What would Halloween be without witches? Let’s face it, they are the true face of Halloween besides that grinning gourd you stick a candle in on your porch. But, why do we associate witches with evil and dark purpose? Is it that they are portrayed as ugly child eating folks who can make your life a misery with a spoken word or thought against you? Well, your next door neighbor who is sick of your dog pooping on their Sunday paper could be just as guilty as that. And, you may want to burn them at the stake to teach them the error of their ways too. So are you a witch with dark purpose in mind now too? That’s the thing about people, they all perceive evil in their own way.
It is also said that ignorance is bliss and as noted in the Judeo Christian bible, knowledge is evil.
This brings us to a person who many believe is the mother of all witches. And even she is not “evil”; just smart and knew what she wanted. But, when a certain faith switched from being matriarchal to the being all about the boys taking over, she was vilified and all women were then subjugated in this faith and the faiths branching off from it. So, let’s start with her.
Otherwise known as Adam’s first wife and the first recorded divorce in history, I would suppose.
In the earliest recorded Bibles, it was said that Adam was given a mate. It wasn’t Eve, (she was the “other” woman who came later), and it was Lilith.
Lilith was smart, tough, and the perfect wife for a guy who was alone in the world and had to deal with the wild beasts and hardships of what was the longest camping trip in history. She, unlike Eve, was not from Adam’s own body taken, but created equally from the same lump of mud Adam came from. Lilith was also expected to produce strong offspring who could survive in these conditions. She had to nurture and raise them to adulthood otherwise humankind would be wiped out and you would not even be reading this. So, Lilith was under no pressure, huh?
Now, she is mentioned in Babylonian, Sumerian, and other scripts as well, but let’s just go with the one most of us are familiar with. And, as this is an online article and not a book, but there is a fine book I will tell you about later and you can check it out. But, back to our story in already in progress…
So, Lilith and Adam were about to procreate for the first time. Lilith climbed on top of Adam and just as she was about to consummate, Adam threw her off of him. He was not about to be dominated by her mate as in his mind he was master of all. Yep. Lilith wanted to ride “cowgirl” and Adam was more a man in a “missionary” state of mind. He was going be in charge and the teacher here. So, Adam protested to God and demanded a more submissive mate. Lilith is cast out of Eden then went to “shack up” with the Devil. And so, the cast offs became the epitome of the phrase “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”.
In other words, they both hated mankind and in the humorous vein, Lilith has a real “bone” (rib bone) to pick with men especially. So, she became a seductress, life sucker, and consumer of all of Eve and Adam’s descendants…especially eating babies.
Now, all these attributes are associated with witches. We know this from things like “Hansel and Gretel” and the stories wanton lustful women stealing husbands from wives, etc. In the infamous, “Malleus Maleficarum”, a book written by early Christian monks has this to say, “What else is a woman but a foe to friendship? They are evil, lecherous, vein, and lustful. All witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which is, in women, insatiable.”
It was not divine purpose that has her seen this way. It was men deciding that women were weaker and could not be entrusted to rule as they bled once a month, were not physically as strong and also, just not as smart. And, the first guy to encounter a women going through menopause (and no hormone treatments around) learned “hell hath no fury” like a lady going through a bodily chemical change.
Simply put, early men were easily scared and stupid and of course, controlling. See? That whole lack of knowledge thing biting them back like they did of Eve’s apple. And these days, a lot of this attitude and the crimes perpetrated by this are now in the news.
Should the witches be part of and post in the “#MeToo” campaign? Of, course they should.
They were the first to be assailed and attacked. And, there were male witches too. And, not warlocks as fiction as dubbed them. A witch is a witch. Wizards, mages, and so on were outgrowths. They used “magic”, but in an accepted “male” way. Put Merlin and Alistair Crowley on the back burner of your head for now.
But mostly, any woman who was smart and strong was a threat. And we know how the tribal mentality handles threats. Kill it. And kill it mostly with fire. Lilith did not damn mankind; instead she doomed her sisters because of bad press and ulterior motive. So, all of you on Facebook and other social media are familiar with this I’m sure.
Back to the witches…
So, now any wise woman in any village or town who could heal the sick, help birth a baby, or mix compounds from plants and animal essences that were beneficial were suspect to some who hated that they had talent and knowledge. If they could help, then they could harm too. Right? Well, right. Does this make Monsanto or DuPont and their board of directors and their scientists a “coven” and not a corporation? Maybe if they were around a couple thousand years ago. This is that whole “perception” deal again.
Wicca, a faith which most witches are erroneously associated with, means literally, “Wise one” and so being wise is a good thing. And wisdom comes from knowledge and that as we know be dangerous too. You know too much and you are a threat. Threats are evil. So, smart people who think for themselves are hated by the mainstream. Nikolai Tesla, a scientist who made science look like magic, is a perfect example.
So now we have the core of our belief that all who are wise and think differently are evil to mainstream society. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t as the saying goes. And wiccans are considered “Pagans”. The definition of Pagan from Miriam Webster dictionary in the old fashioned term is: “A person who is not religious or whose religion is not Christianity, Judaism, or Islam.”
Here are the differences between Pagans, Wiccans, and Witches based on some research and my own interaction with all three in my own experience.
Pagan faith: Pagans worship Nature and all that it entails…the seasons and what they bring, the sun and moon phases. They created gods and goddesses who mandate these things as well. Wicca, Viking beliefs, Hinduism, Shintoism, Asatru, Shamanism, and Druidry are part of this and rooted there. It also includes that there is a natural balance and order of all things in heaven, Earth, and elsewhere.
Witches, the religion itself: By incantation, ritual, use of candles, stones, crystals, animal entrails, potions, charms, aromatherapy, natural healing they practice their faith and craft. They use runes, cards, crystal balls, pools of water (both fresh and salt), palmistry etc. To divine answers to a person’s fate and future based on the current situation, a person is in at the time. But, capricious are these methods as people can change their own fate through free will and as only as accurate as the moment they are in. but, if they do not change their path, then the future foretold them might come to pass. Many witches are psychics and speak with the dead. On Halloween, many of them hold “dumb dinners” where they eat in silence and put out plates for the newly departed who still cling to our living realm and have not given up all earthly things like still wanting food and drink. A noted psychic in history was Nostradamus was a known practitioner of both medicine and magic. His method of “scrying” (using a pool of water to divine things), is attributed to the Ancient Hebrew craft of “Kabbalah”. He was a Christian, but only on the surface to keep him from the same flames that burned witches, Jews, and heretics in his time. And so witches can be Christian, Jewish, Hindi, Atheist depending on the form they choose to practice. Include in this Voo-Doo ( an outgrowth of mixing Catholic saints with African Gods and Goddesses) to practicing dark arts while still being defined as part of a known “faith”. A true follower of this religion can be many different things combined or not even interested in Nature or other religions. They can simply be a witch. Harry Potter and his world are a good “Pop Culture” example reflecting this idea. As Hagrid said when meeting Harry, “You’re a Wizard (ie; Witch), Harry and you’ll be a thumping good one with some training”. So, now think Merlin, Crowley, Nostradamus as further male examples of Witches.
And finally, the Wiccan: A Wiccan embodies much of the first two. In Wicca, the sun is God and the Moon is Goddess. Some branches only have one have multiple Gods and Goddesses in the eclectic sense. They have 8 Sabbats (Sabbaths) involving seasonal equinoxes (like Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter specific days of seasonal turn). Nature is the core of this faith and so is the “Rede” and includes the rule of three. The Rede is: “And it harm none, do as thou wilt” or in today’s lexicon: “As long as you don’t do harm, do what you want.”
The rule of three is an outgrowth and warning of breaking the Rede… “Ever mind the rule of three, Three times what thou givest returns to thee. This lesson well, thou must learn. Thee only gets what thou dost earn!”
Simply put, you do any harm; you get it back three times over.
And I know this from personal experience; practitioners of pure witchcraft as a religion are not bound by anything. They do what they will. So, beware pissing off these folks.
The worst spell they cast is one I witnessed and was involved with. A very dark friend of mine who led a coven telling a very evil person (they had gotten away with molesting a child by their attorney using a legal loophole) that they should only get what they deserve. I asked her if that was enough? She smiled and said, “Why waste good potions and candles on someone who is going to screw themselves up? Not worth the effort and cost of my ingredients and stores. Some of the ingredients cost more than just money to make. Besides, they are being watched by authorities and if they even get near a kid, they will be picked up and their lawyer? They’re soulless for the most part. They will find their fate waiting on the other side.”
Brrr. Get a chill too, folks? So, to close this article, just go out and enjoy Samhain aka Halloween. Have fun and enjoy the freedom of wearing masks and being someone or something else. Eat, drink, and be merry! For the dark winter comes and before the spring arrives, a lot of dark things lurk in the cold long nights and you don’t want to give in to the dark and cold of your own soul or maybe you do. But, if you do…Well, you just might get what you deserve.
Authors Note: If you are interested in this subject further, there is a very fine book just published on witches in general. It is getting great reviews from places like the Washington Post and others. It is titled “The Witch” and is by Ronald Hutton. This book is like witchcraft, you get out of it what you see into it. I liked it, but I was looking at the subject matter, not who wrote it. I was impressed with the material included. Because any good book makes you think and do further research on your own and seek your own answers. Isn’t that what becoming “wise” is all about? Here is the link on Amazon to get you started and is available other places as well.
Artwork by Michael Broom (The Walking Dead, Teen Wolf)