Witchcraft: Faith, religion or practice?

Witchcraft: Faith, religion or practice? January 17, 2017

This point has been raised and discussed before on various platforms but I wanted to add my own thoughts to it.

Is Witchcraft a faith, a religion or a practice?

witchcraft faith religion practice rachel patterson
One of my altar set ups from 2013

I know some camps believe Paganism to be the religion and Witchcraft to be the practice but personally I believe that being a witch is my faith, my religion and what I practice…that’s all three then.

I looked up the definition of the word witchcraft in the dictionary, this is what it said:

‘the practice of magic, especially black magic; the use of spells.’ – before we all get grumpy about that meaning it did go on to state:

‘(in a modern context) religious practice involving ritual, spells, and nature worship, usually within a pagan tradition.’

Interesting that the dictionary calls it a religious practice.

Faith is given as:

‘strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof.’

and religion:

‘the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.’


‘a particular system of faith and worship.’

Yep that just about covers all of what I do!

My pathway

witchcraft faith religion practice rachel patterson
Candle magic

For me my pathway is that of a witch and I work with the gods from various pantheons, I work with spirit and energy, healing, herbalism, spell work and all the usual witchy jazz.  But I also live my daily life as a witch; what I do, how I live, what I am all follows the journey of a witch.

Perhaps it is a very personal definition, there are those that practice witchcraft but don’t work with the gods, there are those that work with the gods but don’t work with magic or spells.  Does it make witchcraft less of a faith?

I am not Wiccan, I am a Witch one that follows the pathway of a Kitchen/Hedge Witch and a lot of that is perhaps more informal and less structured but I still work with rituals and spells.  They are often more likely to be on the spot and impromptu but that doesn’t make them any less meaningful, important or successful.


When I need help I call upon the gods whether it is my matron goddess, my patron god or depending on how desperate the situation; any or all of them at once…and it is the gods that I generally petition when working spells. But then I also make requests to Mother Nature, the moon, the sun and nature spirits in general depending on where I am or what I am working with – but whoever I call upon I always put my faith in them.


When asked by a stranger what my religion is I usually say ‘Pagan’ but only because ‘Witch’ often gets misunderstood and either laughed at or stepped back from. Pagan is a more familiar term when it comes to religion it seems.  If I am talking to someone face to face I can gauge their reaction and often go on to say I am a Witch because I see Witchcraft as my religious pathway.


I don’t believe there is a definitive answer, I honestly think that it is a personal thing.  Each and every one of us walks a different pathway and our journeys will be unique and very individual.  In my humble opinion none of us has the right to judge another for how they practice, what they believe in or what they call it.

If I choose to call my religion Witchcraft, then that is surely my prerogative?  If someone else prefers to call it a practice and not a religion, then I respect their choice to do so too.   Although I am very pleased to see the dictionary calls it a religion…



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