“You’re a wizard, Harry.” So said Hagrid to the young Harry Potter, the boy who would go on to the capture the imaginations of people, young and old, throughout the world. J.K. Rowling’s series on “the boy who lived” has made tons of money—and lots of publicity, both positive and negative. Christians still attack Rowling’s works of fiction to this day. “Witchcraft!” they cry. I once heard someone describe Harry Potter’s battle with Voldemort this way, “It’s basically evil fighting against evil.”
Interestingly enough, J.K. Rowling herself claims that she intended for Christian religious themes to be in her books, subtly. This subtlety, of course, was almost abandoned completely in The Deathly Hallows, with Scripture references and Harry Potter as a Christ motif, sacrificing himself for others, experiencing a resurrection, and defeating Voldemort. So, while Harry Potter may have been a gateway for many young people to enter into the practice of “witchcraft”, “Wicca”, and “Paganism”, the books themselves are not nearly as insidious as one might think.
But what is this “witchcraft” practice, exactly? People will talk a lot about “Wicca” and “witchcraft” without knowing a lot about them. Many assume that these practitioners worship Satan. However, things are not as cut and dry as people might think. You see, witchcraft is part of a practice under the umbrella religion of Neo Paganism. Neo Paganism often has very little to do with the Christian figure of Satan in the direct manner that people usually think.
There are a variety of beliefs in Neo Paganism. However, since Harry Potter is often lumped together with Wicca, and because Wicca is a popular spiritual belief in America, I will be focusing on this form of Neo Paganism. Even in Wicca there are some varying beliefs. Some may consider “Wicca” and “Witchcraft” to be the same thing, but others would say they are not, for example. This is just one of many views, and this varied system of belief is part of the appeal of Wicca—practitioners are free to add or subtract beliefs from their practice as they see fit. Nevertheless, there are some ideas commonly held by practitioners.
The first is simple: “all is one”. The cosmos is essentially undifferentiated, universal energy. Furthermore, all living things have equal value. Human beings are not special creatures, but are part of the whole of nature. In this manner, Wicca is much like Pantheism, a religious/philosophical system I discussed in the September blog post.
The second is this: “I am divine”. Wiccans believe that they have divine power. They are themselves gods and goddesses of a sort. The third is the idea of limitless power. Wiccans do not believe that their powers are limited by any deity. There is a kind of deity, however, that is generally believed in by Wiccans: The Mother Goddess.
The fourth is a focus on altered consciousness. Wiccans have strong beliefs in the supernatural, the spirit world, and in altered states of consciousness, which are attained through rituals, rites, and spells. These spells are cast by using the power and energy of the spirit world. There are a variety of spells for a variety of problems. There are love spells, blessings, curses, and even the art of Divination.
Fifth, Wiccans are anti-authoritarian. Again, this is one of its most appealing qualities. They also do not believe in absolute “good” or absolute “evil”. Despite the idea that Wiccans worship Satan, they do not, at least consciously. They do not believe that Satan even exists. So the idea that witches intentionally call upon Satan and demons for their power is a false one. The Halloween movie Hocus Pocus is lightheartedly suggestive of this false idea. When the Sanderson sisters, the witches of the movie, see a man dressed as Satan, they refer to him as “Master”.
Sixth, and lastly, most Wiccans do follow a certain ethic, called the Wiccan Rede. It states this, “If it harms none, do what you will.” They also believe in something called the Threefold Law, which states, “Anything you do will come back to you three times.” For this reason, most Wiccans are peaceful people who prefer to do good, and not harm—generally. This is because all living things are of equal value and whatever you do will come back on you threefold. So if you put a curse on someone, get ready for worse stuff to happen to you!
In Harry Potter, “witches and wizards” are born with an innate talent to cast spells. They do not call upon the spiritual world, but rather on their own power. Additionally, there is nothing about the Wiccan Rede or the Threefold Law at all in Harry Potter. There is no belief in a Mother Goddess or in the pantheistic things seen commonly in Wiccan beliefs. Harry Potter’s magic is fictional. There are other stories, however, that are not so fictionally docile, such as seen in the films Practical Magic and The Craft.
As Christians, our interactions with Wiccans should be loving. We know that there is only one true God, and that He has made human beings in His image. When we converse with Wiccans, we can share common ground with them. There is great value in creation, because God created it and it reflects His glory. We are to be stewards of what He has created. And there is a vast supernatural side to existence, and we should do to others as we would want them to do to us.
But salvation cannot be found in spells and rites, or in communing with the “spirit world”. Salvation can only be found through the atoning work of Christ on the cross. We are not limitless, and we are most certainly accountable for our actions. This accountability must be emphasized. But a robust relationship with the living God should also be emphasized. Many Wiccans became Wiccan because of a deep spiritual yearning that was not satisfied in the Church.
May it be that we, as the Church, can show Wiccans that there is, in fact, a very satisfying, spiritually fulfilling, reality in Christianity, and that is a relationship with Jesus Christ, who bought us with His own blood. For there is nothing more spiritually satisfying or engaging than a walk with Christ. Wiccans thirst for a fulfilling spiritual life. Christ offers water that satisfies, and the one who drinks it will never thirst again (Jn. 4:13-15).
This post was written by Joshua Wagner. Joshua is 26 years old and happily married to his wife, Heather. He is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Biblical Counseling at Crossroads Bible College. He is passionate about the Church, art and literature, theology, philosophy, and writing.