Night. The curtains in the upper-class home are drawn against prying eyes. Candles gleam in the living room. Incense smoke swirls. Robed figures, chanting in a long-dead language, whirl around a rustic wooden table. On it, between the candles, sit sacred images: a robust Goddess wearing a crescent Moon on Her forehead, a God holding a spear in His upraised hand.

All movement stops. A woman standing near the alter says:

In this sacred space and time We call now the Old Ones: The Goddess of the Moon, of seas and rivers; The God of the rayed Sun, of valleys and forests: Draw near us during this, our circle.

This is Witchcraft.

Two thousand miles away, a fifteen-year-old girl affixes a green candle onto a Polaroid photo of a friend. In the darkened room she lights the candle. She closes her eyes. Within her mind, she visualizes a glowing purple light surrounding her boyfriend's broken arm. She chants an impassioned healing incantation.

This, too, is Witchcraft.

These examples sum up Witchcraft. It is a religion known as Wicca. It is also the practice of folk medicine.

Thanks to a centuries-long smear campaign, the average person thinks that Witchcraft consists of Satanic worship, orgies, and drug use. They falsely believe Witches to practice a mishmash of Devil worship, unsavory rituals, cruelty, and human sacrifice.

Persons who practice such atrocities certainly do exist: murderers, psychotics, and those frustrated by the religion into which they were born. But those people aren't Witches, and they don't practice Witchcraft.

It isn't surprising that such false beliefs exist, for they've been reinforced by literature, the fine arts, motion pictures, television, and tens of thousands of hours of virulent sermons. Though the facts have been readily available for the past twenty years or so, they've been largely suppressed, ridiculed, or ignored.

As is often the case, the truth about Witchcraft is far less tantalizing than the lies. It doesn't lend itself as readily to talk shows as Satanism and rarely creates headline news.

But it is there.

Folk Magic

Folk magic is just that-the magic of the people. Long ago, practicing simple magical rituals was as normal as eating or sleeping. Magic was a part of daily existence. To question its effectiveness, or indeed its necessity, was tantamount to a 20th century person questioning whether the Earth is round.

Though times have changed, contemporary practitioners of folk magic accept the same principles and perform rituals similar to those of bygone eras.

Folk magicians don't use supernatural powers. They're not out to control the world. They aren't dangerous or evil. They simply sense and utilize natural energies which have not yet been qualified, codified, and accepted into the hallowed halls of science.

These energies spring from the Earth itself, not from demons or Satan. They're present within stones, colors, and herbs, as well as within our own bodies. Through timeless rituals, folk magicians rouse, release, and direct these energies for the purpose of creating positive, specific, needed change.

To the atheist, using these energies is no more absurd than the act of praying. To the materialist, this practice overlooks the monetary value of the Earth. To the Christian, who has been taught to "dominate and subdue" the Earth, such intimate connection with nature and its tangible effects is dangerous, evil.

All three viewpoints are, perhaps, correct to their holders-but not to folk magicians. Once again, folk magicians have bypassed traditional, orthodox religion that states that power is in the hands of "God" and His priests, saints, and earthly representatives. They have gone further than the materialists in recognizing the qualities of nature. And they-in common with many others-simply don't worry what atheists think.

Folk magicians are persons who, unsatisfied by religious or physically based creeds, have investigated the earth and its treasures. They're gone within themselves to sense the mystical powers of the human body and to feel its connections with the Earth.

And they have discovered that magic works.

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