Despite the persecution associated with witchcraft, the practice has continued for centuries, although the majority was taken underground. With modern society becoming more open-minded and accepting of different beliefs and practices, many witches are choosing to share their craft with others. In previous centuries, rituals, spells and other information was passed on by word of mouth, but this has recently changed. Many witches are now keeping written records, which they share with others. Wicca has been officially recognised as a religion in the United States since 1985, and is the current foundation for other forms of witchcraft. Even so, there are many misconceptions about the practice. Some truths about modern witchcraft include:
- Witches can be either gender.
As a result of some forms of Wicca basing their practice around goddess worship, witchcraft tends to be dominated by women. There are, however, a large number of male witches. There is also the incorrect belief that they are called warlocks. Many of them find this offensive, as a warlock is a witch that has been exiled from their coven.
- Most witches do not believe in Satan.
Most witches believe in supernatural entities, and often evoke them in rituals to affect the outcome. These forces can either be good or bad, based on the individual and their objective. Many witches are often accused of practising Satanism but, because Satan is based on Christian beliefs, most of them do not even believe in him.
- The older a witch becomes, the more respect they receive.
As a witch ages, it is believed that their powers increase, often due to their experience and the passing down of knowledge. Other important aspects of being a witch are: accepting self, acknowledging ‘oneness’ with source and others, and tolerance.
- Witches have familiars.
Movies and books often suggest that witches work spells alongside their ‘familiar,’ which is often portrayed as a black cat. Most witches have beliefs that are based on their connection with nature, and feel that a special bond with an animal is essential. A ‘familiar’ is a witch’s companion and counsel, and can take the form of many different species.
- Witchcraft is diverse.
Unlike many other religions, or practices, witchcraft does not require recruiting believers. Witches will initiate anybody that is interested, but do not actively search for followers. There are also no requirements, such as being born a witch, to become one. One of the most fundamental beliefs of witchcraft is that each person’s beliefs and practices should be respected, and allowed. There are also many other religious groups, including Christians, Jews and Buddhists, that have practising witches within them.