Witchcraft Is Not Satanism

It might be surprising to some to know that witchcraft is not Satanism. Not only do the two have different histories (even if they are short histories), they also have, at a certain level, different views of the world and one’s place in it. I add the qualification “at a certain level” because there is a shared occult perspective between witchcraft and Satanism. Satanism and witchcraft are both occult religions; because of this, they both see reality as entirely natural. There is no transcendent God in the truest sense of the term. Further, they both see all of reality, material and immaterial, as interconnected and working according to “laws” that can be mastered in such a way as to make not only material but also immaterial reality work according to one’s own bidding. Satanism and witchcraft both stand in stark contrast to Christianity in their repudiation not only of God but also of the role of Jesus in effecting the salvation of mankind; indeed, there is a sense in which both Satanism and witchcraft deny that mankind is in any need of salvation.

These similarities are not trivial, but neither are the differences. Any criminal activity that can be associated with occultism is usually associated with some form of Satanism (usually some form of self‐styled Satanism). As a matter of principle and practice, witchcraft lives by the creed, “An it harm none, do what you will.”[11]

Satanism is more often associated with an attitude of self‐aggrandizement rather than the sense of community that characterizes most witchcraft. Further, Satanism and witchcraft differ somewhat in their respective views of nature and humanity. As researchers Shelley Rabinovitch and James Lewis observe, “To the neo‐Pagan practitioner, nature is viewed as somewhere on a scale from benign to overtly positive, if not outright friendly toward humanity. The ideal in most neo‐Pagan practice is to become as one with the natural world—to live in harmony with nature.…In contrast, neo‐Satanists view the natural world as somewhere between benign and openly hostile to humans.”[12]

Witchcraft Is Not Christianity

Some witches suggest that the practice of witchcraft can be compatible with Christianity[13], but virtually everyone realizes that witchcraft is not Christianity. Some may accuse me of having an uncanny grasp of the obvious for asserting this. Who would possibly confuse the two? In making this claim, however, I mean to do two things.

First, I want to emphasize that one must be careful that various subtle aspects of the practice of witchcraft do not influence one’s own Christian view of the world in a way that is incompatible with the Christian faith. What I have in mind here is how easy it can be for Christians to assume that certain practices that characterize the occult in general or witchcraft in particular are sufficiently neutral that one may safely dabble in their use. Some Christians see no problem with experimenting with séances or tarot cards, not realizing that they could be eroding their own view of the nature of reality, not to mention the danger of encountering demonic activity. Even if these practices “worked,” pragmatism is not a criterion for truth (Jer. 44: 17–18).

My second reason for pointing out that witchcraft is not Christianity is to try to summarize exactly where witchcraft and Christianity compare and contrast in their respective worldviews. Before I outline those areas of contrast (i.e., where the flour and ricin are different) let me acknowledge those areas where witches and Christians might share common concerns.

Witchcraft and Christianity: Common Concerns. First, because of their view of the nature of the world, witches often have a sense of environmental concern. Now, the motivations of witches and Christians are widely disparate—witches are environmentally conscientious because of their view that the Earth is sacred, whereas Christians should be environmentally conscientious as a matter of stewardship of the creation before the Creator—but Christians can agree with Wiccans that there is a duty to be environmentally responsible. How that environmental responsibility translates into public policy and individual actions may vary along the political and personal spectrum; nevertheless, we can all agree that there is an environmental responsibility that each of us shares.

Second, witches tend to have a conscientious sense of global concerns. Again, exactly how these concerns translate into public policy and individual actions may vary along the political and personal spectrum, but our common interests stem from the fact that we are all human beings living on the same planet.

Third, witches tend to be benevolently disposed toward their fellow human beings. The stereotype of witches being people with sinister intent wielding spells of black magic needs to be abandoned. As Christians we can share in their concern for the well being of others though we will obviously disagree as to what exactly constitutes that well being.

Witchcraft and Christianity: Mortal Foes in What Ultimately Counts. Our enthusiasm to establish rapport with those around us who may embrace witchcraft as a way of expressing their own spirituality must not keep us from recognizing that, when it comes to what ultimately counts, witchcraft and Christianity (but not witches and Christians[14]) are mortal foes. What ultimately counts is the objective truth about who God is, who we are as humans, and how we relate.

Christianity is monotheistic. Christianity claims that there is a God and no one of us is He. Witchcraft claims the opposite: “We are of the nature of the Gods, and a fully realized man or woman is a channel for that divinity, a manifestation of the God or the Goddess.”[15] Adler favorably quotes historian James Breasted who said, “Monotheism is but imperialism in religion.”[16] In place of the strict monotheism of Christianity, witchcraft not only deifies the self, but it ostensibly reveres the pagan God and Goddess.[17]

Christianity is exclusivistic. Remember Jesus’ words in John 14:6: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Contrast that with what Adler proclaims: “The belief that there is one word, one truth, one path to the light, makes it easy to destroy ideas, institutions, and human beings…your own spiritual path is not necessarily mine.”[18]

Christianity is authoritarian. Usually this term authoritarian has negative associations, but if authoritarian means “recognizing authority” then Christianity certainly does that. Not only has God revealed Himself through the things He has made (see, e.g., Ps. 19:1 and Rom. 1:20), but He has also revealed Himself finally and fully through Jesus Christ and the Bible. In contrast, Frew says, “To grant a traditional text such authority would be to say that this is it, the truth for all time. But we are a nature religion, and a fundamental truth of nature is that everything changes.”[19] Christians recognize the authority of God’s word in such matters, and so we have to face the fact that the Bible unequivocally condemns the practice of witchcraft, along with all forms of the occult (see Deut. 18:10–12; Acts 13:6–11; 16:16–18; Gal. 5:19–21).


Christianity recognizes everyone’s need for salvation. The most important message we have to give to the world is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Without the sacrifice of Christ to wash away our sins and reconcile us to our Maker, there is no hope in the world to come. Witchcraft teaches that our destiny is to return again to this world through reincarnation. Cunningham comments, “While reincarnation isn’t an exclusive Wiccan concept, it is happily embraced by most Wiccans because it answers many questions about daily life and offers explanations for more mystical phenomena such as death, birth and karma.”[20] Frew expounds, “While many of us believe in reincarnation, we do not seek to escape the wheel of rebirth. We can’t imagine anything more wonderful than to come back to this bounteous and beautiful Earth.”[21] In contrast to this spiritually fatal illusion, the Bible warns, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27 NKJV).

What Are We to Do?

There is a sense in which the job before us as Christians never changes, no matter who our audience is. Tactics and strategies may vary depending on the task at hand—whether apologetics, evangelism, or discipleship—but the commission never varies. It behooves us as Christians to maximize our effectiveness in reaching the lost by being informed and sensitive to the beliefs and practices of others while paying close attention to the subtle differences between various worldviews and our own Christian faith. This is true no less of witches than anyone else who may be living right next door.



[1] Parliament of the World’s Religions, http://www.cpwr.org/ 2004Parliament/welcome/index.htm.

[2] Donald H. Frew, “Pagans in Interfaith Dialogue: New Faiths, New Challenges,” CoGWeb, http://www.cog.org/pwr/ don.htm. On the significance of the presence of pagan witchcraft at the conference, Frew commented, “The 2004 Parliament…cemented our position as an established religion on the world stage.” (Donald Frew, e‐mail interview by author, October 31, 2004.)

[3] Brooks Alexander, Witchcraft Goes Mainstream: Uncovering Its Alarming Impact on You and Your Family (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2004), 23.

[4] The question of the origin and history of modern witchcraft is complicated. According to some researchers, Gerald Gardner (1884–1964) is almost single‐handedly responsible for the modern phenomenon we now know as witchcraft. Whether Gardner invented or rediscovered the religion is disputed. For discussions on the matter, see Brooks Alexander’s work cited in endnote 3; Ronald Hutton, Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999); Jenny Gibbons, “Recent Developments in the Study of The Great European Witch Hunt,” CoGWeb, http://www.cog/org/witch_hunt.html. For a response to earlier versions of Hutton’s arguments, see D. H. Frew, “Methodological Flaws in Recent Studies of Historical and Modern Witchcraft,” Ethnologies 1 (1998): 33–65. For Hutton’s rejoinder to Frew, see Ronald Hutton, “Paganism and Polemic: The Debate over the Origins of Modern Pagan Witchcraft,” Folklore (April 2000), http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2386/is_1_111/ai_62685559. I agree with Alexander’s conclusion: “There has been no passing down of any tradition from medieval witches to anyone in our own time. There is no identifiable continuity between the witchcraft of the Middle Ages and the modern‐day religious movement that bears the same name.” (Alexander, Witchcraft Goes Mainstream, 127.) This is not to say, however, that there is no continuity between some of the concepts of modern witchcraft and ancient religions. As Donald Frew observes, “There is a genuine antiquity to many of the core theological concepts and linked liturgical practices, and…there is a traceable path of transmission from Classical antiquity down to the modern movement, but…this is not the same thing as a continually practicing group.” (Donald Frew, e‐mail interview by author, October 31, 2004.)

[5] For a defense of the role of natural law in the birth of the United States of America see Gary T. Amos, Defending the Declaration: How the Bible and Christianity Influenced the Writing of the Declaration of Independence (Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth and Hyatt Publishers, 1989). For an examination of natural law theory in pluralistic America see Norman Geisler and Frank Turek, Legislating Morality: Is It Wise? Is It Legal? Is It Possible? (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1998) and Carl Horn, ed., Whose Values? The Battle for Morality in Pluralistic America (Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Books, 1985).

[6] Scott Cunningham, The Truth about Witchcraft Today (St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 1988), 17.

[7] Margot Adler, Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess‐Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today, rev. and exp. ed. (Boston: Beacon Press, 1986), ix.

[8] Starhawk, The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess (San Francisco: Harper and Row Publishers, 1979), 14.

[9] Frew, “Pagans in Interfaith Dialogue.”

[10] Adler, ix.

[11] Janet and Stewart Farrar, A Witches Bible Compleat: Principles, Rituals and Beliefs of Modern Witchcraft, rev. ed. (New York: Magickal Childe, 1987), 2:135.

[12] Shelley Rabinovitch and James Lewis, The Encyclopedia of Modern Witchcraft and Neo‐Paganism (New York: Citadel Press, 2002), s.v. “Neo‐Satanism Compared and Contrasted with Neo‐Paganism,” 185–86, emphasis in original.

[13] See, e.g., Gavin Frost and Yvonne Frost, The Magic Power of Witchcraft (West Nyack, NY: Parker Publishing, 1976), 130.

[14] The belief systems of Christianity and witchcraft are mutually exclusive, but Christians are called to love all human beings and consider as their true enemy the evil spiritual force that lies behind the world’s anti‐Christian belief systems (Eph. 6:12; cf. Matt. 5:43–47).

[15] Farrar, 2:33.

[16] Adler, vii.

[17] The emphasis on the God and the Goddess stems from witchcraft’s worldview of the interplay in reality of opposites that seek balance. The Farrars explain, “All activity, all manifestation arises [sic] from (and is inconceivable without) the interaction of pairs and complementary opposites.” (A Witches Bible Compleat, 2:107.)

[18] Adler, viii.

[19] Frew, “Pagans in Interfaith Dialogue.”

[20] Cunningham, 65.

[21] Frew, “Pagans in Interfaith Dialogue.”