Applegrove Witchcraft FAQ
For some practitioners Witchcraft is a pagan religion or spiritual path, for others it is the craft and practice of magic. For many Witches however, it is a blending of both. Modern Witchcraft comes in many forms and traditions. From solitary Witches who practise alone, celebrating their path in their own personal way, to full traditional Wicca where each covenor is initiated into a group and / or tradition that acts like an extended family. These initiates are formally trained under a High Priestess and Priest and work together in rituals. There are many variations in between including small groves, working groups or study groups that come together to celebrate the festivals and cycles of the moon. These groves are often less formal, have no hierarchy and may use techniques from several different Craft traditions.
There is no right or wrong way to practise Witchcraft. It all comes down to what works for each person and how they put this into practice. There is no "one true path"; a room of one hundred people can contain one hundred different religions, all of which are equally valid. Each person must find their own path to the Gods.
For those Witches who consider their path a religious one, there are differences in how individuals and groups view their deities. Some attune to specific God and Goddess pairs from pantheons such as Celtic, Roman, Greek, Egyptian and Norse. Some only address their Gods by generic names such as "Lord" and "Lady" and view their worship as directed towards all deities. Other Witches may work with specific aspects of deity, named or not.
Witches can be of either sex and many groups are mixed, however some groups have female members only and work exclusively with Goddess energies. There are a few male only groups as well.
Witches commune directly with their deities. Their temples are the forests, bushland, creeks, rivers, mountains, deserts and oceans; or even suburban lounge rooms and bedrooms. They create their own sacred spaces when they need to. A Witches circle is like a portable temple created by the Witch. It takes the form of a sphere or bubble which exists between the mundane world and other planes and is a place where Witches worship their deities and perform rituals. It can also serve as a peaceful space in which to meditate and perform sacred actions. A Circle is also a place of protection from energies outside the sacred space and will also hold in energies until the Witch is ready to release them.
There are 8 major festivals celebrated in the Witches year (although not all witches celebrate all of them). These festivals represent the cycles and seasons of the natural world. They are times to come together in worship of the God and Goddess whose presence around us and within us is woven into the land and our lives.
Most Witches practise magic, often for similar purposes that Christians employ prayer. Magic is a way of understanding and influencing the world, and is used both for external purposes (getting a job, blessing a house etc.) and internal purposes (gaining a better understanding of yourself). It is one of the many tools used by Witches as part of their craft.
The definition of magic, as we use it, is: The manipulation and conscious control of natural energies to effect a desired change within the world. Because magic does work, many Witches and especially those who practice Wicca will use the Wiccan Rede as their ethical guideline. The Rede is an ye harm none, do what thou wilst. For those who follow the Rede it means that they try to minimise harm inflicted by their lives and their magic. They take responsibility for their actions. Of course, you can never live in the world without harming something somewhere, but if you understand your actions and motivations you can avoid actively harming your environment, yourself and others.
To manipulate someone else with magic against their will is definitely bringing harm to them; indeed, interfering with another persons free will is one of the most harmful things you could do. This includes love spells on specific persons, healing without permission, binding someone to perform an action against their nature, and so on. Generally speaking, if youre not sure if a piece of magic is ethical, then it probably isnt.
There are many important considerations in the use of magic. Some of these are:
Magic is never to be used as a power trip or to gain power over another person. It is never a good idea to attempt to use magic as an attack; however, in extreme circumstances it may be used as a defence. It is sometimes hard to remove ego from magic but as stated before there must always be a need and if the goal can be achieved in other ways, then use them first. Always remember that what you send out into the universe will return to you three times stronger, for good or ill.
It is never acceptable to perform love magic in any way shape or form upon another person without their express permission. As well as interfering with that persons freedom, coercive love spells have a habit of backfiring in unpleasant ways. These spells are often extremely difficult to reverse, causing relationships which simply do not work to linger on past the time when they should have naturally dissipated. Think about it. Would you prefer someone to be in love with you because you cast a spell on them or because they love you of their own free will? Also, how would you feel if someone did it to you, someone you did not like at all? Do not mistake lust for love. An example of a worst case scenario can be the binding of an abusive and harmful person to yourself with no escape. It will seem like this person is obsessed with you and nothing you do will dissuade them. We have personally witnessed this happening and it is horrible.
It is acceptable to send a call out to the universe for love. In the form of a spell, this will attract a person who is right for you, not necessarily the person you wish. However when you do this do not picture the name or face of a particular person. It is better to love yourself and take care of yourself to attract love into your life than to use magic for this purpose. If you are thinking of performing love magic, always examine your own motivations before you do anything. Emotions are strong and can be very overwhelming. Sometimes a cool head is necessary.
Healing by magic is one of the most common forms of magic practised by Witches; however there are many ethics involved when dealing with magical healing. First of all, always get the permission of the person you are trying to heal. It may sound cruel and strange but some people are ill for a purpose and need to learn the lessons this will teach them. Even doctors must have permission before operating on a patient. Grant the people you wish to heal the same respect. If you interfere with the free will of the person you may cause more damage to them, even though you may feel that your spell is for their own good. It is not up to you to judge. When doing or performing a healing with permission it is always advisable to get as much information about the nature of the illness you are trying to heal, as this allows you to specifically target the area or problem to be healed. The most powerful healings are those where the patient is guided into healing themselves with the healer supplying the support and energy resources needed. We personally have had much success in magical healing, but equally there have been times when it was not that persons place to be healed. It is always good to realise when it is time to leave things in the hands of the Gods.
A spell is a series of actions and laws that result in the achievement of a specified goal through the raising and manipulation of energy. Spells should always, if possible, be written for the specific purpose for which they are cast. It is preferable to write or create the spell from scratch, but if using a pre-written spell from a book or another person then it may need to be adapted before being cast. When casting a spell, always work out your specific goal beforehand. Try to think of any repercussions that your actions may have. The Gods have a sense of humour and will show this in many ways. Be very specific about what you want. If you are trying to attract money, make sure you specify the currency or you might end up with Monopoly money (dont laugh this has happened to people we know!). Spells can take many forms, from simple kitchen spells with household items to spells that take days and use specially prepared and rare ingredients and objects. The form the spell takes is often dictated by the goal the spell is to achieve. Always be fully informed and prepared before even considering any spellwork, it is not something to be taken lightly.
There is literally a deity for everyday of the week, every hour of the day and every phase of the moon. Witches will often find as they get more involved with the craft that they will be drawn to specific deities. Usually, Witches work with a Goddess and a God paring, representing the balance of masculine and feminine, working in equal partnership. Many Goddesses and Gods have multiple aspects or characteristics, and can be viewed in many different ways. No two people will agree on specifics because communion with deities is almost always a highly personal experience. Many established groups will have deities that they are attuned to and will concentrate on the mythology surrounding them. When coming from a monotheistic (or judeo-Christian) background, it is often hard to understand that there is more than one God and that all Gods are as valid as one another. They can also be viewed as different aspects of the One, it is up to personal interpretation and experience. However, on close examination, most judeo-Christian beliefs do incorporate multiple deities e.g.; God and Satan, Mary, the Saints, and the Angels as well.
Inspiring stories of Gods and Goddesses can be found in mythologies of most cultures.
Below are some of the aspects of the Goddess and the God representing Feminine and Male aspects. They are not the aspects of specific, individual deities.
The Goddess is known by many different names and faces but generically they are the Earth Mother, The Lady of the Moon and Stars, The Threefold Goddess of Maiden, Mother and Crone, she who represents our journeys and trials through our lives. The earth is her body, the air her breath. Fire is her spirit and water is her blood. The moon is sacred to Her. She shows us her many faces as she changes in the sky. She shows us the patterns of our lives, our connection to the earth beneath our feet and the tides within us all.
The God is represented by the Sun and Sky. He is the Hunter, the Horned One, consort of the Goddess. He is fire and warmth. He is the Oak King and Holly King and the Lord of Death and Resurrection. He is the counterpart of the Goddess. Although his realm is sometimes the dark underworld, such as the absence of sun in winter, he is not evil. He is the warrior, the hunter, the protector of the Goddess and her children. He is the poet, the musician and the keeper of sacred knowledge.
The Wheel of the Year
The Witches year is divided into 8 festivals or sabbats. The sabbats follow the cycles of the natural world. From Samhain which marks the beginning of the year in May we move to Yule at mid-winter then to Imbolc in August to Ostara at the Spring Equinox then to Beltane in November, Litha at mid-summer, Lughnasadh in February then Mabon at the Autumnal Equinox and back to Samhain and the year begins again... a continuous wheel of life. Witches understand and celebrate the interconnectedness of all things. They understand that our lives are connected with the wheel and over time they will become aware of their lives moving in parallel to what is happening in the world around them. They understand the elements of nature and how they are a part of us. These are the things that Witches celebrate in ritual and dance and song. They celebrate their journeys, their dance on the wheel of life and the elements of Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Spirit that surround and enfold them.
The Sabbats are the spokes on the Wheel of the Year. They are the festivals that mark what is happening in the world around us. There are 4 Greater Sabbats and 4 Lesser Sabbats. The Lesser Sabbats mark the Solstices and Equinoxes but are still very important in the wheel. The sabbats follow the harvests and changing of the seasons. To compliment this and aid in the understanding of the mysteries of the wheel of the year, there are various myths and legends marking the actions of the Gods, for example, their rites of passage, meeting, marriage, and the birth their children.
Following is very general run-down of the sabbats.
Samhain (pronounced soh-wain)
Samhain is the beginning of the Witches year. In the Southern Hemisphere it is celebrated on 30th April / 1st May, in the Northern Hemisphere it is celebrated on October 31st / 1st November . It is an older version of Halloween. Samhain is a time when the gates between the worlds are open and we can commune easily with our ancestors and spirits. It is a time to remember our loved ones and our teachers and ancestors, to talk and feast with them. It also marks the time of the harvest of apples, pumpkins, squash, pomegranates etc., and these are the traditional foods of this festival. Although it is a time to remember the dead it is also a celebration of life.
Yule is celebrated on the Mid-winter Solstice. Usually this occurs between 20th - 22nd June and in the Northern hemisphere around 20th -22nd December. It is the time of the shortest day and the longest night. In agricultural societies the mid-winter festival marked the time where the days would now become longer and there was hope that winter would soon be at an end. It was the time of the hunt when the food stored for winter was running low and needed to be replenished. The red and white colours of Yule come from the blood of the hunt on the snow. A flaming branch was brought from the forest to light the fires for the coming year and an evergreen tree was decorated with symbols of the sun to encourage the returning light. Yule is the time of the birth of the Sun during the longest night. It is also the birth of the Son of the Goddess and God and a time to exchange handmade gifts created during the long winter. Modern Christmas practices have their roots in the old pagan midwinter festival.
Imbolc / Candlemas
Imbolc marks the first stirrings of spring. It is celebrated around 2nd August and in the Northern Hemisphere around the 2nd of February. A time when the first snowdrops emerge through the snow and ewes produce their milk. It is also called the festival of lights as it celebrates the return of light and sun to the world after the darkness of winter. It is a time of initiation... the young God born at Yule is growing stronger and ready for his rites of passage. The Goddess as a young maiden is returning to the light after spending the darkness of winter in the underworld. It is a time to celebrate the warmth of the sacred fire and to prepare for the coming spring. White is the colour of Imbolc, colour of the maiden.
Ostara / Eostre
Ostara marks the Spring Equinox... It usually occurs around 23rd of September or in the Northern Hemisphere around 23rd of March. It is a time where day and night are equal in length. The power of darkness and light are in balance. After this night the days will be longer than the night, signalling the return of the Sun to its power and an end to the darkness of winter. It is a time of planting seeds to harvest in the coming year. The seeds that were harvested at Lughnasadh are now planted in the ground bringing the cycle of life, death and rebirth to fruition. The plants when harvested are killed. They are then brought back to life by planting their seeds and new growth begins. It is an eternal cycle of our lives. The symbols of Ostara are seeds and eggs symbolising new growth. It is easy to see why the Christian Easter is placed at this time of year.
Beltane / Bealtainne
Beltane celebrates the height of spring moving towards summer. It falls around 31st October / 1st November and in the Northern Hemisphere around 30th April / 1st May and is often referred to as May Day. It is a time of fertility and growth and union. A time to dance the maypole, weaving the energies of male and female together. A time to run between the fires, to cast out any negative energies left from the dark of winter and bring positive aspects into our lives. It is the time of marriage between the Goddess and the God. The young stag and the maiden come together in union and the child to be born is conceived. It is perhaps the most boisterous of the sabbat festivals. After being cooped up all winter it is a time to let loose and have fun and to celebrate life and the new growth of spring that surrounds us.
Litha is the time of the Mid-Summer Solstice. It is celebrated around 20-22nd December or in the Northern Hemisphere around 20th - 22nd June. It is a time of the shortest night and longest day. From now on the days will become shorter. It is a time to celebrate the sun at the height of its power and strength. It is also a time where the God fights with his son who is challenging his power.
Lughnasadh (pronounced loo-nahsa) / Lammas
Lughnasadh represents the first harvest. It is celebrated around 2nd February or in the Northern Hemisphere on 2nd August. A time where the seeds planted at Ostara are fully grown and ready to be harvested, thus continuing the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. It is a time to give thanks to the God as the sun and the Goddess as the earth for their aid in growing the wheat born from the womb of the Mother.
Mabon is the time of the second harvest and the autumnal equinox. It is celebrated around 23rd of March and in Northern Hemisphere around the 23rd of September. It is the time when night and day are equal but this time it is the night that is growing stronger as the days become shorter. It is the time when the God descends to the underworld, as he gives his life for the land and realises that for there to be light there must also be darkness.
From here we return once again to Samhain... the time of darkness when spirits journey with us in our realm.
There are 13 Esbats in the Witches year. These are the times of the full moon... a time when Witches come together to celebrate the powers of the moon, to work magic and to teach. An esbat is also the name for any general gathering of Witches that is not one of the 8 festivals. Some groups will meet only on the full moon, others only on the dark moon, some will meet on both or on a specific day each month. No actual work is done at the sabbats as they are a time for worship and celebration. Teaching, healing, spellwork, divination and other rituals are performed at the esbats.
Each phase of the moon represents specific ways to work with energies and many rituals and spells are timed to take advantage of this. The time of the waxing moon (leading up to the full) is generally considered a good time for spells of growth and positive aspects, the waning moon (leading to the dark moon) is generally a time of banishing spells to remove illness or bad habits.
Divination is a tool used by many Witches. It can be used to take stock of ones life... to look at what is happening in your life now, to examine the past and look to the future. Divination comes in many forms and can use many tools. Generally a Witch will find one they are most comfortable with and use that, although they may use specific forms of divination for some questions. Tools of divination include using tarot cards, runes, gypsy runes, I-ching, medicine cards, scrying in coals, clouds, water, pools of ink and crystal balls. Divination takes practice and discipline and involves opening oneself up to the energies of the world around us and listening and interpreting the messages received. One does not have to be a Witch to practice divination but many Witches find it a useful aid.
When in ritual Witches generally create a sacred space to work inside in safety from any outside influences. This sacred space is generally a circle surrounding the area in which they will be working. This sacred space can be created anywhere indoors or outdoors, basically anywhere the Witch needs it to be, however as Witchcraft is generally a nature religion, most Witches prefer to do this outside when possible.
Inside this sacred space will usually be the Witches tools for the ritual and any props they may need for that particular piece of magic. It may also contain an altar on which they would place symbols of the deities they are worshipping and anything else that is meaningful to them and to that ritual.
Most Witches will call upon the Elements, Earth, Air, Fire and Water, as protection or help during their rituals and magic. This is essentially calling upon the powers of creation to protect you.
So you want to become a Witch, but after all this information youre not sure what different path is what and which one is right for you. Witchcraft is a beautiful path and will reward you with personal growth and understanding. Following is a basic selection of different paths we have come into contact with, this should give you a bit more information. There is lots of information available about most of these paths in books and on-line. Do your research and get out and meet other witches at many of the public events that happen around the country. You may find that you are drawn to a particular style of working, whether formal or informal. Becoming a witch involves a decision. It also involves lots of practice, research, reading and dedication. It is not a path that one embarks upon lightly but it is a path that is open to change.
Wicca is a nature religion that has its roots in a blending of many pre-Christian religions and cultures. Its is based upon observance of the seasons, and the worship of a God and a Goddess in equal partnership. Wicca began in the 1950s and is a modern interpretation of the `Old Religion and a formalised style of Witchcraft with specific ritual forms, tools and theology..
Gardnerian Wicca is considered to be the root of most modern forms of Wicca. It was started by Gerald Gardner in the 1950s as a revival of the old religion after the British Witchcraft Laws were repealed. Gardnerian Wicca consists of a combination of many older Witchcraft and ceremonial traditions. It is an initiate only tradition and covens trace their lineage back to Gardner. It is still one of the most secretive Wiccan traditions around today.
Seax is a Wiccan tradition started by Gardnerian initiate Raymond Buckland. It has a Saxon base and does not require formal initiation into a coven and can be practised solitary. It has provisions for self initiation.
A tradition started by Alex Saunders who was a Gardnerian initiate. It is not as closed and secret as Gardnerian and has a more ceremonial base. It is one of the most widely practised forms of Wicca mainly due to many published works of its ceremonies, initiations, rituals and practises.
A tradition started by an American, George Patterson. It has an Alexandrian base but also practices an eclectic form of Wicca including the tenet `if it works use it.
A Celtic based form of Wicca revolving around the myths, legends and traditions of the Tuatha de Danaan, Sidhe or Faerie of Ireland. It has strong aspects of Celtic shamanism as well.
Faerie practices vary according to individuals interpretation. It is a wild and non-structured pagan path that works with the elementals and faerie or sidhe that live among us. People who follow the faerie path are normally very in tune with the world around them.
Ceremonial magic covers the practice of many traditions and secret organisations. It can be religiously based but generally follows a specific set of complicated rituals, ceremonies and practices. Ceremonial magic is usually very structured and draws from many ancient traditions including the Angelic and Qabbalistic practices. It is more kin to wizardry than Witchery. Orders include the Golden Dawn, the O.T.O and the Masons.
Dianic is the general term given to feminist Wicca where only the Goddess is worshipped and the God ignored or placed as a lower deity. Feminist Wiccans are usually fairly active politically. Z. Budapest was instrumental in the creation of the feminist Wiccan movement.
Cultural Religious Re-constructionists
Whilst not necessarily directly witchcraft related, Reconstructionists attempt to re-build modern interpretations of ancient cultural and religious traditions. Cultures may include Greek, Roman, Norse, Egyptian and the various Celtic sub-groups such as Welsh, Irish, Cornish and Breton. Each groups blends modern examination of archaeological evidence, primary written sources and mythology to create their distinct traditions.
FAQ updated April 2006
Copyright 2004 Applegrove. All content and images are NOT to be be reproduced without permission. See our copyright page for more information.
For general enquiries please email Blayze. For technical questions or bug reports please email Jo
Home | FAQ | Circle | Curriculum - Module 1 | Curriculum - Module 2 | Curriculum - Module 3 | Curriculum - Module 4 | Curriculum - Module 5 | Articles | Meditations | Music | Invocations | Stories | Spells | Rituals | Links | Wands | Pentacles