The Modern Way of Recognizing the Power of Witchcraft

Witchcraft has been noted for many years as a major pagan practice that has primarily originated in Europe. To others, witchcraft is no laughing matter. Some investigators say that more than half the world’s population believes that witches are real and can influence the lives of others. Millions believe that witchcraft is evil, dangerous, and to be greatly feared. For example, a book about African religion states: “Belief in the function and dangers of bad magic, sorcery and witchcraft is deeply rooted in African life . . . Witches and sorcerers are the most hated people in their community. Even to this day there are places and occasions when they are beaten to death by the rest of the people.”(Cunningham, 1993, 16)In Western lands, however, witchcraft has donned a new mask of respectability. Books, television, and movies have done much to reduce the fear of witchcraft. Observes entertainment analyst David Davis: “Suddenly, witches are younger and cuter, definitely cuter. Hollywood is good at picking up on trends. . . . By making the witches cuter and more huggable, they can appeal to a larger audience, including women and younger kids.” (Sabin, 2006, 41) Hollywood knows how to turn any trend into a paying proposition.Some say that witchcraft has become one of the fastest growing spiritual movements in the United States. Throughout the developed world, an increasing number of people, inspired by feminist movements and disenchanted with mainstream religions, seek spiritual fulfillment in various forms of witchcraft. In fact, so numerous are the forms of witchcraft that people disagree even on the meaning of the word “witch.” However, professed witches often identify with Wicca—defined in one dictionary as “a pagan nature religion having its roots in pre-Christian Western Europe and undergoing a 20th-century revival.” (Sabin, 2006, 15) Consequently, many also refer to themselves as pagans or neo-pagans.Throughout history, witches have been hated, persecuted, tortured, even slain. Little wonder that modern practitioners of witchcraft are eager to improve their image. In one survey, dozens of witches were asked what message they most wanted to express to the public. Their answer, summarized by researcher Margot Adler, was: “We are not evil. We do not worship the Devil. We don’t harm or seduce people. We are not dangerous. We are ordinary people like you. We have families, jobs, hopes, and dreams. We are not a cult. We are not weird. . . . You don’t have to be afraid of us. . . . We are much more similar to you than you think.” (Dunwich, 2000, 31)Witchcraft is prevalent in different parts of Africa. In South Africa, for example, witch doctors exert great power, and people take them very seriously. Recent cases reported in the press were of mobs burning alive people who were accused of causing lightning to strike fellow villagers!(Aidan, 1991, 81) The local witch doctors accused innocent victims of these “unnatural” acts and then tied them to a tree to be burned. Such belief in sorcery or magic is likewise a worship of demons.However, witchcraft is not confined to Africa. In 1985, Herbert D. Dettmer, serving a prison sentence at a correctional center in Virginia, U.S.A., was granted the right by the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to have access to clothing and articles so that he could practice his religion in prison. And what was his religion? According to the court record, he was a member of “the Church of Wicca (more commonly known as witchcraft).” (Sabin, 2006, 19)Consequently, Dettmer had the legal right to use in his worship sulfur, sea salt, or uniodized salt; candles; incense; a clock with an alarm; and a white robe.(Sabin, 2006, 88)  Yes, according to the indications, witchcraft is widespread in the West. The British newspaper Manchester Guardian Weekly reported: “Five years ago, there were thought to be some 60,000 witches in Britain: today [1985] the number is estimated by some witches to have grown to 80,000. Prediction, the monthly magazine for astrology and the occult, has a circulation of 32,000.” (Aidan, 1991, 77)Proposal of Research DiscussionWith much history behind it witchcraft or Wicca, as noted to be its collective term, has so much to do with the culture of the people who originally developed the said pagan belief. Human interest on the said matter though never ceased to improve through the years. Today, the said pagan belief is even already considered as religion that is practiced by a certain group of people who are considered by many as a group of extraordinary individuals who could actually us magical powers.Mistakenly, media has presented the culture of Wiccan rituals to be fascinating and exceptionally accepted within the human society. Sad to say though, not all those media presentations depict the real sense of Wiccan practices.This is the reason why the researcher of this paper aims to propose the study that would deal with the different issues regarding Wicca, its rituals, its practices, its beliefs and the culture behind it so as to be able to give a clearer view about the matter thus giving a much better understanding of the different arguments presented by many researchers regarding its validity as a religion and its authority as a major practice of human culture within the societies that it has already affected.Contrary to that stereotype, many modern self-proclaimed witches seem like ordinary people. Some are respected professionals, such as lawyers, teachers, writers, and nurses. There has been a worldwide resurgence of religious movements that seem to border on the occult, such as nature religions and neo-paganism. “You can go anywhere in Russia these days and witchcraft is a daily part of life,” said a police officer in that country. (Aidan, 1991, 54) The United States is home to an estimated 50,000 to 300,000 witches, or “Wiccans,” as some call themselves.Today the word “witch” is often used loosely and can mean different things to different people. The modern growth of witchcraft seems to be primarily related to a strain of goddess-worshiping, nature-based religion with a strong belief in psychic powers. Some witches are solitary—they practice their rituals alone, observing the change of seasons, phases of the moon, and other natural phenomena. Others worship and cast their spells in a coven, a group usually of 13 witches.It is true that in the West, public perception of witchcraft today is radically different from the attitudes that fostered the witch-burning of the Middle Ages. Sporadically, however, there are still outbursts of wanton violence against witches. For example, in early October 1998 in Indonesia, machete-wielding gangs lynched more than 150 people suspected of being witches. In South Africa more than 2,000 cases of violence against witches, including 577 killings, were reported between 1990 and 1998. (Alupoaicei,2008, 21) In the face of such extremes—ranging from interest in witchcraft to hatred of witches- the present generation of humans remain fascinated about the mystery behind the said idea of religious affiliation that many are already a part of.Why the continuous growth of interest among the human population? What impels people to practice modern witchcraft? They claim that one factor is a reverence for nature and life. Some, in fact, are eager to explain that their worship does not include the sacrificing of animals in their rituals. Others say that they dabble in witchcraft as part of a search for people with whom they can share openness, trust, and common spiritual interests. “Everyone I know in the pagan movement is so friendly and open . . . They’re wonderful people,” says a modern witch (Alupoaicei, 2008, 91). And many deny any involvement with Satan, asserting that there is no all-evil deity in their religious structure.For many of them, the primary reason for becoming witches is a sense of spiritual emptiness and disenchantment with mainstream religions. Speaking of her coven, Phyllis Curott, a Wiccan high priestess, says: “All of us were dissatisfied with the teachings and practices of the religions with which we had been raised.” (Cunningham, 1993, 71) Modern witches, Curott explains, try to answer questions such as, ‘How can we rediscover the sacred?’ But is witchcraft the path to genuine spirituality?Certainly, through the research process that shall be handled within this study, the particular understanding of the different questions that are related to the validity of the practice of Wicca and the primary reasons why the said group of believers are viewed by the societies that they are living with. It is from this particular study that the clarification of such issues could be noted to be given. With the use of the different authenticated literature sources, this study is expected to give a clarified explanation of the different factors that contribute to the existence and reputation of the Wicca group in the humans society today.ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHYArin Murphy-Hiscock. (2005). Solitary Wicca For Life: Complete Guide to Mastering the Craft on Your Own. Provenance Press; 2 edition.The author of this reading focus on explaining the different issues that are related to the developments of Wicca practices from then up until the present years of human generation. Considerably, such practices are actually presented by the author as they compare from the earlier years of Wiccan practice towards the modern day rituals that they are doing.This would be much helpful for the research in explaining the different truths behind the developments of Wicca as the years of human generation advances and the progress of human culture continues to evolve.Scott Cunningham. (1993). Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner (Includes Author’s Book of Shadows). Llewellyn Publications.A book based both on the personal experiences of the author himself and the explanations behind why and what the practices of the Wiccan affiliation do is the primary feature of this book. Likely the author wants to point out that understanding the said practices would give the observers a much in depth understanding of the beliefs of those practicing Wicca.This would be helpful in presenting the real base of Wicca and how people living within the said practice actually fare in their lives.Thea Sabin. (2006). Wicca for Beginners: Fundamentals of Philosophy ; Practice (For Beginners (Llewellyn’s)). Llewellyn Publications.This book explains the basic explanations behind the Wiccan practice. Likely the idea of the author is to share a little light on how the practices of Wicca are actually useful to the human society if used well for better purposes.Gerina Dunwich. (2000). The Wicca Spellbook: A Witch’s Collection of Wiccan Spells, Potions, and Recipes. Citadel publishing.This gives a better view of the major spells and rituals that Wiccan believers are using to practice their religion. Likely, the said practices are presented in a way that they become more practical for the regular person’s use. This book is more of an instructional approach as to how Wicca becomes a practical source human power for several reasons that people may be interested in.Kelly, Aidan (May 1991). Crafting the Art of Magic, Book I: A History of Modern Witchcraft, 1939-1964. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications.The art of magic has been presented by media as a simple matter that could be used by anyone who wants. Understandably though, magic, in this book, is presented as a certain source of extraordinary power that could only be used by the people who are able to use the said practice in a correct way.Marla Alupoaicei. (2008). Generation Hex: Understanding the Subtle Dangers of Wicca.  Harvest House Publishers.This reading shows the more negative side of the practices and rituals of Wicca. Many of the practices and rituals associated with modern witchcraft are strikingly similar to the uncanny aspects of Satanism. Hence, even so-called innocent curiosity can easily lead to occultism. Indeed, many have fallen prey to Satan’s evil influence in this way.Not to be ignored is the fact that occasionally practioners of modern witchcraft are drawn to it because they are hungry for power or revenge. “There are people who can call themselves witches and use it for fiendish purposes,” said Jennifer, a modern witch. In any event, both benign and vengeful witches are in danger of coming completely under the control of Satan and the demons.