History of Witchcraft
As I am trying to put this all together, I hope to bring about an
understanding that Witchcraft, like any religion, has undergone
it's changes throughout the centuries. It is my personal feeling,
however, that the religion of Witchcraft has undergone far fewer
changes than any other in history.
Witchcraft, sorcery, magic, whatever can only begin to find its
roots when we go back as far as Mesopotamia. With their dieties
for all types of disasters, such as Utug - the Dweller of the
Desert waiting to take you away if you wandered to far, and Telal
the Bull Demon, Alal - the destroyer, Namtar - Pestilence, Idpa
who is fever, and Maskim - the snaresetter; the days of superstitution
were well underway.
It was believed that the pharaohs, kings, etc. all imbued some power
of the gods, and even the slightest movement they made would cause
an action to occur. It was believed that a picture, or statue also
carried the spirit of the person. This is one of the reasons that they
were carried from place to place, and also explains why you see so many
pictures and statues of these persons with their hands straight to
In the Bible, we find reference to "The Tower of Babel" or The Ziggurat
in Genesis 11. "Now the whole world had one language and a common speech.
As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar (Babylonia) and
settled there. They said to each other, `Come, let's make bricks and bake
them thoroughly.' They used brick instead of stone, and tar instead of
mortar. Then they said, `Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a
tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for
ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.' But the
Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building.
The Lord said,`If as one people speaking the same language they have begun
to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come
let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each
other.'" It goes on to say that the tower was never finished.
In other references, we find that the "Tower" was in fact finished, and
that it was a tower that represented the "stages" between earth and heaven
(not a tower stretching to the heaven in the literal sense.) From this
reference, it was a tower built in steps. A hierarchy on which heaven and
hell were based. It was actually a miniature world representing the
Mountain of Earth.
Each stage was dedicated to a planet, with its angles symbolizing the four
corners of the world. They pointed to Akkad, Saburtu, Elam, and the
western lands. The seven steps of the tower were painted in different
colors which corresponded to the planets. The "Great Misfortune: Saturn,
was black. The second was white, the color of Jupiter. The third,
brick-red, the color of Mercury; followed by blue, Venus; yellow, Mars;
gray or silver for the moon. These colors boded good or evil, like their
For the first time, numbers expressed the world order. A legend depicts
Pythagoras traveling to Babylon where he is taught the mystery of numbers,
their magical significance and power. The seven steps often appear in
magical philosophy. The seven steps are: stones, fire, plants, animals,
man, the starry heavens, and the angels. Starting with the study of
stones, the man of wisdom will attain higher and higher degrees of
knowledge, until he will be able to apprehend the sublime, and the
eternal. Through ascending these steps, a man would attain the knowledge
of God, whose name is at the eighth degree, the threshold of God's
The square was also a "mystical" symbol in these times, and though
divided into seven, was still respected. This correlated the old
tradition of a fourfold world being reconciled with the seven heavens of
It is thought that here was the start to numerology, but for this to have
developed to the point where they had taken into consideration the square
as the fourfold world, it would have had to have developed prior to this.
From Mesopotamia lets move over to Persia.
Unlike the Mesopotamians, and Egyptians, who believed that all was done
with either the favor or lack thereof of the Gods, the Chaldean star
religion taught that luck and disaster were no chance events, but were
controlled from the heavenly bodies (planets/stars) which send good and
bad according to mathematical laws. It was their belief that man was
incapable of fighting the will of the planet divinities. Though, the
more this system evolved, the more the wise men read ethical values into
man's fate. The will of the stars was not completely separate from man's
behaviors. The stars were important, but not omnipotent in deciding man's
fate. It was believed that the star Sirius would carry messages to the
higher gods and he returned to announce their will.
Around the 7th Century B.C. Zoroaster, the Median prophet was preaching
the doctrines that evil could be avoided and defeated. He brought about
the principles of the good and evil spirits. Below, we will look at the
beliefs and influences of this man's life which created the religion
named after him.
The first of the belief structure had to do with Ormazd (Ahura-Mazda)
king of light, and his twin brother Ahriman (Anro-Mainyu) prince of
Zoroaster brought about the belief in the "holy war" (that between good
and evil.) In this faith, the archangels (the spirits of Divine Wisdom,
Righteousness, Dominion, Devotion, Totality, and Salvation) and the
demons (the spirits of Anarchy, Apostasy, Presumption, Destruction,
Decay, and Fury) were constantly at battle with one another. The
archangels were controled by Ormazd and the demons by Ahriman.
This religion had it's belief that in the end, Ormazd and his demons
would prevail, but until then, Ormazd would keep the world safe.
It is interesting that the last of the demons (the demon of Fury) holds
such a hard and fast thought that it was incorporated into the Hebrew
and Christian belief structure. The last archdemon's name is Aeshma Daeva
also know to the Hebrews as Ashmadai and to Christians as Asmodeus.
Asmodeus was the "chief of the fourth hierarchy of evil demons", called
"the avengers of wickedness, crimes and misdeeds." He appears with three
heads, a bull's, human, and a ram. He has goose feet, and a snake's tail.
To appear more frightening, he also exhales fire and rides upon a dragon
It is said that Asmodeus is not to be feared. When you say to him: "In
truth thou art Asmodeus," he will give you a wonderful ring. He will
teach you geometry, arithmetic, astronomy and mechanics. When questioned,
he answers truthfully.
The other demons tempt people away from the true worship of Mazda. They
are Paromaiti - Arrogance; Mitox - The Falsely Spoken Word; Zaurvan -
Decrepitude; Akatasa - Meddlesomeness; Vereno - Lust.
Much of the current day Christian beliefs were taken from this man's
religion. (That of good and evil forces, the redemption, the "savior"
From here, let us move on to Egypt where we will look at other mystical
symbols and more history of magic and the craft.
The Sphinx was a mythological creature with lion's body and human head,
an important image in Egyptian and Greek art and legend. The word sphinx
was derived by Greek grammarians from the verb sphingein (to bind or
squeeze), but the etymology is not related to the legend and is dubious.
The winged sphinx of Boeotian Thebes, the most famous in legend, was said
to have terrorized the people by demanding the answer to a riddle. If the
person answered incorrectly, he or she was eaten by the sphinx. It is
said that Oedipus answered properly where upon the sphinx killed herself.
The earliest and most famous example in art is the colossal Sphinx at
Giza, Egypt. It dates from the reign of King Khafre (4th king of 4th
dynasty; c. 2550 b.c.)
The Sphinx did not occur in Mesopotamia until around 1500 b.c. when it
was imported from the Levant. In appearance, the Asian sphinx differed
from its Egyptian model mostly in the addition of wings to the leonine
body. This feature continued through its history in Asia and the Greek
Another version of the sphinx was that of the female. This appeared in
the 15th century b.c. on seals, ivories and metalworkings. They were
portrayed in the sitting position usually with one paw raised.
Frequently, they were seen with a lion, griffin or another sphinx.
The appearance of the sphinx on temples and the like eventually lead to a
possible interpretation of the sphinx as a protective symbol as well as a
The Sphinx rests at the foot of the 3 pyramids of Khufu, Khafre, and
Menkure. It talons stretch over the city of the dead as it guards its
The myth goes that a prince who later became Thutmose IV, took a nap in
the shadow of the half-submerged Sphinx. As he slept, the Sun-god (whom
the Sphinx represents, appeared to him in a dream. Speaking to him as a
son, he told the prince that he would succeed to the throne and enjoy a
long and happy reign. He urged the prince to have the Sphinx cleared of
In his book on Isis and Osiris, Plutarch (A.D. 45-126) says that the
Sphinx symbolizes the secret of occult wisdom, though Plutarch never
unveiled the mysteries of the Sphinx. It is said that the magic of the
Sphinx lies within the thousands of hands that chiseled at the rock. The
thoughts of countless generations dwell in it; numberless conjurations
and rites have built up in it a mighty protective spirit, a soul that
still inhabits this time-scarred giant.
Another well know superstition of the peoples of Ancient Egypt was that
regarding their dead.
They believed that in the West lies the World of the Dead, where the
Sun-god disappears every evening. The departed were referred to as
"Westerners." It was believed that, disguised as birds, the dead soar
into the sky where in his heavenly barge Ra, the Sun-god, awaits them and
transforms them into stars to travel with him through the vault of the
The occult of the dead reached it's height when it incorporated the Osiris
myth. Osiris was born to save mankind. At his nativity, a voice was heard
proclaiming that the Lord had come into the world (sound familiar?). But
his brother/father Seth shut him up in a chest which he carried to the sea
by the Tanaitic mouth of the Nile. Isis brought him back to life. Seth
then scattered his body all over the place. It is said that Isis fastened
the limbs together with the help of the gods Nephtis, Thoth, and Horus,
her son. Fanning the body with her wings, and through her magic, Osiris
rose again to reign as king over the dead.
The Egyptian believed that a person had two souls. The soul known as Ba is
the one that progressed into the afterlife while the Ka remains with the
mummy. The Ka is believed to live a magical life within the grave. Thus
the Egyptians placed miniture belongings of the deceased into the tomb.
Such items as images, statuettes, imitation utensils, and miniture houses
take the place of the real thing. They believed that the Ka would use
these as the real item because the mortuary priests possesed magic that
would make them real for the dead.
The priests believed that the gods could be deceived, menaced and forced
into obedience. They had such trust in the power of magic, the virtue of
the spoken word, the irresistibility of magic gestures and other ritual,
that they hoped to bend even the good gods to their will. They would
bring retribution to the deities who failed to deal leniently with the
They threatened to shoot lightning into the are of Shu, god of the
air, who would then no longer be able to support the sky-goddess, and her
star-sown body would collapse, disrupting the order of all things.
When Ikhnaton overthrew the Egyptian gods and demons, making the cult of
the One God Aton, a state religion, he also suppressed mortuary magic.
Ikhnaton did not believe in life after death.
As Christianity became a part of this nation, there is much evidence to
show where the Christians of the time, and the pagans lived peacefully
In theology, the differences between early Christians, Gnostics (members
who often were Christian - of dualistic sects of the 2nd century a.d.),
and pagan Hermetists were slight. In the large Gnostic library discovered
at Naj'Hammadi, in upper Egypt, in 1945, Hermetic writings were found
side by side with Christian Gnostic texts. The doctrine of the soul taught
in Gnostic communities was almost identical to that taught in the
mysteries: the soul emanated from the Father, fell into the body, and had
to return to its former home.
It was not until later in Rome that things took a change for the worse.
Which moves us on to Greece.
The doctrinal similarity is exemplified in the case of the pagan writer
and philosopher Synesius. When the people of Cyrene wanted the most able
man of the city to be their bishop, they chose Synesius, a pagan. He was
able to accept the election without sacrificing his intellectual honesty.
In his pagan period, he wrote hymns that follow the fire theology of the
Chaldean Oracles. Later he wrote hymns to Christ. The doctrine is almost
To attempt to demonstrate this...let's go to some BASIC tenets and
beliefs of the two religions:
The 10 Commandments
1.) You shall have no other gods before me.
To the Christian, this means there will be no other God. Yet, in the
bible, the phrase is plural. I does not state that you will not have
another god, it says that you will have no other gods before the
In the case of the later, it could be interpreted to mean that whereas
other gods can be recognised, as a Christian, this person should place
YHVH ahead of all gods recognising him/her as the supreme being of all.
2.) You shall not worship idols
Actually, what it says in the New International Version is "You shall
not make for yourself an idol in the form af anything in heaven above or
on the earth beneath or in the waters below.
You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God,
am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to
the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to
thousands who love me and keep my commandments.
3.) You shall not take the name of the lord in vain.
This one is pretty self explanitory. When a person is calling on the lord
he/she is asking the lord for guidance or action. Thus, the phrase "God
damn it!" can be translated into a person asking the lord to comdemn
whatever "it" is to hell. The phrase "To damn" means to condem to hell.
In modern society, several phrases such as the following are common usage:
"Oh God!", "God forbid!", "God damn it!", "God have mercy!"
Each of these is asking God to perform some act upon or for the speaker
with the exception of "Oh God!" which is asking for Gods attention.
4.) Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.
Depending on which religion you are looking at (i.e. Jewish, from which
the 10 commandments come; or Christianity, which adapted them for their
use as well.) the Sabbath is either Saturday or Sunday. You may also take
a look at the various mythological pantheons to corelate which is the
first and last days of the week...(i.e. Sun - Sunday.. Genesis 1:3 "And
God said, "Let there be light,' and there was light., Moon - Monday..
Genesis 1:14 "And God said,"Let there be lights in the expanse of the
sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to
mark seasons and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse
of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so. 16 God made two
great lights - the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light
to govern the night. He also made the stars." Thus the Sun was created
first. With the day of the Sun being the first in the week, then Saturday
would be the 7th or Sabbath.
5.) Honor thy mother and thy father.
This is another that is fairly self explainitory. It is any parent's right
after spending the time to raise you to expect that you respect them.
6.) You shall not murder.
This does not say "You shall not murder...except in my name." It says YOU
SHALL NOT MURDER. PERIOD. Out of the 10 commandments, I have found that
over the course of history, this one has been the most ignored. As we look
as the spread of Christianity from around 300 A.D. forward, we find that
as politics moved into the church and those in charge of man's "souls"
were given more control that this one commandment sort of went out the
We see such things as the Crusades, the inquisition, and the dominating
fear that was placed into the Christian "psyche" that one should destroy
that which is not like you.
Even though we here stories about the "witch trials", and the "witch
burnings" etc....There were actually very few "Witches" tried or burned.
Most of these poor souls were that of Protestant beliefs (Against the
Catholic Church) yet still maintained that they were Christians. But...
more on this later.
7.) You shall not commit adultery.
You can look up the meaning in the dictionary, and this one becomes pretty
self-evident. What it comes down to is that no person who has ever been
divorced can marry again, and you don't have sex with someone that you are
not married to.
8.) You shall not steal.
Again, enough said. However...don't go looking at Constantine to be
obeying this one! The Pagan temples were looted to make his coinage.
9.) You shall not give false witness against thy neighbor
Again, during the times of the inquisition, this also went out the window.
Such tools as torture were used to pull confessions from these poor people
who then signed statements that the inquisitors had written up saying that
they freely signed this document. Of course...the inquisitors stated that
this person was not tortured, but it was his clever wit that had extracted
It was also during this time that persons, refusing to take responsibility
for their own actions or accept that nature does in fact create strange
circumstances...(i.e. drought, flood, etc.) and the resulting illness and
bug infrestations. Very often, as the Witch-craze developed stronger, the
one neighbor would accuse another of Witchcraft and destroying the fields
or making their child sick, or whatever.
10.)You shall not covet your neighbor.
On the surface, this one is pretty self explainitory. Don't crave your
neighbor's possessions. Yes...I can relate this back to the inquisitional
times as well since most of the accused's property reverted back to the
Catholic church at this time...there were several accused and convicted of
Witchcraft simply because they would not sell their property to the
church. However...How does this effect persons today? How far do we carry
the "Thou shalt not covet..."? This can be even so much as a want,
however is it a sin to want a toy like your neighbor has? If so...we're
all in trouble. How many of us "want" that Porsche that we see driving
down the road? Or how about that beautiful house that we just drove past?
Do we carry this commandment to this extreme? If so...I pity the person
that can live by it for what that would say is "Thou shalt not DREAM."
Since the religion of Wicca (or Witchcraft) is so diverse in it's beliefs,
I have included several documents here that encompass the majority of the
traditions involved. Again, this is simply a basis...NOT the be all and
Bide ye wiccan laws you must,
in perfect love and perfect trust
Live ye must and let to live,
fairly take and fairly give
For the circle thrice about
to keep unwelcome spirits out
To bind ye spell will every time,
let the spell be spake in rhyme
Soft of eye and light of touch,
speak ye little, listen much
Deosil go by the waxing moon,
chanting out ye baleful tune
When ye Lady's moon is new,
kiss ye hand to her times two
When ye moon rides at her peak,
then ye heart's desire seek
Heed the north winds mighty gale,
lock the door and trim the sail
When the wind comes from the south,
love will kiss thee on the mouth
When the wind blows from the east,
expect the new and set the feast.
Nine woods in the cauldron go,
burn them fast and burn them slow
Elder be ye Lady's tree,
burn it not or cursed ye'll be
When the wheel begins to turn,
soon ye Beltane fires will burn
When the wheel hath turned a Yule
light the log the Horned One rules
Heed ye flower, bush and tree,
by the Lady blessed be
Where the rippling waters go,
cast a stone, the truth ye'll know
When ye have and hold a need,
harken not to others greed
With a fool no season spend,
or be counted as his friend
Merry meet and merry part,
bright the cheeks and warm the heart.
Mind ye threefold law ye should
three times bad and three times good
When misfortune is enow,
wear the star upon thy brow
True in love may ye ever be,
lest thy love be false to thee
These eight words the wiccan rede fulfill;
An harm ye none, do what ye will.
One of the Pagan Oaths recognised nationally here in the U.S.
A Pledge to Pagan Spirituality:
* I am a Pagan and I dedicate Myself to channeling the Spiritual Energy
of my Inner Self to help and to heal myself and others.
* I know that I am a part of the Whole of Nature. May I grow in
understanding of the Unity of all Nature. May I always walk in Balance.
* May I always be mindful of the diversity of Nature as well as its
Unity and may I always be tolerant of those whose race, appearance, sex,
sexual preference, culture, and other ways differ from my own.
* May I use the Force (psychic power) wisely and never use it for
aggression nor for malevolent purposes. May I never direct it to curtail
the free will of another.
* May I always be mindful that I create my own reality and that I have
the power within me to create positivity in my life.
* May I always act in honorable ways: being honest with myself and
others, keeping my word whenever I have given it, fulfilling all
responsibilities and commitments I have taken on to the best of my ability.
* May I always remember that whatever is sent out always returns
magnified to the sender. May the Forces of Karma move swiftly to remind me
of these spiritual commitments when I have begin to falter from them, and
may I use this Karmic feedback to help myself grow and be more attuned to
my Inner Pagan Spirit.
* May I always remain strong and committed to my Spiritual ideals in the
face of adversity and negativity. May the Force of my Inner Spirit ground
out all malevolence directed my way and transform it into positivity. May
my Inner Light shine so strongly that malevolent forces can not even
approach my sphere of existence.
* May I always grow in Inner Wisdom & Understanding. May I see every
problem that I face as an opportunity to develop myself spiritually in
* May I always act out of Love to all other beings on this Planet -- to
other humans, to plants, to animals, to minerals, to elementals, to
spirits, and to other entities.
* May I always be mindful that the Goddess and God in all their forms
dwell within me and that this divinity is reflected through my own Inner
Self, my Pagan Spirit.
* May I always channel Love and Light from my being. May my Inner Spirit,
rather than my ego self, guide all my thoughts, feelings, and actions.
SO MOTE IT BE
In the Wiccan Rede and scattered in the oath, we find words such as
Perfect Love and Perfect Trust. What are these strange words and what do
Before one can analyse the meaning behind the phrase "Perfect Love and
Perfect Trust", one must first define the words. For this purpose, I will
use the Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language 1982
edition. Perfect: adj. [L. per-, through + facere, do] 1. complete in all
respects; flawless 2. excellent, as in skill or quality 3. completely
accurate 4. sheer; utter [a perfect fool] 5. Gram. expressing a state or
action completed at the time of speaking - vt. 1. to complete 2. to make
perfect or nearly perfect - n. 1. the perfect tense 2. a verb form in this
tense - perfectly adv - perfectness n.
Love: n. [