OUT OF THE BROOM-CLOSET:
TRUTH ABOUT WICCAN RELIGION
By Trevor K. McNeil
What comes to mind when you hear, or read, the word “Wicca”? Wiccans are often the subject of fascination, conjecture and fear. Those belonging to the Wiccan religion are some of the most maligned and misunderstood groups of people on the planet. Wicca has become short-hand for “otherness” if not outright evil. Neo-paganism or pagan witchcraft is a contemporary religious movement that attempts to recenter the spirit of humanity on nature and the shared duality of divinity.
Hundreds of Thousands Executed
The Witch hunts in Europe between the 16th and 18th century led to the murder of an estimated 100,000 people, mostly women. Natural events including the devastating Black Plague contributed to near hysteria. Many Christian followers believed the Black Death was an organized effort by Satan and his witches against the Christian Church. From the Salem Witch Trials of 1692-1693 to the Cult Scares of the late 1980s and early 1990s, those who have strayed from the established theological line of Christianity (or Islam)(or Judaism) have faced intense hatred and abuse. The dominant religious doctrine of the community requires that the dominant religious force must squash those who profess another belief system. It has nothing to do with finding out who these “others” are and what it is they believe. The backlash seems particularly violent when a religion promotes women and encourages their power.
Gerald Gardner and then Alex Sanders and his wife Maxine introduced a new paganism in the mid-twentieth century. Despite its relative modernity, the roots of Wicca go back to the time of Celts and Druids. This “new paganism” believes humanity’s religious life should “center on ritual nature veneration, natural cycles and magical and spiritual learning”. A distinct difference between Wicca and the other world religions is the concept that divinity is both male and female. In fact, when questioned many Wiccans noted their attraction to the non-patriarchal world view of the Wicca religion. In Wicca the two genders complement and strengthen one another. Feminism has always been an integral feature of the religion. The Wicca religion has an innate gender equality view.
Simply put, people who practice the Wiccan religion are nature worshippers. Not in the literal sense of praying to trees, but in that they see every part of nature, including humans, as being part of an interconnected, sacred whole. As with most other pagan faiths, Wicca has many deities associated with it. There is a pantheon of gods and goddesses, some emphasis on goddesses, from which Wiccans pick and choose according to their personal preference. Unlike other faiths, these deities are entirely optional, not only in terms of which one you can choose to associate with, but whether you choose to believe in them at all.