Well this is it and you throw the way we use the word "Witch" willy
nilly on indigenous religious practices and then look at it as an
evolving term coming out of the English take on maleficium its an
enormously subjective term. Then you have things like its use in
Christianity to describe things as varied as m'khashephah, m'nachesh or
pharmakos in the bible (which all just get the catch all term "Witch" in
English translations). At base its a term people have appropriated for
the present as pejorative and a symbol of romantic rebellion. plus
there are all the anthropological interpretations I guess you are left
with a historical meaning which evolves considerable, a meaning as a
label or sign and what people who self identify as witches call it
(which again is so varied as to be meaningless).
As practitioners go an Alexandrian friend of mine has an axiom that runs
"Paganism is what you believe, Witchcraft is what you do" as a way of
getting past the problem of the equation of witchcraft with the issue of
paganism which I don't mind. Means she can also differentiate between
kitchen witch magical folkloric practice and ritual magic but not let it
get tied up into Paganism as a belief. I quite like this too as
Christians practiced that folkloric magic as much as anyone and the
Pagans were as quick to kill people for Maleficium as the Catholic and
Protestants half a millenia later.
Just some ideas.
Caroline Tully wrote:
> Francis wrote..
> >>the easiest answer is: witchcraft is what witches do. Faced with
> that answer we can comment from our own experience and add to it
> extracts from handfuls of books overflowing our shelves. But that does
> not really take us to the essential nature of witchcraft. What is it
> that is there behind the outward and (sometimes) visible
> manifestation(s) classed as witchcraft?<<
> But that's still going to be plural, because whether looking from
> the inside or outside, "Witches", "Witchcraft" is still not just one