A brief history of Wicca:
5th—10th centuries: The rise of the Catholic Church. Pagans are feared and their lands and titles are confiscated. Most of the persecuted are not Pagans, but rather persons with whom the Church clashed, or who were richer than the Church.
11th—17th centuries: The Catholic Church assigns their holidays close to the solstices and equinoxes, when the Pagans and Druids celebrate their holidays. Pagan gods and goddesses are converted into Christian saints. Witches are popularized in folklore and are generally depicted as herbalists or old women.
18th century: A church document called the Canon Episcopi declares that Witches are illusions. Simultaneously, the Inquisition takes hold. The Church takes the lands and monies of those charged and/or convicted of witchcraft. Church holdings in Europe increase dramatically.
1736: Witchcraft becomes illegal in many parts of Europe, including England.
1722: Last documented witch burning. A woman named Janet Horne is burnt alive in Scotland. Hangings replace burnings, which are deemed “inhumane.”
1952: England repeals its Witchcraft laws, meaning Witches can, in theory, practice openly without fear of reprisal.
1950s: Alex Gardanian publishes his thesis on Wicca. It is the definitive work and the beginnings of what is now defined as Witchcraft.
1994: Wicca and Paganism are recognized as official world religions.
I converted almost three years ago. I don’t have fangs, kidnap children or ride through the sky on a broomstick, and I can’t wiggle my finger and turn you into a rabbit. But I am a Witch. I do believe in magick. I wear a pentagram and if it were legal in Canada, you’d find me jumping over a bonfire naked this Halloween.
Magick is our way of changing the world around us. We practice rites and rituals to attune ourselves with the earth through phases of the moon and send out energies to change the energies of others. Spelt with a ���k,” we use the term “magick” to distinguish it from fantasy.
I have been fired from one job because of my religion. When I came out of the broom closet two years ago, some of my closest friends refused to speak to me, believing I had been sucked in by a cult.
Wicca is a controversial topic. It does not embody the witchcraft that was practiced in the sixteenth century and is very difficult to define since we do not have a central leadership for our faith. This is so because so many Wicca practice on a traditional level, what their mothers taught them or what they’ve gleaned from books and teachings of Wicca.
Many Witches practice alone, as I do. Many more practice in covens. More still practice skyclad (naked). Clothing hinders your energies and can cause confusion in your castings.
There is no such thing as a warlock. Male Witches are simply Witches. Warlock is an old English term for “truth-twister,” and came out of a need to put male witches in a category of their own.
If you see someone walking down the street dressed entirely in black, with dyed black hair, black nail polish, black lipstick, and excessive eye makeup, that is generally called the gothic style. Some witches dress in that style, but many don’t. I’m five-foot-seven, have reddish-gold hair, blue eyes and glasses. The only reason my skin is so pale is because I’m Irish.
Why it has taken so long for Wicca to become even moderately accepted? What we might call magick, Christians might call prayer. It’s a changing of the energies that bind the world together through concentrated meditation and will. Yet magick comes from within the individual, not through a God. An individual can make mistakes and that is one of the hardest lessons to learn in Wicca. No, it’s not all mirrors, smoke, candles and smoldering incense. These are artefacts, as are crosses and Stars of David.
I know what you’re thinking
We also believe in extra-sensory perception, or ESP. We believe that every human on the planet has these abilities, should they choose to recognize and tap into them. Foresight can come in dreams, or in meditation. Empathy and telepathy can be measured through changes in a person’s energy. Have you ever picked up a phone and said hello before the first ring? You probably thought that you should get the phone before you picked it up, even if you hadn’t heard it ring.
It’s not all black and white…
“So… are you a good Witch or a bad Witch?” That’s the question, hands down, that drives me nuts. There is no such thing as a totally good or totally bad Witch. There is no such thing as black or white magic. Everything is a subtle shade of gray. When you cast a spell, it will bounce off other energies and even when you think you’re casting a “good” spell, it can still have “bad” effects. For example, a woman casts a spell for money and her child suddenly dies by falling out of a window at school when dared to walk on the roof by his classmates. But mom gets the life insurance payout. She got what she wanted, but not in the way she intended at all. Personally, I try to walk the tightrope of neutrality, only using magick when it is truly needed.
There is one sect of Wicca, though, that annoys me to no end: the Fluffy-Bunnies, or Fluffies for short. They’re the ones that dress as though it were Halloween all year, wear many large pentagrams (mine is about the size of a loonie and I wear it under a shirt), and say “Oh, goddess” every five seconds. Quick joke: How do you tell a Fluffy from a Witch? Throw both in a river. The Fluffy sinks under the weight of all her pendants.
Fluffies have simply changed the ideals of Wicca to suit their individual needs. Unicorns and manticores populate their imagination and they think that they can cast transfiguration spells with a few well-placed words and wand motions. Harry Potter comes to mind. That, or they are out there being “different” and want to change their religions to something more risqué and irresponsible just to be strange and fascinating.
Many think that because I’m Pagan, I have no knowledge of others’ religions and proceed to lecture me on their practices. I’ve read the Torah, the Bible, the Koran, the Tao Te Ching, the Book of Five Rings, and several philosophies on Buddhism. All of these teachings hold something for those who worship. I found in Wicca something akin to a born-again Buddhist or Jew.
Witches are simply people who attune their bodies to the earth by marking the passing of moons, equinoxes, and solstices. We work at alongside persons of other religions. You might say that it’s impossible to tell a Christian from a Witch. But you’re wrong. The bumper sticker that says “my other car is a broom” is your best bet.
I don’t care if I’m not recognized, and if someone asks, my religion is my own damn business.
Now if I can just find a subtle way to tell my parents…