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What is a Christian Witch? | Theology, Culture, and Sociopolitical Identity in Religion

I've been doing this for a long time now, and yet this question never has a solid answer.

Christian Witch, Witchcraft, Mysticism, Magic, Crystals, Bible, Incense, Folklore, Sara Raztresen, God, Spirituality, Tarot, Occult, Evangelical, Demons, Sin, Danger, Possession, Idolatry, Discernment, Church, Solomonic Magic, Occult, Left Hand Path, Demonolatry, Demonology, Corinthians, Paul

"A Christian Witch? That's an oxymoron! The Bible says—"


Every single time this whole argument starts unspooling itself in my comments, I can't help but feel so incredibly tired. Not only because I have the entire answer in my head and know it's too long to type into a comment box, but also because I can tell that this person would need to unlearn a whole lot before they could even begin to understand or accept my answer.


But even if we remove the many things most people need to unlearn, the fact is that even the simple, "how can you be a Christian and a witch?" question is one that inspires the same sort of headache for me, precisely because of what I've already mentioned: the oodles of research required to even make heads or tails of the Christian Witch phenomenon. Most people, obviously, aren't dedicating their entire lives to this course of study, or even pursuing it just for fun, so it's easy to miss the fact that this religion (and... most any religion) has always been inherently mystical, ourselves a conduit for the supernatural to affect the world around us, but the reality is this:


No religion can operate without magic. And therefore, Christian witchcraft honestly should be a lot more popular than it is, in my opinion.


For the sake of this blog, though, let me give you a quick breakdown of how I define all the things going on here: including Christian, Witch, and Magic itself. With these three steps, you can understand a bit more of where we're coming from and what we're looking for in the world, as well as what we're trying to put into the world.


Step One: The Christian Part of a Christian Witch

Christian Witch, Witchcraft, Mysticism, Magic, Crystals, Bible, Incense, Folklore, Sara Raztresen, God, Spirituality, Tarot, Occult, Evangelical, Demons, Sin, Danger, Possession, Idolatry, Discernment, Church, Solomonic Magic, Occult, Left Hand Path, Demonolatry, Demonology, Corinthians, Paul

This part is likely going to be the only part that anyone has some familiarity with, especially Christians looking to understand what the hell is happening under the umbrella of their religion. Fair enough, I say—and I'd love to clue you in a little in how Christianity is defined as a whole.


Various sources will have different wordings in their definitions of a Christian: it could be someone who believes Jesus is the Son of God (per symbols of faith like the Apostle's Creed), or someone who believed Jesus is the Son of God and that He died for our sins so that we wouldn't get royally messed up on Judgement Day (known now as penal substitionary atonement, but prototyping as the ransom theory with church father Origen around the turn of the 3rd century CE).


It could be someone who follows the teachings of Christ but actually doesn't have any faith (a concept called a Christian Atheist—yes, you heard that right). This sounds paradoxical, but all it really means is that these folks treat the teachings of Jesus like a solid ethical and philosophical code rather than a religious decree that ends in some form of afterlife. People do this all the time. For instance, plenty of styles of Buddhism can be followed as a religion given their concepts of an afterlife and the soul, but many also follow the five Buddhist principles just for the fact that they're pretty standard moral values (I mean, who would disagree with not killing, stealing, etc.?).


There are as many ways to be Christian as there are Christians, in my opinion, and what we've been told is absolute dogmatic fact has, in fact, continuously been debated over by theologians across eras, countries, and schools of thought. Granted, the over-confident types just write off anyone who doesn't think like them as a heretic, but the religious academics with any scrap of academic honesty or integrity know better than that.


I define Christian pretty simply: someone who believes Jesus is the Son of God and who follows the simple principles Jesus put forward, of loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves. Granted, we can get into a whole separate debate trying to define what "Son of God" means (adopted son, the way a king adopts an heir? Literal son, as in God bore this Jesus Himself? Symbolic son, as in chosen representative?) But honestly, those are details that distract from the main point. And one thing Christians need to learn is that the details do not matter as much as we think they do.


All this extra nonsense about Judgement Day and Rapture, of Heaven and Hell, and of all these extra knots Christians like to tie themselves up in with the Old and New Testament (especially with all of Paul's letters), is wholly unnecessary. It's nice to read the Bible to get an understanding of the character of our God, but from the standpoint of a Christian Witch, the things we need to learn to do on the Christian end is:

  1. Be kind and full of love towards one another (which is an effort every day, let's be real)

  2. Dust yourself off and get back at it when you make a mistake (because we all make mistakes; that's just a fact of life and nothing to fret over!)

  3. Bring Heaven down to Earth ("Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven"), which, to me, means creating a world that works for everyone and eliminates suffering wholesale

  4. Understand the responsibility that comes with the gifts of the Spirit (the Holy Spirit of God being that which activates our magic, which we'll talk more about later)

  5. Be responsible and grateful with the gift of Earth that God gave us, rather than abuse and destroy it!

These aren't laws, now, so don't get me wrong, but for the Christian Witch, I'd certainly call this a solid Mission Statement: things that I, as one Christian Witch, want to work towards and do.


Step Two: The Witch Part of Christian Witch

Here's where things get a little trickier. For the sake of not making this blog a whole book's length, I'll point you to an actual book that has a much more in-depth look than I'm about to give you: my and my co-writer, Mimi's upcoming book, Discovering Christian Witchcraft. This book releases March 1, 2024, so consider pre-ordering a copy. In it, Mimi and I discuss:

  • The frequently cited verses in the Old and New Testament against witchcraft and what they actually mean

  • The way the word Witch came back among modern practitioners of what was once simply called occult, pagan, or mystic religious/spiritual practice

  • The tools of religious deconstruction (such as explorations of the Divine Feminine and introduction to the years of abuse done in the name of Christ)

  • What magic is and how, why, and when to use it as a Christian, along with beginner applications of magic.

Now, to put it simply, there's a reason that the word witch was, for so long, a scary and terrible word. Granted, it never really had anything to do with devil worship or any other such nonsense in its original connotations even in the earliest books of the Bible; it was more to do with common magical practices that made up these ancient Near Eastern societies. For example, the "witch" of Exodus 22:18 (Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live) was a mekhashepah, a specifically female magician who would harm her community members via poisons or the invocation of unclean spirits to hurt or even kill the target. This is cognate with concepts in neighboring cultures, like the Akkadian kishpu and Assyrian kashapu, both of which also refer only to malevolent magicians.


Think about it this way: you're allowed to fight back if you get assaulted, right? You're allowed to throw some punches and stand your ground. But you can't go throwing the fists first, or else you're liable to get slapped with an assault charge yourself.


Likewise, in the ancient world, counter curses, or appeals to the gods (or God if you've read many of the Psalms) to punish someone who cursed you is totally fine—but do the cursing first, especially for no reason, and you've earned yourself a one way ticket to the priest to break the curse and either jail or your grave for the breach against your fellow man.


Notice I said priest there? The inverse of the Akkadian kishpu was the ashipu, which we can call a priest—or a court magician. In fact, the Greek term magos, of which our word magician derives, comes from the Greeks' description of Persian priests; magoi is what the Greeks called them. This word holds an entirely different connotation from the word Greeks used for harmful magic at the time: goetia. However, the word did take a more negative bend, both because of political and military tensions between Greece and Persia, and because of the suspicion people viewed magic with over time, considering it was a really easy way to do some fraud and because it eliminated social hierarchal protections. (After all, if you can successfully petition a god or powerful spirit to ruin someone's life, then their status does not matter, and neither does their money—a terrifying thought for big shot statesmen!)


Now, naturally, these ideas were still floating around in the Second Temple period of Judaism, when Jesus was doing His stuff. (Jesus Himself was regularly accused by Roman citizens of being a hack magician that learned all His tricks in Egypt, actually.) But the way magic worked back then was by invoking a supernatural force to do what you wanted, petitioning it with prayer and offerings and the like—and really, the only thing that differentiated pagan magic or wonders from Christian "miracle" was the God (or gods) these invocations were directed to.


As Christianity became the dominant religion of the Roman empire, certain aspects of the old religion, like the Greek daimones, were... demonized. Daimones weren't demons, though; they were gods ranked below the Olympian gods, usually referring to personified concepts (for example: the brothers Thanatos and Hypnos, personifications of Death and Sleep, are daimones). Any and all spirits not of God (like angels) were considered demons, and so obviously, the magical practices involving their invocation were written off as demonic. It's why so many demons in the Ars Goetia are rooted in the names of old gods, and why so many cultural figures like Krampus became associated with the wild and evil elements of society.


So obviously, witch, the all-too-general term these many different and specific Semitic words from the Bible were translated to, combined these distorted ideas from Rome and Greece with the general idea of malevolent magical practitioners, came to mean some really nasty stuff in Europe as the people converted. Causing hail, ruining fields, stealing dairy from cows, blighting children, poisoning wells—the list goes on. A lot of it was aimed at Jewish people, women, and other political and racial minorities while men got to run round being "court astrologers" or "alchemists" or whatever else, of course, but this gave rise to the distinction between witchcraft and folk magic, the latter often done to protect against witches. (Still didn't save those people from getting swept up in the witch trials though. In fact, even Catholic priests were accused of witchcraft in England after separating from the Catholic church, which is... hilarious.)


But it wasn't until the last century, thanks to folks like Margaret Murray, Gerald Gardener, and Marija Gimbutas, that a historical rewrite would happen: witches weren't anything Catholics still said they were, even in that day and age, but actually women carrying on the ancient pagan ways that Christian conversion nearly destroyed. Thus, the religion of Wicca would crop up, the image of the Witch as Persecuted Wise Woman would proliferate, the horrors the Jewish population of medieval Europe faced would be completely forgotten, and the idea of a Witch as a spiritually in-tune, feminist, and mystical being would replace its older connotations. This is why the word Witch today, especially in a title like Christian Witch, just doesn't mean the same thing it would've meant even two hundred years ago. It's such an incredibly new idea of the Witch—but the magic that commonly gets ascribed to this figure sure isn't, given how many folk charms and superstitions and rituals Christian folks themselves created to protect themelves from evil spiritual forces.


So how do I define a Witch, then, knowing all of this? Simple. I define a witch as anyone who knows how to channel their inner spiritual power in practical ways for day-to-day needs. This is slightly different from a magician, as a witch is much more focused on the everyday workings and the accessibility of ingredients and magical methods. A magician is more like an arcane scientist or mystic than anything else, and their focus is usually on gnosis and enlightenment, not so much just getting a pay raise or blessing their travels with luck and joy.


But there's overlap, of course: many witches are concerned with getting closer to their gods (or God) and finding enlightenment, too, and many ceremonial magicians also do rituals for more mundane concerns, like protection or wealth. Anyone properly skilled or worth their salt in the magic arts, in my opinion, is going to know how to do both, and when each style is more appropriate. That's what it really boils down to when you split hairs about Witch vs. Magician in modern day: style and goal. The magic they use, however, is the same.


Step Three: The Definition of Magic in Christian Witchcraft

Christian Witch, Witchcraft, Mysticism, Magic, Crystals, Bible, Incense, Folklore, Sara Raztresen, God, Spirituality, Tarot, Occult, Evangelical, Demons, Sin, Danger, Possession, Idolatry, Discernment, Church, Solomonic Magic, Occult, Left Hand Path, Demonolatry, Demonology, Corinthians, Paul

I'll reiterate what I said in the beginning: religion is inoperable without magic. We take for granted what happens in our churches, when we transmute a piece of bread into the Body of Christ (which Catholics do believe literally happens; it's not symbolic like it is for Protestants), or when we light a candle and pray to God on behalf of others. They take for granted that the hardcore Catholic exorcisms we love to see in movies were once considered standard magical (and medicinal) practice, given all illness was once thought to be caused by evil spirits and required an exorcism (I mean, just look at Leviticus 14 for a good example of a ritual baked into Scripture). And the Charismatic denominations sure as hell take for granted what it means for them to "lay on hands" and heal people, or "speak in tongues" to channel the Holy Spirit. To us now, these have nothing to do with magic—because we've over-rationalized and blindly accepted that which can never be rational. I mean, we're talking about a supernatural, primordial force overseeing all humanity and pulling the strings at whim, able to give people the power to do crazy things whenever He decides to (I mean, walking on water? Calling down the fire? Come on, now).


So many Christians have really warped ideas of magic, though, so they can't see this as magic. They fall into the semantic "magic vs. miracle" debate, which, if you'll remember, aren't so different. I've heard people claim that magic is when you get your power from forces outside God, and miracle is when God does it through you—but this isn't exactly correct, because they're the same thing. What I do, they call magic, and yet my power comes from, and is approved by, God Himself—yet they'll never call me a miracle worker, because something about that language is reserved for the Apostles and Jesus to them. To be frank, they want to have their cake and eat it, too, and I won't stand for that.


Because I define magic very simply: the spiritual life energy that flows within all creatures. As a Christian, I believe God gave me this energy. But whether one knows this energy as the Breath of Life, or chi, or prana, or anything else, the idea stays the same: we are energetic beings, filled with the power of the Divine that created us. Witches simply use that magic in practical ways, which often means being a bit more connected to the natural world around them and being more confident in their spiritual power—which all people should be, but which mainstream religion so often tells us to give up so that we might rely on the "power" of a single pastor (they'll tell you it's God, though, even if their glory-hungry actions say otherwise).


And Christian witches understand that their power is better when used as a means of opening the channel and connecting with God—so that His power is the main acting force in our rituals, and so that His glory is made manifest through us. It's the difference between Simon the Magos and Apostle Peter in Acts: one is powerful on his own, sure, but the other is more powerful when allowing their magic to be used as a conduit rather than the main force behind their works.


So let's put our Christian Witch definition together based on all this discussion:


A person who believes Jesus is the Son of God and who follows the simple principles Jesus put forward, of loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves, and who knows how to use the spiritual life energy given to them by God to channel His blessings down for day-to-day workings, healing, and spiritual growth.


Christians have a long history of using magic. Saints, mystics, priests, folk magicians—all of them in a Christian tradition have been avid users of magic. It's just now that finally, thanks to the shifting attitudes around the word Witch, around the concepts of magic in general, that we can more readily, openly, and authentically do so, without having to twist ourselves in knots.


This is the Christian Witch. As for why one would call themselves a Witch at all, well—that's an entirely personal decision. My decision comes from this idea right here (1 Cor 27-29):


But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.


I add onto that: God uses the Witch to shame the Priest. God uses the one who seems, on the surface, counter to all that religion is, to humble the one that boasts so proudly about his faith, as if it makes him any better or more important of a human than the rest. God uses the image of the one associated with Bad Religion to starkly contrast the ones who, in their arrogance, have tainted Good Religion. Christianity was always meant to be subversive, liberating, and equalizing, and given the state of it right now, it's clear the cross is no longer that symbol—not unless the wild few are willing to take it back.


This is the Christian Witch, therefore—and this era is the Christian Witch's Revival.

 

Remember to Pre-Order Where the Gods Left Off!

Where the Gods Left Off, Pagan, Christian, Witchcraft, Spirituality, Religion, Medium, Psychic

I'm having a sale price right now. Printing this thing is expensive, more so than I thought it'd be, so the 19.99 price is only available from now to release day on September 20. If you want to lock in that price for the print book, make sure you do so now, and thanks for following along with me on this entire journey since.


Now that we're about done here, though, we'll be looking back at Discovering Christian Witchcraft to get that ready for printing by March 1st, 2024. Then I'll be taking a long break from nonfiction and academic work to get back into where my heart and soul really lives: fiction writing.


I've got so many ideas that need to be written down. In the meantime, check these works out!



 

Christian Witch, Witchcraft, Mysticism, Magic, Crystals, Bible, Incense, Folklore, Sara Raztresen, God, Spirituality, Tarot, Occult, Evangelical, Demons, Sin, Danger, Possession, Idolatry

Sara Raztresen is a Slovene-American writer, screenwriter, and Christian witch. Her fantasy works draw heavily on the wisdom she gathers from her own personal and spiritual experience, and her s


piritual practice borrows much of the whimsy and wonder that modern society has relegated to fairy-and-folktale. Her goal is to help people regain their spiritual footing and discover


God through a new (yet old) lens of mysticism.



Follow Sara on Tiktok, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube, and explore her fiction writing here.


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2件のコメント


Jean Chaney
Jean Chaney
2023年8月18日

You always make sense out of things that seem to make no sense. I printed this whole thing out to slip into your book when it arrives. Your commitment to setting things right is not going unnoticed by those of us who just don't have the words to stand up for ourselves against our church going community and so, we remain silent. Thank you.

いいね!
Sara Raztresen
Sara Raztresen
2023年9月27日
返信先

Thank you, Jean! That's so sweet that you printed this out (& I appreciate the kind words, too)! Glad this could be helpful to you 🥰

いいね!
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