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Wicca_ Witchcraft or Paganism


									Wicca, Witchcraft or Paganism?

If you‘re reading this page, chances are you‘re either a Wiccan or Pagan, or you‘re
someone who‘s interested in learning more about the modern Pagan movement. You may
be a parent who‘s curious about what your child is reading, or you might be someone
who is unsatisfied with the spiritual path you‘re on right now. Perhaps you‘re seeking
something more than what you‘ve had in the past. You might be someone who‘s
practiced Wicca or Paganism for years, and who just wants to learn more.

For many people, the embracing of an earth-based spirituality is a feeling of ―coming
home‖. Often, people say that when they first discovered Wicca, they felt like they finally
fit in. For others, it‘s a journey TO something new, rather than running away from
something else.

Paganism is an Umbrella Term
Please bear in mind that there are dozens of different traditions that fall under the
umbrella title of ―Paganism‖. While one group may have a certain practice, not everyone
will follow the same criteria. Statements made on this site referring to Wiccans and
Pagans generally refer to MOST Wiccans and Pagans, with the acknowledgement that
not all practices are identical.

Not All Pagans are Wiccans
There are many Witches who are not Wiccans. Some are Pagans, but some consider
themselves something else entirely. Just to make sure everyone‘s on the same page, let‘s
clear up one thing right off the bat: not all Pagans are Wiccans. The term ―pagan‖
(derived from the Latin paganus, which translates roughly to ―hick from the sticks‖) was
originally used to describe people who lived in rural areas. As time progressed and
Christianity spread, those same country folk were often the last holdouts clinging to their
old religions. Thus, ―pagan‖ came to mean people who didn‘t worship the god of

In the 1950s, Gerald Gardner brought Wicca to the public, and many contemporary
Pagans embraced the practice. Although Wicca itself was founded by Gardner, he based
it upon old traditions. However, a lot of Witches and Pagans were perfectly happy to
continue practicing their own spiritual path without converting to Wicca. There is a great
deal of debate among the Pagan community about whether or not Wicca is truly the same
form of Witchcraft that the ancients practiced. Regardless, many people use the terms
Wicca and Witchcraft interchangeably. Paganism is an umbrella term used to apply to a
number of different earth-based faiths. Wicca falls under that heading, although not all
Pagans are Wiccan.
Therefore, ―Pagan‖ is an umbrella term that includes many different spiritual belief
systems – Wicca is just one of many.
Think of it this way:
Christian > Lutheran or Methodist or Jehovah‘s Witness
Pagan > Wiccan or Asatru or Dianic or Eclectic Witchcraft
As if that wasn‘t confusing enough, there are a few Wiccans who embrace the Christian
god as well as their own Wiccan goddess – the Christian Witch movement is alive and

FAQs about Wicca:

What is Wicca?
Wicca, sometimes called "The Craft" or "The Craft of the Wise" is one of many earth-
based religions. The religion which is closest to Wicca in America is probably Native
American spirituality. Traditional Wicca was founded by Gerald Gardner, a British civil
servant, who wrote a series of books on the religion in the 1940's. It contains references
to Celtic deities, symbols, seasonal days of celebration, etc. Added to this were
components of ceremonial magic and practices of the Masonic Order. A more recent
form is eclectic Wicca which involves a combination of Wiccan beliefs and practices,
combined with other Pagan and non-Pagan elements. The various traditions of Wicca are
part of the Pagan or Neopagan group of earth-based religions

Who are the Goddess and God in Wicca?
According to David Barrett et al, editors of the "World Christian Encyclopedia: A
comparative survey of churches and religions - AD 30 to 2200," there are 19 major world
religions which are subdivided into a total of 270 large religious groups, and many tens of
thousands of smaller ones. Each of the 19 world religions has a different concept of deity
or deities. Even among the main Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam,
there are very different views of deity. Conservative Protestant, Roman Catholic, liberal
Protestant, Islam, Reform Judaism, Orthodox Judaism, and Conservative Judaism all call
their deity God, but conceive of their God in different terms. They teach that God
requires different behaviors and beliefs from his followers.

Many Wiccans believe in a deity that is largely unknowable -- sometimes called "The
All" or "The One." However, they believe that they can comprehend the male and female
aspects of the deity, whom they call the God and the Goddess. Sometimes, they
commune with "The Goddess" or "The God." Other times, they link with specific Pagan
deities from the past. Instead of "the Goddess," they might relate to Athena, Brigit,
Ceridwen, Diana, Hecate, Ishtar, Isis, Venus, etc. In place of "The God" they may link to
Adonis, Apollo, Dionysus, Odin, Osiris, Pan, Thor, Zeus, etc.

How do Wiccans worship the God and Goddess?
Some Wiccans pray to their God or Goddess. More Wiccans probably feel that they have
more of a partnership with the God and Goddess than the God/worshiper relationship
found in Christianity and other world religions. They need the Goddess and God; the God
and Goddess need them. They welcome communion with the God and Goddess; they
don't really worship them in the same way as followers of other religions do.

Is Wicca a form of Satanism?
The short answer is "No." The long answer is "It depends."
To some conservative Christians, all religions other than their own are forms of Satanism
in which followers worship Satan or one of his demons. So, they view Buddhism,
Hinduism, Islam, Wicca, and dozens of other religions as varieties of Satanism.
 However, most people recognize that there are over many dozens of religions in the
world, with different beliefs about deity, humanity and the rest of the universe. One of
these is Wicca. Another is Satanism. These two religions have entirely different beliefs
about deity, different rules for ethical behavior, different expectations from their
membership, different views of the universe, different seasonal days of celebration, etc.

Wiccans do not recognize an all-evil deity or quasi-deity like Satan. Christianity and
Islam are the main religions that teach of Satan's existence, either as an evil principle or
as an all-evil fallen angel with supernatural powers.
Wicca and Satanism are not at all similar religions. However, the Christian church did
link them in the past -- particularly during the Witch burning times of the late Middle
Ages and Renaissance. They regarded Witches as Satan worshipers.

Some Christian denominations have not been particularly thorough in correcting mistakes
of the past. So, Wicca and Satanism continue to be linked in many people's minds. This
problem is rapidly fading as more Wiccans come out of the closet and become public
with their faith. Although the words "Wicca" and "Wiccan" are relatively well defined at
this time, such terms as Satanism, Paganism and Witchcraft have many meanings.

Confusion over the definitions of religious terms is quite common. Even the term
"Christian" is defined differently by various groups. The sentence: "Ann was raised a
Roman Catholic but became a Christian later in life" might be quite understandable to an
Evangelical Christian, but wholly confusing and probably quite insulting and distressing
to a Catholic.

Some people sincerely believe that over 75% of the human race (including Wiccans) are
followers of Satanism. Others, including Satanists, Wiccans, religious historians, many
theologians, those mainline and liberal Christians and individuals who are knowledgeable
about minority religions, etc., consider Wicca and Satanism to be two unrelated groups of
religious traditions. They share few points of similarity. In fact, many of their beliefs and
practices are diametrically opposed to each other.

There is no right or wrong definition in these cases. Groups simply assign very different
meanings to the same English words. The sentence: "Wicca is a type of Satanism" is
neither right nor wrong. Debate is useless. It is a true statement to one group and false to

Wicca, as viewed by Neopagans, etc.:
Wicca is unrelated to Satanism. It is a group of religious traditions: some are highly
structured, while most are eclectic.
Many, perhaps most, Wiccans are solitary practitioners. They are, in many ways, directly
opposite to Satanists:
Wiccans worship a Goddess and her consort, a God.
They do not recognize Satan or any other all-evil supernatural entity.
Their prime symbol is the exact opposite to the symbol used by Satanists. It is the upright
pentagram -- a 5-pointed star with two points downward and one up. Sometimes it is
enclosed by a circle to form a pentacle.
Their groups are called covens, not grottos or temples.
Their rule of behavior is called the Wiccan Rede: "An it harm none, do what thou wilt."
i.e. do whatever you wish, as long as it harms no one, including yourself. Unlike
Satanists, Wiccans are not allowed do dominate, manipulate, control, or harm others.
They believe that they worship neither the Christian God nor the Christian devil. They
worship a Goddess and a God. Neither is at all similar to Satan. Wicca, and other forms
of Neopaganism, are as different from Satanism as Hinduism is from Christianity.

Is Wicca a form of Paganism?
"Pagan" is one of those religious terms which has so many conflicting definitions that the
word is meaningless. "Neopaganism" is a better term. It refers to a group of many
religious belief systems that are reconstructions of (or patterned after) ancient Pagan
religions. Wicca is one Neopagan religion, as are Asatru (Norse Neopaganism),
Druidism, Shamanism, and ancient Egyptian, Roman, Greek and other religions.

Do Wiccans have rituals like communion, baptism, etc?
Yes. However, it generally involves a direct encounter with the God and Goddess, rather
than an indirect experience routed through a priest, minister or other clergyperson.
Many Wiccans observe a Wiccaning service for newborns which is vaguely like a
Christian infant baptism. It welcomes the newborn into the community. However, it does
not obligate the infant in any way. Wiccans feel that a person must mature before they
can make their own decision about religion; an infant cannot make such a choice.

There are initiation rituals where a person becomes a Wiccan. Some are self-initiation
rituals where a person declares themselves to be a Wiccan. There are other initiation
rituals performed in a Wiccan group, often called a Coven.
Many Wiccans write rituals for themselves or their coven to recognize life passages, like
the onset of puberty, graduation, marriage, purchase of a house, divorce, healing, death,
menopause, etc.
Many Wiccans observe Esbat rituals at the thirteen or so full moons each year, and
occasionally on the new moons as well.
There are eight Sabbats: four minor Sabbats at the solstices and equinoxes, and four
major Sabbats each year.
The religion of Wicca is sometimes called "witchcraft." But the terms "witch" and
"witchcraft" have at least 17 different meanings. Most of them are unrelated to each

 Witch: a follower of Witchcraft. It has so many conflicting meanings that it should be
used with great care (or perhaps never at all) in public, in order to avoid confusion. 18
common meanings are:
A Gothic Satanist; a worshiper of Satan who, during the late Middle Ages and
Renaissance, was believed to use black magic to harm others, by involving the aid of
Satan and his demons. They didn't exist then and don't exist now.
A Wiccan; a follower of Wicca, a recently created, benign, Neopagan religion which is
largely based on the some of the symbols, deities, seasonal days of celebration of an
ancient European Celtic religion. Wiccans are prohibited from using magic to harm
others; they do not believe in the existence of Satan or demons.
A woman of such incredible beauty that she bewitches others.
A woman of incredible ugliness; a hag.
A person who practices benign Magick to influence the world through rituals.
A magician with unusual knowledge who can apparently perform miracles during
ceremonial magic rituals.
In ancient Native American usage and the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament): an evil
person who secretly uses evil sorcery (black magic) to intentionally harm others.
In the Christian Scriptures (New Testament): a criminal who murders people by
administering poisons.
A follower of modern-day Religious Satanism. They recognizing Satan as a virile pre-
Christian, pagan principle, but do not believe in his existence as a living entity.
A member of an underground, evil religious group who worship Satan who engage in
ritual abuse, murder and sometimes cannibalism -- largely involving children. During the
1980s and early 1990s, many North Americans believed that this group exists; some still
do, although hard evidence is lacking.
A wizard who inhabits an alternative world of fantasy and magic, filled with good and
evil people with magical powers, flying broomsticks, invisibility cloaks, dragons, talking
animals, magical quills, etc. e.g. Harry Potter™ books.
A person, usually a woman, who was born with supernatural abilities and is capable of
performing miracles by waving a wand, wiggling their nose, etc. This is often seen in TV
programs, like Bewitched or Charmed. They don't exist either.
Followers of a group of Caribbean religions which combine elements of tribal African
religions with Christianity; e.g. Santeria and Vodun.
In some African Aboriginal religions, a person who unknowingly has supernatural
powers capable of hurting others. Witch doctors attempt to counteract these evil energies.
An expert, as in: "She is a witch of a writer."
A person who uses a forked stick or other instrument to locate sources of underground
material -- typically water.
A woman who is not submissive to her husband.
A general "snarl" word for a nasty, vicious person, typically female.
A follower of any religion other than Christianity (e.g. of Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism,
Native American Spirituality, etc.).

Note: The first and second definitions are mutually exclusive; the third and fourth
definitions are also mutually exclusive.

Six main forms of "witchcraft" exist today; they share virtually nothing in common,
except the name "witchcraft."
Unfortunately, many people believe that these many practices are similar or identical to
each other. Judicial and church murder, lynching, shootings, attempted mass murder,
common assault, etc, have resulted from this confusion.
Details of six types of witchcraft:

 1. Evil sorcery in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament)
English versions of the Bible sometimes translate the Hebrew word m'khashepah or
m'khaseph in the Hebrew Scriptures as Witch or Wizard. For example: Exodus 22:18:
"Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." (KJV)
 Deuteronomy 18:10-11: "There shall not be found among you anyone ....that useth
divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter or a witch, or a charmer, or a
consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer." (KJV)
 The Hebrew words M'khashepah and m'khaseph means an evil sorceress or sorcerer; a
person who uses spoken spells in secret to harm or kill other people. They were greatly
feared by the ancient Israelites because they believed that there was no protective
measures that a person could take against such curses.

 2. Poisoners in the Christian Scriptures (New Testament)
Galatians 5:19-20 includes a list of "acts of the sinful nature", or "works of the flesh. One
of these is, in the original Greek, "pharmakia." The English word "pharmacy" is derived
from it. "Pharmakia" is the practice of preparing poisonous potions in secret, to harm or
kill other people. This is often mistranslated as witchcraft in some English versions of the
Bible. Other versions translate it as: sorcery, magic, magical arts, spiritism, and
"participate in demonic activities."

 3. Gothic Satanism during the Renaissance in western Europe
In western Europe, during the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the Roman Catholic
church taught that evil individuals, mostly women, sold their soul to the Devil, worshiped
Satan and devoted their lives to harming others. They were said to worship Diana and
other Gods and Goddesses. They were evil Witches who kidnapped babies, killed and ate
their victims, were in league with demons, flew through the air, met in the middle of the
night, caused male impotence and infertility, caused male genitals to disappear, etc.

These beliefs became generally accepted by western Europeans at the time. Hundreds of
thousands of individuals were condemned as "Witches." Tens of thousands were
convicted of worshiping Satan and were executed during what are now called the burning
times. They were executed by hanging in most Protestant jurisdictions, and were burned
alive at the stake in most Catholic countries. Contrary to public opinion, most of the
accused were tried and executed by civil courts, not by the Catholic Inquisition. The
terror left such a mark on Christianity that many people still think that Gothic Satanists
exist today. This belief had a temporary resurgence in the 1980s and early 1990s in the
form of the Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) panic.

These witches probably never existed, except in people's minds and nightmares. There
are rumors of a Gothic Satanic group in France a few centuries ago; but it is uncertain
whether they were a fable or a real group. Belief in evil witches who commit the above
mentioned atrocities -- and more -- continues in sub-Saharan Africa and in parts of Asia

 4. Wicca
Wicca is recently-created religion, partly based on the concepts, deities, symbols and
seasonal days of celebration of the ancient Celtic people. Some Wiccans also refer to
themselves as Witches, Pagans or Neopagans. Both men and women who follow the
religion are typically called Witches; the term Wizard is not used. The two laws that
govern Wiccan behavior are: The Wiccan Rede: "An it harm none, do what you wilt" i.e.
Wiccans are free to do whatever they want to, as long as it harms nobody, including

The Threefold Law: Any evil that one does will return three times over; so too with any
good that one accomplishes.

The Rede and the Law obviously motivate Witches/Wiccans to avoid doing evil.
"Witches" in the Bible and the "Witches" within Wicca are, in fact, totally opposite in
belief and practice. They are also unrelated to the Gothic Satanism hoax created by the
Christian church in the late Middle Ages. Wiccans do not believe in Satan; their
pantheons of deities do not include an all-evil supernatural being. They are unrelated to
imaginary witchcraft of children's literature; Wiccans very definitely live in the real
world, not an alternative universe.

 5. Religious Satanism
Modern-day Satanists recognize Satan, either as a deity or as a life principle. Followers
are usually serious adults, although a few are mature teenagers. Three main traditions
exist: the Church of Satan, the Temple of Set and the Church of Satanic Liberation. One
source estimated that there were 10 to 20 thousand members of the Church of Satan in the
U.S. during the late 1970's. 1 Their membership has probably declined since that time.

It is important to realize that the Satan that they recognize is almost completely unrelated
to the quasi-deity of Gothic Satanism during the Renaissance or with the Conservative
Christian concept of Satan today. The Satanists' view of Satan is pre-Christian, and
derived from a Pagan image of power, virility, sexuality and sensuality. To most
Satanists, Satan is a force of nature, not a living quasi-deity. Their Satan has nothing to
do with Hell, demons, pitchforks, sadistic torture, profound evil, and Satanic Ritual
Abuse. Unlike Wiccans, Satanists feel free to harm their enemies. We are not aware of
any Satanist who has been convicted of a crime related to his religion or rituals.

 6.. Sorcery and magic in fantasy novels
Imaginary witchcraft often appears science fantasy and children's novels. The
environment is in a type of alternative universe in which normal physical laws do not
apply. Magic takes over. For example, the staircases and other structures in the Hogwarts
School building in the Harry Potter™ books do not obey the laws of physics; they are
constantly being rearranged by magic. In this magical world, people can fly through the
air on broomsticks. They can change their shape from human to an animal. Dementors
can attack people and suck their soul out of their body, leaving them joyless. The "soul
suckers" and others can be defeated by waving a wand and reciting a spell. This form of
wizardry/witchcraft is also seen in a delightful passage in the movie Fantasia in which
Mickey Mouse plays the role of a sorcerer's apprentice. He experiments with a magical
spell without permission, and gets into a lot of trouble by creating thousands of water-
carrying brooms. Evil and good Witches inhabit the world of children's nursery rhymes,
cartoons, and movies -- from Cinderella to the Wizard of Oz. As author Rowling says:
"My wizarding world is a world of the imagination. I think it's a moral world....I don't
believe in the kind of magic that appears in my books." 2

Her books are unrelated to the "Witchcraft" of the Bible, with the exception of the
malicious "wizard" Lord Voldemort. His behavior closely fits that of the Hebrew word
m'khaseph -- an evil sorcerer. He is consistently described throughout the book series as a
profoundly evil force to be despised and fought against.

 Her book does describe Harry and his friends using some methods of divination which
might have some vague similarities to techniques that some Wiccans also use to foretell
the future. However, divination is not an integral part of the Wiccan religion; it is merely
an activity which some Wiccans engage in. And, of course, most people who attempt to
foretell the future are not Wiccans. Divination takes many benign forms in North
America, including consulting one's horoscope, the casting of runes, reading tarot cards,
interpreting tea leaves, or the observing of a groundhog's shadow to decide whether
Spring will be delayed.

  The Harry Potter books teach a positive system of morality: They are totally non-racist.
When Harry is selecting a girl to take to a dance, he tries to get a date with a number of
students. From their names, we can infer that one is East Indian and one is African. Harry
is Caucasian.

 They are quite non-sexist. The male and female students interact as equals; the boys do
not adopt a position of superiority over the girls. In the first book, Harry relies heavily on
the logical ability of a female student to solve a puzzle.

 They are moral: right always ultimately triumphs over might; good wins over evil; love
over hate.

 Rowling's characters exhibit strong loyalty to family and friends. A visitor to this web
site wrote: "Even though the various main characters have fallings out they don't engage
in petty vengeance or malicious gossip. They eventually apologize and reconcile. Also,
though Harry's uncle treats him badly, he is not totally evil. We see that he and his wife
are motivated by fear and jealousy (and a reluctant acknowledgment that magic is a real
and powerful force which must be respected) and we can maybe have some sympathy for
them. ... No matter how bad the treatment, it is clear Harry must stay with them as the
protection of blood family outweighs all other considerations."
 The "witchcraft" seen in fiction is quite different from the religion of "Witchcraft"
(commonly called Wicca) in the real world. For example: Lindy Beam of Focus on the
Family, commented on the Harry Potter books: "Harry‘s magic is of an entirely different
nature from real-world witchcraft." Beam quotes Chuck Colson, a popular conservative
Christian author: "Harry and his friends cast spells, read crystal balls, and turn themselves
into animals—but they don't make contact with a supernatural world." 3

Beam also quoted Wren Walker, a Wiccan from Clearwater, Fla., who co-founded the
Witches Voice, a popular source for information on Wicca and other Pagan traditions.
Walker states that the Harry Potter book could never be an instructional piece for real-life
witchcraft. Walker said: "Spells tend to be more like prayers for most Wiccans and
witches that practice it in the religious sense...We don‘t use ‗abracadabra.‘ If somebody
wanted to pick up the book and do the things in it, it wouldn‘t be Witchcraft." 3

Confusion reigns when people try to link together two of these unrelated forms of
witchcraft. This most often happens when:
Some conservative Christians link together Bible Witchcraft, Gothic Satanism, Wicca,
and the imaginary witchcraft of the Harry Potter books as a single, forbidden entity. As
described above, the witchcraft of the Bible and of Wicca are exact opposites in many
ways. Gothic Satanism and imaginary witchcraft do not exist.
 Teenage students confuse imaginary witchcraft of the Potter books with Wicca and want
to learn spells that they can use to change their environment.

Religious Requirements and Practices of Certain Selected Groups" Department of the
Army, 1978-APR. The section on Satanism is available on line at:
Lindy Beam, "Exploring Harry Potter's world," Focus on the Family, at:


It is important to realize that:
The term "witchcraft" in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) refers to (mostly)
women who used spoken curses to injure other people or destroy their property.
  The term, "witchcraft" in the Christian Scriptures (New Testament) refers to murderers
who use poisons to kill people.
  In North America, "Witch" and "Witchcraft" most often refer to Wiccans and Wicca.
  Wiccans are modern-day Neopagans. They follow Wicca, a new religion that has been
created, in part, from ancient Celtic beliefs, practices, Gods, Goddesses, holy days and
symbols. They follow the Wiccan Rede, a rule of behavior which prohibits Wiccans from
performing any activity that dominates, manipulates, controls, or injures others.

Thus, in terms of behavior, Wicca is a benign and healing religion; the "witchcrafts"
mentioned in the Bible are evil and destructive. The two are exact opposites.
That said, it is important to remember that:

 The Bible contains many passages exhibiting intolerance towards other religions, and
almost no passages which actively promote inter-religious tolerance. Wicca is certainly a
religion that is very different from Judaism and Christianity. Wicca, as well as Buddhism,
Hinduism, Islam, Native Spirituality, Taoism, and hundreds of other religions are thus
equally condemned by many verses in the Bible.

 Many Wiccans engage in specific practices to foretell the future. These include scrying,
tarot cards, I Ching, runes, etc.

Although these practices are not mentioned in the Bible, they are similar to other
divination techniques which are condemned in various biblical passages. However, not
all Wiccans engage in divination. And the vast majority of persons who use divination
are not Wiccans.

Who exactly is a Witch?
In this section, we are considering whether the Bible specifically condemns Wicca. We
have not been able to find any translation of either the Hebrew or Christian Scriptures
which contains the words Wicca or Wiccan. However, many translations of the Bible,
such as the King James Version and the New International Version, condemn what they
call "Witches" and "Witchcraft". This causes serious misunderstandings.

The religion of Wicca is one of at least 18 different practices associated with the term
"witchcraft." Most of are unrelated to each other. Of these 18 practices, six main forms of
"witchcraft" exist today.

The most popular usages of "Witch" refer to:

A woman of such incredible beauty that she bewitches men.
An old woman, often portrayed with an evil appearance; sometimes called a "hag."
A follower of Religious Satanism who either worships Satan or recognizes Satan as a
virile pre-Christian, pagan concept. They may perform evil sorcery, but only against their
A person devoted to performing evil sorcery: using rituals, spoken curses, etc to injure or
kill others.
A Wiccan; a follower of a modern religion that was reconstructed partly from an ancient
religion of the Celts. Wiccans are prohibited from harming others.
In Africa, a native healer who practices alternative, holistic medicine and may engage in
evil sorcery.
In TV programs like Bewitched, a person, usually a woman, who was born with
supernatural abilities and is capable of performing miracles by waving a wand, wiggling
a nose, etc.
In children's books like the Harry Potter™ series, where people live in an alternative
universe with unicorns, invisibility cloaks, dragons, talking animals, magical quills,
flying broomsticks, magic wands, etc.
There are many additional meanings not cited above. Most are variations on the above

General religious intolerance in the Bible:
Passages in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures are quite intolerant of other religions:

 The Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) condemn, in particular, non-monotheistic
religions. One example is The Book of Joshua, where God authorizes the genocide of
Canaanites because they were Pagans. Since many Wiccans believe in the existence of a
dual divinity (a Goddess and a God), Wicca would fall under this general condemnation
of non-monotheistic religions, as would Hindus, followers of Native American
spirituality, and hundreds of other religions.

 The Christian Scriptures (New Testament) attack Jews as being children of the Devil.
They contain many passages which condemned Gnostic Christianity -- a part of the early
Christian movement which believed in the existence of two deities. The Scriptures also
state that non-Christians worship either Satan or a demon. This latter condemnation
would include followers of Wicca and hundreds of other religions. Together, they
constitute about 67% of the human race.

 Various passages from the Hebrew Scriptures condemn methods of foretelling the future.
Although these practices are sometime used by some Wiccans, they do not form an
integral part of their religion. Many Wiccans follow their religion without using

These are general condemnations. They criticize a wide variety of non-Judeo-Christian
religions, not Wicca specifically.

On the other hand, many English translations of the Bible refer to Witches and Witchcraft
by name. A careful analysis of the original passages in the original Greek and Hebrew,
shows that they condemn individuals who:

 Use spoken curses to harm or murder others.
 Use poison to harm or murder others.
 Wiccans are prohibited from engaging in either of these activities. Wiccans are
prohibited by the Wiccan Rede from dominating, manipulating, controlling, or doing
harm to others. The use of the terms "Witch" or "Witchcraft" in English translations of
the Bible is either a poor translation or a mistranslation. The Bible appears contain no
direct references to Wicca and Wiccans.

Ambiguity in Bible translations:
By translating the original Hebrew and Greek text as "Witch" and "Witchcraft",
translators have selected one of the most confusing words in the English language. In the
case of the King James Version, this seems to have been done deliberately.
King James had a deathly fear of "Witches" (in the 4th meaning above). The justification
for choosing such a misleading word in a some recent translations, is less clear. The
translators must be aware of the exact meaning of the original Hebrew word; yet they
selected an English word which was clearly ambiguous. Further, it makes large numbers
of people vulnerable to religious hatred.

The only large religious group in North America who describe themselves as "Witches"
are Wiccans and other Neo-Pagans. That minority of Wiccans who are open about their
faith suffer extreme persecution from very well meaning, very devout but very
misinformed Christians who honestly believe that they are following the guidance of
various Biblical passages. In recent years in the U.S., this discrimination has occasionally
taken the form of lynching, attempted mass murder by stoning, shooting, and other forms
of assault. Fortunately, most modern translations have been using the slightly less
ambiguous term "sorcery" in place of "Witchcraft". We expect that this change, plus
accurate portrayal of Wiccans in the media, will gradually lessen the discrimination that
they experience.

More information about Witches.

Interpretation of passages from the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament):

Exodus 22:18 in 19 English translations of the Bible:
Various Biblical translations render this verse as:

American Standard Version "Thou shalt not suffer a sorceress to live."
The Answer: Put to death any woman who does evil magic.
Amplified Bible: You shall not allow a woman to live who practices sorcery.
Good News Version: Put to death any woman who practices magic.
James Moffatt Translation: You shall not allow any sorceress to live.
Jerusalem Bible: You shall not allow a sorceress to live.
King James Version: Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.
Living Bible: A sorceress shall be put to death.
Modern Language Bible: Allow no sorceress to live.
New American Bible: You shall not let a sorceress live.
New American Standard Bible: You shall not let a sorceress live.
New Century Version: Put to death any woman who does evil magic.
New International Version: Do not allow a sorceress to live.
New Living Translation: A sorceress must not be allowed to live.
New Revised Standard Version: You shall not permit a female sorcerer to live.
New World Translation: You must not preserve a sorceress alive.
The Promise: Contemporary English Version: Death is the punishment for witchcraft.
Revised Standard Version: You shall not permit a sorceress to live.
Revised English Bible: You must not allow a witch to live.
In the original Hebrew manuscript, the author used the word m'khashepah to describe the
person who should be killed. The word means a woman who uses spoken spells to harm
others - e.g. causing their death or loss of property. Clearly "evil sorceress" or "woman
who does evil magic" would be the most accurate phrases in today's English usage for
this verse.

The Good News Bible uses the term "magic." This is also a poor selection because that
term has been used to refer to: stage magic, sleight of hand, magic tricks. ceremonial
magic used to harm other persons. ceremonial magic used to heal other persons.

The King James Version and Revised English Bible use the term "witch." In North
America, the term normally refers to Wiccans -- the followers of the Wiccan religion.
According to the Scofield Reference Bible this verse from the Hebrew Scriptures (Old
Testament) was written in the year 1491 BCE. This is some 650 years before the origin of
the Celtic people circa 850 BCE from whom some elements of Wicca were taken. So
Exodus 22:18 can hardly be referring to Wiccans.
Alexi Kondratiev "Suffer a Witch to Live", Enchanté, the Journal for the Urbane Pagan,
Mabon & Vinalia (1994), P. 11-15
Paul Hume, "Thou shalt not suffer a Witch to live," at:

Deuteronomy 18:10-11 in 19 English translations of the Bible:

The word Witchcraft in the New International Version's translation of Deuteronomy
18:10-11 is a significant problem for

Wiccans. Many Evangelical Christians naturally assume that it refers to followers of the
Wiccan faith, since they are the only sizable group who identifies themselves as Witches.
This verse is often quoted near Halloween; it has sometimes been used as the text of
sermons that have triggered hatred, verbal attacks and even physical attacks on Wiccans.

The first part of Verse 10 apparently prohibits the ancient Israelites from engaging in
child sacrifice. The Pagan tribes around Israel allegedly murdered children by casting
them into a fire. Many theologians believe that this refers to some sort of a trial by fire
that would not usually result in a death. Various translations render the remainder of
Verse 10 and Verse 11 as:

American Standard Version: There shall not be found with thee any one...that useth
divination, one that practiseth augury, or an enchanter, or a sorcerer, | or a charmer, or a
consulter with a familiar spirit, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
Amplified Bible: There shall not be found among you anyone who... uses divination or is
a soothsayer or an augur or a sorcerer, | or a charmer, or a medium or a wizard or a
The Answer: Don't let anyone use magic or witchcraft, or try to explain the meaning of
signs. | Don't let anyone try to control others with magic, and don't let them be mediums
or try to talk with the spirits of dead people."
Good News Version: ...and don't let your people practice divination or look for omens or
use spells | or charms and don't let them consult the spirits of the dead.
James Moffatt Translation: There must be none among you... who practices divination or
soothsaying, no augur, no sorcerer, | no one who weaves spells, no medium or magician,
no necromancer.
Jerusalem Bible: There must never be anyone among you who ... practices divination,
who is a soothsayer, augur or sorcerer, | who uses charms, consults ghosts or spirits, or
calls up the dead.
King James Version: There shall not be found among you anyone ....that useth divination,
or an observer of times, or an enchanter or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with
familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
Living Bible: No Israeli may practice black magic, or call on the evil spirits for aid, or be
a fortune teller, | or be a serpent charmer, medium, or wizard, or call forth the spirits of
the dead..
Modern Language Bible: There must not be found among you anyone... practicing
divination, or soothsaying, observing omens, applying sorcery, | a charmer, a medium, a
wizard, or a necromancer.
New American Bible: Let there be not be found among you anyone [who is]...a fortune-
teller, soothsayer, charmer, diviner, | or caster of spells, no one who consults ghosts and
spirits or seeks oracles from the dead.
New American Standard Bible: There shall not be found among you... one who uses
divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens or a sorcerer, | or
one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead.
New Century Version: Don't let anyone use magic or witchcraft. No one should try to
explain the meaning of signs, | don't let anyone try to control others with magic. Don't let
them be mediums or try to talk with the spirits of dead people. .
New International Version: Let no one be found among you who ... practices divination
or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, | or casts spells, or who is a medium
or spiritist or who consults the dead.
New Living Translation: Do not let your people practice fortune-telling or sorcery, or
allow them to interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, | or cast spells or function as
mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead.
New Revised Standard Version: No one shall be found among you who practices
divination, or is a soothsayer or an augur, or a sorcerer, | or one who cast spells or who
consults ghosts and spirits, or who seeks oracles from the dead.
New World Translation: There shall not be found in you anyone ... who employs
divination, a practicer of magic or anyone who looks for omens or a sorcerer | or one who
binds others with a spell or anyone who consults a spirit medium or a professional
foreteller of events or anyone who inquires of the dead.
The Promise: Contemporary English Version: ..don't try to use any kind of magic or
witchcraft to tell fortunes, or to cast spells or to talk with spirits of the dead.
Revised Standard Version: There shall not be found among you... | anyone who practices
divination, a soothsayer, or an augur or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or a medium, or a
wizard, or a necromancer.
Revised English Bible: Let no one be found among you who makes his son or daughter
pass through fire, no... an augur or soothsayer or diviner or sorcerer, | none who cast
spells or traffics with ghosts and spirits, and no necromancer.
The original wording of these verses condemned individuals who followed practices
defined by these 8 Hebrew words:
yid'oni: knowers; wizards; persons who make contact with spirits who are not of God.
(Some Wiccans have engaged in spiritism and have attempted to contact the dead.
However, this is not necessarily an integral part of the Wiccan religion).
sho'el 'ov: making forbidden contact with the dead. (Ditto) .
qosem q'samim: predicting the future by using lots or a similar system. (Many Wiccans
as well as Christians sometimes use tarot cards, runes, scrying etc. to foretell the future,
but this is not an integral part of the Wiccan religion) .
m'onen: predicting the future by interpreting signs in nature. (Ditto) .
m'nachesh an enchanter (perhaps a snake charmer, because "nachash" means snake. We
have never heard of Wiccan snake charmers)
chover chavar: use of knot-tying to perform magic. (Wiccans sometimes engage in knot-
tying, but only for positive healing magic. Again, it is a practice that some engage in, but
is not an integral part of their religion).
m'khaseph: an evil sorcerer (as in Exodus 22:18); a person using spoken spells to harm
others. (Wiccans do not engage in this activity; they are specifically prohibited from
doing so by their Wiccan Rede).
doresh 'el hametim: a person who makes contact with the dead - probably by another
method than sho'el 'ov. (Again, there are some Wiccans who engage in spiritism, but it is
not necessarily an integral part of their religion).

These verses would seem to prohibit a number of modern day activities:

Harming or killing people through the use of: evil sorcery intended to harm others. knot
magic (tying and untying knots while cursing someone).

 Engaging in methods of foretelling the future by studying nature (e.g. whether the
winter will be unusually cold by studying the size of caterpillars or whether spring will be
delayed by studying the actions of a groundhog). casting sticks (e.g. I Ching or perhaps
runes). astrology.

Raising ghosts or spirits through the use of spiritism (a.k.a. spiritualism) by a medium.
Channeling; this is a New Age practice in which a spirit speaks through a person.

Snake charming.

Wiccans are prohibited from harming, dominating, manipulating or controlling people by
any means. Some use various methods of foretelling the future, as do members of other
religions. Some engage in spiritism, so do followers of other faiths. The latter two
practices are not necessarily an integral part of their religion.
In our opinion, none of the eight Hebrew words should be translated as Witch or
Witchcraft. None of the eight words refers to the religion of Wicca. Precise terms that
accurately describe the activity should be used. We suggest:

yid'oni: acting as a medium;
sho'el 'ov: communicating with the dead;
qosem q'samim: predicting the future using lots;
m'onen: predicting the future by interpreting signs in nature;
m'nachesh snake charming;
chover chavar: using knot-tying to perform magic;
m'khaseph: evil sorcery;
doresh 'el hametim: channeling.

References Used
Alexi Kondratiev "Suffer a Witch to Live", Enchanté, the Journal for the Urbane Pagan,
Mabon & Vinalia (1994), P. 11-15
Paul Hume, "Thou shalt not suffer a Witch to live," at:

Galatians 5:19-20 in 22 English translations of the Bible:

Various translations of the Christian Scriptures render this verse as a list of "acts of the
sinful nature", or "works of the flesh" and specify the following practices:

American Standard Version: fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, sorcery..."
The Answer: "being sexually unfaithful, not being pure, taking part in sexual sins,
worshipping gods, doing witchcraft...."
Amplified Bible: "immorality, impurity, indecency, idolatry, sorcery..."
Authentic New Testament: "adultery, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery..."
Good News Version: "immoral, filthy and indecent actions; in worship of idols and
James Moffatt Translation: "sexual vice, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, magic..."
Jerusalem Bible: "fornication, gross indecency and sexual irresponsibility; idolatry and
King James Version: "adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry,
Living Bible: "impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, idolatry, spiritism (that is,
encouraging the activity of demons),..."
Modern Language Bible: "immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, magic arts...".
New American Bible: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery..."
New American Standard Bible: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery..."
New Century Version: "being sexually unfaithful, not being pure, taking part in sexual
sins, worshipping false gods, doing witchcraft..."
New International Version: "sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and
New Living Translation: "sexual immorality, impure thoughts. eagerness for lustful
pleasure, idolatry, participation in demonic activities...."
New Revised Standard Version: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery..."
New Testament & Psalms: An Inclusive Version: "fornication, impurity, licentiousness,
idolatry, sorcery..."
New World Translation: "fornication, uncleanness, loose conduct, idolatry, practice of
The Promise: Contemporary English Version: "immoral ways, impure thoughts, and
shameful deeds. They worship idols, practice witchcraft..."
Rheims New Testament: "fornication, uncleanness, immodesty, luxury, idolatry,
Revised Standard Version: "fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery..."
Revised English Bible: "fonication, indecency, and debauchery; idolatry and sorcery..."
The reference to adultery was not present in the earliest manuscripts. It was apparently
added later by an unknown Christian forger. The key word of interest here is the Greek
word "pharmakia" from which the English words "pharmacy" "pharmaceuticals," and
"pharmacology" are derived. Interpreted literally, it refers to the practice of preparing
poisonous potions to harm or kill others. In the above English translations it has been
 sorcery: 10 times;
 witchcraft: 7 times;
 magic, magical arts: twice;
 spiritism: twice;
 participate in demonic activities: once.

The most likely meanings do not appear in any of the Bible translations that we have

A poisoner: a murderer who uses toxic potions to kill humans by stealth.
A person who goes around spreading dissention - poisoning people's minds.

Of the terms that are actually used in English translations:

 Sorcery is inexact because current usage sometimes refers to white magic, for healing
purposes, as well as black (injurious) magic.
 The use of witchcraft is particularly unfortunate. The word is hopelessly vague. It has at
least 18 different meanings - some quite contradictory. The largest group whose members
describe themselves as Witches are Wiccans and other Neopagans.

They are prohibited from dominating, manipulating, controlling or harming others by
their Wiccan Rede. Thus, they do not engage in any form of black magic. They are
restricted to what the public refers to as "white magic;" they use spells to promote healing
and positive outcomes.
 The use of the word spiritism is similarly unfortunate, because the Greek word does not
seem to have any connection with the practice of contacting spirits. This term is used by
Spiritists who form the Universal Church of the Master. (Spiritists are called Spiritualists
in the UK). They use mediums to contact the spirits of the deceased, in order to grow
spiritually and intellectually. They currently have about 10,000 members in the US. The
New Age practice of channeling is very similar to Spiritism.

We would recommend that readers of the Bible cross out the words "witchcraft,"
"spiritism," etc. and substitute "poisoning", because Galatians 5:19-20 has no connection
with any of the words, even though they appear in popular translations of the Christian

Alexi Kondratiev "Suffer a Witch to Live", Enchanté, the Journal for the Urbane Pagan,
Mabon & Vinalia (1994), P. 11-15
Paul Hume, "Thou shalt not suffer a Witch to live," at:

Interpretation of Revelation 21:8
About Revelation 21:8:
This chapter deals with life after death. Some people will attain Heaven; others are sent to
Hell, which is here described as the lake which burns with fire and brimstone (sulfur). In
his commentary on this verse, Matthew Henry refers to the horrors of Hell as involving
the: "...far greater terrors and agonies of eternal death..." Its victims will: "...die and
[continue] to be always dying." 1

Verse 8 describes various groups who will automatically be relegated to Hell. In a typical
biblical display of religious intolerance, the verse defines one group of victims as
consisting of "unbelievers" -- apparently those who follow a non-Christian religion, or no
religion at all. This would involve more than two thirds of the human race.

How the verse is translated:

There is no consistency in the translations of this verse, as they appear in various English
versions of the Bible. The sixth group which is destined for Hell has been identified as:

21st century King James Version: "sorcerers"
American Standard Version: "sorcerers"
An American Translation: those who "practice witchcraft"
The Answer (New Century Version): those "who do evil magic"
Amplified Bible: "practicers of magic arts"
Authentic New Testament: "sorcerers"
Darby Translation: "sorcerers"
Good News Version: "those who practice magic"
James Moffatt Translation: "sorcerers"
Jerusalem Bible: "fortune tellers"
King James Version: "sorcerers"
Living Bible: "those conversing with demons"
Modern Language Bible: "those practicing magic arts"
New American Bible: "sorcerers"
New American Standard Bible: "sorcerers"
New English Bible "sorcerers"
New International Version: "those who practice magical arts"
New Living Translation: "those who practice witchcraft"
New Revised Standard Version: "sorcerers"
New Testament & Psalms: An Inclusive Version: "sorcerers"
New World Translation: "those practicing spiritism"
Phillips Modern English "those sorcery"
The Promise: (Contemporary English Version): "uses witchcraft"
Rheims New Testament: ""sorcerers"
Revised Standard Version: "sorcerers"
Revised English Bible: "sorcerers"
Today's English Version "those who practice magic"
Today's New International Version: "those who practice magic arts"
Tyndale's New Testament: "sorcerers"
World English Bible: "sorcerers" The translation has a footnote: "The word for 'sorcerers'
here also includes users of potions and drugs."
Young's Literal Translation: "sorcerers"

In the 31 translations studied, the original Greek has been translated as:

 Sorcerers, or those practicing evil magic: 19 times. These are people who engage in
black magic to harm or murder others.
 Those who practicing magic: 6 times. This would presumably include people who either
try to hurt or heal others through spells, incantations, etc. It is unclear whether this would
cover Christian clergy who conduct healing services.
 Witches: 3 times. This presumably includes people performing at least one of the 18
different practices that have been referred to as "witchcraft." It is not clear to which of the
18 practices the passage refers.
 Fortune tellers: once. Presumably this would include tea-leaf readers, palm readers,
preparers of horoscopes, people who predict the weather based on the actions of a
groundhog, or the diameter of caterpillars, etc.
 Those who contact demons: once.
 Spiritists: those who contact the dead: once.

The latter two categories may include channeling by New Age practitioners.

It would seem that this verse has traditionally been translated incompetently. It appears
that the translators simply selected their favorite evil, and inserted it into the text. This is
seen throughout many translations of the Bible, particularly with passages that refer
either to homosexuality, poisoning, or evil sorcery.

Some commentaries on Revelations 21:8:
 Clarke's Commentary: defines "sorcerers" as "Persons who, by drugs, philtres,
fumigations, &c., pretend to produce supernatural effects, chiefly by spiritual agency."
This would appear to refer to persons performing magic. 2
 John Gill's Exposition of the Bible defines sorcerers very broadly. He includes:
"conjurers, dealers with familiar spirits, necromancers, and such as use the magic
art...and poisoners of kings and princes; whoredoms and witchcrafts..." (Bigoted
statements against Roman Catholics deleted). 3 It is unclear how he can derive so many
varied activities from a single Greek word.
 Wesley Notes comments "...whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters - These three
sins generally went together; their part is in the lake" of fire. 4

What does the original Greek text imply?
The critical word here is "pharmakeus" pronounced <far-mak-yoos'>. It is derived from
"pharmakon," which means a drug.
It is commonly believed to have two meanings: A person who uses magical potions for
to poison others.
 A person who engaged in black magick to harm others -- a sorcerer.
A few commentators suggest a third meaning: A person who goes around spreading
dissention - poisoning people's minds.

Of all of the translations, the word "sorcerer" is probably the best. Unfortunately, while
this term usually refers to a person who casts evil spells to harm others, it is occasionally
used to refer to any spell caster, whether the intent is to harm or to heal. So the optimum
translation would probably be "evil sorcerer."
Since the Wiccan Rede specifically prohibits Wiccans from harming, dominating,
manipulating or controlling others, Wiccans could in no way be covered by Revelation

References Used
"Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible," at:
"Clarke's Commentary - Revelation 21," at:
"John Gill's Exposition of the Bible: Revelation 21:8," at:
"Wesley Notes on the Revelation of Jesus Christ: Chapter XXI," at:

The confusion about "witchcraft"
Meanings used by Wiccans and Cowans (non-Wiccans)

Religious terminology is often quite ambiguous, unlike words in other fields, such as
medicine, science and engineering.

There is general confusion in North American over the meanings of certain religious
terms, such as Christian, cult, hell, heaven, occult, Pagan, salvation, Witch, Witchcraft,
Unitarian, Universalist, Voodoo, etc. In the newsgroup alt.usage.english, terms like this
one are often called "skunk words." They have varied meanings to different people. In
fact, they have so many meanings that they often cause misunderstandings if they are
used. Unfortunately, many people do not know this, and naturally assume that the
meaning that they have been taught is the universal definition of the term.

This section addresses the turmoil generated by multiple definitions of one term:
"Witchcraft." There are at least 17 different meanings to that word: some are opposites of
each other; others hold fairly similar shades of meaning.

Meanings of "Witch" and "Witchcraft" in society generally:
When a person hears or reads some material on "witchcraft" it is quite important that they
identify what kind of activity is being referred to. The six most common sources of
meanings of the term "witchcraft" are believed to be:

 From the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament);
 From the Christian Scriptures (New Testament);
 From the "burning times" when the Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches and civil
courts were executing heretics;
From a modern-day religion, like Wicca. Wicca is a faith group which derives a major
part of its inspiration from beliefs, practices, symbols, and seasonal days of celebration of
the ancient Celtic people;
 From a very different modern-day faith group: religious Satanism; or
 From modern-day fantasy novels, like the extremely popular Harry Potter series, or in
TV programs like Sabrina, Bewitched, Charmed, etc. 2

These six types of "witchcraft" are definitely not referring to the same beliefs and
practices. At best, they have only tenuous connections to each other. Turmoil reigns when
a person assumes that two of the above forms of "witchcraft" are are similar or identical.

Meanings of "Witch" and "witchcraft" among Wiccans:
There is no consensus within the Wiccan community about the precise meaning of
"Witch" and "Witchcraft." The most popular usages are:

 "Wicca" and "Witchcraft" mean the same thing and are synonyms and can be used
 "Wicca" refers to a recently created Earth-centered religion that is partly based on
ancient Celtic deities, symbols and seasonal days of celebration. "Witchcraft" refers to a
different Pagan spiritual path: a group of traditional practices, often passed down from
parents to child.
 "Witchcraft" is the religion of "Wicca."

We recommend that the words "witch" or "witchcraft" never be used in sermons,
speeches, articles and essays unless they are carefully pre-defined -- and perhaps not even
then. In place of these terms, we recommend specific and unambiguous words and
phrases. For example, use:
 "Evil sorcerer" or "evil sorceress" when referring to "witchcraft" as mentioned in Exodus
22:18 or elsewhere in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament.)

 "Poisoner" when referring to "witchcraft" as mentioned in Galatians 5:19-20 or
elsewhere in the Christian Scriptures (New Testament)

 "Heretics" or "Satan worshipers" when referring to the religious beliefs that the victims
of the Burning Times were originally believed to follow.

"Wicca" and "Wiccan" when referring to the modern religion of Wicca and its followers.

 "Earth-Centered Religion," when referring to modern-day Pagan, earth centered
religions. Even better, use the exact name of the religion, like Asatru or Druidism.

"Satanist" when referring to followers of religious Satanism.

 "Wizard," "ceremonial magician," "sorcerer," "sorceress" when referring to Harry Potter
or similar imaginary characters in creative fiction.

"Traditional Witch" when referring to a follower of traditional witchcraft.

 When discussing "witchcraft" as it appears in children's nursery rhymes, the Harry Potter
books, and other imaginative fantasy novels, use terms like evil (or good) wizard,
magician, sorcerer or sorceress -- depending upon which is the closest match.

Later in the conversation or writing, when the precise type of activity has been identified,
then perhaps the "W" word can be introduced. But, even then it is a dangerous term to
use. People have attached much fear and emotional baggage to the word.

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