Do modern witches exist? It has been over 400 years since the Salem and Pendle witch trials began, but the fascination and practice of witchcraft in all its forms has never waned.
Because various forms of paganism were punishable by death (or at least exile) in the Middle Ages, traditions were mostly oral, leaving no record of the practice that led to the mystery of witchcraft and wiccan witches.
Nowadays, witches are resurfacing under the name of "modern witches", but what does this name, closely linked to esotericism, really mean? We will find out together in this article.
What is Wicca
Witchcraft and Paganism are often shrouded in long-standing misunderstandings and inaccuracies. Paganism includes Wicca (or Wiccanism), Druidism and Shamanism. Neopaganism is the set of contemporary beliefs that include animism, pantheism and polytheism. There is a wide variety of belief systems and even witches disagree on what constitutes a witch.
Practitioners of these religions claim that they are not Satan worshipers, as this requires the practitioner to believe in Christianity. Most modern witches are peaceful, law-abiding citizens who respect and honor nature with various practices. However, some individuals or groups still hijack these belief systems and distort them, making headlines and obscuring thousands of years of history.
Some belief systems have even been accepted by many countries. Wicca has become a more widely accepted practice and is recognized by many official functions. Governments have gone from fully recognizing witchcraft as real and therefore dangerous to completely rejecting it.
In 1735, the Witchcraft Act was passed by Parliament and ended several laws making witchcraft punishable by death. It also imposed fines or prison sentences on people claiming to have magical powers. The law was repealed in 1951 by the Fraudulent Means Act. This law was repealed in 2008.
Some believe that witchcraft began with attempts to understand women's health, such as menstrual cycles, pregnancy and childbirth. Others believe that its origins stem from the creation and control of fire.
A revival in the belief of Wicca and witchcraft began in the 1940s and has only gradually grown over time. Even in a modern world filled with technology, many believe that some methods can be influenced by spiritual methods. Modern facts about witches reveal nearly 400,000 years of history related to witchcraft and paganism.
Wiccans recognize several deities. Goddesses are traditionally associated with the strengths of the moon, stars and sea, while Gods are associated with the sun and forests.
Wicca followers focus their worship on one or two deities as well as elements of nature. Witchcraft practices, incantations and divination (usually through divination arts of all kinds) are also important aspects of Wicca.
The specific and detailed beliefs of Wiccans are difficult to identify because there is no single, authoritative book on which all Wiccans can rely. In addition, Wicca is governed by a set of rules contained in the text of the "Wiccan Rede".
Wiccan meaning is more focused on practice (witchcraft, rituals, ceremonies, alchemy, astrology, magnetism etc.) than on adherence to a particular doctrine or truth. It is a very flexible spiritual path that can be adapted to each individual.
Many people who ask the question "What is Wicca?" have heard of the associations between Wicca and practicing magic. Indeed, many Wiccans tap into their personal connection to the divine energies of Nature to shape the circumstances of their own lives, as well as to work for the benefit of others.
This practice is known as magic. Magic is a much older tradition than Wicca itself, and is certainly not exclusive to Wicca. The term occult practices or occultism is also often used.
First of all, magic is often incorporated into the rituals of Sabbaths and Esbats, and many Wiccans also practice magic at New Moon, Winter Solstice (Yule) or Equinox.
Forget the wand and other demonic incantation, Wiccan magic usually involves the use of ritual tools and ingredients such as crystals and herbs, as well as written affirmations placed on an altar, to manifest the desired result. For example, a witch or sorcerer may write her intentions in her book of shadows to find healing, wealth, love or any other desire.
The main and most important aspect of magic is to follow the commandments of Wicca written in the Wiccan Rede. It states that all magic must be done for positive purposes only, so as not to cause harm to others, whether deliberately or not.
Wiccans take this rule very seriously, as it serves the ideal of living in harmonious balance with the environment around us.
The practice of Wicca often makes use of symbols and other sigils of power to enhance the power of their spells and other invocations. Here are the most commonly used:
- Pentagram: This word comes from the Greek and means "five-pointed star". Although the pentagram has been a symbol in many religions for thousands of years, in Wicca each of the five points represents the five elements: earth, air, fire, water, spirit.
- Pentacle: A pentacle is basically a pentagram surrounded by a circle and has the same meaning as a pentagram. For some Wiccans, the circle represents white magic, which is considered safe.
- Sigil: This is a Latin word meaning "a sign, mark or seal. These are not formal symbols defined, but rather personally created symbols that are supposed to aid in magical spells. Signs are designed in different ways (letters, numbers and/or images). Once the symbol is imprinted, the sorcerer will focus intense feeling on it by staring at it, and then destroy it to unleash its power.
- Triple Goddess Symbol: This symbol is the side-by-side alignment of a waxing, full and waning moon. It represents three aspects and powers of the goddess, as well as of women in general: the young girl, the mother and the old woman.
In general, today's witches can be defined in three ways: a person who actively practices magical rites or spells, a person who has a spiritual connection such as a psychic medium or tarot card reader, or a person who worships the pagan gods.
The reality of what it means to be a witch today carries many traditions of pagan religion. Far from the clichés of satanic rituals and other black magic of the occult, modern witchcraft is primarily a path of spirituality.
Modern witchcraft involves simple actions to reconnect with the hidden energies around us such as: meditation with candles, yoga, burning incense, fumigation, the use of the power of crystals, dream analysis and other white magic rituals. It is more generally referred to as accommodation of the esoteric universe.
Witchcraft is simply using the power of the universe and the spirit. It is about being in tune with the natural resources of the Earth and using them to mystically quench a spiritual thirst. The name Wicca comes from the Anglicism "wicce", which means "to bend" or "to shape nature".
The followers of modern Wicca are mainly women and girls because of the importance given to feminine power and the cult of the goddess. This movement gathers today thousands of practitioners, the "Modern Witch" as they are called, advocate spiritual well-being and understanding of the world around them. It is above all a community that has adopted a way of life where inner peace and the feminine spiritual are the key words.
Prepare your medicinal plants, your cauldrons and other crystals, the myth of the wicked witch riding her magic broom is over and leaves place to the magical virtues of nature and energies that surround us.
And make no mistake, although the movement is mostly made up of women, there are a few wizards in there too 😉