A Brief Examination of Paganism
Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
A more encompassing term for witchcraft would be paganism. It has been called "man's first attempt at technology or his initial effort to gain control of his environment. Paganists chose certain people to be in charge of these efforts who were called shamans or Witch doctors.
Shamans gave human names to natural forces and then would use various means to attempt to communicate with these environmental units. When the Shaman's efforts failed, he would inform his followers that the "gods" required or demanded a sacrifice or gifts. Confusion began during the middle ages when Paganism and Christianity met head on. There was a blending of beliefs in an attempt at compromise to keep the peace and encourage social acceptance.
Many of the Pagan traditions in force in America today are easily identified by religion and philosophy dating back to Greek, Roman and Egyptian worship and beliefs. There is a difference however in religions which derive some sort of "divine revelation" and natural religions.
Paganism centers around goddess worship or worship of the "earth mother" or the "huntress." The most common form of goddess worship is wiccan, which is a masculine noun. The feminine form being wiccee, with the performance of wiccee beliefs being called "wiccee-craft" or witchcraft. There a number of forms of the Wiccan religion which include Gardnerian magic, Crowlish magic, Druidism and neodruidism, and Shamanism.
Throughout history, persons practicing the wiccan religions have persecuted, ostracised, stigmatized and murdered. History shows that thousands of persons were accused, tortured and convicted on charges of witchcraft even though involvement was slim to none. Thus in many cases, true witches escaped and managed to blend into society.
Paganism often involves "circle magic" whose purpose is to summon positive or negative forces. Many of the Pagan ceremonies resemble those carried out by Satanists. they include a circle large enough for the entire group of worshippers for protection and a consecrated altar in the midst. Attendees may wear a variety of different colored robes or be "sky clad" (naked). The chalice used in the ceremony represents the female sexual organ; while the athame - at least 9 inches long (a razor sharp knife) - represents the male sexual organ.
Confusion occurs in discussions of the various forms of magic. Pagans make a distinction between the "negative" and "positive" force. Black magic is used for purposes while so-called white magic is summoned to perform good. All the members of the church of Wicca strongly deny any connection with Black magic. Instead, they claim the title White Witches. Their aims, they assert, are only good ones.
They dislike the term witches, and prefer to be called Practitioners of Wicca, The Craft, or The Old Religion. The Wiccan religion is based on the natural cycles of the earth and all things related celestially. They work with all the phases of the moon and with multiple facets of the creating energy, which they term god and goddess. They claim to worship the creator but that the creator is both male and female in the same image as man was created. They do not see god or goddess as being above, in the heavens, but as being all around us in the earth.
They own the reason their god has horns is due to the fact that he represents both man and horned animals. They have many names for their god such as Pan, Kerminos, Mars, Zeus, Apollo, Thor, Odin. They claim they do not worship many gods, but rather one god and one goddess with many names. They point out the difference between themselves and Satanism as Satanists practicing a form of anti-Christianity, or the belief in the force of evil.
Wiccans believe that all forces are natural, that are created by the god and goddess, and are neither good nor evil. "We can work good with them, or we can work evil with them, but they are just there." They state that they are pantheistic and believe that all things of the earth are part of the creator. They observe both summer and winter solstices, spring and fall equinoxes, and cross quarters.
A good Pagan will follow the two sets of laws they have. The first is the Wiccan Read, a set of laws from ancient times. It culminates in the following words: "An ye harm none, do what ye will" meaning you can do anything you want so long as it hurts no other living thing. The second, `The Charge of the Goddess' is allegedly the word of the goddess, commanding believers to worship the goddess, respect all life on earth for she put it there, and that believers must gather on the sabats and the full moons and worship her. It is required that they celebrate Samhain (October 31), a Celtic holiday honoring the ghosts of warriors who've died.
It is believed that this is a time when the physical world is closest to the other world. It is their concept of heaven although they do not believe in rewards after death. They believe, "when you die, you just go to the other place." There is strong belief that whatever they ask when the moon is full will be granted by the goddess. They also believe in reincarnation.
Another part of the `Charge of The Goddess' says if you want to be truly free, you shall be naked in all your rites. Despite their claims that nudity has nothing to do with sex, their literature states elsewhere that magic and spells are best performed immediately after orgasm. Of course they are quick to point out that this only involves consent with individuals.
Members wear an amulet with a five pointed star, the single point pointing up. The five points represent earth, air, fire, water and spirit over all. It is also the symbol of man within the universe. At different levels of competency within the craft, they are tattooed. This tattoo includes a seven pointed star which is reported as being "tied in with the seven mystical planets." There also is a circle "that contains the knowledge" and a crescent moon denoting one who has attained the third or teaching degree.
The minimum time for a recruit to become a witch is about one year, as they must participate in all eight sabats, and all thirteen full moons each year. Then a student qualifies to ask for initiation to become a witch. Before, they were a Pagan, but not a witch. One is initiated when they receive the "power." When one knows how to direct energies into the great energy of the creation, it is the same as being a priest, clergy or rabbi. After another year one may qualify for the second degree in where they are taught teaching technics. The culmination being the third degree, when one is allowed to go out and teach others how to be witches.
What about their practices of magic? They claim to use magic only for "good" purposes and never evil. They use a number of objects such as crystals to channel energies. One of the laws they live by is `The Law of Three' which basically stated, mens anything you do returns to you three times. Therefore, they exclaim why would I want to evil to anyone if it returns unto me three times? Besides, their first law is "An ye harm no one, do what ye will." Nevertheless, if they feel they are being threatened, they will use their powers to turn "your evil (in their eyes) back on you with a very strong `Law of Three'." Of course this to be construed as your fault and not because of anything they did.
While professing no belief whatsoever in Satan's existence, they are very careful in how they conduct their rites, as if the circle drawn using the `athame' or wands should be broken, they would then be vulnerable to a horde of evil spirits. They insist that hell does not exist. They often take occult names for themselves as a cover.
Some final beliefs; the belief that `Self' always comes first, and with your body being a temple, must always be first. The conviction that as witch, one's spirit and soul will become part of the goddess, part of the natural energy of creation and will be channeled into whatever is next.
So what is the difference between witchcraft and Satanism? Both are anti-Christ by definition. The term anti-Christ means not only opposed to, but of a necessity implies something in place of Jesus Christ. Both are forbidden in the Holy Scriptures. Satanism openly proclaims their reverse image of Christianity, while Paganism hides behind semantics by calling their use of the black arts "only for good." Both are centered around self gratification of lust.
In conclusion, both are of the occult and should be avoided at all costs by Christians. We have no reason to fear, for He Who is in us is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).