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Religious Tolerance logo

About Witches


Are all Witches equal? The many meanings
of the terms "witches" and "witchcraft"

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Quotations showing the diversity of meanings assigned to "Witch" & "Witchcraft:"

bullet"The world of imagination and fantasy can help pass on to the child cultural and social messages [and] function as a way to experience vicariously things an individual could not do first-hand." C. Aminadav, International Journal of Adolescent Medicine & Health. 1995 APR-JUN, 8: Pages 103-106.

bullet"The Bible is clear about issues such as witchcraft, demons, devils and the occult...they are real, powerful and dangerous. Throughout it insists that God's people should have nothing to do with them." Carol Rookwood, Principal, St. Mary's Island School in Kent, UK

bullet "Harry’s magic is of an entirely different nature from real-world witchcraft: 'Harry and his friends cast spells, read crystal balls, and turn themselves into animals -- but they don't make contact with a supernatural world.' " Lindy Beam of Focus on the Family, quoting Chuck Colson, a popular Christian author. 3

bullet"The books are set in surroundings involving sorcery and witchcraft. WE STRONGLY CONDEMN THESE WRITINGS AS THEY ARE FULL OF WITCHCRAFT AND SORCERY. The Bible is strong in its condemnation of these things." G.T. Armstrong

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Religious terminology is often quite ambiguous. There are at least 17 different meanings to the words "Witch" and "Witchcraft." Most are unrelated to each other. This leads to great confusion.

The term "Witch" is often mentioned:

  • In some English translations of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). One example is Exodus 22:18, where the Hebrew actually refers to women who harm or kill people or animals via spoken curses. More modern translations often use "sorceress" or "evil magic" in this verse rather than "witch."

  • In English translations of the Christian Scriptures (New Testament) where the Greek actually refers to criminals who use poison to commit homicide;

  • By Wiccans, followers of a popular Neopagan, Earth centered religion, who are specifically forbidden by the Wiccan Rede to cause any harm to themselves or others;

  • By followers of other Earth-centered religions;

  • By writers of imaginary fantasy novels, like J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter™ series;

  • By some religious Satanists;

  • etc.

Many people believe, incorrectly, that all of these refer to the same system of beliefs and practices. Thus, they believe that if the Bible condemns one form of witchcraft, then it also condemns all unrelated forms of witchcraft.

This section attempts to describe the full diversity of the meanings of these terms and clarifying their differences.

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Topics covered in this section:

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Site navigation:

 Home page > Definitions > here

 Home page > Religious Information > Glossary of terms > Multiple definitions > here

or Home page > Religious Information > Multiple definitions > here

Home page > Wicca > here

Home page > World Religions > Wicca > here

Home page > World Religions > Neopaganism > Wicca > here

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Related essays in this website:

bulletThe Harry Potter books

bulletWicca and the Bible

bulletReligious Satanism

bulletThe extermination of heretics during the "Burning Times."

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Copyright © 2000 to 2021 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2000-JUL-07
Latest update: 2021-APR-03
Author: B.A. Robinson

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Go to the previous page, or to the Wicca/Witchcraft menu, or to the Neopagan menu, or to the "Specific religious conflict" menu, or to the "Religious terms with multiple meanings" menu, or choose:


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