Article by Marsha West
“I will continue to proclaim that I am a Witch, and I am Wiccan, for it means the same thing. It is my religion, and it is my craft. It is my life.” –Mike Nichols, Wiccan
Witches are coming out of the broom closet. But they’re not calling themselves witches anymore. Instead those in “the Craft” prefer Wiccan, which comes from the earlier form of the word for witch. Perhaps the name has been changed to take the sting out of it, but a witch by any other name is still a witch.
It’s impossible to determine the numbers of Wiccans there are worldwide because they have no formal membership. Estimates vary but there could be as many as 3 million practicing the magic arts in America. Some say Wicca is the fastest-growing religion in the country! Whether this is true or not, one thing’s for sure: many young people, especially female high school and college students, are joining covens. Because of Wicca’s reverence for the earth and nature, young environmentalists are drawn to Wicca.
What do modern day Wiccans practice and believe?
Wicca is a faith system that has no central organization or theological belief system defined for all of its adherents. It may be best understood through its typical practices, which include performing magic and sorcery, casting spells and engaging in Witchcraft. It is a ritualistic faith based on a loose set of pagan beliefs that are generally pantheistic in nature. Those who are involved commonly go through initiation rites for membership, teaching and leadership. Contrary to a widespread assumption, however, Wicca is not synonymous with Satan worship. Wiccans most frequently worship gods and goddesses that are found in nature. Wicca generally embraces the notions of karma and reincarnation, and promotes a laissez faire form of morality.
Wicca is a neopagan, nature-based religion. Wiccans celebrate eight season-based festivals. Typically, Wiccans worship the horned god and the triple goddess. A key belief in Wicca is that the Goddess and the God (or the goddesses and gods) are able to manifest in personal form, most importantly through the bodies of Priestesses and Priests via the rituals of Drawing down the Moon or Drawing down the Sun.
One online resource, ReligionLink, tells us that “Wiccans are smashing stereotypes as their movement matures. Throughout the country Wiccans are organizing congregations and youth groups, training clergy, pursuing charity work, sharing pagan parenting tips and fighting for their civil rights.”
Wiccan’s are fighting those who follow tradition mainstream religions:
“I call out for protection of the Goddess’s people from the wrath of right-wing fundamentalists and their God” –Wendy Hunter Roberts, pagan priestess.
The media, including advertisers and book and magazine publishers, are lending their support to Wicca and Witchcraft. Not surprisingly book sales on Witchcraft have jumped dramatically since the late 1980s.
The Harry Potter (HP) books, probably the best-known books on Witchcraft, have cast a spell on children. The Potter books fly off the shelves like broomsticks and have made the author, J.K. Rowling, a gazillionaire. Young and old alike read the books and flock to theaters to see the HP movies. And of course parents rush to stores to purchase all the latest HP collectables for their youngsters. Not surprisingly kids dress up like the Potter characters on Halloween. It seems everyone’s wild about Harry. Rowling is masterful at promoting the idea that Harry and his friends are “good” wizards and witches who battle the forces of evil. As a result of HP’s popularity, youngsters are enchanted by Witchcraft and all things pagan.
It’s easy for teens to learn about Witchcraft. All they have to do is surf the internet, where Wiccan sites abound. They learn about spells, incantations and magic potions that are designed to influence circumstances and/or people.
Hollywood has used its movie magic to promote Witchcraft and alter the public perception of witches for years. The 1930s classic “The Wizard of Oz” hit the silver screen to favorable reviews. The movie had a huge impact on the way people perceive witches. Today when you think of a witch, who springs to mind but Margaret Hamilton, the actress who played the Wicked Witch of the West. You remember her green face, pointy black hat, hooked nose with a wart on the end of if, and of course the broomstick she straddled and streaked through the sky. There was also a “good” witch in the movie, beautiful Glenda, the Witch of the North, who looked like a fairy princess. In the 1950s “Bell Book and Candle” staring Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak was a big hit with audiences. In the 1960s “Rosemary’s Baby” scared the stuffing out of movie-goers. The 1980s conjured up “The Witches of Eastwick.” That same year “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” won an Oscar for its visual effects. In the 1990s Tinseltown gave us “Practical Magic,” “The Craft” and “The Blair Witch Project.” The current decade has been all about witches. Four Harry Potter movies played on the big screen. The first, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” was a box-office smash. In July 2009 the “Chosen One” will once again mount his broomstick and whiz into a theatre near you in “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”
On television, shows like “Bewitched” (which was also made into a movie starring Nicole Kidman), “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” and “Charmed” have been hugely popular, especially with teens. Last year even the Hallmark Movie Channel, which promotes good clean family-friendly programming, brought us “The Good Witch.” In this made for TV movie, Catherine Bell plays Cassie Nightingale, a mysterious woman who moves into a haunted mansion in a small town. Cassie soon has everyone in town wondering if she is a witch because of all the magical changes she brings into the lives of the townsfolk. The mayor’s busybody wife suspects Cassie’s a witch and tries to set everyone against her. For her actions she’s portrayed as irrational, mean-spirited and intolerant. In other words, the one who is against the practice of Witchcraft is bad. The witch, of course, is good. “The Good Witch” was so popular with the audience that Hallmark has produced a sequel.
What is important to know about all the supernatural hullabaloo, that’s become such a huge temptation for the younger generation, is that God strongly condemns it. Sure, it’s a bummer because casting spells is fun, so is playing with the Ouija board, but the Bible makes it clear that God condemns the magic arts. But no one seems to care what God says anymore nor do we have a healthy fear of the Lord.
“Fear ye not me? saith the LORD: will ye not tremble at my presence?” (Jer. 5:22)
What could it hurt to try to contact the dead or to have an astrologer calculate the astrological compatibility between you and another person? Well first of all, God is a real party pooper when it comes to sorcery. He forbids dabbling in the magic arts, period, end of discussion. His prohibition is for our own good. Behind the supernatural powers lurks the god of this world, namely Satan. The minute a person opens the door to the occult, Satan directs his evil forces to their doorstep. Once someone is caught in Satan’s trap, it’s hard to break free! Occult practices are addictive! And for some people, it becomes an idol.
The Apostle Paul gave Christians this sober warning:
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).
The rulers of this dark world are not human beings, they are spirits! According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of the New Testament, “The context (‘not against flesh and blood’) shows that not earthly potentates are indicated, but spirit powers, who, under the permissive will of God, and in consequence of human sin, exercise satanic and therefore antagonistic authority over the world in its present condition of spiritual darkness and alienation from God.”
Mary Daly, ex-Roman Catholic nun, eco-feminist pagan witch, said of these powers:
“There was some primary warfare going on…an archetypal battle between principalities and powers…and I willed to go all the way in this death battle.”
Luke 22:31-32 tells us that Satan is on a leash, so to speak. Therefore he cannot go beyond what our sovereign God will allow. We’re told in Job 1:9-12 that Satan had to obtain permission from God before afflicting Job. It’s reassuring to know that God is in complete control of the universe! Satan can do only what God allows him to do — but Satan was permitted to put Job through the ringer!
When God’s people mess around in practices He expressly forbids, such as Witchcraft, He does not overlook it. Not for a millisecond! And He just might allow the devil to put those who are deliberately disobedient through the ringer!
Followers of Jesus Christ must give Him their total allegiance. Far too many Christians are leading two lives. They are following both Christ and the culture. Paul says this in 1 Cor. 10:14: Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.” In other words, flee from anything that displeases God. Paul continues in verse 21-22: “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils?22 Do we provoke thee Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?”
Just so you’ll know some of the practices that provoke the Lord to jealousy, here’s a short list of terms and actual practices to steer clear of:
Angel (communication or worship)
Dungeons and Dragons (role playing games)
Lectio Divina (contemplative or centering prayer)
Mysticism (so-called Christian or otherwise)
New Age spirituality
Ouija board game
Reincarnation (belief in is unbiblical)
Spirit guides (angels, ascended masters, entities)
Lastly, God’s people must daily “Put on the full armor of God” to protect against the forces of evil!
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says:
Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. — Ephesians 5:6-17