one written by Paul Bois for Daily Wire titled “American Witchcraft Rises as Christianity Declines”.  If you’ve read my previous blog, you can laugh along with me for we know witches can be Christian as well as Pagan / Wiccan. The first thing that annoyed me is the picture he uses for the article. To me it says Mr Bois has no real respect for witches if he still thinks they all look like the “hags” in the picture.  Mind, I realise it is makeup and likely someone’s Halloween selfies, still, I’m feeling contemptuous all the same. The article seems to be primarily hinged upon observations by Mr Bracciale and a co-worker [owner?] of Catland, Melissa Jayne.  The one thing to take away here is that between the pair, they have seen an upsurge in sales for everything from books to tarot cards.  I have no doubt that people wanting to take control of their lives is on the upsurge. Still, let’s call it what it is – it is witchcraft and not religion.

Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings to all who wander this way x