Was Jesus a Witch?
    Christopaganity Lecture at Indianapolis Pagan Pride 2003
    presented by Cernowain Greenman


    A. Early leader of Wicca, Patricia Crowther , in The Secrets of Ancient Witchcraft with the Witches Tarot,  (see bibliography below) p.164, states,

"I believe [Jesus] was a witch. He worked miracles or what we would call magic, cured people and did most things expected from a witch. He had his coven of thirteen." He did, didn't he?

    B. And Carl McColman, author of The Well Read Witch has declared, "If Jesus were here today, he'd be a witch" ( see McColman's website ).  He gives 13 reasons:

    1. Jesus criticized the hypocrisy and legalism of the religious status quo, and chose to embrace an alternative spiritual path.
    2. Jesus was a psychic healer.
    3. Jesus acknowledged the divinity within each person.
    4. Jesus lived close to nature.
    5. Jesus believed in magic (only he called it "prayer").
    6. Jesus could command the weather.
    7. Jesus had a profound relationship with the elements.
    8. Like a shaman, Jesus could channel spirits.
    9. Jesus was comfortable with sensuality and eroticism.
    10. In his own way, Jesus practiced the Wiccan Rede.
    11. In his own way, Jesus advocated Perfect Love and Perfect Trust.
    12. His enemies accused Jesus of being under the influence of demons.
    13. Jesus was killed, unfairly, for his "blasphemy".

Some also believe Jesus would have accepted the Goddess:

    C.  Peter Gandy, a Classics historian, and Timothy Freke, an expert on world spirituality, tell us that the earliest Christian stories focused on the Christ and the Goddess. The Gnostic Christians (whom the authors call "the original Christians") saw Jesus as the Christ and Mary Magdalene as the Goddess Sophia. And, according to Gandy and Freke, the Roman church suppressed these "original" Gnostic Christians so that the Goddess myths ended up being excised from the Church's teaching.  [see Jesus and the Lost Goddess: The Secret Teachings of the Original Christians in bibliography below]

    D. Carl McColman in his book Embracing Jesus and the Goddess: A Radical Call for Spiritual Sanity says that,"If Jesus were here today, he would love the Goddess" and bring together heaven and earth, body and soul, freedom and love.

Ok, so some people believe
Jesus was a witch or would be one today,

and that Jesus could have embraced the Goddess...


    In our culture today, there  are countless different interpretations of Jesus.  Among them are:

    a. a very traditional Jesus found in the "Jesus of Nazareth" 1977 TV movie, directed by Franco Zeffirelli, loved by evangelical Christians .
    b. "Jesus Christ, Superstar"   a 1971 rock musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Steve Rice, and later a movie in 1973 starring Ted Neeley.
    c. In 1971, the " Godspell " play presented Jesus and his parables through clowning.
    d. "The Last Temptation of Christ" in 1988 was based upon a Jesus of the Gnostic Scriptures and Eastern Orthodox themes.
    e. Soon to be released in 2004 is Mel Gibson's "The Passion" , based upon Roman Catholic sources, promises to be a bloody and violent presentation of suffering by Jesus.
    f. And just about every Christian denomination has their own view of who Jesus was.

    Even the ancient gospels present differing views of Jesus.  According to Biblical scholars, our main 3 primary ancient sources about Jesus-- Mark, John and Thomas-- present divergent images of the man:

    g. Mark's Jesus tries to hide his Messiahship, keeping it from being known, while he goes around exorcizing demons left and right.
    h. John's Jesus is a wine maker (like the God Dionysus) who openly proclaims his equality with God, does no exorcisms, and encounters the devil only in his betrayer, Judas.
    i. Thomas' Jesus is a teacher of secret truths and the focus is on Jesus' words--  not on what he did.


A. All of the ancient sources and most modern descriptions of Jesus are interpretations that are heavily loaded with Church theology. [cf website: pre-Easter Jesus vs. post-Easter Jesus ]

B. Most Biblical scholars agree that the gospels contain some words and acts of Jesus, but that they are--
       1. mostly commentary by church leaders
       2. words attributed to Jesus which were said by others (Mk 2:17 from Plutarch-- see The Five Gospels, p 22; Animal fables from Aesop, eg the Fisherman)
       3. Old Testament rewritten ("Jewish midrash")
       4. borrowed pagan legends and stories featuring Jesus (Dionysus/Jesus walking on water)
       5. church propaganda: "evangelastically" speaking; that is, the stories were made more entertaining in order to convert more people. They were never intended as historical documents, nor can they taken as such today.
       6. Softened teaching of Jesus . Difficult sayings of his were made easier to accept.  (Eg, Divorce in Mark 10:11 vs. an exception inserted into Matt 5:32).

C. Modern versions of Jesus also blur history, church theology and modern views
       1. Jesus who was a son of God becomes God the Son ("Jesus of Nazareth")
       2. Jesus becomes a superstar, a pop icon ("JC Superstar")
       3. Jesus becomes a happy hippie ("Godspell")
       4. Jesus's divine spirit overcomes his evil earthly human flesh ("Last Temptation")
       5. Jesus is a victim in a cruel world controlled by greed and superpowers ("The Passion")


Who was the historical Jesus of Nazareth?

  A,  According to the Jesus Seminar, the pre-Church historical Jesus was:

    1. an individual who lived from 4 b.c.e. to 30 c.e.
    2 . flesh and blood human being
    3. a marginalized Galilean Jew (viewed as an outsider by the Jerusalem leaders)
    4. traveling rabbi
    5. a counter-cultural philosopher/teacher , similar to the "Cynic" brand of teacher (eg, "Love your enemies")
    6. proponent of the poor and powerless
    7. developer of a new social order (throwing off dependence on rich class)
    8. a healer
    9. an innocent man who was crucified by Rome (was not killed by fellow Jews)

B. The Church's Jesus:
    1. Moralistic and non-sexual puritan
    2. Light skinned with a straight nose (ie, Jewish, but looks English)
    3. Liked by everybody but bad, mean people
    4. Always polite and nice, ie, "gentle Jesus"
    5. Fully obedient to the law and to God
    6. Votes Republican
    7. Goes to church every Sunday
    8. Never played around with magic, sorcery or Ouji boards
    9. Sacrificed himself and so he is the one and only way to God


What we have in common with the historical Jesus...

    a. Jesus was a spiritual person: his beliefs effected everything he did
    b. Jesus was a shaman: visions, spirit journeys, enlightenment (Mk 1:10, Mt 4:1-11)
    c. Jesus was multi-cultural (Nazareth/Sepphoris; Mk7:24-30; Mk7:31)
    d. Jesus was a teacher of unconventional spiritual wisdom (counter-cultural, as is Paganism often can be)
    e. Jesus talks a lot about Nature -- more so than he quoted Scripture! He spoke of seeds, grain, wheat, soil, birds, crows, sparrows, doves, pigeons, snakes, fish, dogs, camels, sheep, lilies, grass, figs, vineyards, lightning, fire, sunshine, rain, salt, wine, olive oil, wood, pearls.
    f. Jesus was a healer using psychic energy (similar to Rieki, by laying on of hands)


    a. Jesus as a Jew was undoubtedly monotheistic .  
    --However, there are witches today who are monotheistic, worshiping only the Goddess (Dianic); and there are also "monist" witches who see all the divine as One. The Isis tradition claims to see all the gods in Her.  The pagan Aristotle (300 years before Jesus) believed in one God as well. So, it is possible to be a witch or a pagan and be a monotheist.

    b. Jesus called God "Abba", ie, "Father" not Mother.
    --Actually, Jesus chose an informal address to God in prayer, "Abba" meaning "Daddy", which was a balance against traditional formal prayers of the time. But, if Jesus saw the imbalance today in the "Father" prayers of patriarchal Christianity, would be logical to assume that he might call for a balance of Father/Mother?

    c. Jesus most likely did not use astrology, divination, etc.
    --But we see that Jesus never condemned astrologers and other magical people-- as the Church has done with often ruthless persecution. If Jesus knew about magical healings, wouldn't it be possible that he might be open to other magical workings today?

    d. Some of the "magical" miracle stories are clearly borrowed from pagan myths (eg, "walking on water" and Dionysos), and none of them can be proven "historically".
    --And yet as a healer, he appears to have done magic by combining psychic energy and the elements; that he did miracles/magical workings is accepted by scholars, even though particular incidences cannot be proven.

    e. Jesus would have to explain Bible passages such as Deut. 18:10-12 which speak against witchcraft.
    --But, would he not recognize the ancient languages and that they refer to "poisoners" rather than "witches"?

    f. What would Jesus think of Neo-pagan sexuality?  Jesus' sexuality– often guessed at–  is actually unknown .
    --Was he active/chaste? married/single? straight/gay/bi? monogamous/poly? We don't know. In his culture Rabbis were expected to be married, and he could have legally had more than one wife. Was the wedding at Cana where he made wine his own wedding? Was he married to Mary Magdalene? Both Mary and Martha? Was he intimate with his male disciples the way teachers in the Mediterranean world at that time were? We don't know and I think the question is left open.


    A lot depends on how you define what a "witch" is.  But Jesus clearly has spiritual attributes which many witches today share in common with him.  At the very least, one would expect that he would not be hateful and condemning as some of his followers have been; he would be against witch hunts and persecution .  And I believe that he would no doubt show divine love to witches today.

    Fiona Horne , author of Witch, A Magickal Journey: A Guide to Modern Witchcraft , sums up what some of us feel about the rabbi of Nazareth:

    "I dig Jesus and so do many other Witches. It's not his fault that Christianity is so confused today, and as a person he was a very special guy, wise and generous, selfless and loving. I think he'd be horrified to see what his teachings have come to today. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that if he was around today, with his values of tolerance, acceptance, respect for Nature and fellow people, he'd be a Witch!"



http://www.wellreadwitch.com/jcwitch.htm   "If Jesus were here today, he'd be a witch" webpage by Carl McColman.

http://www.united.edu/portrait/  "A Portrait of Jesus" web site created by Cam Howard with permission of Dr. Marcus Borg.

http://www.united.edu/portrait/compare.shtml    Pre-Easter historical Jesus vs. Post-Easter Jesus invented by the Church.

http://www.spotlightministries.org.uk/jcwitch.htm   A response to the claim that Jesus was a Witch, by the Christian "Spotlight Ministries", Vincent McCann.

http://jesus.com.au/library/wicca/index.php  Wiccans and Christians: Some Mutual Challenges.

http://members.aol.com/cernowain9/cern/beliefs.html  Christians and Wiccans: Is there anything we agree upon?  This page is part of Cern's website.


Embracing Jesus and the Goddess: A Radical Call for Spiritual Sanity by Carl McColman, Publisher: Fair Winds Press; September 2001, ISBN 1-931412-78-2. A plea for Christians to look at what the Goddess has to offer.

Jesus and the Lost Goddess: The Secret Teachings of the Original Christians
by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy; Publisher: Crown Publishing Group. October 2002. ISBN: 1400045940. The author claims the Gnostic Christian mythoi preceded Jesus of Nazareth and then were applied to him and Mary Magdalene. While I don't find his argument totally convincing, the idea that "some" early Christians worshiped Sophia as their Goddess is historically accurate.

Pagans& Christians, The Personal Spiritual Experience by Gus diZerega, Llewellyn Publ: St Paul, MN, c. 2001, ISBN: 1-56718-228-3. It's by a pagan who presents both positives and negatives about Christian-Pagan relations.

The Acts of Jesus : What Did Jesus Really Do? by The Jesus Seminar
, edited by Robert Walter Funk; Publisher: HarperCollins; (April 1998) ISBN: 0060629789. A thorough investigation into what the historical Jesus did and didn't do according to top scholars. This work is slowly being accepted by academia, but it represents a huge challenge to the traditional Church.

The Five Gospels: What Did Jesus Really Say?
  by The Jesus Seminar, edited by Robert Walter Funk; Publisher: MacMillan Publishing Company, December 1993, ISBN: 0025419498. What the historical Jesus did or didn't say according to top scholars. I find it helps separate what Jesus said from what the Church put in his mouth in their gospels.

The Gospel of Jesus: According to the Jesus Seminar --by Robert Walter Funk, Publisher: Polebridge Press; March 1999. ISBN: 0944344747. Not as accurate as the above works, but a quick and handy reference to the historical Jesus.

The Quest for the Historical Jesus , Albert Schwitzer, et al, first edition 1906; Current publisher: Fortress Press (June 2001) ISBN: 0800632885. This is where the "quest" had ended before the discovery of Nag Hammadi texts and other manuscripts in the desert in the 20th century. Schwitzer believe Jesus to be an "apocalyptic preacher", however he did not make use of the gospel of Thomas as the current quest does.

The Secrets of Ancient Witchcraft with the Witches Tarot
by Arnold Crowther & Patricia Crowther; Publisher: Lyle Stuart; October 1987. ASIN: 0806510560. An American witch that believes Jesus was a "witch".

The Well Read Witch by Carl McColman Publisher: New Page Books; October 2001. ISBN: 1564145301. The author of Embracing Jesus and the Goddess who has a good list of pagan books to read in this book.

Witch, A Magickal Journey: A Guide to Modern Witchcraft by Fiona Horne; Publisher: Thorsons Pub; January 1, 2001. ISBN: 0007103999. She also claims Jesus was a witch.

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Cernowain Greenman is Priest of Iliaster Hearth of Thalia Clan.