The Modern World of Witchcraft: Part 1 of 2
Copyright 1994 by the Christian Research Institute.
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"The Modern World of Witchcraft: Part One of Two" (an article from
the Christian Research Journal, Winter/Spring 1990, page 8) by
Craig S. Hawkins.
   The Editor-in-Chief of the Christian Research Journal is Elliot

*A threatening storm is brewing on the religious horizon: the winds
of occultism are blowing ever more strongly across the land. In the
past two to three decades, America and much of Western Europe have
seen a resurgence of paganism and witchcraft. Paganism is
attempting a resurrection from the dead, a revival of the old gods
and goddesses of pre-Christian polytheistic nature religions and
mystery cults (e.g., Celtic, Norse, Greek, Egyptian, Roman, and
other traditions of the Western world). Additionally, Sumerian
mythologies, extant tribal religions (e.g., Native American
religions and shamanism), new religions largely inspired by science
fiction and fantasy, and amalgamations of diverse occultic
traditions join the list as well. Astaroth, Diana, Hecate,
Cernunnos, Osiris, Pan, and others are being invoked anew, feeding
an intoxicating discovery of and journey into a universe inhabited
with gods and goddesses.*


*Glossary of Key Terms*

*Divination:* The attempt to obtain information regarding the past,
present, or future through occultic methods, such as astrology,
channeling, crystal balls, tarot cards, and so forth.

*Magic:* The ability, real or imagined, to cause changes to result
in conformity with one's will or desires by invoking or utilizing
mysterious and/or invisible forces, and thereby influencing,
controlling, or manipulating reality for one's own purposes.
_Magic_ is synonymous with _sorcery,_ and, as used here, is to be
distinguished from mere sleight-of-hand. In some occultic circles,
it is frequently spelled "magick" to distinguish it from

*Coven:* Sometimes also referred to as _groves_ or _circles,_ a
coven is the basic social unit of witches who regularly meet in
groups (as opposed to solitary witches), numbering anywhere between
3 and 30, with 13 being the ideal.

*Metaphysics:* In the philosophical (not occultic) sense,
metaphysics pertains to questions of ultimate reality -- in both
the sensible and insensible realms. Such questions include: What
actually exists? What is its nature or essence? What is its origin?

*Occult:* From the Latin _occultus,_ meaning secret, hidden, or
esoteric knowledge and practices. It is comprised of three basic
categories -- divination, magic or sorcery, and spiritism. Though
there are many theories today as to how or why it works, according
to biblical theology it originates from, and constitutes
interaction with, demonic spirits. Hence, it is expressly

*Sex Magic:* The use of sex (e.g., intercourse -- actual or
symbolic) within a ritual or spell-casting session to facilitate or
augment the efficacy of a given magical rite. That is, sexual
activities are used to accomplish the desired goal of the


    Although their practices and beliefs diverge significantly at
points, many of these individuals and groups proudly identify
themselves as pagans or neopagans. Among them can be found a
diverse group of people who style themselves as witches or wiccans:
followers of the "Old Religion" of the great Mother Goddess and her
male consort, the Horned God.


    Many of today's witches want to remove their traditional cloaks
of secrecy, dispel the confusion that surrounds their religion, and
address the hostility and suspicion they perceive as directed
toward themselves and their craft. They desire that their views and
practices be considered an alternative religion, a viable world
view. At the very least they seek the right to follow their chosen
path without being hindered, harmed, or discriminated against.

*Pagan PR*

    Indeed, with increasing vigor, witchcraft is coming "out of the
broom closet." Many witches are actively seeking public
understanding and acceptance, cultivating an image as the "pagan
next door." After all, they claim to embrace a life-affirming,
family religion. From media materials to books for children, such
as _The Witch Next Door_ and _The Witch Family_ (which portrays
witchcraft in a positive family setting), the campaign is on.[1]
The cover of one book on witchcraft has an attractive female witch
dressed in a fashionable, well-tailored business suit -- as if she
were walking down Madison Avenue.[2] This is far removed from the
stereotypical image of witches as ugly old hags with warts on their
noses, decked out in black capes and cone-shaped hats, riding their
favorite broomstick on a moonlit night.

    This two-part series is presented with a view to (1)
understanding, analyzing, and critiquing contemporary witchcraft,
and (2) promoting biblical and thoughtful evangelism of people
involved in this religion. It is not presented as a _complete_
treatment and refutation of witchcraft, much less of the larger and
more diverse neopagan movement. However, much of what is said about
witchcraft herein can also be said of the neopagan movement as a
whole. Likewise, the refutations applied to witchcraft doctrines
apply to neopaganism as well. (The differences between witchcraft
and the various other religions within neopaganism are important,
but not so significant as to negate most of the critique presented

    The background information on modern and contemporary
witchcraft that will be found in this article is necessary because
so few "outsiders" understand what it is. This material should
clear away many misconceptions and help bring the issue into proper
focus. We will not spend time on the disputed ancient or medieval
history ("herstory," as most witches like to call it) of
witchcraft, as this will not necessarily promote an accurate
understanding of _contemporary_ witchcraft. Besides, there are
numerous works available touching these concerns, and a world
view's validity does not depend on its longevity (this is the
fallacy of _argumentem ad antiquitum_); it depends on whether it is
internally consistent and "fits the facts."[3] After giving a brief
history of modern witchcraft, we shall proceed to examine its
contemporary expression.


    It is extremely difficult to define with precision the beliefs
and practices of contemporary witches. This is because of the
elasticity of the terms "witch" and "witchcraft" as they have been
applied to people and practices both today and throughout history.
It is also due to the great diversity that exists within the
contemporary movement itself. Witches disagree among themselves as
to what constitutes a witch.[4] Muddled thinking, misunderstanding,
and confusion have been the result of Christians, witches, and
others not adequately defining their terms. For instance, it is not
just believing in and practicing magic and divination (the occult)
that makes a person a witch. There are millions of people who do
this but are not witches. Contemporary witchcraft involves these
practices, yes, but others as well (e.g., the invocation and
worship of the Mother Goddess).

    An oft-suggested definition for what constitutes a witch is,
Anyone who is involved in some form of the occult (e.g., palm or
tarot card readers, ritual magicians/sorcerers, Satanists, Voodoo
practitioners -- everything from alchemists to xylomancers and
astral projection to visualization). The primary reason for this is
that the English words "witch" and "witchcraft" are variously
employed in the most commonly used English translations of the
Bible to designate different types of occultists and occultic
practices. However, in accord with the meaning of these words in
the original languages of Hebrew and Greek, and in light of the
changing definitions of these words throughout history, we shall
use the terms "witch" and "witchcraft" _only_ for the particular
religiomagical belief system delineated below. (This should in _no_
sense be seen as an endorsement of other types of occultism, as
they are equally condemned in God's Word, the Bible.)

    Witchcraft (also known as _wicca, the craft,_ or _the craft of
the wise_) is a generic term covering differing approaches to the
subject. And the terms for followers of witchcraft -- "witch" or
"wiccan" -- apply to both genders. The widely believed notion that
a female is a "witch" whereas a male practitioner is a "warlock" or
"wizard" is a misnomer.

    To help set the stage for our discussion of contemporary
witchcraft, it will be beneficial to take a brief tour of the
modern history of this fascinating phenomenon.


    Many people contributed to the growth of modern witchcraft in
Western Europe and America, such as folklorist and occultist
Charles G. Leland (1824-1903) and novelist and occultist Robert
Graves (1895-1985). As much as we might like to discuss these
interesting personalities and their part in the forging of
contemporary witchcraft, space compels us to limit our
consideration to a few key individuals.

*The Murray Myth*

    The ideas of anthropologist, Egyptologist, and occult dabbler
(and perhaps witch[5]) Margaret Murray (1863-1963) were popularized
in two of her better-known works, _The Witch-Cult in Western
Europe_ (1921) and _The God of the Witches_ (1933). The latter
eventually became a best seller in England.

    The "Murrayite theory" stated that witchcraft could be traced
back to pre-Christian times, having been preserved through the
centuries by witches. Not only does witchcraft predate
Christianity, Murray affirmed, it was once the ancient pagan
religion of Western Europe.[6] It supposedly survived in small
scattered groups who practiced the "Old Religion." But by this time
it was fragmented due to persecution from the dominant Western
religion -- Christianity. Thus, the "Old Religion" was the
surviving pre-Christian religion of Western Europe, still practiced
by the faithful -- but only clandestinely.

    The history of ancient witchcraft and witchcraft in the Middle
Ages (and Satanism for that matter) is a very convoluted and
confused subject.[7] Still, there is little doubt that small
pockets of various types of paganistic beliefs and practices
persisted up through the medieval period, particularly in rural
regions. Thus, by way of local familial agricultural/fertility
traditions and superstitions, numerous folks really were involved
in forms of occultic beliefs and practices.[8] However, these
medieval remnants of pre-Christian paganism were not the remains of
an elaborate, matriarchal Mother Goddess mystery religion, as many
contemporary witches would have us believe. The Murrayite theory is
thus unsupported by the facts.[9]

    Contemporary witchcraft is quite different from its medieval
and "enlightenment" period counterparts. That is, the
agricultural/fertility traditions that survived from ancient times
through the Middle Ages and into the early modern era are not the
same as modern witchcraft, except that they are both forms of the
overarching category of occultism. Nonetheless, Murray's views
influenced many -- including one Gerald Gardner, to whom we now
turn our attention.

*The Gardnerian Garden*

    Gerald Gardner (1884-1964) almost single-handedly revived
(invented) and popularized witchcraft for the modern world. Based
on his associations, experiences, extensive occultic background,
studies, travels, and familiarity with magical texts (_grimories_)
and Margaret Murray's works, he "crafted" modern witchcraft.

    Indeed, Gardner was a man with many occultic connections. He
was a member of Freemasonry, the Rosicrucians, and a VII degree
initiate of the Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.). He was an
acquaintance of Mabel Besant-Scott (daughter of leading Theosophist
Annie Besant) and of the infamous Aleister Crowley.[10]

    A British civil servant, Gardner spent much time in Ceylon
(modern Sri Lanka) and worked and traveled throughout India and
Southeast Asia, as well as visiting the Middle East. While in
Ceylon he was initiated into Freemasonry and became a nudist. An
accomplished amateur anthropologist and archaeologist, Gardner's
interests gravitated toward the religions and religious
paraphernalia of native societies. He even wrote a book on
Malaysian ceremonial weaponry, and participated in an
archaeological excavation in Palestine of a center of worship of
the goddess Astaroth.[11]

    Upon his retirement and return to England, Gardner became
involved with the Corona Fellowship of Rosicrucians, founded by
Mabel Besant-Scott. Here he contacted numerous occultists and
allegedly some witches, including Dorothy Clutterbuck ("Old
Dorothy"), who supposedly initiated him into witchcraft (the "Old
Religion"). He revealed some secrets of the coven to which he
claimed to belong and its Mother Goddess in a novel entitled _High
Magic's Aid_ in 1949. This was written under a pseudonym (i.e., his
magical name, "Scire").

    Gardner's _Witchcraft Today_ was published in 1954, after the
witchcraft laws in England were rescinded (in 1951). _The Meaning
of Witchcraft_ followed in 1959. In _Witchcraft Today_ Gardner
further unveiled his Goddess religion as he described the survival
of this "old pre-Christian religion" (Murray's theory) and his
initiation into it.

    In his writings Gardner drew upon his occultic experiences,
travels, the writings of Murray, the help of Aleister Crowley, and
his knowledge of Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, Theosophy, Western
ritual/sex magic, magical texts (e.g., the _Greater Key of
Solomon_), and various native Asian and near Eastern religions and
their occultic paraphernalia. Borrowing from these and other
sources, Gardner invented his own religion -- founding it upon the
Mother Goddess. To this witches' brew he added the doctrine of
reincarnation. Thus, rather than merely revealing and reviving an
ancient Goddess religion as he claimed, the resourceful Gardner
actually _created_ modern witchcraft.[12]

    Ironically, the purported purpose of _Witchcraft Today_ was to
describe an allegedly _dying_ Goddess religion. Instead, it
_birthed_ one, resulting in the rise of a generation of would-be
witches who looked to Gardner for initiation. A new form of
"Goddess worship," modern witchcraft (wicca) grew as people became
familiar with and initiated into the teachings and rites of this
exotic faith. From this concoction sprang what is now known as
Gardnerian witchcraft, and with it all or nearly all of the
contemporary witchcraft movement.[13]

    Among the early converts who fell under Gardner's spell and who
became influential in their own rights were Alex Sanders (d. 1988),
Sybil Leek (d. 1983), and Raymond and Rosemary Buckland.

*Witchcraft Goes West*

    Sybil Leek was greatly influenced by Gardnerian witchcraft,
although she modified his rituals and teachings. She brought these
with her and popularized them when she moved to the United States
in the late 1960s.[14]

    The persons primarily responsible for the introduction and
growth of modern witchcraft in America, however, were Raymond and
Rosemary Buckland. They traveled to England during the mid-1960s to
be initiated into Gardner's Goddess religion, and after obtaining
their desire, brought their religion back to America with them.


    Stemming from the ideas and persons described above (and, of
course, other relevant persons and factors), witchcraft has
proliferated into the variegated expressions and traditions that
comprise the contemporary scene. It is a highly decentralized,
eclectic, creative, mix and match (use what exists or make your own
as you go) movement. This is evidenced by the numerous covens,
associations, and types of witchcraft to which individual covens
belong: Algard, Alexandrian, the American Order of the Brotherhood
of Wicca, Church and School of Wicca, Church of Circle Wicca,
Covenant of the Goddess, Cymry Wicca, Dianic (feminist),
Gardnerian, Georgian, Seax-Wica, and the Witches International
Craft Associates.[15] Some of these covens are feminist, others
lesbian or homosexually oriented, and still others a mixture of
males and females.

    The major spokespersons for witchcraft today are even more
diverse than the types. Besides Raymond Buckland, predominant
voices in the witchcraft (and neopagan) world include Margot Adler,
Jim Alan, Jessie Wicker Bell (Lady Sheba), Zsuzsanna (or simply
"Z") Budapest, Laurie Cabot, Scott Cunningham, Selena Fox, Gavin
and Yvonne Frost, Judy Kneitel (Lady Theos), Leo Martello, Miriam
Simos (Starhawk), and Doreen Valiente.

    Aside from the various covens and solitary practitioners of
witchcraft, there are too many of the following to list
individually: associations, centers, festivals and gatherings,
newsletters, magazines, journals, books, bookstores, and shops. All
of these are devoted to teaching, defending, and networking the
ideologies of witchcraft (and/or neopaganism).[16]

    For various reasons, it is difficult if not impossible to
assign a number to the witches in North America. "Ballpark"
estimates on the conservative side, however, would place the figure
approximately between 5,000 and 10,000. More liberal estimates
range between 30,000 and 50,000 for witches, and upwards of 70,000
to 80,000 for all neopagans. The actual number is probably at the
lower end of the conservative scale. But witchcraft is growing at
a steady pace, and unless something drastic happens to reverse the
spiritual climate in America and the trend toward occultism, the
witchcraft community will become an increasingly significant
minority -- a sobering possibility the church cannot afford to


    Witches do not view their religion as a reaction to or reversal
of Christianity, as is the case with much of Satanism.[17] Rather,
they prefer to see it as an independent tradition, an alternative
religion or faith -- like Hinduism or Taoism. Indeed, they see
witchcraft as being _pre_-Christian and not arising as a backlash
to it. Witches view themselves as fun-loving, life-celebrating and
affirming folk who worship the Mother Goddess (in all her many
facets of revelation via creation) and her consort, the Horned God.

    Contemporary witchcraft is so diverse and eclectic (as we shall
see presently) that it is extremely difficult to accurately
identify and define. In fact, it is almost impossible to state that
all witches believe "this or that." No sooner will this be uttered
then someone will speak up and assert that they are a witch and "do
_not_ believe what you just stated." There are, however,
commonalities shared by most who appropriate the word "witch" for
themselves. It is important to keep in mind that the following
tenets do not necessarily apply to _all_ witches, but on the whole
they are valuable _general_ guidelines for defining witchcraft.

*The Creed of No Creed*

    First among the beliefs of witchcraft is the "creed of
experience." _Experience_ is exalted dogmatically above, and often
set in opposition to, creeds or doctrines. In short, experience is
superior to doctrine. Aidan Kelly, who was formerly involved in
neopaganism, noted: "What really defines a witch is a type of
_experience_ people go through. These experiences depend on altered
states of consciousness. The Craft is really the Yoga of the West"
(emphasis in original).[18] The witchcraft experience is often
expressed as a mystical experience, "that feeling of ineffable
oneness with all Life."[19] Witchcraft is therefore a religion
based first and foremost on the sense of being one and in harmony
with all life.

    _Tolerance_ is another highly-touted value among witches.
Diversity of belief and practice is viewed as not only healthy but
essential to the survival of humanity and planet earth, and to
spiritual growth and maturation as well. Independence, autonomy,
and the freedom to experience, believe, think, and act as one
desires are defended as if they were divine rights. Witches _do_
become intolerant, however, when they perceive intolerance and
authoritarianism in other individuals and faiths (which they would
term "religious imperialism"). So we have statements like number 10
of the Council of American Witches' "Principles of Wiccan Belief":
"Our only animosity toward Christianity, or towards any other
religion or philosophy-of-life, is to the extent that its
institutions have claimed to be 'the only way' and have sought to
deny freedom to others and to suppress other ways of religious
practice and belief."

    These beliefs stem from the notion that ultimately there is no
right or wrong religion or morality. Relativism in all areas of
life, including ethics and metaphysics, is the rule. Truth is what
is true for you; right what is right for you; but neither are
necessarily so for me. The only absolute is that there are no
absolutes. Thus, all have the right to believe and practice "what
they will." In this context, one often hears the story of the three
blind men who have all grasped different parts of an elephant
(tusk, trunk, and tail), and, in describing it, each man thinks he
alone has the truth.

    This view of life derives from an "open" metaphysical concept
that "reality is multiple and diverse."[20] There is no single
logic or view that is complete or adequate to handle the complexity
and multiplicity of reality. Therefore, we should not limit
ourselves to the narrow purview of one person or religion, but be
"open" minded and tolerant of differing views. This understanding
of reality is closely associated with three key concepts: animism,
pantheism, and polytheism.

*World Alive: Three Pillars of the Witches' World View*

    _Animism_ is an important pillar of the witches' world. As used
by them, the word means that the "Life Force" is immanent within
all creation: rocks and trees, deserts and streams, mountains and
valleys, ponds and oceans, gardens and forests, fish and fowl; from
amoeba to humans and all things in between. All is infused with and
participates in the vital Life Force or energy, and therefore the
_entire_ earth is a living, breathing organism. All is sacred; all
is to be cared for and revered. The earth is a (or _the_)
manifestation of the Goddess (and God). "Sacredizing" the world and
animating nature, witches view all reality as a continuum of
consciousness and being. Thus, they seek to live in harmony and be
psychically in tune with nature. (Incidentally, whatever else
witches may believe and do, because of these views they are _not_
involved in animal or human sacrifices.)

    For many witches, the second pillar of their world -- implicit
in their version of animism -- is _pantheism._ Not only is the Life
Force pervasive throughout our world, but all the world is divine.
Divinity is inseparable from, and immanent in, nature and humanity.
Since most witches teach that we are divine (or potentially so), it
is clear why someone like Margot Adler, a witch herself,
approvingly quotes a particular neopagan group's greeting to its
female and male members respectively: "Thou art Goddess," "Thou art
God."[21] Most are not this brash but nevertheless hold that we,
like nature, are divine.

    The third pillar is _polytheism._ As defined by many witches,
however, polytheism is not _merely_ the belief in multiple deities
-- a pantheon of gods and goddesses -- but also the belief that
there are multiple levels of reality (i.e., the "open" metaphysics
referred to earlier). According to this view, there are an infinite
(or at least incomprehensible) number of levels of meaning and
explanations about our world. These allow not only a multitude of
gods, goddesses, and religions to exist simultaneously, but also
views of reality that would otherwise appear to be mutually
exclusive;  all are true as far as they go.[22] Hence, witches can
align themselves with a particular Goddess and/or God, or group
thereof, and still grant the validity of other "alternative"

*The Mother Goddess and the Horned God*

    Most witches experience, believe in, invoke, or worship the
Mother or "triple Goddess" and her male consort, the Horned God.
Both are believed to be immanent deities accessible to humanity.

    The Mother Goddess -- whose three primary roles are mother,
maiden, and crone -- is represented by and associated with the moon
and its three phases: waxing, full, and waning. She is invoked by
a variety of names: Aphrodite, Artemis, Astaroth, Astarte, Athene,
Brigit, Ceres, Cerridwen, Cybele, Diana, Demeter, Friga, Gaia,
Hecate, Isis, Kali, Kore, Lilith, Luna, Persephone, Venus, and
more. She is believed to be eternal.

    The Goddess's consort, the male Horned God, is associated with
the sun. According to most witches, he dies and is reborn every
year. He too is called and invoked by many names, including Adonis,
Ammon-Ra, Apollo, Baphomet, Cernunnos, Dionysius, Eros, Faunus,
Hades, Horus, Nuit, Lucifer, Odin, Osiris, Pan, Thor, and Woden.

    Different witchcraft traditions and solitary practitioners
diverge in the importance they attach to the Mother Goddess and the
Horned God. Some emphasize the Goddess, some the Horned God, while
many seek a balance between the two.

*Differing Views of the Goddess(es) and God(s)*

    How do witches themselves view and experience the Goddess(es)
and God(s)? Do they really believe they exist? As one might expect
from an eclectic religion that highly values autonomy, there are
multiple views as to who or what the Goddess and God are.[23] Be
that as it may, there are some commonalities. Let's look at the six
primary views.

    First (but not foremost) is the idea that the deities of
witchcraft are simply _symbols_: the personifications of universal
principles, or of the life forces and processes of our world (e.g.,
the ebb and flow of life as seen in the seasonal changes), and
nothing more. They are symbols used to help conceptualize the
cyclical pattern of birth, life, death, and birth again.

    Second, they are _Jungian archetypes_: universal symbols of
processes and events of nature _and_ of actual potentialities
within all humans, springing from the common pool of the
"collective unconsciousness" from which we all allegedly drink.
Therefore, they exist in the sense that any archetype exists. They
are more than "just" symbols, but do not exist externally to, or
independently of, humanity.[24]

    Third, they are _dissociative_ or _dislocative psychological
states._ That is, they are a split or spin-off from a person's own
psyche or being (like a multiple personality state). They have a
"life of their own" in that sometimes they can seemingly manifest
themselves outside of the person: reason, talk, give advice, travel
about, and so on. However, they are dependent on a given person's
psyche for their existence.

    Fourth, and apparently the most predominant view, the Goddess
and Horned God and/or other gods and goddesses are
_personifications_ of the monistic, genderless, universal, and
eternal _Life Force_ -- the divine primal energy or principle. This
source of all life and consciousness, which in this life and mode
of existence is unknowable and incomprehensible, is personified by
the Goddess and Horned God. They are myths, legends, or metaphors
that are used in an attempt to explain or grasp the ineffable
absolute One that is all, and gives life to all. This ultimately
indescribable Force is primarily manifested in polarities -- female
and male, light and darkness, Goddess and God, and so forth. Scott
Cunningham tells us that "in wiccan thought the Goddess and the God
are the twin divine beings: balanced, equal expressions of the
ultimate source of all....They are dual reflections of the power
behind the universe that can never be truly separated."[25] Thus,
according to this view, they can be described either as
personifications of the ultimate Life Force or emanations from or
manifestations of it, but they nonetheless can be literal conscious
entities. (That is, as literal as you or me.)

    Fifth, _multiple combinations_ of the above views are often
held, depending on the individual's orientation. For example, some
believe that the above four views are all true at one time or

    Sixth and lastly, we have the agnostic "who cares" view. That
is, in working magic or just in everyday life, invoking the Goddess
and God _seems to work._ Thus, because of pragmatic and aesthetic
reasons, some who are skeptical about (or even flatly deny) the
Goddess's and God's existence still practice witchcraft.[26]

    In addition to these varying views of the Goddess and God, some
witches believe in good and bad extra-dimensional or intermediate
beings, including other goddesses and gods, higher life forms,
spirit guides and teachers, elemental spirits, and departed human
beings who exist as manifestations of the One and/or are individual
literal entities in their own right.

    While some witches may be _skeptical_ about the existence of
the Goddess and God, they all _emphatically deny_ the existence of
the Devil and hell. Therefore, they vigorously reject the charge
that they worship the Devil, which many Satanists would admit to.


    Magic is another key component of the witches' world. The
working of magic and diverse techniques of divination are
part-and-parcel of their religion. Astrology, astral projection
(out-of-body experiences), incantations, mediumship (channeling),
necromancy, raising psychic power, (for many) sex magic, spell
casting, trance states, and so forth, are all tools of their craft.
Indeed, "psychic" development (i.e., training for proficiency in
magic and divination) is a critical concern.[27]

    Altered states of consciousness are another integral part of
many witchcraft practices and rituals; these are induced to
facilitate the working of magic and divination. Much of a witch's
training is with a view to enabling him or her to enter these
states at will. This is done by means of chanting, (for some)
drugs, ecstatic dancing, hypnosis, meditation, rituals, sex magic,
visualization, or a combination of these and a host of others.[28]

    For many witches, trance states are the high point of their
religious practice. Especially important are the type termed
"drawing down the moon [Goddess]" or "drawing down" the Horned God.
These involve the Goddess or God entering or possessing a priestess
or priest respectively during a ritual with mediumistic utterances
given or magic worked.[29]

    As elsewhere in the kingdom of the occult, the old occult has
been given a new face-lift in witchcraft. The occultic realm is now
described as simply _beyond_-the-physical, but still a part of
nature. Thus, Sybil Leek is able to affirm: "I can see little
difference in Magic and science, except to have the opinion that
Magic is one step ahead of science."[30] Leo Martello says that as
a witch he makes no claims to "supernatural powers," but he does
believe in _super_ powers that reside in the natural.[31] Many
witches share this view: divination and magic are not
"supernatural," but _supernormal_ or _paranormal,_ because the
processes by which they work are contained _within_ the nature of
the universe. This is as opposed to the view that occultism works
through the intervention of supernatural beings -- the Devil,
demons, or spirits.[32] The current sentiment is conveyed in the
attitude that "yesterday's occultism is today's science."

    Moreover, witches maintain that magic is a "neutral" power.
Like electricity or a gun, it is not morally good or bad in itself.
Its moral quality depends on how or for what purpose it is used --
good or evil.

*Working Magic*

    Just as there are many explanations as to who or what the
Goddess and God are, so there are various views among witches as to
how and why divination and magic work. We'll survey the four most

    First is the belief that the ability to work magic or perform
divination is due to latent psychic abilities or powers that we all
have. Some either have more of these natural gifts than others, or
else they have developed them to a greater degree. Others may not
even realize they have them. But they are nonetheless inherent
within us all.[33]

    The second view of magic appeals particularly to those who
espouse the fourth view about the Goddess and God mentioned above
(i.e., the view that the Goddess and God are _personifications_ of
the monistic Life Force). It holds that the working of magic is
much like tapping into an electrical current. The "current" is the
monistic universal energy or Life Force. Since this primal energy
composes, interconnects, and flows through all (though manifested
in myriads of forms), one merely has to learn how to "plug into"
and harness some of this power for his or her own purposes. Thus,
it can be manipulated toward the desired goal of the witch.[34]

    The third view is that divination and magic are accomplished by
the intervention of interdimensional entities such as gods and
goddesses, higher life forms, spirit guides, departed humans, and
so forth. They can be communicated with, and will supposedly aid us
in our quest for "spiritual" growth, knowledge, and all things

    Fourth, the above theories can be found in varying
combinations, such as one and three; one, two, and three; and so

    In the second and concluding part of this series, we will look
further at the beliefs of witches, including reincarnation, their
view of sin, and their ethic or "Wiccan Rede," "An it harm none, do
what you will." A critique of the witches' world view and practices
-- on biblical, metaphysical, logical, and ethical grounds -- will
also be presented.


 1 _See_ Raymond Buckland, _Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft_
   (St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1988), 210.
 2 Scott Cunningham, _The Truth About Witchcraft Today_ (St. Paul:
   Llewellyn Publications, 1988).
 3 References concerning this point are available on request.
 4 _See,_ for example, Margot Adler, _Drawing Down the Moon:
   Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in
   America Today,_ rev. and expanded ed. (Boston: Beacon Press,
   1986), 66-72, 99-107; J. Gordon Melton, "Witchcraft: An Inside
   View," _Christianity Today,_ 21 Oct. 1983, 24; and Marcello
   Truzzi, "Towards a Sociology of the Occult: Notes on Modern
   Witchcraft," in _Religious Movements in Contemporary America,_
   ed. by Irving Zaretsky and Mark P. Leone (Princeton: Princeton
   University Press, 1974), 633-45.
 5 Alleged by Leo Martello in _Witchcraft: The Old Religion_
   (Secaucus: Citadel Press, n.d.), 59.
 6 Actually, she was not the first to formulate and advance this
   thesis, but her views had the most impact.
 7 For information on the background and development of witchcraft
   and Satanism, see J. Gordon Melton, _Encyclopedia of American
   Religions,_ 3d ed. (Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1989), 142-47.
   Though we do not endorse all of his conclusions, he provides
   valuable background and bibliographical material.
 8_Ibid.,_ 142.
 9 _See_ Adler, 45-56, for a refutation of, and specific
   information on, Murray's theory; and 45-72 for other theories
   and general information on the history of witchcraft. For
   additional argumentation against Murray's theory and other
   pertinent information, see: Norman Cohn, _Europe's Inner Demons_
   (New York: Basic Books, 1975), 107-20; Mircea Eliade,
   _Occultism, Witchcraft, and Cultural Fashions_ (Chicago:
   University of Chicago Press, 1976), 57-58, 71-73; J. Gordon
   Melton, _Encyclopedia,_ 142; Elliot Rose, _A Razor for a Goat_
   (Canada: University of Toronto Press, 1962), 14-21, 40-53,
   56-79, 130-31, 200; Jeffrey B. Russell, _Witchcraft in the
   Middle Ages_ (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985), 36-37.
10 Doreen Valiente, _An ABC of Witchcraft: Past and Present_ (New
   York: St. Martin's Press, 1973), 184-89.
11 Melton, _Encyclopedia,_ 144; see also Melton's _Biographical
   Dictionary of American Cult and Sect Leaders_ (New York: Garland
   Publishing, 1986), 96-97.
12 _See_ Adler, 62-66, 81-85, 93, 560; T. M. Luhrmann, _Persuasions
   of the Witch's Craft: Ritual Magic in Contemporary England_
   (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989), 42-43; Martello,
   69-71; Melton, _Biographical Dictionary,_ q.v., "Gardner, Gerald
   Brosseau," 96-97;  Melton's _Encyclopedia,_ 144; and his
   _Encyclopedic Handbook of Cults in America_ (New York: Garland
   Publishing, 1986), 212; and Truzzi, 636-37. For even stronger
   charges, consult Francis King, _Modern Ritual Magic: The Rise of
   Western Occultism,_ revised (Dorset, Great Britain: Prism Press,
   1989), 179-80.
13 Melton, _Encyclopedia,_ 144-45.
14 _Ibid.,_ 144, 789; _Encyclopedic Handbook,_ 212.
15 For additional information on various types of witchcraft, _see_
   Adler, 68-80, 113-30; Melton, _Encyclopedia,_ 777-801; and
   Buckland, 225-28.
16 For a detailed list, consult Adler, 475-544.
17 _See_ the author's article, "The Many Faces of Satanism," in
   _Forward,_ Fall 1986, 17-22. For instance, if a Jehovah's
   Witness believes what the Watchtower teaches, they cannot be
   saved. Likewise with a Mormon who subscribes to what Mormonism
   teaches. Nonetheless, the Mormon does not believe what the
   Jehovah's Witness does, and _vice versa._ The same is true with
   witchcraft and Satanism and/or other forms of the occult.
18 Aidan Kelly, quoted in Adler, 106. For further material on this
   point and other beliefs, see 99-135.
19 _The Covenant of the Goddess_ information packet, Northern
   California Local Council Media Committee, n.d., "Basic
20 _See_ Adler, 25, 29, 172.
21 _Ibid.,_ 25, 166.
22 _Ibid.,_ 24-38.
23 _Ibid.,_ 20, 112.
24 _Ibid.,_ 28, 160, 172.
25 Cunningham, 76, 117. Also _see_ 4, 62-64, 69-77.
26 _See_ Adler, e.g., 169, 173.
27 _See_, e.g., Buckland, 101-34, 155-74; Justine Glass,
   _Witchcraft, The Sixth Sense_ (California: Wilshire Book Co.,
   1974), 20, 94; Starhawk, _The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the
   Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess_ (San Francisco: Harper &
   Row, 1979), 37, 108-58.
28 _See_, e.g., Adler, 106, 153-54, 157, 163; Starhawk, 7, 18,
   46-53, 110.
29 _See_ Adler, 109, 142, 166, 168-69; Buckland, 101; Cunningham,
   91; Farrar, 67-68; Leek, Diary, 151, 159-60, 202-206; Starhawk,
   46-54, 139-58.
30 Sybil Leek, _Diary of a Witch_ (New York: Signet Books, 1969),
31 Leo Martello, 12.
32 _See_, e.g., Adler, 7-8, 102, 153-75; Cunningham, 23-24; Leek,
   13-14; Truzzi, 630-32, 635-36; Simos, 132.
33 Buckland, e.g., 101; Cunningham, 19.
34 _See_, e.g., Cunningham, 3, 17-25, 105, 109, 111; Simos, 108-38.
35 _See_, e.g., Buckland, 155, 157; Stewart Farrar, _What Witches
   Do: The Modern Coven Revealed_ (London: Sphere Books Limited,
   1973), 81-84, 141-43, 151-52, 156, 158-63; Leek, _The Complete
   Art of Witchcraft_ (New York: Signet Books, 1973), 43, 45;
   Valiente, 152-58.


End of document, CRJ0064A.TXT (original CRI file name),
"The Modern World of Witchcraft: Part One of Two"
release A, April 20, 1994
R. Poll, CRI