Imagine you are walking through the woods, it’s chilly and from a distance you hear a chanting floating across the wind. The sound has an eerie lulling sound, urging you to follow the new melody. Your curiosity gets the best of you so you follow the noise. You enter a clearing and witness a group of individuals around a fire, chanting and dancing. What is your first impression? Have you stumbled upon a satanic cult? Or maybe are you witnessing a vibrant, misunderstood religion. Wicca, is a religion very commonly misunderstood to be affiliated with the devil and rituals containing black magic. To the uneducated mind, this is what we think when we hear the word Wicca, or more commonly known as Witch.
Defined by Margot Adler, writer for Reader’s Companion to U.S. Women’s History, “Wicca is the term commonly used to describe several different traditions of contemporary Paganism—an earth-centered religion that reveres nature; celebrates seasonal and lunar cycles; and worships a goddess, or many goddesses, or sometimes a goddess and a god” (637-638). It is a religion that focuses on worshipping an earth god or goddess, using their power and the earth’s elements for good. For a misunderstood religion it has much history behind it and a deep core belief system.
Wicca is an old religion, having begun “more than thirty-five thousand years ago” as stated by Starhawk, a Wiccan (qtd in Allen 18). Even though it had started long before him and many events involving witchcraft had happened, research has shown that a man named Gerald Gardner was the one who brought the religion of Wicca to the public eye in the 1950s (Allen 19). Gardner said it was thought to be the pre-Christian religion of Europe called the “old religion” (Adler 637). Although he claimed that from a centuries old coven of witches he learned the Wiccan ways, this coven was never one to be located and most likely does not exist. This means that everything that Gardner passed off as the religion Wicca was not true; it was just rituals written by an early twentieth century British occultist named Aleister Crowley that he “borrowed” from and passed off as his own (Allen 19). Although a lot of his information was “borrowed” and made up, and people thought his ideas were “autocratic and eccentric,” he did help with putting the idea of Wicca inside people’s heads and having them take a better look into it, since it had be forgotten (Stanley 50).
In the mid-1970s a neo-pagan movement began. It was called the Goddess Movement or also known as just Wicca (Allen 18). During the time when women were getting out of the house to earn their own living, this is when these same women of the United States started to become interested in Wicca. This was highly intriguing to women because as they did research, they found that not only in this religion were women seen as “powerful” and “skilled,” but leadership roles between men and women were equal (Adler 637). This religion has strongly carried on from...