Secrecy in the Craft has been going on for millennia, or at least as long as there were people who knew and did things other people didn't. Fortunately, the times have changed and there is more tolerance for divergent beliefs and practices. But must witches still be careful and remain secretive? Sure. And that is unfortunate. There are many reasons why. Most are because of cultural attitudes that still linger about the Craft and those who practice it. But the most important reason is that as you grow in the Craft, the more powerful you and your castings become, but public acknowledgement has the tendency to drain power from the witch and their castings.
For the Christian Witch this goes along with the idea of praying in private. Jesus said that when you pray, you should go into your closet and pray in secret, that God, who hears all in secret is listening to you. We are also reminded that when we pray, we should not stand in the streets or in the open places in the synagogue where everyone can see us so we can get the admiration of those around us. If we do that, then we have been rewarded already and God can disregard your prayer. So, if casting in a way is praying with props, then you should do all in the privacy of your sacred space.
The witch, regardless of your discipline, is still a target for derision. This comes from early writings from the Church, from history, and from social teachings that witches are evil, that they pray to the Devil and they sacrifice babies and parody the sacraments of other religions. The truth of it is, witches, while they may not be Christians, they are certainly peace loving folk in tune with nature and the supernatural and trying to do the best they can for the world. The witch whether they be Pagan, Wiccan or Christian or any other discipline seek deeper and more intimate relations with the world and their neighbors. They look to nature and the environment inside themselves and outside themselves to learn how to heal and comfort their fellows. As I mentioned before, they were the first doctors and pharmacologists and midwives in society.
The Burning Times, as many witches call the period of persecution, was a time of danger not just for witches but for Jews and Muslims and anyone else of diverse faith or no faith at all. But this was also a time of calamity! The ravages of the Plague and the wars and crusades that killed so many for useless reasons and the problems of the poor and the corrupt rich keeping them that way added to the troubles for the common ordinary witch. The Church, in her arrogance, said they had all the answers. When terrible things happened like the plague, the people asked the question why and the Church didn't have the answer. But rather than admit that they didn't, they decided to blame it on that ancient adversary, the Devil and just as there are representatives of God on earth, there are representatives of the Devil on earth and that representative was your local herbalist or midwife or wise woman or man. They were the ones to blame and blamed they were. This is where the larger chunk of the need for secrecy comes from. Witches will always be a scapegoat for the ills, physical, mental, social or spiritual of a community. That is why witchcraft is esoteric or secret knowledge and esoteric in practice.
Next time, I'll discuss magical tools!