“Are you a good witch, or a bad witch?” My thoughts on witches, wizards, and magic.

 Jadis. Glinda. Gandalf. Howl. Zedd. Harry. Hermione. With so many witches and wizards running rampant in fiction today, it can be difficult to know just what’s okay and what isn’t. The lines have been so blurred between words and their usages that it can become difficult to discern the difference and the appropriateness between the types. The words ‘witch,’ ‘wizard,’ ‘necromancer,’ ‘warlock,’ ‘sorcerer,’ ‘sage,’ etc. have been used interchangeably when that should never have been allowed to happen. Instead of struggling to untangle all the different terms and their usages, I’ve set up rules for myself concerning them. These are based on my own principles and beliefs as a Christian and a responsible intaker of fiction; they might be of help to you, and they might not.

I do not read/watch things where witches are ‘good.’ This includes The Wizard of Oz, which I saw once when I was younger. I also read the book, but even at that age I didn’t like them. Something about them disturbed me, and now I know what it was. We cannot turn witches into the ‘good guys,’ not even Glinda is exempt from this. The Bible clearly states that witches are evil (Exodus 22:18) and forbids witchcraft (1 Chronicles 10: 13, 1 Samuel 15: 23, 28:7). Witches, even the ones in the Bible, were clearly evil and an abomination to God.

Witches are evil, and should be portrayed as such. Fairy tales knew this, C. S. Lewis knew this, God knew this. Now, I understand that many people have taken ‘witches’ and tried to turn them into something innocent (such as Hermione); but for me, the principle of the thing is still intact. I myself have a ‘dark enchantress’ (sometimes called a witch) in my book “Wolfsguard,” but guess what? She is evil. She is portrayed as such. She has taken the power Ora rightfully inherited to her and twisted it into something dark. She’s a villainess, and, in the end, is not ‘suffered to live.’

Now, the whole ‘wizards,’ ‘sorcerers,’ ‘warlock’ thing has become so muddled it’s rather like looking at a glass where tea, apple juice, and whiskey have been shaken (not stirred) together, and trying to decipher which is which. So my own personal ‘rules’ have become very helpful to me in this area.

The same rule for witches applies to warlocks since warlocks are, in fact, just male witches. 

Now, the Bible (KJV version) forbids ‘wizards’ as well, but I’ve done a post on this before. Here, I’ll post the main body of it for you right below:

A wizard is etymologically a ‘wiseman – indeed originally the word was used for ‘philosopher’ orsage’, without any suggestion of magical practices. It was derived from wise. The distinction between philosophy and magic was sufficiently blurred in the Middle Ages; the word ‘magician’ emerged in the 16th century, and that is the one which has prevailed.

– Word-Origins.com

Interesting, no? Tolkien knew this; that’s why his ‘wizards’ such as Gandalf were in fact ‘Istari,’ derived from the word ‘Istar.’ meaning ‘wise one’ in old English.  One would actually think he knew what he was talking about!

 Let’s see what the Bible says about them.

Leviticus 19:31

 Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God.

Familiar Spirits (from which come the term ‘familiars,’ used by witches and warlocks) would be demonic spirits, of course, but the interesting thing is that the word ‘wizard’ is a relatively modern one. The original Greek/Hebrew texts of the Bible wouldn’t have used the word ‘wizard’ as it still meant ‘wise one’ when the Bible was written.

Leviticus 20:6

And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people.

Again, ‘demon spirits’ is used in context with the word ‘wizard’ which would definitely indicate that the original word used would have been ‘Necromancer,’ which is a person who communicates with demonic spirits.

HOWEVER –

Sorcery, witchcraft, ‘channeling,’  etc. still are not acceptable according to the Bible.

Necromancy (NECK-re-man-see) is the alleged power to communicate with the spirits of dead people (“ghosts”). Other terms for those who claim this power are: “medium,” having a “familiar spirit,” “spiritist,” or “spiritualist.”

Deuteronomy 18:11 — The occult practices that are an abomination to God include mediums, spiritists and those who call up the dead (NKJV; “consulter with a familiar spirit … necromancer” — ASV, KJV).

So really, it depends on what the wizard is doing; what kind of wizard he is. Is he Gandalf? Or is he Harry Potter? Is he Fenworth, or is he Merlin? How is the character written, and is it acceptable within the confines of Biblical principles? I myself have an ‘Enchanter’ in Wolfsguard as well, named Hezekiah, but his power does not come from ‘familiar spirits’ or even from himself. He was gifted by Ora (the allegorical one God) with this power, to be used for Him and Him only, and he has obeyed this command.

Magic is not bad. Oh, it CAN be, of course. Anything can be turned into something dark and innapropriate. But magic is not even mentioned in the Bible. Occult practices, ‘signs and wonders,’ etc. ARE – but magic never is. Magic is a fictional thing created to add an element of mystery and wonder in fiction. Many people think that magic IS in the Bible, because they take the word ‘wizard’ (explained above) and follow it through mentally to mean ‘magic’ even though, in fact, it does not. I myself stay clear of spells in my books, because I believe that spells walk too close to the forbidden Biblical line (again, personal principles and beliefs). Not everyone agrees with me; not everyone has to agree with me. Every person has to think this over for themselves.

And there you have my thoughts. If there is an area I haven’t covered, or if you have a question, please feel free to ask!

Credendo Vides,

Mirriam

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14 thoughts on ““Are you a good witch, or a bad witch?” My thoughts on witches, wizards, and magic.

  1. Great post! In my book, the ‘magicians’ are really more often and correctly referred to as prophets of a sort, and magic is considered a gift from the Creator, with which he attached rules for its proper usage. Naturally, however, the evil people do not adhere to these guidelines 🙂

  2. Good post, Mirriam!! I like how you delve into the origins of the word “wizard.” I did that myself and was very surprised by my findings, and was even more surprised when I looked up the meaning of “Istari.” As a linguist, Tolkien would definitely have known this!

    I especially find it interesting how the character of Merlin seems to have warped along with the definition of “Wizard.” In the Middle Ages, things like science and medicine were often charged with being witchcraft, and I think that distorted much of the way we think of Merlin today. The real Merlin, if he did exist and wasn’t a madman (Myrddin Wyllt), could he have possibly just been a philosopher or sage?

    It’s interesting for me to think about, since I’m such an Arhthurian nut. 😛

  3. It’s always good to know what words actually mean, not what we think they do. I think you’re brave to put this out there, and it sounds like as a writer you honor the Lord by staying with the truth of things as they are, and create worlds that do the same thing.

    Fabulous picture! Something of interest, imaginatively speaking. As a child, I first understood that something was seriously wrong with witches because the Wizard of Oz’s witch was green (I don’t think that Glinda really seemed to be a witch to me). The witch’s color made her unnatural–ungood. Later I realized that green is associated with death, with lividity, and that in Revelation Death rides a pale (livid) horse.

    Good post!

  4. I always find it interesting to read about what people who are very religious think about things like witches and wizards. For me, I don’t have any issue either way with witches and wizards, or spells etc. whether or not they’re good or bad. I grew up with Harry Potter from age three. Though I am Catholic, my family isn’t very religious at all, and very rarely go to church. So I’m not very familiar with the Bible or it’s teachings.

    I’ve always been a fantasy person, be it witches and wizards, dragons, enchanted forests, you name it. Until I was about eleven, I had absolutely no idea that some people didn’t live in the same fantasy-driven world I did, or at least, they lived in a different type of fantasy-driven world. For me, at least, based on my family’s religious habits, and the stories I grew up reading, I truly have no issue with any of these forms of fantasy stories.

    However, I do see your viewpoint as well. From your family’s religious habits, you grew up with the Bible, and the specific things it does not agree with– shown in this post by witchcraft. It really depends on the type of family you grew up in, in my opinion.

    I really hope this doesn’t sound rude or anything. If it does, I apologize. Really, I’m just trying to say what I’m thinking.

    ~Sofie

    • Thanks for your comment, Sophie! I, too, adore fantasy and have for quite a while now. I can completely understand where you’re coming from, but I also want to clear a little something up. These beliefs don’t just stem from my family’s ‘religious habits,’ though having a Christian family has been amazing in my life. I have chosen these beliefs myself because I believe them to be true. God is an ever-present being in my life, and I’m striving for Him as my all. And naturally, I want to please and obey Him! I don’t see it so much as the type of family as what your faith is. I know a lot of people think Christianity is legallistic and restricting, but really it’s not. In fact, it’s liberating! I’m free to do SO many things in Him! In fact (even though, as a growing Christian, I struggle in this area) my love for God should make me glad to shun evil and embrace His light. This can be hard, granted 🙂 Nothing good is ever easy. But it’s definitely worth it. =)

  5. I thought this was pretty interesting and well-written/thought-out and I like your explanation of how the meanings of “wizard” and other words have changed or been muddled…I didn’t know some of the things you mentioned and possibly had forgotten others, so it was enlightening. I showed your post to my mom yesterday and she said she thought it was interesting as well. 🙂

    By the way, I had an idea for part of a plot (but don’t know what form it would take if I could even integrate it into a novel): a “one-man army” freedom fighter would take on a tyrannical, evil entity just like the main character in the video game, The Saboteur does, but instead of fighting Nazis, the bad guys would be the Spanish Inqusition and others who tortured and burned at the stake those they called heretics. And there are probably many other totalitarian regimes in history that would make for similar storylines, albeit in different time periods. The idea of one person taking on a whole army by himself or with a few others (or even an army eventually) and being able to take down the giant is one I really like. Of course, there weren’t modern weapons like guns and other things we like in the old days, but it still might be good. And I really want to see a character that uses a gun in one han and a sword in the other (twin swords are awesome, but then there aren’t any distance attacks, and unless you’re like Deadpool and can block bullets with your swords…). 😀
    I’m afraid I’ve rambled on and on about my nonsense – I’d better leave you alone before I drive you crazy or you’ll never finish your books and I’ll never get a chance to read them. 😉

  6. Hey there Mirriam. 🙂 I am loving the new blog header, it looks awesome! And by the way, if the (not so new) “mad girl with a blog” is a Doctor Who reference, I am double loving that! 😀 Very clever!

    I thought I might just share my thoughts on your thoughts, if you’re interested, hehe.

    I was just curious about your point of view regarding ‘magic-users’ (I thought I should try and stay away from the word ‘wizard’ since that might result in some confusion regarding all the different tangled meanings, haha) such as Gandalf versus ones such as Harry Potter. You said that it matters what the wizard is doing, and what kind of wizard he is. In my eyes, essentially these two are ‘doing’ the same thing; they are both using magic to fight a force that is undeniably evil. I was just wondering if you would mind sharing what it is you see that sets them apart.

    My own personal opinion about Harry Potter is that it’s a brilliant work of fiction, although I’ll try not to ramble too much about it (rambling is rather one of my strong suits!) As a Catholic myself, I would say that I don’t find anything in it that “rubs my faith the wrong way,” for lack of a better expression, hehe. Apart from the fact that it is never expressly stated that the magic comes from God, I would argue that all the themes and morals Harry Potter don’t conflict (and often are similar to) the teachings of the Catholic faith; throughout the entire series, things such as the need to fight evil at all costs, the importance of friendship, personal sacrifice, the idea of resisting the temptations of power and evil, courage, and the idea of the light having to always fight and defeat the dark are heavily emphasized.

    It appears that I failed in my mission to not ramble; I’m very sorry about that! :p All of the things I’ve said are, of course, just my own opinion, and I am not trying to attack yours in any way, or say that it’s wrong. I also apologize if I came across as rude or pushy; I said all of this in the interest of friendly discussion, because I love seeing how people think. I do very much admire the strength and conviction of your faith, and it’s really something special to see the inspiration and strength that you draw from it! 🙂

    • Hey there, Spacedragons! I”m so glad that this post encouraged people to talk about what they believe, no matter where they’re coming from.
      Regarding Harry Potter – I’m not a Harry Hater, believe it or not. I have not read the books or watched the movies, but I would agree with your statement that they portray dark and light, good and evil very well. I even believe they promote excellent morals, friendship, self-sacrifice, heroism – all these things that are admiral and even Biblical. The One thing that keeps me from reading/watching them (and, consequently I’m sure, becoming a Potterhead) is the witchcraft. I know that witchcraft and wizardry have been so combined that there really doesn’t seem much of a difference – Hermione isn’t exactly chanting “double, double, toil and trouble” over a cauldron, but she’s still that – a witch. As disappointed as I am about this fact (by proxy, I already quite love Severus, Ginny, and Hermione as characters) it’s one I can’t ignore. So really, while I don’t have a problem with Harry (though I think cauldrons and spells and brooms, though mostly whimsical, push the edge a bit) I DO have a problem with witchcraft. 🙂 I hope I haven’t confused you too much! ^.^

      • *clears away ridiculous amount of dust that’s gathered* Hey there again, Mirriam. :p First of all, I’d like to apologize for the horrifically long time it’s taken for me to reply to this; school started up again at the end of January, and the mammoth-esque amount of work that has dumped on my head, plus the amount of time taken up by visiting my horse have left me barely any breathing space, heh. 😛 (That, plus the fact that I have the memory capacity of a small rock.)

        Hehe no, you haven’t confused me too much at all, that makes very good sense and is all fair enough. 🙂 And yes, topics that get people talking about this kind of stuff are great! 😀 And like I said, I really do admire the fact hat you’re stickin’ to what you believe in and not just following everyone else, sheeplike, because that’s what’s cool. At the risk of sounding like a crotchety old lady; teenagers like that make me want to walk (repeatedly) into a wall sometimes.

        Huzzah for Ginny, Snape and Hermione! 😀 They’re all brilliant, so good choice, haha! 🙂 (I know a girl in real life that’s so much like Hermione it’s spooky…)

        • Well, I’m glad I didn’t throw you for too much of a loop! Thanks for being so nice about it; a lot of people… well, wouldn’t have =D *haha* Yes, I second the grandmother quote. Walls are getting walked into a lot these days. WHOA; really? As in, looks or personality – or BOTH? O_o

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