Do Witches Pray?

Do Witches Pray?

Do Witches Pray? Image

The other day I found myself involved in something that wasn’t an argument but wasn’t a conversation either. It revolved around the belief that witches don’t pray. As someone who just led ritual working with and asking for the aid of a Goddess in our work, I found this comment strikingly odd.

Witches do in fact pray. Prayer is one of those words that is so simplistic, it is difficult to define. Websters defines it: “a1): an address (such as a petition) to God or a god in word or thought.” Websters then goes on to define prayer as a variety of ways of praying, which is a bit comical to me. I define prayer as speaking in reverence to a spirit or any sort thereof. A God, Goddess, nature spirit or even ancestor. To be extra clear, reverence means honor or respect.

“I miss you grandma Tina. Help me get through this” is, by my definition, a prayer. “Oh Goddess, get me through this…” but Websters definition is indeed a prayer.  I hope you can understand why I was so baffled by the insistence that witches do not pray. Most witches, by this definition pray. If you work with any Deity, you would pray at some point. From what I see, the vast majority of witches work with at least one Deity. Yes, it may be archetypes or the concept of a God and Goddess but that still is Deity work. Every single witch that I know has offered a prayer to a Deity at sometime or another. There are devotionals, set prayers, prayer beads and lets not forget... there ARE Abrahamic witches (Mekubalim are expensive may I add).

It was some days later, at an event giving honor and praise to a Deity no less, when a member of my circle said something that made the claim “witches don’t pray” make sense. We were discussing something completely different when this member said that a specific tradition treats prayer as if they’re begging their God. I understood....

There is a very real trauma that a lot of former Christians have over Christian practices. I am not saying this person has spiritual trauma, but my guess is their mindset is something similar. There is a big pushback against anything that sounds Abrahamic, in particular Christianity. The first time I saw a pagan discussing prayer beads in a workshop, I also saw a very negative reaction because Catholics use prayer beads. Despite prayer beads predating Christianity, the rosary is so well known in American society that some people only can see the rosary when they see or hear of prayer beads. Due to trauma experienced at the hands of these religions, a lot of people aim to avoid it.

I am a member of a Unitarian Universalist congregation and a lot of our pagan and Jewish members really struggle with the word “church.” Well over a year ago, a young woman had asked, are there Pagan churches, to which I replied that yes, there are many. A lot of people had a negative response to that, the same pushback the prayer beads or witches praying got. There are indeed pagan churches around the world and not just in the US where all religious buildings are legally labeled church. There are also temples, hofs and the countless words for places of worship. Know what worship is? Prayer.

Prayer can be begging a Deity for something. I write this on Erev Yom Kippur, a day when Jews around the world are preparing for a 25+ hour fast and about a 6 hour prayer service asking the heavenly court to judge them positively for the coming year. I understand the concept of begging and the dislike of that concept. However, we need to not ignore the flipside of prayer…. Praising. Thanking. Honoring. I could go on and on about all the ways we can and do pray but the issue really isn’t prayer, and if witches pray or not. The issue is the spiritual trauma that tens of millions of people are living with.

One of the leaders of my circle and myself have been discussing the need for a workshop involving spiritual trauma and this just indicates how deeply needed it truly is. All trauma is best resolved. I do acknowledge that is not always possible. In light of realizing this individual that very adamantly held down their claim that witches don’t pray most likely has some spiritual trauma and that acts reminding them of Abrahamic traditions may be their trigger, I went from baffled to sympathetic. I do hope that we, as in society at large, can continue to work on our traumas, hurts and fears. I hope that my circle is able to put together a useful workshop to help do our part with this problem. And I pray that maybe someday it will be completely behind us so we can all move forward, because yes, witches DO pray (but not all of them).