Big topic, big question. There are literally centuries to unpack here, but this is my attempt to concisely address the issue of being a witch in a dominantly Christian culture. I welcome feedback, stories, personal experience, corrections, and solidarity. To my mind, this issue contains the answers to correcting our path as humans, to restoring the balance of "others" and how we are treated, and to healing our relationship to the earth and all of its inhabitants.
I am messaging you, because I have a battle within me. My belief in Christianity teaches "witchcraft" is of the darkness....However, personally I feel great interest and overwhelming pull towards such practices. Healing and Intuition for others. How do you know such gifts are of Christ and not the Devil. I struggle with the "witch" label. How does one know if this is a gift of God?
Your question is not a small one and I hope I'm able to answer it well. This is something that has been on the minds of witches for centuries so I've definitely spent a lot of time thinking about it.
To begin, I will say that it was a big decision for me to use the word "witch" publicly. It is the word I've used for myself since I was a little girl, I've always resonated with it, culturally and spiritually, and never felt personally ashamed, but I'm not so naive to think that I could use it publicly without any repercussions. The choice was, in my mind, a move of activism, kind of like the reclaiming of the word "queer" or "bitch" for example. A desire to be proud of my differences instead of hiding them.
The reason I think of it as activism is for precisely the reasons you outlined in your letter. Christianity is the dominant religion in Western culture, and has a long history of persecution of "witches." The truth is, that persecution had little to do with actual witchcraft (most people accused weren't practicing witches) and much more to do with the patriarchy. Simply put (there is nothing simple about it, but there is so much information to share I'll attempt to condense), men have always been intimidated by women's connections to the mystery, our wisdom and caring that leads us into natural roles as healers, which comes with great power. It's no secret that men love power (of course I'm generalizing here, both sides of this story can be applied to men and women, it’s just a majority thing) and the quickest and most efficient way to take the power out of the hands of wise women was to accuse them of consorting with the “Devil” and punish them accordingly. Thousands upon thousands of wise women were murdered, effectively clearing the way for men to hold the positions of power, hence doctors and the current medical system in our country.
In reality, most witchcraft doesn't have anything to do with Satan, in fact, most witches don't even believe in or follow the Bible, which is the creator of the Devil archetype. Again, generalizing, but witches tend to be pagan, which simply put means that we worship nature, the elements and the celestial bodies, animals and plants, and don't put much stock in the ideas of heaven, hell, and evil. At least, that's where I'm coming from. I don't mean to be insulting to your belief system, I know that Christ was a great man and many of the tenets of the faith are beautiful, but unfortunately the Bible has been used to persecute and discriminate against "others" for so long that from where I stand, that would be the evil in the world and witches are the good. You see how it's a matter of perspective?
I will say that most witches follow strict codes of ethics, the number one rule being "thou shall harm none" and we work all of our spells with clear intentions that the outcome be for the highest good of all involved. Of course, just as in Christianity, people are individuals and there are those who have good hearts and those who do not. There are certainly witches practicing harmful magic out there, just as there are Christians out there harming people for their beliefs, their lifestyles, and who they love. But, that doesn't make Christianity inherently bad, nor does it make all Christians evil. It is the same with witches.
I chose the word "witch" because to me it defines a wise woman, a healer, and a person who searches deeply into the mystery of our universe. I believe in magic and the unknown, and I explore my place in it all with curiosity and courage. My greatest joy is to help others to live more full lives, to heal deep, harmful wounds, and to open up more possibility and joy in their experience. I am not afraid to look into the darkness, but it is not where I source my power from. I work closely with my ancestors, medicine men and women through time, spirit animals and actual animals, the elements, the sun moon and stars, and Mother Earth. I use psychological theories and age old wisdoms to find the best path of healing for my clients, and I always proceed with consent, and respect for where they are in their personal journey. This is my path. All witches are different, one of my favorite things about witchcraft.
I know there are Christian witches out there, because witchcraft can be broken into spirituality and craft practice, and each person gets to choose what they believe in and how they express it. You can certainly be a Christian and also use the elements, ritual and spell work to create the life you wish to live. There are secular witches as well, who don’t work with any “god” or higher power, but enjoy witchcrafting with plants, candles, animals, etc.
I sense that you probably have some mysterious "powers" of your own and may need guidance to understand and use them safely. I know that my powers are from "God" and not "Satan" because they feel good and natural and I use them to heal. It has never been a question for me. Power isn't inherently bad, it is simply how we use it that dictates its value.
You are not the first person to have these conflicts, and to be mis-diagnosed for, and therefore afraid of, your gifts. There is a vast cultural fear of the unknown and women are more likely to have vision to grasp pieces of it. Unfortunately there is inherent misogyny in many faiths (Christianity is only one example) that leads to suppression. As we, as a culture, awaken to this suppression and the oppression of living in a patriarchy, more and more people are turning to witchcraft, shamanism, paganism, and other matriarchal, earth based spiritual paths. While that is exciting and I think greatly important if we are to turn the tides of war, greed, destruction, cruelty, and ignorance, unfortunately many are unprepared and unaware of how to walk their new path. I work with many people who are finally accepting their unique gifts and need direction and help to co-exist safely with their community and their power. I could spend much more time discussing this and would be happy to do so! I welcome the dialogue and am always glad to share my knowledge of the history and practices of witches and the craft.