I have been a practicing Witch for 23yrs now. I am what you would call Eclectic, though I hate the term. My personal spiritual beliefs don't follow any structured tradition, but are a melding of many traditions and practices. One traditon that especially influences my beliefs and practices is Voodoo or Vodou ..Vodoun, depending on who you talk to any given spelling will be considered right or wrong, I use the American spelling Voodoo for two reasons, one I think Voodoo in this country has evolved into it's own unique style, and two I think my spelling helps distinquish that I do not present myself as an initiate of any traditional branch of the Vodou religion itself. Rather than just ramble I thought I would follow the example of some other sites on the web that have a FAQ section to help answer questions. Mine might be salted with a bit of attitude, but frankly I am sick of all the sites making broad and generalized statements about all Witches that are just not true. My other pet peeve is the word "Witch". Now don't get me wrong, I use it, claim it and love it. But I don't run around lamenting about the burning times or picketing my local stores for putting up green faced Witch decos at Halloween. I don't run around trying to convince everyone around me that the word Witch "really" means a healer or wise one, or country dweller...(insert any other random but benign definition here).
"Witch"...Most of us who practice magick and spells embrace the title, but why?...and should we really?
I have heard, like I am sure many of you have, how the word "Witch" really means "wise one", or healer, country dweller, even wise "woman" (sorry guys guess it's back to the term Warlock for you, )...Personally this strikes me as yet another attempt to whitewash Witchcraft for the masses and keep the marketing value of Witchcraft nice and lucrative. Do you really think ancient spell casters went around calling themselves "Witch"?.....And if we agree that the Christians came up with the word to lable those who they felt were working with the devil and doing evil magick, ..why did we adopt it?
Why take a derogatory and negtive word and say "yep that is me",...is it some sort of anti-Christian spite thing?...by taking it are we taking some power from the church and religion that created it? Why take it and then try to change it's meaning?, try to convince people that the meaning behind the word has always been wrong?...Do we just 'like' the word? Or could it be that ,like with many words, as time, society and culture changes so do the meanings of some words? But if this is the case why keep bringing up "root words" to "prove" that everyone has it wrong?
Regardless throughout history and in many different cultures and countries (as well as areas of this country) the term "Witch" still carries it's original negtive meaning. Have you ever read the stories from other countries about how a Witch was arrested or stoned by a village? We all gasp and cry about how the persacution of Witches is still happening, what they all miss though is that the term "Witch" in those countries and cultures has NOTHING to do with Goddess worship and healing, channeling and astral projecting, it has to do with murder, and making people sick, poisioning a lover who jilted you, deviate and sick behavior like the kidnapping and rape of a child, torture of animals if not people,...these are the people given the lable "Witch",... not the healers, the spiritual leaders, the fortune tellers or the midwives.
Think about it a minute,...and honestly ask yourself, what were your original feelings about the word "Witch"? as a child?,..as a teen?...as an adult?...reading books?....watching movies? Before all the Wiccan and "How Too" books came out.
What feelings, what visual and mental images did the word conjur for you, in you?....Have those images changed with the availability of and your exposure to the many Witchcraft books out there, has the whole Wiccan movement and stereotypes changed how you now think of the word?...has it changed the meaning of the word for you?
Ok you have thought about it and you STILL want to call yourself a Witch,...so what exactly does the term mean today??...Don't get all caught up in trying to explain your personal beliefs or meet some religious criteria here, it's really simple, in my opinion if you cast spells, if you work magick and (now this is the important part here).. "IF" you "WANT" the title...you are a Witch. By this definition I am not jumping on the "it's not a bad word-you are all mistaken" bandwagon, but acknowledging that the most common use of the term (like it or not)is linked to fear, casting spells scares people,communicating with Spirits scares people, reading the future scares people,... it did when the term was coined and it does today. To me the word itself and it's definitions of the past show that "Witches" were believed to have had power, power of the unknown and power over others. That they themselves possesed a strong, even supernatural power and ablity that allowed them to do things that the average Joe just couldn't do, and I am happy with that, so I proudly call myself "Witch"
What is Witchcraft? ...The most accurate definition,in my opinion, is that it's the art or practice of casting spells and working magick. It is NOT the same thing as Wicca, and should NOT be used interchangablly with the word Wicca, Wicca is a structured religion with it's own set of laws and dogma. Do Wiccans "use" Witchcraft, do they utilize spells and work magick?..Yes some do but believe it or not, not every Wiccan does. Witchcraft has no set of rules, like any other art it will be unique in it's appearence and application based on the beliefs and actions of the person using it.
What is a male Witch?...better carry a shield if you say Warlock,.."no no no, they will scream a Warlock is an "oath breaker" you ignorant fool" I say yeah yeah whatever, the early root word does indicate a lie or liar, however like many many words with time they tend to take on new meanings, since the 14th century the word was used to recognize a "man" who practiced the art of Witchcraft or sorcery. So if you want to use the word I say go for it. And if we are going to get all uppity about Christians giving it that meaning, lets not forget that Christians also coined the terms Coven,Sabbat,Esbat,Familiar ect ect ect. yet we use the terms today as if they have always been.
The Rede, what is it?... The Rede is specifically Wiccan, but it is just another form of the universal "Golden Rule", just the same as the Christian "do unto others", or "What goes around comes around", the unique thing about the Wiccan version however is that it doesn't just come around for them but it comes back 3 times as strong, And you thought Christians were strick! Again this is a Wiccan law specifically and not a law of all who practice Witchcraft. It is an attempt to instill from the outside a law to secure ones socially accepted level of ethics.
Here is how it reads...
"Bide the Witch's law ye must
In perfect love, in perfect trust.
Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill-
'An ye harm none, do what ye will'
What ye send forth come back to thee
So ever mind the Rule Of Three.
Follow this with mind and heart
And merry ye meet, and merry ye part"
What is Fluff, or Fluffy Withcraft?...Basically it's a bit of a dig aimed at magick or beliefs that are all positive. Those who are regaurded as "fluffy" are those who will look down on any forms of magick or spells, as well as anyone who practices this type of magick, that are not for the benefit of others, not for the good of all. Those who tend to dismiss the idea of balance, that you must have good and bad, light and dark, there is no all good, there is no all evil.
Is there such thing as a Santanic Witch?...Again they will scream "no no no, Satan is a Christian diety." Well that is all well and good but again Witches follow a huge variety of religions. Like it or not there are indeed practitioners of Witchcraft who do worship Satan, there are also Witches who worship the Christian God, the Saints, Budda ect ect ect. There are also Witches who claim to be Satanists of the LaVey style, where indulgence and pleasure are the key, where worship tends to be directed at oneself more than any diety. The denial of Satanic Witches is simply an attempt to keep certain groups who are striving for social acceptence squeaky clean and more socially acceptable.
What's the different between Eclectic and Traditional Witchcraft?...Those who claim to be Eclectic have taken all they have learned from many resources and traditions and basically adapted many of the elements into thier own belief systems and practices, Tradional practices are specific teachings and practices that have been handed down from generation to generation and although the claim is that they have gone unchanged for hundreds or thousands of years, the truth is that they have indeed undergone changes, even if only subtle ones. Both forms are valid, though some Traditionalists would like you to believe otherwise.
Do I need to be initiated?...This depends on what it is you want to be initiated into, if it's a specific religous group, yes, if that is what the group dictates as a requirment. But you DO NOT need to be initiated to be a Witch or practice any particular belief system,cast spells or work magick,.. only to be socially/personally recognized by any give group whether it be a religous group or a coven.
Love spells good or bad?...What ever you do don't ever ask for a love spell online, LOL. The general consensus is that they are bad, and I have even heard them referred to as "mind rape" and "psychological rape". Personally I think that is absurd, most love spells work like every other spell, they simply influence the person,enegry and elements around you to help things go your way. They don't mentally take over or control the Will of others, I mean what do you think you are doing when you do a spell to get a job? or ease someone's anger? even healing is messing with someone else. All spells with influence the people around you to one degree or another. Only the person doing the casting knows for sure if what they are doing is panamont to "mind rape" or just trying to get their foot in the door of someone they would like to have a relationship with. Then again you are a Witch damnit, you have chosen a path that utilizes magick for your benefit. The type of spells you choose to work are your buisiness. If you don't like love spells or they don't fit into your ethical boundries then just don't do them, but don't judge those whose beliefs allow for the inclusion and use of love spells.
Does animal sacrifice really occur?... Yes it does, in both Santeria and Voodoo animal sacrifice is an essential element, at least in the traditional branches.
Many people will gasp and get all up in arms over this,...and then sit down to their chicken or hamburger dinners. The word 'sacrifice' means to make 'sacred'. The animal and it's life energy is being used to feed the Gods in the same way the meat from animals is used to feed us humans. Often the animal is then dressed and cooked for the participants of the ceremony but at other times, the animal is simply buried or destroyed as the Gods dictate thru divination.
Do Ouija Boards really work?... Sure, or at least they can. Alot depends on the abilities and open mindedness of the person using the board. Ouija boards are just like any other divination tool. And let me just say here,I don't see divination as a means of tapping into ones own subconscious, though they can be used for that, I believe and it's been my experience that divination is a tool used to communicate with Spirits and energies that determine fate and hold knowledge. Be it tarot cards, pendulum, dice, lots or a board it's more the person's own ability to communicate with those Spirits and energies that will determine the success or failure of the session. It's funny how the board has reached Urban Legend status, I mean who hasn't heard how a friend of a friends cousin got possessed or the board flew across the room? ;-)