By Tara at About.com
Christian Witchery, as I see it, is the combination of a Christian religious viewpoint and the actual practice of magic and ritual. In order to properly understand the significance of Christian Witchery, it is necessary to understand what kind of Christianity is being practiced; likewise, what kind of magic is to be practiced.
For one to become a Christian Witch, one’s understanding of Christianity must be relatively liberal. Taking the Bible as one’s only source for spiritual knowledge is a valid enough path, but it would be immensely difficult to incorporate that with magical practice. Another definition of Christianity would be much more flexible: a path that incorporates a version of Jesus at least loosely based on Biblical (or Gnostic Christian/rejected canon) sources as its central figure. Someone who believes strongly in Jesus Christ (and God, and the Holy Spirit, either as three separate entities with one divine essence or three aspects of the All) can potentially still practice magic.
The definition of magic is also important. By magic, are you referring to the desire to cast love spells on your crush? Are you referring to more advanced Kabalistic ceremonies, or the Golden Dawn esoteric rituals? Do you love the rituals and “poetic aspects” of witchcraft? Do you enjoy practicing magic and being able to make changes in the world through supernatural means? Is magic to you venerating nature? Honestly, becoming a Christian Witch is not necessary for one to venerate nature; one can still be an environmentalist and love the earth and celebrate its seasons without practicing magic. If you are only into magic to cast a single love spell or be “cool,” it’s probably not your path. Magic, while it may not have any spiritual connotations still should not be something to be taken lightly. The symbolism of magic and spell craft are not exclusive to these things. It is possible to call yourself a Christian mystic and perform religious prayer rituals that do not incorporate actual magic and changes caused by the individual as opposed to a deity (this will be covered further in the “So You Want to Be a [Christian] witch section). If you feel that you can and desire to make changes in your world through working and practicing magic, but you simultaneously believe in the Christian tenets, then the practice of Christian Witchery may be right for you. While it is difficult to define magic, due to conflicting definitions, a good definition as defined by Crowley is “the art and science of change in conformity to will.”
One cannot take Christianity and Witchcraft, even when one has defined them, and slap them together and call it a system. There are still limitations where some parts of Christianity cancel magical practices out. For example, the importance placed on love and forgiveness in Christian belief would restrict “harmful” spells. While it is fine for some witches to cast curses, and it does not go against their ethical code, when a potential Christian witch is practicing magic, he or she must take into consideration her own ethical code. Also, with Christianity’s worship of God and the belief in His presence in all things, I believe that magic would be hard to separate from spiritual and religious presence in rituals.
So, why become a Christian Witch? Simply, if both Christianity and witchcraft are part of your spiritual/magical/supernatural beliefs, and you are willing to “compromise” in some cases parts of your beliefs in which the acts or faiths of one cancel each other out, you may be a match for Christian Witchcraft. If you are unwilling to not take the entire Bible literally, or if you do not want to be restricted by parts of Christian belief that would inhibit your magic, perhaps it is better for you to limit yourself to one practice.
The most important thing to remember is that religion is deeply personal. Your personal relationship with the divine transcends any piece of literature, whether a Book of Shadows or the Bible, that states what the right path is. If you disagree with this article, it is, after all, a piece of literature, and your religious practices are your own business. In religion, where nothing is definite, it is better to “pick and choose” beliefs than to take a mold that does not fit who you are. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. But if it does, there is no reason to change your practices and beliefs.
It is nearly impossible to have encountered Christian Witchery without ever hearing threats of Hell coming from either side, as well as others who say that Christian Witchery is impossible without a literal translation of the Bible.
Is that really true? The Bible is not taken literally by a great number of practicing Christians today; my Episcopalian congregation, for example, takes the Bible as a guideline, but not necessarily the be all and end all of the Christian faith. But even looking at the Bible, it can be seen that possibly Witchcraft condemned in the Bible may refer to pure malignant witchery. Seeing as those who are not followers of the Bible are not bound by Biblical law, and those who are Christian witches and that follow the Bible already have a “Harm None” clause in their ethical system, it is not difficult for Christian Witches to follow this rule. The original Hebrew word in the Old Testament in the famed passage “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” (Exodus 22:18) was not witch but m’kashepah, meaning a woman who uses spoken spells to harm others.(1)
In Deuteronomy 18:10-11, seven other Hebrew words are used, in addition to m’kashepah, most of which refer to others who contact the dead or spirits that are not “of God.” A few, however, refer to those who practice divination. Again, however, it is a purely personal decision whether to follow the Bible totally in these cases. In the New Testament, the original word now taken to mean “witch” in Galatians 5:19-20 and Revelations 21:8 was the Greek pharmakeus, meaning one who poisons others, a person practicing “poisonous’ black magic. Some interpreters take the term to mean one who spreads enmity and ‘poisons” people’s minds.
And is Hell itself anything to worry about? Hell too might be a Biblical mistranslation. Aside from the logical contradiction of a loving god sending His people to eternal flames, the terms most often used for Hell: Sheol and Gehenna(2), do not mean “hell” at all. Sheol was a proper noun, the Jewish term for the land of the dead, where even good Jewish patriarchs were said to have gone. Gehenna was a burial ground outside of Jerusalem. More on Biblical mistranslations of Hell and its eternity and pain can be found in the essay “To Hell With Hell,” by J. Cleveland. Even if you do feel uncomfortable practicing Christian Witchery with its Biblical connotations, it is also clear that modern day versions of the Bible may be inaccurate in their translation, and knowledge of the “original” Bible is necessary before making any decisions. But again: if it makes you uncomfortable, don’t do it.
1: All material in this paragraph concerning Biblical terms now translated as “witch’ was taken from http://www.religioustolerance.org
2: All information from this passage concerning the Biblical mistranslations of “Hell” is from “To Hell With Hell,” by J. Cleveland. His essay can be found at the following address: http://members.aol.com/_ht_a/PaleHorse13x/Hell.html.
So You Want to Be a [Christian] Witch?
Is Christian Witchery the right path? Certainly it has been considered a controversial one by both Christians and Witches alike, but is that any reason to not follow what you believe is right? After all, if Jesus himself hadn’t preached what he believed instead of traditional doctrine, the world would have been a drastically different place. But that does not mean that Christian Witchery is necessarily the right path for you. A sure-fire way to determine that Christian Witchery is not your path is if you want to be a witch, but you’re too scared of Hell to back out of your religion. This has problems for many reasons: you’re still going to be feeling guilt even in your new path. Likewise, if you are frightened of your own religion, it indicates some severe discomfort that needs to be examined before you add to your spiritual path. Finally, if you aren’t wholeheartedly sure of what you want to be, it’s foolish to use Christianity as a safety net. Only be Christian if you believe in Christianity; only use magic if you’re sure that’s what you want.
A second “wrong reason” for becoming a Christian witch is, in my opinion feeling that Christianity is missing feminist aspects or a connection to a goddess/Mother Earth. While that is certainly a plausible feeling, magic is not going to suddenly make Christianity more feminine. Neo-Wiccan or pagan elements can be incorporated into your belief systems without actually practicing magic. Feminist-wise, the study of female mystics like Hildegard of Bingen, the mythology surrounding Mary Magdalene, and the study of the personification of the Holy Spirit as Sophia in Gnostic Christian mythology is recommended, not magic. Likewise, if you want to venerate the earth and its cycles, you don’t have to totally change your religion or start to practice magic to do so.
Finally, there is the Christian who is really interested in ritual and the symbolism involved in magic. Having been this kind of Christian, I really thought that Christian Witchery was for me. However, using great symbolism in rituals, even rituals at home, that are worshipful and involve petitioning a deity through “magical” and “spell” phrases and incense or Tarot card symbolism is really prayer, as opposed to magic. Granted, it is a type of prayer more intricate and ritualistic than most prayer. The mysticism involved in this is not magic. If you are this kind of seeker, I would recommend the term “Christian mystic,” which is how I label myself, and the study of other mystics who longed to experience the divine and ecstatic experiences of God is recommended. It doesn’t mean it is any less legitimate to rely on a deity instead of one’s own will in a ritual; it just means it is a prayer instead of a spell. For those that are really interested in symbolism and ritual, but are not interested in actively performing magic, I would recommend doing as I am currently doing and looking into the Roman Catholic branch of Christianity.
If you do magic and feel no qualms about it or guilt, but you simply cannot give up Christian beliefs and feel no need to, if you love magic and feel that you can positively influence your life through it, then Christian Witchcraft is quite possibly your path.
Jesus, Magic, and Me: My Experience
I never believed in Hell for non-believers. Whatever else I believed as a child, that was constant. Growing up as a liberal Episcopalian Christian, I changed my religion constantly: I was Hindu one day, Sikh the next, and even, horror of horrors, a fluffy pseudo-Wiccan, reading a basic book and finding something in it I believed. I was only eight or nine, then, not old enough to grasp the concept of intense study. I never found something to really hold on to until I was given an assignment (in fifth grade, at the age of eleven) to write about what I believed in religion before starting to study the Bible from a literary perspective in English class. Then, whatever was bottled up began to flow. I wrote three pages instead of a paragraph; I felt completely released as I documented unorthodox beliefs about God, Jesus, and the universe. That essay proved the basis for my novel, Father Luigi’s Chameleon, when I tried to incorporate creative writing and my decidedly unorthodox worldview. It was around that time that I started to do more research. For a while I considered myself pagan-undecided and cast a few spells as a witch, worshipping a Goddess who resembled Alanis Morissette from Dogma as the Mother of Christ, an enlightened man. Eventually I realized that, despite my qualms about sharing a religion with those who believed in Hell, a faith that I could never reconcile myself with, and the concept of sin, I could not take my faith away from the idea of the Trinity and Jesus Christ.
I considered Gnosticism for a while, but that too seemed wrong. An interest in witchcraft left over from my fluffy days and desire for ritual, paired with my Christo-centric beliefs and inspiration from reading the novel Quo Vadis, about Christianity in ancient Rome, provided the basis for a few months as a Christian Witch. I really thought I had found a perfect fit; I had reconciled my love of ritual with unorthodox Christianity. This was ninety-nine percent right, but not perfect. My definition of magic was ritual; I never cast spells as much as symbolic prayer. It simply didn’t feel right to me. I began to look deeper into my love of magic. It wasn’t the “power” that I liked; it was the smell of the incense and the sight of the flickering candles, all arranged and charged with meaning. My rituals were unions with God, not energy manipulation and whatever power there was came from God, not from me. It was not magic; it was mysticism.
This led me to discover Catholicism. It seemed to me, in spite of a belief in Hell that, at least, was slightly subdued from the “fundies” I had encountered, to be what was right. I believed in the basics of Christianity: Jesus was divine, God was good and a Creator, an artist who longed for beauty in His world (a theme inspired by Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray) and a father who wanted to love His children, the Trinity existed, Mary was a virgin, Jesus’ message of love was supreme, and the rituals, such as the literal belief in transubstantiation, seemed to make Catholicism the closest things to my beliefs. I still practice rituals at home, and that is an important part of my spirituality. But still, as a mortal who is as yet unenlightened, I’m still learning.
A Sample Devotional/Petitioning To Perform
- Choose a day and time associated with whatever you are asking for.
- Perform a symbolic action, like turning on a light, which symbolizes entering into the spiritual mentality.
- Light sandalwood, lotus, or lavender incense for spirituality, along with a candle of the appropriate color for what you want.
- Take a bowl of water. In it mix herbs and oils corresponding to your desire.
- Place symbolic tarot cards for your desire in front of the altar. I also recommend the Queen of Cups as good symbolism for God.
- Take three glasses/chalices of water, along with a pitcher. Pour water into the first cup, symbolizing God the Father containing divine essence. From this cup, pour water into the other two cups, representing the Son and Holy Spirit/Sophia, but always leave a little bit in the first cup. Keep on replenishing the first cup and pouring almost all of the water into the other cups until all three are filled. This is symbolic of God, with an infinite amount of divine essence, giving “birth” to the other two parts of the Trinity, which now also contain divine essence.
- Let the smoke from the incense pass through the Tarot cards, and then through the water-symbolic mixture. Anoint yourself with this water, and pray for your desire. Ask for divine blessings.
- When and if you feel the reply of God giving you His blessing, take some of the “Holy” water and anoint yourself with this, feeling His divine love overcoming you.
- Perform a closing ritual and symbolic action.