The Acceptance of the Wiccan Religion
By: Angela Heitman
There are many different religions in the world, as well as many different variations of each of them. Many religions are readily accepted, such as Christianity. There are other religions that have a harder time being accepted. The Wiccan religion is one of the latter. Over the years those who practiced the Wiccan religion, or witchcraft as it was known in the beginning, have been persecuted and killed for their beliefs. Only in recent times has it become more accepted. The following will compare how the acceptance of the Wiccan religion has varied over time. There are many ways in which the religion is more openly accepted today opposed to how it was vehemently opposed in the past. Persecution of witches, and those who studied the craft in the past, is a dark part of our nations history. The thesis is that witchcraft and Wiccan practices are more readily accepted in today’s society in contrast to how individuals who practiced the craft in the past were persecuted and put to death. In the beginning, the Wiccan religion was known as witchcraft and those who practiced it were witches. Wicca was also known as “the old religion” and has become the evil side of the Christian realm of beliefs. Within the Wiccan religion there is no belief in an evil entity, this is based on the Christian faith creating the belief that witches are devil worshippers or Satanists. The Christians use the words “heathen” and “pagan” to describe and define witches. To those who are Wiccan these words are not derogatory, but rather are complementary. These words, in Latin, actually mean that they dwell on the heath, or uncultivated land, and in the country (Buckland, 2001). Paganism is defined as a nature based religion that follows ancient views, beliefs, and practices and is commonly referred to as Wiccan or witches and is a pre-Christian religion from which the rituals and beliefs of the Christian faith stem (Guiley, 1999). Originally it was thought that witchcraft was a form of Satanism that required human and/or animal sacrifices to appease the god they worshipped. Based on this belief, the Christians developed criminal procedures to deal with those they thought of as witches. They were given tests to determine whether they were or were not witches. One such test is dipping the arms of the accused in boiling water. If they healed in a short time, God was thought to have healed them because they were his children. If they accused were not healed, they were put to death because they were known to be witches. Another test like this was throwing them into a body of water with their limbs bound together. If they floated, God saved them and they were not witches; if they sank, they were known to be witches and were left to drown (Martin, 2007). Witchcraft was never even close to Satanism, in fact, witches do not believe in any form of an evil entity. Over the years they were still punished for the way others saw their religion. Many witches were burned at the stake, just like history tells of in Salem, Massachusetts. Witches were oppressed and killed in the name of their religion for many years (Wicca.org, 2011). Though there was no proof of any kind that witches were Satanists or that they practiced human and/or animal sacrifices, they were still persecuted and put to death. Witches believe that all living things have souls and should be treated with the utmost respect and dignity. They practice rituals that give thanks to the elements and spirits that are among us, very similar to what the Native Americans do. The Wiccan religion emphasizes the unity of natural and spiritual worlds. Some people believe that Wicca comes from the word witan which means wisdom (Skelton, 1997). There are spiritual traditions that raise the female deity above the male. The religion follows the moral values associated with feminine powers such as love, peace and joy and works by and...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document