The Season of the Witch


| October 31, 2000


The Season of the Witch, Daryl Gale, Philadelphia City Paper
Today, kids and non-kids alike will don costumes in the spirit of Halloween -- and many will dress like witches. But why do folks think witches are scary? Experts say there are about 50,000 practicing witches in the US today and, according to ReligiousTolerance.org, Wicca is "one of the fastest growing faith groups in North America." Daryl Gale of the Philadelphia City Paper sits in on a local Wicca 101 class to determine whether witchcraft is truly a thing to fear. Gale learns that modern Wicca, literally meaning "wise one," is more new age spiritualism than voodoo magic. It is also one of the most tolerant religions existing today: "Wiccans acknowledge the good in all religions," Gale writes. "They emphasize respect for the beliefs of others, and avoid debates on religion for fear of offending anyone. Even in casting spells, witches are bound by the tenet, "Do what you will, but harm none." Gale also talks to several witches about stereotyping--a reason many stay underground. Fran Toscani, a Wiccan High Priestess explains, "If you're looking for flying broomsticks, or wart-nosed hags with bubbling cauldrons, you're going to be disappointed." -- Amanda Luker
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