Hello Dear Friends,
When Dorothy first lands in Oz, Galinda asks “are you a good witch or a bad witch?” Dorothy is shocked, and replies “I’m not a witch at all!” Whether you are new to Paganism, or a long time practitioner – this question will be asked (perhaps even by you) at some point. And, it is a question that you must answer for yourself.
Being Pagan does not necessarily make you a witch. While there are some, for whom, this term still holds negative connotations. There are others, such as we, who have decided to embrace the label in an attempt to eradicate the stigma that History has placed.
So what does it mean to be a Pagan? What does it mean to be a Witch? Well the term Paganism is defined as “an umbrella term that describes a variety of denominations – known to Pagans as traditions – which for the most part organize themselves and operate without a centralized religious body or standardized dogma.” (pg. 1 of Paganism An Introduction to Earth-Centered Religions by Joyce and River Higginbotham.) To be a Pagan, is to be a follower of one of these non-indoctrinated traditions.
Being Pagan is very individualized. The deities that one chooses to honor, the mystical beings one is called to work with, the tools one adopts into their practice – all of these things, and more, are specific to the practitioner. For instance, Iona is an eclectic pagan, who honors both Celtic and Greek deities, and works with Dragons. SidheSidhe is an eclectic pagan, who honors Welsh and Norse deities, and works with faery folk. We are both Pagan, but we work very differently in the Pagan tradition. And we’re both Witches.
To be a witch, one probably (hopefully) practices Witchcraft… Seems pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? Witchcraft is not necessarily how it is described by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary online: the practice of magic, especially black magic; the use of spells and invocation of spirits; communication with the devil or with a familiar. (SidheSidhe intends to write a vulgar letter to M-WD letting them know how grossly incorrect their definition is, just FYI). As two working witches, we define witchcraft as the practice of magick (yes with a k) through various means such as spell casting, fashioning potions, divination, etc. Let it be known there are differing opinions on the notions of black, white and/or grey magick, even amongst the contributors of this blog.
As previously mentioned, we the Midwest Witches, use our powers for good and not for evil! Just kidding that’s not the point… But really we do! We have adopted the label “witch” because it is a word that encompasses our practices as Pagans, and gives us a sense of empowerment. That is not to say that you have to be a witch to be a Pagan, or be a Pagan to be a witch. That is a label that can only be ascribed to a person, by that person. Don’t ever let somebody call you something you are not comfortable with. Period. Some people will tell you that only those that practice Wicca can be called a Witch. However, we don’t believe that. Paganism is such a unique, and beautiful, universally accessible religion, that if you want to identify as a Witch, then by all means – go for it!
So, there we have it. Are you a good witch or a bad witch? Are you a witch at all? Only you can choose. But deciding between being a good witch or a bad witch, is all about intention. A topic we will certainly cover, at length, quite soon.
With love and light,
The Midwest Witches