Although Paganism is the oldest religion, it is also one of the most commonly misunderstood. I was raised Jewish, but I always found Paganism to particularly interesting; I never knew anyone who practiced the religion. Halloween reignited my curiosity, and I wondered how people who practice the religion feel about the holiday which has evolved from some of their older traditions. I spoke to two women about their experiences with Wicca, a modern Pagan religion. Grace is a seventeen-year-old high school student and Renee is a married bother of four. Both of these women have been attracted to Wicca for different reasons, but agree that it is a positive, powerful mindset.
Grace was enthusiastic about her choice to learn and practice Wicca. “I chose to practice Wicca because it’s such an open and accepting religion. There aren’t tons of rules or things you have to follow to be Wiccan, though I agree with the beliefs of Wicca. I think as I started reading about it, the more I realized it was the religion for me because of it being a nature based religion, and how I could practice Wicca however I wanted,” Wicca gives Grace a sense of control, and in that control is empowerment.
Renee, explained that she chose to convert to Wicca because the church wasn’t accepting of her gay son. She went to church regularly, and her oldest son was even an alter boy. When her second son came out, the church she was very active in turned their heads. She wanted to participate in a religion that would welcome her family, especially because her family is strong and passionate about their beliefs. Renee took classes and exams in order to convert and now feels it was a rewarding experience because she can feel the difference in the positive energies. Converting included lots of studying, memorizing, and hard work. Her spell books and incense decorate the house like well-earned trophies, and her family is proud to see them displayed.
One of the most common misconceptions of Wicca is that those who practice the religion worship the devil. “Wiccans don’t worship the devil. A lot of Wiccans don’t even believe in the devil, and it’s so stressful when people constantly tell me I’m worshiping him when I don’t even believe a ultimate power of evil exists,” Grace explained. In fact, most sects of the Wiccan religion follows the Wiccan Rede which states, “An it harm none, do what ye will”.
When asked about Halloween, Grace said, “I don’t mind Halloween that much, but I do find it annoying that a lot of people have no idea what Samhain is. I mostly celebrate Samhain, which is a sabbat Wiccans celebrate on the same day as Halloween. It does bother me how much our holiday has been changed and commercialized, but most of our holidays as Wiccans have been altered a lot.”
Renee explained how many Wiccan sabbats line up with Christian holidays but have some major differences in meanings. For example, Yule is the same time as Christmas but does not involve gift giving; rather, it is the winter solstice and when the holy king is born. The Wiccan calendar is based upon the moon and sabbats are seasonal as a result.
“When I celebrate Samhain, I usually do a ritual to honor the ancestors, which is what the holiday is about. I also set up my altar to represent the sabbat. I view Samhain and Halloween as two different holidays now, and sometimes I do dress up for Halloween, but Samhain is much more important to me,” Grace said.
Grace explained to me that not all Wiccans are witches. Wicca is the belief system, but not all people who believe in it practice magick. Only the people who choose to practice magick are considered witches.
Renee, who has chosen to learn and practice spells and does want to identify as a witch, said her favorite spell is for money (seen in the picture on the left) and that it can only be done on a Thursday. How could we disagree with such a lucrative spell! She also said that the other spells she performs are for protection in order to keep friends and family safe. One of the most apparent things I’ve learned from talking to these lovely Wiccan ladies is that unity, loyalty and compassion is key. Their family, friends and loved ones come first.
Aside from spells, Renee is interested in crystal healing and meditating to center the body. As with most religions, positivity is key. With the right mind and attitude, happiness and success can be achieved. This witch wants everyone in her life to be sprinkled with happiness and success.
“As a Wiccan,” Grace explained, “I really appreciate anything that would help people understand the religion more, because there are so many people that believe false things about Wicca. I’m grateful for these questions because the Wiccan community faces so much false judgment all the time.”
Blessed be, our beloved witches and bitches. Thank you to Grace and Renee, who opened up and let us in. If you loved this, you might also love our Witchtopia wall paper, for your phone and computer. (Jusss sayin’, cause they’re cute, free and downloadable. )