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 
their sides. 

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 
heavenly dwelling.  

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 
later times. 

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 
of hell.

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" 
factor, etc.)

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 
philosophical one.

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 
the sand.

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:

                        Christian Beliefs

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 
Christian God.

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 
this confession.  

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." 

                         Wiccan Beliefs

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 
end all.

                           Wiccan Rede

                  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 
solving it.
*  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 
they mean?

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. [