There are many views, both academic and non-academic, on what is meant by this relatively simple question. For examples, I’d direct the reader to the books I list below. (See under recommended reading.)
Tim Ozpagan’s definition: I define witchcraft regarding my own experience: “Witchcraft is a practical form of mysticism whose method is known as magick.”
Let’s break this definition down into the keywords.
Witch + Craft: a “witch” is someone who functions either consciously or unconsciously in the psychic realm. A “craft” is a developed skill. The word “craft” derives from Old English via German meaning a strength.
Mysticism: the spiritual apprehension of knowledge inaccessible through the intellect, but acquired through the surrender of the self in contemplation and intuition.
Magick: In its low form, it is the attempted influence of the world via a psychic force of Will. While in its esoteric form magick is the discovery and fulfillment of True Will, your destiny.
Summary: From these ideas, we can say that the practical use of witchcraft for mundane purposes is a skill in influencing destiny. While in it’s spiritual form the practice involves the developed ability in accessing an experience of the mysteries, the metaphysical reality behind the nature of being.
What is Paganism?
It may be easier to look briefly at the traits of Paganism rather than trying to define it if only because the term is so widely applied to many practices.
Key to understanding paganism is that it is not a single religion or practice. In examples of modern pagan spiritualities, it is frequently used as an umbrella term to express Nature-centered forms of spirituality. Wicca, for example, is a pagan spirituality because its core values hold that everything in the natural world is sacred.
The introduction of the word “Wicca” back into the modern English language came through the writings and teachings of Gerald Gardner. Following his initiation into a witches’ coven in the New Forest area of England in 1939, Gardner wrote about this spirituality in several of books. His first attempts were through two fictional books and then later in two semi-academic books. Gardner makes it abundantly clear in his first non-fiction book, “Witchcraft Today”, that there was no distinction between the term Wicca (Wica) and Witchcraft; the former being simply the anarchic word for “Witch”. By the end of the 1950s, those initiated under this form of witchcraft became known as Gardnerian Wiccans.
A distinction in the two terms “Wicca” and “Witchcraft” arises more markedly toward the end of the 1960s. Any difference in the meaning of the two words is no seen as a white-washing of Witchcraft. Wicca has distinguished subsequently been view as the ‘good’ witches, and all the other ‘Witches’ were suspect.
By the late 1960s, Alex Sanders had come into great prominence, teaching a unique fusion of Wicca, Hermetics, and Ceremonial magic. The witchcraft tradition under his tutelage became known as Alexandrian Wicca.
Finally, in more recent times a reclaiming of the term “Witchcraft” has been embraced by many witches who practice a type of pure natural magic. Sometimes referred to as Traditional Witchcraft, many of these witches are at pains to draw a sharp distinction between themselves and the various modern expressions of Wicca.
Fundamentally there is little in the way of real distinguishing ‘spots’ to tell the differences between most modern witches. They share more in common than the differences that distinguish them apart. For example, all witches believe in and use magical practices. All witches have an Earth-centric spirituality. The differences to be found are more to do with cultural customs. E.g., not all witches practice their craft in special ritual attire, while some work their rituals “skyclad,” i.e., naked. While they may have a different understanding of how magick works, they all accept there is a psychic reality.
WitchesWorkshop was created to help bring together those interested learning and sharing a connection with other witches and the broader pagan community.
WitchesWorkshop has frequently been the first point of contact for many Australian witches and pagans since its establishment in 1999. In a country as vast as Australia, providing an accessible and open online community can be a challenge, but our inclusive approach has made the WitchesWorkshop one of the more successful online communities for witches and pagans available.
WitchesWorkshop actively helps in the development of the cultural and educational life of Australian witches and pagans by promoting and sponsoring members’ projects. Our Facebook community is moderated, with checks made to ensure new members have a sincere interest in witchcraft and paganism.
You can join WitchesWorkshop with confidence that you’ll discover others of link-mind, and kindred spirits who are socially inclusive. We value and respect the cultural and gender diversity that members bring to our community.
For many who are venturing into witchcraft for the first time, our community is a helpful way to start and a place to meet others willing to share their experiences of the Craft.
Come and join us.
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Located in the Sydney region, we also occasionally run workshops interstate. Both Tim Ozpagan and Lisa Babalon have presented at a Witch Camps and other pagan festivals.
If you would like to see a workshop run locally in your region, please make an inquiry. The way to have an event happen in your community is to help us develop enough interest from local groups and individuals. Your first step is to discuss your ideas with Tim Ozpagan.
Reading widely and reading across different subjects is essential. The easiest way you can find good books by the selection of recommended authors who are specialists on esoteric topics. Here are few examples of great authors to read:
Mythology: Joseph Campbell,
Witchcraft: Stewart Farrar, Phyllis Currott, Timothy Roderick, Gemma Gary
Psychology: Clarissa Pinkola Estés,
Shamanism: Michael Harner
Archetypes: Genet Paris, James Hillman
Magick: Kenneth Grant, Lon Milo DuQuette
Alchemy: Franz Bardon
Paganism: Ronald Hutton
Pagan Cosmology: Glenys Livingstone
Sacred Ceremony: Jane Meredith
A few specific books:
”Practising the Witch’s Craft: real magic under a southern sky.” Edited by Professor Doug Ezzy. Multiple authors including Tim Ozpagan.
”Dancing the Sacred Wheel: A Journey through the Southern Sabbats” and "Call of the God: An Anthology Exploring the Divine Masculine within Modern Paganism". Editor and author Francis Billinghurst.
“Journey to the Dark Goddess: How to return to your soul” by Jane Meredith.
“PaGaian Cosomology: Re-inventing Earth-based Goddess religion” by Glenys Livingstone
In the event, you have to cancel you can apply for a refund. It is essential that you provide adequate notice to the organizers. The time required for a refund from a cancelation varies depending what the event is; this 14-days prior to a retreat and 7-days for a workshop.
We have strict guidelines for cancellation if you want a refund. The amount of time expended in setting students up for our events forms a significant part of the work, therefore you must adhere to providing adequate notice. There is much work done behind the scenes preparing to run the workshops and retreats—including prepurchasing of materials, booking venues, and catering.
Please note, there is no guarantee for a refund, but each request is examined on its merit. The more notification time you provide will help to support your application. We allow for a possibility of the transfer of your booking to another workshop time when possible, but this is always at the discretion of the organizer.
Should the organizer cancel the event, an arrangement for a full refund is automatically made. In circumstances where only a postponement of the workshop or retreat is to happen, the student may elect to have their fee transferred to the new date, or they may request a refund.
As access to course materials is provided on payment of your course, regrettably no refunds will be made.
Witch Camp retreat events
Should you be unable to attend a retreat, you can elect a substitute student or friend to take your place. An additional charge may be applicable; for example, where a non-member substitutes for a member.
A full refund will is for cancellations made in writing (email) more than 14 days before the scheduled event. Regrettably, no refunds are after that time. If the retreat is canceled or postponed by the organizers, a full refund or transfer will be made.
Face-to-face Workshops and courses
Should you be unable to attend a workshop, you can elect a substitute student or friend to take your place. An additional charge may be applicable, for example, where a non-member substitutes for a member. Regrettably, no refunds will be made for access to course materials provided at the time of registration for the workshop.
A full refund will be made for cancellation by a student if made in writing (email) more than 7 days before the event. Regrettably, no refunds will be made after that time.
In circumstances where this event has to be canceled or postponed by the organizer, a full refund will be made to the student. If the student prefers they may elect to have, their payment transferred to the next equivalent workshop.