Awhile back, I was reading through some messages on yahoogroups and came across one entitled “What is dark witchcraft – explanation” written by someone with the handle “Nyx Wolfwalker.” In that message, which is produced in its entirety below, some things were written that I personally felt would be misleading to many people who are unfamiliar with witchcraft and Wicca and I decided to clarify by responding to the message (in, of course, a suitably courteous manner). Below is the full text of my commentary on Nyx Wolfwalker’s “dark witchcraft”. (Please note that since the message from Nyx Wolfwalker was from a digest with multiple messages I have “snipped” out the other unrelated messages.)
From: Cassandrah Lynn
Date: Tue Mar 9, 2004 6:27 pm
Subject: Re: What is dark witchcraft – explanation
I have finally gotten around to reading the message below and thought it warranted some comments that will provide a different perspective on the topic broached below.
My response to the below message is not in any way meant to belittle someone else’s spiritual path. To each his/her own I believe and hold to. As I said though, I wish to provide a different perspective and viewpoint being a practicing witch/Wiccan myself.
The first comment I have to make regarding the message below is that I have to object to the term “dark witchcraft” for witchcraft is both dark and light. While there is such a thing as “dark magic”, it is has been my experience through both practice and studies that witchcraft consists of both dark and light. Separating it into two separate paths is not as effective for spiritual growth, for without the dark, how are we to understand light, and without the light, how are we to understand dark. Contrary to what is implied in the message below, Wicca is not all about light. It is a path that accepts both darkness and light and this is reflected in liturgy. Consider the words from the liturgy of the tradition I am studying “blend the day with peaceful night, blend the darkness with the light”. As well, it is not only “dark witchcraft” where one must confront their “inner demons”, this is done in Wicca as well. One term for this is “the dark night of the soul”. It is to my knowledge that almost anyone on any spiritual path will have to go through this or something similar to this. In the message below, it reads “One aspect of Dark Witchcraft requires the witch to face his or her demons (undesirable traits, habits, etc.). A dark witch must reach deep into his or her conscious and subconscious and face those things that they despise, such as undesirable traits, pain, bad habits, and painful past events. Once a dark witch has acknowledged these things they must then begin to understand where they came from. This requires digging back to where the problem first surfaced and looking at the events at that time that brought that demon to life.” Frankly, it is not only in “dark witchcraft” where one must do this. This IS done in witchcraft because witchcraft is about dark and light. It is also done in Wicca. I myself have done this. I have travelled through my dark fears. I am Wiccan. (All this being said, yes going through the dark night of the soul is a painful experience, but the rewards of having survived it are great. You feel much better about yourself in the end.) If Wiccans did not know how to go through the darkness, there would not be the phrase “to learn, you must suffer” in my tradition’s liturgy.
The next words after “to learn you must suffer” are “to live you must be born and to be born you must die, the beginning, the continuation and the end over and over”. These words are used in my tradition’s rituals. It is a part of our liturgy. It was written because as Wiccans we acknowledge and realize “the utter importance and sacredness of death and destruction” (to quote from the message below). It is not only “dark witches” who view death as a transition. This in inherent in the study of Wicca and was taught from Gerald Gardner’s time and likely from before then as well. The concept of birth, death, and rebirth is not a new concept and is NOT only found in “dark witchcraft”, it is a part of witchcraft, Wicca, and even Buddhism.
Dark witches are not the only ones who may work widdershins. It may be used when the purpose suits it. I have been to Wiccan rituals where we worked widdershins, one happened to be a ritual dedicated to Eris/Discordia.
The Wiccan law of three does not imply that we do not believe that there is a universal balance. The use of the number three is likely used for the significance of that number, not because we believe that every action has a response equivalent to three times what we put out. It does not work that way. The Wiccan law of three IS about Karma and balance and we learn to trust that the universe will balance things out. It is really combining the law of three with the “harm none” rule in which better understanding occurs of Wiccan ethics and beliefs regarding karma. “The universe seeks balance and when an imbalance has been made by someone, the universe will seek to balance itself out by whatever means necessary. This causes a dark witch to consider their actions before acting and accept the responsibility or payment due for their actions. Dark witches do not see this as an inhibitor to doing what they wish to do, but more of an acknowledgement of responsibility.” The same can easily be said about Wiccans considering the law of three and the “harm none” rule as well as other witches who do not necessarily follow only dark path. (BTW, Wiccan ethics and beliefs in karma can be discussed in more depth, but I will not go into it on here. I will suggest reading A Wiches’ Bible by Janet and Stewart Farrar if one has not already done so. There are some good chapters in that book about ethics and karma.)
Regarding dark goddesses, they are revered in Wicca and other witchcraft traditions that are not necessarily “dark witchcraft”. There are MANY Wiccans who have Hecate as their personal deity. I, myself, have Morrigan (the Celtic goddess of war and death), to work with. I have also been to a Hecate Invocation, a Wiccan ritual where the goddess is called forth into the Priestess. There is no denying that both dark and light are revered in Wicca and witchcraft, at least that is my experience.
There are many “fluff bunnies” out there who would practice Wicca and witchcraft and ignore the dark side of its nature and at the same time there are those who would only practice the dark side. (I do believe that they will one day realize they need both light and dark, and if not, it’s not for me to worry.) From my persepctive, both are witchcraft/Wicca and those that practice in this way are perfectly free to call their practices so. However, I do object to calling something “dark witchcraft” with the implications that no other form of witchcraft, especially Wicca, accepts and works with the dark side. On another level, I object to the idea of calling something “dark witchcraft” because it is subscribing to society’s idea that we need to put the necessary label on something that would be considered taboo or out of the mainstream. It also subscribes to the Christian theological idea that dark and light can be so easily separated when they CANNOT. From my perspective, witchcraft and Wicca are neither dark nor light, they just ARE.
All this being said, however, one can choose their own path and one may call their own path what they wish. It is only my intent to clarify to others who may have read the below message that witchcraft is not necessarily split into two different categories (dark and light) nor is Wicca solely about light. That has not been my experience, in practice and in study. I would rewrite the last sentence in the message below as “Above all, the witch/Wiccan seeks to learn the truth, understand the mysteries, gain wisdom, and truly know themselves” because frankly, that IS the truth of it. Know this, that whatever path one wishes to choose to enlightenment and to the divine is the correct path for that person, but may not necessarily be the same for all.
“I tread the path of light and dark. I live in both this world and the spirit world. One day I will leave one for the other. Light and dark are complements. Chaos exists when either one is not acknowledged or accepted and balance and peace is achieved when both are accepted equally. Yin and yang must co-exist together and both contain an essence of each other…” (Copyright C.J. Chow, 2003)
Date: Thu, 12 Feb 2004 17:15:46 -0500
From: Nyx Wolfwalker
Subject: What is dark witchcraft – explanation
What is dark witchcraft – explanation
Many people ask, “what is dark witchcraft?”. Dark witchcraft can have many definitions, however I will define it with the practices that most closely represent the path that I follow. A dark witch works with the energies of his or her undesirable traits and bad habits and uses that energy to produce desired outcomes. I will explain this more below. A dark witch also focuses on understanding and using the energies and concepts of death, destruction, and renewal. Dark witches work with the dark mother or crone aspects of the Goddess as a primary divine source. They do much of their work at night, when it is dark, they work with, and try to unlock the mysteries of the night. Dark witches also recognize and work with the dark moons as well as the full moons. Anything that pertains to death, mysteries, chaos, the subconscious, the unknown, divination, things with dark tones, and the taboo is well known and beloved by the Dark Witch.
Think about all the energy you use trying to keep the bad memories you have surpressed, and all the energy you lose when you are in a state of guilt or despair over something you have done. It takes a lot of energy to stuff those things into the dark recesses of your mind and keep them there. One aspect of Dark Witchcraft requires the witch to face his or her demons (undesirable traits, habits, etc.). A dark witch must reach deep into his or her conscious and subconscious and face those things that they despise, such as undesirable traits, pain, bad habits, and painful past events. Once a dark witch has acknowledged these things they must then begin to understand where they came from. This requires digging back to where the problem first surfaced and looking at the events at that time that brought that demon to life. For example, lets say the witches problem was sexual impulse, meaning that the witch was overly sexually active and participated in things that are harmful to him or her, and/or make them feel ashamed. After the witch has recognized that they have a sexual impulse problem, then they reflect on where this problem came from. To move along with the example, let’s say that the witch has determined that his or her problem developed from past sexual abuse as a child. Next, he or she will need to examine how this demon has negatively influenced their life. Continuing with the example, the witch concludes that his or her sexual impulse has led to an inability to maintain a relationship, feelings of shame (which have led to depression, and required much energy to supress and ignore), embarrassment, and sexually transmitted diseases. Next, the witch needs to figure out what circumstances take place that brings the demon to the surface. In order to do this he or she must think back to the times where they have acted out their undesirable trait and what was going on to cause this. In the example, the witch realizes that when he or she feels lonely and also when drinking or drug usage is involved, he or she acts out on the sexual impulse. By doing this, the witch now is able to bring awareness to the demon at those times, meaning that when he or she is for example drunk and feeling the need to pick up someone for the night, he or she will realize at that moment that this is his or her inner demon coming out, and make an aware decision. In our example we have now taken the impulse out of the sexual. Once the witch has acknowledged the undesirable trait, understood where it came from and when it surfaces, and how it has negatively effected his or her life, they can begin to concentrate on how to take the power away from it. The witch will determine the best ways to change these bad habits for the better. Lastly, in our example the witch has decided that he or she will drink only when they have a close friend with them who can monitor their behavior and help them make better decisions, and when he or she is lonely the witch will do an activity that they enjoy and talk with their close friend for support. Once you name a demon, that demon loses power over you. However, until you do this you are a slave to that demon and that requires much energy from you to support it. Once you have overcome the demon you will have a surplus of power (energy) that was once used to surpress thoughts, desires, guilt, and the demon itself. This energy can now be used to make positive changes in your life, be directed toward magick, or used toward learning. This whole process takes time to complete and time to reap the benefits from. It can take months or years to overcome some demons and the path along the way can be very painful, but the outcome is very powerful. One last benefit from this is that you begin to know yourself better. You begin to understand why you do the things you do, why you react to situations in a certain way, and how your feelings influence your decisions. Knowing these things will allow you to be more specific in spell casting, know what you truly want from the mystikal as well as the mundane, and help you make better choices in your magickal work and life.
A Dark Witch realizes the utter importance and sacredness of death and destruction. For example, with out death and destruction, things can not be reborn, and things become stale. Dark witches do not see death and destruction as an ending point, but more of a transition point, a journey. Much of dark witchcraft involves the end of the old and the beginning of something new. Many dark witches are obsessed with unlocking the mysteries of death and destruction, as well as the chaos that ensues around it.
Being that a dark witch has a thirst for unlocking and understanding mysteries, they are always attracted to the mysteries, and things unseen. A dark witch is shrouded in mystery and the reason for this is that to be able to understand the concepts of the mysterious, one must become part of it.
As a dark witch must face and overcome their internal fears, they likewise become attracted to those things feared by society, the taboo. A dark witch becomes fascinated by the taboo, wanting to know what it is that people fear about different things. Also, being that dark witchcraft in itself is taboo, like speaks to like. This means that a dark witch feels a certain kinship with other things labeled taboo as well.
Working Widdershins. Much dark witch work involves the widdershins movement in magick. Undoing what has been done, working from the inside to the outside, taking things to an ending point, working with endings, and dispelling things. A dark witch understands that widdershin movement is just as important as deosil movement, and works with them both to obtain the desires that he or she wishes.
A dark witch understands the implications of the universal balance, also called Karma. This is a bit different from the Wicca religion law of three however. A dark witch does not acknowledge a law of three, but understands that the universe seeks balance. This means that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. The universe seeks balance and when an imbalance has been made by someone, the universe will seek to balance itself out by whatever means necessary. This causes a dark witch to consider their actions before acting and accept the responsibility or payment due for their actions. Dark witches do not see this as an inhibitor to doing what they wish to do, but more of an acknowledgement of responsibility. Thus, when a dark witch performs baneful magick they have accepted the responsibilities that come with it, instead of a sense of doom or disaster that the Wicca Law of Three dictates.
Most Dark Witches work with a darker aspect of the Goddess, the dark mother and/or crone, and Dark God. Some examples of this darker deity would be Hecate, Kali, Persephone, Shiva, and Cernonnos. A Dark Witch will learn and understand the Dark Goddess. The Dark Witch also understands the responsibility of working with the Dark Goddess. Dark Goddesses are naked truth, harsh, stern, unrelenting, strong, and severe. They are not to be taken lightly. A witch who serves a Dark Goddess must serve with complete love and uncompromising devotion. Dark Goddesses typically represent death, destruction, chaos, severity, truth, love, mystery, the void, endings, fear, and such. While many would see these as undesirable things, or even as the subjective term “evil”. A Dark Witch realizes and understands that these things are natural and necessary to the order and balance of the universe. With out death, things can not be reborn. With out pain, we cannot know and understand happiness. With out fear, we can not know security. So in essence the Dark Goddesses do the dirty work that many choose not to see, but enjoy the benefits from. The Dark Goddess and all things associated with her are part of the whole, the opposite end of the spectrum, yet necessary none the less.
These are but a few things that represent a Dark Witch. Above all, the dark witch seeks to learn the truth, understand the mysteries, gain wisdom, and truly know themselves.
The subject of deosil (clockwise) and widdershins (counter-clockwise): Note that the earth actually rotates counter-clockwise on its axis making it appear as if the sun moves clockwise around the earth. (I have read a book by a witchcraft author who says the earth rotates clockwise – this is incorrect, check any good astronomy book or website. I’m sure there is more than one author who makes this very big error.) Since the earth rotates counter-clockwise, working counter-clockwise works with the earth while working clockwise works with the sun .
Working magic by night: “They do much of their work at night, when it is dark…” (Nyx Wolfwalker) As far as I know, many Wiccan groups work at night and public Wiccan rituals are often held starting somewhere between dusk and 8 p.m. (Pagan Standard Time) or nightfall. I think Mr. Wolfwalker is a bit erroneous to think only “dark witches” work magic by night. Witches/Wiccans in fact can work magic at any time of day, though night is generally preferred (probably because it IS easier to connect with various energies at night). In addition, there are sun rituals which often require waking up early with the sun. Working with the moon and the sun is a way to balance polar energies – something I’d recommend to any witch/Wiccan.