“Contemporary Witchcraft” is a sort of catch-all phrase that describes the modern Neo-Paganism movement from the early 1900s through the ’60s. Neo-Paganism is reform of pre-Christianity; a time of polytheism (the worship of many gods and goddesses). Wicca was at the heart of this movement. Academics write off this movement as a passing fad and not a reflection of the “old ways.” Oh, how wrong they are.
Contemporary Witches that adhere to the ways of “Wicca” are Goddess worshipers that revere nature and invoke spirits and deities to aid in their magickal work. The word “Magick” is a Wiccan respelling of “Magic” to differentiate reality from illusion. A Magician practices Magic, which is sleight-of-hand. The illusion of something happening that is unexplainable and not real. Whereas Magick is the manifestation of something real utilizing the power of the mind, words, intention and Will.
When and where did Contemporary Witchcraft begin?
At the turn of the 21st century, there were a couple of hundred thousand American and British people practicing Neo-Paganism and Wicca. This movement was a withdrawal from mainstream Christianity, as religious intolerances had ruled Western Europe and then North America for over 2,000 years.
By this time, there was more religious tolerance from mainstream monotheism, as capital punishment was now replaced with a confessional and penance if the witch decided they wanted to show up on Saturday for absolution.
With the feminine movement for equality at this time, found many women drawn toward Contemporary Witchcraft as not only a sign of personal power but also a means for obtaining it. This never slowed down, as the feminist #MeToo movement, and many Millennials; female, male and the LGBTTQQIAAP (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally, pansexual) community. [I think I got everyone there :)] joined in and shows a growing number joining covens at an unprecedented rate today.
Writers were moving their focus to new horizons, such as the unlocking of the subconscious mind, fantasy and science fiction, which were all at their apex. People were starting to dream bigger and realize that there is far more to life than walking the “straight and narrow”.
What is the difference between witches today and of long ago?
Contemporary Witches consider themselves a revival of ancient traditions mirroring the “old way”, when in fact, they are really a new religion that has gained status in recent years. Considering the 600 years of persecution against the practice of witchcraft with misguided beliefs towards them, it was now time to not only rectify the view of them; but also to redefine what this new religion meant.
In modern contemporary witchcraft, the term “witch” is gender-neutral and it applies to both men or women. The word “warlock” is a derogatory name. Its original meaning is “oath-breaker.” A Coven is a group of witches numbering more than 3 and less than 13, who meet for solstices, equinoxes and pagan holidays.
They utilize many rituals and practices of the ‘old ways’ with the biggest exception being the creation of the “Wiccan Rede”.
The Wiccan Rede; “rede” comes from the Middle English word meaning advice or counsel, is believed to have been created by Wiccan high priestess Doreen Valiente in the early 1960s. In it states that you can do what you want, just don’t hurt anybody or anything.
The Wiccan Rede:
Bide the Wiccan Law Ye Must,
In Perfect Love, and Perfect Trust
Eight Words the Wiccan Rede Fulfill:
In it Harm None, Do As Ye Will.
And ever Mind the Rule of Three:
What Ye Sends Out, Comes Back to Thee.
Follow this with Mind and Heart,
And Merry We Meet, And Merry We Part.