What Witchcraft Is Not
Witchcraft Is Not Satanism
It might be surprising to some to know that witchcraft is not Satanism. The primary difference is that Satan and/or any concept of "the devil" simply do not exist in our theology, thus there could hardly exist a relationship. Further, we consider the Satan/devil concepts to be Judeo-Christian inventions having nothing whatsoever to do with witchcraft.
Not only do witchcraft and Satanism have different histories, they also have, at a certain level, different views of the world and one's place in it. I add the qualification "at a certain level" because there is a shared occult perspective between witchcraft and Satanism. Satanism and witchcraft are both occult religions; because of this, they both see reality as entirely natural. There is no transcendent God in the truest sense of the term. Further, they both see all of reality, material and immaterial, as interconnected and working according to "laws" that can be mastered in such a way as to make not only material but also immaterial reality work according to one's own bidding. There is a sense in which both Satanism and witchcraft deny that mankind is in any need of salvation.
These similarities are not trivial, but neither are the differences. Statistically, criminal activity that can be associated with occultism is usually associated with some form of Satanism (usually some form of self-styled Satanism). As a matter of principle and practice, witchcraft lives by the creed, "An' it harm none, do what you will."[x]
Satanism is more often associated with an attitude of self-aggrandizement rather than the sense of community that characterizes most witchcraft. Further, Satanism and witchcraft differ somewhat in their respective views of nature and humanity. As researchers Shelley Rabinovitch and James Lewis observe, "To the neo-Pagan practitioner, nature is viewed as somewhere on a scale from benign to overtly positive, if not outright friendly toward humanity. The ideal in most neo-Pagan practice is to become as one with the natural world—to live in harmony with nature.…In contrast, neo-Satanists view the natural world as somewhere between benign and openly hostile to humans."[xi]
Witchcraft Is Not Christianity
Some witches suggest that the practice of witchcraft can be compatible with Christianity[xii], but virtually everyone realizes that witchcraft is not Christianity. The reason for pointing out that witchcraft is not Christianity is to try to summarize exactly where witchcraft and Christianity compare and contrast in their respective worldviews. Before I outline those areas of contrast, let me acknowledge those areas where witches and Christians might share common concerns.
Witchcraft and Christianity: Common Concerns.
First, because of our view of the nature of the world, witches often have a sense of environmental concern. Now, the motivations of witches and Christians are widely disparate—witches are environmentally conscientious because of their view that the Earth is sacred, whereas Christians are compelled to be environmentally conscientious as a matter of stewardship of the creation before the Creator—but witches can agree with Christians that there is a duty to be environmentally responsible. How that environmental responsibility translates into public policy and individual actions may vary along the political and personal spectrum; nevertheless, we can all agree that there is an environmental responsibility that each of us shares.
Second, witches tend to have a conscientious sense of global concerns. Again, exactly how these concerns translate into public policy and individual actions may vary along the political and personal spectrum, but our common interests stem from the fact that we are all human beings living on the same planet.
Third, witches tend to be benevolently disposed toward their fellow human beings. The stereotype of witches being people with sinister intent wielding spells of black magic needs to be abandoned. We share with Christians in their concern for the well being of others though we will obviously disagree as to what exactly constitutes that well being.
Witchcraft and Christianity: Where We Differ.
Christianity is monotheistic. Christianity claims that there is a God and no one of us is He. Witchcraft claims the opposite: "We are of the nature of the Gods, and a fully realized man or woman is a channel for that divinity, a manifestation of the God or the Goddess."[xiii] Adler favorably quotes historian James Breasted who said, "Monotheism is but imperialism in religion."[xiv] In place of the strict monotheism of Christianity, witchcraft not only deifies the self, but it ostensibly reveres the pagan God and Goddess.[xv]
Christianity is exclusivistic. Christians adhere to Jesus' words in The Bible, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." Contrast that with what Adler states: "The belief that there is one word, one truth, one path to the light, makes it easy to destroy ideas, institutions, and human beings…your own spiritual path is not necessarily mine."[xvi]
Christianity is theologically authoritarian. Usually this term authoritarian has negative associations, but if authoritarian means "recognizing authority" then Christianity certainly does that. Christians recognize that not only has their God revealed Himself through the things He has made[xvii], but He has also revealed Himself finally and fully through Jesus Christ and the Bible. In contrast, Frew says, "To grant a traditional text such authority would be to say that this is it, the truth for all time. But we are a nature religion, and a fundamental truth of nature is that everything changes."[xviii]
Christianity recognizes everyone's need for salvation. Christianity centers on the belief that the most important message they have to give to the world is the gospel of Jesus Christ; that without the sacrifice of Christ to wash away humanity's sins and reconcile creation to creator, there is no hope in the world to come. In witchcraft there is absolutely no concept of any human fall from divine grace necessitating reconciliation, much less salvation. Witchcraft teaches that our destiny is to return again to this world through reincarnation. Cunningham comments, "While reincarnation isn't an exclusive Wiccan concept, it is happily embraced by most Wiccans because it answers many questions about daily life and offers explanations for more mystical phenomena such as death, birth and karma."[xix] Frew expounds, "While many of us believe in reincarnation, we do not seek to escape the wheel of rebirth. We can't imagine anything more wonderful than to come back to this bounteous and beautiful Earth."[xx]
Conclusions are yours alone to draw; and that effort is exactly what witchcraft and this witch encourages you to examine. Socrates is quoted as saying, "The unexamined life is not worth living for a human being." A life worth living, both physically and spiritually, full of love and light, is our deepest wish for all beings of all paths.