Not All Witchy Souls Are Religious

Does the idea of a soul not being religious sound oxymoronic to you? If so, why? My soul is of the witchiest of persuasions, but I am not religious. I’ve said that to people and have gotten strange looks. When I was younger, I used to believe that in order to be a Witch I had to be religious as well. Then I opened my eyes and opened them again… My mind’s eye saw deeper… I looked into my soul… and I realized that in order to be a Witch all I had to do was be a Witch. I’ve found many others who feel just like I do. And that is so good.

I’m discussing the Witchy-Religiosity-Theism topic, in the middle of Witches in Fiction 2015… Death Rites and Remembrances, because earlier my beloved Ms Misantropia, said, “I am not joining this giveaway [The Ghost Tarot], being an atheist an’ all…” Well, for me and for many others, tarot cards have nothing to do with religions or gods. It’s like lighting a candle—some light it to illuminate a room, others light it to feed a magic spell, many light it as an offering to gods and saints, I light them for all kinds of reasons… most often, for fire and scent which helps me focus my intent. “Shaking It and Twisting It until It Says Yes” sheds light on the latter.

So how does a person who is not religious or a theist claim to be a Witch who believes in souls, transcendence of the spirit, energy… and so many other abstract concepts? Easy, for me to be a Witch is to know who I am and why I am. I am sentient nature. I am a human animal. I am what I do. I am memories and experiences. And the latter allows me to evolve into more.

At one point in my life, I thought I was a religious theist. I mean, I believed that everyone was made of the same thing; and that our individualities came from how we used what we were and what we learned from our experiences… I believed that as a whole, we—all things, sentient and not—were united by Something Bigger than our individual selves. I gave that Bigger Something the names of gods and goddesses. And if one believes in the gods and goddesses of myth, then one becomes a religious theist by association. It makes sense, right? I used to believe that.

Today, I know different. I don’t need to name the energy that makes the universe in order to know that it is there and that it is part of me. That makes me a human being, not a religious theist, even when my human mind nudges me to give a face to said energy… and perhaps name it—Hekate, when it’s dark and unforgiving; Sin/Nanna/Ishtar when it’s violent, protective and loving; Pan, when it’s wild and lusty; the Morrigan, when its rage fills my blood with red fire and sharp edges; Grandmother, when its wisdom calms me down and helps me see deeper; Wicked Angel, when it’s ruled by harmless mischief…

I’m a storyteller, my Wicked Luvs. I feel in poetry and think in tales. My life is guided by all my experiences. My soul is a mixture of what I’ve learned and what I feel because of that learning. Religion has been described as “the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods”; that definition has no room for me—I choose to control myself and take responsibility for my actions. Theism: “the belief in one God as the creator and ruler of the universe, without rejection of revelation…” and most definitely not me.

I celebrate all people who choose to believe in whatever makes sense to them, as long as those beliefs don’t lead them to intentionally harming others; for like Terry Pratchett said, “Human beings must become ever more diverse, valuing and enjoying each other’s differences rather than fearing them or suppressing them.”

So… I believe that the souls of my dead can reach me through the Veil of the memories we shared. I believe in the magic of a wish… because wishing something with all my heart makes me work for it with all that I am. I believe in the Earth Mother that shelters and feeds me. I believe in the healing powers of friendship, love and Nature. I believe that a tarot card can tell me what my dead grandmother might have done in a particular situation, because I remember what she did in life. I am a Witch because of all these things… and I believe other people are just fine when they believe they aren’t Witches because of the same reasons.

Our different experiences help us understand the world and each other. Trying to understand and value—or not—the world and each other, while considering and respecting the importance of our differences, makes us humans who are worth the air we breathe. What do you think?

Magaly Guerrero, parkour
Yes, I also believe in urban fairies and parkour
(I got wings from Rhissanna)
To enter the Witches in Fiction giveaways, go HERE and HERE and continue visiting; there will be giveaways and witchy fun all the way to October 17th… and probably after that, too. 😉

31 thoughts on “Not All Witchy Souls Are Religious”

  1. yes yes! souls are eternal, this physical world and everything in it, even the universe, are all equal expressions of that energy. religion is a man made construct meant to explain and control the natural world. two totally different things!

    • Exactly. And I believe too many people get lost in the differences. Just like to many others get lost in thinking that “believing” in something makes them better or more right than someone who doesn’t believe in anything they can’t touch.

  2. I enjoyed this post, though I was wondering if I need to make clear that I am not just an atheist but also a total non-believer..? (Since you quoted me) The two are the same in my mind, but I realize after reading this that it isn’t so for everyone. I only believe in physics and psychology – no spirituality, no magic, no souls and nothing “Bigger”. Though of course I understand people’s need for death rites and remembrances.

    • Once, I spent a few hours trying to explain to a religion professor that I am not a theist, but that didn’t make an atheist. That in order to define what I feel inside, we needed to find a different word or agree to disagree.

      I understand what you mean by a total non-believer. What makes our beliefs different is that I tend to personify feelings, traits, strengths… When you want to push yourself to accomplish something, you talk to your own mind. When I want to push myself to do something, I summon the strongest bits of my mind and depending on how I’m feeling that day–strong or tired or frisky–I give that part of my psyche a name, a face, a shape (it’s easier to hike 25 miles while carrying a 70lbs pack, if I picture myself as a very strong entity). It works for me because I know what the strongest part of me can do, if I push. I know that it is still me, I know that it is the power of my own strength, intellect and self (which I call energy), but giving that energy a shape a name… helps me pull on strength that I didn’t feel (at that moment) that I had… even if it was inside me all along.

      In short, I know that I am me all the time… but some days, I need more of myself to remind me of all the things that makes me… and of all the things that I can do. Does this mess of ideas make any sense?

  3. A religious person accepts a certain set of beliefs as true and observes a certain set of rituals. spirituality is the fact of being spiritual and is usually evidenced by the act of doing spiritual things. Praying, meditating, reading Scripture, and giving to a charity are all things that a “spiritual” person might do.
    I know that I am more spiritual than religious.. When I was a kid I questioned the religion my mother chose for us.. She told me, that one is not to question it.. to accept it… that was when she told me that the religion/church was not for me… My husband was raised Catholic and he too questioned the priest and was told the same.. I find more people I come in contact with choose spirituality over religion…Some have chosen to go the non denominational route, which totally confuses me since the non denominational churches adopt many of the practices that fall under Catholicism, and other Christian religions…
    Spirituality is more defined for the individual… its something they can make their own.

    • I think that when it comes to it, the definition of non-believer, religious, spiritual, atheist… is so personal that the only way we can know what a person mean is by asking them. There is a huge joke in the witchy community, which suggest that if you ask 3 Witches what a Witch is, you’ll get three different responses and their words won’t even be spelled the same way. Okay, they don’t say it exactly like that, I might’ve made up the bit about the spelling–which, by the way, sounds quite brilliant, lol!

  4. I think it’s very funny when folks try to think of witches as this monolithic sort of entity. We can be monists, deists, duotheistic, polythiestic (soft or hard), animists, agnostics or atheists. Witchcraft to me always spoke of just the act of witching – not a specific theism to adhere to.

    I myself am pretty polythiestic in practice, though if you get me chatting with a good cuppa in hand I can certainly see a universal energy running through it all, including all life on this earth, but cannot give specifics with anything approaching certainty as to other aspects of its nature. Its enough that it exists and my brain likes specific things to work with anyways. My practice has a pragmatic streak – theories are nice and all but I like to go with what works for me. Polythiesm does, though I’ll grant that’s not everybody’s thing and that’s cool too.

    • I love that. Witchery is the act of witching…. and not all Witches witch in the same way. Even if when nod at each other because we understand exactly what the other does, even if we’ll never do it that way. And that’s good…

  5. I loved this post, it explains pretty much how I feel. I believe in Universal energy, and that everything is made from that energy; I don’t give that energy a name or the form of a deity, it is what it is energy.

    Having said that, I to believe that my ancestors and other lost loved ones can use that energy to come and visit or send messages, or do what ever it is they choose to do.

    • Spirituality is so simple and complex, isn’t it? I don’t think any atheist would ever call me an atheist. If I had to call myself anything when it comes to gods and goddesses, I think it would be “a rather creative poly-believer”. That’s too long and confusing, so I’ll just call it mine. 😀


  6. Thank you for the link back to the older post. It was very informative. I’m not religious. To be honest, the older I get, the more anti religion I become. The world’s major religions just seem like intolerant, paternalistic, misogynistic, patriarchal institutions to me. I reject any philosophy in which women are treated as inferiors. I’m certainly no expert on paganism, but I truly respect the gender equality it seems to champion. Although I’m not religious, I’m not an atheist either. I kind of believe in all possibilities, unless proven otherwise. I do believe in Magic… I believe I’ve seen it at work, and occasionally manifested it myself. I guess I’m curious, and I love philosophical discussions like these. I have no answers, but I do enjoy the questions. 😉

    • I believe the discussion is the magic of this kind of posts. The more I live the more I see that any answers I think I have might only work for me and only for a while. And you know what? That’s all right. What kind of life would we be if we always knew all the answers to every questions? We would probably die of chronic boredom.

  7. I guess most people associate “souls” with organized religious groups because they(the groups) have spent the last few thousand years claiming every soul they could. Those of us with open hearts know that “souls” exist without the permission of any church, so we can have faith in our own beliefs without the restrictions of religion. *puts on sparkly wings and flies away* 😀 XXX

    • Amen, how true your words are… it does take an open heart, rather a strong one to know that souls do exist whether there ‘s a church involved or not!.

      • Chris, open hearts could so change the world… Can you imagine what would happen if more of us could be happy for other people’s happiness? If so many didn’t fight to get their own way, without knowing if that way would work for those they mean to bring into their side?

  8. I’m really you did a post about this, you hit the nail on the head with this one. I’m often having to explain that I’m spiritual not religious, and it’s crazy when family looks down on us because a lot of the Mexican Culture is highly religious, but on the other aspect is spiritual as well. And yes too I am a Witch, and proud of it! On another note I just love the photo at the bottom of the post….take flight beautiful mariposa.

    • I can never understand how people (yes, I’m talking about our people) who believe so deeply in their own beliefs can’t see that someone one else can believe just as truly in something else. It makes no sense. But they will be who they are, and so will we.

      *flying* 🙂

  9. Spirituality and religion are definitely not the same thing–indeed, one often kills the other, you can see it every day. I also used to want to name the forces I felt around me, but now I am content to live with them and not try to control them with some system by which they surely are utterly unaffected–but I love myth, especially to me the more logical and less guilt-ridden Pagan myths, and the reflection of our collective spirit which we have put in our deeply connected legends of supernatural beings–their power is the power of the mind and soul, of what we want the universe to be–understandable and human. I totally understand where you are coming from here, and I applaud that you have the grace and strength to know and explain it to others.

  10. Well another freakin’ awesome post (and bounty of comments) that I have been sifting through… First no matter if spiritual, full of beliefs or bereft of them, all is good, but with the tarot cards (which I covert hehe) there is more than just ‘tarot’ cards, it is layers of rich visual images and writers prompts, it is a land of dreams in ones hands, of possibilities one with or without belief can travel 🙂

    • Bounty, indeed! I love when the sharing gets rich. 🙂 And yes, yes, yes! Tarot cards (and all kinds of things full of inspiring images) offer much more than only what the designer might have foreseen.

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