Q. Why do Witches wear the pointy hat?
The archetypal image of a Witch with her cloak, buckles and pointed hat comes from artists' depictions of early Quaker women engaged in spoken ministry. The tall hat was not an unusual style for women of the early Quaker period but, over time, they continued to wear it even though fashion had long moved on. As Quakers became increasingly accused of witchcraft and heresy, the iconic image of the Witch took its shape in the antiquated style of the style of the Quakeress. Some modern Quaker and Traditional Witches still wear the traditional plain clothing and hat during meetings and group celebrations, but rarely in public.
(Above: A Quaker woman engaged in spoken ministry, a form of mysticism.)
Do Witches worship the Devil?
No. True Witches do not worship anything but life itself. However, the idea of the Devil has occupied a place in the history of traditional witchcraft for centuries and is a part of our heritage. For Witches, the Devil is not a source of evil. Instead, he represents certain truths about nature and humanity that must be understood by every practicing Witch. These truth are expressed as the Devil's trinity.
1. Devil represents the darkest aspects of the human psyche which must be integrated into the total-self rather than suppressed by some artificial morality.
2. The Devil embodies the indiscriminate forces of nature which yield to no one. The Witch seeks to understand the nature of the universe in order to be its master.
3. Despite the claims of modern revisionists, Witches historically identified with the Devil as an ally against the horrors and atrocities of the Church. Classical Witches embraced the idea of the biblical Satan as a positive force that protected their freedom and survival. Today we re-invoke the notion of the Devil as a symbol of resistance to Wicca and other Neo-Pagans who seek to deprive us of our true history and heritage.
That aside, The devil is not worshiped and is really only a metaphor. Further, he is a minor aspect of the surviving tradition.
What is the difference between Witchcraft and Wicca?
Traditional witchcraft is an ancient practice that dates to pre-history and is based on animistic, rather than theological principles. In this regard it is very similar to combined elements of Taoism and Shinto.
Wicca, on the other hand, is a modern religion invented by Gerald Gardner in the mid 1950's. Wicca has a formal theology, gods, liturgy, clergy and ritual structure drawn from transcendental magic which makes it more akin to Roman Catholicism than authentic traditional Witchcraft. Wicca has no ties to historically authentic Witchcraft.
What is the significance of the witches broomstick?
The belief that Witches could fly through the air on various animals and inanimate objects dates back to prehistory. During the inquisitions and witch-trials, accused witches often confessed to having ridden strange objects through the air. These objects ranged from small farm animals to a variety of farming implements.
In her book The Witch cult in Western Europe, (1921) Margaret Murray postulated that Witches represented a fertility cult who frequently engaged in intercourse with a man dresses in a goat-suit wearing a synthetic phallus. (yes, she went there!)
Although she takes this idea to task, she falls short of suggesting that the broomstick could have been used as a phallus. (yes, we went there!) In his book Authentic Witchcraft, Grayson Magnus disagrees with Murray that fertility could have been a consideration and suggests that the broomstick, combined with the narcotic ointments used to induce altered states of awareness may have facilitated a means for the witches to copulate with their “familiar spirits” or spirit-lovers.
In the Heritage Witchcraft tradition the broom is still a symbol for communion with ones' familiar spirit as it represents the union of the masculine (handle end) with the feminine (brush end).
"Familiars" are not animals?
The term "Familiar Spirit" comes into the European tradition from the King James bible. It is derived from the biblical story of the Witch of Endor. In this story the entity being described is the Spirit-lover. These are interchangeable phrases.
Using the term "familiar" for an animal helper is INCORRECT!
In antiquity, the term used was "Imp" and this could refer to both living animals and spirits of animals. The term became confused with that of the Familiar Spirit by the authors of the later witch-hunting manuals and popular literature. These people were not concerned with correctness. They just wanted to dish propaganda.
Other terms for animal spirits which is appropriate for our use is "Totem-animal" or Totem Spirit, in the case of spirit animals.