Few words have created more images in people's minds than the word "witch" What started out in ancient times strictly as a nature religion, dedicated to worshipping the sun, moon, stars and other unexplainable forces such as lighting, thunder, and earthquakes, grew to encompass "gods" whom one had to address for help or favors.
Those who knew how to interact with these "powers" were considered "the wise ones." They also tended to know a lot about the uses of herbs and other plants, and thus were also healers of the tribe. That wisdom was called "Wicca," or the craft of the wise. "Wicca craft" eventually became witchcraft. When Christianity rose to become the established and acceptable religion, witchcraft was termed evil simply because it coexist, and thus began ages of persecution and accusations linking witchcraft with "the devil." All of this was a construct of the medieval church.
Witchcraft is a pagan faith that worships the forces of nature in the person of the "Mother Goddess." It embraces the same moral concepts that most religions do (or Should.) Witches ' magick when emotionall and properly motivated, magick spells are truly a kind of prayer appealing to the "Mother Goddess" or her younger incarnation. Aradia. But witches' magick has nothing to do with the false stage magic we know. It is much more powerful than that, much more scared.
How did this fantastic image of witches and their craft come about? At the very dawn of civilization, society was organized along matriarchal lines. That is, the dominant figure was the woman because she gave birth and took care of the necessities of life, the home, and the sick, and her skills were more varied and sophisticated than those of the male, whose main purpose was to provide food and shelter and defend the community against attack by outsiders. From this position of dominance, as time went on, the matriarch developed into the prietess.
The early religion of western and northern Europe was a nature religion in which the forces of the world around man were considered manifestations of the divine power. In this respect, the early religion was pantheistic in that all of nature was considered an expression of the deity.
But the priestess needed concrete focal points for the flock. The image of the Goddess, representing the forces in nature, developed and was eventually given a companion in the Horned God, representing the male principal. To the contemporaries of this civilization, the faith was simply "religion," but after the advent of Christianity it became known as "the Old Religion" to emphasize the contrast. To this day, witches rarely refer to their ancient faith as "witchcraft" but prefer the term "The Old Reiligion" or simply "the Craft."
What deities did the practitioners of the Old Religion worship? No, not the devil. The devil had not been born at that time.
Now, the figure of a man wearing the tall headgear of a stag or bull was later used as" proof "that the Old Religion worshipped the devil. Devils, of course, have horns, and therefore priests were in reality the Evil one himself or at least a fellow dressed up as the devil.
Unfortunately, or, more likely. fortunately, the Old Religion had no use for the position of "the devil." It was, and is one of the main tenets of the Old Religion that man is born innocent, not guilty, and that whatever guilt or sin he ends up with at the end of his earthly life he has to blame only on himself for.