Salem, February 1692, mass hysteria sweeps through a small Puritan village as the local girls start suffering fits and strange behavior. The villagers are quick to blame it on a witch, the devil’s servant, and the hunt to rid their village of the monster begins. By May 1693, twenty five people were dead, nineteen hanged, five (including two infants) dead from the conditions in prison, and one crushed to death in a failed effort to gain a confession. Dozens more had been accused and languished in prison for months before they were pardoned. All for a group of girls who wanted to act out.
In modern day, witches still capture the imagination of the public. From the Wicked Witch of the West (Wizard of Oz) to Hermione (Harry Potter), witches run the gamut between good and evil. Magic and mysticism can open a world of possibilities for your writing. The amazing world of fantasy opens a whole new level of creation and innovation to add to your writing. But witches and magic aren’t limited only to the world of fantasy. Modern day witches and wiccans still exist and practice to this day.
Wicca or Witch
While many books use the two terms interchangeably, there is actually a difference between Wicca and witchcraft. Witchcraft is the practice of using and directing natural and individual energy in order to manifest one’s desires. Wicca is a religion that was originally developed in the early 20th century and introduced to the public by Gerald Gardner in 1954. While Wicca draws things from ancient religions, such as Celtic paganism, into their belief system, it is still considered a modern religion. Another difference is that Wiccan’s generally follow the Wiccan Rede, “if ye harm none, do as ye will”. Other witches do not necessarily follow this rule.
The other difference between Wicca and witchcraft is that Wicca is a religion and witchcraft is simply the practice of magic. A witch is someone (male, female, or neither) who practices magic. Not all Wiccans are witches and certainly not all witches are Wiccan. Many modern day witches practice various other religions along with their witchcraft. While most follow a form of paganism, from Irish to Norse, there are agnostic witches and even Christian witches. Witchcraft doesn’t revolve around one specific religion. Rather, it draws upon the witch’s specific religion to create the power need for the spells to work.
Wicca as a religion draws from old pagan religions and is a polytheistic religion, worshiping a central God and Goddess. While the deities take different forms depending on the branch of Wicca, the God and Goddess are generally earth or nature deities and represent the duality of nature and the cycle of life. Wiccan religion follows the Wheel of the Year, which includes eight Sabbaths (holidays) and follows the life cycle of the Goddess and God. Starting with Yule (December 21st), the Goddess gives birth to the God. By the first of February, Imbolc, the Goddess has recovered from giving birth and the God is a strapping young man. As spring blossoms on March 21st, so does the Wiccan Sabbath of Ostara. Now the God and Goddess are equal, both in power and in form. On April 30th, Beltane, the God has fallen in love with the Goddess and they join in union for the first time. This culminates during Litha, also known as Midsummer on June 21st. The first harvest, August 1st, is known as Lughnasadh, marks the wane of the God as the new God grows in the womb of the Goddess. Mabon is on September 21st and is the completion of the harvests and the God wanes even more. The Wheel of the Year ends on Samhain, also known as Halloween, which falls upon October 31st, and marks the death of the God. But as the year is a wheel, he shall be born again on the next Yule.
Spells and Incantations
Modern day witchcraft has a whole slew of resources to pull from when writing the magic system for your story. Next time you go to a bookstore (or shop online) swing by the new age religion section and look at what’s . From spell books to herbals, the pagan community has a wide variety of resources to draw from to create your magic system. These books offer a different view into the natural world than most people have, allowing you to expand your horizons even further.