~ What is WitchCraft? ~
Witchcraft is a belief system to the best of our knowledge pre-dates the majority of the current major religions (estimated between 30,000
BC to 40,000BC, I know it's right up there Hinduism). But the term Witchcraft
was mostly given by Christian conquerors and priests after the invasion (which I believe was around 1000 A.D/ 11th Century with the Crusades), before that there was no need to give it a name. It was just what all people where brought up to believe. In today’s society it will fall under the category of paganism, which is one who is not a Christian, Muslim, or Jew, especially a worshiper of a polytheistic religion. A point that should be noted is that the Pagan's across Europe had varying belief's and rituals which differed not only over time but from Clan to Clan and village to village, so what I have noted here on these pages are basic primer details, the Celt's are more famous for following the more traditional Pagan religion, and the Druidic religion. Traditional Witchcraft as it is practiced by most Traditional Witches today is of British origin, (where the Pagan revival began half a century ago,) although other European origins exist, and may vary in technique and rituals. Most Witches will add a little of their local environment and cultural background and customs to it making it unique to them.
With regards to our European ancestors beliefs we do know a few things about them and their view of life. The native people of Europe believed in spirits and/or gods, usually associated with the Earth, Sun, and Moon, and these spirits and/or gods led lives that followed the sun's annual journey. The Sun and the moon, and tha changing of the seasons was of great importance to all people as they worked their year around the agricultural year. This is why Samhain is the Pagan New Year as the agricultural year ended with the harvest having been taken in, and the new seeds for the new crop having been planted. Witchcraft is the modern interpretation of the name given to the pagan religion by Christianity. It is also from Christianity that the vast majority of our knowledge of the Pagan/Witch way of life and beliefs come from, (most notably clerical and inquisition records.) Roman records that pre-date Christianities formation also details the Pagan religions. The Roman’s own religion was a Pagan religion before Emperor Constantine brought Christianity to Rome. Other sources include some archeological digs across Europe, and from Family Tradition’s who have maintained an oral history of these ancient religions.
Traditional Witchcraft Coven's do not have the Degree's of initiation that Wicca has. Traditional Witchcraft normally just has a leader of a Coven who is chosen for their knowledge, experience and a willingness to lead. Christians suppressed the native religion, in part, by adopting many of their rituals and customs. Yule became Christmas and Oester became Easter, and all became a part of Christian tradition. However, not all pagans abandoned their beliefs when they "became" Christians. Many of the practices simply went underground and were passed from generation to generation in families. Since most people could neither read nor write, these oral traditions were the only means of keeping the knowledge alive. Without written records, we know very little of these ancient traditions. The records we do have are often distorted, having been written by priests of the inquisition or taken from the inquisitions records themselves.
That isn't to say that we know nothing of Traditional Witchcraft. A little knowledge trickled down and scholars often preserved the mythologies of conquered peoples. Archaeological evidence helps a little too. The neo-pagan revival has attempted to recapture the spirit of the ancient religion, if not its actual practices. Be a little skeptical of those who profess to practice the Old Ways, unless they recognize that they are reinventing those ways rather than reviving them.
Witch's are naturally skeptical by nature, possessing an open but critical mind. Being open-minded is a good thing but not when it makes you susceptible to believing everything that you are told. It may sound like a strange thing to say with regard to a religion but take a scientific approach and gather as much information, (facts,) as possible on the subject before you form opinions and decisions. Witches strive for wisdom and balance. You will need to be courteous, understanding and diplomatic. Sometimes you will be silent and simply listen, and at other times you will offer advice or comfort. Don't try to show off your talents and draw attention to yourself as it is unbecoming. It is also important to realize that all paths lead to the same source, so respect all paths, even if you don't agree with them. Stand up for your beliefs, but don't belittle others for their views. Always try to be confident and respect your body mentally and physically, for it is your temple. Your mind and will are powerful tools, and with a healthy body, can bring about incredible change, and really, this is all you need to "do" magic.
Ok..so this is witchcraft what is Wicca? You might want to check out
WitchCraft vs. Wicca
for more information.