Sage has been a witch for 25 years. She enjoys writing informative articles to teach others the craft of the wise.
Is Magic Real, Or Is It Just Hocus-Pocus?
Don't Dismiss it Just Because You Don't Understand It: Witchcraft is Real
Many people scoff at the practice of Witchcraft. "It's a scam! A fantasy! it's not real!" Or so they will tell you. Probe a little deeper into conversation, and they'll paint a picture of magic and spells that comes from fictional books and Hollywood.
No wonder they scoff at it. I'd scoff, too, if someone told me they could kill someone in an instant with a butchered Latin phrase and piece of wood. And yet, these are the silly results skeptics ask me to produce- these fictional feats that even I don't believe in. When I can’t do these nonsensical things, they tell me Witchcraft is fake.
People who practice Witchcraft don't believe in anything remotely like you will read about in Harry Potter or see on Charmed. We don't believe we can fly, or that we can shoot lightning bolts with our fingertips, or that we can have all of our worldly desires delivered to us by uttering some clever rhyming couplet by candle light. Of course those things are fiction. Duh.
What Do You Believe?
My Perspective On The Debate
Imagine how confusing it is, from my standpoint, to be told that something I do believe in must not work because something I don’t believe in won't work. I will try to put it into a scenario that you can relate to. This is what the conversation sounds like to me:
Skeptic: Rabbits aren't real. They don't exist.
Me: Sure they do. I've seen rabbits. I've touched rabbits.
Skeptic: Oh yeah? Prove it. Show me the Easter Bunny.
Me: I... huh? (blink blink blink).
Skeptic: The Easter Bunny! If rabbits are real, show me the Easter Bunny right now!
Me: But rabbits... well, they're not like that... you see...
Skeptic: HA! I just KNEW you couldn't do it! See? I told you- you're full of malarkey!
Me: (just shaking my head, at a loss for words) But that's not even what I'm talking about...
Skeptic: You have no proof for the Easter Bunny so your belief in rabbits is delusional. End of discussion.
Trite? Yes. But that's pretty much how the conversation feels from my end of it.
Breakdown In Communication
The biggest problem is that words are arbitrary, and what the word 'Witchcraft' means to one person is not the same thing that it means to another person. I know what skeptics mean when they say Witchcraft. When they're talking about proof of Witchcraft, they're looking for proof of outrageous claims from fiction.
What they don’t seem to understand is that this is not what I mean by ‘Witchcraft’. When they describe the kinds of things they think I don't do or don't believe in, I can see right away they are talking about a different definition of the word entirely.
I'm not one to argue. I've been a Witch too long and I'm not out to convert. I know what I do and I’m satisfied with it. I know from experience Witchcraft is real, and I can explain it to anyone willing to put images like ‘the Wicked Witch of the West’ or ‘Sabrina the Teenage Witch’ out of their heads long enough to listen. They just have to be willing to look at it through a more realistic view of the Craft from a practitioner's point of view.
Proof of Real Witchcraft
Much of Witchcraft is actually deeply rooted in nature and science, particularly in psychology. You don't have to believe in the supernatural; there is enough reality in Witchcraft to see it has some merit. There is some basis in fact when it comes to potions, incense, drumming, chanting, candles and runes. Consider the following:
Herbs: Witches have long used herbs to heal, to make potions, etc., and no one actually doubts any more how herbs effect the body. We understand now the biochemistry involved in making herbs into medicine, or using them as mind- or mood-altering drugs.
Scents: Even if you don't agree with the field of aromatherapy that just sniffing an oil can cure a disease (I don't), you cannot deny that scents are one of the most powerful ways to evoke memory and alter mood. Catch a whiff of an ex-lover's perfume and you may well up with feelings of love and lust (or revulsion, depending on how you feel about the person). Smell your favorite food and if you might find yourself salivating. One whiff of grandma's cookies baking and you can be taken back to your childhood, overcome with a sense of nostalgia.
Sounds: Like scents, sounds also have a powerful effect on the mind. EEG's have shown in experiments that certain types of music can decrease neural activity while others can increase it. Think about it this way- have you ever come home from a hard day and put on some quiet music to relax? Ever put on something snappy to psych you up and keep you hopping while doing chores or working out at the gym? If so, you have experienced this first hand, and I don’t need to convince you.
Colors: We've covered the senses of smell and sound, now we'll move on to sight. Colors are visually stimulating and have long been used in magic. Red excites, light blue is calming and orange can actually make you hungry (why do you think it's so popular a color for fast food restaurants?).
Imagery: The use of images and symbols is taking advantage of yet another thing that has a powerful impact on the human mind—especially the subconscious mind. Imagery has been used to manipulate people for every purpose, from political brainwashing to advertising.
Chanting: Words have power. Think of how a moving speech or poem can stir you, or how a child who is continually told he is worthless will grow up believing it. Affirmations, neurolinguistic programming, self-fulfilled prophecies- these things can strongly help you create your own future. One of the first steps in achieving a goal is to convince yourself thoroughly that you are capable of achieving it.
Meditation: Meditation puts us in a receptive state. It's a form of light self-hypnosis. Everything above, combined properly when in a relaxed state of consciousness, is absorbed by the part of your mind. It's brainwashing, basically, though deliberate and with a desired intent. You can use any and all of the above tools to mentally prepare yourself to tackle and achieve goals, programming your brain kind of like programming a computer.
Some skeptics mistakenly believe that knowing how these things work now somehow proves Witchcraft was never real. On the contrary, it proves there was something to Witchcraft all this time after all. Witches were well ahead of scientists. So what if we figured out how such things work now? So what if we figured out the rational explanations? The point is, it did work, even before we had an explanation.
It's Not As Flashy As Fiction
How Do Spells Work Then?
Consider what a spell accomplishes on a psychological level alone:
An ancient Witch leads a warrior into a meditative state through chanting (hypnosis), and tells him he is going to be fierce in battle (planting a suggestion), makes a potent brew for him to drink (an herbal stimulant) paints him red (visual stimulation) with the sound of tribal drums beating and steadily working up into a frenzy (building him up for the task).
Or, for a more modern example:
You need to pass a test. You burn an orange candle it (stimulates the intellect) and meditate on it (relaxed state of mind) while burning rosemary (also believed to stimulate intellect) and chanting (positive affirmations, neurolinguistic programming) that you are going to do well.
Think of the psychological impact alone- of how much more your mind will be up to the challenge after a spell if you are open to such things. Therein is where the power lies. Much of Witchcraft is that it helps increase your odds by setting your mind firmly on your goal.
Does that mean that if you cast a spell you don't have to prepare for the test? No, that’s not what I’m saying. The less prepared you are, the lower your chances of doing well. Witchcraft merely increases your odds, giving you a boost towards attaining your goal. If you start with sucky odds in the first place, a boost from a spell might not amount to much. But, if you start with decent odds, then a boost from a spell could really give you an edge.
If You Do Believe In The Craft, Maybe You're Thinking About Becoming a Witch
What About the Supernatural?
So what about all the hocus-pocus? The magic? The supernatural?
I don't know. I don't pretend to know. If there is something mystical going on in the universe, it's too mystical for the greatest scientists in the world to figure it out right now, so how could I possibly figure it out?
Some people get into the whole metaphysical aspect of the Craft, even delving into quantum physics, trying to prove how everything is energy, and thought and emotion is energy, and how energy can manipulate energy, and how energy is connected. More power to them if they understand that stuff.
Frankly, that's all above my head. I believe there may be some things to yet uncover about how this world works. I believe there are still mysteries to magic and spiritual practices like Witchcraft that will be figured out. But I don't have to know what these things are now to use Witchcraft.
After all, I use my cell phone every day and have absolutely no clue how it works, or what this mystical, invisible substance called ‘data’ is. I just know that if I push the right buttons, it usually helps me accomplish a task.
Likewise, I know that when I light the candle, burn the incense and chant the need, it works for me. I don't have to understand how.
I Don't Care How It Works, But If It Works, I'm Going to Use It
Maybe it's all psychological and nothing more. When it really comes down to it, who cares? As far as I'm concerned, even if Witchcraft is nothing but a placebo effect, it's helping me mentally prepare to achieve my goals, and in my experience it's been working for me for decades now. I'm going to use it.
My subjective reality- that is, how I perceive things- has much more of an impact on my life than objective reality. I am a creative-minded person, and ritual touches something deep inside that stirs me, keeps me focused, helps me move towards success. Like many ancients, I don't need to fuss over the details. It works for me, so I have no intention of stopping.
That doesn't mean my expectations are unrealistic. Maybe that's why I feel there is solid evidence that Witchcraft is real-- because I look at it realistically. Like everything else in life, sometimes it doesn't work. Sometimes it doesn't work like I expected. Sometimes it works better than expected. Sometimes it blows my mind and even I can't believe something that happened.
No matter what the logistics are, I just look at how it impacts me, transforming the inner landscape, ultimately leading to changing the outer landscape, helping me grow and improve my life and help others. I don’t expect things to go ‘poof’.
We're Not Talking Fantasy Here
Skepticism Is Healthy
Every Witch I know has some degree of skepticism. It's not an all-or-nothing proposition. You don't have to believe every mystical occult theory and superstition in history just because you believe in Witchcraft. I don't believe that practicing the Craft makes me omnipotent. I know there are a lot of con artists and liars out there. Just because I believe in Witchcraft does not mean I believe people can walk on water or fly, I do not believe I can turn someone into an unwilling slave at the snap of the finger or a flick of the wand. I do not believe the right stone in my ring will stop bullets or cars from hitting me. I do not believe I can levitate things or turn men into frogs or water into wine.
So I don't blame skeptics for being skeptical to some extent, because I am, too. I do think they are throwing the baby out with the bath water, though. I think dismissing everything about this ancient practice just because some fairytales and folklore about it is obviously absurd is an intellectually dishonest position... like saying rabbits don't exist just because we can rule out the Easter Bunny.
What about people who make those fantastic claims that they can do all this supernatural stuff? Well, just because someone claims something, doesn't mean I have to believe them. I treat them like you might treat the fishermen who talk about ‘the one that got away’.
In my experience, sometimes it is the believer whose ideas about how the Craft works comes more from fiction than reality. Some people are gullible. They have convinced themselves they have super powers, maybe because they want to feel special. Some people are just lying for attention. Again, it doesn't have to be one extreme or the other. I can believe in the truth about Witchcraft when it comes to some things, and still believe there are elements of imagination and fantasy that are just mistaken.
I personally don’t have any hardcore lines I like to draw, because I feel the more limits I set, the more limits will exist in my reality; I prefer to keep an open mind—a balance between skepticism and gullibility.
The Truth About Witchcraft
Clearly, the truth about Witchcraft and some of the elements involved- and their effects- are undeniably real. These techniques have been embraced in one form or another by any doctor who has prescribed an herbal supplement, or psychologist who has used positive visualization as a form of therapy, every advertiser or politician who has used a slogan, and even by every parent who has offered a glass of warm milk and sang a lullaby to sooth a child. Witches are just another group of people, using these techniques in their own way, in a deliberate attempt to bring about a desired change. The techniques work for us just like they work for anyone else—we have just raised them to an art form.
© 2018 Mackenzie Sage Wright
Paul Francis from Nigeria on May 09, 2020:
Waw!, this is a powerful and interesting article. You have blessed my understanding of witchcraft.
victor on March 15, 2020:
For me I knew that everything that has name exist ,either real or not. But the existence of everything makes their reality
Jocelyn Vienneau from Canada on November 07, 2019:
I love your article. It's the best explanation about what witchcraft is, that I've seen.
Aremi on September 23, 2019:
There are all sorts of different witchcraft, Pagan and Wicca types. I myself am into Green witchcraft!
This information actually helps clear up some skepticism and gives good points especially in conversations about how witchcraft is actually done.
You write really well done articles, I love reading them!
Jack on September 14, 2019:
Sorcery (magic in the sense described here) is only for the weak of mind. Those are spiritually mature see that existence as a human life grants each soul such choices, and the choice to gain any sort of advantage, support, or embrace from metaphysical entities is a bad choice. Wicca was created by Illuminati and Sabbatean Frankist forces, in an attempt to normalise demonology. Few truly understand the history and the current high politics of this subject, but from a spiritual point of view, the metaphysical realms associated with such NWO-controlled institutions as Wicca are extremely negative, and directly associated to the torture, mind control and blood sacrifice of both adults and children, and to systemic pedophilia and human trafficking on a worldwide and monumental scale. Why would any moral and balanced person want to get involved in anything linked to such criminal and immoral practices. If you're not aware of such realities, I highly recommend that you take some time to properly research these subjects before involving yourself in cults such as Wicca. Don't believe the positive marketing of it, as it is so obviously classic social conditioning to anyone who has studied such things. Wicca came out of the Aleister Crowley and Rosicrucian school of social degeneration to bring about control 'Order Ab Chao'. Once you are 'truly' enlightened, all such knowledge will fall into place, and you will come to understand how the world really works. Stay away from Wicca!
Andy Shedrick on August 14, 2019:
where is the best place to get books with spells
WitcgLover on April 21, 2019:
Hey i want to beCome a witch my whole life can u post some spells please
mae on March 17, 2019:
it was great!!!! i love magic and stuff like that, and i'm only 8.
Nathaniel on December 13, 2018:
This isn't real witchcraft. This is hocus pocus faking. I know people who can do some of the real supernatural stuff.
Britta Nicole Miller from Earth on November 27, 2018:
This is a great article. I was working on something a bit like this, and then somehow ended up reading about it. All things follow the circle. There's a lot of useful information here, Sage. Thanks for posting!
Ryan on November 14, 2018:
I have never done witchcraft but I beloved a small part of it now I believe some more, thanks
Writer-187 on November 09, 2018:
Witch craft is real and it contains paranormal activities.
Ruben on November 08, 2018:
I have wondered for a long time now. I own a lot of books on the art, but when it comes to the internet, how can you determine real from fake? less so with books but its still a problem. It seems all the real stuff is drowned out by fake stuff. any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on November 06, 2018:
I really enjoy your articles, Sage. They are so realistic and make a good bridge between the superstitions that I grew up with in the mountains and the quantum, which I now study. My dad, the atheist, made sure that none of us kids grew up superstitious, and thus ensured that he bled all "natural talents" out of us. Like so many "talented" people, after I grew up, I rediscovered things that I'd forgotten, and my life got so much better. I think a lot of the spells and other things that witches use are props to help them use their already great minds. But so be it. Candles, scents, sounds, etc., all enhance our lives. If concentrating on a green candle helps me bring in more money, who am I to complain? I think your articles are good teaching tools.
Maurice Glaude from Mobile on November 06, 2018:
I actually came to understand all of the other paths through energy. Sensing energy, feeling it, experiencing it on a daily basis all of which I didn't come to understand until I became a massage therapist at age 22. Learning that what I was sensing had book science made me explore herbalism, candles, aromatherapy, affirmations and even the power of our own mind to move energy with an intention or more commonly called spell work. Thanks for creating this from your unique perspective. It makes me see my own clearer.
Melissa Meadow from United States on November 06, 2018:
This article is just one excellent example of why I love your work so much, Sage. Keeping it extremely informative and yet simple and relatable. My favorite type of reading!
Thank you. Thank you for always being such a valuable voice for witches and pagans. With so many misconceptions and misunderstandings out there about witches, it's valuable and sound information like your articles and book (I hope you keep writing both, always) that make my heart sing!
Bella on November 05, 2018:
Thank you thank you thank you!!
I've done witch craft in the past but I have doubted it and sort of lost interest in it, now i understand it more
Thank you so much!!
I have one question...
If your family isn't into "magic" and they say "its fake"
Will this take a toll on your witch craft?
Bella xx :)