“Witchcraft has been defined as whatever is not the official way of getting in touch with supernatural forces; opinions as to what does and does not constitute witchcraft are therefore entirely relative to whatever the established practices are at any given place or time. The priests of the ancient world, casting spells to bring wind or rain, were practicing a serious religious rite. Groups of individualist mystics or criminals carrying out the same practices in the Middle Ages were dangerous witches defying the laws of God.”
-1965, “A Handbook on Witches,” Castle Books, by Gillian Tindall
So many people in witchcraft, particularly in the last 50 years, have fought over what a “witch” actually is or is not. This fighting has led some to believe that the title is almost a trademarked title that can only be used with certain permission.
At the same time, folks that were outside of societal norm and had different ideas on religion, natural remedies, the planets, the stars, etc. might have also been described as a witch by some folks.
The interesting thing is that I believe what actually happened was exactly what the quote above is stated to have occurred: Anyone that did not do what was sanctioned as okay by someone else was given a derogatory word of shame: Witch!
Because of this, it is sometimes extremely difficult and at times, next to impossible, to sort out which witch is which and which witch is what kind of witch? This task seems to be a never-ending battle of futility! Someone who is a Druid, a ceremonial magician, a Theosophist, a Rosicrucian and a free-thinker may also be labeled as a “witch” by another person as a slam against them.
Certain sects or groups of witches may have their own words to define what type of witch they are. On the other side, we may find some folks that do not wish to be described as the word witch, although, we may perceive them as practicing something quite witchy in our opinion.
Today, the word witch has a different meaning for us. A “Witch” is not always the bad, slandering word it once was – today, it can have positive connotations that we have all worked for the re-imaging process of this word. Taking a word and giving it a positive meaning instead of one that can be hurled as an insult.
We still use the word witch today, though I am very fond of “Wicca” and “Ancient Wisdom Religion.”