Whatever Christine O’Donnell may have dabbled in, it wasn’t Witchcraft. As someone who is openly and publicly a Witch myself and the only Witch who is a columnist for On Faith, I find myself in a dilemma. On the one hand, I feel a natural urge to respond to this issue–on the other hand, the fact that we’re focusing on O’Donnell’s bad date instead of the multiple urgent crises that beset us is a measure of just how low the level of political discourse has sunk. I’d really prefer not to contribute to it.
But hey, Sally Quinn asked me, personally–how can I say ‘no’?
So let me just say this–had O’Donnell really ‘dabbled’ in Witchcraft, she might have learned that the Craft, as we call it, or Wicca as some prefer, is a remnant of the pre-Christian indigenous traditions of Europe and the Middle East. Witches do not worship Satan–we consider the Devil to be a purely Christian construct. We see nature as sacred, and human beings as part of nature. Our spirituality does not require belief in things we can’t see–but rather an attitude of respect, awe and wonder at the everyday miracles we can see, the great and common mysteries of birth, growth, death and regeneration in the fall of a leaf or the phases of the moon, in the cycles of our lives and the turning of the seasons.
O’Donnell might have learned that Witches see all of life as interconnected, that we are taught to respect other people, to treat one another with compassion, generosity and honor, to protect the earth and to live in balance with nature. We can only imagine how her life, her crusades and her politics might have been shaped by an early encounter with the Goddess, for whom the body is a temple, sexuality is a path of deep and sacred communion, and who tells us “all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals.”
Witchcraft deserves the same respect accorded to any other spiritual tradition. And O’Donnell deserves the same respect as any other politician: that we judge them by their record, their abilities and their policies, not by stupid, offhand remarks they made decades ago.