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, misrepresentations, prejudice
and, in recent years, lack of knowledge. Witchcraft! What is it
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 Goddesses 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
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
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 has survived.
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
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
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
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
Next: Ethics and Love Magick (Mike Nichols)