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Types of Witchcraft

You might be wondering about all the labels floating around out there on the internet such as green witch, kitchen witch, Christian witch, and others. Which of these terms, if any, might apply to you? Where did these terms come from? What does it mean to identify as a certain type of witch? And how do these types of witchcraft pertain to Wicca?

Wicca is a religion and witchcraft is a non-denominational set of learnable methods by which you can influence the flow of energy that surrounds you and permeates the universe. If you practice witchcraft within the framework of the Wiccan religion, you are using only one approach among many. As a Wiccan, you are bound by the Wiccan Rede (“An harm it none, do what ye will”), which is incompatible with some other methods of witchcraft. The list of terms that follows explores various types of witchcraft.

Atheist/Agnostic Witch: Atheists or agnostics might see the universe and its various phenomena, including the ability of individuals to influence the flows of energy through witchcraft, as randomly generated and not created from something sentient that requires worship. An atheist or agnostic recognizes no higher power than experience and one's moral code to guide him or her through the practice of any skill from accounting to knitting to witchcraft.

Buddhist Witch: Mixing Buddhism and witchcraft gets a little iffy because the Buddha regarded preoccupation with witchcraft to be a distraction from the deeper goal of enlightenment. Now, as with witchcraft, Buddhism itself could be regarded as a skill set independent from a religion. One of the Buddha’s most famous sermons compares his teachings (the Dharma) to a raft that floats you across the water to enlightenment; when you get to your destination, you should leave the raft behind and get on with your life. I take this to mean that you should not inflate the Dharma from a method to a religion. So can an individual work with two skill sets: Buddhism and witchcraft? Yes, but only to a point. According to the Buddha, you would have to move past the wonders of witchcraft to achieve true enlightenment.

Christian Witch: I know almost nothing about this type of witchcraft, but I have heard that Christian witches equate the Goddess with the Holy Spirit which is part of the Trinity (God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit). She is also Mary, Mother of God, who has an especially strong presence among Catholics. I imagine that, as with Wiccans, Christian witches emphasize harming none. Unfortunately, Christian witches are often regarded with suspicion from the overall pagan community, which contains many who have had bad childhood experiences with Judeo-Christian traditions. Meanwhile, mainstream Christians regard Christian witchcraft as blasphemy, citing the “two masters” quote (Matthew 6:24, Luke 16:13) and the “those who practice magic arts” quote (Revelations 21:8), and of course the “suffer a witch to live” quote (Exodus 22:18).

Green Witch: Green witches emphasize herb-lore and nature above all in their practice. Of course Wiccans recognize the importance of plants in our rituals and as a powerful correspondence in our spells, but some of us may be a bit garden-adverse. We might rather buy herbs online and shake them out of their little glass bottles when the time comes rather than getting dirt under our fingernails actually growing them. Green witches will grow, mix, and use the herbal concoctions, poppets, oils, and infusions first before all other types of correspondences. Green witchcraft is earthy, instinctual, and primal as opposed to something much more abstract, ritualistic, and ornate such as ceremonial magic.

Hearth Witch and Hedge Witch are old terms that may date back to the resurgence of ceremonial magic during the Renaissance by such famous practitioners as Leonardo da Vinci, Nostradamus, Edward Kelley, and John Dee. These sorcerers were highly educated, urban (and urbane) men of the upper classes who practiced a complex blend of science, ornate ritual, and philosophy. Their exact opposite were the practitioners of “low magic,” or the hearth witches and hedge witches who were uneducated peasants, mostly women, whose witchcraft was deeply rooted in the cycles of the earth. The hearth witches and hedge witches had no wealth with which to create or obtain special ritual tools and instead used everyday tools and correspondences from nature. Ultimately, times change and now the most popular and relatable forms of witchcraft are closer to what the hedge and hearth witches practiced than to ceremonial magic. Nowadays, a hearth witch is the same as a kitchen witch, and a hedge witch is the same as a green witch.

Kitchen Witch is a person who practices witchcraft with ordinary materials from the kitchen such as spices, pots, pans, spoons, herbs, and knives – again, as opposed to practitioners of ceremonial magic who would have a whole inventory of specialized ritual tools reserved only for sorcerous use. A kitchen witch might do all witchcraft from the kitchen itself and maintain his or her central altar in the kitchen.

Satanic Witch: I know very little about this type of witchcraft, except that it is incompatible with the Wiccan Rede. Satanism in general can be atheistic as in Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan, founded in 1966, which is more of a philosophy of ruthless individualism than a religion, or theistic in which Satan is worshipped as a deity. A Satanic witch would probably be inclined use the skill set of witchcraft to pursue personal power regardless of harm done to others.

All the previous labels are just that – labels. There is no need to put yourself or your form of witchcraft into a neatly categorized box. Just follow your heart and your instincts and don’t take the terminology too seriously though it can be interesting to know what other people are referring to when they use these terms online.

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