Truth About Wicca (Witchcraft)


Another source of neopolytheism is the neopagan revival of the religion of Wicca. This movement, popularly known as witchcraft, has a significant overlap with the feminist movement. They too have a deep-seated abhorrence of monotheism. National Public Radio reporter and feminist witch Margot Adler expresses this view in her book, Drawing Down the Moon. She agrees with historian James Breasted that “monotheism is but imperialism in religion.” Adler also refers to monotheism as one of “the totalistic religious and political views that dominate our society.” As far as neopagans are concerned, “Islam and Christian fundamentalism are seen as appropriate individual spiritual paths as long as each is seen as merely a flower in the garden.” In this sense, she adds, “Polytheism always includes monotheism. The reverse is not true.”38

The Pantheistic Connection

Most polytheistic neopagans are also pantheistic, though strangely, a few claim to be “agnostic,” attracted primarily on aesthetic grounds. At first this seems contradictory. How can everything be one (pantheism) when there are many gods? Within their system, however, this is perfectly consistent. Reality is one in the sense of one ultimate impersonal Force, but it is many in that there are numerous personal manifestations of this ultimate divinity.

Hinduism has long sported a belief in one ultimate impersonal deity (“Brahman”) with millions of personal gods as lower manifestations of It. It is at this point that the pantheistic polytheism of neopaganism significantly overlaps with the New Age movement. George Lucas’s Star Wars “religion of the Jedi” is a significant example. His acknowledged roots tap into both Buddhism and the Mexican sorcerer, Don Juan. In the Lucas biography, Dale Pollock notes that “Lucas’s concept of the Force was heavily influenced by Carlos Castaneda’s Tales of Power. This is an account of a supposed Mexican Indian sorcerer, Don Juan, who uses the phrase ‘life force.’”39

Irvin Kershner, the director of Lucas’s movie, The Empire Strikes Back, is a Zen Buddhist. Kershner admitted of the film: “I wanna introduce some Zen here because I don’t want the kids to walk away just feeling that everything is shoot-em-up, but there’s also a little something to think about here in terms of yourself and your surroundings.”40 In fact, Lucas’s biographer, Dale Pollock, acknowledges that “Yoda’s philosophy is Buddhist — he tells Luke that the Force requires him to be calm, at peace, and passive.”41

Whatever the source of the Force of Star Wars, it is clear that it is similar to the pantheistic polytheism of neopagan witches. Lucas himself called it a “religion” three times in the first movie of his Star Wars trilogy,42 and he admitted to Time magazine that the Force was “God.” He claimed that the simple message of the movie was that “there is a God and there is both a good side and a bad side [to God]. You have a choice between them, but the world works better if you’re on the good side.”43 Not only are both the religion of the Force and the religion of Wicca pantheistic, but central to both is a belief in sorcery. Luke Skywalker, the hero of Star Wars, is a sorcerer. So, even more clearly, is the hero of Lucas’s subsequent film, “Willow.”

The Polytheistic Manifestations

Surely the apostle’s statement, “there be gods many and lords many” (1 Cor. 8:5), is applicable afresh with the rise of neopaganism. According to neopagans, one is free to worship any gods or goddesses, ancient or modern, from the East or West. Some worship Apollo and Diana. Others, like Theodore Roszak, author of Where the Wasteland Ends, are admittedly animistic. As represented by Adler, he believes that “the statue and sacred grove were transparent windows….by which the witness was escorted through to sacred ground beyond and participated in the divine.”44

Most neopagans revive one of the Western forms of polytheism. While the names of the gods differ, “most often the names are Celtic, Greek, or Latin.” Some neopagans debate about the ontological status of their “gods,” assigning an idealistic or aesthetic role to them. But as one put it, “all these things are within the realm of possibility. It has been our nature to call these ‘gods.’” She defines a god as “an eternal being, and in that sense we, too, are gods.”45

Margot Adler notes, however, that “the deities of most Wicca groups are two: the God, lord of animals, lord of death and beyond, and the Goddess, the Triple Goddess in her three aspects: Maiden, Mother, and Crone.” Each of her aspects “is symbolized by a phase of the moon — the waxing crescent, the full moon, and the waning crescent.” In this sense Adler suggests that many neopagans “might well be considered ‘duotheists,’ conceiving of deity as the Goddess of the Moon, Earth, and sea, and the God of the woods, the hunt, the animal realm.” She adds, however, that “feminist Witches are often monotheists, worshipping the Goddess as the One.”46

Indeed, some describe themselves as monotheistic polytheists. Morgan McFarland, a Dallas witch, declared: “I see myself as monotheistic in believing in the Goddess, Creatrix, the Female Principle, but at the same time acknowledging that other gods and goddesses do exist through her as manifestations of her, facets of the whole.”47 Obviously, by her own definition her use of “monotheistic” here is misleading; her belief is really the same as that of other neopagans, namely a many-faceted (polytheistic) manifestation of pantheism.

The Feminist Connection

There is also a close connection between neopaganism and feminism. Of course, not all neopagans are feminists, and not all feminists are neopagans. Nonetheless, neopaganism has a magnetic pull on many feminists. Margot Adler describes the dynamics this way: “Many feminist Witchcraft covens have….attracted women from all walks of life. But even there, most of these women have already been strengthened by the feminist movement, or by consciousness-raising groups, or by an important experience such as divorce, separation, or a homosexual encounter.”48

One neopagan feminist put it this way: “We have found that women working together are capable of conjuring their past and reawakening their old ascendancy…. This does not seem to happen when men are present….It seems that in mixed covens, no matter how ‘feminist’ the women are, a kind of competition begins to happen. Among the women alone, none of this occurs, and a great reciprocity develops, unlike anything I have seen before.”49

Some were witches before they were feminists. Z. Budapest, a famous Hungarian-born teacher of witchcraft, said: “I was a Witch before I became a feminist….I observed my mother talking to the dead. I saw her go into a trance and feel presences around her. She is an artist and her art often reflects Sumerian influences….She tells fortunes and can still the wind.” But after coming to New York Z. Budapest experienced social oppression, ending up, as Adler relates it, “in a traditional role: wife and mother. After twelve years, feeling limited and enslaved, she was driven to make a suicide attempt. During this attempt she had a vision in which she died and death was not fearful.”50 At this point her awareness as a witch and the feminist perspective meet in the attempt to liberate her womanhood from her perceived oppression.

As far back as the 1890s Charles G. Leland wrote that whenever “there is a period of radical intellectual rebellion, against long-established conservativism, hierarchy, and the like, there is always an effort to regard women as a fully equal, which means superior sex.” Further, he noted that in witchcraft “it is the female who is the primitive principle.” That is, “the perception of this [tyranny] drove vast numbers of the discontented into rebellion, and as they could not prevail by open warfare, they took their hatred out in a form of secret anarchy, which was, however, intimately blended with superstition and fragments of old tradition.” Adler notes that Leland is most popular with the feminist groups in the craft partly because he “places the feminine principle first.”51


There are many obvious condemnations of neopagan polytheism in the Bible, but my evaluation here will be strictly philosophical. In the interest of fairness I will limit my criticisms to questions of coherence or internal consistency. The first four criticisms apply to polytheism in general. The rest are directed at the neopagan feminist forms.

The Denial of Rationality. In keeping with their mystical orientation, many neopolytheists are at root irrationalists. Miller’s dismissal of any system that operates “according to fixed concepts and categories” and is controlled by an either/or kind of logic is a case in point. He rejects the idea that something is “either true or false, either this or that, either beautiful or ugly, either good or evil.”52 What he fails to notice, however, is that in contending that his own polytheism is true as opposed to false he has engaged in an either/or type of thinking. Everything cannot be true, including opposites. So, if it is either polytheism or monotheism, then one cannot deny the validity of either/or type thinking. In fact, the polytheist cannot avoid such thinking, otherwise his or her position cannot be made intelligible.

The Denial of Ultimate Unity. There is also a self-defeating nature to the polytheistic denial of ultimate unity. Everything cannot be radically pluralistic. We live in a uni-verse not a multi-verse. Indeed, the polytheistic position is offered as a unified system of thought. But in presenting a unified thought about ultimate reality, they deny the very philosophy they are advocating. If reality were radically polytheistic we could not even know it. Any claim to know ultimate reality betrays a more basic commitment to a unity of thought that denies the polytheistic view.

Failure to Ask the Ultimate Question. While some pagan religions speak of origins, few ask the ultimate question. There are gods acting, but — as C. S. Lewis noted — they fail to ask: “How does a play originate? Does it write itself? Do the actors make it up as they go along? Or is there someone — not on the stage, not like the people on stage — someone we don’t see — who invented it all and caused it to be? — this is rarely asked or answered.” If they did, they would see that nature is created. And, Lewis adds, “to say that God created Nature, while it brings God and Nature into relation, also separates them. What makes and what is made must be two, not one. Thus the doctrine of Creation in one sense empties Nature of divinity”53 and thereby destroys paganism.

Failure to Submit to the Ultimate God. Furthermore, if the pagan realized that “Nature and God were distinct; the One had made the other; the One ruled and the other obeyed,” then he or she would not worship the gods but rather the God. As Lewis observed, “the difference between believing in God and in many gods is not one of arithmetic. [For] ‘gods’ is not really the plural of God; God has no plural.”54 But herein is revealed the depravity of polytheism. For they prefer to worship a god they make, rather than the God who made them. As one neopagan concluded: “I realized it wasn’t so outrageous, and that we could choose what deities to follow….[For] the element of Christianity that bothered…[me] was its requirement to be submissive to the deity.” He adds, “Gods have similar characteristics to humans….To some extent they are flawed and that makes them more approachable.”55 In biblical language this is a vivid confession of the fact that they “suppress the truth in unrighteousness….and change the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man….” (Rom. 1:18, 23).

Creedal Pronouncements. Many neopagan witches flatly reject the idea of The Witches’ Bible (written by Gavin and Yvonne Frost), fuming at “the word the, since the book, in their view, had nothing to do with their religion.” They claim that modern pagans “remain anti-authoritarian,” taking pride in themselves as being “the most flexible and adaptable of religions, since it is perfectly willing to throw out dogmas….”56

Their protests notwithstanding, neopaganism has its own creeds and dogmas. First of all, even a Wicca Priestess admits: “I’ve seen a lot of people in the Craft get hung up on fragments of ritual and myth. Some people accept these fragments as a dogma.” Second, while protesting creeds Adler lays down a set of “basic beliefs” which she claims “most people in this book share.”57 She seems blissfully unaware that a creed is by any other name still a creed. The creed she confesses is informative. In her own words:

The world is holy. Nature is holy. The body is holy. Sexuality is holy. The mind is holy. The imagination is holy. You are holy….Thou art Goddess. Thou art God. Divinity is immanent in all Nature. It is as much within you as without.58

There are several standard doctrines of neopaganism in this creed, including pantheism, polytheism, animism, self-deificationism, and — more covertly — free sexual expression.

On April 11-14, 1974 The Council of American Witches hammered out a creed they called “Principles of Wiccan Belief.” It should be no surprise that they came up with a list of thirteen basic principles! These include practicing “Rites to attune ourselves with the natural rhythm of life forces,” living in harmony with Nature (ecological balance), and belief in the “Creative Power in the Universe” manifest in male and female polarities. Interestingly, they disavowed Devil worship and the belief that Christianity is “the only way.”59 It is clear that they think this is the only way to believe about Christianity.

Reversed Sexism. It is ironic indeed that the very complaint that gave rise to the feminist movement is (for many) their own manifest sin. The admission that neopagan witchcraft appeals to feminists because it offers women a role as a “superior” sex is self-condemning. And the existence of many women-only groups is further condemnation of their sexist practices. Add to this the so-called “monotheistic” worship of only the female Goddess and we have, by their own standards, sexism on the highest level. Certainly, neopagan feminism has lost all ground to complain about so-called “sexist” language in the Bible. Morgan McFarland spoke of the desirably unique spiritual experience that women alone have, as opposed to what is possible when males are present.60 What is this but de facto religious sexism by their own definition? One can scarcely imagine a male-dominated group suggesting the same without the whole feminist movement coming down on its defenseless heads.

Spiritual Exclusivism. If there is one thing in which neopaganism prides itself it is inclusivism and diversity. They usually insist that they have no creeds and allow total diversity of expression. For example, in theory one can worship any god he or she wishes to worship. However, in practice it is a different matter, as is evidenced by several factors. First, the very existence of secret “covens” reveals the exclusivistic nature of the group.

Second, the existence of an initiation rite is an earmark of exclusiveness. In defense, witches claim “initiation is primarily a method to protect the institution of the Craft from people calling themselves ‘witches’ who are insincere, ‘evil’ or would give the Craft a bad name.”61 However, why try to distinguish the “sincere” from the insincere or protect it from “evil” unless there is some genuine form to be preserved?

Third, many neopagans claim that “Witchcraft was once the universal religion, which has been driven underground to service in secret, with much being lost.”62 What is this claim to universality but an implicit exclusivism — a claim to be the most legitimate or authentic religion?

Fourth, even the “Principles of Wiccan Belief” adopted by The Council of American Witches has a strong statement excluding the belief that Christianity is “the only way.” They frankly acknowledge this as “our only animosity toward Christianity.”63 What most all-inclusivistic groups seem to not understand is that every truth claim is exclusive. For if C (say, Christianity) is true, then of necessity all non-C is false. Likewise, if P (polytheism) is true, then all non-P is false. The neopagan religion of Wicca is just as exclusivistic as any other religion that claims to have discovered truth about reality.

Fifth, neopagans affirm that “polytheism always includes monotheism. The reverse is not true.”64 “Includes” is not the proper word; “absorbs” or “swallows” would be a more accurate description. For while giving the appearance of being all-inclusive, it is extremely exclusive of all orthodox forms of monotheism. In other words, it is “open” to anything that does not oppose its own view. In short, it conceals its own exclusivism under a cloak of inclusivistic language. But down underneath it believes that the only way is to deny there is an only way.

Dr. Geisler is Dean of Southern Evangelical Seminary, Charlotte, North Carolina

View a Testamony from a former Witch here


One Response to “Truth About Wicca (Witchcraft)”

  1. Normand Mcquiddy says:

    I accept you plus it certainly gonna help lots of people.

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