Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.
View your shopping cart Shopping Cart | My Account | Help | Become a Fan on Facebook Become a Fan | Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us | Watch Us on YouTube Watch Us | Subscribe to our RSS Feeds Subscribe
Browse ProductsAuthorsArticlesBlogsEncyclopediaNewslettersAffiliate ProgramContact UsBooksellers
Advanced Search
ENCYCLOPEDIA
Glossary
What's New
Most Popular
List of Articles

Email Exclusives
Sign up to receive special offers and promotions from Llewellyn.

Get the Latest Issue of New Worlds

September/October Issue

New Worlds Catalog

Get the FREE app for your tablet and mobile device. Now available in the iTunes Store and the Google Play Store

Also available as a PDF File.

Click for more information about New Worlds or to receive issues via mail.


The Llewellyn Encyclopedia
Print this Term Print this Article

Witchcraft and Voodoo

This article was written by Donald Tyson on September 05, 2003
posted under Psychic Powers

Voodoo and Witchcraft are the two most misunderstood religions in the world. Each has a public image and an inner reality. Most frequently that public image has little to do with the private, inner and real religion.

Voodoo
Voodoo is a mixture of Catholicism and ancient African religion. The Voodoo faith holds that there is one God, the creator of the universe. Subordinate to this God are the Loas, lesser deities or saints who act as messengers between the Voodoo practitioner and God. Finally, there are priests known as Houngans and priestesses called Mambos. Although most of the followers of the Voodoo faith at an earlier time were black, it is believed that now one-third to one-half are white. About three-quarters of Voodoo followers are women.

Unless you have been able to avoid the nonsense put out by Hollywood and various yellow journalistic endeavors, you will know that magic is a part of (although not the primary part of) the Voodoo faith. There are Voodooist who cast hexes, the most powerful and negative of these hexes known as wangas. However, there are also other Voodooist who use powerful counter-spells called pouins to break the wangas. Other Voodoo followers make herbal remedies and magical potions. Some are clairvoyant and are known as Quatre Yeux (French for "four eyes").

Perhaps the most important part of Voodoo is the actual Voodoo religious ceremony. After starting out slowly, the voodooist work themselves up to a spiritual and religious frenzy, using such things as dance, music and liquor to help inspire them. In some ceremonies, especially those staged for high-paying tourists, sex and drugs are also used.

Eventually, some of the Voodoo followers are possessed by the Loas. The Loas are then said to "ride a horse." While being possessed or "ridden," the Voodooist (i.e. the "horse") may speak in tongues, make predictions and give advice, writhe on the ground, handle poisonous snakes, work magical spells, etc. There is much similarity here to such Christian sects and the so-called Holy rollers, the Snake Handlers, the Shakers, and some Charismatic sects.

Although Voodoo started in the Caribbean, it got a foothold in New Orleans and from there has spread to virtually all major cities in the U.S.

Witchcraft
Witchcraft is a remnant of pre-Christian religion. It is as beautiful as it is old. It has nothing to do with Satanism or Devil worship. Today, more and more people are dissatisfied with traditional religious structures and are seeking deeper, more meaningful relationships with divinity through alternate methods. Some Jews find it in the Hassidic movement, and some Christians find it in the highly publicized charismatic and "born-again" movements. Some people have chosen Eastern religions instead of the Western ones into which they were born. Some people, because of a deep love of nature, and also because of the feminist movement, have discovered Witchcraft.

There is no monolithic structure to Witchcraft, but many Witches will agree with or believe in the following:

There is a single, unknowable Godhead which can be approached through its manifestations as Goddess or God. Some Witches, however, only believe in a Goddess.

Be in harmony with nature and her cycles (hence the interest by ecologists) as represented by the changing phases of the Moon and the changing of the seasons.

"An it harm none, do what thou wilt" ("An" is an Old English word meaning "if").

Accept no payment for your work done with witchcraft ways.

Modern Witchcraft Traditions
Hereditary Witchcraft: wherein the ways of the Craft have been in the family lineage.
Dianic Wicca: wherein the Goddess is exalted and there is no male aspect to divinity. In it the covens (groups of worships) may consist only of women.
Traditional Witchcraft: wherein the ways of the craft have been maintained by coven lineage. There are many types of traditionalist witches. Only a few types are listed below due space constraints. Some examples include:
Celtic: they trace their heritage back to the ancient Celts.
Nordic: they trace their heritage back to ancient Norse religion.
Druidic: they trace their heritage back to the Druids of ancient England.
Gardnerian: wherein people follow the teachings of Gerald B. Gardner as allegedly passed to him by Traditionalists and mixed, by him, with things taken from old books, Kabalistic magic, and the poetry of a friend.
Alexandrian: wherein people follow the teachings of Alex Sanders who combined Gardnerian Witchcraft with more Kabalistic ideas.

Witchcraft is primarily a religion. There are many holidays in Witchcraft, most of which have been taken over by Christianity. In a similar fashion, many Pagan Gods became Christianized as saints. Witches are healers, counselors, and clairvoyants.

As part of the faiths of the Witches, most followers believe in and perform magic, just as Catholics believe in transubstantiation. And just as the wine and wafer become blood and flesh, so, too, does magic work for the Witch.

Magic takes time. It comes about through natural laws. If you cast a love spell it does not mean that your intended will rush to your door, only that he or she will become more enamored of you. If it did happen instantly, that would be a miracle. Witches work magic, not miracles.

Magic is one aspect of the religion of Witchcraft. Witches do not work "black" magic because of two basic Witch laws which most Witches accept. The first is "An it harm none, do what thou wilt." To a Witch this means, among the more obvious interpretations, that you can work magic if nobody is hurt; nobody! The second reason Witches don’t do "black" magic is because of a general Witch belief in the karmic "threefold law" whatever you do magically will come back to you three times over. It would be foolish to do something that would hurt someone if you knew that you were going to face the same thing, only three times more powerfully!

Witchcraft understands the duality in nature, and, in fact, was originally a fertility religion. Therefore, sex is an aspect of the religion of the Witches. But it is only an aspect, not the whole religion. Many, if not most Witches, do not involve sex in their religion except symbolically.

It is important to briefly mention how witchcraft became mixed up with Satanism in the minds of many people. Many Pagans (from the Latin meaning "country dweller") in ancient Rome used to worship Pan, the fun loving satyr and fertility God frequently pictured playing the pipes, a type of wind instrument.

As anthropologists know, one society’s gods become the devils of the society which conquers them. To imply that the Pagans were not worshipping a god but were worshipping a devil, early Christians began describing the devil as looking like Pan: tailed, hooved and with horns. The earliest Papal Bulls against Witchcraft accused the Witches of worshipping other gods, not of worshipping Satan.

Later, in an attempt to totally wipe out the Pagan religions, the charge was changed to devil worship. Confessions by Witches to devil worship came about through unbelievable torture, and, in fact, would not be accepted unless torture was involved.

Here are two facts you should keep in mind:

It is hard to find and join a true Voodoo or Witchcraft group.

Whenever enough people are looking for something, an enterprising person is bound to come along and provide what is wanted.

In virtually any major city in the U.S, with a few questions and requests placed in the right papers and places, it is possible to watch or participate in a "Voodoo" or "Witchcraft" ceremony for a fee. This is usually a slim cover for a sexual orgy. It is not true Voodoo. It is not true Witchcraft. With time and patience you may be able to find a true Voodoo group or Witchcraft Coven, but you will not find one by paying a fee.

Witchcraft Covens which do work with the sexual energies within the human being. Unfortunately, some observers find it impossible to see the spirituality inherent in a loving sexual union. Therefore, if there is a ritual which involves the use of sexual union, either real or symbolic, some people will only see the S-E-X. This tells far more about the observer than it does the worshipper.

Remember, Witchcraft and Voodoo groups that are real are also not so easy to find. You may first run into some false groups out to pick your pocket, satisfy the ego of a leader, or involve you in unwanted sexual activity. True Witchcraft and Voodoo groups which use sex spiritualize the sexual act and work with the energies raised during sexual activity. If you do join a group which uses sex, make sure that the sex is spiritualized, the energies are used to a positive end, and that you are not coerced into doing something you do not wish to do.

But how will you know if the Voodoo group or Witchcraft group is a true religious organization and is right for you? The answer is simple. Check your emotions. Check your feelings. If it feels good and positive and right, go with it. If it doesn’t feel good or seems wrong to you, stay away.

While Llewellyn's Classic Tarot has my name on the cover, I did not so much design this project as direct it. Llewellyn wanted a deck that was designed to be faithful to the traditional tarot images, symbols, and meanings recognizable to most modern tarot readers and students. Creating a faithful yet new expression of timeless tarot imagery is... read this article
The Union Screaming House: The Haunting Continues...Long After the Doors Are Shut
365 Ways to Attract Good Luck
The Oracle of the Angels
Tarot: Group Dynamics Spread
Evolutionary Astrology: What the Moon's Nodes Mean in Your Chart

Most recent posts:
Part 2: Why Work with Demons?
Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Aaron Leitch, author of several books, including Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires, The Angelical...

Part 1: Why is Satan in the Grimoires?
Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Aaron Leitch, author of several books, including Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires, The Angelical...

A Spread About You
This spread, called Alive, Dead, and Undead, is from the Vampires Tarot of the Eternal Night book. It was created as a companion to the deck and thus...




Easy Tarot Reading Easy Tarot Reading
The Process Revealed in Ten True Readings

By: Josephine Ellershaw
Price: $14.95 US,  $16.95 CAN
$10.47 US,  $11.87 CAN On Sale!
Llewellyn's 2015 Astrological Calendar Llewellyn's 2015 Astrological Calendar
82nd Edition of the World's Best Known, Most Trusted Astrology Calendar

By: Llewellyn
Price: $14.99 US,  $16.99 CAN
Llewellyn's 2015 Witches' Datebook Llewellyn's 2015 Witches' Datebook
By: Llewellyn
Price: $10.99 US,  $12.50 CAN
Llewellyn's 2015 Daily Planetary Guide Llewellyn's 2015 Daily Planetary Guide
Complete Astrology At-A-Glance

By: Llewellyn
Price: $12.99 US,  $14.95 CAN
You Are the Answer You Are the Answer
Discovering and Fulfilling Your Soul's Purpose

By: Michael J Tamura
Price: $16.95 US,  $19.50 CAN