Over the years I have heard people say that they have been told by their “Elders” that they can’t be a proper Witch until they renounce Christianity. This has some bullshit in it, however, there is something that speaks to holding onto a worldview which is no longer yours.
The problem we face when moving from Christianity to some form of Pagan Path, is that we have been trained to think in a particular way. We need to give all of our hopes and dreams to a disembodied old man in the clouds, and we really have no power to direct our own lives. We also have to recognize good from evil, right from wrong. However this become more and more subjective and personal when we realize that we have been following the worldview of someone else.
This is the thing. Everybody’s worldview is personal. If you have a teacher that doesn’t support the worldview that you are creating, and demands that you fall into their worldview, is really just still tied into their old Christian life. The old saying “My way or the highway” is a Christian worldview and anyone who tells you that their way is the only way and you have to give up what you believe in, in order to become a Witch, should be passed off as a bad lesson.
The difficulty is that mixing Christianity and Witchcraft can be a little hit and miss because the worldviews are so different. Monotheism is very different to polytheism, and the two generally don’t go together. Even if you keep all of the entities that we find in Christianity such as Jesus, Mary, the Holy Ghost, et al, or include the Saints and Angels from Catholicism, and worship these entities within the framework of a Craft, we are no longer practicing a monotheistic format, and can therefore no longer be referred to as Christian. However, people do it.
This is where we find the development of a personal worldview, one that is designed specifically for you, and that you will continue to change and grow as the years go by.
But here’s the crunch. In order to develop your own worldview, you do need to reject everyone else’s, to an extent. Obviously, completely ignoring all worldviews would leave you not being able to learn any, so you need to explore. In that exploration, latch onto a worldview and try it on for a while, see how it fits. If it’s too tight or too baggy, you might want to try on another one, until you find a good fit. Once you have found the ideal worldview for you, at this particular time, then explore it. Get to know it, learn about its depth, its difficulties, its likes and dislikes. Create a love affair with it.
Once you have discovered all you need to know about that worldview, at that time, you can stick with it, explore it more, or try on another one and see if that helps to develop you further. This is how we create our own worldview, our own path to walk. That path will probably be a Crooked Path, full of twists and turns, but then you will start to understand Witchcraft. The way to Knowledge is not paved with a straight road from A to Z, it twists and turns and you find nuggets of hope and happiness in the nooks and crannies of life.
Now to come back to the idea of renouncing a faith in order to be a “proper” Witch. You may find that you do need to reject the worldview you have grown up with, for the simple fact that it holds onto you and doesn’t allow you to grow. However, once you shed that worldview, you can then start to pick up pieces that still resonate with you. It may not be the complete picture of someone else’s way, but it will be the beginning of your way. However, you can’t start to build your own path until you step off someone else’s.
So, although it is rather brazen for a teacher to say “You can’t be a proper Witch until you renounce Christianity”, there is some truth in it, I just wouldn’t put it that way. What you are trying to do is loosen the threads and tethers that bind you to that faith. Allow yourself to become free of it, so that you can then explore your own path. This process however, especially from the faith that you were programmed with from a young child, can take years to accomplish, and even after a couple decades, you still find yourself giving into that old programming, although it becomes easier to catch.
Once you start doing that however, you will find yourself loosening up, freeing yourself from the grips of a controlling organization. It’s not really about the religion or the teachings, its mostly about the people and the militant behavior that they have developed. However, if you go from a controlling teacher to another controlling teacher, you will just be holding onto that worldview, the one that says you will be told how to do things. For some people, they need that, for others, they want to break away from it, however it is not always easy to do that.
Do you have to completely reject everything from that faith? No, not at all. Many magical traditions and paths around the globe have adopted Christianity and Catholicism into their workings. Hoodoo is a prime example. Although it was a necessity to adopt the Saints into the practice in order to stay alive, it became ingrained and now, even though there is not the same threat of being killed unless you follow the way of the slave master, Christianity and Catholicism is still an integral part of their system. Even if you go into Traditional Witchcraft you will find a lot of integration with Christianity, in fact anyone who follows the Craft of their lineage that originates from somewhere like England, if they have a family lineage of Witchcraft, will have Christian elements intertwined with their practice, its unavoidable. Of course, many of the older folx and people who follow these Old Ways, will often not refer to themselves as Witches. They may take on the titles like Cunning Man or Woman, Green Gown, etc. So, if you don’t want to call yourself a Witch, that’s also fine.
This brings up the question, is there such a thing as a “proper Witch”? I don’t think there is. The word proper means “denoting something that is truly what it is said or regarded to be”. A Witch is so diverse, and every Witch is different in every way. We are all different in our own worldview and practice. Sure we have some common threads that overlap, but no two Witches are the same, so what is a “proper Witch”? Nobody will ever know. So if someone tells you that “you can’t be a proper Witch unless…”, they are probably just trying to project their own worldview onto you, making it their way or the highway, and that is someone who is still stuck in the Christian worldview themselves.