While on vacation in Egypt a few weeks ago, I was asked this by a friend of mine who happens to be someone who actively practices Judaism. He asked it VERY respectfully as someone who was intrigued by the idea of witchcraft and didn't have the slightest idea of what it was all about or at least they didn't think they did.
Now, to give you an idea of my own background, I started out married to my first wife, a Christian woman about 25 years ago. She converted me to Christianity and I actually enjoyed being involved in the Church body and working with the youth of the Church. This gave me a bit of insight into how Churches operate and what is expected of the Church family. Regardless of the religion that the Church belongs to, Churches pretty much all operate with the same principles where the Church body supports it's members in times of need. When I separated from my wife over 14 years ago, I gave up the religion along with the marriage.
Back to the question at hand, when he asked me "Does Witchcraft Work?", it allowed me to have an intelligent conversation, which I love to have. This was one of my favorite interactions I have had the pleasure to have in a while and I will explain why. Here we have someone who is religious so they already believe in something. They also are involved in rituals while in church involving hymns, prayers and other events of significance. Do we happen to see some similarities lining up yet? You should!
I started the conversation by asking him some questions about his own religion already knowing what the answers were going to be. Here are the examples of those questions:
1) When someone in your Church family is struggling, does the Church call upon it's members to do prayers or rituals in order to try and bring positive change to that persons life?
Answer: "Well, yes, we come together as a body and say prayers on behalf of the person who needs the focus."
2) Do you feel that this makes a difference to the person for whom that you focus on?
Answer: "Well, I like to think that it does. We do the prayers from a good positive place bringing forth positive energy and trying to bring forth positive change."
3) How do you know that it makes a difference for that person?
Answer: "Well, in some cases you get reports back that things are improving but sometimes, it doesn't matter how much you do... Sometimes things just don't improve. Sometimes it's just God's will and things don't improve."
I explained to him at this point that Witchcraft is very much the same type of thing as what he just explained to me. That my wife and I practice very different forms of worship and rituals since I classify myself as a Norse Druid and she classifies herself as an Eclectic Witch. But in the end, we perform rituals where we can incorporate herbs, crystals, words, poems, prayers, rituals and use tools to ultimately set a purpose and focus towards that purpose to try and bring change. We hope that the effort that we put into the ritual brings forth the effect that we want to achieve but there is never a guarantee. I like to feel that we are manipulating the energies of the universe and sending forth that energy to help bring forth change. The end result is that we hope that we have made a difference but there is really no way of truly knowing how much change we have made. Sometimes we can bring forth great change and other times, the winds of change are against us and it doesn't matter how hard we try, we can't change the outcome.
One of the major differences with what we do with Witchcraft and Druidism is that we aren't necessarily limited by the same moral compasses that the majority of the other Religions are. This allows us to use rituals for a larger amount of purpose then just supporting people in positive change. That isn't to say that we personally go crazy and do hexes, curses and wish people dead but that is a part of what is available to people that do practice this and choose to venture into that realm of learning.
As we sat in our loungers overlooking the Red Sea the conversation continued for more then an hour. I talked about different rituals that I had personally performed for people in my life and also about different ceremonies that my wife and I have performed together on moon cycles and such. We also talked about the similarities of different religious rituals, pagan holiday assimilation, incense usage, burials and so much more.
In the end it was a great conversation and I wish more people of the world were open to having these types of exchanges without judgement or persecution. Everyone is very much different and just because people have different views doesn't mean that there is anything evil or dangerous about it.