It’s that time of year when you may not want to look too close at the night sky because you may just catch a broomstick or two scurrying across. Among other spooky characters, witches have always been associated with Halloween.
Perhaps the most popular image that is conjured up when it comes to witches is the Wicked Witch of the West from “The Wizard Of Oz” movie. She is so typical of the lot; pointy hat, green face, long crooked fingers and that evil laugh. This is a classic. This will probably date me but, on the other side of the scales, is the playful, good witch like Samantha in the old “Bewitched” television series of the 1970’s. There you have it, good and bad.
Whatever image they bring to mind, witches have been part of our culture for hundreds of years. Perhaps the most prominent remembrance is the Salem Witch trials of 1692. A group of young girls in Salem Village, Massachusetts, claimed to be possessed by the devil and accused several local women of witchcraft. A witch is defined as a woman thought to have evil magical powers.
Unfortunately, the witch trials were one of the nation’s most notorious cases of mass hysteria. Before it was all said and done 20 people, mostly women, were hung on the assumption they were witches.
Moving to modern day, witchcraft is still prevalent and practiced widely throughout the world and there are many in this country. It is said that probably most everyone has come into contact with a witch, but just didn’t know it. Contrary to what many believe, modern witchcraft does not do harm, is not devil worship and definitely does not practice human or animal sacrifices.
The motto of traditional witchcraft is “An it harm none, do what ye will.” To be a witch in today’s world is to be a healer, teacher, seeker, giver and protector. Perhaps this is why witchcraft is an actual thing in the actual world, appealing to a large number of young women.
Actually, witchcraft includes three basic branches. Druidry is a nature-based religion which focuses on ancestry and nature. Shamanism stems from nature itself and taps into the power that Mother Earth has to offer. It is a way of healing and a way to connect with nature and all of creation.
The most popular one of the three is Wicca. It is a peaceful, harmonious and balanced way of life which promotes oneness with the divine. It has been described as “the appreciation and awe of watching the sunrise and sunset, the forest in the light of a glowing moon, meadows enchanted by the first light of day, the fall of colorful autumn leaves, the softness of winter snow, the light and shadow and all in between.” Wow!
Paganism is a religion of nature where practitioners revere nature and live their lives attuned to the cycles of nature, the seasons and life and death. Wicca is a form of this. I actually had the pleasure of speaking with a young lady who has studied this way of life since she was 13. Now 19 years old, Abigail Moore explained to me why she feels comfortable incorporating paganism into her own lifestyle. She believes, “It is an earth-based religion so it is non-rigid and lets individuals interpret views for themselves.”
First and foremost, I learned, there are no set rituals as many people believe. When I asked about the rituals that accompany the practice she explained further. “I see it more as directed prayer, calling on all the energies. It takes energy from God and intensifies the energy of the earth so that individuals are more involved totally in the world around them.”
I was surprised that people didn’t have to choose between God or this way of life. Abigail said “I don’t see it as black and white, but rather more gray. It’s like taking the best of both worlds.”
Apparently so, because she is a biology major in college. She sees this as coinciding perfectly with her belief system. She not only studies the scientific side of nature but also the spiritual side.
I know by now I am making some people uncomfortable even broaching this subject. It is the stigma that has always accompanied witchcraft. Perhaps it is the word itself and we should come up with a whole new phrase to describe this gentle, back-to-nature belief system.
Sadly, this is a broken world we live in, both spiritually and physically. It takes more than just walking down one path to be healed. I have seen firsthand what the advances of alternative medicine and “healing touch” can do to improve our quality of life not only physically, but also spiritually. It can actually reverse the bad influences of stress that modern technology has imposed on us.
Even in my little corner of the world, I know three persons who practice this way of life which is another reason I was curious enough to look into it. To set the record straight, I am not a Wiccan, I will never be. Yes, I am a devout Christian. However, do I believe in their reverence for the earth and drawing the good from nature? Absolutely. There is more than one way to heal and we need to draw the best from all sources to have the best quality of life.
So, the next time you hear the term witchcraft, please think twice before you deem it all as evil. Remember, there is more gray area in everything than strictly black and white.