Which is Witch?

To better understand this site, you should know some of my definitions for Witchcraft related terms.

You will hear that such and such is Wiccan, not “true” Witchcraft, or whatever, from someone else. Some people will say that they are Witches but not Wiccan, or Pagans but not Witches. Mostly, its just semantics. Different people have different definitions for these words, and some people, even Pagans, always have to be right. (If only I had a dime for every email telling me my definition for xyz is WRONG!) Let them be. It’s easier than arguing. J I refuse to believe that there is only one “right” way to do anything, so just because I say or do one thing and someone else tells you something different, or even contradictory, that doesn’t mean that we are not both saying or doing something true.

As with all things, understanding changes and grows, and from time to time, I find it necessary to alter my own definitions, ever so slightly, to better reflect the wisdom I have gained through hard work and meditation (or lost over a bottle of honey mead). And of course, keep an open mind — but not so open that your brain falls out!

On to the vocabulary:

A priest/ess or seeker of Aphrodite. I include this definition only because it applies directly to me. This is not a Wiccan tradition (yes, I am also a Wiccan) but a dedication to the Power of Love. An Aphrodisan is committed to increasing the love, beauty and pleasure in her life and the lives of those she cares for.

I’m not even going to try to explain, but many people see my handle and have to wonder. Take a peek at the holy book of Discordia and you’ll get the picture. Or you won’t get it at all. Fnord.

Eclectic Wicca
In recent years there has been a surge of public information available about Wicca and Witchcraft. Many people new to the craft learn techniques and practices through self-study with these books, and practice “what works” for them as individuals. This type of practice is known as Eclectic wicca. Most Eclectic wiccans practice as solitaries, but some band together and form “covens”, and may even develop a “tradition” based on their collective eclectic practices.

While this is a perfectly acceptable situation for many people, someone seeking Traditional Wicca should be aware that there is a vast difference between eclectic practice and Traditional practice.

Hedge Witch:
Similar to what we would today call a Medium or a Spiritist. In “olden” days, farming villages were often surrounded by a “hedge”, so the common folk of those times imagined that the spirit realm would have a “hedge” to separate it from our own realm. Thus, a wise one who walked between the worlds, speaking to and commanding spirits and delivering messages from them, was considered a “hedge witch”.

Kitchen Witch:
An older term for what today might be called an “eclectic witch”. This is a person who does magic quickly and on the fly, and mainly as a reaction to correct or prevent some undesirable situation. Kitchen witches may do some “honoring” rituals to keep up good relations, but these are not the focus of their practices by any means. The term is also used to refer to those that do a great deal of herbal work, including growing their own herbs.

The discipline of manifesting an object, event, or attitude into reality by shaping universal energy with one’s will. The art and science of magic is often assisted by such focal points as herbs, oils, stone, candles, or other tools. The end result is achieved by means beyond those recognized by the five senses commonly accepted by physical science.

A person who adheres to a philosophy which incorporates elements of aboriginal practices, the concept of immanent deity, and the concept of spiritual responsibility. Most pagan traditions include reverence (but rarely submission) to a pantheon of Gods/Goddesses. A few are based simply on the concept of ALL, or a mixture of individualized deities and deity as one. A primary indicator of a Pagan belief system is an indication of deity (life force, chi, prana, God/Goddess etc.) as immanent—existing throughout and within all living things. Not all Pagans consider themselves Witches, and many do not practice magic.

Pagan Standard Time:
Essentially, this means “excessively tardy”. Pagan Standard Time is a term you will hear bandied about in circles and groves, and at community functions. Those who follow Pagan Standard Time disrespect their peers by making them wait, and show little pride in themselves. Naturally, settling time and a few minutes for those with their watches set off a bit is allowable, but if ritual starts at 7, everyone must be ready at 7 or they are not part of the ritual. Pagan Standard Time is a dishonorable and pride-less concept whose time has passed.

Pretty much just what it sounds like. Certain groups have their own ways of doing things. Just like a Catholic, a Methodist and a Baptist all have slightly different rites and beliefs, the core religion is still Christianity. It is much the same with Paganism. Today, many wiccans have come to the path by unusual ways—through books, study with an eclectic group, or guided by spirit—and have no training in a specific tradition, but rather incorporate elements from various traditions. These people usually refer to themselves as Eclectic Witches or Eclectic Wiccans. You can find a brief description of a number of Traditions on my Traditions page.

Traditional Wicca:
Wicca as an initiatory mystery path. This term is often equated to “British Traditional Wicca (BTW)” which refers to Wiccan groups and individuals who can trace their lineage to Gerald Gardner, Alex Sanders, or the New Forest Covens. There are other traditions of Wicca that maintain or have added to the basic elements of Wiccan ritual as designed by Gardner, and are initiatory mystery studies; I include those traditions under Traditional Wicca, but not under BTW.

Traditional Wicca covens include a focus on training and developing individuals to be clergy within the tradition. Traditional Wicca training includes oral and hands-on training that can only be passed on by an initiated Wiccan. You can find a brief description of a number of Traditions on my Traditions page.

Occasionally, there is debate on this one, but the consensus among the majority of modern witches is that “warlock” is a derogatory term, derived from the Old English for “liar” or “traitor” or from the Old Scottish for “oath-breaker”. Personally, I just translate it as “asshole”. Curiously enough, everyone I’ve ever met who defended the use of the term “warlock” as a title of honor for a male witch turned out to be an asshole anyway, so my theory stands.

A mystery religion (lifestyle) which incorporates witchcraft and ritual. Wicca has become a broad-based term in recent years, due to the emergence of a large amount of publicly available material on the religion, and has come to encompass both Traditional Wicca and Eclectic or Solitary Wicca. Wicca is a recognized religion in the United States.

Wiccan Rede:
“An it harm none, do what ye will.” This very simple guideline is open to much interpretation and it is up to the individual Wiccan to assume responsibility for his interpretation of this axiom and the consequences of his actions. This is simply a statement on ethical behavior. Most eclectic and many Traditional Wiccans accept this or similar advice as a cornerstone of their personal ethics.

A person who, with his awareness of ALL (aka. the God/Goddess, Universal Energy, chi, The Force, prana, etc.), acknowledges that he has the option to shape energy to his will through the practice of Witchcraft. He may or may not practice a Pagan religion, but may be drawn to it as a part of his spiritual heritage. Many people who refer to themselves as Witches practice some form of Paganism, most notably Wicca.

Witchcraft or the “craft of the wise” is the art and science of making magic and healing. It includes practices such as healing, herbology, astrology, meditation and shaping of psychic energy. Witchcraft is an active practice which requires the practitioner to become steadily more aware of self and of the world around him. It is a scientific approach to spiritual existence.

Witchcraft as an art and science can be practiced independent of any particular creed or religion. The practices involved in Witchcraft are, in fact, compatible with most balanced life philosophies.

Well, that’s all very nice and vague. Pagan paths are, as a rule, very personal and individualized. Each pagan or witch will have his own beliefs and practices suited to his needs. You could read every book on the craft, every website, talk to several witches and still not know how I practice, what I believe.

So how can you learn about my path? Ask me. I am proud of my path, and happy to answer any honest question or interest. If your plan is to convert or harass me for my path, please don’t waste either of our time, but if you are genuinely interested in learning more about my personal path, be it for your own growth or simply curiosity, contact me. Your privacy is valuable and I will not share the names of anyone who inquires, although it is possible I’ll use your questions and answers for site content.