An interesting debate arose earlier this week, on the stomping ground that is the social media universe. This was in the wake of Channel 4’s screening of A Very British Witchcraft. One of my good friends wanted to know, does it work? What’s the point? And is it perhaps simply just something impressionable people fall into, in order to feel that they are a part of something larger than themselves? Surely if witchcraft did work, everyone would be at it?

For the latter statement, the simple answer to that is that the vast majority of folks will dismiss it out of hand, because to most people witchcraft is something unreal, illusory and frightening. So I don’t believe we will ever be in a society where using witchcraft is the norm, as it has too many dark connotations attached to it.

This hypothesis was held up by the comments my friend received on his post; biting, cynical comments and brutal displays of wilful ignorance. Opinions ranging from wanting to slap witches to simply mocking their ‘naivety’.

Surprised and a little dismayed at the approximately 80% lash out against the idea that people of intelligence and common sense might practice witchcraft, I posted the following response:

“Firstly, don’t confuse Wiccan with witch. They are not the same. A Wiccan may be a witch, and vice versa, but you can also be a witch without having any religion whatsoever. Witchcraft is simply another method of taking control of your life, focusing your intent and working towards your goals. No, it can’t make the impossible possible. No, rarely will it bring riches or fame. Because generally witches understand that these things are not what are important; so witches will (and I generalise horribly) tend to use their magic for more private and personal goals, often to help others in need. And a true witch doesn’t give a crap who thinks what as it works for them, and that’s what counts.”

After this, the discussion moved quickly into the necessity and impact of ritual and ceremony, and the differences between working a ‘spell’ and simply engaging in positive thinking in your life. What do you think? Does my definition live up to your idea of a witch? And why is the idea of practicing witchcraft still so ridiculous to many people? Is that perhaps a good thing, in that the supposed fairy-tale nature of it protects it from being used by those who would abuse it?