Secular Witchcraft: Witches Without the Gods

Religion and witchcraft need not be joined together forever. For some witches, like Wiccans or Christian Witches, the union may be part of their practice and part of who they are. For others, called Secular Witches, there is no desire, drive, or need to work with or worship deities. Some secular witches might be atheist. Others might deem things besides deities “holy,” much like the Druids might have viewed trees. Some secular witches might believe in an unseen universal energy that pulses through all of us, and some might believe that each of us is a tiny universe in ourselves with our own divine powers.

Black text over a galaxy image reads, "As above, so below. As within, so without." A figure meditating is outlined in white on the right of the image.
As Above, So Below; As Within, So Without

The thing with secular witches is this, no two will have the same exact beliefs. Secular witches come from all walks of life and all belief systems. Some secular witches will hold strict athiest beliefs, knowing in their heart that deities do not exist. Other secular witches might take a more agnostic approach to their practice, knowing in their heart that deities might exist but it doesn’t matter to them. Still, some secular witches acknowledge the existence of deities but choose not to involve them in their witchcraft. All three of these types of secular witches are valid in their own right.

Where do secular witches get their beliefs?

From their Past

Many witches today were raised in an organized religion like Christianity or maybe in no religion at all. Becoming a witch doesn’t mean you have to leave things you like about yourself or your beliefs behind. Maybe you really enjoyed the practice of eating food with family and friends after church service. Maybe you were part of a religion that practices fasting as a form of spiritual awakening. Or maybe you enjoyed meditation as part of your past religious practice. If you like it, keep it! Your path is about your and your connection with magick. Take what fits and leave what doesn’t.

From their Research

A witch sitting in a large book holding a smaller book in their hand.
Witches do a lot of research.

As you probably know, 80% of what witches do is absorb knowledge — knowledge about plants, crystals, divination, deities, the supernatural, types of spells — all that good stuff, right? Not everything you read or try is going to work for you. Some of it will though.

For example, Wicca is an attainable religious and spiritual path for new witches. It is what many of the readily available books are written about. While many witches will remain Wiccan forever, some will move on as they absorb information just as many of us moved on from our former paths. So perhaps, as a result of the Wiccan introduction you received, you continue to believe in the “harm none” philosophy.

Aside from religious influence, think of all you have learned about colors, crystals, and herbs. Maybe there is an herb that you include in every spell that is perhaps non-conventional, but works for you every time! Or maybe you started incorporating herbs into floor washes and rinses such as those found in Hoodoo and folk practices around the world. It’s okay to take inspiration and to create something new for yourself because again, it’s about you!

From their Inner Self

This one is the most forgotten resource of all, the self. We all grew up in a world that teaches us to look outside of ourselves for ideas and answers which is at least a little absurd. Who could possibly know what you feel to be true and what you believe better than you do? No one.

Wiccan Rede quote. Harm no one
“If it harms none, do what you will” – Wiccan Rede

Here is a good exercise. Imagine you are starting a new religion or spiritual program for others. On a piece of paper, write down ten truths for your imaginary followers. Truths such as: “The universe is governed by an unseen energy. All things are connected.” Or “A circle must be cast in order to cast a safe and effective spell.”

Just write down what you believe. You have more opinions than you think you do!

So if there are no deities, who is in charge?

As you can probably guess, there are a number of different beliefs among secular witches as to who is in charge or what created the universe. Some witches only recognize The Big Bang while others recognize The Big Bang as well as Divine intervention. The point is if you think that secular witchcraft is for you, it’s up to you to decide just what that means to you.

The most common thread of belief that seems to surface among secular witches is the idea that we all come from a single energy source (much like God, but not quite). This energy source ebbs and flows, creates and destroys, and connects all living things like a thread flowing through us. If that resonates with you then wonderful. If not, then that’s okay, too!

Do I have to know everything before I can be a secular witch?

Learning to cast Real Spells
Learning to cast Real Spells

Absolutely not! You just have to know that no spiritual shoe has yet to fit you. That’s all! Regardless what kind of witch you are, the name of the game is learning. There will always be another idea, another influence, another technique. The beauty of secular witchcraft truly is the opportunity to broaden your horizons and change comfortably over time.

You may have been taught that change and growth weren’t options. Society really convinces us that once we believe something, we believe it for life. They say that once political views align a certain way they will never change. If you liked purple as a kid, you’ll always like purple. Dog people can’t later become cat people! Society tells us that rigidity in beliefs is the only thing that makes sense, but are we sure it makes sense at all? As we grow up, experience life, and experience other people, we are bound to change a little here and there. So no, you don’t need to know every belief you will ever hold. Just start owning your own path! Start taking steps to find new beliefs and practices, new ideas that enlighten you and make you feel your best. Really, you got this!

But wait! What about holidays?

Wheel of the Year

This is a common question for secular witches since there is no religious element. What about holidays? A lot of people really enjoy holidays and the events that come with them. Gathering with your family, cooking together, and sharing gifts are all wonderful holiday experiences. You don’t have to let that go if you don’t want to. Many secular witches still observe whatever holidays their family does. If your family celebrates Christmas, then great! It will just mean something different to you than it would to them. For them it’s about the birth and joy of Christ. For you it’s about the joy and warmth of being with those you love. That’s okay too.

Another great option is to recognize the holidays as they occur on the Wheel of the Year. This isn’t just for Wiccans! It’s based on the cycle of the Earth and crops throughout the year, and that’s for everyone. Wiccans have their own folklore around it, and that’s great too, but practice what you feel is right.

The last option for celebrations is to decide your own holidays. It sounds crazy, but hang in there! You already have one personal holiday, your birthday! So no matter what, you have that at least. But what you should consider is if there are any days that are holy to you or worth celebrating. If that still doesn’t make sense, consider this: Is there a certain scent or sight that occurs throughout the year that means something to you? The first scent of honeysuckle on the trees? The way wisteria begins to bloom in the trees? Then have a party to celebrate Spring each year!

What about fall food? Do you love cinnamon apple pie and pumpkin cookies? A good cider? Have a fall celebration each year! This is your own personal spiritual path. This can’t be stressed enough — It’s about you.

So, that’s it? I can be a secular witch?

Witch Crafting Skills
Witch Crafting Skills

Of course you can, if you’d like! As a disclaimer however, understand that there is nothing wrong with following a more structured and organized path. That may be just as important to you as it is unimportant to others. Secular witchcraft is a wonderful way to bring in different elements of your ancestry, your life experience, your spiritual knowledge, and so much more. If you are happy and fulfilled on your current path, stay there!

See also: Secular Witchcraft: 8 Examples of Science-Based Craft 

One type of witch is not superior to the other. There is no need to make hasty changes or fervently research new ideas to compile a new personal belief system. Take your time, walk your path slowly, and grow as you go.

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