i belong to a yahoo group on which someone posed me this question. it isn't one i ever have a chance to respond to in any depth, so i cut and pasted the question and the response. it was interesting to see what came out :)
Do you consider by calling yourself a witch that this describes your religion, or is it your religion? I get my definition from my classes in witchcraft which call it an art and science, but not a religion. I was taught that someone of any religion or no religion can be a witch.Would you share your views on your identification?
i don't have a religion. i have a spiritual path, and i have a connection to the Divine that is unique and personal. i don't believe in "religion." to me, religion means Rules and i hate rules. i don't need them myself, never applied too many to my children (with mostly excellent results) and generally avoid situations, entities and people with any kind of "rule" fixation. more than one or two, in my opinion, and you have too many.
i identify myself as a witch because i attempt to practice - emphasis on the word practice - the "craft of the wise." in my universe, the wise are those who not only understand how the universe exists, but who also livein harmony with it, with a profound appreciation for one's own part in the Mystery of it all. and yes, that part includes death and disease and dying and endings and all teh messy stuff we would so rather do without. .
i do not subscribe to the wiccan rede (if it harms none, do what you want), nor do i identify with any of the myriad permutations of wicca. other than "love your mother," i attempt to live my life in concert with only two other "rules:" "as above, so below; as within, so without" and "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." i have yet to be confronted by the situation where contemplation of one or the other or both doesn't yield an answer.
my practice has been shaped by the writings of women (and a few men) such as maria gimbutas, merlin stone, vicki noble and a host of feminine tibetan buddhists whose names i find impenetrable, mary daly, margaret starbird, starhawk, matthew fox, teresa of avila, julian of norwich and john of the cross as well as celtic and native american mythologies and beliefs.
i consider myself a pantheist. spirit is alive and aware and divine in ALL things and ALL things should be treated with a reverence for the divine in them. i suppose i could call myslef a green witch if i had to stick a label on myslef but even that doesnt sound broad enough. i guess i like to call myself a witch because that term carries with a Mystery implicit in the Word.