Which witch is which

© 2005 Gordon Alexander

Posted 11.01.05

Most of us all know that ghosts, goblins, vampires, and the like are probably just figments of Hollywood lore and our imagination that come to life every Halloween and then go away. Witches do walk amongst us here in Vermont, like the rest of the world, but they are not at all like the in-your-face scary old girl in the "Wizard of Oz."

The modern day witch or "Wiccan," as they choose to be called, could be your next door neighbor and as lovable as your Aunt Tilly. Hey, it Could be Uncle Ned, -- some guys are into this too.

Some Wiccans are still in the closet; some are sort of half out.

Vermont members of the craft look like the rest of us and probably drive pick-up trucks, or a SUV with a possible broom as a spare -- purely as an inside joke between Wiccans.

According to reference information gleaned from the internet, The basis of Halloween - or Samhain - goes back to the Middle Ages and before, when people believed that on that night they could raise magic and see the dead.

According to sources and accounts posted on the web the Catholic observance of "All Hallows Day" - or "All Saints Day" - now lends its name to the occasion. But, the holiday is actually rooted in a harvest festival first celebrated around five centuries before the birth of Christ by the Celts who lived in what are now Ireland, Britain, and northern France.

The Celtic summer officially ended on the last day of October, and the New Year, called Samhain (pronounced Sow-en), began on the first of November. On the night between years, the Celts believed that the living and the dead could interact with each other.

Until 1951, witchcraft was illegal in Britain. Since then, the ancient religion has crept out of the occult and into the mainstream, but some covens still adhere to a bond of secrecy. Due to the covert and decentralized nature of the subculture, estimates of the number of pagans worldwide vary between tens of thousands and more than a million.

While some Samhain celebrations are open to the public, many pagans conceal their faith. Some Universalist Churches conduct a Samhain celebration. There was one at the First Universalist Parish in Derby Line Sunday night paying tribute to friends and family members who have died during the past year. This probably doesn't necessarily mean all Universalists are Wiccans, at least they know what Samhain is.

Some professed Wiccans are out of the closet, some are not. Some prefer to practice their religion in a group or coven, some prefer to practice alone.

According writings of a professed Pennsylvania Wiccan who's calls herself Mothrae: "We believe in equally male and female Deity, neither inferior nor superior to the other. You can't have a Mother without a Father, and vice versa. A God and a Goddess are in charge, to our way of thinking, at least. We have religious ritual, They might look unusual to some folks, but I'll bet yours look odd to us too. And we don't sacrifice chickens at our rituals, either."

She goes on to say "We use symbolism like most other faiths do. We see the Earth as a living entity, many of us seeing Mother Earth, Gaia, as a Goddess. Many of us use the symbolism of the Moon as the feminine, and the Sun as the masculine of Deity. We have a "Rede," our "Golden Rule," that states simply, "An It Harm None, Do As Ye Will,". Hurt nothing or no one, and use your best judgment always. Do what you have to do, and be prepared to take responsibility for your actions. Simple sounding but hard to live up to sometimes, but we do as best we can."

According to posted accounts Wiccan interpretations of the belief vary as do interpretations of Christianity and Judaism. The saying "Different strokes for different folks" holds true in all these beliefs. When your doorbell rings Halloween night and you see a little witch at the door, candy bag outstretched, give her some without worries about a "trick." Her mom could be a member of the craft at home watching the tube until it is time for the ceremony.

Copyright © 2005 Gordon Alexander/Log Cabin Chronicles/11.05