Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Witchcraft Definition

Witchcraft Definition Cover There is no universal meaning for what Witchcraft is. It means different things in different cultures. But here I will try to give as detailed a description as possible, with providing as many views as possible. You may also want to look at the Additional Reading list that expands on some of the information here.

First let's make it clear that Witchcraft is the title of the religion. Not Wicca. Here in the U.S. there is a large debate about this. But if one is open to the historic evolution of the religion; Wicca is a moderately new tradition within the religion and not the religion itself. You can read much more about this in the Is Witchcraft A Religion article.By Eric Tewder, 1996

So what is Witchcraft?
Witchcraft is a spiritual practice, a way of life, a belief system and a religion. Witchcraft is the religion that sets the foundation of belief. The denominations of Witchcraft are called Traditions. They further define and implement the foundation of beliefs into their own perspectives of practice. Defining their own creed, troth or rede of faith to provide guidance and principles for that tradition.

"The Craft" is a much older way to describe what is commonly known as Witchcraft. But some suggest "The Craft" is actually the craft of Magik, or magikal practices which are not specific to, or only used by, pagan religions.

Some refer to their spiritual belief system by the name of their particular tradition (ie: Wicca). We will discuss this further below.

There is no single Bible or sacred text defining all of Witchcraft, in all its many sects or traditions. However each practioner and/or coven has their own Book of Shadows or Grimoire. The Grimoire contains rituals, invocations and charms, experiences and journal entries from the coven as a whole. They contain information and teachings learned from experiences and from each other. Practioners often copy from each others books, and more often students from their teachers. Often a teacher will define exactly which entries a student must copy into their own Grimoire before their initiation process into that coven can be completed.

Even though a coven has a base or official source of Grimoire, no two Grimoires are ever exactly the same. Ideally a Grimoire should contain only methods that have proven successful and have been consistent in their workings or hold up to scrutiny. Failed ideas are excluded. Along with the Grimoire, many covens see other essential texts to the Grimoire: The Greater Key of Solomon the King which dates from medieval times and The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abra-Melin the Mage which was published in the late 1900s. These two books are said to contain the basic lessons and principles of magik that should be utilized in every coven. Of course this is not a requirement and not all covens provide these additional works.

Witchcraft is a recognized religion by the United States government. In 1985/86 the U.S. Army included a section in the Army Chaplin's Handbook on Witchcraft/Wicca. If you examine the entry, you will notice that the religion is known by other names, and you'll find Witchcraft listed in that section of the document.

In the most simplistic definitions, Witchcraft can be described as:
A nature based religion that believes in the balance of mind/body/spirit within the divine multiverse. It is a religion and way of life, honoring all things seen and unseen within that divine multiverse. Practitioners strive to live in harmony and balance within nature, believing we (human and nature) are all interconnected and parts of the greater divine force. Some call this force, The GreatSpirits, The Divine, God/Goddess, All That Is and so on. It's really up to the individual and what label best fits their view of the Divine Spirit.

Books in PDF format to read:

Tom Peete Cross - Witchcraft In North Carolina
Gerald Gardner - Witchcraft Today
Louise Huebner - Witchcraft For All
Jaroslav Nemec - Witchcraft And Medicine
Anonymous - Witchcraft Dictionary