Welcome to our new series “Behind the Art.” In this series, we will take a novel, song, album, painting, film, play, drawing, sculpture, poem, comedy skit, or any other piece of art work, and explore the subjects behind it. We may talk about how the work was created, the time and place in which the piece was created, or the subjects the piece deals with in depth.
My first novel, Lifting the Shadows tells the story of a woman named Brenda who begins practicing Wicca/witchcraft to cope with the pain of her recent divorce.
What is Wicca/Witchcraft?
In 1949, a man named Gerald Gardner wrote a novel titled “High Magic’s Aid.” For his research, he studied a bit about ancient pagan religions and gods, a bit about secret societies…and clearly not a whole lot about the art of creative writing. The book reads like bad fan fiction for “Lord of the Rings” or something in the “Harry Potter” tradition. Very bad fan fiction. It is clearly supposed to start “in the middle of the action,” but reads more like a child telling a story to an adult without realizing the older person does not know all of the people he or she is mentioning.
Gardner needed a way to publicize his book in the days before social media, so he began making claims that he had in fact discovered and joined an ancient pagan religion that had been lost to humankind. No evidence of such a group or his involvement in anything like it exists, but that did not stop Gardner from writing a nonfiction book to teach others about his invented spiritual path….and promote his novel.
This novel and the accompanying nonfiction book would launch what is today known as the religion of “Wicca.” and the practice of modern witchcraft. Some people use the terms interchangeably. Others insist that Wicca is the religion, and witchcraft is the practice; the spells and other rituals done in the name of the craft, arguing that you can practice witchcraft and be a witch without being Wiccan. In a way this is true, as “Wicca” refers to practitioners of witchcraft who practice strictly “white magick,” or rituals in which they intend no harm to others, while there are those who intentionally walk a much darker path.
Why is Witchcraft…including Wicca…harmful?
At first glance, it’s not. Witchcraft teaches its practitioners to respect nature, seek justice, and live in harmony with others. Wicca seems especially benign, as it includes the command “And it harm none, do as you will.”
The harmful part arrives a second later. Witchcraft, including Wicca, teaches that the will of the practitioner is of utmost importance. I may have promised to seek justice, live in harmony, and “harm none,” but if my own will is truly what’s most important, I am probably going to be willing to make a lot of excuses for myself along the way. When the will of God, of Jesus Christ, is most important, I am working to serve the only thing in the world that is pure perfect goodness.
Urging me along in my endeavor to impart my will on everything is an endless buffet of pagan deities I can choose as my patrons. While a Wiccan/witch essentially worships his or her own will, they usually choose a male god and a female goddess to serve and call upon to help them do their bidding. While worshiping Jesus Christ means becoming His child, being adopted into His family, worshiping Wiccan dieties, including the Wiccan version of “Jesus” from the Gnostic gospels, is more like the relationship between an employer and a particularly devoted employee. You work for them, honor them, and serve them but do not belong to them. In turn, they “pay” you by helping you get your way.
What lures people into witchcraft?
It usually starts with a misinterpretation of Christianity. Most people think “Christian” when they hear the word “religion,” but mistake worshiping Jesus Christ with following a lot of disheartening and spirit dampening rules. Wicca is alluring because it promises a way to abandon all those rules and make your own religion by taking a god from here, a goddess from there, a ritual from that religion, and a rule from that, or making everything up on your own. There are a few practices that have become tradition over the decades, but you’re under no obligation to adopt them. It’s all about you and what you decide is good or bad.
Then there’s the fun of casting spells. Most of us have a pretty boring path to follow when we seek something. We pray about it, but beyond that, not much exciting happens. If we need more money, we start filling out job applications, learning about investing, or re-doing our budget. If we want to get along better with our friends, we start making an effort to do more they want to do, or watching what we say so we don’t bring up sore subjects. In witchcraft, you get to plan a ritual based around colors, scented oil, foods, drinks, and decorations. You can even buy glitter or gather sticks and sand. The combination of self focus and fun soon makes the world feel like one big spa day or retreat.
What’s really going on?
No matter how much it feels like a fun release at first, practitioners of witchcraft/Wicca are inviting the enemy into their lives. The very act of worshiping your own wants and needs above the will of God is evil, and draws the delight of the devil. When he sees you’ve also wrapped yourself up in a lot of fun, distracting rituals that disguise his work in your life, he’s doubly delighted. He’ll mess with you. It might be for twenty minutes until you realize you shouldn’t have tried that spell in that book you found after all. It might be for twenty years, until you have a breakdown. It might be sometime in between, but he will mess with you, giving you little bits of what you want, then ruining things just enough to make you want to keep going in witchcraft to fix them again. But he will keep messing with you,until you cry out for Jesus Christ and ask Him to be your Lord and Savior.
The research I used for the novel was conducted after twenty years practicing Wicca in various forms and with varying intensity. I read my first book that taught Wicca in 1996, and cast my last spell the day I was saved in September, 2016. I hope you enjoyed the launch of our new series. If you would like to discuss your own novel, album, or other piece for this site, please contact me through the Artist Cafe Utica Facebook page: www.facebook.com/artistcafeutica