It may have been that when Gerald Gardner first took Wicca out of the broom closet and thrust it into the glaring light of the public eye that term ‘white witch’ was born. A term concocted by the first of modern day witches to reassure a predominately Christian public that they did not worship the Christian Satan; as if by adding ‘white’ to a term that was synonymous with the villain of many a fairytale would soften the public to accepting them as ‘good’ witches. But perhaps with decades of use and the commercialization of the New Age, those who used the term as a safeguard began to full it out, believing solely in all the ‘love and light’ they preached.
“I’m a white witch, and that means that I only do white magick that is good and for the benefit of others.” We’ve all come across that line, or ones similar, on online Pagan/New Age/Occult forums at one stage or another, usually accompanied by a profile picture of a unicorn, sparkling roses or something equally warm and fuzzy. Personally, I am suspicious of such people as no-one can be inherently good or bad.
Classifying practitioners of Witchcraft into two distinct groups of either ‘good’ or ‘bad’, is like saying someone is either a good or bad Christian/Muslim/Jew. At the end of the day we are not inherently good or bad- we are people who experience a wide spectrum of feelings and thoughts, and our beliefs are a means to understand them, give them context, and manage them in what we believe is the way best for us.
And that’s what is at the heart of the matter- we are not solely ‘black’ or ‘white’, ‘good’ or ‘bad’, we simply are. Perhaps those who believe themselves to be white witches live their lives exclusively in the light and fuzzy side out of fear for what lurks in the darker side of human nature; a way of escaping all the sorrow and hardship that seems so prevalent in today’s world. Could it be that to those who take on the title, it is a soft, warm blanket to pull over their eyes to guard them from the monster hiding in the shadows; a drug to keep the shadow side firmly shackled and in its place?
As Pagans, we often look to nature for guidance, an evidence of a greater power. So just look at nature- is it solely good or bad? No. Nature is neither; it simply is and does whatever it must in order to survive. When a bear kills a man to protect her cubs, some may say it is ‘bad’ but she does not see it that way- she did what she must in order for the next generation of her species to survive.
And perhaps that is a part of what our beliefs are to us, a way in which to survive our time on this Earth. It could be that those who believe solely in the lighter side of life are doing so as a coping mechanism in order to survive; but then again, one has to ask how balanced is that survival?
If we are both light and dark, surely spiritual growth and self-mastery lies in balancing the two? If we focus on one side of the spectrum out of fear for what lies in the other, we are creating an imbalance, as well as a rather narrowed understanding of the world and those who live in it. Just as a plant needs both light and dark in order to be healthy and grow, so we also need to accept and experience both sides of the spectrum if we are to be healthy and well balanced spiritually.
Life is not black or white, and some would say that life is grey. It is not that either. Look around you- life comes in a vast spectrum of colours, and you are missing out if you stick to just one.