Witchcraft and the Witch

It’s the #seasonofthewitch and what better topic to chime in on this October than to tackle the question: who is and isn’t a witch? And what the heck is witchcraft? These are the subjects I chime in on in Episode #6 of Bell Chimes In.

Extending from what was discussed in the video, here’s how I’d define a witch. A witch, or wu, is someone who (1) communes with entities or energies of other realms beyond the material-physical, whether you want to strive for a more science-based outlook and work within the framework of energy transfers and wave function (so in that sense, a realm beyond the material-physical) or you’re committed to the religious perspective, and (2) to achieve (1) works with the four seasons and four directions.

Where did that definition come from? Gotta watch the video to find out. 😉

To expand further on what I talk about in the video, I speculate that a question on many viewers’ minds is whether I consider myself a witch.

I drew the analogy to my identification as Asian. When assessing that identification objectively, I realize I self-identify as Asian because society first identified me as Asian, pretty much told me I was Asian, so eventually, to best present to you who I am, I’ll say I’m Asian. Had society never told me I was Asian, I wonder if I’d ever have adopted that label. Because examined from an equally compelling perspective, I’m American. Yet as every Asian who is by nationality and citizenship American can attest to, when I say I’m American, I definitely get that doubting, skeptical look and the follow-up question, “Yes, but where are you really from?” Like I’m not really an American. I’m not a real American because you’re assessing American-ness on the basis of certain superficial qualities.

Sound like a familiar reasoning process among witches and who is and isn’t a real witch?

I can’t hide my Asian appearance, but I can hide my personal practices and belief systems. Since you can’t identify my personal practices and beliefs by my appearance, society by and large won’t identify me as a witch unless a particular member of that society gets to know me better and more intimately… and knows what witchcraft even is.

See, another factor is most members of mainstream society know next to nothing about witches and witchcraft. For instance, most of my friends would say, and I quote, “the force is strong in that one,” said with a heavy-handed tint of jest, or they’d say, “she can be a little eccentric, but by and large, harmless.”

Are you born a witch or is it a choice, something occupational? My mother and grandmother would tell you it’s an innate quality you’re either born with or you’re not. I won’t dismiss their collective wisdom, but I also haven’t formulated a personal conclusion yet. For me, the jury is still out. All I can tell you at this point is, I just don’t know.

Ultimately, if we must arrive at some semblance of agreement for the definition of a witch, it would seem to me that the witch is someone does not need or seek an intermediary clergy member to connect with spirit realms on his or her behalf. A witch is someone who in effect is a solitary clergy member, in his or her own right a priest or priestess who connects directly to that spirit realm and needs no intermediary. A witch is someone who possesses an interactive relationship with the spirit realm and with nature, and–perhaps most poignantly of all–does so in a way that is more often than not condemned, feared, or dismissed by mainstream society. What the witch does–what witchcraft is–will always, and necessarily, be outside the bounds of establishment.

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The magician, or the magus, if you’re considering the etymological origins of the word from its Persian framework (touched upon in the video), is occupational, and descriptive of a calling in life. Whereas in Chinese, the etymological origins of the word magus, which we now use synonymously with witch, strikes at an innate quality. There’s the possession of an innate quality that allows you to facilitate stronger connections with unseen energies, and the establishment of a methodical personal practice around facilitating those connections. The etymological discrepancy here reveals to us that the controversy over whether you’re born a witch or you choose the path of a witch is older than old. Right from the start of it all, it seems, we as a society couldn’t agree on whether this quality of the magus/witch is occupational and thus chosen or fated and thus a trait you’re born with. What’s your position on that debate?

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“Bell Chimes In” is about discourse, or at least that is my hope and intentions for the video series. It’s about me chiming in on a topic oft talked about, with my own perspective, opinions, or hypothesis, and with that, continuing the conversation on that topic. So I hope you’ll join in.

What’s your paradigm for what a witch is? What’s witchcraft to you? Are you born a witch or is it a chosen path? Do you self-identify as a witch? Do you call your practice “witchcraft” or do you call it by another name?

Now it’s your turn to chime in, whether that’s as a comment, your own blog post, or a VR video response. Even if you don’t chime in publicly, chime in privately, using this video as a personal prompt to think more on the subject as it plays out in your own life.

2 thoughts on “Witchcraft and the Witch

  1. Pingback: List of 2017 Bell Chimes In Episodes – benebell wen

  2. Stephen

    This is a very interesting conversation. I am the leader (the Magister) of a traditional coven in Sydney, Australia, The Coven of the Black Flame.

    I am in total agreement with everything that you say. Putting aside the past notions of the word ‘witch’ and its various definitions, I would have to say that my understanding of a ‘witch’, is a person who practices ‘witchcraft’, or ‘practical magic’ of any type, where there is contact with the spirit world, In any of its forms. This would include wicca, Traditional British witchcraft (Cochrane, gardner, or alexandrian), Any type of ritual magic, taoist sorcery, hoodoo, appalacian witchcraft, african witchcraft, Traditional healers, American Indian shamans or Australian aboriginal shamanism or witchcraft. The important thing to note here is that these people who fall under these titles have all these three things in common—->

    1. They make contact with the spirit world or spirits of any type.
    2. They seek knowledge of things unseen (via divination or scrying)
    3. They use their will, and magical skills of any form (Words, spells, talismans, potions, rituals, amulets, mantras, chants, Sympathetic magic, etc) to coerce/constrain/petition the spirits they work with, to assist in influencing the physical world (ie, things that can happen- eg, a storm, a car crash, whatever) or mental world (minds of people, emotions or decisions) around them.

    Point 3 above is also leads to my working definition of magic, within my coven. This is as follows—->

    Working Definition of Magic.
    Magic is the art of influencing the physical and/or mental worlds around us, in accordance with our Will, to bring about a desired result. This Influence is achieved via —->

    1. the Spirit of the witch being sent out to make the influences (in the form of a Fetch)

    and/or

    2. through the coercion of spirit forces of any type (Angels, Demons, elementals, gods or goddesses, wraiths, or Spirits of the dead).

    This coercion is achieved via the use of a magical media (Tools, implements, spells, incantations, considerations, talismans, petitions, sympathia, dancing, sacrifices, etc) utilised at the correct time and place.

    By ‘forms’, I refer to contacting any force that is beyond the physical world, such as the powers of the stars or the planets, the underworld, Or the unseen elemental world present around us. I ALSO refer to the actual Spirit body of the witch as one of these forms- (ie, the astral body of the witch that the witch can send out of her (or him) self, To influence things in the world. In Traditional European witchcraft, this is known as “sending forth the fetch.”

    Although It is not necessary to be gender specific, where both a male and a female can be called a witch, I personally prefer to call a female practitioner of magic a witch, an enchantress, or a sorceress, the male equivalents being a warlock, an enchanter, or a sorcerer.

    I personally avoid the word ‘magician’ (Although I’m not against it) but my coven prefers to not use this term as it typically refers to a stage magician). If the word magician is used, it can then refer to a male or a female, and the word ‘ceremonial’ should be placed in front of it. In my opinion, there is no difference between a witch or a ceremonial magician.

    In my coven, we also Have implemented the following to traditional titles or words to define such a person:

    1. Karcist
    This word is present in the Grand Grimoire, and refers to a practitioner of the magical arts who conjures and works with spirits.

    2. Goen.
    This is an ancient Greek word for someone who works with the spirits of the underworld, And also refers to a practitioner of witchcraft. The ancient Greek word for witchcraft/sorcery is Goes, and is the root of the word “Goetia”.

    In my coven, a person can call themselves this, If they study the Grimoires at depth, as well as the Ancient Greek and ancient Egyptian magical practices that pre-date these grimoires. In addition to in-depth study, they must also be practitioners of these arts for a minimum of five years after the study is complete.

    3. Magus or Astrological Magician
    Here I’m being very specific, as the original root for this word was the Magi, or Zoroastrian priests of Zurvan, the God of Time (the father of Ahura Mazda and Ahriman). In my Coven, if a person studies and practices astrological magic in depth (such as from Renaissance astrology, the picatrix, etc) and simultaneously practices the Magean form of magic (as Presented in the book by Stephen flowers – ‘original magic’) then they can officially call themselves a Magus/Magi (male or female).

    Taoist sorcery
    I have recently acquired Your book, the Tao of Craft, Which is absolutely brilliant and I believe should be on the shelf of every series practitioner. Although my coven Mainly focuses on the traditional british witchcraft/celtic, Goetic and astrological magic traditions, There is HUGE amount of useful and practical information in your book, and from Taoist sorcery generally, That is applicable, and can be integrated into, the western magical tradition. I think the divide between East and West is actually quite ridiculous, as the magic is very similar when you actually look at the underlying basic principles.

    One thing that I’ve noticed is that Tao sorcery also Has a focus on the energy model of magic (as compared to the spirit model of magic). I think that using one’s own ‘witch power’ (or Chi) Is a very important skill For any witch, As it gives the witch the ability to make contact with the spirit world in the first place.

    There is a book by Franz Bardon called “initiation into hermetics” which incorporates a large amount of yogic principles and energy work. It is mandatory reading in my Coven, and I think that any practitioner of magic of any background should be familiar with the techniques in this book. Even some of the principles taught by Alistair Crowley bridge this gap between East and West, between the ‘spirit model of magic’ and ‘energy model of magic’, which are both more powerful when combined.

    Blessed be- and keep up the good work

    Like

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