January/February 2016 Issue
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.
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 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 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.
You might have noticed New Year's Day tends to fall at different times in different cultures. For example, Chinese New Year falls in late January or February (at the new moon of their first lunar month). The Jewish New Year (aka Rosh Hashanah, or "Head of the Year") occurs in the fall, at the beginning of the seventh month of their ecclesiastical... read this article
Most recent posts:
It seems fitting that around Valentine’s Day we look at the Lovers card. This one is from the Steampunk Tarot. I remember when we were working on...Deciphering the Nature of Purifying Ritual Space
Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Michael Furie, author of Supermarket Magic, Spellcasting for Beginners, and the new Spellcasting:...Tarot Journaling and the Star
At the beginning of a new year, people often make a resolution to keep a journal. Keeping a journal has many benefits and can be done any number of...