Recently I was asked about paganism and witchcraft, and I thought it about what those things mean to me. This is what I came up with.
Paganism is an umbrella term for a wide range of belief systems centered around nature. Practitioners range from reconstructionists, who aim to follow the traditions and beliefs of their ancestors, to eclectics who mix together bits and pieces from a range of religions and belief systems to create something quite unique to them. Beliefs about god range from polytheism to athiesm, and some also believe in spirits, angels, fairies and demons.
Witchcraft is another term with a broad meaning, and can be practiced by an even wider range of people. It can involve anything from ceremonial magic to gardening and cooking, and can be described as using the forces of nature and/or magic to affect change in the physical world.
My personal relationship with paganism and witchcraft began a few years ago as a curiosity. I wondered what it was all about, and the more I read, the more I found it both fascinating and relevant to my own point of view.
I would describe myself as an eclectic solitary pagan. I don’t believe in any gods or spirits, instead I feel there is a kind of energy flowing through everything that one could call a life force, the power of nature or chi. I think nature is incredible, and deserves respect and reverence. For me, paganism is more a worldview than a practice.
My version of witchcraft is quite basic and simple, and is closer to working with nature than creating elaborate ceremonies. I like to think of it as positive thinking with props. As I don’t believe in spirits or gods, I am not calling out to any entity in particular. Rather, I am focusing my own energy on the positive things I wish to see or bring into my life. I like to use candles, incense and herbs as well as tarot cards and visualisation. I don’t believe that casting spells affects other people or that one can create harm by using the wrong incantations. I just know that focusing on the good I want to do and the experiences I hope to have, I can improve my mood, motivation and drive, which in turn helps me affect positive changes in my own life.
I would like to reiterate that these are my personal views and experiences, and they don’t represent the views of the pagan community as a whole. In fact, they probably don’t even represent a “typical” pagan or witchcraft practitioner. The great thing about the pagan community is that there is so much variety and everybody is entitled to believe and practice however they feel is best for them individually. There is no official doctrine, no particular requirements, just a shared reverence for nature and a collection of fascinating worldviews.