Modern Wicca and the Witchcraft Movement
Despite the growing popularity of the Wiccan religion, there is a distinct lack of public awareness that Wicca exists at all. Wiccans often refer to themselves as Pagans. Nonetheless, non-pagans often use the term pejoratively. Yet the mostly contested word for Wiccans is Witch. This label is a reflection that most, but certainly not all, Wiccans engage witchcraft as part of their overall religious practice. While some have reclaimed this term and wear it as a badge of pride, many see it as a derogatory term and avoid either being labeled or self-identifying as a Witch. One reason for the lack of awareness about Wicca is that adherents practice in secret, choosing not to discuss their beliefs with their family and friends because they are concerned with the potential for negative backlash. In fact, the act of publicly admitting you are a Witch is often referred to as “coming out of the broom closet.” This concealing of identity as a Witch is a major cause for the widespread ignorance of Wicca as a religion, much less the details of the practice. Interestingly, today one of the places with the largest Wiccan community is Salem MA. By exploring the history and practices of wicca and witchcraft, I will help breakdown stereotypes and misinformation. In this paper I argue for a rebranding of the term Witch that recognizes the positive influence of Wiccans on society. Secondly, I encourage members of the Wiccan community to reclaim the term Witch and embrace their full identity.