Sept. 20, 2010— -- Christine O'Donnell take note. Those who "dabble" in witchcraft don't build Satanic altars and there's no blood or "stuff like that."
The fiesty Delaware Senate candidate and Sarah Palin-protege, who suffered another bout of media scrunity after a 1999 video surfaced of her telling comedian Bill Maher that she "dabbled in witchcraft," was seriously confused about what she saw, according to a longtime witch and national Wiccan leader.
"It leads me to believe she's making it up completely out of whole cloth with poor information," said Sylvia T. Webb, the first officer of the Covenant of the Goddess, a national non-profit organization.
Comments like O'Donnell's, she said, are "bizarre" and contribute to misinformation about the religion.
The O'Donnell video re-surfaced over the weekend on Maher's new HBO show "Real Time." Maher brought out the video as part of a campaign to get O'Donnell on his show, threatening to air clips of her appearances on "Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher" until she agreed.
The witchcraft clip, which originally aired in October 1999, was the first.
"I never joined a coven," a young O'Donnell professed 11 years ago.
"One of my first dates with a witch was on a Satanic altar and I didn't know it," she said. "There was a little blood there, and stuff like that."
"We went to a movie and then had a midnight picnic on a satanic altar," she said.
Webb scoffed at O'Donnell's claims.
"It's very hard to worship something you do not believe in and Satan is a Christian concept," she said. "Wiccans don't have Satanic altars."
While they don't have Satanic altars, they do have altars, but "there would be no blood," Webb said.
"She might have had a date with some ... want-to-be goth child who was into thinking he was Satanic or something," Webb said. "There are a lot of misinformed young people trying to be wild."
O'Donnell's comments were made during one of nearly two dozen appearances on "Politically Incorrect."
She laughed off the controversy at a GOP picnic in Delaware on Sunday, The Associated Press reported.
"How many of you didn't hang out with questionable folks in high school?" she asked supporters. "There's been no witchcraft since. If there was, Karl Rove would be a supporter now."
The Realities of Wicca
In reality, Wicca is a denomination of Paganism, a religion that pre-dates Christianity.
Jim Lewis, a leading expert on new religious movements, wrote in an e-mail to ABCNews.com that while it's true many young people "dabble" in witchcraft and other neo-pagan beliefs as teenagers, the second part of O'Donnell's claim "is sensationalistic exaggeration."
"The stereotype of blood-sacrificing Satanists has been thoroughly debunked by mainstream scholars," he wrote. "Additionally, talking about neo-Pagans and Satanists as if they're part of the same movement is completely inaccurate. In fact, they actively dislike each other."
No ancient Wiccan texts were ever recorded, Webb said, but modern Wicca was believed to have been born in the early to mid-20th century.
'Most of us are proud to be called witches," Webb said, although she said some shy away from that term because of the negative connotation. "To me it is a title of wisdom and one who shapes through will."
Though the Wiccan beliefs may vary from witch to witch or coven to coven, all Wiccans believe in two basic tenets, Webb said.
One is "Ye harm none, do as thou will," meaning that believers have a responsibility to do what is right for themselves and those around them.
The other, Webb said, is the more publicized, "three-fold law."
"And that is whatever you do, either for good or for evil, it will come back to you multiplied," she said.
Witches also don't believe in the occult or conjuring up evil. And while Wiccans are becoming more accepted by mainstream society, there are still "fundamentalists," Webb said, that simply don't understand.
"We're showing up on every television show, in nice benign ways. It is a shift," she said. "I would say there is still misinformation out there. It depends on what part of the country you're in."
O'Donnell's witchcraft comments have at least taken some of the heat of the last video of her to surface in which she spoke in 1996 of her disdain for masturbation.
On "Good Morning America" today U.S. Rep. Mike Pence, R-Iind., echoed Karl Rove's sentiments on O'Donnell's witchcraft video, saying she "has an obligation to explain those public comments."