Anyone who is learning witchcraft for the first time might be a bit unnerved by the many stereotypes depicting witches as evil doers who have the devil as a consort and who dance naked by the light of the moon just before preparing to sacrifice an unbaptized child for its fat so they can make flying ointment! Sounds ridiculous, right?
That’s because it is!
So, do witches perform human sacrifice at all? How does someone new to the craft discover this kind of information? And what about awaking one’s magickal powers … is there some kind of trick to it?
WHEW … that’s a lot of questions, but that’s okay because a lot of questioning is a good thing! So, let’s break this information all down for easier comprehension …
The Principles of Belief and the Craft
It’s important to know that there is no single source anyone refers to when learning the ethics and principles of magick or the religious understandings associated with Wiccan practices. Yes, there is an excellent A Witches’ Bible: The Complete Witches’ Handbook written by Stewart and Janet Farrar, but there are also writings throughout the centuries that have much to teach about magick and the philosophy of the occult. Of course, there not only texts written in ambiguous language (so that only the wise eye and one with discernment might get the true meaning within the body of work) but many teachings were lost entirely if not shared orally or handed down in some secret manner from wise from one wise woman/man to the next, particularly during times when practitioners of the old ways feared persecution.
Many modern books about the Craft, some of which stem from the forefathers and mothers of modern day witchcraft, are designed to introduce the new practitioner to principles and guidelines sharing similar information, writings, prose, and point to similar resources: These bodies of work then serve as the canon for Wiccan/Witchcraft teachings; a canon is defined as the body or basic rules and the principles considered true, correct, and fundamental to a chosen philosophy or art.
Within the accepted canon of Wiccan and Witchcraft literature, one pervasive piece is found as the Charge of the Goddess. Now, depending on where you access this piece, the words may vary slightly, but what does not vary is that it is conveyed that in becoming a practitioner of the Craft, there is no sacrifice demanded of the individual who is dedicating themselves to the study of Wicca or Witchcraft and the use of magick.
In Pagan Rituals, author Herman Slater shares the ritual new practitioners perform when dedicating themselves to the study of the Craft where the issue of sacrifice is clearly addressed. As the High Priestess stands in the place of the Goddess, she speaks the words of the Great Mother to the candidate (dedicate):
Then hear now the charge of the Great Mother,
Called by all names of power among men
Before whose altar all the world has approached in reverence,
I am the Eternal Goddess,
Yet I demand no sacrifice
Rather do I give to those who honor me …
Known by many titles, the Threefold Law, The Rule of Three, the Law of Threefold Return, or simply Karma, this tenant explains that we are responsible for the energies we put forth in the world and what comes back to us in return. With this notion in mind Wiccans would not engage in an act of human sacrifice as it would only serve to harm another and then, to harm themselves!
Now, while it is true that there is no sacrifice demanded of any practitioner, it should be noted that the witch will still be responsible for sacrificing something of value.
That’s right, for every practitioner will need to be willing to sacrifice their time to commit to the study and practice of magick and to the time honoring the divine. Time, being the only sacrifice, is still one of the practitioner’s most valuable assets, thus, to enter onto a journey involving the study of the magickal arts is not something one should ever take lightly.
Thirteen Principles of Wiccan Belief and Our Innate Abilities
For anyone who wants to become a witch all you have to do is tap into the power that is already within you, within all of us. Per the Thirteen Principles of Belief established in the 1970s by the Council of American Witches (later disbanded the same year), modern witches realize that we all have innate abilities, all of which stem from within:
“We acknowledge a depth of power far greater than that apparent to the average person. Because it is far greater than ordinary it is sometimes called “supernatural”, but we see it as lying within that which is naturally potential to all.”
The suggestion that these abilities “are naturally potential to all,” explains how many innate psychic skills are not something that only witches have access to – if tapped into, through practice and regular recognition and use, one’s innate abilities can be sharpened so they become more acute or powerful.
What Are Your Innate Abilities?
Now, as a new witch, you might wonder what your innate powers are and how they work. Innate powers refer to any of the sixth senses including clairaudience (referencing psychic hearing); clairvoyance (psychic vision); clairsentience (a psychic feeling/sensation); clairgustance (the psychic sense of taste); clairolfactory (psychic sense of smell); clairtangency (touching an object and reading its energy via psychometry; telepathy (the ability to pick up thoughts or transmit them to another), and clairempathy (the ability to feel the emotions of another).
You may have one or more of the above-mentioned abilities just lying dormant waiting for you to tap into it in order to awaken the ability. You might have all the above abilities with some that are far stronger than the others: This might be the ability you want to focus on first in terms of strengthening and focus as it will be easier for you to awaken a stronger ability than a weaker one.
Are Our Innate Abilities Our Only Powers?
No, there are at least two added powers you have that can prove amazingly powerful once mastered: Your imagination/visualization skills and your ability to define and focus your intent. Magick comes from with you and all you need is to make magick happen is to tap into your existing skills to use them. When working magick, all the trappings, tools, and correspondences are like training wheels that will help you in learning how to improve your visualization skills and to make intense, symbolic, meaningful connections between what you want to manifest or make happen. Once you learn how to align thoughts with proper action, the power to manifest what you want at will is then possible.
Strengthening Your Skills: Study, Learn, and Practice, Practice, Practice
Ed Fitch and Janine Reese express it well in the “Witches Rede of Chivalry,” appearing in their book Magical Rites from the Crystal Well when expressing what a practitioner needs to do to hone their magickal skills. The authors write: “As a Witch, thou have power, and thy powers wax strongly as wisdom increases. Therefore, exercise discretion in the use thereof.”
The method for awakening the magick within you is to study all you can about the magickal arts and the ethics of magickal practices. As a witch, you must strive for knowledge, but you also must be willing to apply what you learn with wisdom. Continual study of the magickal arts is a must for every practitioner who decides to embark on this path, for as your wisdom grows so does the power you handle that you’ll always want to go about using correctly and safely. You’ll want to read as much as you can, but of course, always with a critical eye. Finding a teacher might be right for some who would prefer the guidance and support of a magickal mentor.
Meditation is another tool the practitioner can use for learning how to still and calm the mind, and for mastering control of the self. It is also a tool you can use to improve your innate and visualization abilities. Finally, if looking to hone psychic abilities, practice is essential. Try using Zener Cards to test your extrasensory perception, and work with others when practicing things like telepathy, psychometry, or even remote viewing. Be sure to track your progress as you learn and grow in both wisdom and skill!