Are all Witches equal? The many meanings
of the terms "witches" and "witchcraft"
"The world of imagination and fantasy can help pass on to the child cultural and social messages [and] function
as a way to experience vicariously things an individual could not do first-hand."
C. Aminadav, International Journal of Adolescent Medicine &
Health. 1995 APR-JUN, 8: Pages 103-106.
||"The Bible is clear about
issues such as witchcraft, demons, devils and the occult...they are real, powerful and
dangerous. Throughout it insists that God's people should have nothing to do
with them." Carol Rookwood, Principal, St. Mary's Island School in
"Harry’s magic is of an
entirely different nature from real-world witchcraft: 'Harry and his
friends cast spells, read crystal balls, and turn themselves into
animals -- but they don't make contact with a supernatural world.' "
Lindy Beam of Focus on the Family, quoting Chuck Colson, a popular
Christian author. 3
||"The books are set in surroundings involving sorcery and witchcraft. WE STRONGLY CONDEMN THESE WRITINGS AS THEY ARE FULL OF WITCHCRAFT AND SORCERY. The Bible is strong in its condemnation of these things." G.T. Armstrong
Religious terminology is often quite ambiguous. There are at least 17 different
meanings to the words "Witch" and "Witchcraft." Most are unrelated to each
other. This leads to great confusion.
The term "Witch" is often mentioned:
In some English translations of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). One example is Exodus 22:18, where the Hebrew actually refers to women who harm or kill people or animals via spoken curses. More modern translations often use "sorceress" or "evil magic" in this verse rather than "witch."
In English translations of the Christian Scriptures (New Testament) where the Greek actually refers to criminals who use poison to commit homicide;
By Wiccans, followers of a popular Neopagan, Earth centered religion, who are specifically forbidden by the Wiccan Rede to cause any harm to themselves or others;
By followers of other Earth-centered religions;
By writers of imaginary fantasy novels, like J.K. Rowling's Harry
By some religious Satanists;
Many people believe, incorrectly, that all of these refer to the same system of beliefs and practices. Thus, they believe that if the Bible condemns one form of witchcraft, then it also condemns all unrelated forms of witchcraft.
This section attempts to describe the full diversity of
the meanings of these terms and clarifying their differences.
Topics covered in this section:
Related essays in this website:
Copyright © 2000 to 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2000-JUL-07
Latest update: 2012-JAN-01
Author: B.A. Robinson