Teaching Witchcraft to Christians
Photo by Ben Northern
I am not a person who runs around with eyes glazed over and a phony grin, telling you how “excited” I am about some big project I want to sell you on. When I’m “excited” about something, you can tell by the gleam in my eyes. So, if you could see me now, you’d know I’m excited about two quick visions I had last night.
The first was a vision from the past:
The year is 1974, in an open field in South Georgia, and I am 12 years old. It is night, with moon and stars overhead, and deep woods beyond the field. We are standing around a bonfire, singing “Pass It On.” Someone lights the word LOVE spelled out in rope between two poles and it burns while we raise our voices even higher. There are probably 50 of us, all between 12 and 18, except for a couple of chaperones. I’m one of the youngest. We are the Youth Choir of the First Baptist Church, and I am filled with an incredible joy and ecstatic energy. I don’t know what it is yet, this closeness to Deity I feel out here in nature, raising energy around a bonfire. Just that I’m filled with delight and singing loudly words I remember to this day:
It only takes a spark to get a fire going.
And soon all those around can warm up to its glowing.
That’s how it is with God’s love….
Once you’ve experienced it, you want to sing,
It’s fresh like spring, you want to pass it on.*
*c1969 by Kurt Kaiser
When I mention the second vision to others, I’m quickly reminded that, well, I’d certainly be uniquely qualified to do it. In fact, I’ve been doing it off and on for the past couple of years. Open-minded Christians often approach me, eager to understand what it is that I believe and what this Third Degree Wiccan High Priestess thing is all about. They want to know more about crystals, meditation, manifesting, divination, the Other Side. More often than not, they want to talk to me about things they can’t openly discuss with Christian family and friends–some experience of clairvoyance, spirits, angels–and they’re desperate to know they’re not crazy or going to hell.
What happens next is, I begin to show them how to blend two religions–Christianity and Wicca–that fundamentalist members of each religion staunchly deny can be done. I had not realized how often I was already teaching this way, and in the circles I teach, I tend to give an explicit Wiccan focus to my Wiccan students and a “Christian-flavored Wicca” focus to my Christian students. For the latter, I point out differences and celebrate the similarities.
One thing that originally attracted me to Wicca (and yes, I’m coven-initiated-and-elevated for those of you who differentiate between formal initiations and neo-pagan book learning), was the element of freethinking that I wasn’t allowed to have in the Southern Baptist church where I grew up, where I was dedicated to God from conception. I’m inclusive, visionary, and far-thinking in my personality, so I really have no issues with meshing religious doctrines as long as I can personally reconcile them. I look at it this way: if a Southern Baptist preacher I know can be both a Christian minister and an initiated Wiccan High Priest (Third Degree) and can reconcile the doctrines for himself, why should I think I know better and tell him he’s wrong? Wouldn’t that be rather arrogant of me? That’s between Deity and him, and none of my business. Admittedly, his congregation has no idea that his sermons are Wicca-based or they’d burn him at the stake, and his Wiccan friends don’t really care for some of his invocations in Circle because they’re reminded of the Christian churches many of them fled from. But he’s found a spiritual path that works for him. By the same token, I have Catholic friends whose fellow church members don’t know they’re also in covens, and they get their fix of ritual in both religions.
I’m not sure exactly of the path I’ll be taking with this new direction being “laid upon my heart,” (Southern-Baptist speak) but I know it’s definitely a part of my future map. As for blending Christianity and Wicca, I would probably teach magick with a very specific ethical basis, so it would likely be more aligned with Wicca than witchcraft or other denominations of paganism. It looks like I’ll be launching this as an online course of study in May (!), blending my traditional Wiccan training, my background in Christianity, and some unusual para-Wiccan experiences and knowledge I’ve been a part of in the 3.5 years since my Third Degree.
Can it work? Can a person walk in the worlds of both religions? If you think that it can’t be done, you’re wrong. If you think that you can’t do it, you’re probably right.