What is Witchcraft? Definition & Models

Witchcraft covers many lifestyle choices, belief systems and practices. It can be very difficult to describe witchcraft as a whole because the people who use witchcraft will over time tailor it to suit their own personal goals and beliefs.

Therefore the question what is witchcraft can be very difficult to answer. But we have a way of breaking it down and making it more simple. Call this your quick witchcraft cheat sheet.

Definition of witchcraft

Witchcraft is a practice and a lifestyle. Anyone can use witchcraft and choose to call themselves a witch. It is neither good or bad, but neutral. Like anything else, it can be used for good or evil, just a car can be used to drive someone to hospital and save a life or to used cause a crash and take a life.

It is the intention of the driver (the practitioner of the craft) that decides its outcome. Most witches (a term used to loosely describe people whom practice witchcraft) use witchcraft for self care and their own self-development; very few use this craft for ‘evil’ purposes. By using learned techniques the witch can evoke change in their life.

A bit of history

Witchcraft has a very unclear history. It can be hard to date the beginnings of witchcraft because it has been around in some form or another as long as there have been humans. Witchcraft as we recognize it today can first be seen in Anglo-Saxon England and Europe from the 5th-8th century.

Old and dusty books

It has survived centuries of Christian prosecution and still exists to this day, on the fringes of society until recently. Witchcraft is booming.

The four models of witchcraft

First we can dissect witchcraft into models. These are very clear structures of magick/belief systems that differ from one another. They are very different ways of thinking about witchcraft.

However, it is important to remember that an individual witch’s path might include a variety of these models and there might be overlaps. The four basic models are:

  • Psychological
  • Energetic
  • Spiritual
  • Faith


The psychological model of witchcraft uses the mind. It harnesses mindfulness techniques, positive thinking and the laws of attraction. The main philosophy of this model is to move the mind into a place of positivity and what the mind thinks the body ultimately does.

By following this process through and continuing these thoughts daily we change our actions, building new habits over time and this manifests our desires. Witchcraft in this way is often called high-magick and it means to cast a spell with just the mind and physical tools aren’t necessary.

But this is not always the case. This model of magick uses the placebo-effect to its advantage and often has a lot in common with modern accepted psychology.


The energetic model of magic uses the vibrations that every item on this earth has and how these vibrations interact and effect us. These vibrations exist on a scale, from low vibes and negativity to high vibe and positivity and everything and emotion in between. Witchcraft in this field can look like crystal healing, aura and chakra work and reiki.

Holding Quartz Crystal

The philosophy of this model is to use vibrations of crystals and energy visualisation to match our bodies and minds to attract positive high vibes and use energetic work and skills like reiki and witchcraft that dispels the negative and lower energies. Crystals have very high energy and therefore their vibrations are high.

By keeping certain crystals close to us and on special chakra points on our bodies we can use these vibrations to make our own vibes rise to match. 


The spiritual model of witchcraft is all about communion and work with spirits, be it ancestral, spirits of those whom have passed or deity. It is the belief in and active work with these, sensing them, talking to them, seeking their help and guidance and banishing any negative spirits and the protection from these spirits.

This can look like exorcism, using spirit guides to divine the future, working with our guardian angels and sensing spirits generally.

The Philosophy of this model is that we do not truly leave this earth when we pass. We have spirits all around us but sometimes the world is too loud and we can’t always see or hear them.

Spirits are able to see and sense more than we can and we can commune with them to learn from them. We have guides in the forms of spirits that will protect us.


The faith model of witchcraft is the belief in a deity being the guiding hand in our lives. This tends to be the most similar to organized religions like Christianity. It is the belief that a deity or the universe will guide us to our fate and that it is already set out before us.

Universe and silhouette

The philosophy of this model is that we will be shown signs and lead to where we are supposed to be. The universe has our back and we only need to listen and follow.

We can send out a prayer or spell like an email, as a way of communicating with whichever deity we believe in or the universe and it will send us a reply email (a sign) to put us back on the right track. It is the belief that everything we have done and will do is part of a divine plan for us.

Application of these models

So it is important to remember that witchcraft is a practice, a collection of skills and techniques and these models describe different ways of thinking about/believing in why they work.

This means that any technique within witchcraft can be practiced under any of the models, the models giving the particular technique a different ‘flavor’.

Take for instance the practice of grounding within witchcraft. This is a well known technique to expel excess energy and restore the practitioner to a place of calm. Here is how it would look in each of the models:

Grounding in the psychological model

The practitioner or witch would recognize that they are feeling a little stressed, pent up or excitable. They might journal about their feelings to get them out of their mind.

Then using a straight forward grounding exercise taught in cognitive behavioral therapy classes they would mentally list: 5 things they can see, 4 things they can touch, 3 things they can hear, 2 things they can smell and 1 thing they can taste. This brings them as the saying goes back to their senses.

Grounding in the energetic model

The practitioner would notice they have a lot of excess energy either good or bad, it is too much for them or the current situation. They might imagine green life force energy pulsing up through their feet holding them to the earth and divine white light coming down from the sky into their head, cleansing them causing a highway of energy through them.

This excess energy is removed by the highway it of the top of their head and they would sit and breath deeply until the excess energy has depleted leaving them matched with their surroundings once more.

Grounding in the spiritual model

The practitioner or witch would notice they are very sensitive to the surrounding spirits or energies around them or that they are blocked/unable to connect to them.

Light on the road

They would visualize protective cleansing white light and ask for their spirit guides to help them remove this excess energy and restore them to a place of calm. The spirits would intervene and protect them and help the practitioner ground themselves once more into this realm.

Grounding in the faith model

The practitioner or witch would notice they are feeling off balance and in need of guidance. Similarly to the spiritual model, they would visualize white light but in this case they would ask their deity or the universe to take this excess energy from them and instead transmute it into something that can be used positively for someone else. They then might ask for a sign to direct them back to their cause.

How to use these models within our own path

Looking at these models allows us to understand where we fit within witchcraft. As you were reading through the descriptions of each model you could probably tell which one(s) were more suited to you. It’s important because this is simply how your mind works and it doesn’t work to try to force a model upon yourself and make yourself believe it. It is best to stick to what resonates with you.

It is helpful to know these models because they can be used to tailor any spell to suit you or the person who will be performing it. Say a spell calls for you to visualise energies but you know that you work more in the spiritual model, as you are performing this spell you know to tweak the work energy to spirit.

Or, perhaps, you use the psychological model and a spell asks for you to place your faith in the universe, in this case you can tweak it so that you say you have faith in yourself and that your thoughts and actions will bring this spell into reality.

When we find the model we are more comfortable with it helps us stop that silly “I’m just talking over a candle and some herbs right now” feeling. We can begin to tailor our practice into one that actually fits and makes sense to us.

We are more likely to do it, feel it more fully whilst we are performing it and likely to remember it and have a stronger connection to our own sacred path. All this ultimately lead us to more successful spells being cast and happier witches around the world.