Merry Meet Family and Friends!
There are few things I find quite as distasteful, not to mention embarrassing to the Wiccan/Pagan community, than the use of the word, "Witch" for the sole purpose of its shock value. I'm not referring to the overzealous, adolescent Harry Potter or Charmed fan or even the neophyte, who is filled with passion for their new found path. No, I'm referring to those self-proclaimed "serious" practitioners who toss around the title for no other reason than the anticipated reaction.
More amusing, but no less adolescent, is that these same individuals will often allude to their magickal prowess, offering veiled suggestions as to what they may be capable of, should by word or deed, you happen to bruise their delicate egos.
If this at all sounds too familiar (no pun intended) may I suggest finding a more suitable place to put your broom until you have a better understanding of and more respect for, the Craft....and just to be clear, I'm not referring to the movie.
I'm a Wiccan, specifically British Tradition Gardnerian, who practices Witchcraft...with a little rootwork thrown in for good measure. I consider myself a Witch. However, this is NOT what one learns about me upon first we meet. When discussing my beliefs with anyone whom is not Pagan, but whom I perceive to be open-minded, I prefer to use the term, "Wiccan". It's not that I'm opposed to referring to myself as a "Witch". I've used the word often with great fondness. Unfortunately, at times there is nothing that slams an open mind shut quicker than hearing the word spoken aloud.
I believe that if we are ever going to change the way we are perceived, we first need the opportunity to educate. If someone recoils in fear (or laughter) when you say, "I'm a Witch", chances are they are going to hear very little of what you say afterwards.
Many Wiccans have chosen to drop the word "Witch" when describing themselves simply because of the stigma associated with it. Personally, I see no need to change the way I define myself in order to make others feel more at ease, nor do I feel the need to wield the word like a sword to convince myself of my own abilities. Those who can, do....without unnecessary pretention.
Despite the degree of acceptance the Wiccan religion has attained, there are still people in third World countries being beheaded for the practice of Witchcraft. That's not to suggest that this might actually happen here any time soon, but there's a nut born every minute whose intentions are a lot scarier than anything I might conjure up! Case in point, the Westboro Baptist Church...nuff' said.
The Pagan community has struggled for years to be taken seriously. Every time an article is written, a documentary or horror flick is filmed, whenever someone claiming to be Wiccan or a Witch portrays themselves in an unfavorable light, it reflects on the entire community as a whole.
A truly knowledgeable and proficient occultist doesn't need to play the "Witch" card as a means of control over a bad relationship, to rebel against one's parents or to intimidate their coworkers. This might also include boasting about whom might be on the receiving end of your next Full Moon's spellcasting. In fact, if you've been wielding a "Witch's Blade" anywhere outside a properly cast Circle, I would suggest you find an alternate use for your other magickal tools as well. I hear a cauldron makes a lovely planter.
In Darkness, Light!