In a basic sense witchcraft is a spiritual system that bases its beliefs in the free thought and will of an individual. Witchcraft is the practice of magic and sorcery. Witches may be either male or female and are typically associated with the path of love and light. To be a witch means that you use spells and magic to manipulate energies within and around you to affect a change within your or another’s life. Energy manipulation is a scientific fact and learning how to harness that is the craft of the witch. Those that practice this accept responsibility for our actions and deeds as they are a result of the choices we make. One of those choices is which path we follow.
One of the many paths of Paganism is Wicca which is a modern Pagan tradition. Wicca was founded by Gerald Gardner in the 1950’s. It is a compilation of beliefs from various Pagan paths and his own ideas. The Wiccan Rede, which is often thought of as being an old text, did not actually exist in ancient times. The Wiccan belief system is way of life that is based on the reconstruction of several pre-Christian Pagan paths that originated in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Wicca is a recognized religion under the Pagan umbrellas, but witchcraft is not a religion and can be practiced by anyone from any faith. Unfortunately, Wicca and witchcraft are often used interchangeably but its important to know that there is a difference between the two as Wicca is a religion and witchcraft is the practice of energy manipulation. Druidry is another path of the Pagan umbrella that is often confused with Wicca as they both emphasize the importance of developing close links with nature and in Pagan groups that may celebrate holidays together with ritual you can find that the Druids and Wiccans mesh together with ease.
The Druid path is the earliest recorded religion in Britain and in Europe. It was developed roughly 3,000 years ago from an even older belief. Ancient Druids left no written record of their beliefs and practices, although the Greek and Roman writers do refer to them. Druidry is a philosophy and a spirituality of living with nature and of a way of life that corresponds with the natural world. In Druidry there is far less emphasis on magic but it actively encourages the development of music and poetry as part of spiritual growth. The spiritual aspect of Druidry strongly connects with the Shaman path of Paganism.
This ancient path of Shamanism is an ancient and natural form of magic that has been untouched by modern influences. Shamans are the healers, seers, and visionaries. There are Shamanic practices present in all Pagan paths. The core beliefs of the Shamans is that everything contains a spirit from the smallest grain of sand to the largest mountain, animals, plants and the elements each have their own spirits. Through training a Shaman learns how to communicate with the spirits. Often, Shamans will spend a lot of time in solitude on vision quests.
The Egyptian path follows the principles of Egyptian spirituality and Egyptian magic. These traditions are also referred to as Kemetic Paganism or Kemetic reconstruction. Its about finding balance between man’s needs and the natural world around us.
Asatru is another modern faith of the Pagan umbrella. It was founded by Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson in 1973 in Iceland. This path is based on the ancient Norse faiths and traditions. It is a polytheistic tradition, with well known deities such as Thor, Odin and Loki. To most of the practitioners of this path the gods are living beings who take an active role in the world and its inhabitants.
Hellenic is a polytheistic religion that is based on the tradition and philosophies of the Greeks and their deities, such as Hera, Zeus, Hera, Athena, Apollo, Demeter, Ares, Hermes, Hades and Aphrodite. A typical ritual in this path will include a purification, prayer, ritual sacrifice, hymns, and feast to honor their deities. Hellenes are typically ruled by a set of ethics that usually include humility, moderation and self-control. The belief structure also teaches that retribution and conflict are part of the human experience.
There are many more Pagan paths out there and branches off of those paths as well, this is just a bit of what is out there. Remember that although all Wiccans are Pagan that not all Pagans are Wiccans, and although many Pagans practice witchcraft that not all Pagans are witches and not all witches are Pagan. However, it is not common to find non-Pagan witches. You have to find what works best for you.
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