Essentially, to be a Buddhist witch (or a Buddhist Wiccan) means that you embrace the core principles of each religion and practices.
Maybe you’ve been seeking your true self and discovering what religion aligns most with your true beliefs and most authentic self. Or maybe you’re just curious. For many, they don’t need to choose a religion in order to embrace spirituality, but for many others, they want to be a part of a community of like-minded people.
But is this really possible to be both Buddhist and a witch or Wiccan? Don’t these religions clash?
The answer is that they do clash, but in far fewer ways that you would think. So let’s examine Wicca and Buddhism and the ways that they overlap, and the ways that they clash, and how you can use them both simultaneously for a unique and exquisitely feminine religious experience.
(For purposes of this article, I will use Wicca and witchcraft interchangeably. However, I acknowledge that these are not inherently the same thing.)
Principles of Buddhism
In Buddhism, the Eightfold Path is the path to enlightenment. It was taught by Buddha to his students and these eight principles are often referred to as “right,” “skillful,” or “wise.”
This is the last of the four noble truths in Buddhism, all related to suffering and the release of suffering in this world.
Noble Eightfold Path
1. Right View
In this step, a person knows the truth and understands how reality and suffering are different, yet entwined. This is the action of understanding.
2. Right Intention
Basically, this means to do no harm. We need to be knowledgeable about how our actions have the potential to cause suffering in others, and we resolve not to cause suffering.
3. Right Speech
Right speech is seen as speaking without lying, manipulating, abusing, or dividing others. We use our speech for compassion.
4. Right Action
Right action aligns with many of the ten commandments in Judaism and Christianity. No stealing, killing, or engaging in sexual misconduct including any type of non-consensual sexual act, incest, and adultery.
5. Right Livelihood
In this step, livelihood refers to making a living, doing business, and engaging in social activities with honesty and dignity.
6. Right Effort
As it implies, effort means that you are always taking action toward a true and honest life, and not becoming complacent.
7. Right Mindfulness
Being mindful of your body, feelings, and thoughts is right mindfulness.
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8. Right Concentration
Right concentration refers to the practice of meditation.
Karma is another principle that we see appear in Buddhism. According to Buddhist scholar Walpola Rahula,
The theory of karma is the theory of cause and effect, of action and reaction; it is a natural law, which has nothing to do with the idea of justice or reward and punishment.
The results of our karma (actions) are the effects of living either “skillfully” (within the Eightfold path) or “unskillfully” (not within the Eightfold path).
Compassion is another principle that gets more than a few mentions in Buddhism. There are many ways to be compassionate toward others, and as Buddhists, we offer compassion readily to anyone. Compassion may not always seem warm and loving, but it often is “loving kindness”.
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Women in Buddhism
In many sects of Buddhisms, women are not allowed to be leaders. This is a direct product of the patriarchal world we live in, and you can see it in many other religions, including Islam and Christianity.
But like many other religions, most areas of Buddhism are accepting and embracing toward women in leadership positions. (Check out this compilation of articles by Lion’s Roar about Women in Buddhism.)
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Principles of Wicca and Witchcraft
Wicca is a nature-based religion, often referred to as pagan, meaning that it is polytheistic and worships natural deities.
The Wiccan Rede
A long poem that outlines the morality of the Wiccan faith, the Wiccan Rede has been simplified down to this single line: An it harm none, do what ye will.
Basically, this is the golden rule. Do harm to none.
Rule of Three
Another simple principle within Wicca is the version of karma. This one says that whatever you put out into the world will return to you threefold.
In other words, if you seek to do good with your actions, good will return to you times three. If you go against the Wiccan Rede and do harm, that harm will return to you threefold.
Meditation is another practice regularly used in the Wiccan religion.
Meditation is one of the basic tenets of Wicca, in order to be effective in magickal work, you will need to learn to enter a state of deep relaxation, a place of calm and balance to align yourself with the natural forces around you.
In following nature and natural laws, Wiccans or witches plan rituals based on moon phases and other occurrences in nature. There is often use of symbols like the pentagram or the triple Goddess. Most Wiccans recognize the Mother Goddess and a horned God.
Women in Wicca
Wicca is recognized as a typically feminine religion, however, there are plenty of male Wiccans and witches. Wicca started in the early twentieth century as a revival of pagan traditions, and it was popularized by a man, Gerald Gardner, in England in the 1950s.
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Where Buddhism and Wicca Overlap
In wanting to see if it’s possible to be a Buddhist witch, we want to look at what is similar between the two. I can plainly see five principles that overlap in these religions. There may be more, but these are what stick out most to me:
- the golden rule
One of the first things you might notice is the use of the golden rule: do harm to none. (Or in many circles: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”)
This rule is paramount in both religions as it is in many religions around the world.
Meditation is also common between both religions in order to declutter the mind and calm our senses to be the most effective in our lives.
Another overlap you might notice is the practice of compassion. Both Buddhism and Wicca make an effort to utilize compassion and empathy as part of the journey. In Wicca, it’s not as prominent, but here you can find an excellent blog post about compassion in the witch’s journey.
Karma is another place where Buddhism and Wicca have similar mindsets. Their ideas of karma might differ slightly, but the idea that the energy we put out into the world has effects that return to us is common between both.
Buddhists are vegetarian by nature because of the value they place on all life. You find that many Wiccans and witches are vegetarian or vegan as well because it helps them connect to Mother Earth and preserve the wellness of ecosystems that surround us. To both Buddhists and Wiccans, all life is sacred.
66 Witchy Affirmations
54 Buddhist Affirmations
Where Buddhism and Wicca Clash
There are two primary ways in which Buddhism and Wicca do not line up: 1) worship of gods or goddesses and 2) the occult.
Gods and Goddesses
As a Wiccan or witch, you might decide to reach out to work with certain gods or goddesses (or let them come to you.)
In this way, Wicca, being a type of pagan religion, is polytheistic, meaning that it incorporates many different deities.
Buddhism, on the other hand, is a nontheistic religion, meaning that it does not worship or incorporate any deities at all.
This conflict depends on your personal views of gods and goddesses. Many people who practice Wicca view these deities as spirits or energies, rather than someone to be worshiped.
Another of the primary ways that witchcraft clashes with Buddhism is in the use of the supernatural. In Buddhism, fortune telling, astrology, dwelling on the future, or trying to evoke certain outcomes are not “right livelihood”.
In this manner, you might find that Buddhism clashes more with “witchcraft” than it does with Wicca. (A person can be a Wiccan without practicing witchcraft.)
Personally, I do not use Tarot cards to try to “predict” the future. Rather, they are a tool to help me discern my own truth and feelings on a subject and give myself direction for the most compassionate action I can take.
Similarly, any Wiccan rituals or spells that a person participates in could easily be re-dubbed “setting intentions”.
As a Buddhist witch, these conflicts might be more or less important depending on your own personal beliefs.
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How I Use Buddhism and Wicca for a Fulfilling Life
Personally for me, I like to say that I practice both Buddhism and Wicca. I don’t necessarily brand or label myself as a Buddhist witch.
But here’s what I like to practice:
Meditation, as outlined above, is essential to both Wicca and Buddhism. I typically practice Buddhist seated meditation that I learned at a Plum Village online retreat, but sometimes I will do a more Wicca-based guided meditation.
2. Loving-kindness and compassion
Again, this is integral to both religions. I like to try to understand people, and practice active listening and unconditional love as much as I can.
3. 4 Noble Truths (including the Eightfold Path)
One piece of Buddhism that I believe in is the 4 Noble Truths. The last Truth is the Eightfold Path, which is the path to enlightenment. I like to learn as much as I can about these and apply them to my daily life.
4. Tarot cards
While tarot might be questionable to the Buddhist faith, as a woman I find that it connects me to my ancestors and roots, to my feminine intuition. As someone who practices Buddhism, I’m looking to unearth my suffering, particularly generational trauma that I’ve suffered.
This suffering is very much connected to being a woman in a patriarchal world. Tarot allows me to get back in touch with that side of me. I also do not practice in a way that tries to “predict the future”, but rather allows me to follow my own truth and instincts.
Conclusion: Yes, it’s possible to be a Buddhist witch!
I believe that it is absolutely up to an individual to choose the aspects of whatever religions or beliefs ring true for them.
For me, Buddhism and Wicca align in really powerful ways that help me tap into rational thought (masculine), compassion and heart (neutral), and my instincts/gut (feminine).
I’m sure that many strict Buddhists would say that there are too many differences with Wicca or witchcraft. But when you look at the true principles, it is absolutely possible to practice both while being true to each religion.
Another last consideration to take is that Wicca is a religion that encompasses widely differing practices. While most of the principles remain the same, the rituals and ways a witch practices are completely up to him or her. This gives you a lot of freedom to incorporate Buddhism into your Wicca practice.
Are you a Buddhist Wiccan or witch?!
Drop me a comment below and tell me your story!
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Wednesday 15th of March 2023
As a Pantheist, I consider myself a believer of the truth that is useful for me to know out of all the worlds cultures, religions, and even philosophies, although I may not agree personally I can still have empathy and discern something worthy of reciprocity.
One mustn't think of themselves as 1 religion or another if they believe in Pantheism, as 1 who morally accepts inclusivity, equality, & aspires to be free from bias with an open mind. However, one may be more knowledgeable about ascertain philosophical understanding than another, causing people to grow in and out of the diversity that is multiculturalism, & I avow or conclude nothing wrong with having such a passionately vast outlook, in fact I think this way of thinking is what the world needs more of right now.
With that being said. This article was very well thought out and articulated informatively for that I offer you my kudos! Nice to refresh my memory of the specifics of these 2 sets of beliefs, that I am keen to know more about...
( in fact I have read quite the amount of Buddhist literature, & done a fair bit of research into Paganism however it's evolution into Wiccan I was unaware of how that occurred, nor how Environmentally resound Wiccan culture is, which I am also an advocate of. Another point that they share in common is that they're both evolutionary - because Buddhism brought to China and combined with Taoism is literally how the Zen culture came about thanks to a patriarch named Bodhidharma, & I now see that Paganism evolved into a crossroads between the ideas of Occultism or even Satanism, and I see Wiccan containing all of the good this religion had to offer while siphoning out the evil that is "witchcraft" acknowledging there are good spells and charms that denote stereotypical ideas of "witches" or "magic".)
seeing how different cultures relate & contradict one another is truly fascinating to me. If you want to connect on socials you can find me at SH!ELD, or shieldyourenergy.
Thursday 1st of December 2022
Good article but Buddhist and witchcraft and a lot more compatible than even this article states. There are in fact many types of Buddhists that do worship many gods and goddesses, including those of Burma, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan and some areas of China. Also, many Buddhists already do practice magick. The founder of Tibetan Buddhism, Padmasambhava, was well known as a sorcerer, and in China, many Buddhists pair Buddhist philosophy with the worship and local deities, and they even do magickal practices with them. There is, in China, a lot of crossover with religious Taoism, which includes sorcery, but some Chinese consider themselves both Taoists and Buddhists. Also, the Buddha himself said that Buddhism should evolve and adapt from age to age, and culture to culture, thus leaving lots of room for evolution, and social and spiritual equality, in all ways. Otherwise, this article is a good solid introduction to the idea of pairing witchcraft with Buddhism.
Thursday 1st of December 2022
Thank you for the additional information Jonathan! I have a lot to learn!
Monday 26th of September 2022
Amazing blog post! Very informative and so much fun to read! I’m wiccan and have been interested and basically living a buddhist lifestyle since a while. I see it the same way you describe it, I use my magick to work on my self through divination and not so much for seeing the future. More to get an insight about what’s going on inside of myself and to get in touch with my higher self. And the same thing goes for other types of magick and rituals. All it is for me personally is to set intentions and to manifest any a specific outcome. And if you look at the Law of Attraction is everything we do a manifestation of your thoughts no matter if we believe in it or not. :) So even a strict Buddhist or a member of any other religion uses the Law of Attraction all the time. And a ritual or other kinds of magick are basically the same thing. I was just curious how Buddhist see magick and if they consider witchcraft as „evil“ or dark. But it seems like it is not so much about witchcraft itself but more about what exactly you practice in you craft.
Thursday 2nd of June 2022
Loved this read. I am a Buddhist Witch.