There’s a lot of confusion around the names Witches and Wiccans. Similarly, Witchcraft, The Craft, Magic. And, what is Magik or Magick? This article aims to clarify things.
Clarifying the Confusion
There are many terms we associate mystical processes under the general term magic. You’ll find we see many of these terms as negative because of our cultural programming. This is not a mistake. Demonizing processes and people make them socially unacceptable. So, this amounts to an admission. There must be some substance to these processes. Otherwise, why attempt to demonize them? Often you will find there isn’t a difference between these practices and what is acceptable in mainstream religion.
To make things more confusing, the people who use these processes create their terminology. For instance, what is Magik with a K? And, what is The Craft? These are all interesting terms that our culture has intentionally skewed. You need to talk about them all since these topics weave together. So, we can start almost anywhere. Let’s start with Magic.
We are all familiar with the term Magic. Some things in life simply magical, like falling in love. Magic can also involve directing energy to achieve some purpose. For example, The Craft and is an example of using your intention with a purpose.
Most people associate the term, The Craft, with Witches and Wicca. However, the elements used in The Craft are nearly universal to all rituals. When you break it down, The Craft is simply the use of ritual combined with intent.
Many people believe personal rituals are more powerful than rituals created by others. This is because when you create your own ritual, you are infusing them with the power of your intention, emotion, and meaning. Creating your ritual allows infusing personal meaning, emotion, and intention. So, the craft is a powerful vehicle for carrying inner meaning. The essence of the craft is the application of intention, emotion, meaning.
“Create your own rituals. Rituals created by others are a waste of time and sometimes dangerous. This is because unless you create the ritual, you don’t know the true meaning and intentions behind it. You can be told what someone else’s ritual means, but you don’t really know.” — Guru Tua
“The Craft” is a term many associates with Freemasonry. Freemasonry is a fraternal organization. It uses a formalized ritual with an emphasis on memorizing long passages of text. The main purpose is to create a patriarchal community. They use membership as a means of cultural favoritism.
Observing someone this type of process is something most would identify with as spellcasting. This conjures the image of Witches mixing potions, but it’s much more than this. The form and substance are what others call Ritualistic Prayer. Religions from Buddhism to Catholicism use ritualistic prayer in ceremonies and masses. It’s virtually the same whether you evoke a higher power for healing or material wealth. It’s the same for charging or cleansing a crystal or altering the vibrations of an object or situation. Spellcasting uses the same process for using a candle or mirror to enter a trance state.
Magic relies on the personal power of the practitioner and may use a variety of objects real or metaphysical in their techniques. Witches often use a “Book of Shadows” to record and pass along these processes and the outcomes. Many other religions and philosophies use a journal. We refer to this as a spiritual journal. Whatever you call it, it is a valuable tool.
International Scope of The Craft
Defining The Craft as we did above also includes the use of Mantras and Sutras. Mantras and Sutras are sound or word formulas associated with Indian traditions. We also find it in the Abrahamic traditions. It’s a major part of Kabbalah and the scared name sects of Christianity. We’ll look at this later on under Magik. The main point here that the processes associated with The Craft are universal and international in scope.
The craft is the artful application of intention through ritual. Our intention is like a muscle. You develop intention through the practice of meaningful rituals. Intention infused with personal meaning and emotion create a life-changing force – magic. — Guru Tua
Bottom line. The Craft is a process. It’s a dynamic function involving the use of formulas to achieve a purpose. The formula includes intent, emotion, meaning, sound (verbal or non-verbalized words, or phrases). So, what is Magik? It is also a form of The Craft.
Some Wiccans are Witches, but not all Witches are Wiccan. A Witch is someone who practices what they call Witchcraft. A Witch is someone who respects the earth. They follow the Turning of the Wheel (celebrating the movements of the Sun (Sabbats), “turning of the Moons” (Esbats). They may also follow eclipses and other feast days). Some use a branch of the Witch’s art, such as herbal medicine or divination. That’s it. That’s a Witch. Following the seasons, using natural remedies and walking in harmony with nature and other people.
Witches and Witchcraft are synonymous with Paganism. This term originates in the fourth century. Christians use this term to identify those who practiced polytheism. This was a way of segregating those they did not desire. It entitled the Church to ostracize at a minimum. Most times, it led to the confiscation of property and public torture and execution. The Church does not like competition.
If you enjoy nature and find peace in the natural splendor of the Earth, you have a lot in common with Paganism and Witches. Paganism and Animism are probably the oldest belief systems. Here, the belief in animals and nature became personified. These became the anthropomorphic entities of the old gods, humans with animal characteristics.
Someone who practices Wicca known as a Wiccan follows a code of ethics known as the Rede. The main tenets of the Rede are the Threefold Law or the Law of Returns:
1) What you do will return three-fold.
2) An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will.
They expand this to include the four-step rule of “To Will, To Know, To Dare, and To Be Silent.” These rules apply to the practice of the “Craft.” The Craft embodies the rituals whereby the Wiccan appeals to the Universe for the desired positive outcome. Many Witches have adapted this into their core practice. Wiccans also worship a higher power, or male/female deities. Their rituals often honor and harmonize feminine and masculine attributes.
What is Magik or Magick?
Magic with a “K”, Magick is ritualistic magic, any type of ceremonial magic. We know it by other terms such as Magick or High Magick. The term Magic with a K comes from the practice we know as Witchcraft. Here, they perform magic according to specific ordinances to produce the most beneficial outcome. Using the circle in a seating arrangement is one the transcends many traditions. Many traditions perform ceremonies to celebrate the seasons, the cycles of the sun and the moon. Examples of paradigms that practice this include Catholicism and Free-Masonry.
What is Magik in other systems? The Japanese Tea Ceremony is an example of ritualistic Magick. They use choreographed movements making and serving tea. The intention here is to develop “presence”. The implements of ritual are ceremonial objects often charged with various types of energy.
For example, Judaism uses several ritualistic objects. They have many sacred objects like the Torah Scroll and the Tzitzit. Tzetzes are the Tassels that attach to the tallit and tallit katan. This is like the magical underwear known as the Temple Garment which you find in Mormonism.
Magical Mystical Appropriation
The key process of magical operation in Christianity is Magical Mystical Appropriation. This is the mechanism they use for salvation, healing, and prosperity. Here’s how it works. You reach out magically with the power of the mind using a mystical power. They access this mystical power via a specific formula. Depending upon the sect, it could be “calling on the name.” Or, it might also include ceremonial cleansing “baptism” by water. This mystical formula or spell enables you to get the desired object.
We find this process in the Sacred Name Sects of Christianity. They claim knowledge of the correct pronunciation of the name of God. Knowing this, they believe gives them the power to summon God. Some sects use the Hebrew name of G-D, the Tetragrammaton while others say it applies to the Greek name of Jesus—Isous.
The key here is that by having this knowledge, they have a special club. Now, they alone can “call on the name of the Lord”. They believe this gives them entrance to the Afterlife in Heaven. Everyone else goes to Hell. That’s because God loves everyone so much he created Hell for those who don’t love him back.
Sacred name or sacred word sects are concerned with the pronunciation of words. Mystical mental appropriation and faith in the ability to say the “sacred name” correctly. This is the formula for salvation. This method has striking similarities to the practice of ritualistic magic and Hebrew Kabbalah.
Ritual or Magical Procedures
Many people are drawn to the concept of rituals because we are creatures of habit. Rituals are mysterious and some have ancient roots. It doesn’t matter to what belief system you ascribe. You can be an Atheist, Theist, Diest, and still have an interest in or engage in habits associated with magic. The concept of magic permeates our lives. For instance, a rabbit’s foot on a key chain. If you take the time to study other traditions, you will find several similarities between them.
The practice of Witchcraft has direct ties to older traditions that pre-date written history. Witches have much in common with the practices of ancient cultures. Witchcraft mirrors many of the techniques from ancient Shamanic cultures. Witches individualize their Craftwork much like the ancient traditions of the Crone.
It’s also important to realize we cast a spiritual shadow wherever we do and whatever we do. Make sure your life is full of meaningful actions, meaningful rituals. Don’t let your life become habitual patterns without meaning.
The Shamanic Journey is likely the first form of magic. It is an ancient process for reaching an altered state of consciousness. This form of consciousness exploration is prolific. You find it in almost every ancient culture. The ancient practitioners, the Shaman are the original magical athletes of the spirit world.
Finally, any discussion on magic must include superstition. Many people believe Magic is nothing more than superstition. The rabbit’s foot mentioned above is an example of a good luck omen. Not that it was good luck for the poor rabbit. This “lucky charm” is found in North American folklore. This can be traced to African-American folk spirituality known as Voodoo. Superstition means the belief in anything irrational. If that is the case, then most religions would be superstition.
But, science tells us that many things that seem irrational are sometimes proven to be true. Higher states of consciousness were thought to be nonsense. The scientists hooked up people meditating to an Electroencephalography (EEG). They discovered unique ranges of physiological changes in brainwave patterns and breathing. These characteristics were different from waking, dreaming, or sleeping.
A Little Logic Goes a Long Way
The science of logical reasoning helps us to understand that you can provide evidence to prove something doesn’t exist. You can’t prove gods don’t exist but that doesn’t mean that they do. You can’t disprove that Apolo, Zeus, Mythra, Dyonisys, or any other god doesn’t exist. But, because there is no proof that they don’t exist doesn’t mean that they do. Similarly, anecdotal evidence does not prove the existence of gods.
Does Odin Exist?
Here’s an example of how this argument works. First, no ice-giants exist. Odin promised to wipe out the ice-giants. So, since there are no ice-giants this is proof of Odin’s existence. Second, Odin is prolific in early paganism dating back through oral traditions in Germanic mythology. Odin (from Old Norse Óðinn). This evidence is prevalent in early forms of paganism. Old English calls Odin, Wóden. And, shows up in Old Saxon as Wōden. He’s in stories from Germany as Wuotan or Wodan. With so much evidence from so many cultures it’s obvious that Odin exists, right?
The answer, no, you’re wrong. This isn’t evidence of the existence of Odin. Sorry, but the absence of imaginary creatures does not represent evidence they ever existed. The absence of evidence is not proof of absence. And, the recounting of stories, no matter their age does not suffice as proof for the existence of Odin. These points apply to all gods. Not just Odin.
One of the best tools overcome boundaries is through the study of logic. Enhancing your critical thinking capabilities will help you break cultural programming.
Now if someone asks what is Magick with a K, you’ll know it’s all type of magic that deals with ceremonial magic. You understand this is similar to The Craft, just a different name.
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Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia