THE ANCIENT ART
Once upon a time, a long time ago, there were people who believed in
laughter, joy and love. They believed in many deities, but the most
important to them was their Great Mother Goddess. They believed in
and lived with the powers of Nature. They reveled in the Wind, the
Rain, the Snow and the Sunlight. They marveled at and revered the
changing of the seasons and saw therein great excitement and wisdom to
be gained. They knew that if they tended, cared for and loved the
Earth, in return She would provide for, care for and love them. They
saw that all around them the world was filled with Life, much as their
own but in many different and wonderful forms. They felt the life of
the flowers, plants and trees and respected them for that life
essence. They looked about and observed all the many types of animals
and saw that they were kindred to them and loved them. They felt and
observed the great Love of the Goddess all about them and knew kinship
with the Moon. They were practioners of The Old Religion, worshipers
of The Great Mother.
Witch! The very word instantly invokes visions for each of us,
visions which vary greatly from individual to individual. Many of
these visions, however, are quite false, brought about by many
centuries of severe persecutions, mis-representations, prejudice and,
in recent years, lack of knowledge. Witchcraft! What is it really?
Witchcraft is the oldest, most irrepressible religion in the world
because it stimulates the intellect, promotes a simple, practical way
of life and, most importantly, is emotionally satisfying. Its roots
lie in the ancient Matriarchal systems of Goddess worship. A religion
of Nature in which the primary deity is female (The Essence of
Femininity, The Earth Mother, The Great Mother, etc.).
It was easy for the Wise Ones to look at the world around them and see
the great importance of Feminine Principle. The female was, indeed,
the one who bore the young, perhaps the most magickal of all events to
ancient man. Then, she played by far the most important role in
rearing the young, being totally responsible for feeding, for without
her milk there was no life past birth. She was responsible for the
teaching and early care of the young. In all youths the greatest
comfort and nurturing love were connected with the mother. These
revelations and experiences could hardly lead to any other choice than
the total reverence and deification of the female.
Although The Great Mother is the most important deity, Witches do,
generally, recognize many Goddessess and/or Gods and are, therefore,
polytheistic. The tenets of Witchcraft are few but all-encompassing,
for with three simple Universal Observations all of life can be
explained and understood:
1) Reincarnation - Mortality
2) Cause & Effect - Magick
3) Retribution - Morality
Reincarnation enlightens the Witch to the fact that, as we come to
this material world over and over in a series of learning periods, or
lifetimes, we will eventually have to experience all things, be all
things, understand all things. This creates a great tolerance for
other viewpoints in the Witch.
Cause & Effect, and an understanding of it, allows the Witch to see
what makes the world work and how to live most efficiently. It gives
them a great advantage in that it explains the working of Magick.
Retribution shows the Witch, in graphic terms, that every thought one
might have, every action one may take, is returned in like kind. This
realization forms the basis of the Moral Code of the Witch.
The Patriarchal Societies which evolved in later times had no
tolerance for the Goddess religions and systematically set out to
destroy the material vestiges, kill or convert the adherents and wipe
out all knowledge of them. They destroyed the temples and other
places of worship, desecrated the sacred groves and magickal places,
attempted to pervert the old deities, mutilated and totally suppressed
sacred art, tore down libraries and burned books, tortured and killed
the practitioners of the Old Religions, demeaned, persecuted and
oppressed women in general and passed strictly enforced laws which
made theirs the State Religion and forbade all other viewpoints.
Despite the centuries of insidious persecution, deliberate destruction
and perversions at the hands of the Christian Conspirators, Witchcraft
I've heard the terms 'White Witch' and 'Black Witch'. Can you
In this connotation, white is referring to Positive, Black is
referring to Negative. A White Witch then is someone who tries to do
Positive or Good things. Black Witch could be a term used to describe
someone who deliberately does Negative or Bad things. A True Witch
believes in the Law of Retribution and would never deliberately harm
anyone or anything or participate in Negative or Destructive acts.
Is it possible for me to practice Witchcraft and remain a Christian?
No. The Christian Doctrine states, unequivocally, that Christians
shall have no other Gods before the Christian God. Christian Doctrine
says to believe in any other deities or to practice any other religion
is not only evil but should be punished by death, specifically naming
Witchcraft. The Christian Doctrine also denies Reincarnation and
prescribes punishment for those who practice Magick.
Witches do not worship the Devil. Witchcraft predates Christianity
and does not incorporate a belief in the Christian Devil.
The Wise Ones did deify the Masculine Principle and quite often He was
depicted as The Great Horned God; Pan, Cernunnos, the Great Stag, The
Green Man. To the Traditional Witch, the Masculine Deity (the
Goddess' Consort) is very important, revered and loved. He is the
perfect Father, the Lord Protector. The Horned God of the Witches is
loving, kind and good.
Don't men have difficulty with a supreme female deity? There are some
groups which give equal status to the female and male deities.
Neo-Pagans are, by definition, people who attempt to live with the Old
Country Ways in a new, modern day manner. And while, in this modern
era, equal status for the deities may be popular, as it relates to
Witchcraft it is historically incorrect. Therefore, a group which
does not recognize the Goddess as primary deity is not practicing The
Ancient Art. Indeed, they, generally, know very little about
Witchcraft, despite their claims. Traditional Dualistic Witches do
most emphatically believe that women and men are equal, but have no
trouble relating to the Goddess. The Male Witch finds great comfort
and solace in his Great Mother.
Do I have to join a Coven?
No. It is not necessary nor is it desirable for a great many people.
Some people enjoy the support and companionship a Coven provides,
others enjoy solitary worship. The Coven, which is an extremely close
knit worship group, may not be possible for some because of location,
family climate, availability, etc.
Why is Witchcraft secretive?
The horror of the 'Burning Time' is still very real to the Witch. The
past persecutions were severe. Even so, in today's more enlightened
society the need for complete secrecy has lessened and many are able
to share their beliefs openly. Very few, however, are willing to
expose their very personal and private religious expressions to others
who may not understand.
What do I have to do to become a Witch?
The answer to this question is very simple. To become a Witch one
must follow the religion of Witchcraft. To do this one must believe
in the Goddess as primary deity and follow the three basic tenets.
How simple! How uncomplicated! How Pagan! Everything else
concerning witchcraft is simply minor details. Details that vary from
Aspect to Aspect, Coven to Coven and individual to individual. The
details are relatively personal. They should not become more
important than the basic tenets. If you do not understand, believe
and practice Witchcraft, you are not a Witch. No one can make you a
Witch. Reading about it can not make you a Witch. An Initiation can
not make you a Witch. Saying you are a Witch, one thousand and fifty
two times, can not make you a Witch.
In the search for your individual path beware of those who would take
advantage of you. Do not fall prey to the unscrupulous charlatans who
would swindle you in a monetary sense (mail-order courses, charges for
teaching or initiations, vows of poverty, etc.), exploit you sexually
or manipulate you for their own personal ego-trips.
EARTH-RITE/ Mission San Jose, CA/ 415-651-9496
Copyright (c) 1981 The Witching Well Education & Research
Center. Used by Permission