The Christine O’Donnell witchcraft scandal has been hugely entertaining. O’Donnell, a rising star in US tea party politics, is wearing a storm over her admission that she ‘dabbled in witchcraft’ in high school. I’m especially enjoying it because I also dabbled in witchcraft, or ‘wicca’, when I was young.
The Bible puts witches and wizards together with words like ‘evil’ and ‘defiled’ and ‘shall surely be put to death’. The Old Testament God was offended by the craft and so are many modern Christians.
Yet those who seek the common essence of all religions quickly see through that nonsense; it swiftly becomes clear that the essence of Christian prayer is the same as the essence of a witchcraft spell. Let me say that in a different way. Faith-driven passionate prayer to God works, faith-driven passionate summoning of the Goddess works—and both use the same inner or subconscious power available to all of us, a power which knows nothing of right and wrong.
The only difference is in the imagery.
For that difference, thousands of witches were burned at the stake. While the Catholic church was enforcing its orthodoxy, it also took witchcraft very seriously—as a competitor. Some of those put to the torch really did summon power in the unorthodox ways, including old women who invoked the Goddess and used herbs to heal the sick. Yes, the persecution was partly a cynical exercise in power, but it was also the product of blindness: zealous authorities could not see through their own god to the being that not only creates all things, it is all things and rejects nothing of itself. It’s a being many call Consciousness.
So, all that to tell you a little story, then to ask you a question.
Imagine this. A little boy comes to his mother in the middle of the night, crying, upset by a nightmare. He says, ‘The giant is coming to eat me again.’ So the mother gets him to draw a picture of the giant, then helps him set it alight in the fireplace. As the paper burns she gets the child to ask the Goddess for help, then to chant the incantation: ‘Bad dreams with me do not belong. With this fire, bad dreams be gone.’ The drawing goes up in smoke as the child—with unwavering faith—claps three times and cheers, triumphant that the nightmare has been banished. Witchcraft, of course.
So here’s the question. If the child had asked God for help rather than the Goddess, then chanted the incantation, would that make it prayer or witchcraft?
The answer is that it doesn’t matter; they are just words for arbitrary ritual. And I have successfully used the same process with my sons, without any appeal to a deity. My son’s faith was in me; but that doesn’t matter either. The essence of the process was faith, not the object of the faith. Belief, not the object of belief. And the power that belief generates is inherent in all of us.
I can’t resist another question. If witchcraft really works (and it does) then couldn’t it be used to do harm as well as good?
Of course. Just like Christianity and Islam.
We are creators within the Creator. We create not only our religions, but also our science. We create our past and future, our right and wrong, our sorrow and joy, our reality and our truth, like a giant flower eternally unfolding. But we are also created to forget that we are the Creator, so that our experience can be real—and so that the Creator can, through us, experience itself in a billion exquisite ways.