The rise of witchcraft into public view has been exponential over the last decade or so, and really ramped up during the pandemic. It has always been there, but positive, encouraging acceptance by the public is new. Yes, there is still hate from hard core evangelicals and such, but we are also seeing our tools and supplies being sold in common/ big box stores too. I am watching this growing shift in positive acceptance and it gives me hope. Hope for better understanding of what witchcraft and magical practice is. Taking it from the shadows and opening it up to people of all faiths. For in reality, all faiths have a magical practice – it’s part of what Faith is. The belief in something you can not see or prove in current scientific ways, but that you personally experience.
There is one group though that I keep seeing getting a lot of shade from the magical community which is confusing to me, and that is the christian witches. I realize most practitioners come from a history of disconnecting from the church and moving into more nature based/ pagan religious beliefs. I also realize many of them had damaging experiences with the church which is what led them to this change. I really think the hurt is the driving force behind this division between non-christian witches and christian witches. Do the ones who left the church feel it is an invasion of christianity into another of their spaces? Is it because the reclaiming of the word “witch” seems to go against what they were taught by their leaders of the church? Or is it something else?
I can only speak from my perspective and my own experiences, so that is what I intend to do. First we need a little background on my history with the church. The only christian religion I am well versed in is Catholicism. I was raised by a very devout Catholic mother and went to a Catholic school for most of my childhood. So my experience is not just a family connection or Sunday church – but also in-depth daily theology classes. I have listened to other’s experiences in different christian faiths, what their mass was like, what their worship was like, and even went to an evangelical mass with a friend I worked with to try and understand his faith better (I have to interject here – that was the craziest mass I have ever seen. It was more rock concert than mass in my opinion and I still have no clue how they find real connection to divine in that craziness). I have come to realize over the decades that what I experienced as a Catholic was not what other christians of other denominations experience. So keep that in mind as I continue.
I was really young (around 8-9) when I came to the realization that I was not a christian – not in the sense of the church. I credit this early awakening to the fact that I attended a catholic school. I kept seeing too many contraindications in the text and in the people. When you have to study the texts in depth as a class every day for 9+years – you get a whole other type of education into that religion. What was worse though was the contradictions in the people who supposedly followed the religion. They would teach one thing and then do another. They would ask for forgiveness of a sin that they would then go back out and commit again – confession was just a revolving door for them. They would preach love and forgiveness but practice hate, jealousy, and vengeance in their own lives. The biggest issue though I think had to do with those who called themselves christian but did not seem to really understand those teachings at all. They did not really know what was actually written in their bible – just what the priest said – or the deeper lessons those passages were trying to teach. The bible itself isn’t a literal guide as most use it – it is a book full of stories trying to teach moral dilemmas and experiences to make one confront these things within themselves and the world around them – parables. There were specific things within the faith I also did not jive with, but much of that had to do with the hierarchy of the church, the degradation of women, intentional mistranslations to fit their narrative, burring information that did not fit with their control mechanisms and so forth.
My family knew I was not catholic or christian – that I did not believe as they did. I was very open about this but also very respectful of the fact that it was their beliefs. I still continued to attend catholic school and go to mass with my mother, but I was on a different exploration of faith and finding what I believed in. I spent much of my younger and teen years exploring and reading about all kinds of different religions and faiths beyond christianity. In high school I had a really cool theology teacher who was a Franciscan monk. He was also the drama teacher, so we had a lot of opportunity to sit and do deep discussions on religions. He knew I was not catholic, did not believe in their church, and there was never pressure from him to convert. He talked about eastern/ other religions, faith of nature, animistic beliefs, and in the end I think I would credit him for helping me to see that at the core of all of these religions was the same thing – be a good person to nature, to the people you encounter, and live in harmony within it all.
Moving from a background of Catholicism into that of witchcraft/ animistic beliefs was actually a very easy one. The catholic church is seeped in magic and ritual. Everything about them screamed it – from their mass, to their holidays, and even how the hierarchy/ pope conducted church business. They have their own magical people and mystics, the only difference is they did not call them “witches”. If you look closely you will find this in all christian denominations – because they all used magic against “witches”. It is a good time to interject here that it wasn’t/ isn’t magic that christians are against – it is certain types of magic. Any church that practices the eucharist is performing magic – turning bread and wine into the body and blood. Any church that speaks to god or is “filled with the holy spirit” is performing a type of divination. Any church that speaks in tongues or prays for protection is weaving magic. The problem isn’t in the magic – it is a problem of language that modern christians just don’t understand. It is blindness to real perspectives and understanding what they are actually doing in their religion.
The Catholics have their own pantheon just as many pagan religions. They call them angles, saints, the trinity, but that is exactly what a pantheon is – more than one. They call upon them for help, for strength, for protection. They pray to them and honor them. They have feasts to remember them. They have patrons they are connected to. Mary was held in the highest regard in the catholic church. She is who the women connected to the most, prayed to, honored – Mary is the catholic Goddess, and was treated as such. No, they did not use the word Goddess but all the action and intention was the same. I have since learned that many of the later denominations have demoted, diminished, and even completely cut out Mary which makes a lot of sense as to why they treat women the way they do. In order to diminish women, you need to eliminate their Feminine Divine – Their Goddess.
Yes, even Catholics diminish the role of women within the church but they did not completely take away the Goddess. You also need to understand some information that did not make it into the bible to understand why women pose such a threat to the church. Knowledge easily found if you know where to look. There are many gospels and text that did not “make it into the bible”. The Vatican really does hold a treasure trove of texts that are not released to the common people. Some shrug this off as myth but it isn’t. The crusades alone brought tons of texts to the church, that the church deemed as unfit because it would break the control of the church over people.
Jesus was against the idea of churches – buildings – hierarchy controlling divine connection. If you actually read, even what is in the bible, it is there. He preached a connection to divine being between the person and divine without any middle man. That’s not a good business model or control mechanism – especially for those who wanted to control others. If you really look, Jesus preached more animistic and personal spirituality than the construction of a religion. This sunk in more when I started digging into Mary Magdalene and reading the Gospel of Mary. Her words echoed those sentiments – that nothing stood between us and divine. Now it is no secret that the disciple Peter, who is the corner stone or foundation the “church” was built upon, was an extremely aggressive, misogynist asshole. He always felt women were lesser than and should serve men. That extreme thinking was even more obvious in the Gospel of Mary. Peter, and his jealousy of Mary, is a main reason why women were never allowed to teach or hold a position of power. You can disagree if you want, but the evidence is stacked everywhere if you look. The church was not built for the faith – but for power, control, and domination, and it did it’s job very well.
All denominations of christians rose from the roots of the catholic church – splitting off to change things they didn’t like. Omitting parts and adding in their own. That is the problem with religion – religion is a set of rules to follow, not a structure to help you build connection with divine. Church is about building a community and controlling that community– not personal experience with the divine. This doesn’t mean people can not create these things within themselves using the tool of the religion and the church – but it is not the goal of a religion or a church. The goal is to have people follow them, believe in the what they believe, and gain wealth from the people. Inserting themselves as the middle man between you and divine.
I have experienced hate, threats, and attacks by those who call themselves christians. I don’t think anyone is really immune to this because I saw them do it to each other too. I don’t have trauma from it though. I did not experience some of the things others have and am not here to compare those experiences because we can not compare trauma – that is personal. My family wasn’t happy but they also did not condemn me or disown me. I got hate from some of the priests and nuns in my school but also found some who supported me. I was lucky but I also think it was because of my approach – not one of anger and hate but one of “it’s just not who I am”. I held respect for their beliefs even though they were not mine. I was respectful when in their spaces but my prayers and words spoken were my own.
I don’t have a hatred for people who have their own connection to divine no matter what name or face that divine takes. In all honesty it is none of my business and has nothing to do with me and my connection. I have hatred for a hierarchy that has committed massive genocide and damage to every corner of the world they touched. I have hatred for the damage and death they left in their wake. I have hatred for those who feel it is their job to eliminate anyone who is not like them. My hatred is not for their beliefs, my hatred is for their actions. They hide behind the mask of their beliefs when committing these things, but it is not their faith making them do these things– it is them, the person, who is doing these things. It is their own wants and desires driving them, not any form of divine.
So now that we have gone through my personal history let’s get on with the real topic – Christian Witches.
I have deep sympathy for them. There are getting hate from both sides of the isle. Christians are demonizing them and pagans are attacking them, and here I am trying to figure out why. Christianity is seeped in magic – so why are they being attacked by their own people. Is it because they choose to use the word “witch” and most christians do not understand what that really means in modern context? Is it because they are defying the hierarchy of the church and building their own connection to Divine? I can only guess and speculate here as I am not part of that community. Perhaps a Christian Witch will enlightening me here.
I am part of the pagan/ animistic witch side of things though. With that being said – I am having a hard time figuring out why they have so much hate directed at Christian Witches. I really feel it boils down to the invasion of a religion they have been hurt by, the world has been hurt by, into a space they felt was all theirs. I could be wrong but it feels like the main theme of the hate I have seen. The christian witches I’ve seen aren’t doing that though. They are just building their own connection, their own path, like all of us. Their pantheon looks different, but how they are using them is the same.
It has brought so much confusion within me. To me, christian witches would be a great ally in that community. They are showing other christians a new way of being, of connecting to divine. They are bringing nature and the laws of nature back into a corrupted system. They are showing that the word “witch” is not what they think it is. For over a thousand years our ancestors, especially women and healers, were what we consider witches – they were also christian witches. They used the tools of that faith. They connected to the saints and Goddess of that religion. They were deeply connected to nature because it was their survival. So why are we not supporting them? Why are we not welcoming them? Why is there so much hate and shade being directed at them? Why is our community treating them in the same manner that christians are treating pagans?
At some point all this hate and division has to stop. If we ever hope to build strong communities we can not do it the way christians have. We can not use hate and fear to force people to believe as we do. We can not cling to our texts as absolute truth, word for word, like they do. We can not place other people between us and divine – that connection and experience belongs to us alone. We do not have to believe the same way to respect that each of us has our own beliefs born from personal experience. Respect isn’t giving into another, surrendering to them and their beliefs, converting others – it is allowing each to be who they are.
I am not a christian witch but I welcome them with open arms. I welcome their perspectives and their place as an ally within their religion. I welcome the knowledge on how they are using the tools from their religion to shape and transform their practices. I welcome the conversations and healthy debates that could be had between us. I welcome anyone who is walking their own path, building their own connection to divine, and finding their own ways to grow as people.
My hope is that our community will start to see these possibilities and how they, christians witches, are just as much a part of us as any other witch or pagan.