I know this is a minefield to open up. I am simply stating what I consider to be witchcraft and my reasoning. It is also the reason that while I remain polytheist, I no longer consider myself a witch.
My definition is: Witchcraft is a practice of magick that makes change in the outside world.
Notice I define witchcraft as action—not thoughts or words. I also don’t think of witchcraft as a religion. It is a practice done by people with many different religions. There are many pagans who don’t practice witchcraft, and atheists who do. Yoga is good parallel: people of all religions and beliefs will do the same yoga pose. While some may benefit more than others from the practice, doing the same yoga pose will work on the same joint if done correctly. People also interpret yoga differently—some see it as a spiritual practice, others as simply a way to stretch their limbs. What you believe about yoga won’t change the benefits you receive, as long as the poses are done correctly and with the same frequency.
I do not classify meditation, mindfulness, journeying, prayer, ritual, or energy work as witchcraft for one simple reason: these do not work by creating change in the mundane. The ultimate goal of meditation and similar practices is to change yourself. Yes, time spent in meditation can lead to profound insights. But it is still your choice whether or not to act on those epiphanies.
Prayer is communicating with a power outside of you, and requesting assistance. That power is not under any obligations to grant that request, or respond. It is the difference between asking—it can be a polite ask, a forceful ask, or a plea—and ordering. Ritual is honoring something outside of you, but then again I classify it as asking or putting energy toward an abstract goal—not forcing something to happen. (I do concede the line between ritual and spellwork can grow very thin, and are often confused. ) Journeying is travelling to an astral location, and the purpose of journeying is to connect and communicate with a non corporal entity or in a non corporal way with a different place. The journey itself does not do the work, but it tells the traveler the work that must be done. But I could see witchcraft being done while journeying.
Witchcraft forces change in the outside world. It is not “if I wish for something hard enough, put enough energy into it, it will happen”. Intent is a start, but witchcraft is using to tools (inner and outer) to focus that intent to cause change. It is grabbing a thread of the universe and giving a yank. The thread that is weakest will snap first. Skill comes in finding the thread, knowing which one to yank, and how hard. Something will happen. Whether that something is what you wanted, actually helps the situation, or achieves the ultimate goal is the question.
To me, the traditions of witchcraft are learning how to find the thread. The irony is, this learning requires hard work that I don’t classify as witchcraft but leads someone on the road to doing it effectively. This is where practices like meditation come in. Using the tool effectively requires being honest with yourself about your motives, and stepping back to ask what the ultimate goal is. It means seeing through your own lies, and also being humble. Self knowledge and discernment are not an easy path to walk. It is also never done.
Practicing witchcraft means knowing your ethics. At some point, what you make happen may cause harm. Unfortunately, sometimes this are necessary. The questions are when the situation warrants it, who is being harmed, and what greater ill being prevented. Witchcraft is a lot of responsibility, and should not be taken lightly.
A witch is an identity, and not all people who identify as witches practice witchcraft. (See how confusing this can get?) Someone can come from a family of witches or have witch blood, but may not decide to practice witchcraft. I do think some people can practice witchcraft intuitively, without formal training, and some families have witchcraft they pass down. But it is still the practice that defines witchcraft. Anyone can decide not to take up the family tradition or not develop skills they have. Or someone can choose to spend the time and effort to get good at something they don’t have the natural skills for.
The question always with witchcraft is did it work? Then, is what happened what you were ultimately trying to do?