What is Witchcraft? 


Where the Witches Meet

Where the Witches Meet

So I originally thought that by the end of 52 weeks of pondering the various questions I would be in a better place to answer this question. In some ways I am. I feel that I can define what Witchcraft is for me, and will do so below, but increasingly it is clear that creating a universal definition is a neigh on impossible task. I’ve not attempted to set myself up as a particular authority on any of the subjects I’ve covered in the last year, indeed I’ve tried review my own position and tried to justify it to myself by explaining it to you dear reader. In many cases I’ve found that for as much as I think I know there is so much more to learn, experience and take into consideration as I walk my crooked path.

So… here we go.
What is Witchcraft?

Witchcraft is a process by which an individual seeks to manifest either a desired outcome or change in their life using methods and means beyond the mundane.

I think that is the best way I put it. To get any more specific about those methods and means would start to lock us into discussing individual paths and practices, of which there are many.  The premise that when a Witch picks up their tools (or not) to perform a spell they are essentially attempting to bring about change to themselves, the life of someone else or within their environment and situation is universal to all streams which involve witchcraft (by that name or any other name). The techniques employed in Witchcraft, such as energy raising, are similar in principle and process as with Pagan spiritual and/or religious practices however this does not make Witchcraft spiritual or religious. It means that whilst witchcraft can be combined with religion and spirituality it is not a necessity.

Given that my own interpretation of witchcraft is starting to show it’s time to move on to the next heading.

What Witchcraft is To Me

In addition to what is outlined above I define witchcraft in a number of other ways. For example, do me Witchcraft is a means to an end. It is a way to achieve goals and outcomes. Spiritual enlightenment is all well and good but that comes about through religion and spiritual practice, neither of which are synonymous with Witchcraft.

It is neither the first option, nor the only option, when looking for ways to resolve wants, needs or issues. I always seek to resolve things myself wherever possible but I know that should I need help beyond the mundane it is there. I also find this is important because witchcraft works best when it is used in conjuction with mundane. The groundwork laid in the mundane world gives the magical working something to act upon, increasing not only the chance of success but the likelihood of achieving the desired outcome. That’s not to say that it is always necessary, or possible, to ‘do something’ mundane but it should be considered.

Woodcarving of Witches around a Cauldon (age and artist unknown)

Woodcarving of Witches around a Cauldon (age and artist unknown)

I am starting to stray towards the ‘is not’ list with this one but I also find Witchcraft has a strong element of ‘whatever works for you’. It’s a personal path which can be tailored by and for the individual, meaning that there is a wide diversity of opinions and practices. I think this can be applied both to the techniques used and to the ethics and morals of Witchcraft. In terms of techniques there is no reason not to fly by the seat of your pants in constructing a spell if you have the core basics of Witchcraft down pat (raising energy, focusing  energy, correspondences etc). Your magical act isn’t going to fail because you didn’t quite have the correct shade of candle or exactly the right herbs in stock. Substitution or even outright abandonment of such things if possible *if* you know how to wish someone everything they deserve in just the right way.

With regards to morals it is import to understand that the power we weird as Witches is exactly that. Power. It is without colour, creed or rule book. It doesn’t care if it’s used for hexing, healing, personal gain or whatever. Just as electricity is incapable of going out of its way to electrocute someone deliberately magic can not force you down one path or the other.  You may decide to shove your fingers in the outlet but it was your choice to interact with electricity that way and you will reap the consequences of that decision. In the same way the individual decides how they will, or will not, use witchcraft in accordance to their own moral compass. The decisions they make do not impact upon the decisions of others, not should anyone attempt to force their own morality onto any other Witch, or anyone else for that matter. Open discussion often highlights opposing opinions and beliefs regarding the ‘rights and wrongs’ of the use of witchcraft but it is important to avoid making absolute statements like (but not limited to) “a True Witch would / would never…. “.

We’re getting well and truly into the “is not’s” now so I think I will move on and speed things up a bit.

Witchcraft is not…

Not a religion – witchcraft can be incorporated into religious and spiritual practices but in of itself Witchcraft is not a religion. This is an important thing to keep on mind when making absolute statements about how Witches should or shouldn’t act or what kind of witchcraft they should or shouldn’t do.

Not a quick fix – not only does witchcraft required effort in the magical sense, and in the mundane as well, it does not always produce the outcomes we most desire. Witchcraft is more likely to produce the result we need or is feasible right now rather than what we want.

A solution in isolation – witchcraft cannot fix every problem in your life, nor is it an abdication of personal responsibility. Sometimes you have to pull up your big kid pants and get on with it. Witchcraft can help your situation but it can’t solve it for you and if you think it will you will be waiting a very long time.

Not wishcraft – whilst wishing really hard for an outcome can work there is a little more to Witchcraft than sighing ‘oh I wish I could get a new job’. You have to get the attention of those forces around you and let them know exactly what you want and what you are prepared to do, and perhaps give, to get it.

Not for everyone – on so many levels witchcraft is not appropriate for everyone. It takes time, effort, study, independent thought and so on and really what a lot of people want is a quick fix and an easy tide and Witchcraft will never give you that. Equally Witchcraft is not safe, nor fluffy and if at some point your aren’t scared to the point of jacking it in your are doing it wrong.

Photography by Jason Blake

Photography by Jason Blake

So concludes the Defining My Craft series, I’ve had fun, I hope all my regular readers have too. If you are just finding the series there are a further 51 posts to be found and they can all be located by either clicking the page or searching the tag. 2017 is the year of taking stock of my parenting of two little witchlets,  sharing all my thoughts and ideas with you. That isn’t going to take a full 52 weeks so I am following a Pagan Blog Project style of a cycle of four weeks with themes, one of which will be parenting. As we’re already on the other side of the year I’ll see you next week.

Where Witches Meet artist unknown
Woodcarving of Witches around a Cauldon (age and artist unknown)
Photography by Jason Blake

About knotmagick

Weaving Magick and Crochet in the madhouse I call home. I am a devotee of Hekate and a follower of Pan.
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