The faith of Wicca—more familiarly known as Witchcraft—has origins pre-dating the Abrahamic religions, some tracing it back to as early as 25,000 B.C.E. It encompasses those who identify as Naturalistic or Humanistic Pagans and Druids as well as those women and men who identify as witches. There are currently an estimated 1.5 milionů Američanů who so identify, and the number is growing.
Contrary to misconceptions of witches that have bred fear and led to the torture and slaughter of many thousands of innocents, the Wiccan faith involves no precept beyond “Harm none and do as you will,” and no dogma beyond bringing positive energy, respecting the planet, acknowledging the law of karma and encouraging love always. As Rose Ariadne, herself a witch, observes, “Witchcraft encompasses many mystical traditions…and almost all of them are gentle, natural, empowering Earth-based religions.” There still are a lot of misconceptions and many witches still are not comfortable coming out of the “broom closet.” Though tolerance has improved it is still not even close to where it needs to be.
As a natural outgrowth of their beliefs, then, the gifts of Wicca and paganism manifest themselves in a commitment to preserving the environment and a belief in magic—quite literally, not figuratively—as an open door to spiritual awareness.
Wiccans, pagans and Druids support charities that preserve the Earth and which heal indiscriminately, donating their time and money to such charities as Friends of the Earth a Greenpeace, and supporting groups that help indigenous peoples defend their lives and lands, like Přežití mezinárodní. There are even pagan charity organizations like Pagan Aid that raise funds for projects that help people living in poverty to improve their lives and the environment by living in greater harmony with the natural world.
The gifts of Wicca include a sorely-needed revival of magic as a key component of life, as well as a reverence for life itself and the Earth that nurtures it.
Hopefully, in time, the world will once more—as it did in millennia past—welcome the Wiccans who honor it, and so enable many more to emerge from that “broom closet” and into the proud sunshine.