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Wicca's World

11/26/2005 - 7:00 AM PST

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Looking Into the Pagan Phenomenon

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, NOV. 26, 2005 (Zenit) - Witchcraft is moving into the mainstream in the Netherlands. A Dutch court has ruled that the costs of witchcraft lessons can be tax-deductible, the Associated Press reported Oct. 31.

The previous month, the Leeuwarden District Court confirmed the legal right to write off the costs of schooling -- including in witchcraft -- against tax bills. The costs can be substantial, according to one witch interviewed for the article.

Margarita Rongen runs the "Witches Homestead" in a northern province. Her workshops cost more than $200 a weekend, or more than $2,600 for a full course. Rongen claims she has trained more than 160 disciples over the past four decades.

In England, meanwhile, Portsmouth's Kingston Prison has hired a pagan priest to give spiritual advice to three inmates serving life sentences, the Telegraph reported Nov. 1. The prisoners have converted to paganism and, according to prison rules, are allowed a chaplain in the same way as those with Christian or other religious faiths. Denying them a pagan chaplain would infringe their human rights, said John Robinson, the prison governor.

Earlier, on Oct. 17, the London-based Times newspaper reported that pagan priests in all prisons will now be allowed to use wine and wands in ceremonies held in jails. The Times noted that under instructions sent to prison governors by Michael Spurr, the director of operations of the Prison Service, inmates practicing paganism will be allowed a hoodless robe, incense and a piece of religious jewelry among their personal possessions.

The governors were given a complete guide to paganism, based on information supplied by the Pagan Federation. Prisoners will also be allowed to practice paganism in their cells, including prayer, chanting and the reading of religious texts and rituals. It is not known how many pagan prisoners are in jails in England and Wales, the Times added.

On the rise

The practice of witchcraft is attracting ever-growing numbers, particularly among young women. A recent attempt to understand its appeal is the book "Wicca's Charm," published in September by Shaw Books.

Authored by journalist Catherine Edwards Sanders, the book stemmed from a magazine article she was commissioned to do. Initially dismissive of Wicca, during her subsequent research Sanders came to appreciate that a genuine spiritual hunger was leading people into neo-pagan practices.

Sanders, a self-professed Christian, defines Wicca as a "polytheistic neo-pagan nature religion inspired by various pre-Christian Western European beliefs, which has as its central deity the Mother Goddess and which includes the use of herbal magic."

The book, which is limited to examining the situation in the United States, admits it is difficult to estimate the number of Wicca adherents. Sanders cites an estimate from one group, the Covenant of the Goddess, which claims around 800,000 Wiccans and pagans in America. A sociologist, Helen Berger, in 1999 put the estimate at 150,000 to 200,000 pagans.

Wicca is made up of many diverse elements, yet Sanders identifies some common beliefs among its followers. They are: All living things are of equal value and humans have no special place, and are not made in God's image; Wiccans believe that they possess divine power within themselves and that they are gods or goddesses; their own personal power is unlimited by any deity; and consciousness can and should be altered through the practice of rite and ritual.

What is important to Wiccans, Sanders explains, is the experience of a spiritual reality, and not truth or a body of knowledge. There is no orthodoxy, defined text, or core beliefs. And, while it has ancient roots, Sanders notes it is attractive to modernity since it can be freely molded to fit the spiritual consumer's desires.

Spell-making is another key element of Wicca. But Sanders notes that of all the Wiccans she spoke to, none entered it in order to use spells to harm people. Most choose Wicca because they are dissatisfied with churches and organized religion and are looking for a spiritual experience they are unable to find elsewhere.

Earthy

Another common trait in Wicca is environmentalism. Modern life has lost its connection to the land, Sanders argues, and Wicca, with its emphasis on nature, seasonal calendars, and the celebrations linked to the changing of the seasons, is both a way to recover this connection and also to spiritualize the relationship with the earth. Many Wiccans also reject the materialistic (but not spiritual) consumer culture.

Pagan and Wiccan groups, in fact, have been present at some of the anti-globalization protests in recent years. Sanders describes some the ceremonies she witnessed in 2002 during the World ...

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1 - 9 of 9 Comments

  1. Conor
    3 years ago

    This article is already six years old, but I stumbled upon it by chance. I myself am a professed Catholic Wiccan. I believe entirely in the Catholic Church and her teachings, having been deeply learned in my Catholicism, but neo-paganism has ENRICHED my Catholic faith nonetheless.

    This article seems to only majorly draw from one book, by a Christian, and not any direct sources from Wiccans themselves. The so-called "common beliefs" amongst Wiccans are not very common at all, and you'll be hard-pressed to truly meet anyone like that. Every Wiccan has their own idea of deity, and their own rituals to express their love for their personal deities. The author of this article has painted Wiccans as "metaphorical polytheists", as if they do not truly believe in a God/dess, but rather float around in fancy names for mere symbology. That is simply NOT true.

    Most TRADITIONAL Wiccan rituals, indeed descend from the occult fad in the 19th century, but that's only Traditional Wicca - that being Wicca as expressed in specific traditions established into formality and unity. Very much interchangeble with denominational Christian, who of course have their rituals rooted in Roman paganism, Mithraism, Aztec paganism, Greek paganism, and various Semitic practices. Eclectic Wiccans, those who do not follow a tradition, very much so have their own rituals that often-times have little to none resemblance of the Traditional Wiccan formulas.

    This article is a shame, a pimple on the face of the church. It is precisely why I sought other paths. The majority of close-minded Christians are cynical and irreverent of others beliefs, always out to get the newest convert.

    "Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words."

    The point is, if Christianity offered what Wiccans have found, then the whole globe would be 100% Catholic. If you give man the best option for a good price, he's gonna pick it.

    I believe wholeheartedly in the potential of Christ's Church, and I believe that someday Christ's Church will envelope the globe, and all will bend the knee. But I don't believe it will by the works of those who would poke and stab and people who were downright frustrated and now relieved in their own spiritual unity with Divinity.

    God bless.

  2. Alex
    4 years ago

    I'm pagan from poland and a member of polish branch Pagan Federation international. Just want to ask you - catcholics - what resentments do you really have against wicca and other pagan religions? Do you want to have a monopoly for priesthood?

  3. EDDIE
    4 years ago

    I am 23 and when I was 17 thought I wanted to be a catholic priest. Now I have leaned more towards egnostic, I don't follow any religion but don't deny the existance of a God, Gods or the spirit realm. I have seen an apparition of a man once in my life along with my two other siblings. My wife claims to see spirits all the time. Neither one of us seeks the spirit realm but its there nontheless, for her at least. What is beginning to appeal to me the more i read about Wiccans is the connection to the spirit realm, which does exist in the Catholic religion as well but is frowned upon, whereas wiccans imbrace that connection.

  4. Johnathan French
    4 years ago

    Wiccan-Catholic's honor Saints & Archangels in holy invoking we ask that they come down and help us to heal and to give us magic to heal others an the earth we have a law that is do what ye wilt but harm no one and what ye send ye shall get it back 3 times be it bad or good. so we take the side of good for we know if we do bad then we will be smited 3 times.

  5. Ian Smith
    4 years ago

    With all due respect, I believe that you are all chasing shadows. Religions only exist in the human mind and have no influence on the material universe, except when humans take action. Whether it's a Bronze Age sky-god (Catholicism) or the imaginative creation of an impressionable civil-servant (Wicca), the fingerprints of man cover every part of all religions. If you can back up any of the world's religions, please do so. Your Nobel Prizes are waiting...

  6. brandon wheeler
    5 years ago

    i am a wiccan and would like to reinforce the fact that wiccans do NOT believe in satan. the ultimate divine is light AND dark, male AND female. it is the truth and thats that.

  7. Johnathan French
    5 years ago

    "we do not believe in satan!" in Catholic Wicca my friend we just honor Nature and The Goddess and God and how are The Virgin Mary and The God of the Bible El.
    the differance between the what is called Classical Wicca and Catholic-Wicca is many in Classical Wicca They Worship a Goddess like you worship God and see God Like you see Mary but on a divine level.

  8. Johnathan French
    5 years ago

    I am a Wiccan-Catholic, Did you ever think that the star was a pentagram and the people not men but wise women with La Befana the Saint Witch of Christmas, Mary and her brother not husband.

  9. R. Hurtubise
    5 years ago

    What are the dangers in exposing oneself to Wiccans? Is there a struggle for human souls and where is Satan in all this? I am curious. What do Catholics believe about Wiccans?

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