It has been an interesting conversation and debate – What is the difference between magic and witchcraft? The deeper it went, the more some perspectives started to take shape for me.
It started touching on the long standing debate on who would be considered a “witch.” An example of the debate goes something like this: Everyone makes a wish and blows out birthday candles, thus doing a form of magic, but does that make them a witch?
By definition, Magic is the power of influencing the course of events by using unseen/ mysterious/ supernatural powers – or to move, change, or create as if by magic. Witchcraft is the practice of magic. So by definition, everyone has the capability of magic, but a witch intentionally practices it – with the intentional being the operative word here.
Magic For All
I personally think everyone does magic on some level. We all have the power and potential within us. For the lay person is comes in the act of wishes, prayers, the words we speak that alters and shapes the course of energy, and so forth. Thus in my previous thinking, when the argument would surface of “who is a real witch” I would say everyone – and that isn’t true.
Magic, the ability to tap into the energy and shift it on an unconscious or unknowledgeable level to create an intended outcome, belongs to all people.
Witchcraft For Some
Witches are different though – and I will use the term witches for all magical practitioners just to save some time here. A witch intentionally combines, shifts, and changes the energies for specific and intentional outcomes.
This doesn’t just happen. It take study, practice, experimentation, and time. It takes knowledge of various different disciplines outside of the mystical such as anthropology, psychology, herbology, biology, environmental studies, physics, and other sciences. It requires a deep understanding of energy and how it interacts with different sources. All of these give us a strong foundation of how magic is/ can be formed in the physical world.
They also study and learn how energy interacts and acts upon each other on the spiritual planes. Diving into esoteric realms and understandings. For example, knowing how a plant interacts with the body, the systems it targets, and how it interacts within its environment – gives us clues as to what its energy is like spiritually. A witch will take that information and then connect and experiment with the actual energy of the plant to see what holds true, how it works by itself and what other energies can be combined with it. Experimenting, documenting outcomes, and thus understanding the depth of the plant on all levels, including its magical ones, in order to actively use that information to create movement or change.
So by definition, a witch is one who intentionally practices the art of magic.
Different Kinds of Witches
Just as there are multiple disciplines within science – there are multiple disciplines within witchcraft.
We have large umbrella terms such as a Green Witch, Death Witch, Healer, Mind Witch, Ceremonial, Folk, and so on. I find there is a lot of overlap in ideas and practices between all the different disciplines, much the same as it is in science. This is because of how all the underlying energies and practices work. I think what could separate them is the center of their practices, the reasoning behind them. For example: a Green Witch, a Death Witch, and a Healer can all use the same herb, but the way they use the herb, the reasoning behind it, and the result can be extremely different.
Now, I hate labels because I think they tend to box people in, especially in their own mind when first starting on a path in witchcraft. From a community/ social aspect though labels can be useful. To find others who share similar interests or practices. It kind of feels like a double edged sword, but I think as long as we understand labels are not limits and we do not treat them like boxes, they are not inherently bad.
Light vs Heavy
As you meet different witches, you will find different levels of witchcraft. I am not talking about new vs advanced, but the depth of their practices. All intentionally practice the art of magic, but their foundations, understandings, and practices can vary widely.
The witch I described above, the one who does deep study and experimenting, who devotes time and deep dedication is on a road to more powerful, controlled, and advanced magical practice. This road though is not for all witches. There is nothing wrong with that either. It is a personal choice and depends on what you want for yourself out of your magical practice.
There are many witches who just stay within their field or scope. They may tend to dabble, more than heavy study and practice. They will still get results and it is still magical practice.
There are those who like to just follow instructions and use what others have created. Going with the thinking “It has already been tested and shown results.” Still a witch, still working witchcraft, and still valid. I have to interject one caution here: I feel this was more true before social media and memes. I have run across many “spells” people put out that have never been tested or worked, just put together on the basis of ascetics. So if you are this type of witch, be careful and know the source you are getting this information from.
There are some who just like the aesthetic of witchcraft. What they create and surround themselves with is meant to make them feel a certain way or create a certain perspective. They are still weaving magic, but it is personal and more psychological for themselves. Still a witch because they are still creating that magic.
Some witches focus heavily on the physical worlds and physical world needs/ wants. Others are heavily centered in elements and nature. While others still are centered in the spiritual planes. All of these overlap and use tools and understandings from each other, but their magic is more defined by the primary focus.
We are not just one thing, we are a blending of many.
A Witch is a Witch
Whether you use the term “witch” or some other identifier, we are all connected through the definition of – a person who intentionally creates and uses magic.
We all have different reasons that led us to the practice of magic. We all have our own ways of performing that magic. We have different identifiers, different goals, different paths, and different approaches but the one thing we have in common – we are all witches.
My biggest piece of advice – stop comparing yourself to other witches. This is where impostor syndrome starts to creep up in the mind and where we start to hold other people to unrealistic standards. Everything you see, unless you have a deep relationship with them, is a snap shot. You are not seeing all the work and mistakes they made to reach where they are. You see what they want you to see or the snap shot of the ending process.
The only person you should compare yourself to you, is you. Have you grown in your practice? Are you doing magic that matters to you? Are you getting the results you want and need? Are you happy and content? That last one is important – because if it is a chore or you are forcing yourself, you are not getting the full effect or power of your own magic.