Do Witches Believe in the Devil?

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It's certainly tempting to just immediately say 'No, of course witches don't believe in the devil!'  But today I'd like to take the time to think deeply about this question and I don't think the answer is as clear cut as many would suggest.  To begin with, not all witches believe in the divine or would consider themselves religious.  To me, witchcraft is a practice or something you do and as such it can be completely void of any belief in the divine.  And if you choose to perform witchcraft without the addition of divine energy than of course the answer would be irrelevant as the devil is Christian religious entity.  

There are, however, many witches who do channel divine power for their witchcraft practice.  Sometimes this may include calling upon the power of the Goddess and the God. The god in this case is sometimes called the Green Man or the Horned one and can appear as a satyr type figure with horns or hooves.  This archetype is inspired by pre-christian gods like the Greek God Pan or the Celtic God Cernunnos. This pagan God rules over the wild energy of the forest, our own human sexuality, and is a manifestation of the masculine energy in the world.  Like many pagan Gods, he is neither good nor bad as Pagan societies did not view their religious figures in a rigid binary system.

When Christianity came to Europe it viewed chastity and modesty being righteous and sexual freedom as being immoral.  So naturally, this put figures like Pan and Cernunnos in a difficult spot. Over time Christians overlaid their own story of the Devil with the much older masculine archetypes of pre-christian Gods, which is why the Devil often looks like the Greek God Pan.  This is why it’s so difficult to say if witches work with the energy of the Devil. If a witch is calling upon the divine masculine energy of the wild, are they working with the Devil?

 

To complicate matters further, there are also some witches to do work with the Christianized concept of the Devil as opposed to the Pagan masculine archetype.  Some believe that the Devil represents the very embodiment and power of witchcraft. In Christianity the Devil is connected with things such as ecstatic pleasure, celebrations, feasting, and unbridled revelry.  These are things that are often connected to various witchcraft traditions. This concept of the Devil is still somewhat removed from the character of Satan - the one who casts evil doers into the fiery realms of hell.  So in that way, you could say that yes, some witches do celebrate the wild and unpredictable power of the ‘Devil’, but not the fire and brimstone figure that is Satan.

 My 'Pan' costume I wore for the Lyric Opera House Masquerade Ball

My 'Pan' costume I wore for the Lyric Opera House Masquerade Ball

On the other end of the spectrum, there are many witches that do not work with the wild masculine energy at all.  There are some groups, like the Dianic witches, who focus more on the Goddess and the ideas of the sacred feminine.  There are also groups that work with a much more watered down version of the sacred masculine that is very much removed from the idea of the Devil.  So once again I leave you to determine the direction of your own spiritual path and which, if any, divine forces you will choose to work with in your witchcraft practice.

So, to conclude, I think this question is more complicated and I don't believe a 'yes' or 'no' answer would suffice. To practice witchcraft requires a thinking beyond the binary of Good vs. Evil (or God vs. Devil) to which most belief systems are based. 

Unlike the Abrahamic traditions, Witchcraft is not based upon a strict division of what is good and what is evil.  Witches use nature to fuel their concept of the divine and in the world of nature there is no battle between good and evil.  A lion is not ‘evil’ because it kills the gazelle, and a deer is not ‘good’ because it eats only plants. Nature is both cruel and beautiful at the same time.  Likewise, witchcraft can be used for both positive and malevolent gains.  

With witchcraft there is no governing body or official rule book telling you what you can and cannot do.  Witchcraft is not something that was invented and controlled - it has always existed.  The power of witchcraft lays within the plants, the moon, the stars, and ourselves.  Witches over time learned to tap into this natural power and created spells for what they needed help with in their day to day lives.  There have been many witches that have cast curses against others from time to time and there have been many that have dedicated their craft to healing and helping others.  There are some witchcraft traditions, like Traditional Witchcraft, that are not morally opposed to hexes and will perform them if a significant need arises.  There are also some belief structures, like Wicca, where most of the followers are very much morally opposed to casting hexes and curses.   

How you choose to perform witchcraft is entirely up to you, and the moral consequences of those actions will likewise lie entirely on your own shoulders.  Witchcraft respects that you are an individual, capable of defining and establishing your own sense of morality and justice.

What are your thoughts on this?  I'd love for fellow witches to share their thoughts in the comments section.  Do my ideas resonate with you or am I way off the mark? 

Controlling Your Energy

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***This is a guest post written by the lovely Rena from her blog, The King Paimon.  Check out her blog for more great content on the occult and spirituality. 

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It is very important, both when working with magic as well as in mundane life, that you have an awareness of your personal energy and how it affects your body and mind. This post discusses various techniques for managing your personal energy and “remaining present” in ritual and magic.

There are a number of ways to control your energy levels, as well as your mental, emotional and spiritual states. Here are some:

Mundane-ing – Get the person out of the ritual mindset and into a mundane, normal mindset.  Ask them what they did yesterday, if they like their boss, what their favorite color is.  Anything to engage their rational mind and get it to focus on something other than what is/was happening to them.

Shielding – Create energetic shields around the person to block energy flows that are causing them problems.  If they are unable to create their own shields, do it for them (temporarily).

Blocking – Like shielding, but more physical.  Put yourself physically between you and the source of distress.  Provides the energetic benefits of shielding with the physical obstruction added in for additional blocking power.

Charging – Raising a person’s energy level by putting energy into their system.

Re-Tuning – This is where you re-tune someone’s energy to a higher vibratory level (or rarely, lower level) so that they can handle the higher levels of energy without adverse effect.  This is analogous to shifting a car into a higher gear.  Like when you shift to a higher gear, the engine sounds quieter, but it is actually capable of running faster.  Retuning someone’s energy has a similar effect in that they will perceive energy levels as lower than they actually are because their capacity has increased, and people tend to measure energy related to their own capacity to hold and use it.  Retuning should not be done without permission as it can permanently change the person’s vibration and energy levels.  It often has an adjustment period of a day to a week where physical and energetic problems may be noticed as your physical and energetic bodies realign.

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Energy Shifting – Like Retuning, but on a smaller and temporary scale. Temporarily shifting the person’s vibration rate, either higher or lower for a short period of time.

Finding Equilibrium – Hot water poured into cold water creates warm water.  Energy will naturally seek to find balance on its own.  This state is called Equilibrium.  Simply relax and allow energy to flow in, out, around or through without forcing it.  This technique is also good for finding harmony with your environment by allowing it and you to flow through and into each other.

Breaking Connections – Energetic ties or threads can be formed while working magic or ritual, usually unconsciously.  By breaking this connection energetically or physically you can often remedy related problems.

Regaining Focus – A simple reminder to focus on a particular object or task is often all that is needed to help bring a person back to where they should be.

Stilling – Bringing your body to a calm, steady, relaxed state.  The physical version of Centering, Balancing and Attuning.

Centering – “Getting a grip” mentally.  Useful for when the concentration is poor, thoughts are scattered or coming in a flood.  The mental version of Stilling, Balancing and Attuning.

Balancing – Consciously working to balance energies.  Like Equilibrium, but can be used when the person is unable to relax enough for Finding Equilibrium to let energy flow naturally.  The energetic version of Stilling, Centering and Attuning.

Attuning – Getting in touch with your spiritual core and Spirit.  The spiritual version of Stilling, Balancing, and Centering.

Closing – Closing a person’s chakras temporarily, either in whole or in part, to prevent the flow of energy in or out of them.

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Cocooning – Creating a shielding bubble of energy around someone.  Can be used to cut someone off from the energy of a circle without them realizing it.

Resting – Sometimes a person just needs a break.  Quiet time, a quick nap or a good sleep does wonders at all levels.

Remaining Present – A collection of skills for recognizing the signs and feelings of being moved out of control of your own body, such as through channeling or possession.  Training for noticing the warning signs, such as trace states, spontaneous body movement, perceiving thoughts, voices, and feelings that are not your own and ways to slow or stop the process if desired, along with establishing your boundaries and rules for passing messages through you to others.

Shock – A surprising sound or sensation can break someone out of many states where their attention is no longer present.  A loud noise near them, such as a sharp clap of the hands, will often snap someone out of an altered state.  In extreme cases, a physical action such as a slap in the face or a moderate kick to the shin will bring people back immediately with no long-term side effects.  These should obviously only be used as a last resort and under circumstances that would allow for it.

Radical Grounding – Techniques can be used to quickly remove excess energy from someone.  These involve physical, more than energetic, action.  For example, Heel Drop – Have the person jump up into the air.   When they are in the air, have them lock their knees and land hard on both heels.   There will be a physical jarring when they land that serves to drive their energy deep into the ground immediately.   Repeat if needed.   Note: This technique is not recommended for anyone with knee or spine problems.

Grounding – Grounding is listed last because it is the most overused technique available.  It is often suggested for nearly every situation and is usually the wrong thing to do.  If you are low on energy, grounding won’t help you.  If you have an imbalance or blockage of energy, grounding won’t help you.  If you are trying to build energy, grounding will suck it out of you.  If you are trying to be fluid and mobile, grounding will interfere with this and keep you rooted.  If you are trying to do out-of-body work, grounding will keep you in it.  Grounding is useful when you have some extra energy that you want to get rid of, and not much else.  In most cases where you would want to ground, you can simply do some “instant magic” and project the energy out with an intent behind it, and you will still get the benefit of getting rid of the energy, but you’ll have put it towards a goal.

By learning to practice these various techniques you will be able to better control your own internal world, which then lets you focus better on your external world.

What has been your experience with energy during ritual or spellwork?  Have you ever used these techniques and if so is there one that you find the most helpful? Share your thoughts below in the comments.